This year’s September 11 Catalan national day (Diada) demonstration, in support of the Catalan parliament’s planned November 9 popular consultation on Catalan statehood, was the biggest since the present cycle of mobilisations for Catalonia’s right to self-determination began four years ago.
Yet again, the Fair Work Building Industry Inspectorate (a federal government body set up to attack unions in the building industry) has launched legal action in the Federal Court against the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union (CFMEU). The inspectorate said on September 12 that CFMEU organiser Theo Theodorou was alleged to have told the director of a demolition company wishing to work at a Carlton building site that: “as [the demolition company] is working in the city, it needs to obtain an enterprise agreement with the CFMEU for its employees”.
Christianity, Islam and Atheism: reflections on Religion, Society and Politics By Micheal Cooke Resistance Books 2014 124 pages, paperback, $15 For a time I stopped referring to myself as an atheist in public. I was intensely embarrassed by seeing ads on buses promoting atheism around the time of the World Atheist Conference in Melbourne. For a while I simply became “not religious” for public purposes. I found it embarrassing because public evangelism is the one thing that particularly galls me about religion.
A meeting of about 200 union delegates and activists, organised by Unions NSW on September 17, unanimously supported a call for statewide action against the federal budget to defend jobs, workers’ rights and services. Unionists concerned that Unions NSW was failing to lead a campaign against the budget attacks drafted the motion, which was moved from the floor. Initially, Unions NSW Secretary Mark Lennon told the group there would not be time to move the motion. However, just before the meeting closed the motion was put to the vote and unanimously supported.
It appears that the much-talked up budget crisis has disappeared because Tony Abbott’s government is spending big on war. The Coalition government has quickly allocated half a billion dollars a year to join the new war on Iraq by another US-led “coalition of the willing”, or — if we call it what it is — a “coalition for the killing”. The ABC's 7.30 program said on September 15 that the Australian government has "invested a billion dollars buying into a state-of-the-art military satellite system".
The NSW Nurses and Midwives Association (NMWA) has commissioned a billboard on Sydney's northside to send a message to Premier Mike Baird to stop the privatisation of the new hospital planned for the city's Northern Beaches. The billboard, featuring nurses from the area, displays the slogan: "Stop the privatisation of our Northern Beaches Hospital”.
A fortnight out from Brazil’s October 5 national elections, the big news is the significant surge in support for Marina Silva, with some polls predicting the former Workers’ Party (PT) government minister and environmental activist could end up winning the presidential race. Incumbent president and PT candidate Dilma Rousseff maintains a narrow lead over Silva, but the election will almost certainly go to a second round run-off on October 26.
A Jewish academic will walk from Sydney to Canberra in September to promote the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign (BDS) against Israel for its continuing subjugation of the Palestinians. Marcelo Svirsky is a lecturer in politics at the University of Wollongong and an Australian-Israeli Palestine activist. He is the author of several academic works on Israel-Palestine, activism and colonialism, and is an active member of the National Tertiary Education Union.
The Resistance: Young Socialist Alliance club on University of Western Sydney (UWS) Bankstown campus organised a free barbecue for students and staff on September 10. The BBQ raised $100 in donations for Gaza recovery charities. A week later, on September 16, it held a campus film screening of Hope in a Slingshot, a film about Palestinian resistance. Resistance is taking a proactive stand for support of Palestine with weekly petitioning and distributing information and organising contingents for upcoming rallies and events.
More than 800 police carried out simultaneous raids on houses in Sydney and Brisbane on September 18. Fifteen people were detained as a result, but only two were charged. The high profile police raid – coordinated with the media – has been described as the “nation’s biggest counter terrorism operation in history”. It comes one week before the government plans to bring anti-democratic “terror laws” to a vote in parliament and as troops are deployed for a new Iraq war.
Following a mass campaign that mobilised thousands of people across the country and beyond, it appears the Western Australian government's shark cull has been dropped. The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has advised against continuing the cull this summer. Premier Colin Barnett said he was “disappointed” by the decision but is unlikely to challenge it and is also unlikely to reinstate the cull in future.
Cables sent from the US Embassy in Quito during Rafael Correa’s first three years as president document rising tensions between Ecuador and the US. Correa’s government, first elected in 2006, increasingly rejected US hegemony and asserted control over Ecuador’s economic and political development. The cables highlight the embassy’s preoccupation with Ecuador’s “difficult investment climate”, with many reports attempting to assess and predict Correa’s economic policies.
In the past five years the global bee population has been devastated. This matters because they are critical to the food chain, pollinating 70% of our food either directly or indirectly. Besides pollinating vegetables, fruits and nuts, they also pollinate the lucerne that feeds our cattle and cotton that makes our clothes. The US lost 60% of its bee population in 2012 and then another 40% last year. The European wild honey bees have all but disappeared.
More than 40 renewable energy suppliers have written an open letter to the federal government urging it to save jobs by not scrapping the renewable energy target (RET). They say the renewable energy industry employs tens of thousands of Australian workers, both directly and indirectly. This open letter to federal and state politicians from businesses supplying the sector highlights the importance of the RET in generating jobs and investment. ***
A solidarity conference called, "Venezuela: The Revolution Continues" will be held in Sydney on October 6. It is sponsored by the Venezuelan Embassy in Australia and supported by the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network, the Bolivarian Circle and other organisations, including the Socialist Alliance.
Refugee Council of Australia President Phil Glendenning told a forum on September 15 that refugees sent from Australia back to Afghanistan by the John Howard government have been killed. The Refugee Action Coalition organised the forum called “Stop Deportations — Why Afghanistan is not safe”, which also heard from Hazara Youth Perspectives Organisation organiser Sabira Naseri.