Ryan Mallett-Outtrim

Despite securing a comfortable victory in October's presidential elections, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) is set for a harder struggle in crucial regional elections on December 16. However, even opposition polls show PSUV is likely to keepcontrol of most governorships. The issue is whether the opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) can win or hold key seats, or the PSUV can build on the momentum from the presidential vote and important social gains.
With the escalation of the war on Gaza in the past week, now is the time for the Greens to urgently reconsider backing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign (BDS). This campaign aims to bring international pressure on Israel until it stops human rights abuses against Palestinians. BDS has grown rapidly in Australia in recent years, though mainstream politics has barely noted its progress. Even the Greens, generally far more sympathetic to the suffering of the Palestinian people, have now completely abandoned BDS.
Adelaide's annual Green Left Weekly dinner fundraiser on November 10 brought together supporters from unions, social justice groups and the activist community, raising more than $1000 for the paper. This year, Sue Bull from the Geelong branch of Socialist Alliance delivered an impassioned keynote speech on the rising electoral support for socialists nationwide. Assistant Secretary of Australian Services Union (SA/NT) Joseph Scales also addressed the event, praising GLW for its support of workers' struggles.
The Adelaide Pride march snaked its way through the Adelaide CBD on November 10, bringing traffic to a standstill with blasting music, dancing and some wild outfits. The annual march celebrates the opening night of the Feast festival but, according to some attendees, it is also an opportunity for self-expression. “It allows us to be us. [We] don’t have to hide who we are,” marcher Sasha Delight told Green Left Weekly. First-time marcher Chloe Bleakley said: “Seeing everyone in the same place reminds us we're not alone.”
If the mainstream Western media is to be believed, the world witnessed a shining example of true democracy in action in the United States on November 6. In the Washington Post, Dan Balz described the US presidential race as a “contest of competing visions”. Apparently, democracy is epitomised by a race between two representatives of the 1% fighting to impose “competing” agendas that ― with differences of nuance ― bear more similarities to each other than to public opinion.
Its website says UniLife is the University of South Australia's (UniSA) “democratic organisation run by students”. But new changes to UniLife’s rules mean student members are no longer entitled to know what their representatives do. This is the result of sweeping amendments to the UniLife constitution passed by student referendum on September 3. UniLife said the changes were designed to allow it to “operate in compliance with relevant Commonwealth legislation”.
Adelaide's first Australia Israel Cultural Exchange (AICE) Israeli Film Festival (IFF) has been picketed by boycott, divestment and sanction (BDS) campaign activists. Over September 5-9, more than a dozen activists took part in the pickets, organised by the Australian Friends of Palestine Association (AFOPA). AFOPA's Margaret Cassar told Green Left Weekly: “AFOPA held three protests outside the Palace Eastend Cinema to educate the public and Palace-Nova management about the cultural boycott against Israel.”
Students will vote on proposed amendments to the University of South Australia's (UniSA) UniLife constitution from August 27 to September 3. UniLife provides various amenities to UniSA students and is run by an elected student board. Over the past nine months, the board has redrafted constitutional amendments 14 times. But the drafts were withheld from the wider student body until the board called a snap referendum on the amendments with a weeks’ notice.
If your home was going to be demolished in 15 minutes, what would you save? Facing a life of poverty, would you salvage valuables? Or, would you retrieve sentimental items, knowing that every day your people lose pieces of their ancient history and culture? For Israeli “refusenik” Sahar Vardi, watching Palestinians being forced to make this decision at gunpoint just a few kilometres from her own home changed her life.
This month, the Australian Friends of Palestine Association (AFOPA) will mark 100 weeks of protest against the sale of cosmetics containing minerals extracted from the Dead Sea — in Palestinian territory under Israeli military occupation — by Seacret. Seacret says on its website: “We believe everything we do must embody honesty and reflect purity.” Its products are made with “the ancient, and some say mystical, salts and minerals found only in one place on earth, the Dead Sea”.
Sahrawi human rights advocate and trade unionist Malak Amidane will visit Australia this month to share her experience of campaigning for justice in her homeland. Previously a Spanish colony, Western Sahara was invaded by Morocco and Mauritania when Spain withdrew in 1975. Today, 80% of the territory land is controlled by Morocco. Amidane will meet with politicians and union leaders to lobby for greater support for Western Sahara. She will also present a public lecture in Adelaide on May 3 at 5pm, at the University of Adelaide, Lower Napier, room G03.
Activists delivered an early birthday present for Rupert Murdoch to The Advertiser building in Adelaide on March 9. Occupy Murdoch delivered a yellow “uranium” cake, along with demands for media reform, to the office of the News Ltd tabloid. Activist Tamara Otello baked the cake, which she explained was intended “for The Advertiser staff”. She said: “It hasn’t been laced with anything nasty ... unlike The Advertiser. It’s actually a chocolate mudcake.”
After two decades of political deadlock, Africa’s oldest refugee population is losing faith in UN mandated peace negotiations. “No one will give us our freedom — we must take it!,” Sahrawi journalist Embarka Elmehdi Said told Green Left Weekly. Said sees little hope for a peaceful resolution to the crisis that has gripped Western Sahara since its independence from Spain in the 1970s. A child when her family fled the Moroccan invasion of Western Sahara in 1975, Said has spent most of her life in the Polisario run refugee camps on the Western Sahar-Algeria border.
Ryan Mallett-Outtrim & Laura Gilbie The self-immolation of five activists in January briefly brought international attention to growing unrest in Morocco, evidenced by the mass demonstrations that began a year ago. It is in the capital, however, where political rallies have become something of a permanent fixture. Three times a week, the well-tended boulevards of the Moroccan capital are overrun with dissatisfied tertiary graduates, demanding jobs. The rallies can last for up to six hours.
Laayoune is the largest settlement in Western Sahara territory, which has been occupied by Morocco since 1975. The Sahrawi people continue to demand independence after decades of poor treatment under Moroccan rule. Many Sahrawi report being routinely subjected to police brutality and say they suffer widespread discrimination. Activists in Laayoune face a day-to-day struggle with local authorities. The city is touted by the Moroccan government as a regional development hub, but from the ground looks more like an infantry barracks.
Fundamentalist Christian street preachers faced stiff opposition from activists who rallied against their public sermons in Adelaide’s Rundle Mall on September 2. Members of the right-wing religious group found themselves surrounded by a large crowd of activists who rallied for more than five hours. The rally’s theme was “love not hate”. The rally aimed to show solidarity for those who have received verbal abuse and suffered violence, particularly homosexual youths often targeted by the fringe Christians.

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