Witnesses to the violence in the Manus Island detention centre spoke at a forum on March 17 organised by the Refugee Action Coalition (RAC) in Sydney. The forum was organised after the death of Reza Berati, who died on February 17 after being beaten by Papua New Guinea police and G4S staff during widespread violence that also injured 60 asylum seekers. The forum heard from the brother of a refugee detained on Manus Island, Samar; translator and former refugee Azita Bokan; and RAC spokesperson Ian Rintoul.
Members of the National Union of Workers (NUW) employed at the Super A-Mart warehouse in Somerton have maintained a presence outside their workplace since being locked out on March 7. The workers held a one-day strike on February 28 in support of their campaign for an enterprise bargaining agreement, which would be the first ever signed at the warehouse. They called another strike on March 7, but were then locked out indefinitely by the company.
Have you ever worried that the current education system teaches children and young people to be cogs in the machine, rather than challenge it? Fortunately, the second annual School of Rebellion is set to take place as part of this year’s Marxism Conference in Melbourne during the Easter long weekend. Over three days, children of conference attendees will be able to experience what education can and should be like.
"We're back for justice. Demand justice for TJ." was the theme of a rally outside the New South Wales parliament on March 19. Protesters demanded police accountability over the death of Aboriginal teenager TJ Hickey, which occurred more than 10 years ago. Hickey died after being impaled on an iron fence in inner-city Waterloo, while being chased on his bike by a police van.
The Tenants' Union of New South Wales, the state's peak organisation for tenants, has condemned the proposed sell-off of 293 public housing properties at Millers Point and The Rocks, announced by the Barry O'Farrell government on March 19. The area is the historic heartland of the city of Sydney, and was previously saved from the developers' bulldozers by residents' action and Green Bans imposed by the NSW Builders Labourers Federation in the 1970s.
About 120 people attended the Green Left Weekly 1000th issue celebration at the Annandale Neighbourhood Centre on March 15. Greetings to the milestone event were given by NSW Fire Brigade Employees Union vice president Jim Casey, Greens Sydney City councillor Irene Doutney, and Latin American Social Forum member Paula Sanchez. The speakers congratulated GLW on its achievement of 1000 issues, and noted the paper's special role in providing vital information on union, environmental and international campaigns.
Socialist Alternative has denied allegations by the Jewish Students’ Society at the Australian National University (ANU) that members of the socialist group abused them with anti-Semitic slurs.
Between 65,000 and 100,000 people rallied over March 15 to 17 in 31 events across Australia. It was the biggest nationwide protest in years and has been a big boost in confidence to everyone who has been outraged and angered by the many attacks being implemented or threatened by the Tony Abbott government. The protests were diverse, grassroots and vibrant. Significantly, events were held in many regional towns, including Toowoomba, Caboolture, Lismore, Gosford, Armidale, Coffs Harbour and Alice Springs.
More than five years since the global financial crisis, many OECD countries are still facing high rates of unemployment, losses in income and worsening social conditions. This was confirmed in the latest OECD social indicators report, Society at a Glance 2014, released on March 19. The reports says: "The financial upheaval of 2007-08 created not just an economic and fiscal crisis but also a social crisis ... Some 48 million people in OECD countries are looking for a job – 15 million more than in September 2007 – and millions more are in financial distress.
Washington's role in the fascist putsch against an elected government in Ukraine will surprise only those who watch the news and ignore the historical record. Since 1945, dozens of governments, many of them democracies, have met a similar fate, usually with bloodshed. Nicaragua is one of the poorest countries on earth with fewer people than Wales, yet under the reformist Sandinistas in the 1980s it was regarded in Washington as a "strategic threat". The logic was simple; if the weakest slipped the leash, setting an example, who else would try their luck?
Jock Palfreeman is serving a 20-year sentence for murder in Sofia Central Prison, Bulgaria. His conviction followed a trumped-up trial in a dysfunctional state where the local gangsters known as mutri hold sway, and hatred of Roma is a national pastime for many. Palfreeman was alleged to have killed Andrei Monov in Sofia in December 2007 while trying to defend two Roma men. Monov was the son of a Bulgarian MP who wants Jock to spend the rest of his life in jail.
