Victoria’s scorching January heatwave has focused a lot of attention on the problem of coping with the immediate fallout from climate change. According to the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine, in the period January 13 to 23 there were 139 deaths in excess of the expected average. There were reports of homeless people being forced away from airconditioned areas as they sought relief from the relentless heat. http://m.smh.com.au/victoria/anger-over-spike-in-deaths-during-record-victorian-heatwave-20140126-31gxb.html
The next time you see another arrogant Liberal or National Party politician repeat Joe Hockey’s mantra “the age of entitlement is over, and the age of personal responsibility has begun,” think of billionaire Gina Rinehart. Rinehart, the richest person in Australia, inherited her fortune from her mining mogul father Lang Hancock, who once proposed that nuclear bombs be used get iron ore out of the ground in Western Australia.
Queensland woman Sheila Oakley has been left blind in one eye after being tasered by police outside her home on February 6. Oakley underwent surgery after the metal barb from the Taser hit her in her left eye, the Guardian reported on February 7. A senior constable, who is reported to be a qualified Taser instructor, fired the Taser. Police said the woman was holding a table leg when they arrived at her home.
Talking about music might sound strange for people who live in refugee camps and are deeply burdened with many other problems needing to be voiced. But the huge role music played in the Saharawi people's struggle for independence leaves me with no choice e but to try to talk a little about the magical role revolutionary songs are playing in my people’s daily fight for self-determination.
The movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel has captured headlines around the world after actress Scarlett Johansson signed a promotion deal with Israeli company SodaStream. Johansson signed the deal to become SodaStream's first “global brand ambassador” on January 1. A Super Bowl halftime commercial starring the actress airing on February 2. However, the deal resulted in an instant furore due to the company's use of an Israeli occupied industrial settlement zone in Palestinian West Bank to make their home soda machines.
Beloved Land: Stories, Struggles & Secrets From Timor-Leste Gordon Peake Scribe, 2013 250 pages, $29.95 (pb) East Timor is a tale of two statistics, says Gordon Peake in Beloved Land, his engaging blend of history, memoir and travelogue about the former Portuguese and Indonesian colony. One of the world's poorest nations, East Timor ranks a lowly 120th of 169 countries on the United Nations Human Development Index, but scores high on corruption at 15th on the World Bank’s business transparency report.
War criminal and former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon, who died on January 11, led an infamous Israeli army terror group in the 1950s. Called Unit 101 and nicknamed the “avengers”, it operated without uniforms. The unit countered Palestinian resistance with terror attacks. It carried out many outrages inside Israel and across its borders. In August 1953, Unit 101 attacked the refugee camp of El-Bureig in Gaza. About 50 refugees were massacred. In October 1953, Sharon’s unit attacked the Jordanian village of Qibya.
In the third attack on the ABC by a government minister in the last month, Defence Minister David Johnston said on February 7 that reports that asylum seekers had their hands burned by navy personnel warrants an investigation into the national broadcaster. "If ever there was an event that justified a detailed inquiry, some reform, an investigation of the ABC, this event is it," he said. This follows comments by Prime Minister Tony Abbott on January 29 when he said the ABC “appears to take everyone’s side but Australia’s and I think it is a problem”.
The West Papuan independence movement's hopes of of gaining a foothold in the international community were set back when foreign minsters visiting West Papua pledged non-interference with Indonesia. Last June, the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Leaders Summit met in Noumea, New Caledonia, and discussed a membership application from the West Papua National Council for Liberation (WPNCL). The summit postponed the decision until a ministerial delegation visited West Papua to determine the legitimacy of the group and to assess the situation in the occupied country.
Tens of thousands of people marched to Spain's parliament in Madrid on February 1 to protest against a proposed new law that would severely curb access to abortion. Changes to the law would permit abortions to be carried out only in cases of rape or serious risk to health. The rally was organised by dozens of women's groups fighting for reproductive rights. Participants travelled from across the Spanish state to take part, with trains full of protesters arriving in Madrid throughout the day.
The decision of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) to cut ties with the ruling African National Congress (ANC) has been badly analysed. Comment has tended to focus on the possibility of a new political party in 2019, or whether suspended general secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) Zwelinzima Vavi will get his job back. But the greater significance of the biggest trade union in the country throwing in its lot with a growing movement in opposition to the neoliberal order, and thus to the left of the ANC, is being missed.
With more than 99% of polling places reporting, the candidate for the left-wing Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), Salvador Sanchez Ceren, easily won the first round of El Salvador’s presidential elections on February 2. Sanchez Ceren scored nearly 49% of the vote, more than ten-points higher than Norman Quijano of the Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA), who placed second with 39%. Former president Tony Saca garnered just over 11% of the vote. The FMLN and ARENA will head to a run-off on March 9.