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At last someone has dared to defend the oppressed people of the British banking community. Bob Diamond, chief executive of Barclays bank, who himself has to suffer the trauma of an £8 million bonus, said yesterday that the bankers’ “period of remorse and apology should be over”. And you feel his pain, because the first words to cross your mind when you see a banker are “remorseful and apologetic”.
Britain: Goldman Sachs gives huge bonuses “Bankers were accused of ‘sticking two fingers up to austerity Britain’,” the British Guardian reported on January 19, “after it was revealed that [Wall Street bank] Goldman Sachs had handed its staff a £10bn payday as new figures showed unemployment among Britain's young people had hit its highest level since modern records began”. The article said data from the Office for National Statistics showed that one in five people under 25 were out of work by the end of November last year — a total of 951,000 people.
The attempted political assassination of Arizona Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords on January 8 opened a new debate about the depth of political divisions in the United States. It has included hot button issues of gun control and mental illness. Giffords amazingly survived a gunshot wound through the head, but six of her supporters at the sidewalk meeting died. It included a nine-year-old girl and a federal judge. Thirteen people were wounded.
You may have read about the prison riot in England on New Year’s Day, with prisoners staging an uprising over searches for contraband booze. What received less coverage was the much bigger and more important protest by prisoners in the United States in December. Prisoners in a number of Georgian prisons began a strike on December 9, the December 20 Huffington Post said. The strike was called off after six days, “following reports of violent crackdowns and rising fears that the situation would escalate”, the article said.
Georgia prisoner strike demands Over December 9-15, prisoners in a number of prisons in the US state of Georgia organised a strike via contraband mobile phones. The prisoners refused to perform prison labour in protest at a range of unjust conditions they face. BlackAgendaReport.com said on December 15 that one in 12 Georgians were in prison. The December 20 Huffington Post published the prisoners' demands, which are listed below. * * *
Lawyers for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange have accused Swedish authorities of secretly planning to extradite him to the US as soon as it has built a criminal case against him. Lawyer Mark Stephens told the media on January 12: “We are hearing that the Swedish are prepared to drop the rape charges against Julian as soon as the Americans demand his extradition.”
When I met Kathir (not his real name), in the maximum security stage of Villawood Detention Centre just before Christmas, he had been on hunger strike for five weeks. The Tamil refugee from Sri Lanka was protesting against ASIO’s negative security clearance assessment of his asylum claim. This assessment — made entirely in secret — allows him to be held indefinitely.
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange said that over the next six months, Wikileaks will be releasing more files related to Israel. “There are 3,700 files related to Israel and the source of 2,700 files is Israel,” he told Al-Jazeera on December 22. “The Guardian, El Pais and Le Monde have published only two percent of the files related to Israel due to the sensitive relations between Germany, France and Israel.”
Hundreds of protesters rallied in support of the whistleblowing website Wikileaks and its editor in chief, Julian Assange, in Sydney on January 15. Other rallies also took place in major cities around the world. The rally, which began at Sydney’s Town Hall, was addressed by several key speakers. The protesters later took to the streets for a loud and lively march, which went past the US consulate and ended at Hyde Park.
Ten-year-old Tamil refugee Brindha faces deportation to Sri Lanka after being rejected by the immigration department, the January 3 Australian said. In March 2010, she told Green Left Weekly the International Organisation for Migration was treating refugees “like animals”. At the time, she was onboard the Jaya Lestari, a boat packed with 254 Tamil asylum seekers who had tried to reach Australia for protection from persecution.

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