There seems to be a misconception in the general community that there is something attractive or good about jobs in the mining sector. But as someone whose main career included 25 years in the refinery, mining construction and production industries, I can state quite emphatically that mining jobs are shit jobs. It wasn't always the case, but mining jobs have become progressively less desirable in the past 20 years.
The popular uprising which has swept Egypt over the past two weeks, inspired by the revolt which drove the Tunisian dictator from power in mid-January, is the expression of a people’s power movement in the Arab world which has been 40 years in the making. I have been waiting for this for a long time. I lived in Cairo for six months in the first half of 1967, until the so-called Six Day War forced my family to leave Egypt for Britain. My father was a meteorological scientist working through the United Nations with the Eqyptian agriculture department for a time.
Sexism getting worse, not better Jess Moore, in her article “Raunch culture, sex and sexuality” (GLW#864), addresses some important issues affecting women today. I don’t disagree with her main conclusion (replace sexist heterosexual raunch culture with non-sexist and queer raunch culture) but feel it is a little simplistic (although I guess with word limits that’s hard to avoid). There has been a new wave of excellent books by feminist writers published in the last couple of years that critique current social trends.
Venezuela’s petroleum corporation in the US, Citgo, announced on January 27 the start of its sixth year providing subsidised heating oil to low-income people in the US. An estimated 132,000 households across the US will benefit from the program this year, amounting to US$60 million of savings. The program is carried out with US non-profit group Citizens Energy Corporation. Joseph P. Kennedy II said: “Every year, we hear from families who struggle each and every day to put food on the table and heat their homes.
In her January 26 speech to commemorate Australia Day, Prime Minister Julia Gillard took the opportunity to celebrate what she called the “bonds of mateship”, which had been “on such strong display” in the aftermath of the recent devastating floods. However, this year’s Australia Day celebrations were also marred by violence. This is not unusual. Police made 180 Australia Day-related arrests throughout New South Wales on January 26.
Irish Taosiech (prime minister) Brian Cowen resigned as leader of the government Fianna Fail party on January 22. The move came in the midst of a political crisis caused by the Cowen government accepting an 85 billion euro bailout package from the European Union and International Monetary Fund. The package will be accompanied by savage spending cuts that will drastically deepen the austerity imposed on the Irish people in response to the financial crisis that hit the southern Irish state in 2008.
Community group Save The Old Kings School (STOKS) held a protest in Parramatta in Sydney’s west on February 2 to demand the historic old Kings School site stay in public hands. Local residents, STOKS activists and members of the Greens and Socialist Alliance attended the action. The school site dates back to the early days of the colony. When the school relocated to North Parramatta in 1968, the site was sold to the NSW government. It has been unused for many years.
Seven climate activists who temporarily shut down coal loaders at Newcastle harbour in a September protest will wait another month to find out if they owe Port Waratah Coal Services (PWCS) $525,000 in “compensation”. The activists appeared in Newcastle Local Court for two days of hearings on January 31 and February 3. They were convicted of “remaining on enclosed lands”. Each was fined $300, plus $79 in court costs.
For a decade, Ireland was heralded by the most ardent partisans of neoliberal capitalism as a model to be imitated. The “Celtic Tiger” had a higher growth rate than the European average. Tax rates on companies had been reduced to 12.5% and the rate actually paid by the transnational corporations that had set up business there was between 3 and 4% — a CEO’s dream! By comparison, the company tax rate is 39.5% in Japan, 39.2% in Britain, 34.4% in France and 28% in the US. Ireland’s budget deficit was nil in 2007. In this earthly paradise, everybody seemed to benefit.
The Sydney Peace Foundation awarded its “gold medal for peace with justice” to WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange on February 2 in recognition of his “exceptional courage and initiative in pursuit of human rights”. This award is different from the foundation’s annual Sydney Peace Prize. The foundation has awarded the gold medal on only three previous occasions: the Dalai Lama in 1998; Nelson Mandela in 2000 and Japanese lay Buddhist leader Daisaku Ikeda in 2009.