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.
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.
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.
The movement for Australian union action against Israel is gaining strength after the apartheid state’s latest murderous attack on the unarmed aid flotilla to Gaza. The South Coast Labour Council (SCLC) and the New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory branches of the Australian Services Union have joined the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union in committing to the international boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against the aggressive Israeli state. Australian unions and peak bodies have also called on members to attend the many protest actions.
The Electrical Trades Union (ETU) has banned its members from working in uranium mines, nuclear power stations or any other part of the nuclear fuel cycle, AAP said on May 31. The union says uranium is the new asbestos in the workplace. The ban will apply to ETU members in Queensland and the Northern Territory and breaching it could lead to expulsion, said ETU Qld secretary Peter Simpson.
The Rudd ALP government was elected on a promise to take serious action on climate change. Yet it hasn’t acted and Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions — already the developed world’s worst per person — are on the rise again. In late May, the Department of Climate Change announced emissions had risen in the December 2009 quarter, rebounding from a dip caused by the global economic crisis. Most of the rise came from the energy sector, said the May 28 Sydney Morning Herald.
This must be a momentous occasion. According to the May 22 Sydney Morning Herald, the Dalai Lama — a major leader of a major religion — has declared himself “half Marxist half Buddhist”. First we must ask questions about Buddhism itself. Is Buddhism a single religion, or even a religion? Would the two main streams constitute a schism? The Dalai Lama is the largely undisputed global figurehead of Mahayana Buddhism. There is no equivalent figurehead in the other dominant stream, Theravada, which stretches from South Asia to South-East Asia.
Sydney-based journalist and author Antony Loewenstein is an outspoken critic of Israeli policies and author of the best-selling 2006 book My Israel Question. He is the co-founder of advocacy group Independent Australian Jewish Voices and is a board member of Macquarie University’s Centre for Middle East and North African Studies. Articles and commentary by Loewenstein can be found at Antonyloewenstein.com.
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The world was shocked by Israel’s latest act of barbarism — an act of high-seas piracy that ended in slaughter. Israel’s excuse of “self-defence” is so ludicrous it is hard to believe anyone is expected to take it seriously. On May 31, Israel raided the six boats of the Freedom Flotilla bringing humanitarian aid to the Palestinian Gaza Strip. The Gaza Strip has been subjected to a siege of growing intensity by Israel since 2006. The flotilla contained people from more than 37 nations.
BRISBANE — "You know that we are rising, our day is surely coming”, were the words of a new song featured in Lebanese-Australian activist and musician Phil Monsour's benefit concert for Palestine on May 29. Monsour, who recently returned from a trip to Palestine and Lebanon, recounted his experiences with songs and video images taken during his participation in the Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA Middle East study tour in March.
On May 31, Israeli defence force commandos boarded an aid ship in international waters. The ship was trying to break the illegal military blockade of the Gaza strip and transport much-needed food and medical supplies. Nine aid activists were killed and several snap actions were held in Australia to condemn Israel’s actions and call for an end to the blockade. On June 1, 250 people rallied in Brisbane to condemn Israel’s attacks on the Gaza aid fleet. ALP vice-president Wendy Turner, and socialist activist and lecturer in creative industries Gary MacLennan, spoke.
The most serious controversy that has emerged in the climate movement this year is probably about the role of natural gas in a transition to a zero-emissions society. The national climate summit in March did not debate gas, but decisions taken there have influenced the debate. A decision of that summit was to campaign to “replace Australia's dirtiest coal-fired power station, Hazelwood, with clean energy by 2012”.
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In recent weeks, the big mining companies have spent millions on propaganda against plans to make them pay more tax. But the results of a June 1 Newspoll showed they have hardly made a dent on public opinion. Both big parties are losing ground, the poll said. Labor’s primary vote dropped two points, to 35%. The Coalition went down by the same margin, from 43% to 41%. But the bombshell was the record Greens vote — up four points to 16%. This is not a new trend. Support for the Greens has risen steadily over the past decade.