The citizens of the Spanish state awoke on April 14 to shocking news ― acts of “pure Nazism” were spreading across the country. Not only that, but they were being organised in concert with “elements close to ETA” (the armed Basque independence group that has declared a permanent ceasefire). Who was responsible? A Spanish equivalent of the Greek neo-Nazi outfit Golden Dawn? Some surviving cell of the Falange (one-time shock troops of the Franco dictatorship and admirers of Hitler’s New Order in Europe)?
Waking the Giant: How a Changing Climate Triggers Earthquakes, Tsunamis & Volcanoes Bill McGuire Oxford University Press, 2012 303 pages, $35.95 (hb) It is easy to forget, says Professor Bill McGuire of University College London in Waking the Giant, that human civilisation has thrived only in the broadly benign climate of the past few thousand years following the end of the last post-glacial era.
An article by journalist Elizabeth Farrelly, published in the Sydney Morning Herald on April 11 titled “Protecting a cultural right to abuse”, starts by posing the question, “At what point does autonomy slide into apartheid?” It argues that a policy of self-determination for Aboriginal people will lead to violence in Aboriginal communities, based on the claim that violence was endemic to pre-contact Aboriginal culture.
The fertile plains of the Ord River Irrigation Area around Kununurra in Western Australia are being transformed by plantations of Indian sandalwood, Santalum album It is the largest commercial production of Indian sandalwood in the world. In more than 60% of the total farming area around Kununurra, about 3500 hectares, sandalwood has supplanted food crops such as melons, pumpkins, legumes, chick peas, bananas, and many other crops.
The wealthiest people, banks and corporations have long avoided paying tax by hiding their assets in tax havens, outside their own countries. Many of these tax havens are so secret that even the banks themselves do not know who owns the accounts. But now, a huge leak of secret documents has led a global network of journalists to expose the world’s richest tax evaders.
The Ngarrindjeri Regional Authority released this statement on April 22. *** It is with considerable sadness that we announce the passing of Thomas Trevorrow at the age of 58 from a heart attack at his office at Camp Coorong, Meningie. Trevorrow was a strong and proud Ngarrindjeri man and a leading advocate for Aboriginal rights in Australia. He worked throughout his life to better the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people and to support the advancement and recognition of the Ngarrindjeri people.
The Tamil Refugee Council released this statement on April 18. *** Two world-renowned authors, American Noam Chomsky and Australian Thomas Keneally, have called on the Australian government to end indefinite detention of refugees after a 10-day hunger strike ended at the Broadmeadows detention centre in Melbourne. “The true measure of the moral level of a society is how it treats the most vulnerable people,” Chomsky said in a message this week to the Tamil Refugee Council in Australia.
Robert (Bob) McMahon, a founding member of Tasmanians Against the Pulp Mill (TAP), died in his sleep on April 17. The anti-pulp-mill activist passed away at the age of 62, leaving behind his wife and fellow activist Susie McMahon, as well as two children and five grandchildren. TAP was founded in June, 2006, as a grassroots community opposition group to the proposed Gunns Bell Bay pulp mill.
Lock the Gate Alliance released this statement on April 23. *** The Lock The Gate Alliance has slammed mining giant Rio Tinto after its Hunter Valley subsidiary Coal and Allied appealed to the Supreme Court to allow the Warkworth Extension coalmine project to go ahead. The project was rejected by the NSW Land and Environment Court last week after the Bulga Milbrodale Progress Association challenged the NSW government's approval of the mine.
After being forced to admit that “clean coal” will never happen, the coal industry has fallen back on an old argument to justify itself — that Australia cannot live without the industry because it does so much for the economy by providing jobs and creating wealth.
Stop CSG Illawarra (SCSGI) held its monthly organising meeting on April 21, attended by just over 80 people. The community feels it is in limbo, waiting on a decision from the Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) on the local coal seam gas project. A PAC decision was expected several weeks ago on whether to approve Apex’s application to extend drilling deadlines, enabling them to start work on the project.
Environment activists, academics, politicians, trade unionists and resident groups will gather in Parramatta Town Hall on May 11. They will discuss and plan actions around some of the many environmental and social issues facing the population of western Sydney. Climate change and the fossil fuel industry will be a big focus of the conference, after the Climate Commission report, The Critical Decade, found that climate change is already much worse in Sydney's western suburbs than anywhere else in New South Wales.
The Malaysian Socialist Party (PSM) is contesting four seats in the May 5 general elections, one federal parliamentary seat and three state assembly. The PSM won two of these seats in the 2008 election: Jeyakumar Devaraj, or “Kumar” as he is better known, won the federal parliamentary seat of Sungai Siput from a high profile former minister. PSM chairperson Nasir Hashim won the Selangor state assembly seat of Kota Damansara.
Three interesting pieces of information were released over the past week. Overall, they warn of a decline in women’s equality and in quality of life for the majority. First, JP Morgan said women’s employment figures this year have sharply fallen from about 390,000 last year to less than 360,000 — the drop is as sharp in rate (but not in overall numbers) as during the global financial crisis (GFC). While there has been employment growth since the GFC first hit there has been an overall shift in hiring from full-time to part-time work.
NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell signed onto Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s national education reform agreement on April 23. Many saw this as a windfall for public education, but little analysis regarding the detail has been made. On the surface it would seem that $5 billion over the next six years will be spent on students in NSW. However, it appears to be at the cost of tertiary education, namely university and NSW TAFE.
On April 23, Chris Carlson wrote at Venezuela Analysis: *** Opposition leader Henrique Capriles claimed yesterday that the presidential elections were “stolen”, and demanded further audit measures that the Venezuelan government has said are “impossible”. Capriles made the statements during a press conference on Wednesday in which he gave the government an ultimatum regarding the audit.