Venezuelan foreign ministry official statement The president and commander-in-chief of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, in the name of the Venezuelan people, applauds the genuine lesson of political and democratic maturity that the courageous Egyptian people have brought before the eyes of the world.
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For communities affected by Cyclone Yasi and the recent floods across Queensland, Western Australia, NSW, Victoria and Tasmania, it will be no comfort to hear that the Fair Work Act provides little protection for workers from unscrupulous employers. Many bosses will choose to stand workers down without pay if their business is affected by these natural disasters. At the height of the Queensland floods, state Workplace Rights Ombudsman Don Brown told ABC Online on January 21 that employers have the right to not pay workers for time off caused by the floods.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez expressed his support for workers in a dispute at a Venezuelan Coca-Cola plant conflict in a televised address on February 4. “If Coca-Cola doesn’t want to comply with the constitution and the law, well, we can live without Coca-Cola,” he said to cheers from the crowd. Chavez was speaking in Valencia, the capital of Carabobo state, where 1230 workers are striking in a bottling and distribution plant of Coca-Cola Femsa.
Socialist Alliance candidate for upper house in the coming NSW elections Bea Bleile expressed her continuing support for family of TJ Hickey, who are still fighting for justice following his death in 2004. TJ Hickey, a young Aboriginal man, was killed during a police chase. He was impaled on a spiked fence in Phillip St, Waterloo. In 2006, the NSW coroner exonerated the police involved from any wrongdoing. Yet a large amount of evidence was not included in the hearing. The family has called for the inquest to be reopened.
The fall of Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak sent waves of joy, jubilation and relief through Sydney's Egyptian community, who celebrated their country's newfound freedom outside Town Hall on February 12. Amnesty International hosted the celebrations. Socialist Alliance members, and members of other left groups, were also present as part of their ongoing campaign of solidarity with the Egyptian people. Chants of “Down, down Mubarak” from previous solidarity rallies were replaced with choruses of “Freedom for Muslims, Christians, Jews! Freedom for everyone!"
Venezuela marked the 12th anniversary of President Hugo Chavez’s first oath of office in February 1999 on February 2. Chavez won presidential elections in December 1998 on a pro-poor program that pledged to break the corrupt, two-party system that had dominated Venezuela since 1958. To commemorate the occasion, Chavez and supporters held four televised site visits in Caracas. The visits highlighted gains in education, food, health and people’s power that have occurred as part of the “Bolivarian revolution” the Chavez government is leading.
More than 400 people attended a February 7 forum that condemned the federal government’s intervention into Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory. The forum was organised by Concerned Australians. It coincided with the launch of a public statement addressed “to the people of Australia” by seven Indigenous elders. The statement asked for support to “help to put an end to the nightmare that Northern Territory people are experiencing on a daily basis”.
Conservative Party chairperson and the first Muslim woman to attend the British cabinet, Sayeeda Warsi, said in January that Islamophobia and prejudice against Muslims has “passed the dinner table test” and is now widely accepted in Britain. The rise of Islamophobia within Western societies has grown more since the September 11, 2001 attacks in the US. A 2007 Zogby International study said 76% of Arab-American youth surveyed had been discriminated against.
“The situation in Egypt is different than the situation of Sudan,” Sudanese government spokesperson Rabie Atti insisted to reporters after January 30 anti-government protests. “We don’t have one small group that controls everything. Wealth is distributed equally. We’ve given power to the states.” Atti proves one similarity between Hosni Mubarak’s regime in Egypt and that of Sudanese President Omar al Bashir: both make ludicrous public statements that show no understanding of reality or the consciousness of their populations.
Over the decades that have marked the tenure of Egypt's “President for Life” Hosni Mubarak, there has been one consistent nexus for anger, organisation and practical experience in the ancient art of street fighting: the country's soccer clubs. During the current pro-democracy uprising, the most organised, militant fan clubs, also known as the “ultras”, have put those years of experience to ample use.
At a packed Leichhardt Town Hall candidates meeting on February 7, education minister Verity Firth all but conceded that the Labor state government would not be returned on March 26. Firth said she was looking forward to rebuilding the ALP from the opposition benches. She was unconvincing. Firth told the meeting she joined the ALP when she was a 15-year-old idealist. “Genuine lasting change is about more than slogans,” she said. “When you’re in government you cannot just issue a press release or organise a protest rally ... because governing is far more complex.”
Less than a week after Australians learned about the death of the 22nd Australian soldier killed in Afghanistan, Corporal Richard Atkinson, footage aired by Channel 7 on February 8 showed opposition leader Tony Abbott caught with his pants down. “Shit happens,” Abbott told a US general during an August visit to Afghanistan as they discussed the circumstances surrounding the death of another Australian soldier — Lance Corporal Jared MacKinney. MacKinney’s family had questioned whether the standard of the Australian Defence Force’s equipment contributed to his death.
Across Australia, moves are afoot to pass bills to legalise same-sex marriage. The Tasmanian Greens were first to introduce such a bill in 2008. Greens leader Nick McKim introduced the bill again in November. The Tasmanian ALP was the first state Labor branch to announce its support for same-sex marriage, but this has not led it to support the Greens’ bill. ABC news reported on November 7 that former Tasmanian Labor premier David Bartlett said: “I have personally no opposition to same-sex marriage in Australia, but I see it as a purview of the federal parliament.”
It isn’t often that socialists, Greens, Liberals and NGOs agree on an issue. But that is the case regarding uranium exploration in the Arkaroola region in the Flinders Ranges, 700 kilometres north of Adelaide. Marathon Resources announced on February 7 that the South Australian Labor government had renewed the company's mining licence in Arkaroola. The Arkaroola area is a unique environment, unlike anywhere else on Earth. It has over 160 species of birds, is home to species of fauna found nowhere else in the world and is a sanctuary for the endangered yellow-footed rock wallaby.