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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
Media outlets from the Dawn Media Group, Pakistans leading media house, published the first set of WikiLeaks files relating to Pakistan on May 20. The leaked US cables revealed that the Pakistani military is complicit in US drone strikes in Pakistan's tribal areas, bordering Afghanistan. Each set of cables published by the group has had a ripple effect, with the leaked US cables widely reproduced. At first, embarrassed military spokespeople and politicians exposed by the leaks denied the contents. Later, they tried to ignore them.
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.
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.”