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.
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.
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.
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.
VIDEO: Tariq Ali on the legacy of Hugo Chavez Marking one year since the untimely death of former Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, eminent writer and film maker Tariq Ali gave a passionate memorial lecture in central London on February 20 at an event organised by the British Venezuelan Solidarity Campaign. VIDEO: Die Linke and the fight against austerity
The older you get, apparently, the more you abandon the daft socialist ideas of your youth to become sensible and conservative. There will never be a greater retort to this miserable myth than the life of Tony Benn. Because somehow he became more defiantly, inspiringly, stroppily, youthfully socialist every year up to 88. If he’d lasted to 90, he’d have been on the news wearing a green Mohican and getting arrested for chaining himself to a banker.
Victoria’s upper house passed the Summary Offences and Sentencing Amendment Bill on March 11. Debate was interrupted by protesters in the public gallery, who were removed by police.
A New York judge has overruled the US$9.5 billion (A$10.5 billion) in compensation for toxic waste dumping that Chevron had been ordered to pay to Ecuadorian villagers. The oil company, the world’s third largest, was found guilty in 2012 by an Ecuadorian court of causing huge environmental damages in the Amazon Basin. At the time, it was the largest environmental damages lawsuit ever. Texaco oil company, which merged into Chevron Corporation in 2001, operated in the Sucumbios province of Ecuador, in the uppermost headwaters of the Amazon Basin, from 1964 to 1992.
Luca Belgiorno-Nettis resigned from his position as chair of the board of the Biennale of Sydney on March 7. Biennale organisers announced it was cutting ties with major sponsor Transfield, of which Belgiorno-Nettis is a director. The divestment was the result of pressure from artists boycotting the Biennale, because of Transfield's connection to the detention of asylum seekers. The company has a $1.2 billion contract to run the Nauru and Manus Island centres.
Colombia's election results are all but in and one thing is clear: Álvaro Uribe, the first ex-president to run for senate, is the man of the moment. President Juan Manual Santos's U Party may have come out on top with 21 out of a possible 102 seats in Congress, compared with 19 from Uribe’s newly formed ultra-right party Democratic Centre ― Firm Hand, Big Heart, but it is clear where the momentum lies.