977

One year after a huge explosion and fire at the Chevron oil refinery in Richmond, California, there was a demonstration of thousands of people directed against the oil giant on August 3.

Richmond is part of the sprawling San Francisco Bay Area, where I live.

A significant aspect of the action was that it brought together environmentalists from the Bay Area and nationally, and activists from the Richmond community.

As more people start to share scientists' long-expressed concerns over climate change, revelations of big bank energy market manipulations highlight Wall Street's entrenched stake in the fossil fuel economy that is heating up the planet.

Several hundred people gathered in Greeves Street, St Kilda, on August 8 for a candlelit vigil for local street sex worker Tracy Connelly, who was murdered in the street on July 21.

The vigil was a chance for her family, friends and, importantly, her community to honour her as well as protest against violence against women.

The vigil was held outside the St Kilda Gatehouse, a drop-in centre and community resource for street sex workers. 

The ancient Athenian democracy that emerged in the 6th century BC is often cited as a model for more modern democracies.

In some ways, it had some features that were superior to the once-in-three-year vote we get in the parliamentary democracy we have in Australia today. It was based on regular assemblies where the citizens exercised direct, rather than just representative, democracy.

But ancient Athenian democracy was democracy only for slave-owners. The majority of the population were slaves, and they, along with women and foreign residents, were excluded.

Zane Alcorn, Socialist Alliance candidate for the seat of Newcastle, scored equal top in a survey of candidates on environmental issues.

The Hunter Central Rivers Alliance conducted a survey of 17 questions designed to compare the different parties policies on coal and coal seam gas and related issues.

The Hunter Central Rivers Alliance campaigns for “an alternative vision for the Hunter, where sustainable industries, historic communities, and public health are more valuable than the boom — bust cycle of coal industry profits.”

Tony Abbott has promised a 1.5% cut in the company tax rate if the Liberal-National Coalition wins the September 7 election. It will cost about $2.5 billion a year and it is exactly the opposite of what Australian society needs.

Big business needs to pay more, not less, tax.

A protest to defend welfare rights and public housing was held in Coburg on August 3. The rally called for a rise in all welfare payments to a liveable income, the restoration of the sole parents pension, an end to welfare quarantining and public housing for all who need it.

Moreland city councillor and Socialist Alliance member Sue Bolton told the rally: "The single parent payment is important because it allows women to leave violent relationships and gives parents the right to decide  to be at home with their children."

About sixty people attended a meeting on “America’s Pacific Push” on July 25.

Bruce Gagnon, coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, spoke about the growing US military presence in the Pacific.

Examples included the expansion of a missile test range in Hawaii, the building of a naval base on South Korea’s Jeju Island despite strong resistance from local people, and the plan to station 2500 US troops in Darwin.

Gagnon said that US bases in Australia play a crucial role in US military strategy.

Nauru's terrible poverty, stagnant economy and unstable administration has paved the way for its main aid-provider, the Australian government, to sign it up for a similar refugee “deal” as Papua New Guinea.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced that refugees who arrived in Australia by boat could be sent for processing and then would “settle and reside” on Nauru.

Asylum seekers are welcome on Aboriginal lands in Australia despite the inhumane approach of both major political parties, the Aboriginal Provisional Government said on July 29.

Secretary Michael Mansell said: “As people who know what it’s like to be invaded by boat people we are in a better position to judge how the current boat people should be treated. Where the original boat people who took over our country were armed to the teeth and bent on conquest, asylum seekers in 2013 are unarmed and seeking sanctuary.

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