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 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.
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.
Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou and his PASOK party government survived a June 21 confidence vote in parliament. This came ahead of a parliamentary vote scheduled for a week later on the austerity measures demanded of Greece in return for new loans from the European Union (EU) and International Monetary Fund (IMF). Greece is in the grip of a desperate economic crisis. The government bailouts, engineered by the EU and IMF, have come with demands to slash spending, cut the wages and benefits of workers, and privatise public enterprises.
“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.
On June 20, 20 workers, members of the Textiles Clothing and Footwear Union Australia (TCFUA), made their way from Melbourne Town Hall to a boutique called Scanlan and Theodore. The workers were employees of a company called Blossom Road, which made products for the high-end fashion label.
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.
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