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The July 20 movie theatre massacre in Aurora, Colorado ― in which 12 people were killed and 58 wounded ― is reckoned by some sources to be the 36th mass shooting to have occurred in the US in the past three decades. On top of these crazed rampages, the annual attrition of gun-related deaths accounts for about 30,000 victims across the US. It would be bad enough if the seemingly unchallengeable dogma of the US Constitution's 2nd Amendment’s “right to bear arms” contributed to the deaths of only US citizens. Yet US “gun culture” is a lethal problem for the rest of the world as well.
US Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney generated a backlash with his claims in Jerusalem that the vast (20:1) disparity in income between Israelis and Palestinians can be explained by a superior Jewish Israeli culture and “the hand of providence” ― rather than by the systematic depradations of Israeli occupation on the economy of Palestinians.
The campaign for marriage equality in Australia has been waged for almost a decade. That federal parliament, despite repeated polls showing support for equal marriage rights regardless of sexuality, has failed to legislate for marriage equality has caused widespread anger. A sign of the growing momentum for marriage equality came with the announcement at the Tasmanian state Labor conference on August 4 that the Labor-led Tasmanian government would aim to pass legislation this year to legalise same-sex marriage in the state, should federal parliament fail to do so.
Workers on Bovis Lend Lease building sites across the country have won site allowances and improved pay and conditions. Union and community action forced the company to complete negotiations on a new enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA) with unions on July 31. Strikes and protest action across 22 Lend Lease sites were launched on July 25, after the company failed to reach agreement with unions on conditions including restored site allowances, improved job security, improved pay and conditions for subcontractors, and union right of entry.
Queensland’s Liberal National Party government axed 2000 state transport jobs and more than 300 QBuild jobs on July 31, in another day of mass sackings in the state. Premier Campbell Newman boasted that 4400 full-time positions have been cut out of the 6000 jobs lost so far. Up to 20,000 public servants are in the firing line. The latest cuts amount to 1 in 5 transport workers, with Labor transport spokesperson Jackie Trad warning such cuts would “bring the public transport network in Brisbane and in every region to its knees”.
A whopping 22 million passengers went through Sydney Domestic Airport last year – close to the total population of Australia. Almost 8 million of those were heading to Victoria, and close to 4.5 million to Brisbane. Just over 2 million were off to the Gold Coast, and just under that figure to WA. In the debate over the environmental and human impact of a second airport in NSW and the push to expand Mascot, it is important to weigh these facts.
As semester two begins at the University of Sydney, it’s worth reflecting on what student activists have learned so far in our campaigns this year. We've learned that our university is being managed in line with the profits-first agenda of the 1% that run the government and the economy. We've learned that under Vice-Chancellor Michael Spence, corporate research partners and “good economic management” take priority over students, staff and society.
University of California professor Richard Muller publicly reversed his climate scepticism when he released the results of a climate study on July 29. The report showed that climate change was occurring and caused by burning fossil fuels. His organisation, Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST), concluded that the Earth has warmed 1.5 degrees celsius over the past 250 years. “I was not expecting this,” Muller said. “But as a scientist, I feel it is my duty to let the evidence change my mind.”
Student activists at La Trobe University have begun a campaign against a proposal to slash funding to the Humanities and Social Sciences faculty. About 150 students and staff protested at the university’s Bundoora campus in Melbourne’s northern suburbs on July 31. Students marched to the administration building where security guards wrestled with a protester and locked the students out. Undeterred, students marched to the office of Humanities and Social Science dean Tim Murray where they were also locked out but occupied the corridor outside the office.
If the official government line is to be believed, Australia is only a minor player when it comes to our greenhouse gas emissions. In this view, Australia is powerless to bring about international action to cut emissions. Indeed, any such efforts are only likely to amount to economic self-sabotage. From Laggard to Leader, the new report from research group Beyond Zero Emissions, demolishes these arguments. Far from being an inconsequential emitter, Australia’s carbon footprint is immense.
Despite some complications, oil giant Shell is confident it will get to work drilling for oil in the Arctic this year. This just goes to show how things usually have a way of working out. Here we were worrying peak oil was just about upon us. But thanks to global warming caused by burning oil, the Arctic ice melt opens up more and more oil for the oil giants to burn.
Ray Jackson, president of the Indigenous Social Justice Association, spoke to Green Left TV’s Peter Boyle at a protest against deaths in custody in Sydney on July 27. He spoke about Tasers, shackling and the death of Aboriginal man Mr Clarke in Alice Springs. Watch the GLTV video of the interview, a transcribed extract of which is below, here. ***
The University of Sydney Student Representative Council (SRC) has condemned university management’s plans to “dismantle” the Koori Centre, which has supported Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students at the university since 1989. The Koori Centre also coordinates the teaching of Indigenous Studies. The university says the Koori Centre’s functions will be incorporated into a broader “Centre for Cultural Competencies”. Management has assured staff no jobs will be lost in the process, but many students and staff feel that have been inadequately consulted about the changes.
The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) could have been a flagship policy that restored dignity to people with disabilities. Instead, ALP timidity and Coalition intransigence have left Australia with a woefully inadequate policy.
Security forces killed 12 anti-government protesters — mostly teenagers — and injured more than 80 on July 31 in Nyala, the capital of South Darfur. The protests, which began the previous day, were launched by hundreds of primary and secondary school students in opposition to price rises for basic goods. Numbers swelled as more and more people took to the streets to join the students, calling for the downfall of the regime.
On July evenings, most people in Toronto are just trying to find ways to escape the heat and humidity. On July 30, more 150 people filled the room for a meeting on Contested Futures: Tar Sands and Environmental Justice. Many had to sit on tables or stand to hear from two indigenous leaders of environmental justice actions in Ontario and two delegates to the People’s Summit Rio +20. The meeting was initiated by the Greater Toronto Workers Assembly (International Solidarity Committee) and Toronto Bolivia Solidarity; a further 20 groups endorsed and helped build the event.

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