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.
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”.
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".
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.