A smaller crowd than last year turned out for the Sydney Walk Against Warming just a week before the August 21 federal election. I heard that organisers estimated 5000 but probably it was closer to 3000. Hopefully, the missing people were out in the suburbs campaigning for climate change action candidates!
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
The New South Wales government welcomed figures released by the state transport department on June 28 showing a slight increase in the proportion of trips taken by public transport in NSW over the 2008/09 year. “In 2008/09 travel by train increased by 3.1 per cent and travel by bus grew by 2.4 per cent whilst car trips fell by 0.8 per cent”, the government website said.
Aboriginal activists and supporters rallied outside Queensland Supreme Court on July 6 to demand justice for Mulrunji Doomadgee, his family and the people of Palm Island. The crowd protested against an action in the court by the Queensland Police Union (QPU) "to stop their six police mates from being charged with serious offences over the Palm Island police cover-up”, Aboriginal community leader and Socialist Alliance Senate candidate Sam Watson said on calling the action.
A Washington DC court convicted a repeat-offender in May for a crime that could have seen him spend years in prison. The offender was not a BP executive found guilty of criminal negligence over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Nor was it any other environmental vandal. It was climate change activist Ted Glick. His crime was to hang two banners off the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in September last year.
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.
A series of investigations have cleared the climate scientists at the centre of the “climate gate” scandal of falsifying or suppressing data. In November, a series of leaked emails from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia purporting to show them falsifying data to promote the concept of human-caused global warming were released to the media. This occurred in the lead up to the United Nations December climate summit in Copenhagen.
At the conclusion of the New Way Summit in Melbourne over July 1-4, a proposal was adopted stating that: “Aboriginal people be encouraged to take possession of unoccupied and Crown lands, including abandoned buildings, to assert their ownership and original title.” This was the third New Way Summit on Indigenous rights to be held. The New Way Summit was initiated by Euahlayi man Michael Anderson from far-western New South Wales. The first summit was held in Canberra in January.
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