Write on: Letters to the editor

Georgia

I am writing to condemn our news coverage of the war in Georgia.

You could not tell from our "news" or "current affairs" or interviews with "experts", that a US puppet state, armed and trained by Israel and the USA, attacked killing 1500 Russian civilians and caused 30,000 refugees using the night of the opening of the Beijing Olympics to achieve virtual news blackout.

Given the carnage, just how could you expect Russia to respond. I beg you to remember just how bellicose was the USA after the 3000 deaths were caused on September 11. Can you remember what we did after that to countries with no direct involvement in the attack?

It seems unlikely to me that in such a tiny country with over 100 US and Israeli military "advisers", that US motives were not the ones behind such attacks. How could this entirely predictable result possibly be in Georgia's interests? In just the last few months, Georgia has received 206 tanks, 186 armoured vehicles and 25 helicopters.

Stephen Braithwaite (via email)

Islamophobia?

Your article by Ema Corro regarding the citizenship of Faiza Silmi in France (GLW #761) raises interesting questions regarding integration and tolerance.

However, reporter Ema Corro threw the "baby out with the bathwater" when covering this story. The implications of the French court's ruling are concerning. So too, however, is the oppression of women within the Islamic "orthodox", as Silmi refers to it.

To label the court's decision as "Islamophobic and anti-immigrant racism" is to trivialise legitimate concerns held by the French authorities.

To what extent should female oppression be tolerated in an egalitarian nation? While I agree the French court's decision was not the right way to go about dealing with the issue, I do recognise their many concerns regarding these issues, and do not believe these concerns were rooted in "Islamophobia", nor "anti- immigrant racism", but instead in a genuine belief in sexual equality.

When one considers the efforts of many feminists who have fought for centuries for sexual equality, the prevalence of female oppression (whatever the context) is always concerning.

Luke Vanni

Wavell Heights, Qld

Missing: an analysis of ACTU

"From the adoption of Labor's 'Forward with Fairness' IR policy at its April 2007 national conference, up until now, GLW has continued to expose the hypocrisy of the Labor government", states Graham Matthews (Write On, GLW #762).

But what has been missing in GLW's coverage — throughout the Your Rights at Work campaign — is any analysis of the role of the ACTU in seeking to conceal from workers Labor's hypocrisy.

According to Matthews (GLW Nov 26, 2006), "The lessons from history are clear. While Labor's promise to scrap at least some of the worst of Howard's IR laws is a good first step, it will have to be held to this promise, pushed to go further. Working people cannot afford their unions to be drawn into a mono-focused and uncritical 'vote Labor' campaign."

But working people were "drawn into a mono-focused and uncritical 'vote Labor' campaign".

In June this year, I attended a Unions WA Organising Conference addressed by ACTU secretary Jeff Lawrence. When asked why the ACTU was unwilling to criticise Labor's 'Forward with Fairness', Lawrence stated that the union movement could not afford to damage the ALP's electoral prospects.

The ALP may have wanted to give workers the impression that they would restore workers' rights. But it was the ACTU that worked tirelessly to reinforce this myth.

A campaign to elect a Labor government committed to maintaining anti-worker laws is not a campaign for workers' rights, no matter how many people attend its rallies.

Nick Everett

Bassendean, WA

Clean aluminium needs nuclear power

Dick Nichols is at pains (GLW #761) to prove that since the Australian aluminium industry is a major greenhouse polluter, shutting down the local smelters will be good for Australia and the world while having nil economical and social impacts.

Nichols should better stress the point that energy intensive industries, such as that of aluminium, are only as dirty as their energy source. The aluminium produced in Australia using coal-fired power stations creates some 17 kg of CO2 per kg of pure metal, very much the same as Chinese aluminium.

In contrast, the footprint of aluminium produced in France using nuclear power is only about 6 kg/kg, the same of that produced in Iceland or Norway using hydro and geothermal energy, all with similar costs.

Simply put, a nuclear power station up in Gladstone would slash the footprint, hence avoiding the need to shut down the smelters and retrain or relocate the aluminium industry workforce, as Nichols proposes, while preserving the income generated by the industry.

Keeping the smelters open using nuclear power will have another interesting side effect: enable Zane Alcorn (GLW #761, "Six reasons to phase out coal") to develop his "alternative exports of photovoltaic panels, solar plants and wind turbines" using clean Australian aluminium. Unless, of course, Alcon is counting on cheap Chinese aluminium for his renewables master plan.

Carlos Caceres (via email)

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