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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.
Threats of a military attack against Iran by the US and Israel have increased after new sanctions were imposed by the United Nations Security Council on June 9, under pressure from Washington. On July 1, US President Barack Obama signed legislation passed by Congress in June that imposed new US unilateral sanctions targeting foreign companies that sell petroleum products, such as gasoline and diesel, to Iran. This would include producers, insurers and those involved in transportation.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Pro-choice group Children by Choice has written to Queensland Premier Anna Bligh and two senior state ministers calling for a legislative review of the state's abortion laws, a move supported by the Queensland Council for Civil Liberties (QCCL), said the July 7 Courier-Mail. However, Children by Choice spokesperson Cait Calcutt said all three leaders had replied that the government would not act, saying any change would be up to a private member's bill.
On June 19, six executives — the entire board of Australian mining corporation Sundance Resources — were killed in a plane crash in the Republic of the Congo. Australian politicians and the corporate media emphasised the tragedy of their untimely deaths, showering praise on the deceased.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.

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