democracy

Labor special minister of state Gary Gray must be stupid if he thinks we should feel sorry for him. Gray’s pay went from $675,000 a year to $130,000 when he left Woodside Petroleum to become a politician. Gray wants to close the pay gap between corporate CEOs and politicians — and not by cutting obscene CEO pay. He would prefer to widen the gap between politicians and the people they represent.
Thousands of supporters of Thailand’s Red Shirt movement (the popular name for the United Front for Democracy Against Dictatorship) once again turned Bangkok’s busy Ratchaprasong Intersection into a sea of red on November 19. Protesters turned out in their thousands to mark six months since the military attacked and dispersed a mass protest camp that occupied the area in April and May. More than 90 people were killed and thousands injured. Hundreds of protesters are still imprisoned.
Remembrance Day, on November 11, was celebrated again this year in the Australian media with pictures of red poppies and flag-draped coffins and historic photos of Australian soldiers who gave “the ultimate sacrifice” from the human-made wasteland of Flanders to the stony deserts of Afghanistan. Paying tribute to the ten soldiers killed this year in the long war in Afghanistan, Governor-General Quentin Bryce said that Australians were good at remembering: “We seem to know what we ought to hold onto and what is best let go.”
The statement below was released on November 3 by the Canada Haiti Action Network in preparation for Haiti’s November 28 elections. For more information, visit . To contact CHAN, email canadahaiti@gmail.com. * * * The Canada Haiti Action Network is once again expressing its grave concerns about exclusionary elections in Haiti.
“The National Front of Popular Resistance (FNRP) expresses its energetic condemnation of the massacre against the campesino community in El Tumbador, Trujillo, in which our companeros Ignacio Reyes, Teodoro Acosta, Siriaco Munozm Raul Castillo and Jose Luis Sauceda were assassinated”, the FNRP said in a November 16 statement. All of those killed were members of the Campesino Movement of Aguan (MCA). The campesino activists were killed by assassins hired by pro-US oligarch Miguel Facusse, who helped fund the coup that overthrew president Manuel Zelaya last year.
Afghan feminist and anti-war activist Malalai Joya urged 400 people at the University of Technology Sydney to get the Australian government to pull the troops out of her country. The Afghan people were capable of winning against the fundamentalist warlords, but not while Western occupying troops rehabilitated the Taliban, she said.
Burma’s November 7 elections — held under an undemocratic constitution in an atmosphere of repression and with the result crudely rigged — have been overshadowed by the release from house arrest of opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) leader Aung San Suu Kyi on November 13. Thousands of supporters lined the streets to her house and flocked to NLD offices to hear her speak. Suu Kyi’s release has been compared to that of Nelson Mandela in 1990. However, unlike Mandela, Suu Kyi was not released from detention by a regime seeking negotiations.
“Rise like lions after slumber/In unvanquishable number!/Shake your chains to earth, like dew/Which in sleep had fall’n on you/Ye are many —they are few.” These days, the stirring lines of Percy Shelley’s “Mask of Anarchy” from 1819 may seem unattainable. I don’t think so. Shelley was both a Romantic and political truth-teller. His words resonate now because only one political course is left to those who are disenfranchised and whose ruin is announced on a British government spreadsheet.
“The whole process was a fake!”, said Khin Maung Swe, a 68-year-old leader of the National Democratic Force (NDF), a breakaway from the National League for Democracy (NLD) led by Aung San Suu Kyi. “We just won 16 seats [out of the 163 the NDF contested] because of the so-called advance votes.” Khin Maung Swe expressed outrage at the process of counting votes in Burma’s elections held on November 7 for the first time in 20 years. Opponents of the military junta said it rigged many “advance votes” — votes cast before the official date of the election — through threats and bribes.
The federal election result and the surging Green vote have livened up the Victorian election campaign. The latest Newspoll figures show 19% support for the Greens, the and major parties are struggling to work out whether to launch a full-frontal attack or whether that would deliver more votes to the Greens. The Greens are eating into Labor’s support base on the left and Labor is worried.

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