Community gardeners were stunned when AusVeg, the peak body for the vegetable industry, publicly welcomed the federal government’s cut in funding the Food Grants Program. Mentioning “biosecurity risks” and “food safety concerns”, AusVeg spokesperson William Churchill said the program “has been identified as a potential risk to the national horticulture industry”.
The March in March protests across Australia over March 15-17 were a resounding success – not just because of their size, focus and breadth. Just as significant is the fact that March in March tore apart the idea – seeded by the cynical rhetoric of John Howard's spin doctors in the wake of the invasion of Iraq – that protests don't work. This protest worked precisely because it brought between 80,000 and 110,000 people out of their homes and into the streets in a disparate yet united way against the Tony Abbott government's attacks.
To get elected, wait until the existing government makes itself unelectable. Say as little as you can about your real policies. Smile, and present a small target. Those were the perspectives of South Australia’s Liberal opposition in the run-up to the state elections on March 15. The key Liberal slogan, outside polling places throughout the state, was “A Fresh Start”. A start to what, specifically? Voters weren’t supposed to ask.
The Liberal Party swept to victory in the Tasmanian elections on March 15, winning 14 seats of the 25 seat parliament. The Labor Party, which had governed for the past three years in coalition with the Greens, received a swing against of 9.5%. It won only six seats. The Greens were also heavily punished, losing two seats in an 8% swing against them. Party leaders Nick McKim and Cassy O’Connor managed to keep their seats. Kim Booth looks likely to be re-elected as well.
As David Harvey reminds us, capital never solves its crisis tendencies, it merely moves them around. Since the turn to neoliberalism in the 1980s there has certainly been a lot of movement. Throughout the 1980s there were big recessions in all of the rich countries. Across Africa, Latin America and Western Asia at that time there was a depression, although it was not called this because of a self-imposed taboo on the word by mainstream economic commentators since 1929.
"The solution to Qantas's problems is being framed as a choice between lifting the level of permissible foreign ownership or a public debt guarantee,” Chad Satterlee wrote in article in the Guardian on March 3. “There is another option: renationalisation".
A former welfare worker at the Nauru refugee detention camp says the July 19 riot that razed most of the Topside compound was an “inevitable outcome” of a “cruel and degrading policy”, in a new book released last week. The Undesirables by Mark Isaacs follows several big whistleblower revelations that have come from Nauru since the camp was re-established by then-PM Julia Gillard in August 2012.
In the strange furore surrounding right-wing columnist Andrew Bolt demanding an apology from the ABC over a guest on Q&A suggesting he was racist, it is Bolt's long-time readers and fans for whom I feel the most. It must be something of a shock to see the strident opponent of “illegal boat people” and “fair-skinned” Aboriginal people, a man who refuses to even acknowledge the existence of the Stolen Generations, insist that he is not actually racist after all.
What is really going on in Venuezuela since January. An important antidote to the corporate media attacks on Venezuela, its democracy and popular revolution.
The news below is mostly accumulated from recent coverage at Venezuela Analysis, asides from the first report from Prensa Latina. Venezuela Analysis is the best English-language source of news and analysis on Venezuela, its popular revolutionary process and the media war against the country and its democracy. * * * Three air force generals arrested for coup plot
Venezuelan students who support the Bolivarian Revolution speak out against recent oppositional violence, and urge the nation's youth to think for themselves in the midst of the media-backed polarisation. They also explain the gains of the revolution for students and youth that are at stake. (Thanks to Venezuela Analysis which posted this video)
Addressing the United Nations Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva on March 14, Ananthi Sasitharan said: “We request this assembly calls for an international investigation on genocide, and as an immediate step, to come out with a mechanism to stop the ongoing genocide of Eelam Tamils.” The Tamil ethnic minority in Sri Lanka is largely based on the island's north and east. With Tamils facing discrimination and violent pogroms, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam waged a decades-long armed struggle for an independent state.
