“In a daring and audacious move, Matt McCarten, general secretary of the Unite union, announced his candidacy in the November 20, Mana by-election in Wellington”, Unite campaigns organiser Joe Carolan said in an October 26 Socialist Aotearoa article. Carolan said McCarten “has had a quarter of century experience fighting for New Zealand’s poorest workers … standing as a member of the independent left, he would make an excellent champion for the thousands of low-paid and unemployed workers in Mana”.
Malaysian Socialist Party (PSM) secretary-general S. Arutchelvan called the proposed labour law review by the human resources Ministry was “draconian”, klick4Malaysia.com said on October 1. Arutchelvan said it would destroy the few rights workers have left. “This is the worse amendment in 40 years”, Arutchelvan told a press conference on October 1. He was joined by representatives from the Malaysian Trades Union Congress, the Bar Council, Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas and Suara Rakyat Malaysia, klick4malaysia.com said.
The Australia Western Sahara Association has urged BHP-Billiton to suspend Canadian company PotashCorp’s trade in phosphate from Western Sahara if its takeover bid is successful. AWSA president Lyn Allison said in an August 25 statement: “If BHP cares anything for business ethics, social responsibility and international law, it will not allow the Canadian fertiliser corporation to buy further Western Saharan phosphate from Morocco.”
“BP PLC’s long-awaited internal investigation into the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig found that the British oil giant bears some responsibility for the disaster but laid most of the blame on its contractors”, the September 8 Wall Street Journal said.
“Twelve American soldiers face charges over a secret ‘kill team’ that allegedly blew up and shot Afghan civilians at random and collected their fingers as trophies”, the September 9 Guardian said. “Five of the soldiers are charged with murdering three Afghan men who were allegedly killed for sport in separate attacks this year.” The other seven are charged with helping to cover up these atrocities and assaulting a soldier who exposed the murders, the Guardian said.
“An oil platform explosion on September 2 in the Gulf of Mexico forced the crew to jump into the sea and threatened further damage to waters still recovering from the BP disaster”, AFP said that day. The explosion on the platform, owned by Houston-based Mariner Energy, comes in the aftermath of the BP-owned Deepwater Horizon rig explosion in the gulf in April, which killed 11 workers. Bloomberg.com said on August 20 that 4.9 million barrels of oil escaped from the leaking well.
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”.
In Fremont, Nebraska in the US mid-west, some of the biggest names in indie rock played a sold-out pro-immigrant benefit gig on July 31 titled “Concert for Equality”. Omaha.com said on August 2: “The theme of the day — and the reason for the show — was to fight Fremont’s recently passed immigration ordinance, which would fine employers and landlords who hire or rent to illegal immigrants.” All proceeds from the gig were offered to the American Liberties Civil Union to assist its fight against the law, Pollstar.com said on August 4.
The Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) apparently screened Iraqi film Son of Babylon against the wishes of the filmmakers — who object to the sponsorship of the MIFF by the apartheid state of Israel. Israel faces an international boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign by opponents of its oppression of Palestinians. As with the international campaign against South African apartheid, this includes a call for a cultural boycott.
Argentina’s Senate narrowly approved a measure on July 15 legalising same-sex marriage, the New York Times said that day. The NYT said Argentina is the first Latin American nation to allow gay couples to wed. The bill, which was sponsored by the government of President Cristinia Fernandez, was passed by 33-27. On July 15, Prensa Latina said Fernandez congratulated the Senate, saying the bill will allow for the protection of the rights of a minority.