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Young people are likely to be hit hard by Work Choices, the Youth Coalition, the peak youth affairs body in the ACT, told the Legislative Assembly’s select committee on working families on March 1.
The South Korean anti-war movement is appealing for support in its campaign demanding the right to hold an anti-war demonstration on March 17, as part of the global weekend of action on the anniversary of the US-led invasion of Iraq. The government has banned the protest. Korean Action against Dispatch of Troops to Iraq, an anti-war coalition comprising 351 organisations, is calling on international anti-war and pro-democracy groups to send letters of protest to, and organise demonstrations outside of, the South Korean consulate or embassy in your country. Messages of solidarity can be sent to <antipabyeong@empal.com>.
After an epileptic seizure on December 15, Sharif Assad, a Syrian being held in Sydney’s Villawood immigration detention centre, was transferred to Bankstown hospital against his will and tied to a bed.
On February 25, 12-year-old Deamonte Driver died of a toothache in Maryland. A simple tooth extraction could have saved his life, but by the time he received medical attention a tooth infection had spread to his brain. Driver’s family did not have private health insurance and their Medicaid coverage had expired. Even with Medicaid, many people have to travel several hours to find a dentist willing to treat them — just 900 of the state’s 5500 dentists accept Medicaid patients. Figures show that fewer than one-third of children in Maryland’s Medicaid program received any dental care during 2005.
Hicks has spent five years, mainly in solitary confinement, at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp, which the US set up on illegally occupied Cuban territory to ensure independence from the legal system of any country, including the US itself.
Intimidation of trade unionists escalated during February after union leaders protested the abduction early that month of three workers involved with railway workers’ union newspaper Akuna. One of the three was Sisira Priyankara, the paper’s editor, who had been involved in lodging complaints by unionists to the courts against salary hikes for senior government figures. Following the protests, the government announced that the three unionists were in custody and were being interrogated over suspicions of links with insurgents. Since then, posters targeting union leaders who protested the abductions have appeared in public places across the country, branding them terrorists and calling for their arrests. The International Trade Union Confederation is demanding an end to the harassment of and attacks on unionists. For more information visit < http://www.ituc-A HREF="mailto:csi.org"><csi.org>.
The Melbourne City Council is taking steps to introduce a partnership scheme that will allow Victorian same-sex couples to have their civil unions recognised by the council.
British band Ugly Rumours (named after PM Tony Blair’s college band) has released a cover of War (What is it Good For?) (originally made famous by Edwin Starr). The single, which is performed by “Tony Blair” in an accompanying video clip, reached number six in Britain’s singles chart by March 1 and was expected to go all the way to the top. Profits go to help the Stop the War Coalition. The Respect coalition reported on its website on March 1 that the song had been banned by the BBC. “The BBC Radio One Newsbeat programme was due to record a package about the single today, but pulled out at the last minute, claiming that the record was ‘not newsworthy’. However, sources at the highest level within the BBC have privately confirmed that a banning order has been instituted.” The song is being distributed at <http://www.indiestore.com/uglyrumours/tracks?trackID=-12189>
“Comfort women” survivors and their supporters will rally in Sydney on March 7, as part of a global day of action, to protest against the human rights abuses suffered by hundreds of thousands of women during World War II. An estimated 200,000 women in were forced into sexual slavery and continually beaten, tortured and raped by Japanese soldiers during the war.
The Israeli military and security forces have killed more than 5000 Palestinians since the beginning of the Al Asqa intifada in September 2000, according to the Palestinian National Information Centre (PNIC).
On March 5, maintenance department workers employed at James Hardie Ltd’s Rosehill site took protected industrial action for 24 hours. They were supported by activists from Worker Solidarity, who organised a community picket on the day
The new constitution of Afghanistan formally grants equal rights to women and men. The government has also endorsed the UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which, according to development agencies, is significant progress on gender equality “policy advocacy”. The first time I arrived in Kabul the women I saw on the streets were wearing scarves on their heads and those wearing full chador were a minority. Maybe, at a superficial glance, the situation had improved for the women of Afghanistan?
Anti-war campaigners around Australia are preparing for large protest rallies on March 17, the fourth anniversary of the US-led invasion of Iraq.
During a visit to Venezuela, Argentinean President Nestor Kirchner signed an agreement with Venezuela’s socialist President Hugo Chavez that will launch the “Bank of the South” (Bancosur) within four months, reported a February 22 Venezuelanlaysis.com article. Bancosur is part of the push, led by Venezuela, for Latin American integration to challenge US corporate domination. Chavez has promoted the bank as a source of cheap credit for countries in the region and a non-exploitative alternative to the First World-controlled International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank.
On March 2, the day that Guantanamo Bay prisoner David Hicks was finally charged, activists in Geelong led a shackled and hooded figure through the city streets chanting “Free David Hicks!”
The first congress by the Preparatory Committee for the Acehnese People’s Party (KP-PRA) was disrupted on February 28 when around 75 participants were rushed to hospital with suspected food poisoning.

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