Citizens rallied in two Afghan cities on July 10 and 11, chanting slogans against occupying powers and the unpopular regime of President Hamid Karzai for failing to protect civilians. On July 10, hundreds took to the streets of Mazar-i-Sharif to demand that all occupation forces leave. The protest was organised after an artillery barrage from occupying NATO forces killed six civilians in Paktia province on July 8 and US troops killed two civilians in a pre-dawn raid in the city on July 7. Protesters chanted slogans against occupation forces and Karzai.
Hollowing out the asylum seeker ‘debate’ On July 5, while waiting for my dentist, I couldn't help hearing Kerri-Ann Kennelly, her show being blared on the big screen in the waiting room. Kennelly was telling us how she welcomed PM Julia Gillard's exhortation for an honest debate on the asylum-seeker “problem”. She welcomed Gillard's dog whistle that political correctness had no part in the “debate” and called on her viewers to share their thoughts by emailing the show. But first, Kennelly had to set the agenda. The tool of choice was fear-mongering.
Acting against our alleged “ambush marketing” and “incitement”, the South African Police Service, newly augmented with 40,000 additional cadre for the World Cup, detained several of us in Durban on July 3. We were exercising freedom of expression at our favorite local venue — the South Beach Fan Fest. Wearing hidden microphones to tape discussions with police leadership, what we learned was chilling.
On July 6, the Thai government approved the extension of an emergency decree in 19 provinces, which includes many in the heartland of the pro-democracy Red Shirts in the country’s north-east. The extension came a day after the Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG) recommended the government immediately lift the decree and hold fresh elections. But Prime Minister Abhisit Vejajiva, who came to power through the army’s intervention, crushed hopes for new elections weeks ago.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez took a giant symbolic leap in the direction of Latin American independence on July 6 when Venezuela and Ecuador conducted the first bilateral trade deal between two countries using a new trading currency, the Sucre, instead of the US dollar. The Unitary System of Regional Compensation (Sucre) is the currency the adopted last year by the Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas (ALBA) regional bloc to allow member states to trade without using the US dollar.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said on July 2 that intelligence services at the Caracas airport have arrested a man wanted in connection with terrorist activities in Cuba from the 1970s. The Venezuelan government said El Salvadorean Francisco Antonio Chavez Abarca tried to enter Venezuela on July 1 on a false Guatemalan passport. Interpol alerted Venezuelan authorities to his identity and requested his arrest. On July 7, Venezuela extradited Chavez Abarca to Cuba to face charges for bombings on the island.
Aboriginal academic and activist Sharon Firebrace is the Victorian Socialist Alliance Senate candidate in the federal election. Firebrace founded the Aboriginal Genocide Centre. Repealing the NT intervention and standing up for refugee rights are key parts of her election policy. Below, she responds to Labor Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s announcement on refugees. ***
The financial reform legislation just passed by Congress was proclaimed by US President Barack Obama as “the toughest financial reform since the ones we created in the aftermath of the Great Depression”. This is a kind of doublespeak. The entire thrust of financial reform in the decades since the 1930s has been toward financial deregulation. Being the toughest financial reform measure by that standard merely means that it didn’t give the house away.
Australian Manufacturing Workers Union organiser Colin Muir, Australian Workers Union organiser Sam Woods, and Electrical Trades Union organiser Gerry Glover joined union members at a barbecue in front of British Aerospace Engineering (BAE) on July 8. More than 290 union members voted to continue an indefinite ban on overtime and working rostered days off, and for 24-hour stoppages on Fridays. Only essential, high-voltage switch work will be carried out.
The German parliament met on June 30 to elect the country’s largely symbolic president. What should have been a fairly straightforward affair, however, turned into a political embarrassment for Chancellor Angela Merkel. The new election was made necessary by the resignation of Horst Koehler on May 31, after a public outcry over his comments suggesting German military involvement in Afghanistan was commercially motivated. Koehler’s resignation came as Merkel’s governing right-wing coalition was struggling in opinion polls.
Unions NSW has called a mass rally and march in Sydney at noon on July 20 in support of South Australian construction worker Ark Tribe, who faces court in Adelaide that day. Tribe faces jail for refusing to be interrogated by the Australian Building and Construction Commission, the special police force set up to break the power of the building unions. The set up by the former Coalition federal government and continues under Labor.
The proposal for a visit to the 26 Irish counties that make up the southern state by the British head of state, Queen Elizabeth II, has drawn condemnation from Irish republicans. Irish Taoiseach (head of government) Brian Cowan announced in June plans for a royal visit, believed to be for sometime in 2011. It would be the first visit by the British head of state to the southern Irish state since it was founded in 1921.
Unions NSW has endorsed and is sponsoring the "stop the privatisation" forum organised by the New South Wales Teachers Federation (NSWTF). The NSWTF has invited speakers from a range of public sector unions, including the Public Sector Association, Nurses Association and Fire Brigade Employees Union. Speakers will show how the NSW government's privatisation agenda has damaged service delivery and caused job cuts and the erosion of wages and working conditions.
On April 9, the Australian Labor Party government, then led by Kevin Rudd, imposed a three-month suspension of the processing of refugees from Sri Lanka. On July 6, the Labor government of PM Julia Gillard announced, in the context of unveiling its pre-election tougher stance against refugees, that the suspension would not be extended.
The following is a letter by the Stop the War Coalition Sydney to Prime Minister Julia Gillard * * * We are concerned with the growing threat of a new United States-Israel strike against the people of Iran and are writing to ask you to distance your government from any measure that could lead to an attack on Iran. The media is currently filled with reports of an alleged nuclear threat posed by Iran and the assumed need for the US, or Israel, to take military action.
A recent attempt to forge greater unity among militant union sectors in Brazil has imploded. The Working Class Congress (Conclat) was held in Sao Paulo on June 5-6 to try and bring together various radical union currents. The key forces behind the congress were Conlutas and Intersindical, both formed in opposition to the main union confederation, the Unified Workers’ Confederation (CUT). The CUT unites approximately 60 million formal or informal workers out of a total population of 200 million, making it the biggest workers confederation in the continent.