Economic collapse drives workers into hunger and destitution. Foreign powers extort huge payments, forcing the national economy toward bankruptcy. The government forces workers to pay the costs of capitalist crisis. This description of Greece in 2012 applies equally to Germany in 1921. How should a workers’ party respond? The German Communist Party (KPD) proposed a simple fiscal policy: tax those who own the country’s productive wealth.
Voters in Germany’s largest state of 18 million people, North Rhine Westphalia, went to the polls on May 13 to reject Chancellor Angela Merkel’s politics. This came a week after the loss for Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in the election of Schleswig Holstein. These results mark a rejection of the hard line austerity politics pushed across Europe by the Merkel-led coalition government.
There is no end in sight to violence and repression in Honduras. There is also no end in sight to the United States and Canadian governments and business maintaining political, economic and military relations with the country's military-backed regime. Even after US Drug Enforcement Administration officers killed at least four Honduran civilians ― including two pregnant women ― in the name of the "drug war", two more journalists, Alfredo Villatoro and Erick Martinez Avila, have been killed in the Central American nation.
Attorney-general Nicola Roxon is planning a raft of new powers for ASIO to intercept and store any individual’s information. The move follows the adoption of new laws that allow Australia’s spy agencies to target individuals and organisations that oppose the government's interests — nicknamed the “WikiLeaks amendment”. Several proposed changes to telecommunications interception and access laws, as well as the Intelligence Services Act 2001, would expand ASIO’s powers of surveillance and reduce government oversight of ASIO activities.
The news that former Geelong Grammar School student Rose Ashton-Weir is suing the elite private school for failing to secure her a spot at Sydney University's law school has been the source of much mocking on the internet as a classic case of a spoilt brat's temper tantrum.
Freedom to protest Congratulations to the Sydney Al-Nakba Planning Committee for successfully defying police and winning its case in the Supreme Court to be allowed to protest on Al-Nakba Day. The Supreme Court decision on May 14 sets an important precedent for future protest groups in Sydney when they come up against police opposition. The police will not be in a hurry to take a protest group to court again.
More than 100 people rallied in King George Square on May 18 to commemorate the Palestinian Al-Nakba (The Catastrophe), when Israel was established with the mass expulsion of Palestinians from their villages and homes. Protesters held placards with the names of villages that were destroyed by Zionist forces in 1948. Speakers condemned the Apartheid policies of the Israeli state from then until now. The rally was followed by a procession through city streets in double file.
About 100 unionists packed the Unions NSW Atrium on May 14 to discuss the right to strike campaign, at a fringe event of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) Congress that began the same day. Titled “Advance Australia Fair? Australian jobs and the right to strike”, the forum was sponsored by the Victorian Trades Hall Council. VTHC secretary Brian Boyd said it had not generally sponsored or organised ACTU fringe events, but this campaign warranted it.
The Green Left Weekly fighting fund has received a huge boost over the last couple of weeks, thanks to the efforts of hard working supporters and volunteers around the country. So far this month, $24,600 has been sent in to the fighting fund, largely from successful fundraising events organised by our supporters. A huge thanks to everyone who helped organise and attend these wonderful events.
The findings of the Climate Commission report The Critical Decade will be a focus of discussion at the upcoming Climate Change Social Change conference. The report has generated much heated debate by suggesting that rising temperatures in western Sydney will affect everything from our water supply to mental health and crime levels. The impact of the carbon price on the environment and working families in western Sydney will also feature at the conference. It will be held at the Parramatta Town Hall and will take place on June 30, the day before the tax officially takes effect.
Exploration licences for coal seam gas mining (CSG) cover 75% of the land in New South Wales where people live. Residents are worried about the effect CSG mining could have on their land and water, and angry about the lack of consultation by the gas companies.
The Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) is being set up under the Clean Energy Future legislation (the carbon price package). It will provide $10 billion to support renewable and low-emissions energy. That’s the message that most climate-concerned people have been hearing from the Labor government and the Greens. Unfortunately, it now seems overly optimistic. The recently completed CEFC expert review shows it may give most of its support to gas projects.
Federal resources minister Martin Ferguson released a report on May 14 into Australia’s gas reserves. The report signalled a huge expansion of gas mining in the NT and bad news for the environment. Two new areas have been opened for gas exploration: shale gas exploration in the central NT, and conventional offshore gas exploration north-west of Darwin. Both of these present serious environmental problems. The shale gas industry relies on capturing gas by pumping sand, water and chemicals into the ground — a process commonly known as fracking.
Activists expected that a new “anti-association” law would be passed by the Western Australian parliament on May 1. Instead, the law has been debated inside and outside parliament since then. The new law would give power to a judge to declare an organisation to be a “criminal association”. Members of declared organisations can be given “control orders” restricting their contacts with other people and could even prohibit their use of telephones or email.
The rivers of the Murray-Darling Basin are dying. While average inflows decline due to climate change, extractions for irrigation remain at environmentally damaging levels. But the plan for management of the basin’s water resources drawn up by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA), due to be adopted by federal parliament later this year, ignores fundamental problems. Unscientific and politically-driven, the plan needs to be torn up, and the tasks of saving what can be saved of the rivers, their ecosystems and their human communities addressed afresh.
Photos by Ali Bakhtiavandi