Resistance is building in Europe against government attempts to force ordinary people to bailout the failed financial system of “casino” capitalism. After four general strikes in Greece this year, and two more planned, strike action is beginning in Spain against planned attacks on public services and welfare.
In 2006, as Labor opposition leader, Kevin Rudd, made much of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German theologian, pastor and pacifist. Bonhoeffer took part in the German resistance to the Nazi regime and helped German Jews escape the country. Bonhoeffer was murdered by the Nazis in 1945. For Rudd in 2006: “Bonhoeffer is, without doubt, the man I admire most in the history of the twentieth century. He was a man of faith. He was a man of reason. He was a man of letters … He was never a nationalist, always an internationalist. And above all, he was a man of action …”
As news was released of Israel's attack on the Freedom Flotilla and rising casualties among the passengers, the mood at Gaza's modest seaport grew sombre. Hundreds of civilians including governmental and non-governmental representatives, activists and ordinary Palestinians were waiting anxiously to welcome those on board the flotilla. All were shocked when news of the naval attack was first reported and silence overwhelmed the gathering.
Hundreds of Aboriginal workers in the Northern Territory are demanding real wages for construction work that they are compelled to do under “Work for the dole” schemes. Eighty rallied on June 2 outside state parliament house in Darwin to demand jobs with justice. Elders from Kalkaringi community say people in their community are being forced to work for up to 30 hours a week on construction sites or they will have their Centrelink payments cut.
International outrage against Israel’s May 31 massacre of activists on a boat bringing aid to Gaza has been expressed through ongoing mass protests around the world, condemnation of Israel's actions by most governments (except the US), and calls for the immediate lifting of Israel’s blockade of Gaza. Nicaragua has suspended diplomatic ties with Israel. Sweden, Spain, Turkey, Ecuador and South Africa have recalled their envoys. Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia had already cut their diplomatic ties with Israel.
BRISBANE — On June 4, a picket of Rio Tinto Coal offices highlighted opposition to the big mining companies' scare campaign about the federal government's proposed tax on mining "super-profits”. Socialist Alliance federal election candidates condemned corporate greed and said mining tax revenue should be used to fund renewable energy programs.
It’s been dubbed the “suicide express” by Chinese media, LabourStart.org said in an appeal to support workers in a Chinese factory at which there has been a spate of suicides by its workforce. “Twelve workers, all between 18 and 24 years old, have committed suicide, at the production facilities of Foxconn Technology Group, a Taiwan-owned enterprise based in Shenzhen, southern China. “Foxconn is a key supplier to various leading brands including Apple. International brands constantly drive down prices and demand shorter delivery time when placing orders.
The picture is clear: the activists attacked in the Israeli military’s May 31 nighttime commando raid on a boat bringing humanitarian aid to Gaza were not armed. In Israel, the media is broadcasting disinformation, using edited videos. But it is clear there was no crossfire during the raid, just Israeli fire. Israel claims there was an attempt by activists onboard the Mavi Marmara, to steal weapons from soldiers. But either the army’s spokespeople or the soldiers themselves are telling false tales.
Put Rudd on a boat so that he can see what it feels like to be a refugee trying to run from imperial slaughter, on a leaky boat in shark-infested waters How can these arseholes be so heartless? — lock people up in bureaucratic darkness They say they're Christian, but where’s the compassion? They put Aboriginal people back on rations It’s the Lib-Lab; hypocrisy reigns supreme, they've got their redneck corporate Australian dream they want to make you think you're playing on the same team as them as they are skimming off your share of the cream
Community group Save Our Rail held a lively picket outside a 700-strong meeting of the anti-rail lobby Fix Our City (FOC) at Newcastle Town Hall on June 3. FOC is a business and developer lobby group whose explicit aim is to have the Hunter Development Corporation (HDC) “urban renewal report” implemented. The HDC report’s main proposal is to cut the Newcastle at Wickham station. Save Our Rail drew 150 people to the counter-rally. It had the support of the Rail Tram and Bus Union, which brought several large union banners.
Forty years after the first equal pay test case, the gap between male and female wages continues to widen. Australian Bureau of Statistics figures released on May 20 put the pay gap (as of February 2010) at 18%. Women on average now earn $239.30 a week less than men. The pay gap has increased 0.5% over the quarter (from 17.5%) and 1.5% over the year (from 16.5%). The gap is now at its highest level since August 1994.
About 2000 demonstrators gathered outside Israel’s Ministry of Defense late May 31 to protest the military's violent raid on an aid flotilla that attempted to break the country’s years-long siege on the Gaza Strip. Haggai Matar, a member of the Coalition Against the Siege, told Ma’an news the protests were an expression of anger and shock about the Israeli navy raid that left at least 10 activists dead and dozens hurt a day earlier.
The US's worst-ever environmental disaster took yet another bad turn after British Petroleum's (BP) latest efforts to stop the torrent of oil from the Deepwater Horizon well failed. Public discontent is growing, with increasing calls for a government takeover of the operation and seizure of BP’s assets. The Deepwater Horizon oilrig exploded on April 20, killing 11 workers and releasing between 19.7 million and 43 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
One sentence in the final declaration of the Search Foundation’s Left Renewal Conference (From Global Crisis to Green Future) captured the key issue: “Capitalism has been unable to address inequality, war and ecological degradation, and must be replaced by a democratic system that puts human need before greed, and socialises wealth instead of debt.”
The following is a talk delivered by Scott Weinstein to a public forum in Winnipeg, Manitoba on May 7. Weinstein is a Montreal-based nurse who volunteered for five weeks of medical duty in Haiti shortly after the January 12 earthquake. The full speech can be read at Rabble.ca. * * *
The Brussels-based European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza said it had already secured funds to support three new aid ships to be sailed to Gaza, the Ma’an News Agency said on June 2. The fleet will be called the Freedom 2. Campaign head Arafat Madhi said it would be “much bigger than the first”, which included nationals from more than 40 nations and 10,000 tons of aid. The first fleet is now held by Israel after the takeover of six ships in international waters on May 31.