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The recent rebellion in the Arab world has not just shaken the foundations of authoritarian regimes across the north of Africa to the Arabian Peninsula. It has also shattered many of the myths and prejudiced stereotypes propagated by the corporate media and right-wing politicians about Arab peoples.
Disgraced Tunisian foreign minister Ahmed Ounaies resigned on February 13 from the interim government set up after dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali resigned on January 14 in the face of huge protests. The government has introduced fresh reforms as protests for democracy and economic justice continue in the north African country. Ounaies, a former diplomat whose appointment to the interim government was announced on January 27, described French foreign minister Michelle Alliot-Marie as “above all a friend of Tunisia”.
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.
The Egyptian people’s revolution has entered a new phase after the fall of dictator Hosni Mubarak on February 11. The first reaction to Mubarak’s resignation after 18 days of continuous protests was one of celebration. Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the centre of the uprising, turned into the scene of a giant party for days afterwards in celebration of the exit of Mubarak, who had ruled Egypt for three decades. Undoubtedly, the widespread feeling was that it was time to begin building a “new Egypt”.
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.
Elections in the Rail Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) are being held throughout Australia in the National and State branches in February. There are two main tickets contesting the national and NSW elections. In NSW, the incumbent right-wing Labor leadership team is called Unity. It has failed to defend conditions and jobs against the unpopular Labor government's cuts and privatisations. The Members Voice (MV) ticket is a broad united front of those who oppose the current leadership and advocate increased funding and staffing, and a clear strategy to reverse privatisation.
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.”
Activists fighting to defend Sandon Point won an important victory in the Land and Environment Court in early February, opening the way for ongoing legal challenges to Stockland’s development at the site. Stockland has been clearing the site to build the McCauley's Beach residential development. It is the last green strip from the escarpment to the coast in the northern Illawarra. A community campaign against the development has been going for over 10 years. In late 2009, then-planning minister Kristina Keneally approved the development under Part 3A planning laws.
If you intended to remedy the global collapse of fishing stocks, the last thing you would do is book a date with Japanese whalers at an upmarket seafood restaurant. Similarly, if you were writing a book on human rights, asking Kim Jong Il to write a chapter might undermine its credibility. By the same logic, inviting the world’s corporate and political elites to a ski resort in the Swiss Alps to discuss the growing disparity between the world’s rich and poor is distasteful and ludicrous.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard delivered the federal government’s third “closing the gap” report on February 9. The report is an annual review of national efforts to address the mortality gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians. In an outrageous denial of the government’s failure, Gillard called for Aboriginal people to accept the blame for critical crises in health, education, employment and housing and chronic community breakdown.
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.
On February 14, I went to the seventh "Remember TJ Hickey" rally at Redfern. TJ Hickey was a 17-year-old Aboriginal boy who was killed in a dangerous police pursuit in 2004. The state government and the NSW police moved to cover up their role in TJ's death. A coronial inquest exonerated the police involved. But the inquest ignored important evidence, including witness accounts that said police had chased TJ moments before his death.
Leaked emails have revealed a plot by private internet security firms to bring down WikiLeaks. The plot was allegedly created on behalf of the Bank of America — the largest bank in the US. WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange has said Bank of America will be the subject of future leaks. Computer-hacker group Anonymous revealed the plot after stealing 50,000 internal emails from internet security company HBGary Federal.
Below is Jess Moore's speech to the “Stop the sell-off” rally in Wollongong on February 6. Moore is a Socialist Alliance candidate for the Legislative Council in the NSW elections. She addressed the rally on behalf of the Wollongong Climate Action Network (WCAN). *** We all know that privatisation means increased prices, we know that it means less reliable services, we know that it means job cuts to the public sector, and it means disregard for the environment.
Following revelations that The New York Times liaised with the White House before publishing information supplied to it by WikiLeaks, the website’s editor-in-chief, Julian Assange, has revealed the British Guardian edited out “all sorts” of information before publishing US diplomatic cables. Assange told SBS’s Dateline on February 13 how WikiLeaks’ relationship with the two papers, with which it had worked, had soured.

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