Ker-ching! Its half-year profit time and those poor, tax-oppressed, big mining companies are announcing huge profit increases. Rio Tinto announced a half-year net profit of $6.39 billion, up 260% from the same period last year. And this huge profit came even after the company reduced its net debt by a whopping $27 billion to $12 billion.
At the beginning of August the Israeli government announced it would cooperate with one out of two international United Nations-sponsored investigation commissions into the May 31 Gaza Freedom Flotilla massacre. UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon claimed the move was “unprecedented”. The commission is composed of four people, one chosen by Turkey, one chosen by Israel and two chosen from a list provided by Israel. The latter two are former prime minister of New Zealand Geoffrey Palmer, who will be the chair, and outgoing Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, who will serve as vice-chair.
Jim Sharp, a well-known veteran of the left and labour movements in the city, launched his book of poetry, entitled Leftside at the Queensland Council of Unions building on July 31. About 100 people attended. Speakers included Marxist historian Humphrey McQueen and music was provided by Jumping Fences.
A growing number of unions across Australia have backed the international boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign targeting Israel. The campaign demands that Israel ends its apartheid-like policies towards Palestinians. The National Council of Churches in Australia (NCCA) said in a July 20 statement that it would “continue to add its voice to the call for an end to Israel’s occupation of Palestine and condemning all acts of terrorism”.
The following is an August 3 statement by the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. * * * The US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI) endorses and supports the call for boycott of Arizona on account of its manifestly racist laws, SB 1070 and HB 2281. SB 1070 calls for police officers to require documentation from people to establish resident status. The law essentially requires police to engage in racial profiling and discrimination on the basis of appearance.
More than 850 people packed into the Sydney Town Hall for a “Save Sydney from Over-development” public meeting organised by Friends of Barangaroo on August 3. The meetings was organised to in response to a proposed development of the harbour-side Barangaroo area. There are serious community concerns about the plan to hand over public space to private developer Lend Lease, which plans to build a large hotel on the land.
Residents are organising to stop mining company LD Operations plans to start a new coal mine next to the town of Margaret River in Western Australia. Margaret River is five hours south of Perth famous for its wineries, surfing spots and outstanding natural beauty. A public meeting on August 1 with only one day’s notice drew 60 people. It is a sign of strong community opposition. There are plans to hold a demonstration as part of the national Walk Against Warming rallies on August 15.
Liberal leader and extreme conservative Tony Abbott, who famously described climate change as “absolute crap”, is looking dangerously close to becoming prime minister on August 21. The prospect of a government headed by a Christian fundamentalist nicknamed “the mad monk” has struck dread into many progressive-minded people. The August 7 Sydney Morning Herald reported that a Herald/Nielson poll showed the Liberal/National Coalition had increased its lead in the primary vote to 44% to Labor’s 36%. Coalition led Labor 51% to 49% on a two-party preferred basis.
Mumia Abu-Jamal — on death row for more than 30 years in Pennsylvania for a murder he didn't commit — is an iconic figure. Yet while the struggle for his freedom continues, less attention is given to his role as a political leader. While Mumia has not, to my knowledge, used the term ecosocialist, his passionate message to the US Social Forum on June 22 had a clear ecosocialist content.
Last month, I stood in the Guildhall Square in Derry and watched as the relatives of the 14 innocent victims of the British Parachute Regiment expressed their delight at the Saville report’s conclusion that the 14 were innocent victims. At the time of the killings the dead were labelled as terrorists by the British government. The British system and, to its shame, much of the British media, accused those who had been shot of being “gunmen” and “bombers”.
Despite US President Barack Obama’s promise to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez that his administration wouldn’t interfere in Venezuela’s internal affairs, the US government-funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is channelling millions to anti-Chavez groups. Foreign intervention is not only executed through military force. The funding of “civil society” groups and media outlets is one of the more widely used mechanisms by the US government to achieve its strategic objectives.
As of June 25, more than 4116 people, 566 of them children, were in Australian immigration detention centres, according to figures published on the Department of Immigration and Citizenship website. The site also noted an increase of 46 people in the past week. In a country of 22 million people, 46 is a minute figure. That “stopping the boats” is a key election promise of both major parties illustrates the mean-spiritedness of their campaign.