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On November 15th (2013) in Melbourne, Australia, Arena publications and the Australian Centre/University of Melbourne conducted a symposium titled;

FROM COLD WAR TO HOT PLANET: 50 YEARS OF ARENA’S CONTRIBUTION TO AUSTRALIAN CULTURAL AND POLITICAL LIFE.

The following account is a summary of that event including some reflections of the significance of the symposium for socially critical politics and activism globally.

Nov 19

NLRB prosecutes Walmart

By Staff, UFCW | Press Release
WASHINGTON — The National Labor Relations Board General Counsel is issuing a decision today to prosecute Walmart for its widespread violations of its workers’ rights. The decision will provide additional protection for Walmart’s 1.3 million employees when they are speaking out for better jobs at the country’s largest employer.
 
The Board will prosecute Walmart’s illegal firings and disciplinary actions involving more than 117 workers, including those who went on strike last June, according to the decision.
The modern paradigm may still seem insurmountable “because it possesses an outward front, the work of a long past, but is in reality an edifice crumbling to ruin and destined to fall in at the first storm.”
– Gustave Le Bon, The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind


The decentralized movement toward freedom is raging across the world. It cannot be stopped. The tipping point is near. Despite the lack of coverage in the mainstream media, actions are springing up on an increasing basis. A wave of transformation is rising. The zeitgeist is shifting in our direction.

A new era in Canadian Politics has opened as two of the country's most-controversial politicians suddenly face unparalleled challenges after years of persuasive, steadfast authority. Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Toronto mayor Rob Ford together signal a trend, and not an anomaly. The trend is one less indicated by parallels in leadership style and including in a common unflinching, self-assured and self-declared, paramount right to exercise power.

Nov 18

All Drone Politics Is Local

By David Swanson, David Swanson's Blog | Op-Ed

Charlottesville, Va., passed a resolution that urged the state of Virginia to adopt a two-year moratorium on drones (which it did), urged both Virginia and the U.S. Congress to prohibit information obtained from the domestic use of drones from being introduced into court, and to preclude the domestic use of drones equipped with "anti-personnel devices, meaning any projectile, chemical, electrical, directed-energy (visible or invisible), or other device designed to harm, incapacitate, or otherwise negatively impact a human being," and pledged that Charlottesville would "abstain from similar uses with city-owned, leased, or borrowed drones."

Germany had planned to buy a fleet of "Euro Hawk" killer drones -- perhaps in an effort to bring the European Union up to speed with certain other Nobel Peace laureates.

But something happened on the way to the celestial colosseum.

Of course, Captain Drone Man himself undoubtedly learned the news first, unless the NSA misplaced some of Frau Merkel's emails under a pile of exchanges among nonviolent activists planning the upcoming drone summit in DC.

Nov 18

Israeli Exceptionalism at the United Nations

By Brad Parker, 972 Magazine | News Analysis

Last month, Israel ended a 20-month boycott of the United Nations Human Rights Council when Israeli officials participated in the Universal Periodic Review, a process where every UN member state has their human rights record reviewed before the council. The process is designed “to ensure equal treatment for every country” by assessing each country based on the same body of international law. Yet, at the opening of Israel’s review session on October 29, Israel’s permanent representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Eviatar Manor, declared, “The unfair treatment of Israel must come to an end.”

To be clear, the international community is not treating Israel unfairly; Israel is simply being treated and recognized as the persistent human rights violator that it is. The deep-rooted notion of Israeli exceptionalism inherent in Ambassador Manor’s statement is consistently used to delegitimize any international criticism of Israel’s serious human rights violations against Palestinians.

Isn't it enough that this man has been dragged through the mud and made to sit through weeks of testimony and hear the tedious details of sadistic group killing?

Isn’t it enough that he was charged with a crime in the first place, and had to explain himself and answer to a judge in his native Guatemala, a country he once saved from reformist troublemakers? 

And then of all things, to be found guilty of the crime charged! Can you imagine the humiliation?

Fats: In the family jewels?
Gary: In the family jewels, man!
Wyatt: Worst pain there is.
Gary: Broke my heart in two!
Fats: She broke more than your heart.
--Weird Science

It turns out that procreation of secretive criminal government agencies doesn't require a male or a female, and family jewels have little to do with it. The CIA (short for Criminal Implementation of Arrogance) calls certain reports on its immoral and illegal activities its "family jewels." John Prados, author of The Family Jewels, the CIA, Secrecy, and Presidential Power, calls all of the CIA's outrageous secrets its family jewels.  But the CIA reproduces itself whether or not its secrets are exposed, and if it's a family we might just all end up dying from a bad case of family values.

A group of 27 concerned NGOs and activist organizations have united to express outcry over the treatment of hundreds of Indigenous Penan women, men and children who have been peacefully protesting at the site of the Murum Hydroelectric Project since September. As of November 5th, a barricade of armed police has cordoned off the protestors, denying them basic supplies, such as food and water. These groups are asking Prime Minister Najib Rzak to intervene at the Murum Dam site to protect the rights of the affected communities.