democracy

Consistent work by residents of Melbourne's northern suburb of Fawkner has resulted in a unanimous decision by Moreland Council to reject a development application on a site heavily contaminated with dioxin.

Dioxin is a byproduct of Agent Orange and is one of the world’s deadliest chemicals.

Moreland Socialist Alliance councillor Sue Bolton, who has been supporting residents in their campaign, told Green Left Weekly that without the community campaign such a decision would not have been possible.

"The result was a real example of people power,” she said.

About a dozen neo-Nazis stormed the Moreland Council meeting on September 27 following the council's decision at their last meeting not to celebrate Australia Day on January 26.

Councillor Sue Bolton, a member of Socialist Alliance, told Green Left Weekly she "didn't feel threatened" by the protesters, who "looked like buffoons", but that their actions indicate how provocative and confident they have become.

Since September 15, Guatemalans have taken to the streets of the capital, Guatemala City, to demand President Jimmy Morales' resignation.

Morales is being heavily scrutinised for seemingly interfering with a United Nations investigation after he expelled one of the agency's commissioners.

The war without guns between the Spanish state and the 80% majority of Catalan people who support their parliament’s October 1 independence referendum is reaching a climax at the time of writing on September 29.

On October 1, it will become clear whether the Catalans have humiliated the central Spanish People’s Party (PP) government by succeeding to vote; suffered a setback because the 10,000 Spanish National Police and paramilitary Civil Guards in Catalonia succeed in closing polling stations; or achieved a mixed result due to only some voters getting into polling stations.

Singaporeans were officially informed of who their next president would be on September 11. Halimah Yacob, elected unopposed, will be the republic’s first female president in its 52-year history as a sovereign nation.

While the milestone of having a country’s first female president is often a lauded, the same cannot be said for Singapore. Underlying this landmark moment are a questionable series of events that left many Singaporeans feeling cheated and disillusioned about the state of Singapore’s democratic process.

Creating Freedom: Power, Control & the Fight for our Future
By Raoul Martinez
Cannongate Publishing, Edinburgh
2016, 496 pages

“Free markets, free trade, free elections, free media, free thought, free speech, free will. The language of freedom pervades our lives, framing the most urgent issues of our time and the deepest questions about who we are and wish to be.”

Forty-one Spanish Civil Guard raids on Catalan government-related buildings and private homes on September 20 led to the arrest of 13 high-level Catalan government officials and harvested a lot of “suspect material” for the prosecutors charged with stopping Catalonia’s October 1 independence referendum. However, the raid have provoked a mass revolt in response.

The haul included 10 million ballot papers stored in a printery warehouse in the central Catalan town of Bigues i Riells.

In front of a packed public gallery, Labor sided with the Liberals to award the Inner West Council mayorship and deputy mayorship to themselves on September 21.

Labor’s Darcy Byrne received the support of two Liberals and conservative independent Victor Macri for mayor, with Liberal councillor Julie Passas elected as deputy.

Byrne and Passas narrowly defeated anti-WestConnex independent Pauline Lockie and the Greens’ Colin Hesse, who stood for mayor and deputy, respectively, in an 8—7 vote.

The devastating hurricanes that hit the southern US and the Caribbean, and the catastrophic flooding in South Asia, have highlighted the worsening reality of global warming-related extreme weather.

The worsening reality of  weather-related disasters was explicitly recorded in a little-noticed United Nations Office for Disaster risk reduction report The Human Cost of Weather-Related Disasters: 1995-2015. The report noted that both the number of extreme-weather events, and the number of people affected, has risen dramatically over the past two decades.

"Northern Syria’s Feminist Revolution" is the title of a one-day seminar to be held at Victoria University on November 4.

It is being jointly organised by the Kurdish Democratic Community Centre of Victoria, the Kurdish Women’s League of Victoria and the Australians for Kurdistan solidarity group. It is also sponsored by Victoria University’s Community, Identity and Displacement Research Network.

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