This statement was released by Billy Gordon on April 8. *** Last week I resigned from the Australian Labor Party. I will not resign from parliament. My decision is based on advice from the clerk of parliament, who gave detailed reasons why I did not have to resign over past events and allegations. I am also determined to honour my commitments to my constituents. During the election campaign I committed to tackling entrenched social and economic problems in Cook and helping communities seize economic development opportunities.
Twenty-five-year-old Iranian asylum seeker Saeed Hanssanloo was reportedly improving with medical assistance after ending his hunger strike on April 7. Hanssanloo began refusing food more than 40 days previously when he learnt his asylum claim had been rejected. The Refugee Action Coalition released this statement on April 8. *** The Refugee Action Coalition has welcomed the news that Iranian hunger striker Saeed Hanssanloo has ended his hunger strike.
Moreland city council in Melbourne unanimously passed a motion opposing the closure of remote Aboriginal communities by the Western Australian government. The council will write to federal Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion, WA Premier Colin Barnett and local federal ministers and Victorian senators in protest. It will also send a letter of solidarity to the Aboriginal communities under threat of forced closure.
About 150 people filled the St Kilda Town Hall on April 7 for a public meeting with visiting Israeli journalist, Amira Hass. Hass is a veteran Israeli columnist and reporter, lives in the West Bank among Palestinians and works for Israeli newspaper Haaretz. The Australian Jewish Democratic Society organised the forum.
Warriors of Aboriginal Resistance (WAR) released this statement on April 8. * * * On Saturday, Reclaim Australia were held rallies across the country. These rallies promoted messages of racism, hatred and oppression. Participants were draped in the Australian flag, were covered in swastika tattoos and carried banners with dehumanising messages.
More than 150 people filled the Redfern Community Centre on March 20 to discuss a treaty for Australia’s first people. Organised by Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney (STICS), the event was hosted by veteran journalist Jeff McMullen and televised by National Indigenous TV. As coverage of female Aboriginal voices are rare among mainstream discourses, their retelling of their pasts and hopes for the future captivated the room.
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Within two months of the cliff-hanger election that resulted in the ALP forming a minority government, what seems like a re-run of the attempts to unseat the Julia Gillard government in Canberra is playing out in Queensland. Despite pressure from the Labor and Liberal parties to resign his seat, in a statement issued on April 8, the former ALP, now independent, MP for Cook, Billy Gordon confirmed that he will not resign from parliament but will continue to represent his constituents.
The far right Islamophobic “Reclaim Australia” movement burst onto the streets in what was the biggest racist mobilisation since the Cronulla riots, in 16 places across Australia on April 4. They were armed with swastika tattoos, Australian flags and a few simplistic slogans such as “No halal food”. They were also met by counter protesters who stood up to reject racism, chauvinism and bigotry.
New Greens MP Jenny Leong, who won the seat of Newtown in the March 28 NSW election, attributes the Greens’ high votes in several parts of NSW to its MPs standing up against corruption and over-development. The Greens' support for community-led campaigns — in particular opposition to coal seam gas and the WestConnex road project — also won them a bigger hearing.
Two thousand people rallied in Federation Square on April 4 to oppose Reclaim Australia freely spreading racism and fascism on the streets of Melbourne. Anti-racist participants included socialists, anarchists, feminists, refugee rights advocates, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and the politically unaligned. All were united in a common cause to stop the spread of racism in Australia.
Why would a 54 year-old woman make a decision to lock herself onto the train tracks of the world’s biggest coal port? Annette Schneider, an artist and farmer from Monaro in NSW, explained to Green Left Weekly that her action on March 31 was a direct result of her fear of catastrophic climate change.
This speech was given at the Refugee Action Collective protest in Melbourne on April 8. * * * We are here to protest against the indefinite detention of a group of refugees who are claimed by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) to be a security threat. These are people who have been officially recognised as refugees who were at serious risk of persecution in the countries they fled. Yet they are detained indefinitely because of negative ASIO assessments.
Former workers from the Nauru detention centre say the Australian government has “tolerated the physical and sexual assault of children, and the sexual harassment and assault of vulnerable women in the centre for more than 17 months”. Refugees who have been released from the detention centre to live in the community have also faced ongoing violence. A woman reportedly called the Nauruan police on April 8 after being sexually assaulted by men in a car.
Ten years ago, the uranium price was on an upward swing. South Australians were dazzled by the prospect of becoming the 'Saudi Arabia of the South' because of the state's large uranium deposits and the prospect of a global nuclear power renaissance. Those comparisons didn't stand up to a moment's scrutiny — Australia would need to supply global uranium demand 31 times over to match Saudi oil revenue.
