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With the advent of the industrial revolution society underwent significant changes. The age of steam had arrived and a huge new source of energy was unleashed upon society. The immediate effect of this new source of energy was to bring about a qualitative change in the productive forces. The method of production became social in character.

On December 11 the Textile Clothing and Footwear Union said that the Australian Industrial Relations Commission’s (AIRC) second consecutive rejection of carpet manufacturer Godfrey Hirst’s sub-standard AWA (individual contract) is a clear message for the company to scrap it plans to strip existing rights and conditions from more than 300 Feltex workers.

While turmoil in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca has been in the headlines for weeks, little media coverage has noted that at its centre is a crusading newspaper, Noticias (The News). The daily’s sportswriter is now a leading spokesperson for the teachers, doctors, nurses, newspaper workers and others who have joined together to call for greater democracy, and a new direction for the state’s economy. David Bacon interviewed Noticias’s Jaime Medina in northern Mexico, where the writer was seeking support from the Coalition for Justice in the Maquiladoras.

“Reports from refugee advocates indicate that six people at the Baxter detention centre have attempted to end their lives in separate incidents over the last four days by hanging”, WA group Project SafeCom announced on December 12. “Some of them have also slashed themselves with broken glass and mirrors.”

Comments by Peter Garret, Labor's federal environment spokesperson, that Australia’s coal is a “blessing” to be utilised, were condemned by climate action group Rising Tide Newcastle on December 12. “Apparently”, said Rising Tide’s Steve Phillips, “[Garret] regards the cause of the present global climate crisis as a blessing”.

Workers at the Braeside bolt-making factory of Ajax Fasteners are waging a struggle to protect their redundancy entitlements. The company has gone into liquidation. The workers have been stood down and fear they will soon be sacked.

Trent Hawkins is a leader of Resistance, an Australian socialist youth organisation, who participated in the December solidarity brigade to Venezuela organised by the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network. Below is his account of the December 3 presidential election and its aftermath.

Sixty-three Women Of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) members were arrested on November 29 during a peaceful launch of its People’s Charter. They were taken to Bulawayo Central Police Station. WOZA leaders Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu were among those arrested.

The old adage “one step forward, two steps back” encapsulates the experience of the refugee movement in 2006. Despite some positive changes to refugee policy, the result of consistent campaigning by refugee rights activists and organisations over a number of years, the Howard government has pushed on with its regressive immigration agenda, especially the treatment of refugees.

December 9, the fifth anniversary of David Hicks’ capture by the US, will be marked by national protests calling for his immediate return.

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