A well attended “Bust the Budget” meeting on June 12 organised by Unions NSW has decided to organise a union and community rally on July 6. The meeting of more than 500 delegates and unionists came to an abrupt halt when Unions NSW Secretary Mark Lennon closed it down before two amendments strengthening the resolution could be voted on. Susan Price, a National Tertiary Education Union member and national co-convenor of Socialist Alliance, moved the amendments during the discussion, which were seconded by a delegate from the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union (CFMEU).
A protest against mining giant Whitehaven Coal in Sydney’s CBD on June 4 drew around 200 people to hear farmers, activists and politicians speak out against an expanding coal mine which is destroying a forest. The Maules Creek project, north of Gunnedah and east of Narrabri, is the largest coal mine currently under construction in Australia. About 1660 hectares of native woodland is under threat. A 30,000 strong petition opposing the open cut coal mine’s expansion was to be presented to Planning Minister Pru Goward and Environment Minister Rob Stokes.
In the 18th and 19th century, scientists often used themselves as guinea pigs in the course of conducting experiments to determine the causes of disease and test the efficacy of new drugs. One of the earlier and more heroic examples comes from the Scottish physiologist and surgeon John Hunter (1728-93). Hunter was investigating syphilis, a disease surrounded by secrecy and shame whose origins were unlikely to be acknowledged at any level. The French called it the Italian disease and the Italians called it the French disease.
There are plenty examples of sporting “droughts”, but there has never been a more harrowing athletic drought — rife with pain, pathos and perseverance — quite like that of the Palestinian national football team. This is a national team without a recognised nation to call home; a national team that has never qualified for a major international tournament; a national team that, like its people, struggles to be seen. That drought, 86 years in the making, is now over.
The US House of Representatives disregarded regional consensus on May 28 by voting to impose sanctions against Venezuela. The vote by acclamation was overwhelming, despite a last-ditch appeal by Michigan’s John Conyers and 13 other progressive Democrats who opposed sanctions and called for restoration of diplomatic relations between the two nations. They pointed out that regional bodies, including the Organisation of American States, the Caribbean Community and the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), had all rejected the case for sanctions.
The first Free West Papua campaign office in Australia was opened in April in Perth, signalling the growing international campaign for West Papuan self-determination. West Papua has been occupied by Indonesia since the 1960s, despite an ongoing struggle for independence. Benny Wenda, a leader of Free West Papua living in exile, said he hoped the Australian government would withstand pressure from Indonesia over the office opening.
The Venezuelan government and the commune movement are taking steps to move towards the creation of what is referred to as a “communal state”, which involves community groups assuming collective control of local production and decision making. Communes in Venezuela are formed out of groups of community councils, which are small neighbourhood groups representing 250 to 400 families. In communal councils, local residents organise to develop their local community and run community affairs. They can also receive public funds to undertake social projects in their area.
It seems to have been decided that the best response to the success of Nigel Farage, the leader of the UK Independence Party that won 27.45% of the vote in the May European elections, is to try to copy him. The Tories will soon reveal that one of their councillors declared that “the shape of a Romanian’s spine proves he’s actually a type of stinging nettle” on an election leaflet, but it was a mistake anyone could make, especially as the councillor had an earache at the time.
About 300 garment workers, NGO staff, civil servants and media staged a “fashion show” at the United Sisterhood Alliance-Worker’s Information Center (US-WIC) in Phnom Penh on May 25, called “Beautiful Clothes, Ugly realities”. As the Cambodian government still bans its opponents from using Freedom Park for protests, the fashion show was seen as a new, creative way of getting across our message.
There has been a minor earthquake in Irish politics in recent days. Republican party Sinn Fein has made a breakthrough into mainstream southern Irish politics. It almost doubled its vote to 17% in municipal polls for the southern state and won more than 20% in the European election. This was alongside a surge of electoral success from those further to the left and independents. Overall in the municipal elections in Ireland's south, Sinn Fein won 150 seats and those further left won about 40.
In 2012, Quebec’s student movement carried out a months-long strike, managing to push back and hold off a neoliberal government’s bid to raise tuition fees. Repeatedly mobilising upwards of 200,000 people at monthly “mega-manifs”, the “Maple Spring” was an all-too rare win against the forces of austerity, and so it captured imaginations around the world.
Organic farmer Steve Marsh has lost his case in the Western Australian Supreme Court after seeking compensation for his crops being affected by genetically modified (GM) seeds. Organic farmers fear the case will have dire consequences for non-GM farmers everywhere. In a case which was the first of its kind, Marsh brought legal action against his neighbour Michael Baxter, who took advantage of changes in state legislation and began growing GM canola on his adjacent farm in 2010. Some seeds blew over the road onto Marsh’s property.
With right-wing parties gaining footholds throughout the world, Colombia followed suit with the far-right party, Democratic Centre (CD) winning with a narrow lead in the first round of the presidential elections on May 25. CD won just under 30% of the vote. The election presented Colombians with a five-party choice, ranging from the leftist Alternative Democratic Pole (Polo) with Clara Lopez to the CD's Oscar Ivan Zuluaga and his major rival, incumbent President Juan Manuel Santos from the Social Party of National Unity.
Sixty years ago, in June 1954, a CIA-orchestrated coup ousted the reformist Guatemalan government of Jacobo Arbenz Guzman. The coup installed a brutal right-wing regime and decades of bloody repression. This event, so notorious in the annals of US imperialism, also Guevara. For it was in the Central American nation, where Guevara's Latin American road trip culminated, that the strands of his early thought Marxism, anti-imperialism, indigenismo were fused in a dramatic, galvanising moment.
By criticising the 2014 World Cup and the spending priorities of the Brazilian government, Brazilian football legend Pele has accomplished the rarest of feats in 21st century sports media: he has shown the capacity to shock and surprise. “It’s clear that politically speaking, the money spent to build the stadiums was a lot, and in some cases was more than it should have been,” Pele said during a lecture at Anahuac University in Mexico City.
Aboriginal people and their supporters took to the streets on National Sorry Day on May 26 to protest against government departments taking Aboriginal children from their families. Actions took place in 15 towns and cities around the country. The rally in Sydney was organised by Grandmothers Against Removals, Indigenous Social Justice Association and the Stop The Intervention Collective Sydney.