At a G20 meeting last October, Rupert Murdoch surprised some with a speech that criticised world leaders for, as it was described in his Australian newspaper, “their policies [that] have caused a ‘massive shift’ in societies to benefit the super-rich with a legacy of social polarisation”. In particular, Murdoch criticised youth unemployment: “The unemployment rate for Americans under the age of 25 is 13%, which sounds awful until I remember that in the eurozone that number is 23%, and it is twice as high in places like Spain and Greece, and parts of France and Italy.
The Guardian newspaper was first published in Manchester in 1821. It is generally regarded as a centre-left paper that employs some very fine journalists. Its online edition is one of the most widely read in the world and its combined print and online editions reach some 9 million readers. The paper’s environmental coverage is provided by a team of seven environmental writers and each month four million visitors go to the Guardian for its environmental coverage.
Sydney Staff for Boycott Divestment and Sanctions sent this open letter to University of Sydney vice-chancellor Michael Spence on March 25. The letter is in response to Spence’s email of March 19, in which he claimed anti-Semitism was the trigger for the university’s investigation into the student protest at the March 11 lecture by Colonel Richard Kemp and its sequel. * * * We are compelled to write to you to register our serious concern about the concerted campaign being conducted against Palestine activists at the University of Sydney.
David Pocock is a rugby player in the Australian national rugby union team. He was also recently arrested. In reacting to his arrest and the reason for it, some have suggested that Pocock may not be the right man to captain the Wallabies in the future.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on April 2 that his government would strengthen the country's public health system by the hiring of 4500 extra staff and abolishing a compulsory €5 fee for treatment at public hospitals, TeleSUR English said that day. The measure forms part of a broad package of reforms aimed at overhauling the country’s broken medical system by providing universal access to quality healthcare.
Jay Famiglietti, a senior water scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, made a dire warning in March: there is only one year's worth of water left in the state's reservoir storage and river basins. Famiglietti said even nature's oldest water backup supply —groundwater — could be gone soon after the reservoirs dry up. About 38.8 million people live in California, which produces much of the United States' food. California's drought is throwing the ecology of the region into crisis, and ordinary people are scrambling for ways to help.
A group of Australian academics, unionists, politicians, and others have urged the US to “stop interfering in Venezuela’s domestic affairs”. More than 70 prominent Australian progressives issued an open letter to US President Barack Obama condemning US sanctions against Venezuela on April 9. The letter, initiated by the Venezuelan Solidarity Campaign in Melbourne, is printed below. The letter was handed to US consulates in Sydney and Melbourne on April 10. * * * No more coups! No more interventions! Repeal the Executive Order! Dear Mr President,
The United States is providing crucial support to regional ally Saudi Arabia ― a big buyer of US arms ― as it launches a new war in the Middle East by attacking neighbouring Yemen. A Saudi-led coalition of Western-aligned, mainly Sunni Islamist, Arab government's launched air, naval and ground military offensive against Yemen on March 25. Saudi Arabian forces are being supported by military planes from the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Jordan, Morocco, Sudan and Egypt, which is also supplying naval forces.
A lot is at stake in Turkey’s parliamentary elections to be held on June 7 — for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) as well as the oppressed Kurdish population. The AKP, led by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, won 49% of the vote in the 2011 elections and holds 312 of the 550 seats in Turkey’s Grand National Assembly. A Gezici poll taken in January suggests the AKP’s support has slipped 9.7% to just under 40%.
The Greek parliament has debated a proposal to establish a committee to investigate loan agreements between previous governments and international lenders, TeleSUR English reported on March 31. The motion, tabled by ruling anti-austerity party SYRIZA, would examine credit accords dating back to 2009 with organisations including the International Monetary Fund, the European Union and the European Central Bank.
Terrorists from Somali Islamist group al-Shabaab massacred 142 students at Garissa University in northern Kenya on April 2. In response, the Kenyan airforce bombed what they said were al-Shabaab camps in Somalia on April 5 and 6. Kenyan forces have been occupying Somalia since October 2011, under African Union (AU) auspices, along with troops from Uganda and Burundi. On April 7, students protested in Garissa and the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, against the seven-hour delay in security forces reaching the university during the attack.
The Portuguese tax-haven and tourist island of Madeira — a watering hole of Europe's super-rich — was the unlikely site of gains for the Left Bloc and the anti-corruption citizens’ movement Together for the People (JPP) in March 29 elections for the autonomous region’s legislative assembly. The JPP, whose lead candidate Elvio Sousa promised “a different way of doing politics … favouring the most victimised and the middle class”, won five seats (10.34%) in the 47-seat legislature.
