Sudan’s people are bearing the brunt of the country’s deepening economic crisis. According to Bella Bird, World Bank director for Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan, half the population is now living below the poverty line. Last August, Sudanese economist Hassan Satti estimated the real figure would likely exceed 95%.
About 150 people took to the streets of Brisbane on May 24 to protest against biotechnology corporation Monsanto, one of the foremost proponents of genetically modified (GM) technologies. The event was part of an international day of action that called for all products with genetically modified organisms to be labelled, Monsanto products to be banned in Australia, and a more transparent handling of GM products by the Australian government. Speakers described the history of Monsanto and neoliberal laws and free trade agreements that help the corporation.
Students and staff at Jaffna University lit candles on May 21 to remember the Tamils who died in May 2009 when the Sri Lankan army carried out a genocidal onslaught in the final days of the island's decades-long civil war. Tens of thousands of men, women and children were killed as Sri Lankan government forces bombarded them from land, sea and air.
Trade unionists and community activists held a forum called "After the budget, build the fightback" in Melbourne on May 24 organised by the Socialist Alliance to discuss joint actions to campaign against the federal budget.
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.
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.
You know Australian politics has reached a low point when a lunatic billionaire coal magnate driving a Rolls Royce manages to appear less heartless and out-of-touch than the government. And yet Clive Palmer managed the feat, driving up to Parliament House in his luxury vehicle on May 27 and somehow twisting the act into a statement against politician privileges — pointing out money spent on government cars would be better spent raising the pension.
Doug Jordan, a long-time socialist and union militant, who transformed himself in later life into an innovative labour historian, died on May 19 in Melbourne at the age of 63. Doug passed away after a hard struggle with cancer. In recent years, Doug was a community activist, especially with the campaign to defend public housing, and co-presented the 3CR program City Limits on Wednesday mornings for 14 years.
The Royal Commission into the Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was set up in January last year, after decades of campaigning by victims. Led by Justice Peter McClellan, the first public hearings began in April last year and apply only to children sexually abused up to the age of 18. It does not include physical or emotional abuse.
Why would the victim of a brutal military dictatorship appoint someone accused of covering up the regime’s crimes as ambassador to the country in which she once sought exile? This is the question many Chileans are asking after the new government of President Michelle Bachelet named James Sinclair as Chile’s highest diplomatic representative in Australia. In response, several groups have begun organising a campaign against the appointment.
Memo to concern trolls Annabel Crabb and Howard-era minister Amanda Vanstone: take your own advice and stop being selfish thugs and bullies. And if Fairfax journalist Crabb is going to criticise student protests for being “outdated”, she should drop the 1950s style housewife persona. In a May 23 Sydney Morning Herald article, Crabb said she was “concerned” that thousands of students taking part in a recent national day of action against increased university fees were going about things the wrong way. Take notice students of Australia. Activism, you’re doing it wrong.
Lock the Gate released this statement on May 28. *** The nation’s air quality has declined dramatically in the past decade and coal mining has been identified as the biggest source of harmful respiratory particles in our air, a new federal government report finds. The National Pollutant Inventory report found Queensland is the most polluted state in terms of the levels of particulate matter with eight of the nation’s top ten particle emitting coal mines located there.