In early February, rains that flooded up to 70% of Jakarta and displaced some 450,000 people began. Across Indonesia, 85 people died, according to a March 12 Agence France-Presse report. Bloombergs wire service reported on March 6 that, according to government estimates, the floods caused a direct economic loss of at least 5.2 trillion rupiah (US$574 million), with indirect losses of 3.6 trillion rupiah.
More than 500 people from 35 countries have been incarcerated in the Guantanamo Bay prison complex since 2002. Since becoming the detention centre for prisoners captured in US President George Bushs unending global war on terror, it has been the source of numerous allegations of physical and psychological abuse. It is a legal black hole in which detainees have waited for up to half a decade without charges being laid.
The AC Neilson poll published in the March 12 Sydney Morning Herald had the federal Labor opposition in a commanding lead over the Coalition, with 61% of the two party-preferred vote. ALP leader Kevin Rudd was the preferred prime minister of 53% of respondents. Green Left Weekly asked a number of trade unionists how much of Labor’s rise in the polls can be attributed to the union movement’s campaign against Work Choices and how they believe these unjust laws can be defeated.
The internet launch on March 5 of the Independent Australian Jewish Voices (IAJV) has provoked both criticism and support. Author Antony Loewenstein, one of the initiators, told Green Left Weekly that the Jewish establishment reacted “very badly” because, in his view, their position as the spokespeople for the Jewish community for decades is now being challenged.
John Bonsai (a very small bush) Howard is morally bankrupt, and cannot be trusted. While Saddam Hussein was a nasty bit of work, all of Bonsai’s arguments for war were lies.
The federal Coalition, some state Labor governments and the corporate media have been justifying racist policies by claiming they are defending women’s rights. This argument has been one of several “justifications” for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and for why we should all be worried about refugee arrivals.
Turmoil continues in the Labor Party in Newcastle following the imposition by the party head office of Jody Mackay over popular local member Bryce Gaudry to contest the seat.
Adelaide backpacker David Hicks will be arraigned before an illegally constituted military tribunal at the Guantanamo Bay concentration camp on March 20 and face the retrospective and ill-defined charge of “material support for terrorism”.
With global warming increasingly dominating mainstream political discussion, the debate about solutions has intensified. While PM John Howard has thrown his weight behind the lie of “clean, green” nuclear power, the ALP has maintained its opposition to this deeply unpopular option.
In the run-up to the NSW elections both major parties are claiming to be able to run the economy better. But the release of the Australian Bureau of Statistics December quarter figures on March 7, which revealed that NSW is not technically in a recession, is likely to help the state ALP governments lead over Peter Debnams Liberals on March 24.