Australia

I do not support women being forced to wear the burqa. I see it as one manifestation of the myriad of ways women are oppressed in this patriarchal society. But I want to make it clear that I do not support a ban on the wearing of a burqa. Banning the wearing of a burqa would simply mean that the person who wears it — voluntarily or otherwise — is criminalised. It would not, as some female supporters of the ban argue, help women extricate themselves from patriarchal control over their lives.
November 20 was Trans Remembrance Day. Sally Goldner, spokesperson for TransGender Victoria, gave the following speech at the 3000-strong marriage equality rally held in Melbourne that day. * * * Trans Remembrance Day started to mark the violent death of Rita Hester, a transgender African American woman who was murdered in Boston on November 28, 1998. Prejudice against trans people comes from the same evil seed as any form of prejudice — and all manifestations are totally unacceptable.
A new report from the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research (CAEPR) casts doubt on the ability of current government and corporate policy to meet its goal of “closing the gap” between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal unemployment. The CAEPR report looks at the goals and achievements of two private-sector initiatives: the Australian Employment Covenant and Generation One.
It’s that time of the year again. It’s the festival of festivals to boost the profits of giant retail stores. The “Spirit of Christmas” demands to be fed with your maxed out credit card. There’s a new desperation to this seasonal message this year. The shoppers are not splurging like they should. A recent Westpac survey found that consumers would spend 34% less in 2010 than in 2009.
The launch of the community guide to the draft Murray Darling Basin Plan marks the latest step in the largely bipartisan process of water reform that started with the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) reforms of 1994. It also graphically displays the risks inherent in the increasingly centralised, Commonwealth-driven approach to water planning that developed under the Howard government and has intensified since.
In the lead-up to the March NSW elections, the Socialist Alliance will campaign under the slogan: “NSW — not for sale! Community need not corporate greed.” It sums up the radical shift in priorities needed in the interest of environmental sustainability and social justice. Labor will get trashed in these elections. The Victorian election result confirms that. The Keneally Labor government is much more on the nose than the Victorian Brumby government was.
The first Union and Community Summer School (UCSS) will take place at Melbourne Trades Hall over December 10-11. The UCSS will bring together a wide range of left, progressive and socialist organisations and unionists. It is an experiment in finding practical unity.
A common right-wing perception is that one either is, or is not, a member of David Hicks’ “cheer squad”. Chris Merritt, reviewing this book in the October 22 Australian, actually referred to a Hick’s “cheer squad”. Merritt lamented: “The whole appalling story of his treatment by the US military commission would be trotted out.” Trotted out? A clever way to admit that what Hick’s says is true, but at the same time trivialise the details. I am not sure what Hicks’ personal views have been on a number of issues, and not addressing them is perhaps a weakness of the book.
Open letter to Prime Minister Julia Gillard, cc Julian Assange, Wikileaks Anti-war activists salute Wikileaks’ courage and determination in exposing the lies about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the ruthlessness with which the biggest imperial power — the US — seeks to maintain its global dominance. We believe that Julian Assange and his colleagues’ unremitting efforts in shedding light on the truth about these wars provides vital and valid documents for anti-war and human rights activists in Australia and across the globe in the struggle against unjust wars and occupations.
Latin America Social Forum (Sydney) co-founder and respected Latin American community activist Victor-Hugo Munoz was awarded a Diploma of Honour on December 4 by the Guatemala Network for Peace and Development. The award acknowledged Munoz’s tireless, decades-long work in defence of human rights in Guatemala.

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