When the first issue of Green Left Weekly came out on February 18, 1991, it was a dark time for the left. The collapse of Stalinist regimes in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe had capitalism’s mouthpieces loudly proclaiming the “end of history”. But GLW saw it very differently. It was launched by members of the Democratic Socialist Party (DSP — which has now merged into the Socialist Alliance) to help regroup progressive forces to keep pushing for a pro-people alternative.
A rebellion is developing across Britain in the face of huge spending cuts by the Conservative Party-Liberal Democrat coalition government. The scale of the cuts is huge. The government is seeking to privatise huge swathes of the economy and hundreds of thousands of public sector jobs are under threat. They have also cut corporation tax, but sharply increased the goods and services VAT tax from 17.5% to 20%, which hits those on lower incomes hardest. By changing the inflation measure used to determine benefits and pensions, the government is plunging more people into poverty.
The Business Council of Australia (BCA), which represents Australia's 100 biggest companies, said on February 14 that the federal government should consider cutting the disability pension as an alternative to the Queensland flood levy. How low can these grubs go? Only days later, BCA’s biggest member, BHP-Billiton, posted a record $10.5 billion half-year profit.
Activists from the Refugee Action Coalition (RAC) confronted Immigration Minister Chris Bowen and opposition Immigration spokesperson Scott Morrison at a Harmony Day event in Sydney on February 17. "You've forgotten to tell us what you did this morning," RAC's Paul Benedek called out to Bowen after his speech. That morning, Bowen had overseen the forced return of 22 survivors of the Christmas Island tragedy (including Seena, a nine-year-old boy orphaned in the incident) back to detention on the island after a short stay in Sydney to bury their dead relatives.
On November 10, tens of thousands of students marched through London against education cuts and fee hikes. This was an indication of the revival of a militant student movement in Britain. Clare Solomon, president of the University of London Union, told Green Left Weekly: “That demonstration was absolutely electric, especially when we occupied the Millbank Tory party headquarters. “There were thousands and thousands of 14, 15 and 16-year-old students, dancing, singing, hugging. It really was like a carnival of the oppressed.”
Three years ago then-prime minister Kevin Rudd promised to release children from immigration detention. Instead, his legacy left more children in detention centres than under the conservative Howard government — 1003 at last count. In October 2010, Prime Minister Julia Gillard said locking up children was not "the Australian way". Community housing was the solution and all children would be out by June 2011, she said.
Stalin Ate My Homework By Alexei Sayle Sceptre, 2010, 304 pages, $35 (pb) Even at primary school in Liverpool in the 1950s, Alexei Sayle, was a “mouthy little bastard”. So the British comedian, whose stand-up career began at the London Comedy Store in 1979 and became well-known for his role in TV shows The Young Ones and
, writes in his memoir Stalin Ate My Homework.
The statement below was released by Tangentyere Council on February 11 in response to Prime Minister Julia Gillard's Closing the Gap 2011 address. *** The intervention in the Northern Territory has created a number of alarming issues. To a large extent the Aboriginal population in the Central Australian Region has become disengaged from any development process with growing signs of increasing despair and family breakdowns.
An Ecuadorian court handed down a landmark verdict in an 18-year case against international oil-giant Chevron on February 14. The company was fined US$8.6 billion for polluting the Amazonian basin, and $900 million in costs. The case — perhaps the biggest environmental case in history — was filed on behalf of around 30,000 peasants, farmers, and indigenous Ecuadorians who have suffered the ill-effects of Chevron’s toxic legacy.
Two long-time ALP members, Luis Ernesto Almario and Rosendo Duran, announced their resignation from the ALP on February 17. Both will stand as Socialist Alliance (SA) candidates for the Legislative Council in the March NSW state elections. Almario and Duran are both political exiles from Colombia, forced to leave because of political persecution. Arriving in Australia in the mid-’80s, Almario joined his local branch of the ALP in Blacktown, and was later active in the ALP Parramatta branch.