Step by Step: Women of East Timor, Stories of Resistance and Survival Edited by Jude Conway Charles Darwin University Press, 2010 241 pages, $44 Review by Niko Leka The title of Step by Step refers to how the Timorese gained their independence. The steps are told through the firsthand narratives of 13 women who grew up in East Timor. When they were born it was a Portuguese colony, which in 1975 was invaded and occupied by Indonesia. It achieved victory in the quarter century-long struggle for independence in 1999.
"The recent campaign by the big mining companies, which brought down PM Kevin Rudd, shows the enormous power of these giant monopolies in our capitalist society”, Socialist Alliance activist Marg Gleeson told a public forum, sponsored by the SA on July 6. "This two-month campaign of lies and distortions by the mining barons was victorious. It underlines exactly who holds the levers of power in our 'democratic' country."
Following a community rally against racism in Sydney's inner-west on July 2, activists went to local Labor MP Anthony Albanese's office on July 8 to present him with a huge open letter that had been signed by many in his electorate. The letter called on Albanese to reject the racist politics pursued in the upcoming federal election.
Twitter, for the few who may not know, is a social networking internet service that enables its users to send and read other users' messages (tweets) of up to 140 characters. Increasingly, politicians are using Twitter as part of their (managed) media work. Shortly after becoming prime minister, Julia Gillard joined the Twitterverse. “1.54PM Jul 4: I’ve decided it’s time to take the Twitter plunge! Hopefully I’ll master it. JG.” By her second Tweet, she (or perhaps a specially assigned member of her staff) was behaving like a seasoned Tweeting politician.
You have been reported in the media as preferring to be judged by your actions rather than as a woman. I congratulate you! This is what all women want: to be judged on their merits not on the basis of gender. An activist of “the second wave” of feminism, I have been fighting (along with my sisters) against sexism in the workplace and the broader community for more than 40 years.
About 250 people attended the Students of Sustainability (SoS) conference at Flinders University in Adelaide over July 4-8. A highlight of the conference was the attendance of the Indigenous Solidarity Rides bus full of passengers on their way from Newcastle to the convergence at Alice Springs. They presented workshops on the NT intervention, its effects on Aboriginal communities and the struggle to repeal the racist laws.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s July 5 announcement that she would solve the refugee crisis by being tougher on refugees did what former PM John Howard failed to do in his 11 years of conservative rule. She has made former One Nation MP Pauline Hanson feel at home. Hanson announced she wasn’t emigrating to Britain, as planned, saying she was in “total agreement” with Gillard’s plan to “sweep political correctness from the debate”, the Australian said on July 6. Gillard’s main proposals cast refugees as a problem to be solved — and blame the refugees for that problem.
Sex Work Matters: Power & Intimacy in the Sex Industry by Melissa Hope Ditmore, Antonia Levy & Alys Willman Zed Books When sex workers speak it is often with anger, frustration or reproach. This is because, more than any other group of workers, they have been defined, pathologised and moralised at by others. Sex Work Matters was a labour of love that emerged from a conference of sex workers held in New York in 2006. The result is a collection of essays by sex workers, academics and people involved in providing services to sex workers.
“Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.” I can’t help but be reminded of the these words of Nazi war criminal Hermann Goering as the big parties in Australia intensify efforts at scoring goals at the others expense by putting forward players who can kick the ball (in this case asylum seekers) the hardest.
Luta Hamutuk, a Dili-based non government organisation, released the following statement on July 7. It was translated from Tetum by Tomas Freitas. * * * The July 7 Java Post said: “Prime Minister Julia Gillard has tightened Australia immigration law. Not wanting to be bothered by the economic and social problems caused by asylum seekers, the Australian leader plans to build a detention center for asylum seekers in Timor-Leste.” The above statement shows how Australian foreign policy contains “racist characteristics” toward Timor-Leste and the region.
Poverty and inequality are at record levels according to a new report. The redistribution of wealth from poor to rich overseen by former prime minister Margaret Thatcher, and continued under Labour, will be accelerated by the huge public spending cuts proposed by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition — unless they are stopped. The Institute of Fiscal Studies’ annual Poverty and Inequality in the UK report released in May makes for bleak reading. Incomes for most households had stagnated for the last seven years under Labour.
Fifty people rallied outside the Department of Immigration and Citizenship on July 9 in response to the Gillard Labor government's proposed new "East Timor solution" for processing asylum seekers. The protest was organised by the Refugee Action Collective. Aboriginal rights leader and Socialist Alliance Senate candidate Sam Watson told the protest: “[Opposition leader Tony] Abbott and [PM Julia] Gillard are creating the atmosphere for another Tampa election, targeting the most vulnerable people.
Last week was another ugly political week in Australia. There was much to be disgusted about, but one line disgusted me particularly. It was from an apologist for the Julia Gillard Labor government who dared to offer this whispered excuse for the PM's shameless embrace of racist scapegoating of desperate asylum seekers: “Julia Gillard is pretending to be conservative so that [Coalition leader Tony] Abbott can't use this issue to win the elections. Once Labor wins, they will implement a different policy. “It's clever politics.”
Hundreds of activists in Washington, DC demonstrated on July 6 outside the White House to protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit. Protesters held signs calling on the US government to end military aid to Israel as Netanhayu met US President Barack Obama. After the meeting, Obama said: “I think the Israeli government, working through layers of various governmental entities and jurisdictions, has shown restraint over the last several months that I think has been conducive to the prospects of us getting into direct talks.”
Canada & Israel: Building Apartheid By Yves Engler Fernwood Publishing/Red Publishing Toronto, 2010, 168 pages. Most Canadians today would probably agree that their country's foreign policy is pro-Israel. Even Canada's “liberal” supporters of Israel complain that siding so explicitly with Israel damages Canada's role of a peacemaker. It signals a shift away from the country's perceived balanced approach to the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Greek workers staged their sixth general strike this year on July 8. The strike halted public transport, stopped ferry services, and closed schools, newspapers, courts and public hospitals. About 100,000 people took part in protest rallies in Athens and Thessaloniki, chanting: “Workers, answer the war declared by capitalists with war” and “Let the oligarchs pay for the crisis”.