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An official European Union report issued on February 20 revealed that one in six people in the EU live below national poverty thresholds. The February 21 British Morning Star reported that according to the European Commission’s social inclusion report 10% of people in the EU — one of the wealthiest regions in the world — live in households in which no-one has a job.
The following report is by a correspondent in Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe’s political situation has suddenly become pregnant with the possibility of uprisings, as ordinary people begin to defy police brutality. Unlike in the past when people were very scared of the police, now the situation seems to be different, with events bearing testimony to the mood of resistance. Just a drive around Highfield Township on February 18 was enough to see the return of the late ’90s fighting spirit among the poor people.
The nationalist rejoicing and fervour displayed on January 26 each year celebrates the 1788 colonial invasion of Australia. However, this year the jingoism was broken by the Palm Island victory against the racist cops of Queensland. This resulted from the combined mass actions of the Palm Islanders themselves (including physical struggle in the immediate wake of the murder of Mulrunji Doomadgee), a similar grassroots response by the Aboriginal community at Aurukun against racist cop violence, and the urban solidarity campaigns centred in Brisbane.
The left-wing Acehnese Peoples Party (PRA) will be holding its founding congress in the provincial capital of Banda Aceh at the end of February. Sydney University Southeast Asian Studies lecturer Max Lane spoke to Thamrin Ananda, chairperson of the Preparatory Committee of the PRA.
What are the alternatives to the “last resort” plan — the $1.9 billion desalination plant at Kurnell — that NSW Premier Morris Iemma’s Labor government is so keen to get moving on?
NSW Labor Premier Morris Iemma is digging in on the proposed desalination plant at Kurnell in NSW. Despite continuing public opposition, Iemma seems determined to go ahead with this expensive, electricity-guzzling project.
El Salvadoran President Antonio Saca’s right-wing government has proclaimed 2007 the “year of peace”, inaugurating this move with an attempt to nominate the late Roberto D’Aubuisson, founder of Saca’s ARENA party, with the highest human rights award in the country.
Police minister The Beattie government must sack police minister Judy Spence immediately. She has presided over the most appalling downward spiral in the standards of police service delivery and police accountability and, in the finest Westminster
“Today a new epoch begins”, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez declared in his victory speech on December 3, having won the presidential election with the highest vote in Venezuelan history on a platform of deepening the struggle to build socialism. “That new era is the new socialist democracy. That era is the new socialist society.”
In scenes reminiscent of the police brutality against students who walked out of school against the Iraq war in 2003, hundreds of NSW police and officers from the NSW Public Order and Riot Squad (PORS) tried to stop peaceful rallies on February 22 and 23 when US vice-president and war criminal Dick Cheney arrived in Australia.
The Gates of Egypt
Written by Stephen Sewell
Directed by Kate Gaul
Company B, Belvoir St Theatre, Sydney
Until March 11
I went down to the mine to black diamond country
So the face of the earth would be warm comrade
For years I silently waved a pick in this prison
So that my children would smile comrade
But there is no one smiling in our home
Sydney has long endured right-wing shock jocks taking cash for comment from corporate sponsors, but a new radio program is providing a refreshing change with a focus on working families, strong communities and industrial rights.
In an interview printed in the February 19 London Financial Times, Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said that Iran could be as little as six months away from being able to enrich uranium to fuel-grade level on an industrial scale.
February 23 marked the deadline for submissions to the federal parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCT) on the new Australia-Indonesia “security” pact. If there is any uncertainty about the hypocrisy that underlies Australia’s neo-colonial foreign policy, then this treaty — a “mending the fences” exercise after the federal government granted asylum to 43 pro-independence West Papuan refugees in 2006, and, before that, Canberra’s reluctant 1999 intervention in East Timor — should end it.
Many Australians would assume that death squads, disappearances, harassment by the military, violent dispersal of demonstrations and political prisoners were features of the Philippines that vanished when Ferdinand Marcos’s dictatorship was overthrown in 1986.

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