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The United States embassy in Haiti worked closely with factory owners contracted by Levi's, Hanes, and Fruit of the Loom to aggressively block a paltry minimum wage rise for Haitian assembly zone workers. The moves to block a wage rise for the lowest paid in the western hemisphere were revealed by secret US State Department cables obtained by Haiti Liberte and The Nation magazine. The factory owners refused to pay $0.62 an hour, or $5 per eight-hour day, as mandated by a measure unanimously passed by Haiti’s parliament in June 2009.
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.
The recent figures on CO2 emissions are sobering. Despite the fact that the world has suffered a terrible recession, emissions are still rising. In essence, all the efforts to tackle climate change have simply slowed the rise a little rather than reverse it. The problem is that the solutions to climate change put forward at international conferences like Copenhagen and Cancun dare not deal with the real root cause of climate change — our current economic system.
Australian climate scientists and researchers are subject to a rising level of hate mail, abuse and death threats from climate change deniers. More than 30 researchers told the June 4 Canberra Times “they are receiving a stream of abusive emails threatening violence, sexual assault, public smear campaigns and attacks on family members”.
Opposed to carbon tax I am a committed greenie, but I was not one of the thousands who rallied on the weekend. I am opposed to the carbon tax because it hurts the poor and lines the pockets of the rich, without doing anything real for the climate. Just 10% of this tax is earmarked for funding for renewable energy, with more than this amount (the government is very coy about the exact figure) to be given to the biggest polluters, as “compensation”. This is just business as usual — lots of money for the worst polluters and a few crumbs for renewables.
Since March 2009, it has been unclear whether promising footballer Rex Bellotti Junior will need to have his leg amputated after he was run over by a police four wheel drive in Albany, Western Australia. The Indigenous boy, then 15, was leaving a wake when the police vehicle, driving on the wrong side of the road, struck him with sufficient force to drag him under the van, breaking his right femur and inflicting lacerations to his legs.
"Since May 15, tens of thousands of young Spaniards calling themselves los indignados (the indignant) have been camping out in at least 80 city centres and towns, and are protesting daily," Socialist Alliance activist Liam Flenady told a June 7 Green Left Weekly forum. “The movement goes under various names: ¡Democracia Real Ya! (Real Democracy Now!), 15-M and even The Spanish Revolution, and its initial call was: ‘Real democracy now. We are not merchandise in the hands of the politicians and bankers!’."
Evidently we are making progress as a nation in addressing the Indigenous development problem. On February 9, the prime minister delivered the Closing the Gap Prime Minister’s Report 2011. Progress is apparently happening: not according to any statistics, but to the powerful government public relations machine. In fact, the prime minister could provide little evidence about gap closing, except to tell us that the statistics are not readily available despite a commitment of nearly $50 million to this task.
The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) organised a “save solar” rally in Newcastle on June 6. The rally was at the office of Liberal MLA Tim Owen and was the latest in a string of protests calling for planned retrospective cuts to NSW’s solar bonus scheme to be abandoned. The rally attracted about 250 people and included many solar industry workers. SEIA representative Chanti Richardson chaired the rally and introduced Solar Newcastle (SN) director Adam Dalby.
There are alternatives to the federal government’s NT intervention into Aboriginal communities, and some of the key ones have been brought together in a new statement that has won the support of Aboriginal community leaders and other groups and individuals. The statement, “Rebuilding from the Ground Up: An Alternative to the NT Intervention”, is available on the Jumbunna Aboriginal Education Centre website.
As part of a nationwide day of action, more than 1000 people marched on the Victorian parliament on June 8 to fight for state and federal governments to back their claim for increased wages. The Melbourne rally was one of 17 across the country, organised by the Australian Services Union (ASU), which advocates for workers in the female-dominated community services sector. The national day of action comes as a response to Fair Work Australia’s finding that the sector’s workers were not being payed enough, in part, because most of them are women.
The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) in West Melbourne celebrated its 10th birthday on June 8. The celebration included the announcement of the centre’s Patron and Ambassador Program — which has been developed to raise the profile of the ASRC by demonstrating high-profile supporters. Patrons are pre-eminent supporters of the organisation and ambassadors are public figures who lend their standing to the promotion of the centre.
Melbourne's largest feminist conference in more than a decade, the Feminist Futures Conference, took place over May 28-29. The conference was organised by the newly-formed Melbourne Feminist Collective (MFC), a group of mainly young activists who were inspired by a similar conference they attended in Sydney last year. In the lead-up to the conference, a debate between the radical feminist supporters of Melbourne lecturer Sheila Jeffreys and the sex worker supporters of Elena Jeffreys broke out on the conference blogsite.
The Perth Magistrates Court has grouped a 16-year-old boy to stand trial on charges of people smuggling with two men he has never met and who were not even on the same boat. The boy told WA-based human rights activist Gerry Georgatos he was born in 1995. From a poor family, he was hired to fish on a boat going from Indonesia to Australia. He said the immigration department insisted he was born in 1991 on the basis of a wrist x-ray. They had not contacted his mother.

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