Environmentalists have scored a win against logging in Mumbulla state forest in south-east New South Wales. Forests NSW suspending activity on April 28 after it was revealed the area may be part of an Indigenous Protection Zone. The Narooma News that day said areas due to be logged were gazetted as Aboriginal sites in the 1980s. Since March 29, activists have been fighting to save the native forest and its fragile koala colony.
On April 20, 200 angry protesters shouted down state police minister Rob Johnson, as he tried to justify the anti-democratic “stop-and-search” laws. The proposed legislation allows police to conduct potentially intrusive body searches without suspicion of a crime. The laws would also allow the minister to make any space a “declared area”, which drastically increases police powers in that area. The crowd was also addressed by Greens MLC Giz Watson, Labor opposition police spokesperson Margaret Quirk and Dr David Indermaur from the Crime Research Centre.
A sea of about 150 red shirts packed a restaurant in Cabramatta on April 25 to show solidarity with the democracy struggle in Thailand, led by the "Red Shirt" movement. Organised by Thai Red Australia, the night had added importance due to the threat of a military crackdown as thousands of Red Shirts occupied central Bangkok. Speakers urged active support for the democracy uprising, in the face of brutal military attacks that have killed more than 20 civilians.
"Say no to Roe!", chanted more than 100 people at a rally outside state parliament on April 22. The rally was organised to oppose a five-kilometre freeway extension (Roe stage 8) between the Kwinana Freeway and Stock Road in Melville, south of Perth. Speakers said the proposed extension was expensive, unnecessary and environmentally destructive. It would desecrate Noongar sacred sites and threaten the endangered species.
Over April 17-18, Tamils across Australia voted overwhelmingly in favour of the formation of an independent and sovereign homeland — Tamil Eelam — in the north and east of Sri Lanka. In what was described by organisers as “the most successful political event for the diaspora in Australia”, 99.38% of participants voted “yes”.
Venezuela’s principal trade union federation, the National Union of Workers (Unete), held the second session of its extraordinary congress on April 24, in a push to re-launch the federation. Hundreds of trade union delegates from around the country gathered in Union House in El Paraiso to discuss and vote on new set of statutes for the federation and a plan to organise nationwide elections scheduled for July.
The United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) concluded its five-month extraordinary congress on April 25 with the approval of highly anticipated party principles and statutes. This was just in time for primaries on May 2, in which millions of PSUV members will choose parliamentary candidates to run against a newly united opposition platform called the “Democratic Alternative” in September.
As a doctor working in the front line of the public hospital system for a decade, I have been watching the debate around health reform with great interest. The phrase “controlled locally, funded federally” has been repeated ad nauseam by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. Imagine if we could hear him saying “free universal health care for all ... no more handouts to the private sector ... break the feudal strangle hold of the colleges on the number of specialists being trained ... will include dentistry ... a healthy society ... a shorter working week so we have time to exercise...”.
Bolivia's World People's Summit on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth was radical, inspiring, uncompromising and exactly what was needed. Up to 30,000 people from six continents took part in the summit, which was held in the Bolivian city of Cochabamba from April 19 to 22. The huge oil spill from a BP rig in the Gulf of Mexico underscores the summit’s significance. About 800,000 litres of oil are spewing out a day. The company admits it may not be able to stop the leak for weeks — or even months.
On May 1 in Kathmandu, between 500,000-1 million people took over the streets in a dramatic show of force by Nepal’s Maoists to demand a return to civilian rule and a democratic process of creating a new, pro-people constitution. With the government refusing popular demands for its resignation, an indefinite general strike has been called from May 2 in what the Maoists are calling a “final push” to resolve the struggle for power between the poor majority and Nepal’s elite.