If the last federal election promised the beginnings of a break from the two-parties-for-capitalism electoral system that has plagued Australian politics for the past century, the March 29, 2011 NSW election seems to be a lurch in the other direction. The Liberal-National Coalition won dominance of the Legislative Assembly and (with small right-wing parties) control of the Legislative Council because a large number of working class voters punished the Labor party with a -13.5% swing.
Despite their talk about democracy, the governments of the US and other Western nations are very interested in stopping the wave of democratic uprisings across the Arab world. The threat of real democracy is not compatible with the system of economic dominance and political control that the US enforces across the world. The US will do everything it can to stop the resource-rich Arab countries from escaping its clutches, especially when it has already spent so much effort on propping up tyrannical governments across the region.
Melbourne activists protested outside Zimbabwe Airlines office on Monday 21 March to call for the release of six Zimbabwe activists who are facing charges of treason with threat of a death penalty. The activists were arrested while watching a film about the uprising in Egypt and have been tortured in prison. Forty-five people were arrested but 39 have since been released. The remaining six are still in serious danger.
Prominent British columnist George Monbiot announced in the British Guardian on March 21 that he now supports nuclear power. That isn't a huge surprise — having previously opposed nuclear power, he announced himself “nuclear-neutral” in 2009.
The Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh is under increased pressure to step down after the defection in recent days of key tribal leaders, government ministers, diplomats and army units. The defectors have pledged support for anti-government protesters. Tens of thousands of people marched in the capital, Sana’a, on March 25 to demand Saleh step down, AlJazeera.net said that day. However, the article said Saleh gave a defiant speech to supporters, insisting he would only hand over power “to capable, responsible hands”.
“We have been betrayed by our members of parliament,” ABC television personality Peter Cundell told a rally of more than 1500 people protesting against the proposed Gunns Ltd pulp mill on March 20. “They have betrayed the very people they are supposed to represent. This is only the beginning ... We are going to defeat this mill, make no mistake about it.”
The federal ALP government is pushing ahead with the punitive system of “income management” despite the fact that it is racist, unfair and expensive. In June 2010, the federal government passed legislation allowing the extension of welfare quarantining beyond the 73 Northern Territory remote communities that were its first target.
The statement below was published by the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions Working Group (South Africa) on March 23. It’s abridged from www.pacbi.org . * * * Today, setting a worldwide precedent in the academic boycott of Israel, the University of Johannesburg (UJ) has effectively severed ties with Israel’s Ben-Gurion University (BGU). This was after UJ’s Senate rejected a last ditch motion by pro-Israeli lobbyists to have two separate bilateral agreements — one with a Palestinian University and another with an Israeli University.
More than 40 people attended a rally in Fremantle on March 21 in support of Zimbabwean political activists who have been charged with treason. The rally was held to coincide with the court hearing in Harare for activists Munyaradzi Gwisai, Tafadzwa Choto, Hopewell Gumbo, Welcome Zimuto, Tatenda Mombeyara and Edson Chakuma. Independent MP for Fremantle Adele Carles told the crowd: “These brave men and women are charged with treason and face the death penalty.
The situation inside every one of Australia’s refugee detention centres has grown dangerously volatile. Just days after the Christmas Island breakout and subsequent protests, nine refugees climbed on the roof of a detention centre in Darwin after watching the assault of another refugee on March 15. Two days later, a 20-year-old Afghan man hanged himself with a bedsheet at the Scherger detention centre after his refugee application was rejected.