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Although parliamentary elections are often billed as “historic”, and results hailed as “landslides” and “political earthquakes”, events usually turn out not to have been so dramatic once the dust settles. But the September 12 national election in the Netherlands really does seem to be living up to the rhetoric.
Almost a year since Tunisia's Constituent Assembly (CA) elections, Islamist party Ennahda, leader of the coalition government, continues to lose the confidence of those who rose up against dictator Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali in late 2010. Anger was prompted by Constitutional Article 27, which was passed by the Committee on Rights and Freedoms on August 1, defining women's rights as "complementary" to those of men, placing women "at the heart of the family and as man's associate".
The Australian subsidiaries of tobacco giants Philip Morris and British Tobacco lost their final court challenge on August 16 against the Australian government’s proposed legislation that mandates all tobacco products be packaged in plain packaging. The only distinguishing features on packs will be the brand names, which will be in a standard font and size.
The Australian government has come under pressure over its role in funding Indonesian counter-terrorism unit Detachment 88, after ABC’s 7.30 highlighted the unit’s role in repressing independence activists in occupied West Papua. Detachment 88 has been implicated in several killings and the torture of Papuan activists. A prominent recent case was its alleged involvement in the assassination of West Papuan National Committee (KNPB) leader Mako Tabuni in June.
The seventh Sydney Latin American Film Festival opens on September 6 and runs over 10 days and across four Sydney venues in Circular Quay, Marrickville, Annandale and Bankstown. Launching the festival will be the internationally acclaimed Argentine film MIA, a deeply moving drama that follows the story of a transvestite living in a Buenos Aires slum and explores the issues of discrimination and the right to happiness.
Channel Nine's mini-series Howzat! Kerry Packer's War has shone the light once again on the creation of World Series Cricket and its enduring legacy for the sport. The build-up to the show was particularly intense during the Olympics, but there was an ominous feeling that it would just be a puff piece for Channel Nine's most prominent owner. In the end, the series mostly avoided puffery and was a success, dramatically entertaining an average of more than 2 million viewers for each episode.
Fearless September 13-22 Milk Crate Theatre production Carriageworks, Sydney $35/$25 www.carriageworks.com.au Fearless is the first Milk Crate Theatre production to be presented at Sydney's Carriageworks. For the production, Milk Crate Theatre works with an ensemble of performers who have experienced homelessness or social marginalisation. The production exposes audiences to a vastly different point-of-view. Milk Crate Theatre productions allow Sydneysiders to see the world through different eyes.
As thousands of construction workers took over the streets of Melbourne for the fourth day in a row on August 31 they were confronted by at least 500 police. The workers were protesting for fundamental union rights outside the Grocon Myer Emporium site in Melbourne’s CBD. Three days earlier, Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union (CFMEU) shop stewards and organisers were violently confronted by police on horseback. The police tried to clear the way for the scabs to enter the site and used batons and capsicum spray against the unionists.
The Haifa District court ruled on August 28 that the Israeli military was not responsible for killing US activist Rachel Corrie, and that Corrie was responsible for her own death. Twenty-three-year-old American activist Rachel Corrie was crushed to death by an Israeli army bulldozer in March 2003. She was trying to prevent Israeli demolitions of Palestinian homes in the Gaza border town of Rafah. “Even when she saw the mount of earth moving towards her, she did not move away,” said Israeli Judge Oded Gershon.
The remote Northern Territory Aboriginal community of Amoonguna said on August 23 that it wants its power back and refused to renew a five-year government lease, which expired on August 17. Amoonguna, 15 kilometres south of Alice Springs, has also started legal action to remove all government workers from its land.
A lack of communication regarding the fate of Sydney University’s Koori Centre has left students fearing a repeat of the dangerous rhetoric that made way for 340 proposed job cuts last semester. The “Wingara Mura — Bunga Barrabugu” strategy will scatter the Koori Centre’s functions and staff across campus in 16 faculties. 
The compelling nature of the second series of SBS TV's Go Back Where You Came From highlights, by contrast, the atrocious nature of 99% of Australia's mainstream media. The myth-busting and heart-wrenching show, where six prominent Australians take a refugee's journey in reverse, reveals how media could challenge injustice — if it were not dedicated to a diet of celebrity, unreality TV, repeating falsehoods, and endless cooking shows. Go Back smashes anti-refugee lies that have been promoted by Liberal and Labor, and stoked by corporate media.
Thousands of yellow-shirted supporters of Malaysia's Bersih movement for free and fair elections defied a police ban to gather around the theme "Janji Demokrasi" (Promised Democracy) on the eve of the 55th anniversary of the country's independence from British colonial rule. Malaysian Socialist Party (PSM) activist Choo Chon Kai, who took these photos, told Green Left Weekly:
Mitt Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan as his vice-presidential running mate for the November presidential poll signaled the takeover of the Republicans by the Tea Party, at least through the election. Ryan’s record as a Congressperson puts the representative from Wisconsin squarely on the far right of capitalist politics. Ryan co-sponsored a bill with Republican representative from Missouri Todd Akin, who thinks that women cannot become pregnant from a “legitimate” rape. It sought to narrow the definition of rape to reduce the number of poor women who can get abortion through Medicaid.
Ecuador's granting of asylum to WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange has thrown a spotlight on the country's media policy. In 2008, Ecuadorians voted overwhelmingly for a new constitution. Among other things, it sought to democratise the media and ban bankers from having business interests in the media industry. See also: Ecuador: Correa pushes free speech, challenges ‘media dictatorship’
The article below first appeared on The Conversation on August 30. Angela Taft is an associate professor in public health at La Trobe University. She is the co-ordinator for Women's Health Special Interest Group at the Public Health Association of Australia, which has lobbied for the importation of RU486 for several years. ***

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