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A March 7-11 poll by the New York Times and CBS News found that just 15% of respondents believed the US government should engage in “regime change” operations overseas. The poll asked: “Should the United States try to change a dictatorship to a democracy where it can, or should the United States stay out of other countries’ affairs?” Supporters of regime change operations fell 12 points from 27% in 2004 and those who believe the US should “stay out” increased from 59% in 2004 to 69% in the March poll. The poll also found that a mere 10% of those polled support military action against Iran. Only 14% believed the US government was telling the whole truth when it claimed Iran is supplying Iraqi insurgents with weapons to use against US forces occupying Iraq.
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.
The Swedish government is proposing new legislation to allow far-reaching surveillance aimed at protecting “national security”, including monitoring phone calls and emails. In the debate around the unpopular bill, deputy prime minister Maud Olofsson admitted that the government has already been tapping citizen’s phones for decades and that the law would simply formalise existing practice. Critics of the bill range from the left to the Swedish intelligence agency Sapo. The Local reported that Sapo’s chief legal counsel Lars-Ake Johansson said the proposal “may lead to drastic violations of personal integrity”.
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”.
On March 8, 300 people protested the Israeli military invasion of Nablus at the Huwwara checkpoint. Organised by a wide coalition of groups including the Popular Committee Against the Closure of Nablus and the General Women's Union, demonstrators chanted and carried Palestinian flags, signs, and photographs of loved ones who have been killed and arrested by Israeli occupation forces. Once at the checkpoint, several women leaders made speeches condemning the Israeli invasion of Nablus. The protest tried to pass through the checkpoint but was confronted by soldiers and border police. Demonstrators resisted when the Israeli soldiers and police created a barricade and prevented demonstrators from getting through the checkpoint. The Huwwara checkpoint was closed for one-and-a-half hours.
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 internet launch on March 5 of the Independent Australian Jewish Voices (IAJV) has provoked both criticism and support. Author Antony Loewenstein, one of the initiators, told Green Left Weekly that the Jewish establishment reacted “very badly” because, in his view, their position as the spokespeople for the Jewish community for decades is now being challenged.
In 1989, 39 pharmaceutical giants sued the government of AIDS-stricken South Africa, seeking to stop it from implementing a law to improve the poor’s access to life-saving AIDS drugs. That aggression sparked a public outcry within South Africa and elsewhere, leading to an international campaign that only ended in 2001 when the 39 companies dropped their case.
John Bonsai (a very small bush) Howard is morally bankrupt, and cannot be trusted. While Saddam Hussein was a nasty bit of work, all of Bonsai’s arguments for war were lies.
More than 500 people from 35 countries have been incarcerated in the Guantanamo Bay prison complex since 2002. Since becoming the detention centre for prisoners captured in US President George Bush’s unending “global war on terror”, it has been the source of numerous allegations of physical and psychological abuse. It is a legal black hole in which detainees have waited for up to half a decade without charges being laid.
It seems the Howard government’s relentless attempts to blast opposition leader Kevin Rudd for meetings last year with disgraced former WA Labor premier and current “political lobbyist” Brian Burke have missed their target, or even backfired. A poll, published in the March 12 Sydney Morning Herald, showed Labor’s potential vote and approval for Rudd continuing to climb, with support for the Coalition and PM John Howard’s ratings declining further.
The small Andean nation of Ecuador is facing a political crisis as the Congress and the courts turn on each other over new president Rafael Correa’s plans for a Constituent Assembly and a “citizens’ revolution” to build “21st century socialism” in the poverty-stricken country.
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.
For Blood and Empire
Anti-Flag
Sony/BMG, $27.99
A True Person
Written by Gabiann Marin
Illustrated by Jacqui Grantford
New Frontier Publishing, 2007
27 pages, $24.95
Ugly Betty
With America Ferrera & Eric Mabius
Sundays 7.30pm, Channel 7

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