At a Madrid media conference called by the 15-M movement to announce Spanish actions for the October 15 global day of occupations, the media showed little interest in the international solidarity plans of the world’s founding indignado movement. The journos wanted to talk about one thing: what would be 15-M’s attitude to the November 20 Spanish general elections? Abstention? Spoiling the ballot? A vote against the parties of “the political class”? A vote for parties closest to 15-M’s positions? And, if so, which parties?
The statement below was released by Socialist Alliance in Australia on October 14. * * *
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce is in line for a salary increase of 71% at the airline’s upcoming annual general meeting, but Qantas staff continue to battle the company for job security and decent pay. The proposed increase will bring Joyce's annual salary package to $5 million.
The occupy movement is spreading, and in more ways than one. It’s spreading across the globe — by October 11 occupytogether.org could boast of 1273 occupy events planned worldwide. But the movement, united under its slogan “We are the 99%”, is also reaching out to, and involving, other established social movements. Environmentalists and climate campaigners have linked up with Occupy Wall Street protests in New York. Hundreds of climate activists joined a 5000-strong march there on October 5. Their message was well received by other protesters.
Fremantle in Western Australia is emerging as a key battleground between a Liberal-National state government committed to building freeways at any cost and a community that wants to see better public transport and an expansion of rail freight. Container movements at Fremantle Port are predicted to double by 2020, yet the percentage being carried to port by train has declined from 17% in 2007 to 11% in this year. It is predicted to dwindle to 8.5% by next year.
Walking around downtown Cairo on October 10, everything felt relatively normal ― if, perhaps, a little more tense than usual for post-January 25 Cairo. That is, until I came across the wrecks of burnt out cars on the Corniche el Nil in Maspero, just north of Tahrir Square, being pulled apart by enterprising young men.
Striking Greek public-sector workers paralysed transport and left rubbish piling up in Athens and Thessaloniki on October 14, the Morning Star said that day. The strike was the latest salvo against the European Union-International Monetary Fund campaign to make working people pay for the banking crisis. Rubbish collectors stayed off the job for a 10th consecutive day, the article said. Members of the All Workers Militant Front also blockaded the Acropolis for a second day.
More than 13 million people are facing extreme food insecurity in the Horn of Africa in Ethiopia, Somalia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Sudan, South Sudan, Uganda and Kenya. Almost 30,000 children have already died in Somalia in 90 days. Famines in the region have become common enough for the Western media response to be cliched. Out-of-context images and sound-bites depict hopeless Africans needing Western charity yet again, and references to conflict making the situation worse depict conflict as local failing that Western intervention may be able to remedy.
Unions have warned that Britain's National Health Service faces its biggest strike in history on November 30 unless the government drops its changes to workers' pension plans, the Morning Star said on October 14. NHS workers' union GMB has condemned the government's plans. NHS national officer Rehana Azam said health minister Andrew Lansley “is ignoring the very strong arguments we made and turning his back on the anger and frustration felt by NHS staff”.
The Polynesian island nation of Tuvalu, in the Pacific Ocean, is facing a severe shortage of fresh water. Australia Network News said on October 10 that a state of emergency had been declared and Tuvalu's disaster co-ordinator Sumeo Silu said there was only about three days of water left. Tuvalu is in the midst of a crippling drought and had no rain for months. ANN said Australia and New Zealand would deploy a large desalination plant to the island, home to about 10,000 people.