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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.

“As rain poured down last night, I thought I can’t possibly go this morning, but then I got on WLCentral this morning and Daniel Ellsberg has been arrested in his 80s outside the White House, so we can brave a little rain!”

These were the thoughts of one local activist at a Sydney rally in support of alleged WikiLeaks whistleblower Bradley Manning on March 20. The rally was part of an international day of action called by Bradleymanning.org and Courage to Resist.

The public forum “Breaking Australia's silence: WikiLeaks and freedom” took place on March 16 at Sydney Town Hall. More than 2000 people attended. The event was staged by the Sydney Peace Foundation, Amnesty, the Sydney Stop the War Coalition, and supported by the City of Sydney.

It featured speeches by journalist John Pilger, MP Andrew Wilkie (the only serving Western intelligence officer to expose the truth about the Iraq invasion) and human rights lawyer Julian Burnside, QC.

Pilger’s speech to the meeting appears below. The video recording of the event also appears below.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s governing Christian Democratic Union (CDU) survived a narrow vote in elections for the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt.

The right-wing CDU lost 3% of the vote from the previous elections, dropping to 32.6% support. The two other big parties in the state, the far left Die Linke and the centrist Social Democrats (SPD), remained steady on 23.8% and 21.5% respectively.

Merkel’s allies at a federal level — the pro-free market Free Democrats — failed to cross the 5% threshold needed to win a seat, as did the neo-Nazi National Democratic Party (NPD).

"There are two systems of justice in Queensland: one to protect the police service, and another to crush Aboriginal people," Sam Watson, Murri community leader, told a rally outside State Parliament in Brisbane on March 23.

More than 50 people gathered to protest the decision of the Queensland Police Service and the Criminal Misconduct Commission (CMC) not to lay any charges against six police officers involved in the cover-up of the death in custody of Mulrunji Doomadgee in November 2004 on Palm Island.

The public forum “Breaking Australia's silence: WikiLeaks and freedom” took place on March 16 at Sydney Town Hall. More than 2000 people attended. The event was staged by the Sydney Peace Foundation, Amnesty, Stop the War Coalition, and supported by the City of Sydney

It featured speeches by John Pilger, Andrew Wilkie MP (the only serving Western intelligence officer to expose the truth about the Iraq invasion) and human rights lawyer Julian Burnside QC.

Wilkie’s address to the forum is below. The video recording of the event also appears below.

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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.

The Socialist Alliance condemned the recent decision by federal environment minister Tony Burke to give final approval to Gunns' Tamar Valley pulp mill, located near Launceston, in a March 24 statement.

Socialist Alliance spokesperson Susan Austin said: “We could never support the Gunns pulp mill in the Tamar Valley , due to the corrupt nature with which it was approved.

“In addition, we oppose it because of its likely toxic effects on the environment and the community.”

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.

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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.

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.

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