As Tiger Woods returns to golf, not all his affairs are salacious headlines. In Dubai, the Tiger Woods Golf Course is costing $100 million to build. Dubai relies on cheap Third World labour, as do certain consumer brands that have helped make Woods a billionaire. Nike workers in Thailand wrote to Woods, expressing their “utmost respect for your skill and perseverance as an athlete” but pointing out that they would need to work 72,000 years “to receive what you will earn from [your Nike] contract”.
Five Australia-bound Tamil asylum seekers vanished in shark-infested waters near the Cocos Islands over May 5-9. They were seeking help for the 59 other men, women and children aboard a wooden fishing boat that had travelled from Sri Lanka and spent more than 20 days at sea. Australian border patrol had let the boat flounder without food, fuel or water for at least eight days before the refugees were finally rescued on May 9. But the Labor federal government has refused to call an inquiry, referring the tragedy to federal police and immigration.
Federal immigration authorities have pressured one of San Francisco’s major building service companies, ABM, into firing hundreds of its own workers. Some 475 janitors have been told that unless they can show legal immigration status, they will lose their jobs in the near future. ABM has been a union company for decades, and many of the workers have been there for years. Olga Miranda, president of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 87, said: “They’ve been working in the buildings downtown for 15, 20, some as many as 27 years.
On May 10, skilled trades members of the Electrical Trade Union (ETU) and the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union from Geelong and Broadmeadows Ford plants held a 24-hour stoppage. They were demanding better pay and conditions under their enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA) and took their protest to the street. Ford wants to freeze the wages of all fixed-term employees at the current (2008) level one entry rate ($986.65 a week). The company did not verify the length of its proposed wage freeze.
May 17 is International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. On May 15, thousands around Australia marked it by marching in support of equal marriage rights. In Melbourne, 3000 people from diverse organisations rallied at the state library. Among the speakers were the director, cast and crew members of the current production of Waiting for Godot, including well known actor Ian McKellen.
NSW Premier Kristina Keneally announced that the Labor government would block a proposed open-cut coalmine near Scone in the Upper Hunter Valley on May 14. The decision puts an end to the Bickham coal project, which would have mined coal for the next 25 years, threatening to contaminate the Pages River and other water sources for local farmland. The decision also permanently bans any open-cut coal mines at the Bickham site. Keneally said: “This mine is simply not compatible with the unique rural characteristics of this locality, including the horse-breeding industry.
The party of the troglodytes had lost its man of steel, and craved another overlord to bring them all to heel. The smirking trog turned down the job. Folks knew he was a wanker. The doctor couldn’t pull it off, so then they tried the banker. Meanwhile the planet’s heating up — that’s not just trog hot air. It’s carbon gases spewing out from coal plants everywhere. They must be shut before seas rise and low land disappears. But trogs in caves care only how to save their own careers. The banker trog had stepped outside and sniffed the warming haze,
The campaign against league tables continued on May 11 with a protest organised by the Inner City Teachers Association (ICTA) of the NSW Teachers Federation. Fifty people rallied outside the office of NSW education minister Verity Firth. After the Australian Education Union federal executive’s last-minute decision to lift the ban on the National Assessment Program — Literacy and Numeracy tests, the action showed the campaign against league tables, and the damage they do to school communities, will continue.
The tremendous success of the April 19-22 World Peoples Summit on Climate Change and Mother Earth Rights held in Cochabamba, Bolivia, has confirmed the well-deserved role of its initiator — Bolivian President Evo Morales — as one of the world’s leading environmental advocates. Since being elected the country’s first indigenous president in 2005, Morales has continuously denounced the threat posed by the climate crisis and environmental destruction. Morales has pointed the figure at the real cause of the problem: the consumerist and profit-driven capitalist system.
Newspeak in the 21st Century by David Edwards & David Cromwell Pluto Press, 2009, 299 pages, $25 Review by John Smith News-analysing website Media Lens isn’t liked by the corporate media.