Students and staff demand Sydney University abandon Ramsay Centre plan

Chanting “Michael Spence, you will fail, USyd is not for sale!”, students opposing the vice chancellor’s support for the Ramsay Centre made their point outside the University of Sydney administration building on October 31.

Speakers condemned the discussions between university management and the board of the right-wing Ramsay Centre think tank, which aims to set up a degree in “Western Civilisation”.

The late conservative philanthropist Paul Ramsay, who made his fortune from privatised medicine and aged care, set up the Ramsay Centre to counter alleged left-wing bias in arts and humanities in higher education.

The centre is chaired by former Liberal PM John Howard, and includes on its board another former conservative prime minister, Tony Abbott.

The Australian National University (ANU) has already rejected a Ramsay Centre offer to situate its course in that institution.

Let’s stop playing semantic games: Islamophobia is a form of racism

We have all heard or seen the claim, especially when wading through the cesspit of the internet, “Islam is not a race, so how can I be racist?”. This meme is usually deployed by those trying to answer, and deflect, accusations of racism.

It is worth examining this claim in further detail, because it provides us with a window into the state of cultural and political debate in our own society.

First, let us be clear: Islam is a religion, not a race. But Islamophobia is a form of racism mixed with cultural intolerance. Demonising an entire religious community on the basis of a stereotypical and allegedly shared racial identity is racism.

The 'Purple Army' rallies because #WagesMatter

Hundreds of public servants rallied outside Queensland's parliament on October 30 as part of a week-long industrial campaign. The rally was organised by Together Union (a branch of the Australian Services Union), also known as the "Purple Army".

The workers are facing enterprise bargaining negotiations in which the state government is refusing to offer any pay rise. The government argues that since workers have had a wage rise due to a rise in the award, they do not need to offer any rise in the enterprise agreement. The agreement will last for the next three years.

Other public sector workers have had pay rises.

Some of the workers affected are among the lowest-paid public servants in the state.

Several speakers, who have been involved in negotiations, said this is the first time in memory that it has not been possible to negotiate an agreement they could recommend to members.

Brazil's left promises unity against Bolsonario

Following the election of ultra-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro as president on October 28, left MPs and party leaders in Brazil have warned about the dangers that a reformed military government could bring to the country.

Guilherme Boulos  of the Solidarity and Freedom Part (PSOL), Gleisi Hoffman of the Workers’ Party (PT), Luciana Santos from the Communist Party of Brazil (PCdoB) and PT federal deputy Paulo Pimenta, said that the situation demands immediate resistance and democratic protests are already planned against the ultra-right offensive. Without exception, they highlighted the threat to democratic rule of law and the nation’s sovereignty that Bolsonaro represents.

PT president Gleisi Hoffmann said: “Our first response on this day, October 28, is: We will resist. We will resist in defence of the rights of the people. We will resist in defence of the freedoms we have, we will resist in the name of national sovereignty. For Brazil, for the Brazilian people.

White Ribbon’s failures go well beyond reproductive rights backflip

Australian Conservatives leader Cory Bernardi must have been furious when, in the space of less than 24 hours, White Ribbon Australia (WRA) back flipped on its decision to drop support for what he claimed was a “radical abortion policy”.

WRA initially redacted its 2017 statement supporting reproductive rights on October 18, with CEO Tracy McLeod telling Buzzfeed that day that the organisation was now “agnostic” on reproductive rights “until our stakeholders tell us it is important”.

McLeod denied the redaction had come about because of pressure from religious groups or Bernardi’s party.

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