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Millions of French march against President Emmanuel Macron’s pension reform


Half a million French workers hit the streets of Paris in the second day of protests over the plan by a government to lift the retirement age. The first day of action was on 19 January, when the number involved around the country was at least 2 million. This time there were more. It was the biggest turnout France has seen in decades.

The video below reports on 19 January gives some background to the dispute.

Millions join national strike in France against Macron’s pension reform.
Video from The Real News Network

Transport, schools, hospitals, and other industries were heavily disrupted by strikes on the second day of action. The oil industry is at a standstill, and Many government departments have been affected. High school and university students have joined in. students at the prestigious Sciences-Po university occupyed its main building overnight.

Thousands take to the streets in Paris
Video from FRANCE 24 English

The first marches had started in the morning in other parts of the country, with several prominent opposition politicians taking part.

Mr Macron is certain to lose,” said Jean-Luc Melenchon, a former presidential candidate and leader of La France Insoumise, as he marched in the southern port city of Marseille.

The Macron government is in trouble. Opinion polls say that a growing majority of the French population is behind the strikes and protests. This is not a good political position to be in. The support of the conservative opposition was there only weeks ago. But now , there are widening divisions in  the Marcon camp, with several parliamentarians making a public stand. There are even those within the conservative camp having second thoughts about continuing to give their support.

Strikes and protests are set to continue if Macron does not retreat.

France’s early retirement age is not something that was handed on a platter. It was fought for in epic battles against employers and government and written into the French consciousness. The gains will not be easily surrendered.

Previous government attempts to do this have failed. Macron is not likely to be more successful, and failure will be a political disaster for him.


Is the Voice proposal all it is cracked up to be?

 By Joe Montero

When the move towards the Voice for first nations peoples began to move in earnest, It seemed like quite a reasonable idea. Australia’s First Nations do have a claim to be heard. If the proposed Voice takes this one step further, there is no question that it should become a reality.

The proposal will be put to a referendum during the second half of this year.

But there is a niggling side to it. Having it written into the constitution is one thing. Limiting it in practice to parliamentary representation, and mandatory consultation with these representatives on matters of special concern to First Nations. isa not enough to provide a genuine voice. If recent developments are a guide, the recruitment of certain high-profile representatives of these communities to both sides of the debate, on campaigns run by the usual political machines, indicates that the representatives emerging might prove to be puppets under the control of these machines, and not be true representatives of the First Nations peoples.

Such a voice will only be tokenistic at best. Whether this still represents a small step forward is open to debate.

Message from the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra during 2012 remains as strong as ever

First Nations Senator Lydia Thorpe has come out punching, insisting that unless the proposal guaranteed that “First Nations sovereignty is not ceded,” she would go against it. Fair enough. Without this rider, there would be no self-determination and control over First Nation Affairs in the hands of the peoples who are directly affected. There would be no real voice.

It may be true that the Voice proposal came out of the Uluru Statement of the Heart and has been backed by the Indigenous voice Co-Design Group. This gives it considerable weight. But it doesn’t deny the weakness of the proposal. In fact, the Statement from the Heart is about much more than this. Most of all about empowering First Nations peoples.

This is why Thorpe argues that the process towards treaty should take precedence. Her position resonates with many First Nations people.

Treaty means the recognition of sovereignty and the ability of the two parts of Australia to work together for the future as equals.

There is still time to put into writing into law the need to progress towards treaty. This would make support for the Voice far more attractive.

Meanwhile, opponents of progress are manipulating the  issue to hold everything back. One group is the fundamental Christian lobby, which falsely brands any progress as dividing Australia and a threat to Christian civilisation. Others take a more secular approach and are even using a few First Nations personalities as their poster pin ups.

Warren Mundine announced the launching of the no campaign on Skye News Australia, while being interviewed by an enthusiastic Andrew Bolt. Mundine has been joined by First Nation Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price.

