The US Senate passed the much-ballyhooed financial reform bill this week to applause from an increasingly thin crowd of Obama administration supporters. Most focused on the “something is better than nothing” features of the bill. But this could barely disguise the fact that the new regulations will do little to curb the activities of the mega-financial institutions at the centre of the economic crisis that ensued in 2008.
Ewan Saunders, Socialist Alliance candidate for Brisbane, recently returned from the Justice Ride to Alice Springs. * * * On July 14, after almost 50 hours spent on the road over four days, I, along with about 20 others, rolled back into Brisbane at 11.30pm. The trip back from Alice Springs was the last leg of a two-week Justice Ride that changed the lives of a busload of people, many of whom hadn’t considered themselves “activists” before the bus left on July 1.
A unprecedented mass demonstration took place on July 8 in Jayapura, the capital of Indonesian-occupied West Papua, Straighttimes.com said that day. Thousands of people joined a long march, walking 17 kilometres from the Papua People’s Assembly (MRP) to the Papuan Provincial Legislature (DPRP) to reject the “special autonomy” granted by Indonesia in 2001. Protesters demanded a referendum on West Papuan independence and an internationally-mediated dialogue with Jakarta.
On June 28 last year, democratically-elected Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was overthrown in a US-backed military coup. Zelaya had upset US and Honduran corporate interests with policies such as blocking privatisation, increasing the minimum wage and joining the anti-imperialist Latin American bloc led by Venezuela and Cuba, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA). But it was Zelaya’s decision to grant a demand of the social movements and begin a democratic process towards rewriting Honduras’s pro-elite constitution that led directly to the coup.
Recent moves by the Venezuelan government, which now claims almost 50% of the shares in a pro-coup TV station and revoked the concession of another, represent new steps towards reclaim the media for the people. The moves came as US-Venezuelan writer Eva Golinger revealed on July 15 in a Chavezcode.com post that recently declassified documents showed the US State Department has funded opposition media to the tune of more than US$4 million.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez ordered a maximum alert on Venezuela’s border with Colombia after the administration of Colombian President Alvaro Uribe accused the Chavez government of harbouring terrorists and running terrorist training camps on July 22. Uribe’s government gave a shameful presentation before member states of the Organisation of American States (OAS) on July 22. It was similar to former US Secretary of State Colin Powell’s 2003 “weapons of mass destruction” Power Point evidence to the United Nations Security Council to justify the war in Iraq.
Alarm bells should be ringing as the threat of war looms on the horizon, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez warned in his July 18 weekly column. The warning came after tensions again flared with neighbouring Colombia, and the Central American nation of Costa Rica agreed to 6000 US troops being deployed on its soil. Chavez placed Venezuela on high alert and broke diplomatic relations with Colombia after a July 22 meeting of the Organisation of American States (OAS).
Victorian Electrical Trade Union (ETU) members have voted resoundingly to disaffiliate from the Australian Labor Party. In a ballot of ETU members on whether the union should remain affiliated to the ALP, 85% voted against affiliation. Nearly 44% of ETU members voted in the ballot conducted by the Australian Electoral Commission. This is the first time in many years a union has disaffiliated from the Labor Party, and possibly the first time a union has conducted a ballot of members on the issue.
Joe Glenton, the British Army Lance Corporal who refused to return to fight in Afghanistan, was released from military prison on July 12. Glenton was jailed in March after going absent without leave from the army in 2007. He had previously spent seven months in Afghanistan as part of the US-led military occupation. He campaigned against the occupation, speaking at an anti-war demonstration in October. Glenton was greeted by about 30 supporters and dozens of reporters outside the Military Corrective Training Centre in Colchester, Counterfire.org said on July 13.
When right-wing billionaire Ricardo Martinelli was elected Panama’s president in May 2009, political commentators heralded it as a sign that Latin Americans were becoming disillusioned with the “pink tide” of progressive and leftist governments. But one year later, the Martinelli government is facing a wave of resistance to its anti-labour and anti-union laws. Resistance has grown in the face of deadly repression.
Anti-war campaigners have challenged British deputy prime minister Nick Clegg to act on his belief that the invasion of Iraq was illegal by making sure those responsible were tried for war crimes, including former PM Tony Blair. Clegg, from the Liberal Democrats, shocked his pro-war Conservative Party coalition partners on July 21 when he declared the US-led invasion “illegal”. Clegg was standing in for Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron for prime minister’s questions in parliament.
Chasing the Lollyman Presented by deBASE Productions State Library of Queensland, Brisbane
“Move them along!”, referring to police strategies to deal with loitering Aboriginal people on Australia’s urban streets, was a phrase parodied to hilarity by Mark Sheppard during his acclaimed one-man show, Chasing the Lollyman, which ran at the State Library of Queensland during NAIDOC Week.
Germany’s Federal Administrative Court ruled on July 21 that the Verfassungsschutz — Germany’s domestic spy agency — had a right to spy on the left-wing party Die Linke. Bodo Ramelow, Die Linke’s leader in the eastern state of Thuringia and others were appealing against the agency spying on them. The justification for the spying are claims Die Linke contained “anti-constitutional” elements because of its origins in the former East German state.
On July 17, the Adelaide-based Climate Emergency Action Network (CLEAN SA) hosted a forum in Port Augusta detailing the Zero Carbon Australia 2020 Stationary Energy Plan recently launched by Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE).
The global carbon market, which trades “pollution rights” to encourage industry to cut greenhouse gas emissions, grew in 2009. Far from signaling a success, this reflects a huge increase in fraud, the dumping of surplus emissions permits by industry, and a rise in financial speculation.