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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.
The science that informs us about climate change is becoming more and more alarming. The National Snow and Ice Date Center said on March 23: “On March 7, 2011, Arctic sea ice likely reached its maximum extent for the year, at 14.64 million square kilometers (5.65 million square miles). “The maximum extent was 1.2 million square kilometers (463,000 square miles) below the 1979 to 2000 average of 15.86 million square kilometers (6.12 million square miles), and equal (within 0.1%) to 2006 for the lowest maximum extent in the satellite record.”
Twenty people gathered on March 21 in Mitchell Park to commemorate the victims of the March 11 tsunami in Japan. The gathering made paper cranes and heard from Sachi Hirayama from Darwin Youth for the Japanese Disaster who promoted charity events for the cause. Cat Beaton read a statement from Environment Centre Northern Territory saying that people’s thoughts were with those who lost loved ones as a result of the natural disaster but also with the workers struggling to rebuild after the devastation.
Former Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Haiti’s last elected president, has finally returned home. He was kidnapped from Haiti in a US-backed coup in 2004 and exiled in South Africa until his March 18 return. Aristide returned to a country still devastated by last year’s earthquake. The US and its allies broke their promises to provide badly needed aid. Two months earlier, Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, the notorious former dictator overthrown in a mass rebellion in 1986, also returned to Haiti.
Award-winning novelist and environmentalist Richard Flanagan gave the speech below at a March 19 rally north of Launceston against the forest giant Gunns’ proposal to build a pulp mill in the nearby Tamar valley. * * * Seven long years ago [then Tasmanian Premier] Paul Lennon and [former Gunns chairperson] John Gay decided they would build their pulp mill. The people did not agree. They tried to silence us, to intimidate us, to threaten us, to break us and destroy us. Lately they’ve even tried to flatter us and to divide us.
What's the best mix of electricity supply sources for Australia in the context of growing scientific and public concern about climate change? Energy efficiency and conservation provide the first part of the answer — they can provide large, quick, cheap greenhouse emissions reductions. Many studies envisage energy efficiency and conservation doing much of the “heavy lifting” to reduce greenhouse emissions. See also: George Monbiot's nuclear mistakes
This poem, by Afrodity Giannakis, is translated from Greek, It was published in a book also entitled Stowaway. * * * A stowaway in your life, a refugee in your land, an exile in your country, a foreigner in your homeland, of your history — you’d think — an invisible viewer. Forever inside waiting rooms. A patience test. An endurance test in the age of abstention. The only power they have left you: Gossiping life. Talking about life behind her back.
The World According to Monsanto: Pollution, Politics & Power Marie-Monique Robin Spinifex Press, 2010. 373 pages, $44.95 (pb) “What counts for us is making money,” said a Monsanto vice-president to a new employee at an induction session in 1998, reminding the idealistic novice that there is a simple, and crude, capitalist philosophy at the heart of the US chemical and biotechnology giant.
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.
About 50 people gathered at Murray St Mall, Perth on March 22 to participate in a speak-out called by the Refugee Rights Action Network. The protest was called in response to the deteriorating conditions inside the detention centres and the recent use of tear gas and rubber bullets against the Christmas Island protestors.
On March 20, 1500 people marched in Tokyo opposing nuclear power in the aftermath of the nuclear power plant disaster in Fukushima that followed the devastating March 9 earthquake. Protesters also opposed the imposition of fiscal austerity by the government in the face of the earthquake disaster. Activists have also staged speak-outs at the offices of Tokyo Electric, which runs the Fukushima plants, and government offices.
United States President Barack Obama’s visit to El Salvador on March 22 became a focal point for protests. Protests were organised that day by Central American social movement organisations and their North American allies outraged by US trade policy and military meddling in the region. Local environmental and community organisations joined with allies such as US-El Salvador Sister Cities and Committees in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador to mobilise students and workers for rallies in the US and El Salvador on March 22.
Two days after staging a rooftop protest, Burmese Rohingyan refugees inside the Northern Immigration Detention Centre (NIDC), received a notice on March 17 from the immigration department. “Your concerns about the delays in finalising cases are understandable,” it said.
Australia is one step closer towards embracing disability as part of human diversity. On February 28 the Australian Government Productivity Commission released a draft report on Disability Care and Support. If the general recommendations of the report were to be implemented, people with disability, their families and carers would achieve a much-needed improvement to their lives, albeit starting in 2014-15. The report recommends a doubling of funding to the disability support system based on 2009-2010 spending, financed from general revenue.
The United Nations Security Council voted on March 19 to approve a military intervention into Libya, with 10 votes in favour and five absentions. It was presented as a response to calls from besieged rebels fighting the Muammar Gaddafi dictatorship for a “no-fly zone” to protect them, especially in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi. The rebels also said they opposed “Western intervention”.
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.

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