Venezuela has rejected the United States’ version of events in the dispute over Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s passage through US airspace on September 19. The diplomatic fallout reached media attention when Venezuelan foreign minister Elias Jaua told reporters that Maduro had been denied permission to fly through US airspace. Venezuelan officials said the presidential flight was prohibited from passing over Puerto Rico, a US colony in the Caribbean. Maduro considered changing the flight path to reach Paris, France.
About 1000 protesters marched through the streets of Melbourne on September 21, in opposition to the Coalition government’s attacks on refugees. It was the first refugee rights rally since the election of Prime Minister Tony Abbott. The rally heard from several speakers, including Bishop Philip Huggins, from the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne, Ingrid Stitt from the Australian Services Union, Janet Rice, newly elected Greens Senator for Victoria, and Karen Jones from the Refugee Action Collective.
Jeff Halper, the leader of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), spoke about his ideas on the future of Palestine and Israel at Melbourne University on September 19. The ICAHD campaigns against the demolition of Palestinian houses by the Israeli occupation regime. It has rebuilt 187 houses that had been demolished.
Hundreds of blind people and their supporters have linked white canes in front of Vision Australia Enterprises in support of blind manual workers facing the sack at the end of this month. The white cane chain stretched more than 200 metres, doubling back across the length of the Kensington worksite. It received widespread media coverage. The crowd, which gathered on September 15, chanted, “people before profits” and “have some vision, change your decision”, referring to Vision Australia’s decision to close its supported employment program because it failed to make a profit.
The new Prime Minister Tony Abbott is infamous for his homophobia. Only recently he dismissed the equal marriage rights campaign as the “fashion of the moment”. The equal marriage rights campaign is about much more than marriage. It’s about a prejudice that kills people. Particularly for young people, life in the queer community keeps them constantly on their toes. All around, queer people are self-harming, and every day young people worry that somebody they care about might commit suicide. These are the consequences of homophobia and transphobia.
A media campaign began this month to discredit the findings of the fifth major report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), due to be released on September 27. The Australian published a front page story on September 16 headlined: “We got it wrong on warming, says IPCC”.
Research by The Australia Institute has found Australian gas prices are set to double over the next few years — not because there is a gas crisis, but because gas companies are exporting Australian gas for much higher prices, driving up the price of domestic gas. Mark Ogge from The Australia Institute explained this research in a speech to a meeting of Stop CSG Illawarra in Wollongong on September 15. ***
Large stop-work rallies were held across Western Australia on September 19 to fight the Liberal state government’s education cuts. About 15,000 people attended the rally in Perth and another 5000 attended stop-work meetings across regional WA, including 2000 in Bunbury, 500 in Albany, 520 in Pinjarra and 200 in Port Hedland. Even small schools in the remote north-west of the state took part. A total of 62 schools were shut down for the morning.
Liberal PM Tony Abbott can't abolish the truth, but he is trying. Whether it is his new government's attempt to keep refugee boat arrivals secret or the abolition of the Climate Commission, Abbott has moved quickly to keep the public in the dark. Former Climate Commissioner Tim Flannery warned after the commission was disbanded: "As global action on climate change deepens, propaganda aimed at misinforming the public about climate change, and so blunting any action, increases."
One of Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s first acts has been to abolish the Climate Commission. Set up under Julia Gillard in 2011 and chaired by Tim Flannery, the commission’s role was to explain climate science to the public. It is well known Abbott will abolish the carbon price, but other climate programs in Abbott’s sights include the Climate Change Authority and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. This is a clear sign the new Abbott government believes the environment can be sacrificed for profit.
Socialist councillor Sam Wainwright is one of three Fremantle councillors facing a challenge in the local government elections that open on September 26. Mayor Brad Pettitt, a member of the Greens, also faces a challenge from defeated federal Liberal candidate Matthew Hanssen. The city of Fremantle has a relatively progressive council. All the challengers are more conservative than the incumbents.
It has been 30 years since the death in custody of 16-year-old Yindjibarndi youth John Pat after he was assaulted by five off-duty police officers in Roebourne, Western Australia. John Pat’s murder, and the subsequent acquittal of the five police, started the movement against black deaths in custody. That movement was built from the anger of ordinary people when, again and again, someone died or was murdered in custody, leaving their distraught relatives struggling to find answers.