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John Riddell and Suzanne Weiss traveled to Venezuela at the end of November, as participants in a tour organized by the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network (<http://www.venezuelasolidarity.org>. The authors are members of the editorial team of Canadian publication Socialist Voice (http://www.socialistvoice.ca).

In the last instalment of a recent exchange that was sparked by Green Left Weekly’s interview with Eva Golinger (GLW #716, June 28, 2007), Professor Steven Zunes accused me of having made a “series of false accusations and major leaps of logic” in my critical assessment of the links that the non-profit International Centre on Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC) maintains with the United States’ leading democracy manipulators. (Online edition only: http://www.greenleft.org.au/2007/727/37727). Taking into account that Zunes currently chairs the ICNC’s board of academic advisors, his distress over the facts I have revealed is understandable. Thus, in an effort to address all of Zunes’ unfounded concerns with my last article, I will work through each of the points he has raised concerning my critique of the ICNC.

Kevin Smith, a researcher for Carbon Trade Watch, participated in the December 3-14 United Nations Climate Change Conference held in Bali, Indonesia. Smith spoke to Green Left Weekly’s Zoe Kenny about the campaign against carbon trading.

Delegates from more than 180 countries began meeting on the Indonesian island of Bali on December 3 at the United Nations Climate Change Conference. The gathering is meant to begin the process of negotiating an agreement on climate change for the period after 2012, when the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol expires.

@intro =”The United States government cheered the outcome of Venezuelan’s constitutional reform referendum of December 2, which prompted Venezuela’s Ambassador to the U.S. to accuse the Bush administration of a ‘double standard’ because of its criticisms of the referendum shortly before the vote”, Kiraz Janicke wrote in a Venezuelanalysis.com article on December 4.

Opinion not intelligence-based

"The NIE doesn't do anything to change my opinion about the danger Iran poses to the world — quite the contrary." — Emperor George Bush II, December 4, commenting on the release of a new National Intelligence

Fifty people attended a raising of the Aboriginal flag at the old Victorian Aboriginal Health Service building in Fitzroy on December 7. Members of Union Solidarity assisted local Indigenous activists by supplying and operating a crane to attach the flag. An alliance of activists is seeking to assist Indigenous activists and locals in their bid to reclaim the space, restore it and turn it into a community-run Indigenous cultural centre.

“In the new year, the progressive community needs to take up the cudgels for all those who continue to suffer human rights abuses in this country”, Sam Watson, Murri activist and Socialist Alliance Senate candidate in the recent federal elections, told a speak-out for International Human Rights Day on December 7. He condemned the attacks on Aboriginal rights inherent in the former Howard government’s invasion of the Northern Territory, and the infringement of civil liberties represented by the mandatory detention of refugees and the “anti-terror” laws.

As an orgy of consumerism descends upon the Western world to commemorate the birth of Christ, it is poignant to consider the relationship between Christianity and the left. It is a common misconception that socialists are atheists and are opposed to all forms of religion. Indeed, many socialists are atheists, and the abhorrence of organised religion by some can be traced back to the role of the church in siding with regressive conservative forces at various stages throughout history (and indeed itself being at times a highly repressive institution). However, socialism is opposed to all forms of discrimination — be it based upon gender, ethnicity, sexual preference, or indeed religious belief.

Bolivia’s indigenous, left-wing President Evo Morales has announced plans to hold a referendum on whether or not he will continue in office, according to a December 5 New York Times article. The aim is to overcome the stalemate the country has faced between the right-wing elite — opposed to the process of change pushed by Morales — and the poor and indigenous majority that put Morales in power. The vice president and nine state governors will also a vote on continuing in office.

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