A new group has been established to campaign for women’s rights in Indonesia. In December, more than 100 women met in Jakarta to launch Indonesian Women’s Action – Kartini (API-K), which has begun campaigning for women’s rights in the workplace, home and society. Participants came from 32 cities across Indonesia. They included women who are involved in existing women’s networks, students, workers and urban poor. They spent three days discussing issues facing women in economics, politics and culture.
Israeli group Physicians for Human Rights has released two reports documenting the deterioration of Palestinian health under occupation. Divide and Conquer documents the deterioration of Palestinian health in the West Bank and Gaza as the direct consequence of ongoing Israeli military occupation.
French politics further confirmed its rightward trajectory after the second round of departmental elections on March 29. There are 101 departments and 4108 councillor positions across the country. Departments are in charge of local roads, school buildings and buses, welfare allowances and various other local issues. But the elections also represent a barometer of the political situation in the country. The governing nominally centre-left Socialist Party (PS) suffered a humiliating defeat against a right-wing united front headed by the centre-right Union for a Popular Movement (UMP).
Hundreds of protesters took to the streets of Indiana state capital Indianapolis on April 4 to demand legal protection against workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation. “No hate in our state,” read placards carried by protesters. They marched through the city just days after state legislators revised a controversial religious freedom law that failed to provide protection against discrimination.
Fears over the safety of the 18,000 civilians trapped in Yarmouk, south of the Syrian capital of Damascus, have grown following reports that the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group has taken control of large areas of the Palestinian refugee camp. The IS, notorious for its brutal execution of hostages in the areas it occupies in Iraq and Syria, infiltrated Yarmouk camp on April 1.
The left-wing People's Democratic Party (PRD) held its eighth congress in Jakarta from March 24-26. This was the first time its congress was held openly. The open congress marks an important new stage of development for the party, which has a history of underground organising dating back to the era of the Suharto dictatorship that was overthrown in 1998.
There is a tense stand-off right now between Greece's government and the so-called troika — the European Commission, the European Central Bank (ECB), and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). ECB President Mario Draghi recently went so far as to deny that his institution was trying to blackmail Greece's left-wing anti-austerity government. But blackmail is actually an understatement. It has become increasingly clear that the troika is trying to harm the Greek economy in order to raise pressure on the new Greek government to agree to its demands.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, along with his Bolivian counterpart Evo Morales, received a petition with 10 million signatures against U.S. President Barack Obama's executive order labelling the country as a “security treat” on April 9. After the decree was issued, Maduro launched a campaign seeking 10 million signatures from Venezuelans demanding the decree be repealed, saying he would present them to the U.S. President Barack Obama at the April 10-11 Summit of the Americas in Panama.
US President Barack Obama admitted on April 9 that Venezuela “does not pose a threat” to the United States. “We do not believe that Venezuela poses a threat to the United States, nor does the United States threaten the Venezuelan government,” Obama said during an interview with EFE. Last month, Obama signed an executive order declaring Venezuela an “unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.”
In the early hours of the morning on April 7, the Malaysian parliament reintroduced powers of indefinite detention without trial in the form of a new Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA). Such powers, previously under the Internal Security Act and Emergency Ordinance — which were repealed in 2012 under popular pressure — have a notorious history of being used by British colonial and, after independence, Malaysian authorities to detain political dissidents.
White City, Black City: Architecture & War in Tel Aviv & Jaffa By Sharon Rotbard Pluto Press, £14.99 In July 2003, Unesco put the “White City” of Tel Aviv on its list of World Heritage Sites. It took almost 20 years of incessant campaigning by the Israeli state to secure this recommendation that, de facto, legitimised far-reaching aspects of Zionist ideology. But was there any merit to the Tel Aviv case in the first place? In fact, the building of Tel Aviv began adjacently to Jaffa — one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities of the world — only from about 1909.
The Inconvenient Genocide: Who Remembers the Armenians? Geoffrey Robertson QC, Vintage Books, Sydney, 294 pages, 2014 On the eve of Nazi Germany’s 1939 invasion of Poland, Adolf Hitler urged his generals “to kill without mercy men, women and children of the Polish race or language”. “Only in such a way will we win [what] we need,” Hitler said. “Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians.” The Nazi leader was referring to the genocide carried out by the Ottoman Turkish empire in 1915 against the Armenian people within its borders.