Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets of Yemen in anti-government protests. Demonstrators have demanded an end to the long-running regime of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Yemen’s coalition of political opposition parties, the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP), finally joined the protests in late February. This came after a speech in which Saleh, who has ruled Yemen for more than 30 years, blamed uprisings on a conspiracy by foreign governments — specifically the United States — to destabilise the nation.
David Hicks was one of the first “war on terror” detainees to be sent to the US military prison at Guantanamo the day it opened in January 2002. In a February 16 article, Truth-out.org’s Jason Leopold introduced Hicks as “the Australian drifter who converted to Islam, changed his name to Muhammed Dawood and ended up at training camps in Afghanistan the US government said were linked to al-Qaeda, one of which was visited by Osama bin Laden several times.
Folk music legend Pete Seeger has come out in support of the growing Palestinian movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel and in support of justice for Palestinians and a route to peace in the Middle East. Seeger, 92, took part in last November’s online virtual rally “With Earth and Each Other”, sponsored by the Arava Institute, an Israeli environmental organisation, and by the Friends of the Arava Institute.
To win socialism — a society democratically owned and run by and for the majority of people — we have to get rid of the capitalist system that stands in our way. But who is going to do this? The capitalists aren’t going to give up their privileges. It's those who are exploited and oppressed by the system that have an interest in changing it. Capitalism can't permanently satisfy the needs of the majority — the working class, farmers, women, ethnic and racial minorities and so on.
Hundreds of University of Melbourne students have been told they are no longer eligible for public transport concession fares. This is a result of the new "Melbourne Model" at the university, which now defines several courses (such as medicine and law) as postgraduate study. The March 2 Age said the changes made “the full-time students ineligible for student concession cards and forced to pay double their previous public transport costs".
Picture this: you drive past armed guards at the gate; then park your car next to a four-metre-high fence topped with electric wire. As you enter the building you’re searched, your phone is confiscated, your details are noted, then you pass through metal detectors and are tagged with ultraviolet pens. Once inside you find small children playing, and their families and friends, who have broken no laws. Surveillance cameras are ever-present and guards patrol the grounds.
The statement below was released by the Socialist Alliance on March 6. * * * The carbon price framework recently agreed to by the ALP and the Greens is a step in the wrong direction. This is not because, as the Coalition says, the economy — read the profits of big business — cannot afford to cut emissions. It’s because the framework will be counterproductive to real action on climate change. The highest prices now being discussed will simply stimulate a mass rollout of gas, extending Australia's commitment to fossil fuels at the expense of renewable energy.
The casual observer might easily conclude that there are just two clear sides in the parliamentary debate over the Labor/Greens carbon price deal. But there is a lot more to the debate than this. Clearly the Greens are in favour, and appear to have won over PM Julia Gillard’s government to an interim carbon tax. On the other hand, opposition leader Tony Abbott has promised a Tea Party-style uprising against it. Abbott will push to rouse a fascistic “people’s” movement to try to bury the deal.
About 100 maritime workers and community members rallied at Fremantle's Victoria Quay on March 4 to demand the federal and state government act in support of the human rights of the crew of the Bader III, a live sheep carrier. The workers on the Bader III and its sister ship, the Maysora, are owed about $400,000 in back pay. Their employer said it will only pay them out when they complete their contracts, which are typically nine to 12 months long.
More than 80 people attended an at-times heated meeting on March 3 organised by Illawarra Residents for Responsible Mining (IRRM) in Russellvale, north of Wollongong. The meeting was held across the road from the entrance of Gujarat NRE’s number 1 colliery. This meeting doubled as a meet-the-candidates event for the NSW state elections and a question and answer session about Gujarat NRE’s plans to expand coal production. Representatives of the mine attended the meeting.
Rupert Murdoch’s global media empire just got bigger after the British government approved his takeover of the British satellite pay TV group BSkyB on March 4. Not even evidence raised in the British parliament of his minions from the notorious rag News of the World hacking into the phones of politicians and other prominent figures (including members of the British royal family) slowed down this latest takeover.
Climate research group Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE) has released a briefing paper for the NSW elections. It outlines the proposals for NSW in the Zero Carbon Australia 2020 Stationary Energy Plan (ZCA2020) — a plan to transition Australia to 100% renewable energy within 10 years, using commercially available technologies. ZCA2020 was launched last year around Australia, gaining widespread attention. It showed that the transition to renewables is technologically possible. Further, it put a price of about 3% of GDP on the transition to 100% renewables in 10 years.
Insurance companies are collecting about $300,000 in interest every day they hold off paying the victims of Queensland’s flood disaster, said the February 28 Courier Mail. The floods swept through the state in January. Six weeks later, just 10% of claims had been paid. The insurance industry has raked in big profits in the past few years. The Courier Mail said “net profit for general insurers soared from $2.8 billion to $4.44 billion. Total assets jumped from $65 billion to $98 billion.”
A meeting of more than 40 activists on March 3 agreed to form the "CHOGM Action Network''. The meeting was called to plan protest actions during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), which will take place in Perth in October. Meeting participants decided to begin organising a peaceful mass rally on October 28. The protest will coincide with the opening day of the summit. The WA state government has declared the day a public holiday.
Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu announced on March 1 that the government would push ahead with the unpopular plan to build Australia’s largest desalination plant in Wonthaggi. This is despite pre-election promises that he would re-examine the contract with Aquasure, the private consortium commissioned to build and operate the plant, which was approved under Labor premier John Brumby in 2007. According to the Age on March 1, the eventual price tag is "$24 billion that is expected to double household water bills over the next five years".
The secretaries of eight NSW unions have signed a letter to the NSW Greens urging them to “commit to an upper house preference swap with Labor” at the upcoming NSW state election. The unions represented include the Communications Electrical Plumbing (Telecommunications and Services Branch), the Construction Forestry Mining Energy union (Energy and Construction divisions), the Maritime Union of Australia national office, the Fire Brigade Employees Union, the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, the Australian Services Union and the Liquor Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers’ Union.