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The protest song is present still, yet to what extent does its significance reach the alienated world? The medium that transcends form and style seems smothered beneath the illusion of freedom of expression. The murder of Chilean revolutionary singer Victor Jara may be a nauseating historical crime yet, today, protest singers are still exiled or assassinated in some countries. In the face of such brutal epilogues, the protest song may be mellowing its voice into a more socially acceptable role.
Beyond Black & White By Manning Marable Verso Press, 2009, 319 pages Review by Malik Miah Manning Marable’s latest book is an update of a valuable critique of Black and US politics first issued in 1995. He revised it last year, adding new chapters covering the period from 1995 to 2008, including an analysis of the meaning of the election of the first African American president of the US, Barack Obama, in November 2008.
In the United States, Google-owned video-sharing site YouTube has banned the video for hip hop star M.I.A.’s new single “Born Free”, citing the graphic nature of its content. More than nine minutes long, the clip, directed by Romain Gavras, begins with heavily armed soldiers with US flags on their uniforms raiding someone’s home. The location is not known, but the setting is reminiscent of Baghdad or the Palestinian West Bank.
"Say no to Roe!", chanted more than 100 people at a rally outside state parliament on April 22. The rally was organised to oppose a five-kilometre freeway extension (Roe stage 8) between the Kwinana Freeway and Stock Road in Melville, south of Perth. Speakers said the proposed extension was expensive, unnecessary and environmentally destructive. It would desecrate Noongar sacred sites and threaten the endangered species.
In a turbulent meeting on April 20, City of Yarra councillors voted to reinstate a ban on public drinking, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The motion was passed by a coalition of Labor councillors and independents, five votes to four. The votes against were from the Socialist Party councillor and three Greens. It overturned a March decision to lift the drinking ban during daylight hours. The ban, known as Local Law 8, was passed in October and implemented in December.
A sea of about 150 red shirts packed a restaurant in Cabramatta on April 25 to show solidarity with the democracy struggle in Thailand, led by the "Red Shirt" movement. Organised by Thai Red Australia, the night had added importance due to the threat of a military crackdown as thousands of Red Shirts occupied central Bangkok. Speakers urged active support for the democracy uprising, in the face of brutal military attacks that have killed more than 20 civilians.
In the Cochabamba football stadium on April 22, diverse indigenous peoples paraded around the track, thousands of local peasants sat in the stands, and thousands more activists from around the globe waved flags and chanted on the field. A common sentiment flowed through the crowd: something historic had occurred over the previous three days during the April 19-22 World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth organised by the Bolivian government in Cochabamba.
On April 20, 200 angry protesters shouted down state police minister Rob Johnson, as he tried to justify the anti-democratic “stop-and-search” laws. The proposed legislation allows police to conduct potentially intrusive body searches without suspicion of a crime. The laws would also allow the minister to make any space a “declared area”, which drastically increases police powers in that area. The crowd was also addressed by Greens MLC Giz Watson, Labor opposition police spokesperson Margaret Quirk and Dr David Indermaur from the Crime Research Centre.
Forty refugee rights supporters protested outside Labor foreign minister Stephen Smith's office on April 23, demanding an end to the government's "freeze" on asylum-seeker applications from Afghanistan and Sri Lanka. Speakers included Refugee Rights Action Network members Phil Chilton and Victoria Martin-Iverson, Socialist Alliance candidate for Perth Alex Bainbridge and Greens Senator Scott Ludlam. The next action planned by the Refugee Rights Action Network is an overnight vigil outside the Perth Immigration Detention Centre on May 7.
Palestinian Ambassador to Cuba Akram Samhan told an event in Havana on April 17 that Israeli jails have locked up more than 760,000 Palestinians since 1967. The event marked the 35th Palestinian Prisoner Day. The staggering number of Palestinians jailed by Israel is equal to 20% of the population of Gaza, the West Bank and Eastern Jerusalem. Samhan said this demonstrates that the occupying force has been met with Palestinian resistance that will continue until their homeland is free.
Central Sydney Mag story on the controversy.

The March 15 banning of two Socialist Alliance activists, Paul Benedek and myself, from the University of Sydney was revoked on April 9, after vice-chancellor Michael Spence received a storm of protest letters.

Over April 19-20, Indonesian police and naval officers forced almost 150 Tamils onto buses at Port Merak and took them to the Tanjung Pinang detention centre. For seven months, more than 250 Tamils had withstood appalling conditions aboard a squalid boat at the West Java port. Their hope was for refugee status in Australia. Their fear was of being locked up in Indonesian detention centres or deported back to Sri Lanka.