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French workers and students have mobilised in large numbers again to oppose changes in pension laws that will raise the age at which workers are able to retire. The seventh national strike in as many weeks took place on October 28, as indefinite strikes in many industries against the changes entered their third week. The protests took place despite the government’s pension bill passing through France’s parliament on October 27.
“Argentine shares and bonds rose on Wednesday after the death of political heavyweight and former President Nestor Kirchner removed a market-unfriendly contender from the country's 2011 election campaign.
“Workers in southern China, who say they were assembling Apple laptops and iPhones, have become seriously ill after using a dangerous chemical. “The Number Five People’s Hospital in Suzhou has been treating workers who breathed in vapours from the chemical n-hexane. “According to the workers, the chemical was being used in the production of Apple products and has left them unable to walk … They say they were using n-hexane to glue and polish the logos on Apple products …
It seems no one bothers about “them” in Sri Lanka. No lawyer or rights groups in the country dare to talk of “their” basic rights. Do they deserve to be abandoned or “disappeared”? Alleged former members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE — popularly known as the Tamil Tigers), an armed group that fought for an independent state for the Tamil ethnic minority, have become indefinite “prisoners of war” ever since the LTTE was militarily defeated by the Sri Lankan state in May 2009.
Maya M.I.A. N.E.E.T. Recordings www.neetrecordings.com Big Day Out tour January/February 2011 www.bigdayout.com It created a buzz well before its release date. For months, every pop music outlet speculated on its content. It provoked fervent anticipation among fans, censorship from the internet, and derision from elitist establishment journalists. When Sri Lankan-born Tamil musician M.I.A.’s Maya finally arrived in July, it predictably polarised critics.
Videos showing the torture of West Papuans by occupying Indonesian soldiers have embarrassed the Indonesian government ahead of a scheduled visit in November by US President Barack Obama. Obama is due to discuss a security deal that would involve the US training Indonesian military units accused of human rights violations. A video posted at FreeWestPapua.wordpress.com shows two Papuans from Gurage village being tied down and interrogated by Indonesian soldiers about the alleged location of weapons belonging to the Free Papua Movement (OPM).
The British people have a long and proud history of defeating repression, tyranny and injustice. They defeated Conservative Party prime minister Margaret Thatcher’s poll tax in 1991 by invoking an inspiring spirit of resistance against seemingly insurmountable forces. And it’s just a well because they need to call on these traditions once again to defeat the unprecedented and brutal cuts proposed by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government for our public services. Chancellor George Osborne has announced planned public spending cuts of £81 billion pounds.
The signing of the much-anticipated “Forest peace deal”, an agreed statement of principles between some conservation groups and the timber industry, was announced on October 19. Most of the statement of principles had already been leaked. Still up in the air was the two last minute demands made by the Forest Industries Association of Tasmania. These concerned recognition of already existing supply contracts from publicly owned native forests and the use of forests for wood-fired power station.
McDonalds will soon be trialling two lanes of drive through at some outer suburban restaurants to bring down its drive through wait time. There are a number of reasons why some people in outer suburbs are becoming increasingly dependent on drive-through takeaway food. Longer working hours, falling living standards and greater travelling distances have cut into the time, energy and money suburban working class families can devote to grocery shopping, meal preparation, sitting down to eat and washing dishes.
In a win for community campaigners and the environment, BHP Billiton has dropped plans for a massive long-wall mine under the pristine Dharawal State Conservation Area (DSCA) on the NSW south coast. The decision came on October 26 after a review by the NSW Planning Assessment Commission that said society would be better off without the mine. Importantly, the review backed up the argument made by community groups that “remediation”, where the company would take responsibility for cleaning up the site, is a myth in these circumstances.
The campaign against savage cuts to public services in the recent South Australian budget is gaining momentum. More than 10,000 unionists rallied in Victoria Square on October 26 and marched through lunchtime crowds to Parliament House. Nurses, prison officers and firefighters are among the many sectors angry at the cuts, which will cost up to 4000 jobs and affect vital services. The following day, hundreds protested at Parliament House against cuts of $850,000 to the health budget, which threaten the viability of country hospitals at Keith, Moonta and Ardrossan.
Not so long ago, the polar ice sheet made it almost impossible to circle the North Pole by sea. But in June, two boats set off to do just that. By mid October, both returned to port successful — the first ships to sail around the pole in a single summer season. It’s likely the feat greatly tested the crews’ skill and endurance. But their achievement is no cause for celebration. The Arctic is often called the “planet’s refrigerator” because of the role it plays in regulating the Earth’s climate. Now, it’s clear the refrigerator is breaking down due to global warming.
Six fighters from the private army of Afghan warlord, drug trafficker and highway robber Matiullah Khan were recently in Australia for training with the Australian Defence Forces, the October 29 Sydney Morning Herald said. Khan’s power base is in Oruzgan province, where most Australian forces in Afghanistan are stationed. Such is Khan’s reputation for criminality and violence that Dutch forces, who before their withdrawal in August were the largest foreign contingent in Oruzgan, refused to work with him.
The following statement was adopted by the Trade Union Climate Change Conference held in Melbourne on October 9. * * * This conference of Victorian union activists and local climate activists commends the report by Beyond Zero Emissions and Melbourne University’s Energy Research Centre. The report outlines a technically feasible and economically viable way for Australia to transition to 100% renewable energy within 10 years.
Hunter Valley activist Pete Gray gained notoriety on October 25 for throwing shoes at former prime minister John Howard on ABC’s political talk show, Q&A. Gray is a long-time activist committed to non-violent direct action. He is a member of climate action group Rising Tide and has also been involved in a variety of social justice campaigns. Gray’s decision to throw his shoes at Howard was a homage to Iraqi journalist Muntadar al-Zaidi, who threw his shoes at former US president George Bush during a press conference in December 2008.
Colombian trade unionist, Parmenio Poveda Salazar, is touring Australia to denounce human rights violations in his country. His visit is being organised by Peace and Justice For Colombia (PJFC). Poveda is a representative of the Federation of United National Agricultural workers unions, FENSUAGRO, the largest peasant and farm workers’ union federation in Colombia.

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