Women workers in the United States are attacking low pay and bias from many angles, assailing wage laws that exclude them, suing over outright discrimination and trying to organise unions. And they’ve been confronting the disrespect that accompanies smaller paychecks. The pay gap between men and women in the US actually shrank in 2011. Women now average 82.2% of men’s earnings ― but the numbers don’t indicate progress because all workers lost buying power.
Invisible Children's “KONY 2012” film, which supports US military intervention in Uganda and has gone viral on the internet, has caused widespread outrage in the central African nation, Al Jazeera said on March 14. The article pointed out that most Ugandans have been excluded from the “internet revolution”. It said this means most of the victims of Joseph Kony, on whose past crimes the film focuses, have never heard of the film ― or even YouTube.
Ugandan newspapers carried front-page reports in recent weeks from the highly respected Social Science Research Council of New York, accusing the Ugandan army of atrocities against civilians in Central African Republic while on a mission to fight Joseph Kony and the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). The army denied the allegations. Many in the civilian population, especially in the north, were sceptical of the denial. Like all victims, they have long and enduring memories. See also:
The latest wave of murderous Israeli air strikes on Gaza, which began on March 9, appeared aimed at raising pressure for war on Iran and undermining Palestinian group Hamas. Al Jazeera said on March 13 that 25 Palestinians had been killed by Israeli forces in the first four days of air strikes. It said 18 of the dead had been identified as resistance fighters. A Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) report on March 12 said 73 Palestinians, mostly civilians, were wounded in the strikes.
The All Japan 3.11 Action Committee released the statement that is abridged below below on March 11. * * * March 11 marks the one year anniversary of the TEPCO Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor accident. Many people were forced to evacuate and still continue to live under hardship without enough compensation. Despite the fact that an rising number of people in Japan (up to 70%) want to end nuclear power, the Japanese government is obsessively promoting it.
A protest of 250 people took place outside NSW parliament on March 15. It was organised by anti-coal seam gas (CSG) groups Stop CSG Sydney and Stop CSG Illawarra. The action coincided with the parliamentary debate of a petition, signed by 20,000 people, calling for a statewide moratorium on CSG mining, a royal commission into its effects and an immediate ban on fracking.
Tens of thousands filled the square as the echoes of the speaker at the podium boomed through huge speakers. Some came in anger, others in grief, but all agreed: it was time for a change. Many carried banners, others carried drums; some had taken their children out of school to attend. No, this wasn't Tahrir Square; it was Tokyo, Japan, on a chilly Monday last September. Ever since the devastating earthquake and tsunami that crippled the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station, Japanese civil society has become less, well, polite.
For the US military and the pro-war Western corporate media, the March 11 slaughter of 16 civilians, nine of them children, as they slept in their homes in the villages of Alkozai and Najeeban in Panjwai district, Kandahar province, was an aberration. For Afghans, it was just the latest massacre. There are differing accounts of what happened. The US maintains the killings were the work of a single “rogue” soldier. Eyewitnesses, however, insist there was more than one attacker.
United States secretary of state Hillary Clinton, speaking to the US Senate Appropriations Committee last month, said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad meets the criteria of a war criminal. Telegraph.co.uk reported on February 28 that Clinton said: “Based on definitions of war criminal and crimes against humanity, there would be an argument to be made that he would fit into that category.” But long experience indicates such moves can complicate the resolution of violent conflicts, as it limits options for negotiated settlements and can encourage war criminals to fight to the bitter end.
The following statement was issued by the South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU) in support of six Zimbabwean activists and socialists facing trial for “inciting public violence” in relation to screening a video more than a year ago in support of the Egyptian pro-democracy uprising. * * * The South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU) is alarmed to hear reports that the six Zimbabwean activists who dared to show and discuss a film of the Egyptian uprising last year in Harare and who are in court defending themselves, are in danger of receiving heavy prison sentences.
Newly appointed foreign minister Bob Carr said in a January blog post: “As [NSW] Premier, I never saw a demonstration that didn’t hurt the side that mounted it. And I was never persuaded by a noisy crowd with a few placards.” But on March 2, the same week he was appointed, the federal government gave a powerful confirmation of the power of protests.
Climate activists like Newcastle group Rising Tide have labelled December’s draft Energy White Paper (EWP), which charts the federal government’s plan for Australia’s future energy mix, a “black” paper. The group says the paper “plans to further expand fossil fuel extraction (both domestically and for exports) at the expense of renewable [energy]”.
The Northern Territory has become Australia’s refugee detention capital. The federal immigration department’s new plan is to fund extra police for NT detention centres. The immigration department, Australian Federal Police and the NT police agreed on March 12 to a two-year deal for 94 new police officers, worth $53 million. NT chief minister Paul Henderson said it was “great news for the people of Darwin”.
Another company is following in the footsteps of Qantas by locking out its workers from March 5 to 14. Sigma, a company that distributes pharmacy products to wholesale and retail customers, locked out 150 workers in an attempt to intimidate them into ceasing all industrial action. The workers are members of the National Union of Workers. The workers walked off the job for 48 hours on February 23 after Sigma management told them that it would cut night-time shift loadings. Workers at both the company’s sites at Rowville in Melbourne and Shepparton walked off.
Community workers were granted long-awaited pay rises in a historic decision by Fair Work Australia on February 1. Before this decision, the 16 previous equal pay cases tried to improve pay for sectors that employ mostly women, such as the community services sector. Every case failed. The Australian Services Union waged a determined and ultimately successful campaign. This decision will give wage rises from 23-45% to youth support, disability, refuge, family support and social workers, and also clerical and administrative staff.
All suggestions of an insipid and apathetic Sydney University political culture have been shot dead over recent weeks by an inspired campaign by staff and students to defeat Vice-Chancellor Michael Spence's plans to cut 340 university staff, and cut courses and the budget by a further $28 million. Starting with a stunt at Orientation week, which disturbed Spence's opening address at the Great Hall, and a rally and march through the centre of the university, students have ensured that they've kept the pressure on Spence and his management cronies.