835

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.

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.

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.

On May 1, international workers’ day, 500 people marched in Wollongong.

Trish Corcoran from the Socialist Alliance spoke about the racist Northern Territory intervention on Aboriginal communities, and the solidarity the union movement is showing with the people fighting it.

Chris Cumming, from the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union, reported on the nasty dispute between the Tahmoor mineworkers and their employer, coal multinational Xstrata. Nearly $450 was raised at the rally for the miners.

As towns go, Orroroo in South Australia might seem small, but with 850 people it is one of the larger stops on the road between Broken Hill and Port Augusta. The countryside around it is marginal farmland.

Only in the occasional year is there enough rain for a good crop of wheat, and in a process with well-researched links to global warming, the wet years have been getting fewer.

It is ironic, therefore, that this district 250 kilometres north of Adelaide now seems destined to hurry climate change along.

The March 15 banning of two Socialist Alliance activists, Paul Benedek and myself, from the University of Sydney was revoked on April 9, after vice-chancellor Michael Spence received a storm of protest letters.

Among the many who protested against this attack on freedom of speech were renowned journalist John Pilger, 15 professors and lecturers at Sydney and other universities, Sydney City councillors Meredith Burgmann and Irene Doutney, leaders of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU), students and civil rights activists.

Israeli queer activists organised a protest on April 29 in front of the Israeli foreign affairs ministry in Jerusalem to protest against an “Israeli LGBT Festival” being organised in San Francisco called “Out in Israel”. The US event is funded by the Israeli consulate and Jewish organisations' together with support from the Israeli foreign affairs ministry.

Clients at the Fairfield Migrant Resource Centre heard on April 29 that people in disadvantaged areas, such as Fairfield, could have their welfare benefits "quarantined" as early as next year.

The public meeting at the centre featured Peter Davidson from the Australian Council of Social Services and Richard Downs, spokesperson for the Alyawarr people’s walk-off in the Northern Territory.

The walk-off began in July 2009, protesting against the effects of welfare quarantining, and other NT intervention measures, in the community of Ampilatwatja.

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.

The Queensland Teachers Union (QTU) remains defiant about its ban on conducting the NAPLAN national schools test, despite the state Labor government forcing it to go before the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (QIRC), said the April 29 Courier-Mail.

The QIRC hearing took place on April 30, after the QTU refused to abide by a direction from the commission, a week earlier, to lift its boycott of administering the tests.

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