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The close-knit Texas town of West, population 2800, was shaken to the core, literally and symbolically, on April 17 when the West Fertilizer Co facility exploded with the force of a small earthquake. The blast killed 14 people and injured more than 200. Today, West resembles a war zone. Up to 75 homes and buildings were destroyed, including the local high school and a 50-unit apartment complex that was reduced to a skeleton. A nursing home near the facility was also damaged ― 133 residents had to be evacuated during the explosions and fire that followed.
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.
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.
Prospects for left unity will be one of the key discussions at the NSW state conference of the Socialist Alliance on May 12. The Socialist Alliance will also discuss their election campaign and taking the people “before profits” message to a wider audience. There has been more collaboration on the left in recent times. These are positive steps, and form part of the unity process that the leaderships of Socialist Alliance and Socialist Alternative initiated last year. The other major report and discussion will focus on the Socialist Alliance's participation in the federal elections.

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