farmers' rights

Monsanto threatens people and planet

An international March Against Monsanto is scheduled for May 24. Hundreds of events around the world have already been scheduled to protest against the world's biggest agricultural biotechnology company.

Like all capitalist monopolies, Monsanto got to where it is today by being ruthless. There are other big biotech companies with shocking records of disregarding people and planet in pursuit of profit — such as DuPont, Bayer and Dow Chemical — but Monsanto's record is so notorious, it warrants its own special international protest day.

PHOTOS: Thousands join Perth's March in May protest against Abbott's budget

Tens of thousands marched against Abbott government in six cities around Australia on May 18. In Perth, Alex Bainbridge reports more than 2000 people took part. The photos below are by Bainbridge.

See photos of the Sydney March in May and the Melbourne "Bust the budget' protest.

PHOTOS: Sydney's March in May -- thousands oppose Abbott's budget

Tens of thousands marched against Abbott government in six cities around Australia on May 18. The march in Sydney was bigger than the March In March demonstration. Peter Boyle, who took the photos below, estimates it was about 15,000-strong. He said: "It stretched more than two and half times the distance between Central Station and Victoria Park (where it ended). The recent horror budget angered many and the crowd overwhelmingly demanded that the opposition parties block the budget in the Senate -- where they have the numbers until July."

PHOTOS: Melbourne marches to 'bust the budget'

Tens of thousands marched against Abbott government in six cities around Australia on May 18. Despite having been called only four days before, thousands took to the streets in Melbourne to take part in the 'Bust the budget' march. The photos below are by Ali Bakhtiarvandi and Tony Iltis.

See also photos from the Sydney and Perth March in May demonstrations.

Photos by Ali Bakhtiarvandi:

Colombia: Farmers' strike challenges gov't, pro-corporate 'free trade'

Tensions between the Colombian government and agrarian workers are reaching an all-time high. Strikes that began on April 28 have helped bring the country to a stand-still and sparked student protests violently that were suppressed by police.

The farmers launched strikes in the face of the government’s failure to follow through on promises made after similar strikes last August. The strikers are seeking measures to alleviate rural poverty, among other deep-rooted problems they face.

Voices from Mao's famine

Forgotten Voices of Mao's Great Famine, 1958-1962, An Oral History
By Zhou Xun
Yale University Press, 2013
336 pp, $35.00

In his excellent history book Timelines, John Rees has a graph, which in one image sums up the people’s history contained in Zhou Xun’s Forgotten Voices. The line showing improvements in life expectancy in China suddenly shows a total reversal, a deep plunge into an abyss and then a quick return to the original curve.

This abyss was Mao Zedong’s Great Leap Forward.

Australia's banks grabbing land from world's poor

A report released last month by Oxfam revealed that Australia's big four banks have invested in land grabs that have dispossessed local land owners across the world.

The report, Banking on Shaky Ground, explains that large-scale land acquisitions have risen due to the rise in global food prices since 2008. Companies are eager to acquire more land to grow food in order to benefit from rising prices on the global food markets.

People power stops gas drilling in Bentley

An ongoing blockade of an unconventional gas drill site in Bentley, 12 kilometres from Lismore’s CBD in NSW, has so far stopped gas company Metgasco from starting exploration in the area.

This test drill will help determine whether there are commercial quantities of gas available, and if so, up to 1000 wells could potentially be drilled in the area.

Hundreds of people are permanently camping on land next to the drill site, and at times numbers have swelled to 2000, as the community acts to stop heavy machinery from entering.

Pakistan: 'Left unity a precious gain'

Farooq Tariq, the general secretary of the Awami Workers Party (AWP) in Pakistan, will be one of the international guests at the 10th national conference of the Socialist Alliance, to be held in Sydney over June 7 to 9. He will speak on “The Struggle for Democracy and Justice in Pakistan” on June 7 at the Addison Road Community Centre in Marrickville. Visit www.socialist-alliance.org for more details.

Ahead of his trip, Green Left Weekly's Peter Boyle spoke to Tariq on Pakistani politics.

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The case for a Royal Commission into coal seam gas

When the NSW Coalition government was elected to office in March 2011, it put all new coal seam gas (CSG) exploration licences on hold pending an internal inquiry.

Sixteen months later, in September 2012, the government announced that the results of this “thorough investigation” found all was in order and the industry could proceed apace.

The NSW government has now announced that all new CSG licence applications would again be frozen, this time for six months. The government said this was necessary to implement a "new regime" for allocating future licences.

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