Workers, students and families will take to the Yarra River on March 24-25 to raise funds for, and create greater awareness about the situation faced by, refugees and asylum seekers in Australia.
Tasmanian logging giant Gunns Ltd announced suddenly on March 14 that it was withdrawing its proposal to build a $2 billion pulp mill at Bell Bay in northern Tasmania from the independent Resource Planning and Development Commission (RPDC) and called on Labor Premier Paul Lennon’s government to legislate to approve the project.
'Welfare cheats' The Howard government has spent the past decade misrepresenting the facts to justify frequent "crackdowns on welfare cheats". There are around 3000 convictions for welfare fraud per year, or 0.05% of the total number of
The federal Coalition, some state Labor governments and the corporate media have been justifying racist policies by claiming they are defending women’s rights. This argument has been one of several “justifications” for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and for why we should all be worried about refugee arrivals.
Sekai Holland, a long-time leader of Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle and a champion of women’s rights, was detained by police on March 11 in the latest violent crackdown by President Robert Mugabe’s increasingly unpopular regime. Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai was also arrested and later taken to the intensive care unit of a Harare hospital with severe injuries resulting from police beatings.
Tens of thousands of people continue to suffer the effects of the world’s worst industrial disaster — the chemical explosion and leakage of deadly gasses in 1984 at the Union Carbide (now Dow Chemical) pesticide manufacturing plant in Bhopal, which killed thousands of people. Survivors have launched a hunger strike to demand urgent assistance from the Madhya Pradesh government, including decent health care, uncontaminated drinking water, jobs, and pensions for those who are too ill to work. Wells in Bhopal are poisoned by toxic chemicals leaking from the abandoned factory — which Dow refuses to clean up — including agents known to cause cancer and birth defects. Survivors are also demanding reparations from the company. While the victims and their families continue to suffer, Dow corporate executives have not been brought to justice and continue to live in luxury in the US. Send a message of solidarity to the survivors at . For more information visit http://www.bhopal.net.
On March 16 police arrested Satur Ocampo, a member of Congress from the left-wing Bayan Muna party list. Ocampo, who had been in hiding for eight days, was taken into custody shortly after he filed a court petition to quash the arrest warrant. He faces charges of killing military spies in the ’80s, according to a March 17 Philippine Daily Inquirer report.
The March 1 British Guardian reported that an “elite team of officers advising the US commander, General David Petraeus, in Baghdad has concluded that they have six months to win the war in Iraq — or face a Vietnam-style collapse in political and public support that could force the military into a hasty retreat”.
The Fiji Women’s Rights Movement is protesting the March 13 promulgation of the Water Authority of Fiji Bill, which according to public service and public sector interim minister Poseci Bune will provide more “effective management” of water, including “opportunities for competition in the provision of water” and facilitating the “corporatisation of the Water Authority of Fiji”. Opposition to water privatisation sprang up last July when organisations including the Fiji Human Rights Commission protested the inclusion of five major private sector figures in a nine-person committee established to prepare a charter on water and sewerage. In a March 15 statement, FWRM executive director Virisila Buadromo said that “Water is a basic human right, and we are very worried about the commercialisation of this essential resource. We are appalled that water, as essential to life as air, will be treated like a business — especially in light of clear community concerns on the issue.”
Morris Iemma’s calculatedly boring “I’m-so-predictable-so-vote-for-me” campaign has virtually put NSW to sleep. More than ever before, interest in the NSW state elections has dwindled to the point where even the Fairfax-owned Sydney Morning Herald is desperately trying to generate interest by running the hapless opposition’s election campaign for it.
In early February, rains that flooded up to 70% of Jakarta and displaced some 450,000 people began. Across Indonesia, 85 people died, according to a March 12 Agence France-Presse report. Bloomberg’s wire service reported on March 6 that, according to government estimates, the floods caused a direct economic loss of “at least 5.2 trillion rupiah” (US$574 million), with indirect losses of 3.6 trillion rupiah.
The Campaign to Free Women’s Rights Defenders in Iran reported on March 12 that Shadi Sadr and Mahboubeh Abasgholizadeh were charged on March 11 with being a “threat to national security”. They are the only two women remaining in custody after the arrests of more than 30 women on March 4. Sadr, a lawyer, was arrested while defending the women activists arrested at a demonstration that day. Sadr and Abasgholizadeh have been denied access to their lawyers and have been interrogated without their lawyers being present.
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