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The statement below was released on May 1, international workers' day, by 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, that day.
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.
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.
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.
When the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption first sat on April 9 it did little more than give general guidance about the direction of the inquiry. This was largely provided by counsel assisting, Jeremy Stoljar SC. The learned counsel was eager to ensure all concerned that there were no preconceptions with the inquiry. But he did make the helpful suggestion that the legal obligations of union officials should be “even more onerous” than those of company directors.
“I wish I could leave Greece. I can’t go on living here. I work very long hours and live more frugally than ever, but I still can’t pay the bills, the income tax or the other taxes like the property poll tax. “My tax debt keeps building up. I’ll end up losing my home. They are stealing our homes and they are not communists. And people are getting sadder and madder every day. I can’t go on like this.”
The Supreme Court of Victoria decided on March 31 to fine the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union (CFMEU) $1.25 million for its protest action on Grocon sites in Melbourne in August 2012. Grocon is now seeking costs due to the industrial action, which could amount to an extra $1.7 million. The CFMEU-led campaign against the construction giant began over the issues of safety and appointment of shop stewards as Occupational Health and Safety representatives on high risk construction sites, in opposition to the management-appointed “safety inspectors”.
A new documentary film Radical Wollongong, produced by Green Left TV, will premiere in Wollongong on May 18, followed by screenings in other cities and regional centres. The film features activist participants from Wollongong's radical history of strikes and community rallies, from miners’ struggles to Aboriginal justice and environmental protection. Here, co-producer John Rainford gives an insight into the 1949 coal strike and the attempt to ban the Communist Party of Australia. ***
The Richmond Valley Council has asked a large protest camp in Bentley, near Lismore in NSW, to dismantle. The camp was set up to protect the local area from gas drilling by Metgasco. Several hundred people in the camp have maintained an ongoing blockade to prevent access to the site where test drilling is due to begin. Organisers of the camp, which is set up on private land, have refused the request.
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.

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