Police raided and shut down electricity unions across Iraq in mid-July, carrying out an order from the electricity minister that could have been lifted from Saddam Hussein’s rule book. The order prohibits “all trade union activities at the ministry and its departments and sites” and authorises the police “to close all trade union offices and bases and to take control of unions' assets properties and documents, furniture and computers”.
Mortgage rates, we are told, are at historical lows. And yet, according to The experience of Mortgage Distress in Western Sydney report released in June by the University of Western Sydney, some mortgage holders are finding it so hard to pay, they are reduced to eating nothing but rice. The study sought to investigate the impact of mortgage distress as experienced by individual households. The accepted definition of mortgage stress centres on the borrower being in payment arrears of 90 days or more. The UWS study argues that this definition is not broad enough.
No one won the so-called Leaders’ Debate on July 27 — not even the “worms”. It was no debate at all, and showed that people and the environment will lose with either the ALP or the Coalition in government. Coalition leader Tony Abbott hasn’t convincingly shed his climate change denialism and his promise that Work Choices is “dead, buried and cremated” is even less credible. Prime Minister Julia Gillard presided over Work Choices-lite and shares with Abbott an irresponsible determination to avoid serious action on climate change.
Trade unionists from more than 30 countries met in Caracas for the Third Union Encounter of Our Americas also expressed their support for Venezuela and willingness to mobilise to stop any possible aggression. “In the face of any attempt by Colombia or any other country, to obstruct the revolution [in Venezuela], the working class will come out bravely to defend the process and the country”, said Marcela Maspero, a national coordinator of National Union of Workers (UNT) in Venezuela.
Canberra’s bus service, Action, is trying to impose a new enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA) on bus drivers to undermine their rights at work. Under the current EBA, 40% of Canberra’s bus drivers are part-time and have to wait four years until they can get full-time work. If the part-time to full-time ratio that Action wants is implemented, workers will have to wait seven to eight years for a full-time job. “We’re fighting to protect bus driving as a profession”, one bus driver said.
The family of Aboriginal elder Mr Ward, who died in the back of a prison transfer van in January 2008, will receive $3.2 million from the WA government. It is in addition to the $200,000 interim payment previously given to the Ward family. The payment comes in the wake of escalating protests organised by the Deaths in Custody Watch Committee (DICWC) in support of the family. The most recent rally was a large march through the city on July 11 in the wake of the Director of Public Prosecutions’ (DPP) decision not to lay any charges in this case.
The Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) apparently screened Iraqi film Son of Babylon against the wishes of the filmmakers — who object to the sponsorship of the MIFF by the apartheid state of Israel. Israel faces an international boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign by opponents of its oppression of Palestinians. As with the international campaign against South African apartheid, this includes a call for a cultural boycott.
What do right-wing columnist Gerard Henderson and Australian Workers’ Union national secretary and ALP factional player Paul Howes have in common? A visceral hatred of Greens and socialists. As the already widespread disillusion with politics-as-usual deepens, the Greens have a chance of holding the balance of power in the Senate after the August 21 poll. This is grist to the mill for the right-wing commentators. Henderson sounded yet another furious warning in his article in the July 27 Sydney Morning Herald titled “Radical roots seep through at the heart of Greens”.
The recent diplomatic manoeuvres by the US and Colombian governments against Venezuela have put the region on red alert. There are a clear warning signs that US imperialism has stepped up its plans to overthrow the revolutionary government of Venezuela through military means, as support for opposition parties drops in the lead up to the September National Assembly elections. An intense mobilisation within Venezuela and internationally is needed to make it clear that imperialism will pay the highest price possible if it attempts to plunge the region into war.
TOWNSVILLE — More than 230 miners at the Thiess Collinsville Coal Project walked off the job on July 27 over a two-year-old pay dispute. The strike has halted all production at the mine. Secretary of the Collinsville lodge of the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union Rick Grant told the July 29 Townsville Bulletin the miners had dug in and weren’t about to back down. Grant said the dispute was over what workers considered an outdated enterprise bargaining agreement. He said the EBA was well below what miners in other parts of the Bowen Basin were being paid.
On July 12, six months to the day after January's earthquake, the Haitian government held a ceremony behind the crumbled National Palace. Before assembled dignitaries from embassies, NGOs, and Haiti’s elite, President Rene Preval and Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive draped medals of honor on prominent figures ranging from CNN celebrity journalist Anderson Cooper and Hollywood actor Sean Penn to retired Colonel Himmler Rebu and retired General Herard Abraham, officers who have enforced dictatorships and participated in coups over the past 30 years.
“Yes, the notable features with iPhone 4 — both the device and the iOS4 — are mostly tweaks”, said a June 22 review on the popular site BoingBoing.net. “But what tweaks they are.” In the interests of full disclosure, I’ll admit I have no idea what “iOS4” means. But my eye was caught by the admission that the iPhone 4, launched in Australia on July 29, was almost the same as the iPhone 3. Corporations use “inbuilt obsolescence” as part of artificially creating markets. This means the products they sell are deliberately made to break down — so we have to keep buying more.