“Ecological strain” and “economic stratification” could lead to the global fall of modern civilisation within decades, researchers warn in a disturbing new study sponsored by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. History shows that “complex, advanced civilizations” from the Roman to the Han empires are capable of collapse, note the authors, who hail from the Universities of Maryland and Minnesota.
With Newmont-Buenaventura set to resume building operations at the controversial Conga mine site this year, the Peruvian government has passed a new law granting legal immunity to security personnel who injure or kill protesters. The promulgation of Law 30151, which was officially gazetted on January 14 after being signed by President Ollanta Humala, indicates the state and its transnational corporate backers are planning an expanded campaign of repression against Peruvian communities resisting their neoliberal development model.
The 1991 Colombian Constitution is supposed to ensure the protection of all Colombian peoples’ rights and common interests. But in March, those whose role and responsibility it is to ensure the constitution is enacted turned a blind eye to the blatant political misconduct and unethical activities of the Black Colombian Foundation (FUNECO). FUNECO won both congressional seats allocated to Colombia's Black and Afro-Colombian community with two candidates, Maria Del Socorro Bustamante and Moises Orozco Vicuna, who are not Afro-descendants, or even black-skinned.
The six columns of the “Marches for Dignity”, protest marches against austerity, corruption and the repression of social and civil rights in the Spanish state, reached Madrid on March 22. Hundreds of thousands of people took over the streets of Madrid that day. It was the crowning moment for a movement that began in early March with marches leaving from cities across the Spanish state.
Thousands of people protested against British Conservative Chancellor George Osborne's budget on March 19, the Morning Star said the next day. The protests were part of a national day of action called by the People's Assembly. Across Britain, there were marches, rallies and festivals demanding a people's budget for Britain.
The People’s Assembly Against Austerity was launched last year to help create a mass movement across Britain against the austerity measures imposed by the government in a bid to make ordinary people pay for the economic crisis. It was supported by quite a few trade unions, the Coalition of Resistance, many campaign groups and several MPs.
Salvador Sanchez Ceren, the presidential candidate of El Salvador’s left-wing Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) party, was declared the winner of the country’s run-off presidential election on March 12. Ceren won 50.11% of total votes. The Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) declared the victory after voting sheets were cross-referenced with preliminary results from election day.
Images forge reality, granting a power to television and video and even still photographs that can burrow deep into people’s consciousness without them even knowing it. I thought that I, too, was immune to the repetitious portrayals of Venezuela as a failed state in the throes of a popular rebellion. But I wasn’t prepared for what I saw in Caracas this month: how little of daily life appeared to be affected by the right-wing protests, the normality that prevailed in the vast majority of the city. I, too, had been taken in by media imagery.
New Caledonia, a French-administered archipelago in the south-west Pacific, passed a law on February 13 banning the importation of genetically modified seeds for cereals and fruits. Vegetables, however, are exempt from the law. A proposal for mandatory labelling of GMO products is still to be approved by the Congress.
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced legislation on March 18 accepting the formerly Ukrainian Republic of Crimea and City of Sevastopol into the Russian Federation. The legislation was passed by the Russian Duma (parliament) on March 20. Crimea and Sevastopol had voted in a March 16 referendum to leave Ukraine and join Russia. This was the culmination of a process that began after the February 21 overthrow of unpopular Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich by protesters in the capital Kiev.
Sense & Sensibility, an Annotated Edition By Jane Austen (edited by Patricia Meyer Spacks) Harvard University Press 2013 448 pp, $54.95 The Annotated Frankenstein By Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (edited by Susan J. Wolfson & Ronald Levao) Harvard University Press 2012 400pp., $45.00 In January, federal education minister Christopher Pyne announced that he wants the national school history curriculum to recognise “the legacy of Western civilisation”.
Matangi M.I.A. N.E.E.T. Recordings November 2013 The arrival of a new M.I.A. album is always a thing to behold. Music critics are sure to be polarised, as are the usually ham-fisted attempts to better categorise her work to make it less controversial than it is. Snide remarks about her latest, Matangi, however, have been relatively muted in the months since its release.