Thousands March in Australia for Indigenous People & Global News

by Debra Brown

Indigenous

Each Wednesday, we recap the most important headlines from our global community to keep you up to speed on world news.

 

Thousands March in Australia for Indigenous People

Thousands of people in Australia defied public health concerns and protested against the mistreatment of Indigenous people on ‘Australia Day’, the national holiday marking the 1788 arrival of the British First Fleet that is known as ‘Invasion Day’ by Aboriginal people.

For many Indigenous Australians, who trace their lineage on the continent back tens of thousands of years, the holiday symbolises the destruction of their cultures by European settlers.

Chants of “Black Lives Matter” and “always was, always will be Aboriginal land” rang out in cities across the country, television footage showed.

Australia’s Indigenous people make up about 3 percent of the country’s 24.6 million population, but lag behind other Australians in almost every indicator from health to life expectancy and employment. They are also more likely to spend time in prison, and more likely to die in police custody.

 

Biden Signs Executive Actions Addressing Inequalities

President Joe Biden signed four executive actions as part of his agenda to advance “racial equity” for Americans.

The actions instruct the US justice department to end the use of private prisons, bolster anti-discrimination enforcement in the housing market, underscore the federal government’s commitment to Native American tribal sovereignty and condemn anti-Asian bias.

Under the new policies, the justice department will not renew contracts with private prison operators. Advocates have said privately operated prisons have contributed to an increase in incarceration rates and treated inmates poorly.

Many progressives and civil rights groups have urged Democratic leaders to kill the filibuster, warning that if they don’t, Senate Republicans will obstruct Biden’s plans just as they did with the Obama administration.

Former Senate aide Adam Jentleson, author of the new book “Kill Switch: The Rise of the Modern Senate and the Crippling of American Democracy,” says the filibuster has historically been used to stop racial progress and thwart majority opinion. “The framers … did not want the filibuster to exist,” he says. “When they created the Senate, it was an institution that had no filibuster power. It was designed to be a majority-rule body.”

Here’s the full list of Biden’s executive actions so far, including climate change, COVID-19, inequalities and discrimination. 

 

Puerto Rico Declares State of Emergency Over Gender Violence

Puerto Rico has declared a state of emergency over its deep-rooted problem of violence against women, creating new measures demanded by activists for years.

According to a 2019 report from non-profit advocacy groups Proyecto Matria and Kilometro Cero, one woman is killed every seven days in Puerto Rico.

The declaration, which also offers protection to gay and transgender people, includes measures like creating a mobile app for victims to ask for help and report attacks.

Authorities will create a new programme to check in with women who have taken out restraining orders against abusers, and a new committee will be responsible for enforcing policies and proposing other measure. 

 

Plan to Put Harriet Tubman on the $20 Bill Put into Motion Again 

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki announced that the Biden administration’s Treasury Department was restarting plans to put Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill as a replacement for former President Andrew Jackson, a notorious slave owner and architect of some of America’s most heinous policies toward Black and Native American people.

Under former President Barack Obama, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew pledged in 2016 to put Tubman on the $20 bill but former President Donald Trump had a deep admiration for Jackson and ordered Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to stop the effort, according to The New York Times. 

Critics see the plan as a performative, pandering act of faux-activism to please adoring liberals while working toward little effective change. 

“The wealth gap between Black women and white men is 61 cents to a dollar, and to print money with a Black woman on it before closing that pay gap feels like a slap in the face”, writes Victoria Gagliardo-Silver.

CEO and President of the NAACP Derrick Johnson told CNBC that his organization supports legislation reintroduced by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) to create a formal commission to explore reparation options for Black Americans

The legislation, H.R.40 has 147 Democratic co-sponsors in the House, and was originally introduced in January 2019. Republicans, however, have shown forceful opposition to the bill. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) in 2019 said it was not a good idea to impose reparations “for something that happened 150 years ago, for whom none of us currently living are responsible.”

 

Indian Farmers Protest Agricultural Reforms 

Hundreds of thousands of farmers drove their tractors in convoy into the Indian capital as part of ongoing, nationwide protests against three farm laws that protesters say put their livelihoods at risk.

Many of the farmers, who had adorned their tractors with colorful flags, including the flag of India and various farmers unions, had been camping out in protest on the outskirts of the capital for more than two months.

Police placed a cap of 5,000 tractors to take part in the rally, according to Mishra. However more than 200,000 tractors were mobilized. 

The laws have been so contentious because agriculture is the primary source of livelihood for about 58% of India’s 1.3 billion population, and farmers have been arguing for years to get the minimum guaranteed prices increased. They are the biggest voter block in the country, making farming a central political issue.

India’s Supreme Court issued an order putting the three contentious farm laws on hold and ordered the formation of a four-member mediation committee to help the parties negotiate. But farmers’ leaders have rejected any court-appointed mediation committee.

 

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