Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has ordered the expropriation of the British agricultural company Agroflora. The company is a subsidiary of Britain’s Vestey Group that focuses on the commercial production of beef. Chavez said the company’s 290,000 hectares of farmland would be expropriated and brought under direct “operational and administrative control” of the state through the country’s Food Security and Sovereignty Law. This law allows the government to forcefully expropriate land in “exceptional circumstances” relating to issues of national food security and the public good.
Experts hired to probe an earthquake near Blackpool left their paymaster red-faced today when they ruled that its controversial "fracking" for shale gas was the most likely cause. An independent report commissioned by energy firm Cuadrilla into possible links between drilling at its Preese Hall-1 well in Lancashire and tremors which hit the region earlier this year found that it was "highly probable" drlling was to blame. The report's release coincides with a protest on November 2 that stopped work at the Cuadrilla site near Southport.
The statement below was released by Tar Sands Action on October 31. The group is seeking to stop the Keystone XL pipeline, built to transport oil from the Athabasca tar sands in north-east Alberta, Canada, to refineries in the United States. Mining the Athabasca tar sands is one of the most environmentally destructive practices on the planet. For more information, visit www.tarsandsaction.org . * * * Yesterday we got some of the strongest confirmation yet that efforts to stop the Keystone XL pipeline are having a long-term impact on the tar sands industry.
Strong>The Short Goodbye: A Skewed History of the Last Boom and the Next Bust By Elisabeth Wynhausen Melbourne University Publishing, 2011 219 pages, $29.99 (pb) From writing stories about workers being sacked during the 2009 global financial crisis, Elisabeth Wynhausen, a journalist at Rupert Murdoch’s The Australian, got a taste of the real thing when she was handed a pink slip of her own.
Two civilian boats, the Canadian Tahrir (“Liberation”), and the Irish Saoirse (“Freedom”), carried 27 people from nine countries to try to reach the beleaguered Gaza Strip to challenge Israel’s ongoing criminal blockade of the territory. On November 4, the two ships were illegally boarded by the Israeli military in international waters. All passengers, including Australian activist Michael Coleman, were detained by Israel.
In a grim piece of political theatre that is becoming more frequent, and more surreal, a sombre PM Julia Gillard on October 30 acknowledged the latest three Australian fatalities in Afghanistan by claiming that Australia was winning a just war there. The death toll of Australian soldiers in the decade-long war is now 32. Military deaths in Afghanistan are unusually bipartisan events in Australian politics. Gillard’s claims were unreservedly backed up by the Liberal-National opposition.
Occupy Sydney marches down George Street.

About 1500 people joined an Occupy Sydney rally at Town Hall on November 5, making it the largest of the three Occupy Sydney marches so far. Members of the Maritime Union of Australia and other unions filled out the crowd. The crowd marched to Martin Place -- where Occupy Sydney had set up a permanent camp from October 15-23 until being violently evicted by police. Police took legal action to stop the march on November 5, but the day before an agreement was reached allow a different, shorter march route.

“When I meet with [climate change] minister Greg Combet next week I will be taking my prescription pad with me and I will be writing a prescription for solar thermal for Port Augusta, not just three times a day but permanently,” said Dr David Shearman of Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA) to a 120-strong crowd in Port Augusta’s Cooinda Club on October 29. Shearman was one of several speakers at the forum, which was organised by the Adelaide-based Climate Emergency Action Network (CLEAN), the Port Augusta City Council and Beyond Zero Emissions.
Occupy Melbourne has re-established its occupation at Melbourne’s Treasury Gardens. Its general assemblies are still held in City Square, the original Occupy Melbourne site. Since being violently evicted from City Square on October 21, Occupy Melbourne has become a travelling occupation. When the Occupy Melbourne march arrived at the Treasury Gardens on October 29, it was met with a big police contingent, including police on horses. The police had threatened to arrest anyone who tried to pitch tents.
When Annie Leonard put her groundbreaking cartoon The Story of Stuff online in late 2007, she would have been really happy if 50,000 people had watched it. “To my utter amazement we got 50,000 viewers on the first day,” she told Green Left Weekly during a recent visit to Australia. Almost four years later, more than 15 million people, in every country in the world, have watched The Story of Stuff.
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams led a dramatic walkout from the Dublin parliament (Dail) on November 2. The protest was over the coalition government’s decision to hand over more than €700 million to an unknown private investor in the failed Anglo Irish Bank. Finance minister Michael Noonan admitted in the Dail there was no legal obligation to refund the bond investment, which was not covered by the former government’s bank guarantee. With the government refusing a debate on the matter, Adams led the walkout of Sinn Fein and United Left Alliance parliamentarians.
Strike action by thousands of workers at the notorious Grasberg gold and copper mine in West Papua since September 15 has brought operations to a halt, despite attempts to stop the strike. The mine is the largest and most profitable in territory controlled by Indonesia and has a long association with human rights abuses. It is owned by US mining giant Freeport-McMoRan and British-Australian company Rio Tinto. West Papua has been occupied by Indonesia for nearly five decades, despite strong demands from Papuans for self-determination.
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