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The statement below was released on May 1, international workers' day, by Socialist Alliance co-convenors Peter Boyle and Susan Price. * * * ABBOTT'S 'STRONGER', 'HAPPIER' AUSTRALIA EQUALS MORE PAIN FOR WORKERS, PENSIONERS AND THE POOR A casino was a fitting venue to host PM Tony Abbott's keynote address to the 25th birthday dinner of conservative think tank, the Sydney Institute on April 28.
Gaza's Ark, a Palestinian-built protest boat which was preparing to run Israel's naval blockade of the territory, was badly damaged in an explosion on April 29 that organisers blamed on Israel, Alarabiya.net said that day.
The newly formed Left Unity party held its first major policy conference in Manchester on March 29, following its founding conference in November last year. The party has its origins in a call for a new party to the left of Labour made by veteran left-wing filmmaker Ken Loach.
Since its founding in 1985, the Patriotic Union (UP), a Colombian leftist political party, has been victim of calculated violence from actors across the political spectrum. Colombia is the only country in the world that includes “political genocide” in its constitution. This is the label given to the violence suffered by the UP ― more than 5000 of whose members and supporters have been assassinated since 1985. This violence has meant that since 2002, the party has not had enough members to meet the threshold to legally qualify as an officially registered party.
Imagine trying to win public approval for the following scenario: detonate a hydrogen bomb in a remote region of the Pacific that has little contact with the outside world, in meteorological conditions guaranteed to spread radioactive contamination for hundreds of miles, then refuse to evacuate those affected for days finally taking the affected communities to research facilities for extensive and intrusive testing.
The tiny Pacific nation of the Marshall Islands began a legal battle today to demand the world’s nine nuclear-armed powers meet their disarmament obligations. It accused them of “flagrant violations” of international law. The island group, which was used for 67 US nuclear tests, filed a case with the International Court of Justice in the Hague. It claims the nine countries are modernising their nuclear arsenals instead of negotiating disarmament. The countries targeted include the US, Russia, Britain, France, China, Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea.
There is little doubt that the Catholic Church is in crisis as a result of deep internal problems. Alongside revelations that child abuse has been widespread within the Church, and that high ranking Church figures were involved in covering up these crimes, it has also been revealed that the Institute for Religious Work (IOR), better known as the “Vatican Bank”, was used for money laundering.
Land & Labour: Marxism, Ecology & Human History Martin Empson Bookmarks Publications London, 2014 With several serious global environmental crises bearing down on us, the question of our age must be “what can we do?” British socialist Martin Empson urges us to look into the past and into the future for answers in his new book Land and Labour. His message is that human destruction of its environment is not inevitable, although it is very likely if we don’t draw upon the best and worst examples from humanity’s diverse experience.
Oil & Honey: The Education Of An Unlikely Activist Bill McKibben Black Inc., 2013 255 pages, $29.95(pb) When the United States environmental writer Bill McKibben became a climate change activist, he discovered the delights of internet abuse and public meeting crazies, as he entertainingly describes in Oil and Honey.
Early last month, former Health Services Union (HSU) national secretary and federal Labor MP Craig Thomson was sentenced to three months in jail for misusing union members’ money. He has appealed the decision. Later in the month, Michael Williamson, former national president of both the HSU and the ALP, was sentenced to seven and a half years jail with a non-parole period of five years for defrauding HSU members. Few would argue that this was undeserving.
"Money speaks” is the message we should be taking from the last few weeks of state politics in NSW. Inappropriate and undeclared financial dealings and interests are being found at every level of Australian politics. The parliamentary parties are riddled with factions, controlled by powerbrokers who promote the careers of their own base of loyal supporters. This undemocratic concentration of power leaves the parties unable to resist corruption. As one corrupt politician is dispatched there are always plenty more to take their place.
More than 1100 people, including a large number of young activists, attended Marxism 2014: Ideas to change the system, hosted in Melbourne by Socialist Alternative over April 17-20. The event continues to be an important public conference in Australia. This year there was an impressive Indigenous history and struggle stream, including activists such as Lex Wotton, who was jailed following the community response to Mulrunji Doomadgee's murder in custody by police on Palm Island, veteran activist Gary Foley; Marjorie Thorpe; Vicky Roach and former Tracker editor Chris Graham.
If modern industrial capitalism were a person, he or she would be on suicide watch. The system that has brought us quantum physics and reality television, modern medicine and the columns of Andrew Bolt is set on a course which, by all the best reckoning, points directly to its doing itself in. If capitalism goes on — everything goes. Climate, coastlines, most living species, food supplies, the great bulk of humanity. And certainly, the preconditions for advanced civilisation, perhaps forever.
“Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.” Samuel Johnson’s aphorism is well known. But what does patriotism actually mean? Is it simply a matter of liking the sunshine, the gum trees, the beaches and a certain lifestyle? Is it about being overcome with emotion when we see the Australian flag or the Anzac Day dawn service? REAL LOVE OF COUNTRY The movers and shakers and heavy hitters in our society — politicians, business moguls, journalists in the corporate media, and so on — are all patriotic. But we should be very cynical about this.
A meeting of the Cartagena Dialogue for Progressive Action took place in the Marshall Islands on April 1. The body is composed of 30 countries working towards a legally binding United Nations climate change convention before of an international summit next year. Delegates had a chance to witness first-hand the effects of climate change in the host country, a small atoll nation in the Pacific Ocean, where no land rises more than two metres above sea level.
“Nothing is free — someone always pays,” federal treasurer Joe Hockey said in his latest softening-up, pre-budget speech on April 24. Yeah, tell us about it.

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