May 17 If the military-backed government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajia dissolved parliament, announced fresh elections and ordered a cease fire, the violence would end immediately and the Red Shirts would all go home. Since the start of the latest bloody crackdown on May 13, the death toll in Bangkok, as of May 17, is 35, all civilians, except one air force personnel, all killed by the army. If you include the deaths from the April crack down, Abhisit is now responsible for 65 deaths with 1669 injured in order that his military-backed government can stay in power.
The following statement was released on May 15 by the Socialist Party of Malaysia. Click here to read a statement issued by a number of Asian left groups on in solidarity with the Thai democracy movement. * * * The Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) condemns Ahbisit's government and the military of Thailand for the latest round of violent assault on pro-democracy Red-Shirt protesters in Bangkok.
Members of the Iranian community and their supporters protested outside the NSW state parliament on May 13 after the executions of five union activists in Evin prison in Tehran on May 9. Shirin Alam-Houli, Ali Heydarian, Mahdi Islamian, Farzad Kamangar and Farhad Vakili were hanged after being convicted of Moharebeh — “waging war on God”. Four of the activists were members of Kurdish opposition groups.
Since October, dozens of social leaders have been shot and eight killed in the struggle between Spanish-based oil and gas multinational Union Fenosa and communities in the west of the country. On October 24, Victor Galvez was shot 32 times as he left his office, where he was meeting with neighbours whose electricity supply had been cut off by one of Union Fenosa’s subsidiaries. Opposition to Union Fenosa began with the privatisation of electricity supply in 1999, with the multinational as the main beneficiary.
In further moves to strengthen the state’s role in the economy, Venezuelan President Chavez announced on May 11 the creation of a publicly owned import-export company as part of a broader plan to combat “the hegemony of the bourgeoisie”, speculation and inflation. Despite price controls and a fixed exchange rate, inflation reached 25.1% in 2009 — the highest in Latin America. Central bank figures reported inflation climbed 5.2% in April (double that of March), bringing accumulated inflation for 2010 up to 11.3%.
An ex-oil worker has told the May 12 Huffington Post that oil giant BP often faked reliability tests for equipment meant to stop spills such as the Deepwater Horizon spill, which began on April 20. Mike Mason, an oil worker in Alaska for 18 years, said he personally witnessed more than 100 occasions when BP employees manipulated tests on safety valves designed to cut off oil flow in case of emergencies. He said the tests would determine whether the valves could withstand certain amounts of pressure for five minutes at a time.
Photographer David Hoffman had his London home visited by British police on the day of the May 6 general elections. They forcibly removed a poster from his window featuring a photo of Conservative Party leader (and now prime minister) David Cameron and the word “wanker”, the British Guardian said on May 11. Hoffman said police threatened him with arrest and handcuffed him during the visit, claiming the poster was “offensive campaign material”. Hoffman said police “went completely over the top”, the Guardian reported.
The federal government’s $672 million Strategic Indigenous Housing and Infrastructure Project (SIHIP), has failed to improve Aboriginal housing in the Northern Territory. Only a handful of houses have been built and adequate repairs to existing current housing stock have not been made. Announced in 2008, SIHIP promised 750 houses for chronically overcrowded Aboriginal communities. The project is running over budget but still failing to meet the needs of remote communities.
Proportional, not preferential The proposal by outgoing British PM Gordon Brown to have a referendum on the electoral system is fraught with danger for Nick Clegg's Liberal Democrats. Brown proposes a referendum on the British first-past-the post system and the Australian preferential vote system. A vote for the Australian system would be a death warrant for the Lib Dems.
Say what you will about coal, but at least it stays where it’s put. On its way to the user, coal doesn’t gush from the rail trucks, spreading itself through the atmosphere and warming it at about 70 times the rate of carbon dioxide. Natural gas is different. A new draft study provides evidence that, in the US, enough natural gas leaks into the air to give gas-fired electricity, megawatt-hour for megawatt-hour, a bigger greenhouse impact than electricity from good-quality steaming coal.
A great dinner and cultural event was held on May 8 in Lidcombe in Sydney’s west, bringing together progressive migrant groups, Socialist Alliance and Greens members and Green Left Weekly supporters. A lively crowd of 120 people attended. Eight migrant groups were present. Food was donated by Cafe Rare Treats and the Australian Palestinian Cultural Centre. Sudanese Communist Party member and Socialist Alliance Senate candidate, Soubhi Iskander, spoke about how refugees were being harmed and not helped by the ALP.
The following is an abridged speech by Bolivian President Evo Morales to a meeting of the G77 and China, which brings together 130 developing countries, at the United Nations on May 7. The World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth was held in Cochabamba, Bolivia over April 19-22. For more information on the conference, and for the full resolutions adopted, visit PWCCC.org. * * *
As Tiger Woods returns to golf, not all his affairs are salacious headlines. In Dubai, the Tiger Woods Golf Course is costing $100 million to build. Dubai relies on cheap Third World labour, as do certain consumer brands that have helped make Woods a billionaire. Nike workers in Thailand wrote to Woods, expressing their “utmost respect for your skill and perseverance as an athlete” but pointing out that they would need to work 72,000 years “to receive what you will earn from [your Nike] contract”.
The hip-hop community in Arizona came together in a “Not In My Backyard” approach to protest the state’s new immigration law by remaking Public Enemy’s song, “By the Time I Get to Arizona.” A music video is soon to follow. Hip-hop artists Queen YoNasDa, DJ John Blaze, Tajji Sharp, Yung Face, Mr Miranda, Ocean, Da'aron Anthony, AtlLas, Chino D, Nyhtee, Pennywise, Rich Rico, and Da Beast express multicultural perspectives on a law they collectively consider to be racial profiling.
“The time of big energy was supposed to have faded with the election of Barack Obama to the presidency”, Billy Wharton wrote in a May 12 www.counterpunch.org article. “Then, a humble Coloradan, with a cowboy hat that seemed permanently affixed to his head, named Ken Salazar ambled to the microphone to accept Obama’s nomination to be the new Secretary of the Department of the Interior (DOI).”
Cuba provides the best conditions for motherhood among developing countries, Save the Children's State of the World's Mothers 2010 report has found. The Times of India reported on May 5 that the report “examines 160 countries — 43 developed and 117 developing ones — and analyses the best and worst places to be a mother based on 10 factors such as the educational status, health, economic circumstances of the mothers, as well as the basic well-being of children”.