About 5000 people walked across Commonwealth Bridge and rallied in front of Parliament House on June 5, calling for real action on climate change now. Speakers included former Liberals Leader John Hewson, Richard Dennis from the Australia Institute, 2010 Greens Senate candidate Lin Hatfield Dodds and Bishop Pat Power. Hewson said we needed to respond to climate change with a greater sense of urgency and in a way that recognised the magnitude of the problem.
“In all of the mainstream media analysis of WikiLeaks' recent release of Detainee Assessment Briefs (DABs) from Guantanamo, relating to almost all of the 779 prisoners who have been held at the prison over the last nine years and four months,” Andy Worthington wrote in a may 11 TruthOut.org article, “one group of prisoners has so far been overlooked: the Yemenis.”
The editor-in-chief of whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, told the Belfast Telegraph that the United States was working behind the scenes to put WikiLeaks and himself out of business. He said: “The United States has brought out to the public an extremely aggressive response. In private, it is also doing other things. “That response has been the most aggressive response to an international publisher ever.” See also:
As many as 1 million people gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square and across Egypt on May 27 for a “Friday of Anger”. The huge march showed the revolution that ousted dictator Hosni Mubarak in February has reached a new stage. The demonstrations were called by left organisations in defiance of Egypt's military rulers — as well as the Muslim Brotherhood and liberal groups that were part of the mass protests against Mubarak in February.
Global greenhouse gas emissions rose faster than ever last year and the market-based schemes set up to bring emissions down are in trouble. That’s the bad news from two recent reports by the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the World Bank. The IEA said emissions in 2010 were 5% higher than 2008, the previous highest year. It estimated that about 44% of the emissions came from coal, 36% from oil and 20% from natural gas.
On a section of the apartheid wall in Occupied Palestine someone spray-painted a quote from Edward Said that says: "Since when does a militarily occupied people have the responsibility for a peace movement?" It is worth considering the wisdom of this statement. This month marks the 44th anniversary of Israel’s occupation of Gaza and the West Bank. Palestinians are coming face to face with their worst nightmare: there may never be a Palestinian state.
British Conservative PM David Cameron told a May 26 London press conference with US President Barack Obama that the world's biggest superpowers support the “Arab Spring” uprisings. He said the main task of the May 26-27 G8 meeting in Deauville, France the following day was promoting “democracy, freedom and prosperity” in the Middle East. Obama also expressed “solidarity” with the uprisings. “It will be years before these revolutions reach their conclusion, and there will be difficult days along the way”, he said. “Power rarely gives up without a fight.”
The Scottish government announced on May 20 that it was aiming to use only renewable energy by 2020, EarthTimes.org said on May 22 — increasing its target from 80%. Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond, from the Scottish National Party (SNP), said: “Because the pace of development has been so rapid, with our 2011 target already exceeded, we can now commit to generating the equivalent of 100% of Scotland's own electricity demand from renewable resources by 2020. “Offshore wind will play a key role in achieving our ambitions.”
The German government announced on May 30 that Germany’s 17 nuclear power stations would all be permanently shut down by 2022. Germany’s seven oldest nuclear power stations ― temporarily switched off after public outcry following the Fukushima disaster ― will remain off-line and be permanently decommissioned. An eighth was already off line, and will stay so. Six of the remaining nine stations will be shut down in 2021 and the final three will be turned off in 2022.
Secret Genocide: Voices of the Karen of Burma Daniel Pedersen Maverick House, 272pp Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of Burma's national League for Democracy (NLD), might be relatively free, for now. There are many others in Burma, however, who are anything but free of the continual repression and brutality that is still being enacted by the nation’s military regime. For the people of the country’s various ethnic minorities, such as the Shan and the Karen, life is little more than the day-to-day endurance of a seemingly endless civil war.
Rebellion runs through pop music, but no performer has ever fused music and radical politics like Gil Scott-Heron, who died on May 27. In a series of early 1970s albums, Scott-Heron, collaborating with composer/arranger Brian Jackson, made militant funk and soul that remains unmatched. It exploded any idea that art and politics don’t mix, and has been hugely influential. Scott-Heron has become known as the godfather of rap not just because his spoken word over drumbeats prefigured the genre, but because he used the style to tell of ghetto life and urge resistance.
Tunisia's first election since the downfall of dictator Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali may be delayed from July 24 to October 16, Kamel Jandoubi, president of the High Authority for the Elections, told a meeting of political parties on May 26. But days later, the interim government reaffirmed its commitment to the July 24 elections for a constituent assembly. Moez Sinaoui, spokesperson for the interim prime minister Beji Caid el Sebsi , told state news agency TAP on May 29 that the original date “is a roadmap and a position of principle to prepare this important political event”.
In late April, the progressive Spanish daily Publico asked why there was so little resistance to the economic crisis, despite the country’s 5 million jobless and rising misery. The union and social movement leaders and left academics interviewed pointed to the numbing impact of mass unemployment, the casualisation of work, the bureaucratisation of organised labour, widespread scepticism that striking could achieve anything, and the economic cushion provided by Spain's extended families.
In a contribution to the magazine Viento Sur, Real Democracy Now! activist Nacho Álvarez looked at the challenges facing the Real Democracy Now! movement three weeks after May 15. Excerpts of the article are published below. * * * Collective reflection about what to do, how to channel people’s anger and how to structure a sustained and massive protest movement now grips the streets and squares of hundreds of Spanish cities.
A subpoena from the Manhattan district attorney on June 3 has added to a growing list of official probes into investment bank and securities firm Goldman Sachs. Reuters said on June 3: “Goldman Sachs Group Inc now faces probes by several government authorities into derivatives trades it executed in late 2006 and 2007. “On Thursday, sources close to the matter said Goldman received a subpoena from the Manhattan district attorney, who joins the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission in examining Goldman's actions.”
It’s been a year since the “memorandum of understanding” between the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Greek government was signed. It is now clear it has failed to deliver the country’s promised economic recovery. As confirmed by the treasury data, Greece’s debt has risen rather than fallen. At the same time, the impact on Greek people of the austerity measures demanded by the IMF has been devastating. Official unemployment has reached about 16% — an all-time high. There are 787,000 people unemployed — 181,000 more than last year.