Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello, who performs solo under the name The Nightwatchman, was inspired by the huge struggle in Wisconsin against a savage anti-union law to release a benefit EP of songs dedicated to workers' struggles. The Nightwatchman's Union Town EP has been released by New West Records and can be bought at iTunes. All proceeds go to the America Votes Labor Unity Fund.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has claimed successes for the war in Afghanistan, while acknowledging growing opposition. The June 8 Age reported that Gillard said: “I understand there would be many Australians who over the past two weeks have asked themselves what are we doing there, why are we still there, should our soldiers be there? “I do want to say to the nation we know why we're there, we are very clear about our mission and our mission is being accomplished. “We are doing what we intended to do and we have a timeline for achieving our goal.”
US warplanes and drones have been bombing anti-government forces in Yemen amid the uprising against long-time US ally President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Speaking on condition of anonymity, two US officials said on June 9 that US forces launched an air strike on June 3 against Islamist militants in the south of the country to keep al-Qaida's Yemeni offshoot from taking advantage of the uprising in the Gulf state. The attack followed a May 5 drone strike on alleged militants, they said.
After nearly two years of living in exile following the June 28, 2009 coup that overthrew his government, former Honduran President Manuel Zelaya returned to his nation on May 28. The agreement that allowed for Zelaya’s return, negotiated by the governments of Venezuela, Colombia and current Honduran President Porfirio Lobo, dropped fraud charges lodged against Zelaya, permitted a future plebiscite on constitutional reform and cleared the way for the readmission of Honduras to the Organization of American States, which lost its membership after the coup.
In April, the Washington, DC-based National Security Archive posted a 5500-page document tranche detailing the extent of Cincinnati-based food giant Chiquita’s dealings with Colombian death squad United Self Defence Forces of Colombia (AUC). The documents shed further light on the relationship between multinationals and Colombia’s murderous right-wing paramilitaries.
The path for Maori liberation, debates on left perspectives and the 30th anniversary since the 1981 Springbok tour were some of the discussions at “Workers Power”, the national conference of the Workers Party held in Hamilton over June 3 to 5. The recent formation of the Mana Party was a focus of the discussions. Prominent Maori leader and MP Hone Harawira initiated Mana after leaving the Maori Party, frustrated over its deals while in coalition with the right-wing National Party. Harawira resigned his seat to force a by-election and stand again as a Mana candidate.
The June 5 national elections in Portugal produced a sharp lurch to the right. The two main conservative parties, the Social Democratic Party (PSD) and the Democratic and Social Centre-People's Party (CDS-PP) won 50.4% of votes and 57.1% of seats in the single-chamber parliament. (The results for the four seats determined by overseas Portuguese voters will be announced on June 15.) Compared to the 2009 poll, the PSD vote rose from 29.1% to 38.6%, and CDS-PP from 10.5% to 11.7%.
“The troubled sky reveals/The grief it feels.” Those two lines were written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in his poem “Snow-Flakes”, published in a volume in 1863 alongside his epic and better-known “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere”. Much of the news chatter this week has been about Sarah Palin’s flubbing of the history of Revere’s famous ride in April 1775. Revere was on a late-night, clandestine mission to alert American revolutionaries of an impending British attack.
The Refugee Art Project (RAP) was established in 2010 by Safdar Ahmed and Dr Omid Tofighian. They run free art classes at the Villawood (NSW) and Broadmeadows (Victoria) detention centres. Some of the artworks, created by the asylum seekers, were on display at the recent Platform Art Space as part of the Human Rights Art and Film Festival. RAP is also organising the fear + hope exhibition featuring works by detained asylum seekers at the Mori Gallery in Sydney from June 20 to July 8. Visit TheRefugeeArtProject.com for more information.