The 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa began its final round of 16 on June 26. it came amid the unrelenting drone of vuvuzela horns, the knockout of big teams such as Italy and France, and street protests by local residents angry at the 40 billion rand the government has spent on the corporatised event. Meanwhile, South Africa’s poor suffer substandard housing and access to basic services. Football, or “soccer” in Australia, is the “world game”, played by millions of people around the world and watched by hundreds of millions more. But is it truly the “people’s game”?
On June 14, Muhammad Juma Abu Wardeh, a 17-year-old Palestinian labourer, was shot and wounded by Israeli snipers along the “buffer zone” in eastern Gaza as he collected materials for a cement plant in Jabaliya, north of Gaza City. Israel’s ongoing blockade against the Gaza Strip has prevented access to raw construction materials, forcing workers to risk their lives to trawl open agricultural areas for resources.
On June 20, US group Act Now to Stop War and Racism (ANSWER) released a statement, abridged below, on the blockade of the docks in Oakland that prevented an Israeli ship unloading its goods as part of the global boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign targetting apartheid Israel. * * *
Australia’s leading conservation groups said in a joint statement on June 21 that concern about lack of action to provide safeguards against large-scale oil spills in Australia will be a high-profile issue in the next federal election. Thirty-two environment groups — including the Australian Conservation Foundation, WWF Australia and Pew Environment Group — have called on all political parties to commit to a network of large marine sanctuaries this coming election to provide safeguards for Australia’s unique marine life.
It is with great sadness that Green Left Weekly reports the death of human rights activist Rosemarie Waratah Gillespie, 69, who unexpectedly died in Melbourne on June 21 from a stroke. An activist for more than 40 years, she was a human rights lawyer, activist, author, filmmaker, anti-capitalist, Indigenous activist and mother. Waratah lived in Port Kembla and frequently travelled to Sydney to attend meetings at Humanist House, where she was vice president of the Humanist Society. The society was just one of her many passions.
A wave of rallies and marches commemorating World Refugee Week swept across the country in the past week. On June 20, people rallied in Melbourne, coming from across the city and regional areas. Given the rain, organisers were happy with the turnout of 2000 people. It was the biggest protest in support of refugees for several years. Tamil refugee Arun Mylvaganam described his experiences escaping Sri Lanka and traveling to Australia, where he spent three months in detention. He was only 13 at the time and had no family members with him.
Women, the unemployed, the ill and frail will be the biggest losers from the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government’s slash-and-burn budget — and there will be no economic recovery. That was the dire warning on June 23 from Canadians who have bitter experience of an identical right-wing assault on the public sector. In the weeks leading up to the June 22 budget, the Con-Dem coalition sought advice from Canada’s former finance minister Paul Martin, who wielded the axe on his country’s public spending in the 1990s.
A major split over the US blockade of Cuba has emerged between domestic “dissidents” in Cuba and their former partners in Miami. The US corporate media is paying attention to what appears to be a new anti-Cuban strategy. A letter signed by 74 of the “dissidents” on the island calls for an end to Washington’s ban on US citizens travelling to Cuba. On the other hand, most of the Cuban-American members of Congress are fiercely defending the nearly 50-year-old economic blockade in all its forms. The “new contras” are now up against the old.
Michael Kumarasamy, one of the asylum seekers accused of being involved in a riot between Tamil and Afghan detainees at Christmas Island detention centre in November 2009, attended his trial on June 18 … about two hours late. Kumarasamy’s lawyer, Simon Freitag, had emailed Perth Immigration Detention Centre to ensure staff there knew when the case was on. When his client was late, he again rang Perth IDC.
On June 22, Queensland unions won a court victory with the ruling that Queensland Rail had broken the law by not consulting workers over privatisation plans. “Queensland Rail has been slapped with a $600,000 fine after it failed to consult its workers over plans to privatise part of the company”, the June 23 Courier-Mail reported. “A Federal Court ruling earlier this month found QR breached 20 of its enterprise bargaining agreements by not consulting workers about the planned sell-off before it was announced.”
Sydney-based fringe magazine Spunk has announced it plans to use its latest fundraiser event, Possessed, to raise awareness and support for the Boomalli Aboriginal Artists Cooperative, which is threatened with imminent eviction by the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts.
Queer rights groups are initiating a high school referendum against homophobia and for same-sex marriage rights over August 2-6. Planned to help build the August 14 National Day of Action for equal marriage rights, the referendum will be a chance for students to discuss homophobia and how to combat it in their school. There are high levels of homophobia and prejudice in high schools. In Australia, 68% of gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans and inter-sex (LGBTI) people experience homophobia in school.
Our children are still being fed racist messages by toy manufacturers and stockists. A recent browse through Northlands K-Mart toy department led me to wonder: If all Baby-Borns are white, where did Wrestler Action Man come from? Despite catering to one of the most multicultural parts of Melbourne, Northlands K-Mart does not have a single non-white baby doll in its massive display.
On March 10 Veronnica Baxter, a 34-year-old Aboriginal woman from the Cunnamulla country, south-west Queensland, was arrested by Redfern police and held on remand. She dressed, appeared, and had identified as a woman for 15 years and was known by family and friends as a woman. Yet she was placed at the all-male NSW Silverwater Metropolitan Reception and Remand Centre. Six days later, after a 14-hour break between checking her cell, she was found dead, hanging in her single cell.
On June 25, federal trade minister Simon Crean signed a deal to export up to 20 million tonnes of dried brown coal to Vietnam. The deal was signed with ironically-named Victorian company Environmental Clean Technologies (ECT). Fifty people protested outside the venue in Southbank where the deal was signed, despite the rain and only a few hours notice of the event.
What’s Wrong With Anzac? The Militarisation of Australian History By Marilyn Lake & Henry Reynolds UNSW Press, 2010, 183 pages, $29.95 (pb) On April 25 in Australia, it is humanly impossible to escape the slouch hats, the Dawn Service, the Last Post, the khaki uniforms and the military ceremonies endlessly recycled in the establishment media. The cult of Anzac Day is pervasive, the culture of war unavoidable.