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UPDATE: The media are reporting a second day of large anti-government protests. The regime has cracked down, with reports of at least 500 people arrested across the country. See also: Tunisia: People's power ousts dictator Tunisia: Arab rulers shake in fear
iNTervention Intervention Curated by Teena McCarthy & Brendan Penzer The Vanishing Point gallery 565 King Street, Newtown, Sydney January 13-30 “The time has now come for the nation to turn a new page in Australia’s history by righting the wrongs of the past and so moving forward with confidence to the future.... “We apologise especially for the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, their communities and their country....
Renowned investigative journalist and film maker John Pilger interviewed Wikileaks' editor-in-chief about the “war on WikiLeaks” in response to the website “speaking truth to power”. For more information on Pilger's work, visit www.johnpilger.com . More Wikileaks coverage: Assange awarded Sydney Peace Prize ‘gold medal’ Pilger, Wilkie, Burnside to defend WikiLeaks at Sydney public forum
Reports that the WA state government is planning to give police "stop and search" powers during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) later this year should concern all Western Australians. Even more worrying — albeit unsurprising — is that the ALP has dropped its lukewarm opposition to the laws, at least for the duration of CHOGM. Stop and search laws were rejected by the state upper house November and the CHOGM summit is no excuse to bring them in by the back door.
If it is Your Life By James Kelman, Penguin Books 2010 280 pages, hardback £18.99 This is Scottish author James Kelman’s first collection of short stories since The Good Times in 1998. Right from the very first sentence you know you are back in the distinctive world of Kelman’s fiction: “When I presented myself at the Emergency section of the Social Security Office I knew things could go wrong but I was not expecting a leg amputated.”
At last someone has dared to defend the oppressed people of the British banking community. Bob Diamond, chief executive of Barclays bank, who himself has to suffer the trauma of an £8 million bonus, said yesterday that the bankers’ “period of remorse and apology should be over”. And you feel his pain, because the first words to cross your mind when you see a banker are “remorseful and apologetic”.
Ecology & Socialism By Chris Williams Haymarket, 2009 www.ecologyandsocialism.org United States activist Chris William’s new book, published by Haymarket Press, is an excellent introduction to ecology and socialism. It is well written and, despite being a long-time ecosocialist activist, I learnt a lot from it. Williams is a professor of physics and chemistry at Pace University, and chair of the science department at Packer Collegiate Institute. He is a green activist and a member of the International Socialist Organization.
Britain: Goldman Sachs gives huge bonuses “Bankers were accused of ‘sticking two fingers up to austerity Britain’,” the British Guardian reported on January 19, “after it was revealed that [Wall Street bank] Goldman Sachs had handed its staff a £10bn payday as new figures showed unemployment among Britain's young people had hit its highest level since modern records began”. The article said data from the Office for National Statistics showed that one in five people under 25 were out of work by the end of November last year — a total of 951,000 people.
One of the claims made most often by Israeli officials and supporters is that Israel is the “only democracy in the Middle East”. But in recent weeks, media outlets around the world have reported on a string of new laws in the Knesset (the Israeli parliament) meant to curtail the work of human rights non-government organisations (NGOs). Foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman has even referred to such groups as “terrorism aids”. The targeted NGOs report on human rights abuses in the entire area under Israeli control: that is, within the state of Israel, as well as the West Bank and Gaza.
There are more revelations than you can count in the now-infamous Wikileaks cables — a fact highlighted by the arrest and extradition attempts against Wikileaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange. But here’s another one that’s been buried, and it definitely hammers home the need to defend not just Wikileaks, but freedom of speech in general.
On December 10, surrounded by union leaders and foreign dignitaries, President Evo Morales announced Bolivia’s new pension law at the headquarters of the Bolivian Workers Central (COB), the country’s militant national trade union federation. The unprecedented and highly symbolic event was the result of a four-year negotiating process, during which the COB agreed to suspend its mobilisation for higher wages in exchange for comprehensive pension reform.
You may have read about the prison riot in England on New Year’s Day, with prisoners staging an uprising over searches for contraband booze. What received less coverage was the much bigger and more important protest by prisoners in the United States in December. Prisoners in a number of Georgian prisons began a strike on December 9, the December 20 Huffington Post said. The strike was called off after six days, “following reports of violent crackdowns and rising fears that the situation would escalate”, the article said.
Georgia prisoner strike demands Over December 9-15, prisoners in a number of prisons in the US state of Georgia organised a strike via contraband mobile phones. The prisoners refused to perform prison labour in protest at a range of unjust conditions they face. BlackAgendaReport.com said on December 15 that one in 12 Georgians were in prison. The December 20 Huffington Post published the prisoners' demands, which are listed below. * * *
On December 31, the Bolivian government of President Evo Morales repealed a decree, passed five days earlier, to remove subsidies for fuel. The repeal came after protests and discontent at the resulting price increases from many of the government’s poor supporters. “Why is the government making us suffer during these days … I don’t understand, I don’t understand”, Carla, a housewife in El Alto told Radio Atipiri on New Years Eve.
The attempted political assassination of Arizona Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords on January 8 opened a new debate about the depth of political divisions in the United States. It has included hot button issues of gun control and mental illness. Giffords amazingly survived a gunshot wound through the head, but six of her supporters at the sidewalk meeting died. It included a nine-year-old girl and a federal judge. Thirteen people were wounded.
Climate activists gathered outside the Melbourne head office of mining giant BHP on January 21 to show solidarity with victims of the recent floods in eastern Australia. Evidence has emerged linking severe flooding in Australia with human-induced climate change. Shaun Murray, an activist from the Switch off Hazelwood group, said: "The recent catastrophic floods are the result of human-induced climate change. “As coal is the biggest contributor worldwide to emissions, the coal industry should pay the cost of clean-up and reconstruction for these disasters.”

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