More than 500 Malaysians and their supporters gathered in Melbourne's Federation Square on July 9 to call for free and fair elections in Malaysia. They were decked out in yellow shirts and held banners and placards. The rally, called in solidarity with the Bersih 2.0 democracy movement in Malaysia, chanted slogans in Malay and English, ranging from "Bersih bersih" (Clean, clean) to "change is possible".
No sooner had information come out that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was undergoing surgery in Cuba than the international media was full of speculation and rumours regarding his imminent demise. Projecting their hopes that an illness could succeed in removing Chavez where military coups and assassination attempts had failed, the right-wing Venezuelan opposition went into overdrive. They demanded the president step down and hand over power to the vice president.
It’s been a fascinating few weeks in Tasmanian politics. On June 16, the Labor-Greens government handed down a shocking budget that cut funding to public health, education, police and other services. Thousands of public service workers gathered on parliament lawns that day to condemn the plan, saying that services were already struggling to meet demand. The education cuts included a plan to close 20 schools. Education minister and Greens leader Nick McKim started a process of “consultation” with affected school communities around the state.
In June, four Australian set sail as part of the second Freedom Flotilla to Gaza with the aim of highlighting the suffering of its people at the hands of Israel’s illegal blockade. The flotilla, involving a dozen boats with hundreds of activists from more than 50 countries, aims to deliver humanitarian aid to the besieged Palestinian territory. The convoy coincides with the deep process of revolt occurring across the Arab world — against regimes that often collaborate with Israel.
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 campaign of repression, slander and sabotage against the Freedom Flotilla II in its efforts to break the blockade of Gaza shows how desperately Israel and its supporters wish to keep the conditions in the besieged Palestinian enclave out of the world's view. The illegal Israeli blockade, in place since 2007, has crippled the Gazan economy and brought widespread misery to Gaza's 1.5 million people. A secret US diplomatic cable from October 2008, released by WikiLeaks in January, revealed the situation was intentionally created by Israel. See also:
“US computer giant Apple has culled a Palestinian application from its iPhone offerings at the request of Israel,” a June 27 IOL.co.za article said. “The Arabic-language app ThirdIntifada, released by Apple just days ago, provides users with details of upcoming anti-Israel protests, access to news articles and editorials, and links to Palestinian nationalist material.” Pro-Palestinian demonstrators pointed out the term intifada, which means mass uprising, did not refer to violence.
The Perth community has witnessed in past weeks an inspiring mobilisation of people affected by homelessness or as they like to be called, the “streeties”. It started as a small rally to protest against the treatment of those living on the streets during the Commonwealth Heads Of Government Meeting (CHOGM), and against insensitive comments made by Liberal police minister Rob Johnson. Now it has broadened to challenge the government on homelessness.
It’s the best news on climate change for years, and you’ve probably not heard about it. Spain’s new Gemasolar power plant produced uninterrupted clean energy all day and all night for the first time on July 3. That’s 24 hours of zero emissions power, here and now. Gemasolar is a concentrated solar thermal power plant. It uses a field of mirrors to concentrate solar radiation in a central tower. What’s new about Gemasolar is that the plant can store solar energy for up to 15 hours. That’s baseload renewable energy, supplied all through the night.
Resistance members in Perth took part in a protest outside the office of Melissa Parke organised by the Refugee Rights Action Network on July 1 to demand an end to mandatory detention and the immediate release of 16-year-old Indonesian Hadi Kurniawan from the Hakea adult prison.
When the multi-award-winning journalist John Pilger needed researchers for his latest film, The War You Don’t See, he turned to David Edwards and David Cromwell. The pair run media-analysing website Media Lens, which is set to turn 10 years old on July 9. Here, they answer some of the “more interesting” questions posed by their readers, plus a couple from Green Left Weekly’s Mat Ward. * * * Why did you start Media Lens?
Ever spent time in Dubai airport, on the shores of the Persian Gulf? You might have reflected that human beings can live quite well when temperatures exceed 50°C. All they need to do is stay behind plate glass, with the air conditioning on maximum. No doubt you looked out through the glass at the dust and sand. If you’re unusually reflective, you might then have asked yourself: if this is what global warming has in store for huge stretches of the Earth, what’s everyone going to eat? See also:
The 28th Australian soldier to die in Afghanistan was killed on July 4. In what is becoming a routine, Prime Minister Julia Gillard used the occasion of giving the nation’s condolences on July 6 to harangue an increasingly sceptical public about the necessity for the occupation to continue. The Afghan war’s self-evident failure to achieve any of its shifting official objectives has meant questioning the war has become unavoidable.
Thirty five people attended a forum on June 25 entitled “100% Equality” hosted by WA Greens MLC and spokesperson for diversity, gender and sexuality, Lynn Maclaren. The forum discussed the campaign for marriage equality and other issues facing the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex community.
The NSW Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) is continuing to build the Bulahdelah bypass, north of Newcastle, despite a community campaign to halt the project. The bypass road was first proposed in 2000. Three main routes were canvassed: one to the west of the town, passing through several flat paddocks; another to the east, cutting through the foot of the Alum mountain; and an option that involved widening the existing road. The safer, more geologically stable and slightly western route was ditched in favour of the mountain route.
A report prepared for the Australian Coal Association titled Impact of Proposed Carbon Tax on Black Coal mining claims that the government’s proposed carbon tax is going to cause eight coal mines to close prematurely and will cost thousands of jobs between now and 2021. The report claimed 4700 jobs would be lost from existing coalmines due to the carbon price