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Five footballers at North Carolina’s Guilford College were charged with “ethnic intimidation” and the assault of three Palestinian students on January 21. The FBI will also investigate whether the footballers should be charged with “hate crimes”. The three Palestinian students were brutally attacked by up to 15 members of the college football team, who used “brass knuckles” and called them “terrorists”, “sand niggers” and “fucking Palestinians”. Students at the college have condemned the attacks as racist and have begun to organise in support of the Palestinian students. On January 24, Yes! Weekly online magazine reported that students have also threatened to walk out of school if the attackers were not suspended.
“It must never again be the case that a death in custody, of Aboriginal or non-Aboriginal persons, will not lead to rigorous and accountable investigations and a comprehensive coronial inquiry.”
Petrodollar Warfare
By William Clark
New Society Publishers, 2005
$29.95 267pages
The Labor and Liberal parties have been falling over each other in their rush to rub out the final vestiges of multiculturalism. In December, newly elected Labor leader Kevin Rudd renamed immigration spokesperson Tony Burke’s portfolio “immigration, integration and citizenship”. In his January 23 cabinet reshuffle, PM John Howard caught up, changing the name of the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.
When former Guantanamo Bay detainee Mamdouh Habib announced last week that he would contest the March 24 NSW state election, the corporate media in Sydney cranked up a campaign of vilification against him. Habib was held in the US prison at Guantanamo Bay for more than three years before being released in January 2005 without charge.
Thirty workers at Tristar Steering and Suspension in Marrickville are still fighting for redundancy entitlements provided for under a longstanding enterprise agreement (EA), which expired in September. The workers have been idle since production shifted overseas in July, while the company has used PM John Howard’s Work Choices legislation to save money by not paying the workers their due.
“Brilliant, fantastic, inspiring … Never shaken so many hands in one day”, commented Pat Rogers, a Brisbane staff member of the Electrical Trades Union, after experiencing the May Day march of more than 1 million workers in Caracas during the Australian trade union solidarity brigade to Venezuela in April-May last year. People in Australia will have the opportunity to join a May Day brigade to Venezuela again this year, from April 30 to May 9, organised by the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network (AVSN).
Chanting “bring our troops home”, anti-war protesters rallied in front of the Capitol building in Washington DC on January 27 to pressure President George Bush’s administration to end the war on Iraq, now only two months short of entering its fourth year.
A mixed message — combining celebration and auto-critique — came from the Nairobi World Social Forum, held from January 20-25 in a massive sports complex 10km from the city. The 60,000 registered participants heard triumphalist radical rhetoric and yet, too, witnessed persistent defeats for social justice causes, especially within the WSF’s own processes.
More than 200,000 public service workers in the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) held a nationwide strike on January 31, which is being followed by a two-week overtime ban. The February 1 Morning Star reported that “the action hit 200 government departments, halted important court cases and paralysed passport offices, benefit centres, and tax offices”. In addition, the Welsh Assembly in Cardiff was forced to abandon proceedings, and in London the British Library, Tate Modern and Tate Britain were closed.

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