Construction unions have announced they will make a submission to the Victorian Coalition government that will call for unused government-owned sites in inner-city Melbourne to be used for public housing. Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union state secretary John Setka told the Age on April 22 that the proposal would cut the public housing waiting list and provide jobs for unemployed construction workers.
The Endless Crisis: How Monopoly-Finance Capital Produces Stagnation and Upheaval from the USA to China John Bellamy Foster & Robert W McChesney Monthly Review Press, 2012 There is growing evidence that the global economic crisis will not end any time too soon. Most mainstream economists have proven time and again to be incompetent when it comes to predicting the course of events in an economic crisis, never mind predicting the crisis itself.
In the wake of Margaret Thatcher's departure, I remember her victims. Patrick Warby's daughter, Marie, was one of them. Marie, aged five, suffered from a bowel deformity and needed a special diet. Without it, the pain was excruciating. Her father was a Durham miner and had used all his savings. It was winter 1985, the Great Strike was almost a year old and the family was destitute.
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.
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.
The owner of the eight-storey Bangladesh factory complex that collapsed on April 24 killing at least 362 people has been arrested at the country's border with India. Three owners of garment factories in the collapsed building on the capital's outskirts have also been arrested. They are suspected of forcing staff to work, ignoring safety warnings. Two government engineers involved in approving the building's design have also been detained.
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.