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There was another win for “people’s power” in Egypt when interim prime minister Ahmed Shafiq resigned on March 3. Shafiq was sworn in by the overthrown dictator Hosni Mubarak and is closely associated with the old regime. He was replaced by former transport minister Essam Sharaf, who was asked by the military government to form a cabinet in the lead-up to elections scheduled for later this year.
When the Kyoto Protocol was being negotiated in 1997, the European Union opposed the United States’ proposal to introduce carbon trading and “offsetting” as a form of compliance with mandated greenhouse gas emissions reductions. Instead, the EU favoured coordinated policies and measures. But by 2001, when the US unilaterally abandoned climate negotiations, the EU had already reversed its position and enthusiastically supported delivering the fate of climate policy to a speculative market.
The regime of Muammar Gaddafi has escalated its violence against rebel forces seeking to bring it down. On March 6, opponents of the regime were reported to be in control of several cities, especially in Libya’s east. AlJazeera.net said on March 4 that anti-government protests in the capital, Tripoli, had been met with tear gas by security forces. Opponents said Az Zawiyah, a town just 40 kilometres from Tripoli that is home to an oil refinery, was mostly under rebel control.
ASIO has delayed the release of 900 refugees from immigration detention because it had not carried out security checks, a Senate estimate hearing on February 24 revealed.   Refugees can be held indefinitely after their visa approval until checks on their background, family networks and “risk” level are complete.   Lateline said on March 1 that it took an average of 66 days to process one person. But some refugees have been held for 12 months or longer.  
In the face of renewed protests in Tunisia's capital, Tunis, Tunisian prime minister Mohamed Ghannouchi resigned on February 27. This was one of the key demands of the popular movement, which has continued to push for democracy in the aftermath of the January 14 toppling of dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. In another concession to the mass movement, the interim government announced that elections for a constituent assembly to draft a new constitution would be held on July 24, AlJazeera.net said on March 4.
National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) members at Macquarie University in Sydney took rolling industrial action across four faculties during the first teaching week of semester. The industrial action was part of a campaign for a new collective agreement for academic staff. Three hundred staff and students rallied on March 3 to hear about the bargaining impasse. Issues of concern for staff include overcrowded classes, lack of facilities, workloads, budget cuts and job security.
Many millions of tonnes of coal have been exported since activists dubbed the Rising Tide Seven temporarily shut down coal loaders in Newcastle in September last year. They were convicted on January 31 of “remaining on enclosed lands”. Each was fined $300, plus $79 in court costs. However, on March 3, they were vindicated when magistrate Elaine Truscott rejected the Port Waratah Coal Services’ (PWCS) $525,000 “compensation” claim.
Mining company BHP Billiton’s whopping $10.5 billion profit for the second half of 2010 highlights the shameless greed of those making a fortune out of Australia’s valuable resources. Remember the tantrum thrown by BHP, Rio Tinto and Xstrata less than a year ago after then-PM Kevin Rudd proposed the Resource Super Profits Tax (RSPT)? The RSPT wasn’t a radical proposal. Part of the revenue from the modest 40% tax would have been returned to the corporate sector, helping to fund a cut in the already low corporate tax rate and various subsidies to mining.
The protests that began on February 14 in Madison, Wisconsin against an anti-union bill have continued to grow. On February 26, an estimated 100,000 people defied sub-zero temperatures to rally against the bill. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s bill would outlaw collective bargaining for public sector workers, as well as slash pay and conditions. However, several events have combined to compound pressure on public sector workers and unions resisting the attacks. It remains to be seen whether this pressure will result in the proposed bill becoming law.
The Greens candidate for Heathcote in the NSW elections, Phil Smith, has renewed his party’s call for a moratorium on coal seam gas mining in the state. He said gas extraction poses real risks for communities throughout the Heathcote electorate, a seat that spans from southern Sydney to the northern Illawarra. The Labor state government recently approved 15 coal seam gas wells in the northern Illawarra region. “The Greens are leading the call for an immediate moratorium,” Smith told Green Left Weekly.
HOBART — About 20 people attended an Aboriginal rights forum organised on February 24 by the Socialist Alliance. The forum heard from a panel of representatives from the Tasmanian Aboriginal community and explored a range of issues they are campaigning around, including the Brighton Bypass, heritage issues and the NT intervention.
In a joint statement on February 25, indigenous communities that make up the Native Federation of Madre de Dios River and Tributaries in south-eastern Peru rejected a military crackdown on illegal mining on their lands. The statement said it was a “false solution to a problem that has social and economic roots”. Environment minister Antonio Bracks authorised the operation in mid February —involving about 1000 police and infantrymen — to destroy illegal mining equipment including bombing of dredges.
The federal government’s expansion of income management in the Northern Territory has created new barriers for Aboriginal people who want to get off its welfare control scheme.   The rollout has also affected hundreds — possibly thousands — of others, including residents of Darwin and Alice Springs and newly arrived refugees.  
The underlying issue of racism in Australia has been a pervasive feature of national political life ever since the invasion of the First Fleet in 1788. It was used as an ideological justification for the dispossession of indigenous Australians. In 1975, the Racial Discrimination Act was implemented in order to enable all Australians, regardless of their racial and cultural background, to enjoy equal rights and to prohibit discriminative behaviour based on racial hatred.
Ireland’s governing Fianna Fáil (FF) party and its Green Party coalition partner were massacred in a general election revolt on February 26. The most successful establishment party in Western Europe for the past 80 years, FF was demolished – reduced from 77 to only 20 seats on the back of public outrage over austerity measures and social spending cuts. In Dublin, FF was reduced from 19 seats to one. The Greens — its partners in political crime — were wiped out entirely, failing to win a single seat in Dáil Éireann (Ireland’s parliament) and winning less than 2% of the vote.
MELBOURNE — About 200 people marched against the NT intervention and for equal pay and jobs with justice for Aboriginal workers on March 4. The rally was organised by the Melbourne Anti-Intervention Collective. It demanded an end to the exploitation of Aboriginal workers in the Northern Territory.  The intervention, which quarantines the welfare payments of targeted people,  has meant that Aboriginal people are in effect working for rations cards while living in extreme poverty.

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