In opposition to the Baillieu government’s proposed fine for “offensive language or behaviour”, about 1000 people marched on June 25 at the aptly named “Fuckwalk”. The rally was the second event held in response to new powers that allow police to issue $240 on-the-spot fines for using language they deem “offensive”. Initiated through Facebook, organisers said they were surprised at the big turnout.
The Greek parliament defied huge popular opposition, including a 48-hour general strike, to pass the latest set of extreme austerity measures demanded by the “troika” (the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund) in return for fresh loans. However, many commentators have pointed out it is one thing to vote up the measures and another to force them on an increasingly discontented populace.
The statement below was released by a coalition of groups that held a protest on July 5, disabling a coal seam gas rig in Pilliga State Forest in NSW. * * * Yesterday, in a first for NSW, a coal seam gas rig was the target of a peaceful protest, with a protester scaling 25m into the air and hanging suspended from the rig for almost 16 hours. The rig was working in the Pilliga Forest, near Narrabri in north-west NSW. The protester, Warrick Jordan was arrested late on Tuesday afternoon, and spent close to five hours being processed by police at the Narrabri police station.
Workers in the Australian Taxation Office have rejected management's proposed enterprise agreement by 59% to 41% in an all-staff vote. Workers in the Department of Defence voted against their management's proposal by 72.5% to 27.5%. This follows similar votes by employees at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and the immigration department.
Palestine solidarity campaigners in the Sydney suburb of Leichhardt are celebrating raising more than $5000 for kindergartens in the South Hebron Hills at their annual Refugee Week Festival of Friendship on June 18. Leichhardt Friends of Hebron’s festival attracted several hundred visitors to a photographic exhibition, indoor market, musical performances, a screening of the film Return to Gaza and a panel debate on boycotts, divestment and sanctions against the state of Israel.
Thirty activists from the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) have been charged and kept in jail over planned pro-democracy protests in Malaysia on July 9. Altogether, the TheStar.com.my said on June 30 police arrested 101 people nation-wide in a preemptive move against the July 9 "Bersig 2.0" demonstrations, which have been declared illegal. The article said 45 were still detained.
The United States government has stepped up its intimidation of whistleblowing media organisation WikiLeaks by forcing several of its supporters to appear before secret grand jury hearings in Alexandria, Virginia. Those subpoenaed have been targeted for their connections to Bradley Manning, the US army private suspected of leaking thousands of secret documents which were later published by WikiLeaks. Manning, who is yet to face trial, has been in jailed for more than a year.
More than 40 Aboriginal delegates attended the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) to refute the Australian government’s reporting on its treatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Indigenous rapper Caper says a backlash from his fans caused Facebook to reverse their banning of the video to his song "How Would You Like To Be Me?" (lyrics below). The song, which addresses racism in Australia, has enjoyed extensive radio airplay, becoming one of the most requested songs on Magic FM. The 30-year-old musician, otherwise known as Colin Darcy from Whyalla in South Australia, said in a post on the social networking website: "Whoever reported my new video 'How Would You Like To Be Me' as offensive has actually stopped it from being promoted on facebook.
The Sydney Film Festival, held over June 8-13, featured 161 films from 42 countries. Every one of the eight films I was able to see was packed out, even the beautiful State Theatre which holds more than 2000 people. Four films I saw are a must-see if they ever get a general release in suburban cinemas. The first was Sing Your Song, a biography of African-American singer and actor Harry Belafonte.
I was 12 years old when for the first time in my life I became a citizen of a country — Australia. Before that, I was a stateless Palestinian refugee. There were two laments my parents always repeated whenever they spoke of their place of origin Palestine: if only we could have stayed and if only we could return. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in 2009 there were more than 10 million refugees around the world in need of assistance.
Wild International Art exhibition by Sam Bullock June 1-July 2 Andrew Baker Gallery 26 Brookes St, Bowen Hills Brisbane www.andrew-baker.com Sam Bullock has a wonderful artistic talent. He is also autistic.
Celebrated US author and poet Alice Walker is among 38 people who will join Audacity of Hope, the ship sponsored by US Boat to Gaza as part of an international effort to break Israel’s maritime siege of Gaza. Walker has authored more than thirty books, the best known of which is the Pulitzer Prize winning novel The Color Purple.
One of the most original and provocative books of the past decade is Disciplined Minds by Jeff Schmidt. “A critical look at salaried professionals,” says the cover, “and the soul-battering system that shapes their lives.” Its theme is postmodern America. But it also applies to Britain, where the corporate state has bred a new class of Americanised manager to run the private and public sectors: the banks, the main parties, corporations, important committees, the BBC.
“During the first years of the siege, we could still manage, but nowadays we have no alternatives,” says Dr Hassan Khalaf, deputy health minister in Gaza. “It is a major crisis: many health services have stopped, and I’m afraid this will spiral out of control, because Gaza doesn’t have the essential medicines and supplies needed.” Cancer, kidney, heart and organ transplant patients, as well as patients needing routine surgeries, including eye and dental surgery, have been suffering for the past five years under the Israeli-led, internationally-backed siege of the Gaza Strip.
In a June 22 televised speech from the White House, United States President Barack Obama announced plans to withdraw 10,000 US soldiers from Afghanistan in 2011 and a further 23,000 in 2012. This would leave US soldier numbers at about 70,000 the same as before the official "surge" by occuyping forces began at the end of 2009. Britain’s Channel 4 said on June 24 that the reduction in soldier numbers would be partially compensated for by increased use of armed, pilotless drones.