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Conservative Party chairperson and the first Muslim woman to attend the British cabinet, Sayeeda Warsi, said in January that Islamophobia and prejudice against Muslims has “passed the dinner table test” and is now widely accepted in Britain. The rise of Islamophobia within Western societies has grown more since the September 11, 2001 attacks in the US. A 2007 Zogby International study said 76% of Arab-American youth surveyed had been discriminated against.
Less than a week after Australians learned about the death of the 22nd Australian soldier killed in Afghanistan, Corporal Richard Atkinson, footage aired by Channel 7 on February 8 showed opposition leader Tony Abbott caught with his pants down. “Shit happens,” Abbott told a US general during an August visit to Afghanistan as they discussed the circumstances surrounding the death of another Australian soldier — Lance Corporal Jared MacKinney. MacKinney’s family had questioned whether the standard of the Australian Defence Force’s equipment contributed to his death.
Across Australia, moves are afoot to pass bills to legalise same-sex marriage. The Tasmanian Greens were first to introduce such a bill in 2008. Greens leader Nick McKim introduced the bill again in November. The Tasmanian ALP was the first state Labor branch to announce its support for same-sex marriage, but this has not led it to support the Greens’ bill. ABC news reported on November 7 that former Tasmanian Labor premier David Bartlett said: “I have personally no opposition to same-sex marriage in Australia, but I see it as a purview of the federal parliament.”
At a packed Leichhardt Town Hall candidates meeting on February 7, education minister Verity Firth all but conceded that the Labor state government would not be returned on March 26. Firth said she was looking forward to rebuilding the ALP from the opposition benches. She was unconvincing. Firth told the meeting she joined the ALP when she was a 15-year-old idealist. “Genuine lasting change is about more than slogans,” she said. “When you’re in government you cannot just issue a press release or organise a protest rally ... because governing is far more complex.”
WikiLeaks has launched the WikiLeaks roundtable series, in which founder and editor Julian Assange addresses, in a short video, questions that people put to the organisation. This forum aims to cut out “intermediaries” such as the mainstream corporate media, and instead allow the whistleblowing site to speak directly with people. The first video was published on February 6. “We are going to put everyone on a level playing field,” Assange said. “All members of the press and all members of the public.
More than 60 people attended a public meeting in Russell Vale, north of Wollongong, on February 3 to oppose a massive coalmine expansion in their neighbourhood. The meeting was organised by Illawarra Residents for Responsible Mining (IRRM). Gujurat NRE, owner of No. 1 Colliery in Russell Vale, wants to expand the colliery's current output by 7.5 times — from 400,000 tonnes a year to 3 million tonnes.
It isn’t often that socialists, Greens, Liberals and NGOs agree on an issue. But that is the case regarding uranium exploration in the Arkaroola region in the Flinders Ranges, 700 kilometres north of Adelaide. Marathon Resources announced on February 7 that the South Australian Labor government had renewed the company's mining licence in Arkaroola. The Arkaroola area is a unique environment, unlike anywhere else on Earth. It has over 160 species of birds, is home to species of fauna found nowhere else in the world and is a sanctuary for the endangered yellow-footed rock wallaby.
The attempt by Hosni Mubarak’s regime to stop anti-government protests by shutting down the internet and mobile phone services failed to stop the popular uprising that forced the dictator out on February 11. Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Egypt on January 25 demanding political reform and an end to police brutality. When 24 hours passed and they hadn’t dispersed, Mubarak shut down access to media and telecommunications.
In a humble local court in Newcastle on January 31, a major battle in the war on climate change began. A court is a theatrical space where we can overhear the clashing narratives around a central event. The defendants were six of the seven men and women from climate action group Rising Tide — dubbed the Rising Tide Seven. Posing as workers, they entered a Newcastle coal-loading facility before dawn on September 26 and locked themselves to the equipment 30 metres above ground. Work was brought to a halt.
With the world beginning to feel the initial effects of changing weather patterns due to climate change, governments around the world are faced with immense challenges to ensure the safety of their citizens. The lack of action from most governments and key decision-makers reflects policies that put profitability ahead of human security. This blind and greedy agenda means the great majority of the world’s people are left defenceless. Venezuela stands in stark contrast to this norm.

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