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%.
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 open letter below was submitted to Prime Minister Tony Abbott on May 23 at the Australian book industry awards in Sydney. Released by the editors of literary journals Meanjin and Overland, it has been signed by dozens of writers. You can read the full list here. * * * Dear Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Treasurer Joe Hockey and Minister for Arts George Brandis.
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.
About 100 people rallied in Melbourne to call for justice for Reza Berati on May 28, the 100 day anniversary of his murder on Manus Island. The rally called for an independent investigation of the murder, for all offshore prisons to be closed and for immigration minister Scott Morrison to be sacked.
Tom Raue and other activists at the University of Sydney have been banned from campus for being involved in protests against foreign minister Julie Bishop. Raue has been arbitrarily singled out for disciplinary action. Raue works on campus, and this ban might mean he loses his job. On May 28, about 100 students and staff attended a protest to defend these students. Student demands are simple and were slipped under Sydney University vice-chancellor Michael Spence's door.
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 And if Fairfax journalist Crabb is going to criticise student protests for being “outdated”, she should drop the 1950s style housewife persona.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.
Members of a number of unions rallied outside Brisbane Magistrates Court on May 26 in support of Electrical Trades Union (ETU) Queensland and Northern Territory branch secretary Peter Simpson, who was facing charges under the Transparency and Accountability Act. Introduced last September, the law requires unions to conduct a ballot of all members before spending more than $10,000 on political campaigns and to publicly declare all expenditure (either on a union website or the Industrial Commission’s site).
The savage cuts to education announced in early May have stirred students into action across Australia. On May 28, the University of Western Sydney Education Action Group (EAG) held a meeting on the Bankstown campus to organise students, and work with staff to defend quality tertiary education. With two-thirds of Australian university students living below the poverty line and one in five students skipping meals, students are among the most financially vulnerable sectors.
“You may write me down in history With your bitter, twisted lies, You may tread me in the very dirt But still, like dust, I’ll rise.” So wrote Maya Angelou, in her poem “Still I Rise”. She died on May 28 at 86 at her home in North Carolina. In remembering Maya Angelou, it is important to recall her commitment to the struggle for equality, not just for herself, or for women, or for African-Americans. She was committed to peace and justice for all.
After Thailand’s military overthrew the government and seized power in a coup on May 22, its new ultraconservative rulers wasted no time in rolling out the most radical and repressive right-wing reforms the country has seen since the height of the Cold War. Army chief General Prayuth Chan-Ocha is now prime minister. The administration of the nation is being conducted out of an army base, and its people ruled by decree.
The European parliamentary poll on May 25 was dominated by the victories of the xenophobic and racist National Front (FN) in France (26%, 24 Members of the European Parliament) and the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) in Britain (26.8%, 24 MEPs) — triggering a fit of mainstream media angst. The angst is understandable. Five years after the 2009 European elections, the political basis for the European Commission’s austerity drive has been severely weakened. This has rendered “governance” of the 28-member European Union even more difficult. Far right strengthens