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It took nearly six months to organise, but on May 21, representatives from seven anti-war groups finally met defence minister Senator John Faulkner to request he re-consider a Greens’ initiative to amend the Defence Act. The amendment would require that MPs vote on whether or not Australian troops are sent to war.

While the lobby, spearheaded by Nick Deane from the Marrickville Peace Group, did not change the senator’s mind, Deane told Green Left Weekly that he felt the exercise was still worthwhile because Faulkner heard a range of views.

“Facing the world economic crisis: From Greece to Australia” was the title of a public forum, sponsored by Socialist Alliance, Resistance and Green Left Weekly on May 25.

Marxist academic Gary MacLennan and Socialist Alliance candidate for the federal seat of Brisbane Ewan Saunders spoke.

MacLennan explained that the world economic crisis showed signs of deepening, not ending. He said right-wing explanations of the crisis blamed government mismanagement, rather than the capitalist system.

One hundred pensioners rallied outside Victorian Parliament House on May 27 to demand a raise in the aged pension.

The rally was organised by the Fair Go for Pensioners Coalition (FGPC), which had previously organised nationwide protests in November 2008.

Frank Cherry, national coordinator of the coalition, told the crowd: “We’re rallying today to highlight the plight of pensioners, both to the state and federal government, and to begin the second stage of our campaign to increase the pension.”

Mal Tulloch, assistant NSW secretary of the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union, took part in a study tour to Palestine in March, organised by APHEDA, the aid organisation of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. The CFMEU has supported APHEDA since it was established in 1987.

As soon as Tulloch arrived in Palestine, he realised it was not going to be a holiday. He shares his impressions below.

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It was like a visit to a war zone, while also a great opportunity to witness what the Palestinian struggle has been about for the past 62 years.

Giles Ji Ungpakorn is a Thai socialist in exile in Britain after being charged with lese majeste (insulting the monarch). He is a member of Left Turn Thailand.

Ji Ungpakorn’s blog, Wdpress.blog.co.uk, covers the struggle for democracy in Thailand, and the brutal repression meted out by the military backed regime. On May 25, the blog listed the names of all the pro-democracy Red Shirt protesters being hunted down by the regime — 66 arrest warrants had been issued and 21 people were already in custody.

The following is abridged from a motion unanimously passed on May 22 by the general membership of the Climate Emergency Network, Victoria. For more information on CEN, visit the group's website.

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Over the past decade or so, a climate movement has developed in many countries, both developed and developing. There has been a tendency for the climate movement in North America, Europe, and Australia to focus on ecological modernisation as a climate change mitigation strategy.

American Radical: The Trials of Norman Finkelstein
Directed by David Ridgen & Nicolas Rossier
Baraka Productions

Review by Antony Loewenstein

Jewish critics of Israel are as old as the ideology itself. Zionism was regarded by most Jews in Europe as an idealistic delusion before the Second World War, but the Holocaust literally changed everything.

The national executive of the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union (CFMEU) decided at its May 12 meeting to join the global campaign to isolate apartheid Israel.

The union assessed the approach of trade unions around the world and consulted Izzat Abdulhadi, head of the Palestinian delegation to Australia.

On May 25, 70 people protested outside the Thai embassy in Jakarta in solidarity with the pro-democracy Red Shirts in Thailand. The protest was jointly called by the Working Peoples Association (PRP), the People’s Democratic Party (PRD), the Confederation Congress of Indonesia Union Alliance (Konfederasi KASBI); the Indonesian Nasional Front for Labour Struggle (FNPBI); the National Student League for Democracy (LMND)

Ten activists from Thai Red Australia, plus Guatemalan and El Salvadoran activists from the Latin American Social Forum, were part of the 80-strong Socialist Alliance NSW state conference on May 22 in Sydney.

The conference launched Socialist Alliance’s federal election campaign. In the opening session, Senate candidate Rachel Evans outlined a “people’s budget” that puts the environment and people’s wellbeing over militarism and profiteering.

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