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Stop Income Management in Playford released this open letter on June 17. *** We the undersigned call for the suspension of the federal government’s compulsory income management, expanded to Playford and four other sites as part of programs that began in July last year. We believe compulsory income management is humiliating, unfair, and unlikely to improve quality of life for recipients or their children. We note the lack of solid evidence that this policy achieves its goals, and fear this approach will be counterproductive.
Many protests took place last week. There were protests against government inaction on the climate emergency, against the mass sackings by a bank making record profits and a sad vigil for a 26-year-old Hazara man who died in an Australian immigration detention centre. More protests were also planned for refugee rights, Aboriginal rights and in solidarity with the new people's power movement in Turkey united around the defence of Gezi Park. This is not unusual in Sydney these days. There is a lot to protest about today but most of these campaigns are quite small.
Following the implementation of measures to tackle shortages in some basic food and household items, both private Venezuelan media and the government report that the level of shortages is now decreasing. Shortages hit their highest level in five years in April, provoking a flurry of international media criticism of the government and affecting the popularity of president Nicolas Maduro in the lead-up to the 14 April election.
In an atmosphere of festive social mobilisation, the National Assembly of Ecuador adopted the Organic Communications Law on June 14, mandated by the 2008 Constitution. It has taken more than four years for the law to come to light. The law is part of a new democratising trend with respect to communications that is taking shape across Latin America. The most significant antecedent for this is Argentina’s Audiovisual Media Law.
This is a speech by Peter Boyle, the Socialist Alliance candidate for the seat of Sydney, at a picket outside an ANZ bank in Sydney on June 21. *** We called this demonstration following news of more job cuts by the ANZ bank despite its recent rise in profits. In April this year, ANZ announced a record half-year profit of $3.18 billion. This is 10% up on last year. ANZ is reaping massive profits at the expense of its workers. And to add insult to injury, ANZ boss Mike Smith has become the highest paid corporate CEO in Australia — his pay packet was $10.1 million last year.
The Refugee Action Coalition released this statement on June 21. *** Asylum seekers are angry and upset at the death of an Afghan asylum seeker in the Villawood detention centre on June 20. According to witnesses inside the detention centre, Serco guards left the man, named Ali, on the ground for almost an hour before calling an ambulance. He was taken from the centre around 7.30pm and died later that night.
It took 76 years and one day since his abduction on the orders of Stalin during the Spanish Civil War (1936-39), but on June 17 all parties of the Catalan left came together in Barcelona to recognise the contribution to the Catalan and Spanish working people of revolutionary fighter Andreu Nin. At midnight on June 16, 1937, Nin, the general secretary of the Workers Party of Marxist Unification (POUM), was abducted by Stalinist agents outside the POUM’s headquarters.
Prominent human rights advocate, Julian Burnside, QC, was scathing in his assessment of both the major parties and mainstream media’s approach to asylum seekers in a public address at the invitation of the Townsville branch of Amnesty International on Jun 14. Burnside told the audience that “both parties are trading in human misery in order to win or retain power” and mainstream media have to stop spreading the message that asylum seekers are illegal.
“In light of news that every day the entirety of telecom giant Verizon’s call system records are handed over to the NSA, news that Occupy Wall Street protest attendees’ cellphones were logged should hardly come as a shock,” said Salon.com on June 7. “It nonetheless bears noting that cellphone metadata of march and rally participants was likely specifically logged, as security expert Steven Ramdam recently noted. “This means that individuals were directly targeted for their engagement with First Amendment-protected activity.”
The Socialist Alliance released this statement on June 20. *** The Socialist Alliance in Australia stands in warm solidarity with the Gezi resistance in Istanbul, throughout Turkey and around the world. We watched in horror as the peaceful occupation of Gezi Park was so savagely attacked by police early this month and in joy as ordinary people of all ages and backgrounds poured onto the streets to defend their precious green space and their democratic rights. We are with you in Gezi.
For much of the past two years, Israel stood sphinx-like on the sidelines of Syria’s civil war. Did it want Bashar al-Assad’s regime toppled? Did it favour military intervention to help opposition forces? And what did it think of the increasing visibility of Islamist groups in Syria? It was difficult to guess.
About 40 people gathered in Raintree Park, Darwin, to mark World Refugee Day on June 20. Larrikiah woman June Mills opened the gathering with a rendition of Arafura Pearl, and an explanation of the Aboriginal practice of welcoming strangers to their land. Other speaker included Greens councillor Robin Knox, Tamil-Australian lawyer Kajaliny Ranjithkuma and Reverend Basil Schild. A minute’s silence was held for the 62-year-old refugee from Afghanistan who was found dead at Darwin’s Wickham Point detention centre on June 15.