Pip Hinman

US-NATO command and their puppets in Kabul are pushing ahead with lower house elections in Afghanistan on September 18. This is despite civilian casualties rising by 31% this year, a surge of occupying troop numbers and new evidence of widespread corruption emerging. A scandal surrounding the country’s largest commercial bank, Kabul Bank, has implicated one of Afghan President Hamid Kazai’s brothers. Mahmoud Karzai, when head of Kabul Bank, is said to have made millions from risky investments in the collapsing Dubai property market.
For John, a Socialist Alliance member in his nineties, it was “the best election result in my lifetime”. He was referring to the political impact of a hung parliament and a record vote for the Greens. From the top of the stairs at a polling booth in inner-western Sydney’s once safe, now marginal, seat of Grayndler, John waved the Socialist Alliance’s “how to vote” card to the queued voters and campaigners. His defiant gesture towards the numerous ALP booth workers was a metaphor for the Socialist Alliance’s campaign across the country.
Brami Jegan, a young campaigner for social justice who is standing for the Greens in the New South Wales Senate, is very critical of the ALP’s policies on asylum seekers and the war in Afghanistan. Jegan told Green Left Weekly she understands the challenges migrant communities face in settling in this country. She also had first-hand experience of the devastating impacts of war. “During my visits back to Sri Lanka between 2002-2006, I was able to spend time with Tamils affected by the war.”
“I’ve never felt so good about an election”, an upbeat Senator Bob Brown told a packed crowd at Leichhardt Town Hall on July 29. The Greens parliamentary leader urged people to help his party out in the August 21 election in which the Greens hope to win the balance of power in the Senate. Having been excluded the previous week from the “great debate” featuring Labor Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Coalition leader Tony Abbott, Brown used the opportunity to talk up policies that, had he been included, may have made it worth watching.
What do right-wing columnist Gerard Henderson and Australian Workers’ Union national secretary and ALP factional player Paul Howes have in common? A visceral hatred of Greens and socialists. As the already widespread disillusion with politics-as-usual deepens, the Greens have a chance of holding the balance of power in the Senate after the August 21 poll. This is grist to the mill for the right-wing commentators. Henderson sounded yet another furious warning in his article in the July 27 Sydney Morning Herald titled “Radical roots seep through at the heart of Greens”.
Defence minister Senator John Faulkner has joined the list of cabinet members who, since Julia Gillard became prime minister, have said they will resign from the front bench after the upcoming elections. He dismissed suggestions that this was because he had doubts about the unpopular war in Afghanistan, which he has the task of promoting.
Anti-war activists took to the streets on July 15 outside Labor MP Tanya Plibersek's office to collect support for a giant “troops out” petition that will be presented to the new pro-war PM Julia Gillard. With a federal election looming, and at least 61% of Australians opposed to Australia having troops in Afghanistan, Stop the War Coalition is organising to increase the pressure for a withdrawal.
Stop wasting lives - get our troops out now! Socialist Alliance statement June 22, 2010 The Socialist Alliance today renewed its call on the Rudd government to withdraw all Australian troops from Afghanistan in wake of more Australian troop casualties and a poll showing that a majority of Australians support such a withdrawal.
It’s an unlikely scenario, but former refugee and now human rights advocate Riz Wakil says he’s even willing to take a surfing lesson from Tony Abbott if that means he has the chance to knock some sense into the Coalition leader’s head about his racist refugee policies. On June 15, GetUp! won a charity auction prize — a surfing lesson with Abbott –— and donated it to Wakil, who arrived on Ashmore Reef in 1999 and was held in Curtin detention centre for nine months. Now a permanent resident, he runs a printery.
Israel stands increasingly isolated following its attack on the peace flotilla, in which nine Turkish activists on board the Mavi Marmara were murdered and many more wounded. The attack on the flotilla, like the siege of Gaza, is aimed at demoralising Palestinians and their supporters. But the global pressure was enough to force Israel to announce a token relaxation of the blockade of the 1.5 million people crammed into the tiny coastal strip.

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