Iraqi hotel worker Baha Mousa died after violent and cowardly abuse by British soldiers, a public inquiry in Britain has found. Inquiry chairperson William Gage published his report on September 8. He described the treatment of Mousa and his fellow detainees in the Iraqi city of Basra in 2003 as "an appalling episode of serious, gratuitous violence on civilians which resulted in the death of one man and injuries to others". Mousa was detained along with a number of others by members of the 1st Battalion Queen's Lancashire Regiment after a raid on the Ibn al-Haitham hotel in Basra.
What the polls had predicted would be an easy victory for the Social Democrats in Denmark's September 15 election turned out to be much closer. The last poll before the vote showed the Social Democrat leader Helle Thorning-Schmidt ahead of her Liberal opponent Lars Løkke Rasmussen by 52.3% to 47.5% as preferred prime minister.
There used to be snow On the mountain tops Now the rivers run low Nothing left for the crops Where will they go They who work the land When all the ancestral waters Have vanished in the sand? Free market policies And vanishing border lines Replacing highland pastures With open cut mines No choice but to leave A thousand years behind City lights on the horizon What will they find? Billboards by the highway Paper-thin lies Selling progress and consumerism As the land about them dies Welcome to decaying sewers And chemical smokestack plumes
Instead of this pointless Vickers Report about how to sort out the banks, the investigation by the Independent Commission on Banking headed by John Vickers should have been carried out by Supernanny. She'd have sorted it. Because the problem seems to be they've got no discipline. And governments have been like these soppy posh parents you get who watch their toddlers go berserk in public, and eventually say, "Polyglot, darling, I've warned you haven't I, about drilling through a stranger's leg with a masonry bit. Now please put the tools down or you won't get a canape."
This is a country in serious denial. Australia is a world leader in per capita greenhouse gas pollution and in fossil fuel exports. It produces 30 tonnes CO2-equivalent a person a year and 54 tonnes if Australia’s exported CO2 pollution is included. Pakistan produces 0.9 tonnes and Somalia produces 0.1 tonnes. Yet in these two countries people are dying from climate change as we speak.
Australia’s ability to remain a signatory to the UN refugee convention would be put in serious doubt if the government succeeded in weakening protection for refugees in the migration act, prominent human rights lawyer Julian Burnside QC told Green Left Weekly. “The judgement was clear that the arrangement that had been made with Malaysia has been made legally invalid,” he said. “The question is whether the government thinks having signed the convention limits the range within they can change the act.
Now that the Labor government has almost entirely reneged on its 2007 election promise to end Australia’s sickening abuse of refugees, the two big parties are united on an issue they have so vehemently pretended to disagree. Unhappy with the High Court’s interpretation of the law — that Australia must uphold fundamental human rights when making policies on refugees, and that deporting them to a country that does not have such rights violates the law — the Labor government is cajoling the opposition to agree to water down Australia’s refugee protections.
Activists rallied in Melbourne to call for greater rights for people with mental illness on September 16. The rally was called by the Australian Mental Health Human Rights and Law Reform Coalition to condemn abuses in the Victorian mental health system.
The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AWMU) has launched action in the Federal Court to protect a member who is facing disciplinary action from his employer after he took action to address a serious health and safety issue. In early August, Jon Zwart, an AMWU delegate and health and safety representative at Visy Coburg, tagged (took out of service) a forklift whose reverse beeper was not audible.
The Barry O’Farrell Coalition government has promised it will make “New South Wales number one” again. We are assured this will mean improving transport, health and education infrastructure and strengthening the public sector that delivers these services to the people of NSW. The “horror budget” some media promised was delivered on September 6. This budget does little to improve public services. Instead, the state’s fiscal output rests on strengthening private sector spending.
Students from the University of Wollongong have campaigned over the past three years for the university to switch to 100% renewable energy by 2015. They have collected more than 3000 signatures from students in support of the plan. The university administration has instead begun plans to build a trigeneration plant on the campus, which would generate electricity through burning natural gas.
A huge crowd of about 650 people attended a memorial service at the Elder Hall, University of Adelaide on September 9 to farewell Elliott Johnston, the only communist to become a judge in Australia. He died on 25 August, aged 93. Those paying tribute included representatives from the legal profession, trade unions, the Aboriginal community, the original Communist Party of Australia (CPA) and his son Stewart.