Economy

“Facing the world economic crisis: From Greece to Australia” was the title of a public forum, sponsored by Socialist Alliance, Resistance and Green Left Weekly on May 25. Marxist academic Gary MacLennan and Socialist Alliance candidate for the federal seat of Brisbane Ewan Saunders spoke. MacLennan explained that the world economic crisis showed signs of deepening, not ending. He said right-wing explanations of the crisis blamed government mismanagement, rather than the capitalist system.
To guarantee access to essential foods amid price inflation and supply shortages in some items, the Venezuelan government recently nationalised a major flour producer, granted low-interest credits to small and medium-sized producers, opened new subsidised food markets, sanctioned price speculators and hoarders, and is in the process of reforming its land reform law.
Sixty thousand public-sector workers from across Romania rallied in central Bucharest on May 19 to protest against government plans to slash their wages and benefits under a loan deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and European Union (EU). Civil servants, teachers, doctors and retirees blew whistles and yelled “Down with the lying government!” and “You have pawned our future”, as they protested outside government offices in Victoriei Square.
Bill McKibben is one of the world’s best-known climate activists and writers. He was the founder of the 350.org campaign, which organised more than 5200 protests in 181 countries on October 24. CNN called the 350.org protests “the most widespread day of political action in the planet's history”.
On June 11, South Africans will start partying like no time since liberation in April 1994. It is a huge honour for our young democracy to host the most important sporting spectacle short of the Olympics. The ordinary people who have worked hard in preparation deserve gratitude and support — especially the construction workers, cleaners, municipal staff, health-care givers and volunteers who will not receive due recognition. But balancing psychological benefits against vast socioeconomic and political costs is vital.
“The life of a trade unionist in Colombia is very difficult and complex”, visiting union leader Edgar Paez told Green Left Weekly. Paez said 4000 unionists have been murdered in Colombia in 28 years. “Last year, 47 unionists were killed, 48 the year before. Union leaders need armed guards, bulletproof cars, camera surveillance and bulletproof windows on their offices. “They lose the possibility of a normal family life.”
This Time is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly By Carmen Reinhart & KennethRogoff Rrinceton University Press, 2009, 496 pages Review by Barry Healy Australia has had a lucky escape from the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) our noble leaders and economic pundits tell us. Not so, says 800 years of economic experience assembled in This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly.
Writing in the May 27 West Australian, Paul Murray said WA Labor senators facing election will have to “explain to voters why they intend to support a tax that is so palpably against WA’s best interests”. For Murray, who was referring to the Rudd government's proposed Resource Super Profits Tax (RSPT), it is simply a given that the interests of the people of Western Australia coincide with the interests of the big mining companies that operate in the state.
Youth activist and part-time worker Gemma Weedall has been endorsed by the Socialist Alliance to contest the seat of Adelaide in the upcoming federal election. Weedall recently completed a Bachelor of Social Sciences at the University of Adelaide, where she was a well-known student activist. She was environment officer on the 2009 Student Representative Council and convened several clubs and collectives. A passionate grassroots climate change activist, Gemma is an active member of the Climate Emergency Action Network (CLEAN)
In recent weeks, local and international media have attacked the left-wing Venezuelan government over alleged “economic woes”. Pointing to Venezuela’s inflation rate — the highest in Latin America — and an economy that shrank 3.3% last year, the private opposition media is raising fears of a serious economic crisis. These same media outlets, which have been predicting the fall of President Hugo Chavez for years, argue recent government actions will worsen the situation. Venezuelan business federation Fedecamaras warned on May 5 that Venezuela faces an “economic and social crisis”.
Jess Moore, well-known community activist and part-time worker, will contest the seat of Cunningham on New South Wales’ south coast in the coming federal elections. Moore, a member of Socialist Alliance, is a leading climate and renewable energy campaigner in Wollongong. She is active in the struggle for marriage equality and helped found the Illawarra Aboriginal Rights Group, set up in response to the racist Northern Territory intervention.
Sergio Arriasis is the head of the office of strategic development for Vision Venezuela Television (ViVe), a government-funded channel inaugurated in 2003. Arriasis is in charge of future planning and development of its communications. Coral Wynter, a Green Left Weekly journalist based in Caracas, spoke with Arriasis about the struggle to counter the private corporate media in Venezuela, and create a radical alternative. How is ViVe different from other TV channels?
On May 15, German left-wing party Die Linke held its national congress in the eastern city of Rostock, electing a new national leadership and debating its new draft program. At the conference, charismatic left-wing firebrand Oskar Lafontaine stepped down as the party’s co-leader for health reasons. Lafontaine, the former head of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and finance minister, quit the SPD in 1999 because of the party’s neoliberal policies.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's proposed tax on mining industry super-profits has, to the surprise of no one, attracted a great deal of whining from the mining sector. Andrew Forrest of Fortescue Metals accused those who supported the tax of engaging in “class warfare” and threatened to sell his mining interests overseas if the tax goes ahead, reported the May 19 Herald Sun. On May 20, he said that he had shelved $17.5 billion in new mining projects as a result of the tax.
Wollongong's Students Against War (SAW) collective crashed the university’s ‘fashion week’ on May 6 by holding a ‘die-in’ on the catwalk. Two activists entered the fashion parade and revealed bloodied clothes before they collapsed on the end of the catwalk. SAW co-convenor Ella Ryan said: ‘The idea behind this stunt, aptly named “Deathly Designs”, was to bring attention to Wollongong university's role in helping design military hardware for arms manufacturers as part of the $85 million "Defence Materials Technology Centre".
The crude oil belching out of the floor of the Gulf of Mexico since the explosion on BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig on April 20 has formed giant plumes beneath the surface of the water. That’s the latest nightmarish evidence that the gulf oil catastrophe, among the worst ecological disasters in US history, is much worse than either corporate giant BP or government officials have admitted.

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