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Six US banks control 60% of GDP “They are Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo. They have assets equivalent to 60 percent of our gross national product. “And to put this in perspective, in the mid-1990s, these six banks or their predecessors, since there have been a lot of mergers, had less than 20 percent. Their assets were less than 20 percent of the gross national product.”
It took the Rudd government some time to work out how best to exploit the final report of Australia’s Future Tax System Review, led by Treasury Secretary Ken Henry. Which of its 138 recommendations to implement straight away, which to reject, which to stick in the too-hard basket?
It would be a sick joke, if it weren't actually true. On April 30, a 23-year-old Sydney man was acquitted of rape because the jury decided he couldn't have ripped off a young woman's skinny jeans without “any sort of collaboration”, the May 1 Sydney Morning Herald said.
The Henry Review aims to develop the best possible tax-and-transfer policy for Australian big capital. But there are other proposals that would make up a tax-and-transfer policy for the working-class majority. The Rudd government has already ruled out action on 27 of the Henry review’s 138 recommendations.
Queensland ALP deputy premier Paul Lucas and other ALP leaders faced hostile chants and heckling from workers at the annual Labour Day march in Brisbane on May 3. The main message from the union contingents, numbering 10,000, was opposition to the sale of state assets — including railways, ports, forests and motorways — by the Bligh Labor government. Premier Anna Bligh herself was overseas to promote the sell-off to North American investors.
Each Saturday for the past two months, a thousand or more Haitian earthquake survivors have met in the auditorium of the Aristide Foundation for Democracy (AFD) to discuss the future of their country. Since its founding in 1996, the AFD has provided a place for grassroots activists and ordinary Haitians to debate and discuss national issues.
The campaign to end Australia’s involvement in the unjust war in Afghanistan has picked up momentum in the last few months in Melbourne. In December, a number of peace activists decided to organise regular anti-war activities, to tell people the truth about the foreign occupation force and call for Australian troops to be withdrawn. Since then, three vigils have been held across Melbourne. Activists handed out hundreds of leaflets called “Eight reasons to get out of Afghanistan”.
On April 29, more than 10,000 union members and others organised a protest on Wall Street in New York organised by the AFL-CIO union federation, Alternet.org said the next day. “The banners declared ‘Wall Street: Never Again’ and ‘Less Audis, More Audits’. Almost to a one, they echoed the clear policy demands of the day: regulatory reform, new taxes on banks and speculators, and a jobs bill.”
On March 13, five women, the oldest aged 69, began walking 1400km from Brisbane to Canberra to take a message to the prime minister that we should take steps towards a nuclear-free future. The women will arrive at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra on May 24. They proudly carry a message stick presented to them by elders of the Turrabul and Yuggera people of Brisbane, which conveys a story of sustainability and will be presented to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on May 25.
Dukens Raphael, secretary-general of the Confederation of Public and Private Sector Workers of Haiti (CTSP) told the April 24 convention of the Canadian Union Public Employees (CUPE), British Columbia division of the dire situation facing Haiti’s people after the January 12 earthquake: “If you arrived in Port au Prince today, you would ask, ‘Did it happen yesterday?’” Several million Haitians were left homeless or otherwise in desperate need of assistance. In his address to 400 delegates, Raphael said many people were yet to receive meaningful assistance.
Staring at the vast military history section in the airport shop, I had a choice: the derring-do of psychopaths or scholarly tomes with their illicit devotion to the cult of organised killing. There was nothing I recognised from reporting war. Nothing on the spectacle of children’s limbs hanging in trees and nothing on the burden of shit in your trousers. War is a good read. War is fun. More war please.

Tens of thousands of people joined counter-protests against far-right marches across Germany on May 1. Sozialistische Alternative website said in Berlin, 15,000 people blockaded the Prenzlauer Berg district, restricting a march by 400 neo-Nazis to just 350 metres of their intended six-kilometre march route.

Everyone Can be a Hero By J. R. Birch Inside Outsider Publications, 2010, 293 pages In The Iron Heel, Jack London used a narrative from the future to present the dystopian and utopian possibilities that existed in his time. Everyone Can be a Hero, a new independently published book for older children and teenagers, uses a similar device.
A battle has been joined for the very soul of Arizona. On one side, there are the Minutemen, the craven state Republican lawmakers, Governor Jan Brewer, and the utterly unprincipled John McCain, all supporting SB 1070, a law that codifies racial profiling of immigrants in the state. SB 1070 makes it crime to walk the streets of this state without clutching your passport, green card, visa, or state ID. It not only empowers, but requires cops to demand paperwork if they so much as suspect a person of being undocumented.
A secret review of Australia’s intelligence services has proposed giving them new powers to spy on Australians, carry weapons and conduct secretive paramilitary operations in other countries. Powers to carry weapons are proposed for employees of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), which has already received a vast expansion of legal powers since 2001, extra personnel and a new purpose-built Canberra headquarters.

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