More than 400,000 filled the streets of Montreal this week as a protest over a 75% increase in tuition has grown into a full-blown political crisis. After three months of sustained protests and class boycotts that have come to be known around the world as the "Maple Spring," the dispute exploded when the Quebec government passed an emergency law known as Bill 78, which suspends the current academic term, requires demonstrators to inform police of any protest route involving 50 or more people, and threatens student associations with fines of up to $125,000 if they disobey.
The Climate and Health Alliance released the statement below on May 28. * * * In the lead up to Rio+20 and the G20 Summit, Australian health groups are calling on Australian and international governments to abandon subsidies for fossil fuels in the interests of protecting human health and economic security.
Residents of the newly established Mount Cooper Estate in Bundoora in Melbourne’s north are fighting to save local parkland and restore their bus services. In early April residents discovered that the 563 bus service which linked them to Plenty Road, Northlands and Greensborough was about to be withdrawn by the Ted Baillieu Coalition State Government. Residents of the estate now have to cross Plenty Road to access public transport, which exposes school children from the estate to increased traffic hazards and is too far for many elderly residents to walk.
Rich Land, Wasteland Sharyn Munro Exisle Publishing & Pan Macmillan 453 pages, pb, $29.99 When a coalmine starts up near a township, a village or a farm it is to be expected that lives will change. Indeed change is often promised and welcomed ― more Jobs, more money flowing into the community, better roads and services. In short, progress is promised.
US President Barack Obama announced on May 21 after the Chicago NATO leaders’ summit that the US, NATO and their allies had agreed to end their war of occupation in Afghanistan by the end of 2014. However, the announced “withdrawal” will leave US military bases in the country and some soldiers, including special forces, from the US and its allies to train, advise and assist the armies and militias of the occupiers’ Afghan puppets and warlords and carry out “targeted operations” against al-Qaeda.
Red carpet and champagne marked the start of the first Red-Green Alliance (RGA) congress since the party tripled its mandate at a poll in September last year. The 385 delegates representing the 8000 members packed a basketball stadium in the migrant and working class Copenhagen suburb of Norrebro to grapple with the party's new increased influence on Danish politics. Party membership has more than doubled in the past two years, with the party welcoming into its ranks many ex-members of the Social Democratic and Socialist People's party.
The protesters in Chicago on May 20, marching against NATO, remind us that the US government is not representative of the US people. It's encouraging to see so many willing to take action and stand up against this unjust, disastrous war. Recently, US President Barack Obama travelled to Kabul to meet Afghanistan's so-called president, Hamid Karzai. Both leaders used this meeting to pretend that they are ending this war when they are really trying to prolong it.
Twenty years after the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992, the environmental crisis continues to worsen. The unsustainable development model that dominates the world has led to a grave loss of biodiversity, melting of polar ice caps and mountain glaciers, an alarming rise in deforestation and desertification and the looming danger of an at least 4º Celsius temperature rise. Science says we are approaching a point of no return that will change the way our planet has behaved over the past 650,000 years.
Up to 30,000 protesters from across Europe took to the streets on May 19 in the financial district of Frankfurt. The rally, which lasted for seven hours, ended outside the European Central Bank (ECB). The protest, “Blockupy Frankfurt”, was part of a three-day action, organised to oppose the European debt crisis policies of the “troika” made up of the ECB, the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission. These polices include the so-called Eurozone bailout funds, which have helped push people across Europe into poverty and the dismantled democratic rights.
Three leaders of the People's Justice Party (Parti Keadilan Rakyat — PKR), a major parliamentary opposition party in Malaysia, were arrested on May 22 under provisions of a controversial new Peaceful Assembly Act. The three were PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim, PKR deputy president Azmin Ali and Badrul Hisham Shaharin. The charges relate to the April 28 Bersih 3.0 mass democracy protest in the capital Kuala Lumpur, involving 100,000-200,000 peaceful protesters. The march was violently attacked by riot police after a few protesters pushed through police barricades.
Megrahi: You are My Jury ― The Lockerbie Evidence John Ashton Birlinn 2012 ￡14.99, 497 pages Abdelbaset Al-Megrahi was convicted in 2001 of blowing up Pan Am flight 103 over the Scottish town Lockerbie in December 1988 and is usually described in the mainstream media as “the Lockerbie bomber”. Readers familiar with Paul Foot’s series of penetrating articles on Lockerbie in Private Eye will already be familiar with the potentially problematic nature of Megrahi’s trial and conviction. But this book brings the story up to date.
Quebec’s student movement, and the swelling ranks of its popular allies, staged a huge rally and march in Montreal on May 22. The march supported the students’ fight for free, quality public education and rejected government repression. Estimates by some mainstream news outlets and by many independent observers put the number of participants as high as 400,000.
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