They are calling their no campaign group Recognise a Better Way. But the real control is in the hands of Advance Australia, a right-wing lobby group established in 2018, supported by the Coalition government of the time and other groups. They have received millions from some Australian millionaires. Their stated mission is to counter GetUp, which it calls, a left-wing activist group. Left-wing is defined by anyone who opposes their world outlook. They often use the term woke.

Image from the Canberra Times: Some of the leading figures in Advance Australia. One of them is now Queensland Senator for the Liberal Country Party Jacinta Price

Although Advance Australia does not have a stated policy regarding First Nations Affairs, it is ideologically committed to opposing moves towards self-determination.

Their method to create diversions by proposing that the success of the Voice will divide Australia and throwing in the proposal that migrants who have arrived in Australia or descended from arrivals and contributed to building the nation should be included. This is code for insisting that non-Indigenous Australians should be included. This means de facto recognition of a continuing white Australia policy, which would deny the Voice.

Migrant organisations across the country are having nothing to do with this.

That Mundine and Price have joined them says a lot more about themselves and self-centred opportunism than anything else. There is good reason to warn people about them and those who are pulling the strings.

Video: The Belmarsh Tribunal DC : The Case of Julian Assange

The Belmarsh Tribunal begun a hearing on 20 January 2023, at the National Press Club at Washington DC. Testimony was heard from to hear expert testimony from journalists, whistleblowers, lawyers, publishers and parliamentarians, on assaults to press freedom and the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, with special attention paid to the case faced by Julian Assange

Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman and Srecko Horvat, the co-founder of DiEM25, chair the event, organized by Progressive International and the Wau Holland Foundation.

Members of the tribunal include Daniel Ellsberg, Pentagon Papers whistleblower Noam Chomsky, linguist and activist Jeremy Corbyn, member of U.K. Parliament and founder of the Peace and Justice Project, and many more.

Video from Democracy Now!

Italy finds it now has a fascist led government

By Jim Hayes

The woman who once publicly declared herself a great fan of fascist dictator Benito Mussolini is to become the new Prime Minister of Italy. Giorgia Meloni heads a political party called the Brothers of Italy. Don’t be misled by media portrayal, especially form the Murdoch stable, as something other than fascist. Continue reading Italy finds it now has a fascist led government

President’s statement on behalf of Fair Go For Pensioners (Vic) for action to raise the Age Pension above poverty

This is a statement just released (27 September 2022) by Joe Montero the Victorian President of Fair Go For Pensioners. It has been published on the organisation’s website. The statement calls out the inadequacy of the Age Pension and calls for it to be lifted from, poverty level to where it can provide for an adequate life and dignity. and announces that Fair Go For Pensioners is launching a campaign to unite forces to bring this about.

Continue reading President’s statement on behalf of Fair Go For Pensioners (Vic) for action to raise the Age Pension above poverty

Scott Morrison attempted power grab and a drift towards big brother government

By Joe Montero

Through Scott Morrison’s time as Prime Minister, the limited transparency of Australian government became even smaller. His inclinations towards secrecy, bullying, even in the party room and cabinet, the double cross, and more were legendary. We didn’t know just how far it all went. But the exposure of the committee of one, opened a window and let a light into a dark room. Continue reading Scott Morrison attempted power grab and a drift towards big brother government

Mexico honours Julian Assange’s family while our leaders do nothing

By Joe Montero

Julian Assange’s family has gone to Mexico on the invitation of the country’s President Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador. While there they attended a rally in support of Julian.

Video from TeleSUR English

His father John Shipton and brother Gabriel Shipton were given the key to the capital, which was presented by major Claudia Sheinbaum, who said: Continue reading Mexico honours Julian Assange’s family while our leaders do nothing

Creating housing affordability means proper funding of housing alternatives

By Joe Montero

The call by Brendan Coates, the economic policy director at the Grattan Institute, for concrete measures to address the housing crisis is timely and should be taken up. The cost of housing is the single biggest factor behind a lowering of living standards across Australia. There is no chance of a better tomorrow without overcoming this crisis. Continue reading Creating housing affordability means proper funding of housing alternatives