World at a glance
Australia's carbon tax under threat
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard's proposed carbon tax is
under threat. The Australian reports: "The nation's most powerful union
leader has demanded Julia Gillard exempt steel production from the
carbon tax, with workers and bosses uniting for the first time to warn
of jobloes and the potential collapse of the industry. "And more unions
have locked in behind Australian Workers Union leader Paul Howes to
insist the Prime Minister protect members' jobs as she attempts to
engineer one of the biggest economic transformations in the nation's
"Mr Howes's move to place a marker on the steel sector - one of the
nation's heaviest carbon polluters - complicates Ms Gillard's push to
"Ms Gillard played down Mr Howes's criticism of Labor's attempts to
sell the carbon tax, with Australian Greens leader Bob Brown attacking
the union boss as an economic illiterate and conceding that the switch
to a low-carbon economy would cost jobs."
Clashes in Syria
The pro-democracy protests which started in Tunisia are spreading in
the Arab world. It is reported that a wave of pro-democracy protests has
started in Syria. Syrian security forces have used tear gas and batons
to disperse tens of thousands of protesters in the capital,
Damascus.Some of the protesters called for reforms, while some demanded
the overthrow of President Bashar al-Assad.
The protests, in Damascus and other cities, are believed to be the
largest in a month of unrest in which about 200 people have been
reported killed.President Bashar al-Assad has made some concessions
while cracking down on dissent.
Thousands of people were reported to have demonstrated in a number of
other Syrian cities including Deraa, Latakia, Baniyas and Qamishli;
places where violence has been previously reported.State media reported
that "small-scale demonstrations" had taken place in different parts of
the country and security forces had not intervened.
The mass protests in the suburbs of Damascus marks a major escalation
of Syria's month of unrest, which has largely bypassed the
capital.Analysts said Friday's protests were the largest since they
began in the southern city of Deraa on March 15.
The unrest is seen as the biggest challenge to Assad, who inherited
power from his father in 2000.
The protesters say they want greater freedom, including a repeal of
the decades-old security law, which bans public gatherings of more than
five people.Some are calling for the overthrow of the president, who
rules with a tight grip through his family and the security forces.Assad
has offered some concessions, forming a new government on Thursday and
pronouncing amnesty for an undisclosed number of people detained last
He has also sacked some local officials and granted Syrian
citizenship to thousands of the country's Kurdish minority - satisfying
a long-held demand.The demonstrators in Damascus held up yellow cards,
in a football-style warning to President Assad, the AP news agency said.
"This is our first warning, next time we will come with the red
cards," one protester said.Other witnesses said the demonstrators tore
down posters of Assad as they passed along their route and called for
the overthrow of the president.Reuters quoted a witness who said 15
busloads of secret police had chased people into alleyways north of the
city's main Abbasside Square.
The United Nations and a number of Western governments have decried
President Assad's use of force to try to quash the protests.US Secretary
of State Hillary Clinton called on Syria's authorities to stop using
violence against their own people."The Syrian government has not
addressed the legitimate demands of the Syrian people," she said after a
NATO meeting in Berlin.
Obama reiterates his position on Libya
US President Barack Obama has added his name to a commitment from
David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy to support military action in Libya
until Muammar Gaddafi is overthrown.
In a joint article published in The Times, The Washington Post and Le
Figaro, the US, British and French leaders say the world will be guilty
of an "unconscionable betrayal" if the Libyan leader is left in place,
putting the fate of citizens who have rebelled against his rule in the
hands of a merciless militia intent on revenge.Gaddafi must "go, and go
for good" before the rebuilding of Libya can begin, the Western leaders
say, rejecting demands for an immediate ceasefire and a negotiated exit
for the Libyan dictator, which could have left his family in charge.
As the Libyan conflict approaches the end of its first month, there
is still no sign of a breakthrough. In the capital, Tripoli - again hit
by NATO airstrikes in a show of fresh Western resolve - a defiant
Gaddafi drove through the streets in a cavalcade, standing up through
the sunroof of the lead vehicle and punching the air triumphantly. His
daughter Aisha also made a public appearance, addressing crowds from the
second-floor balcony of her father's Bab al-Aziziya compound - first
bombed by the US 25 years ago.Libya had not been defeated by the US
airstrikes then and would not be defeated now, she told the cheering
"To speak of Gaddafi's resignation is a humiliation for all Libyans,"
she said. "Let me go back to the past when I was a child, when I was
nine years old in this house," she said. "A rain of missiles and bombs
came down. They tried to kill me. They killed dozens of children in