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.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s July 5 announcement that she would solve the refugee crisis by being tougher on refugees did what former PM John Howard failed to do in his 11 years of conservative rule. She has made former One Nation MP Pauline Hanson feel at home. Hanson announced she wasn’t emigrating to Britain, as planned, saying she was in “total agreement” with Gillard’s plan to “sweep political correctness from the debate”, the Australian said on July 6. Gillard’s main proposals cast refugees as a problem to be solved — and blame the refugees for that problem.
Sex Work Matters: Power & Intimacy in the Sex Industry by Melissa Hope Ditmore, Antonia Levy & Alys Willman Zed Books When sex workers speak it is often with anger, frustration or reproach. This is because, more than any other group of workers, they have been defined, pathologised and moralised at by others. Sex Work Matters was a labour of love that emerged from a conference of sex workers held in New York in 2006. The result is a collection of essays by sex workers, academics and people involved in providing services to sex workers.
“Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.” I can’t help but be reminded of the these words of Nazi war criminal Hermann Goering as the big parties in Australia intensify efforts at scoring goals at the others expense by putting forward players who can kick the ball (in this case asylum seekers) the hardest.
Luta Hamutuk, a Dili-based non government organisation, released the following statement on July 7. It was translated from Tetum by Tomas Freitas. * * * The July 7 Java Post said: “Prime Minister Julia Gillard has tightened Australia immigration law. Not wanting to be bothered by the economic and social problems caused by asylum seekers, the Australian leader plans to build a detention center for asylum seekers in Timor-Leste.” The above statement shows how Australian foreign policy contains “racist characteristics” toward Timor-Leste and the region.
Poverty and inequality are at record levels according to a new report. The redistribution of wealth from poor to rich overseen by former prime minister Margaret Thatcher, and continued under Labour, will be accelerated by the huge public spending cuts proposed by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition — unless they are stopped. The Institute of Fiscal Studies’ annual Poverty and Inequality in the UK report released in May makes for bleak reading. Incomes for most households had stagnated for the last seven years under Labour.
Fifty people rallied outside the Department of Immigration and Citizenship on July 9 in response to the Gillard Labor government's proposed new "East Timor solution" for processing asylum seekers. The protest was organised by the Refugee Action Collective. Aboriginal rights leader and Socialist Alliance Senate candidate Sam Watson told the protest: “[Opposition leader Tony] Abbott and [PM Julia] Gillard are creating the atmosphere for another Tampa election, targeting the most vulnerable people.
Last week was another ugly political week in Australia. There was much to be disgusted about, but one line disgusted me particularly. It was from an apologist for the Julia Gillard Labor government who dared to offer this whispered excuse for the PM's shameless embrace of racist scapegoating of desperate asylum seekers: “Julia Gillard is pretending to be conservative so that [Coalition leader Tony] Abbott can't use this issue to win the elections. Once Labor wins, they will implement a different policy. “It's clever politics.”
Hundreds of activists in Washington, DC demonstrated on July 6 outside the White House to protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit. Protesters held signs calling on the US government to end military aid to Israel as Netanhayu met US President Barack Obama. After the meeting, Obama said: “I think the Israeli government, working through layers of various governmental entities and jurisdictions, has shown restraint over the last several months that I think has been conducive to the prospects of us getting into direct talks.”