The 2008 election of Barack Obama appeared to herald a new dawn for 12 million undocumented immigrants, many of them laboring in the US’s most exhausting and underpaid workplaces. The president’s own aunt, 58-year-old Zeituni Onyango, was forced to live “without papers” in Boston when a judge rejected her original petition for asylum in 2004. So it seemed Obama would be sympathetic to the plight of immigrants at least. However, mounting evidence indicates life is becoming increasingly miserable for the undocumented population in the US.
The approaching October 12 trial of a young Cairns couple on abortion-related criminal charges shows the need for repeal of the anti-abortion laws. In response, the campaign to decriminalise abortion is gaining strength. A July 9 book launch with author Caroline de Costa attracted 90 people. Jo Wainer, a long-time campaigner for abortion rights, was a special guest speaker at the event.
“I want to make films with a social purpose”, Newcastle-based film maker and activist Simon Cunich told Green Left Weekly. “I think every one has got a responsibility to persuade people and to inspire activism.” Cunich, a member of Socialist Alliance, is completing a certificate in Screen and Media. Newcastle is the largest exporter of coal in the world and Cunich said this “environmental destruction” has led to a hub of activism in opposition.
The statement below was released on September 24 by the International Action Centre, IACentre.org * * * We denounce the Federal Bureau of Investigation harassment of anti-war and solidarity activists in several states across the country. The FBI began turning over six houses in Chicago and Minneapolis this morning, September 24, 2010, at 8am. The FBI handed subpoenas to testify before a federal grand jury to about a dozen activists in Illinois, Minnesota, and Michigan.
The year before England won the 1966 World Cup, I interviewed its captain, Bobby Moore. Having not long arrived in England from the antipodes, where “soccer” was a minority sport beloved by Italians and Croats, I did not have a clue about the game. Nevertheless, I had been assigned to write a “human interest” piece on the West Ham star by the same convivial assistant editor who had hired me believing I could play cricket, because I was Australian, and so assist the Daily Mirror team in its grudge match against the Express.
On September 19, tens of thousands of pro-democracy Red Shirts returned to the Ratchaprasong intersection in Bangkok to remember the military coup that took place four years ago, as well as the murder of about 90 unarmed demonstrators in April and May. Then, many of the protesters were gunned down by army snipers near Ratchaprasong. Since the brutal killings by the military-backed Abhisit Vejjajiva junta, there has been a climate of fear. Hundreds of political prisoners have been locked up and there is evidence of extrajudicial killings of Red Shirt activists.
A long running struggle to save a public park in the central Tokyo ward of Shibuya from private development by sporting goods company Nike intensified on September 15. The Shibuya ward authorities sealed off the park and deployed police and private security guards to stop activists and homeless people who live in the park from re-entering. Activists had been occupying the park since March. Situated in the centre of downtown Tokyo, Miyashita Park has long been an oasis of trees amid the high-rise buildings and expensive retail outlets of Shibuya.
The following open letter to US folk singer Peter Seeger was released on September 15 by the Palestinians Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel and 16 other organisations based in Gaza. It urges Seeger, a long-time supporter of social justice causes, to not break the global boycott, sanctions and divestment campaign by performing at an Israeli-organised “virtual rally”. It is reprinted from the website of the US Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel, Usacbi.wordpress.com * * * Dear Mr Seeger,
It has been a dramatic week at Villawood detention centre, with a suicide sparking off a spate of rooftop protests. These events highlight the inhumane treatment of asylum seekers and the need to get rid of mandatory detention. A September 24 Crikey.com.au article revealed: “Up to 27 deaths have occurred in immigration custody since 2000.”
The federal Labor government has ignored the rising humanitarian crisis in Australian detention centres, even after Fijian-born Josefa Rauluni jumped to his death inside Villawood on September 20. Three days before the tragic event, newly appointed immigration minister Chris Bowen announced that $50 million would be spent on 1600 new detention spots for asylum seekers. Six hundred beds would be added to Curtin detention centre in remote WA, and 100 places would be added for families and children inside Melbourne’s “Immigration Transit Accommodation”.
Voluntary euthanasia is back in the political spotlight. The Greens have used their stronger position in the new parliament to raise the issue of people’s right to choose how and when they die. A 1995 Ray Morgan research poll said 78% of people supported voluntary euthanasia being made legal in Australia. In 2009, a Newspoll survey said 85% of Australians supported voluntary euthanasia laws.
When the last of the Sri Lankan Tamil asylum seekers stepped off the Australian customs boat the Oceanic Viking on November 17, 2009, most Australians assumed that the issue was resolved. The 78 Tamil asylum seekers were “intercepted” in mid-October and taken onboard the Oceanic Viking. They were then taken to Indonesia. The asylum seekers refused to get off the boat, fearing they would be deported back to Sri Lanka.
On May 31, Australian activists Ahmed Talib and Jerry Campbell were on board the Mavi Marmara, in international waters, en route to Gaza to deliver much needed aid to its besieged residents. Israeli commandos attacked the ship and shot dead nine solidarity activists. Talib was one of several activists shot and wounded. He and Campbell described the attack at a September 22 forum sponsored by Justice For Palestine. Talib said: “The Israeli siege of Gaza had continued for three years, with world governments and international organisations not really doing anything against it.”
The Queensland Nurses Union (QNU) has decided to disaffiliate from the Labor Party from next year. The decision was originally taken by the union council in February and reported to the QNU annual conference in July. The QNU, with 35,000 members, is the only branch of the Australian Nursing Federation (ANF) ever to be affiliated to the ALP. Disaffiliation will end its $80,000 annual donation to the ALP.
Rev. Fred Nile, leader of the Christian Democratic Party (CDP) and member of the NSW legislative council made the following comment on September 17: "I am very concerned that week by week the ALP is adopting the permissive agenda of the Green political party — first the Homosexual Relationship Register Bill, second the homosexual Same Sex Adoption Bill, then the proposed Surrogacy Same Sex Bill and now the Kings Cross injecting room."
Teachers around the country have criticised the introduction of a new national curriculum. The states have agreed to implement the new curriculum by 2013. However, the Gillard and Rudd governments have consistently pushed for this to take place by 2011. Considering that draft versions of the first curriculum documents were only released for consultation in March 2010, this was bound to end up being impossible to meet.