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In June, Australia will host the largest military exercises ever undertaken in peacetime. Talisman Sabre 07 will involve 12,400 Australian and 13,700 US troops converging on various locations for their biennial “war games”.
On May 13, the Left party won 8.4 % of the votes in Germany’s smallest state, the adjoining north-western cities of Bremen and Bremerhaven. This was sufficient for the party to enter a west German state parliament for the first time, with seven MPs.
Big performer “Allan Moss is worth 446 construction workers, 669 graduate teachers, 335 GPs or 108 prime ministers. The head of Macquarie Bank, who was paid $33.49 million last year, is worth 747 times the average Australian worker, who was paid $862 a week. It would take Mr Moss just three hours to earn that worker’s yearly income of about $45,000… But Mr Moss only gets paid so handsomely if he performs. Virtually all of his pay is tied to the bank’s profit performance, and his day-to-day salary is just $670,819 a year.” — Sydney Morning Herald, May 16.
On May 13, the Left party won 8.4 % of the votes in Germany’s smallest state, the adjoining north-western cities of Bremen and Bremerhaven. This was sufficient for the party to enter a west German state parliament for the first time, with seven MPs.
On May 23, Sydney’s Refugee Action Coalition (RAC) issued a call for support for a Chinese asylum seeker at Villawood detention centre who has been on hunger strike for 57 days. There are reports that the man was transferred to hospital from Villawood’s medical centre on May 22.
Tom Lewis, 83, is a long-time Green Left Weekly subscriber in a small town between Bundaberg and Gin Gin, Queensland. His eyesight is rapidly failing and he can no longer read. But last week he renewed his subscription to the paper and made a $100 donation to our fighting fund.
In a Brisbane court on May 25, Palm Island resident Lex Wotton was allowed to withdraw his guilty plea in relation to riot charges, after Judge Phil Nase found that Wotton had been asked to plead illegally.
“Australian Tamils demand protection not persecution” was the theme of a gathering of more than 500 members of the Tamil community outside the Victorian parliament on May 22.
On May 10, British PM Tony Blair finally made his long-awaited resignation statement. Blair will stand down as prime minister with effect from June 27. He will also stand down as leader of the Labour Party, and preparations for the election of the next Labour leader — who will simultaneously become PM — got underway immediately.
Tom — not his real name — became a “person of interest” after taking part in the G20 protests in Melbourne last November. This softly spoken 24-year-old, a postgraduate student at Sydney University, is one of the latest victims of the police-state laws that seem designed to intimidate activists from organising, or attending, protests.
Between May 16 and 24, almost 100 Palestinians died and more than 340 have were injured in Gaza through a combination of renewed Israeli military attacks and fighting between Palestinian groups Hamas and Fatah.
On May 18 the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) expressed its support for Iraqi railways workers, who on May 15 began an indefinite strike to win a pay rise and basic rights. The strike action, backed by the vast majority of rail workers, paralysed the country’s main north/south rail corridor. Workers wanted improvements in salaries and conditions, as well as improved safety, protection from attack and fundamental workers’ rights. The ITF’s Mac Urata commented: “It beggars belief that the dictatorial anti-union laws of the Saddam Hussein era are still in place. Legislation denying rail and other public services workers the right to strike and belong to a union must be removed immediately. The ITF fully supports this legitimate action.”
While public support in the US for Washington’s counterinsurgency war in Iraq has collapsed, the Pentagon has drawn up plans to almost double the number of US combat troops deployed in the oil-rich country by the end of this year.
On May 22, a jury returned a verdict of not guilty in the trial of peace activsts Philip Pritchard and Toby Olditch (known as the ‘B-52 Two’). The two were charged with conspiring to cause criminal damage at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire in 2003 when they tried to safely disable US B-52 bombers to prevent them from bombing Iraq. The court heard the two men acted to prevent damage to life and property in Iraq, as well as war crimes. It was the second trial for the two; the first, in October 2006, ended with a hung jury. During the trial the prosecution accepted that even delaying the bombers would have prevented civilian casualties, as it would have allowed those fleeing cities more time to escape. Visit <http://www.b52two.org> for more information.
On May 20, a group of women activists in Indonesia’s northern-most province of Aceh declared the formation of a new local political party — the Acehnese People’s Alliance Party for Women’s Concern (PARAPP).
According to the International Trade Union Confederation, the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria have called a national stay-away on May 29, the date of Nigeria’s presidential inauguration. The groups’ trade union centres are part of the Labour and Civil Society Coalition. President-elect Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua is accused of rigging the April 21 election. According to ITUC-Online, “Fraud and ballot rigging were widespread during the elections, resulting in a major setback for democracy in Africa’s most populous nation, and leading to protests inside the country and heavy criticism from independent election observers”.

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