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The federal Labor government’s freeze on processing visa applications by Afghan and Tamil asylum seekers is being challenged in many quarters.

Legal advice published by the Human Rights Law Resource Centre on May 23 said many of the factual and legal assumptions of the policy are open to “substantial challenge”.

In the seemingly endless wave of disgusting prejudice that flows out of the sewer pipe that is the mainstream media, sometimes it can be pleasantly surprising how things turn out.

On May 20, Australian Football League (AFL) star Jason Akermanis said in a Herald Sun column that the football world was not ready for openly gay players, and that those thinking about outing themselves should stay in the closet.

On the same day, David Campbell resigned as NSW minister for transport after being outed by Channel 7 News, who filmed him exiting an all-male sex club.

The real sordid scandal in New South Wales Labor politics is not transport minister David Campbell’s visit to a gay Kensington bathhouse or Channel 7’s secret videoing of it — it’s the homophobic bigotry that continues in Premier Kristina Keneally’s government.

If Campbell had left his ministerial position because of Sydney’s public transport mess, rather than being caught at Ken’s of Kensington, it would have been justified.

The melting of the Arctic ice cap is one of the most foreboding signs of dangerous climate change.

If too much ice melts, it will set off natural feedback loops that warm the planet even faster and disrupt weather patterns.

A month ago, satellite data from the US National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) suggested the Arctic sea ice was growing back. In early April, the ice cover was close to the 30-year average.

But in recent weeks, the NSIDC has recorded a rapid drop in ice cover. By late May, the ice cover had dropped below what it was in May 2007 — the lowest year on record.

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.

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.

* * *

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.

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.”

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.

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