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Iceland’s Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir married her long-time partner on June 27 as a new law legalising same-sex marriages came into force, Telegraph.co.uk said on June 28. On June 12, Iceland's parliament passed legislation allowing gay marriage. Telegraph.co.uk said gay couples could previously enter into civil partnerships with the same rights as married couples, but this had not been considered a formal marriage.
From the standpoint of conventional political analysis, Julia Gillard has had a spectacular start to her reign as prime minister. She wrested the position from Kevin Rudd with minimal bloodshed, announced she was going to neutralise the mining tax controversy by negotiating with the mining billionaires and was rewarded with a dramatic turnaround in the opinion polls.
A nearly two-month-long student strike that shut down all 11 campuses of the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) ended in a decisive victory for the students. The students’ inspiring unity, determination and creativity serve as a magnificent example of how to fight and win in the face of neoliberal attempts to balance budgets in this era of global austerity. The strike began April 21 as a 48-hour stoppage at UPR’s main campus of Rio Piedras to protest US$100 million in budget cuts, a sharp increase in student fees and the administration’s unwillingness to negotiate with student activists.
The New Way Summit, held in Melbourne over July 1-4, brought together around 100 Indigenous and non-Indigenous people from about Australia to discuss the issues confronting the struggle for Indigenous rights. A big focus of the summit was on the issues of genocide, sovereignty and treaty. This was the third in a series of New Way Summits. The first one took place in Canberra in January. The summit was successful in bringing together indigenous activists from Darwin, New South Wales, Queensland, regional Victoria and Melbourne, as well as non-Indigenous supporters.
On June 1, the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) announced an end to its 13-month unilateral ceasefire. Since 1984, the PKK has waged an armed struggle against the Turkish state for Kurdish self-determination. A day earlier, imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan announced that he was withdrawing from negotiations. He cited a disconnect between the Turkish government’s promised reforms and continued violent repression of Turkey’s Kurdish population.
At dawn one year ago, on June 28, soldiers invaded the home of Honduran president Manuel Zelaya and flew him to Costa Rica. It was a frightening throwback to the days when military men, backed by a local oligarchy and often the United States, could overturn the results of democratic elections. It would also turn out to be a pivotal moment for relations between the US and Latin America. A new generation of left-of-centre governments in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Venezuela were all hoping for a new relationship with Washington.
Leichhardt Friends of Hebron can be very proud of the Festival of Friendship for Hebron it held over June 25-26. The event raised more than $5000 for a kindergarten in the impoverished village of Um al Khair in the South Hebron hills. It also won a significant political victory over the ban the previous Leichhardt Council administration placed on a Palestinian photo exhibition two years earlier.
The head of Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA said on June 24 that the government is to nationalise 11 oil rigs previously operated by a US petroleum firm. This comes after the company, Helmerich & Payne, closed down production and refused to negotiate a new services agreement. PDVSA president Rafael Ramirez said the nationalisation would “boost domestic production of hydrocarbons and strengthen the policy of full oil sovereignty”.
Italy reeled under the impact of a general strike on June 25 as trade unionists and their allies took to the streets to defend the welfare state against the Berlusconi government’s plans to slash public spending by about $36 billion. Transport workers led the action. Bus, tube and rail services were paralysed for four hours throughout the country. Airline employees, car workers and public-sector staff joined major demonstrations in Rome, Milan, Bologna and Naples.
The following statement was released on June 27 by the group Palestinian Queers for BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions – an international campaign to isolate Israel in protest against its treatment of Palestinians). Support for the BDS campaign has grown significantly since Israel’s massacre of peace activists on a boat taking aid to Gaza on May 31. * * * Palestinian Queers for BDS call upon all queer groups, organisations and individuals around the world to boycott the apartheid state of Israel.
Despite freezing weather, 30 people took part in a community speak-out against racism on July 2 in Newtown, in Sydney’s inner-west. Initiated by the Socialist Alliance, speakers included Greens deputy mayor of Marrickville Fiona Byrnes, refugee rights activist Saradha Nathan, Ellouise Davis from the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre, Hadi Zaher, Reverend Dave Smith from the Hold Trinity Church in Dulwich Hill, Peter Robson from Stop the Intervention Coalition and Pip Hinman, Socialist Alliance candidate for Grayndler.
The statement below was released by Asian left groups on June 25. To add your organisation’s name, email international@socialist-alliance.org. * * * Israel stands increasingly isolated after its manufactured confrontation on May 31, 2010, with the peace flotilla, in which nine Turkish activists on the Mavi Marmara were murdered. So now is the time to increase the pressure on Israel to lift the siege of Gaza.
How do wars begin? With a “master illusion”, according to Ralph McGehee, one of the CIA’s pioneers in “black propaganda”, known today as “news management”. In 1983, he described to me how the CIA had faked an “incident” that became the “conclusive proof of North Vietnam’s aggression”. This followed a claim, also fake, that North Vietnamese torpedo boats had attacked a US warship in the Gulf of Tonkin in August 1964.
Workers from Kennon Auto in Melbourne have not received a pay rise for the past three years. They stopped work on July 1 because their boss is refusing to negotiate a collective agreement. The workers make parts for Toyota. They are ex-Nylex workers who had to fight to keep entitlements after Nylex went into receivership. Some of Nylex’s product lines were sold to Kennon Auto.
The Canterbury Bankstown Peace Group, with the Justice for Aafia Coalition, is calling for the release of Dr Aafia Siddiqui. The Pakistani doctor was found guilty on February 3 of shooting US soldiers in July 2008, while in Afghan police custody. Siddiqui was accused of being an Al Qaeda agent and has allegedly spent time in secret prisons in Pakistan and in the US prison in Guantanamo Bay. Despite this, she has not been charged with any terrorist offences but only with firearms offences allegedly committed during her capture.
The Northern Territory intervention has reached its third year and, despite several government commissioned reports and outside expert analysis claiming that it has failed to achieve its aims, aspects of it look likely to be extended to other parts of the country. On June 21, the Senate voted to extend one of the aspects of the intervention, welfare quarantining, to more people in the NT and allow the government the option to extend it to other parts of Australia after a year.

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