Australia

On August 14, rallies will take place in 13 different cities around Australia for the sixth annual national day of action for equal marriage rights. Last year’s national day of action drew more than 10,000 people, making it the biggest demonstration for queer rights in Australian history. The movement has claimed 2010 as its “national year of action”. Activists have taken some colourful initiatives to build this year’s rally. Sydney’s Community Action Against Homophobia threw eggs at cardboard cut-outs of Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard.
The Sandon Point Aboriginal Tent Embassy (SPATE) is set to appeal a July 26 Land and Environment Court dismissal challenging the proposed Stockland 181-lot residential super development at Sandon Point, in the Wollongong suburb of Bulli, New South Wales.
More than 850 people packed into the Sydney Town Hall for a “Save Sydney from Over-development” public meeting organised by Friends of Barangaroo on August 3. The meetings was organised to in response to a proposed development of the harbour-side Barangaroo area. There are serious community concerns about the plan to hand over public space to private developer Lend Lease, which plans to build a large hotel on the land.
In Russia, a seven-week-long heatwave has caused giant firestorms to break out across more than 114,000 hectares of the country. At least 48 people have died and more than 400 new fires broke out on August 4 alone, the Kyiv Post said that day. Russian President Dmitri Medvedev said on July 30 that “practically everything is burning” in 14 regions of the country, Time said on August 2. In the past, Medvedev has not seemed too concerned about climate change. At last year’s Copenhagen climate conference he bluntly announced that Russia would increase its emissions.
The Stop the War Coalition Sydney held a picket outside ALP MP Tanya Plibersek’s office on August 5 to call for an end to Australian support for the war in Afghanistan. The STWC has condemned the Australian government’s purchase of 18 unmanned spy drones and training packages worth $175 million. Spokesperson Marlene Obeid said: “The drones are part of an offensive weapons system that, almost certainly, will be linked to US systems in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In other words, Australia will be subsidising US assault operations, which will kill more Afghan women and children.”
Ker-ching! Its half-year profit time and those poor, tax-oppressed, big mining companies are announcing huge profit increases. Rio Tinto announced a half-year net profit of $6.39 billion, up 260% from the same period last year. And this huge profit came even after the company reduced its net debt by a whopping $27 billion to $12 billion.
Outstanding service Fairfax columnist Gerald Henderson quotes Australian Workers’ Union leader Paul Howes concerning the family background of Greens Senate candidate Lee Rhiannon in the July 27 Sydney Morning Herald. I knew her parents, Bill and Freda Brown, since 1944, and I was privileged to be Bill’s campaign director when he stood for the federal parliament on several occasions.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s catch phrase for this election is "sustainable". No longer, according to Gillard, should we look to a big Australia, but a "sustainable" population. In a speech in western Sydney on July 21, Gillard emphasised the squeeze on health services, transport, roads and infrastructure. She hinted her "sustainable population" mantra would ease the squeeze. Apart from rhetoric largely designed to pander to irrational fears of immigrants and prejudices against asylum seekers, Labor has failed to explain what it means by "sustainable".
A growing number of unions across Australia have backed the international boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign targeting Israel. The campaign demands that Israel ends its apartheid-like policies towards Palestinians. The National Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA) said in a July 20 statement that it would “continue to add its voice to the call for an end to Israel’s occupation of Palestine and condemning all acts of terrorism”.
WYONG — Climate action activists confronted Prime Minister Julia Gillard on August 3 when she appeared at a soccer club in Wyong on the NSW Central Coast. She was handed a statement from the local climate action group about transitioning as soon as possible from fossil fuels, to renewable energy and a copy of the Zero Carbon Australia plan by Beyond Zero Emissions. Activists held placards that said: “Fund solutions not pollution” as Gillard was speaking. They then confronted Gillard as she left the soccer club.

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