Over October 16-17, 120 people participated in lively and informative discussions at the Latin America Solidarity Conference. “Challenging corporate globalisation: people’s power is changing the world” was organised by the Latin America Social Forum. LASF brings together the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN — Australia), Guatemala Human Rights Committee, Ibiray-Fondo Raul Sendic (Uruguay), Honduras’ National Front of Popular Resistance (FNRP), Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network and Socialist Alliance.
On October 20, the committee of the WA parliament tasked to look into the proposed Criminal Investigation Amendment Bill 2009 reported its findings. A majority of the committee opposed the bill, which would drastically expand police stop-and-search powers at the expense of civil liberties. The report was delayed twice due to the controversial nature of the bill and disagreements on the committee. Protests against the proposed laws were held this year by the group, Search For Your Rights.
Just 8% of the world’s population owns 79.3% of the world’s total wealth, a new study by the research wing of the giant Swiss bank, Credit Suisse found, Sam Pizzigati said on the A World of Progress blog on October 18. Further, 35.6% of all wealth is held by just 0.5% of the world’s 4.4 billion adults. On the opposite end of the scale, 68.4% of the world’s adults get to share just 4.2% of global wealth.
Serge Rodriguez is a Perth-based singer-song writer. Originally from Uruguay, Rodriguez formed the band Gypsy Earth last year. Below are the lyrics of one song, ‘Judas’. Visit GypsyEarth.net for more information and to buy his music. * * * Young man don’t you follow, don’t you head the call. Wars resolve nothing, only destroy. Look around you and see what it’s done to your world. What it’s done to our children before they are born. High and mighty men profess with their words. They’ll try to incite you to march off to war.
Sydney’s inner-west played host to the inaugural Live Red Art event. The festival of radical art drew a crowd of more than 400 people to the Addison Road Community Centre in Marrickville on October 17. The Great Hall was transformed into a makeshift gallery, with three walls constructed from 250 milk crates stacked six high and fastened with cable ties and string to house print and mixed-media works.
US teenage pop star Justin Bieber released a book on October 12. First Step 2 Forever: My Story is supposed to be his autobiography. The notion that a 16-year-old has been through enough turmoil to merit an autobiography is bewildering, but then, I suppose only something his ghost-writer had to worry about. The book comes on the heels of Bieber releasing his own line of nail polish. Yes, nail polish. At least the marketing team behind “The Bieb” knows the target audience.
All societies need some form of law and order. Over many years of political organising, police who agreed with my right to protest and assisted when political or industrial rallies were being organised earned my respect. But throughout Australia’s history, there are many examples of how laws in our society tend to protect the rights and property of the wealthy at the expense of the working class. Well known are massacres against Aboriginals and miners at Eureka. Less well publicised has been police violence during industrial disputes, acting on the side of employers.
Sources in Victorian public housing say proposed changes to the system will increase rents for tenants and replace government-funded public housing with more expensive privatised housing. Public housing in Victoria is being dismantled and privatised by stealth, without open and genuine public consultation.
Union pressure is building against Premier Mike Rann's ALP government of South Australia. Treasurer Kevin Foley and Rann have been targeted in a campaign by trade unions against the recent state budget. A number of rallies have been called since the budget was handed down. The largest so far, on October 14, estimated at 10,000 by the Public Service Association (PSA).
Peruvian President Alan Garcia, who last year ordered the brutal massacre of protesting Amazonian tribespeople, has once again resorted to violence — this time in person. Visiting Edgardo Rebagliati Hospital in Lima, on October 9, Garcia encountered 27-year-old Ricardo Galvez, who shouted “corrupt” at the president. Eyewitnesses say Garcia flew into an uncontrollable rage and forcefully struck the volunteer worker in the face. Members of Garcia’s entourage landed follow up blows, knocking a defenceless Galvez to the floor where he was subjected to further mistreatment.
On October 19, at exactly 3.30pm, the Lib-Lab politicians suddenly went from smirk to sombre as the Afghanistan “debate” finally started — nine years too late. It was a farce. Despite most Australians opposing being involved in the US-led occupation, Prime Minister Julia Gillard said Australian troops could remain for 10 years — which is longer than even the US government predicts.
Below are excerpts from the October 20 speech in the federal House of Representatives — part of the debate on the war in Afghanistan — by Greens member for Melbourne, Adam Bandt. The full text can be read here. * * *
Venezuela’s representative in the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Alfredo Missair, spoke on October 18 about Venezuela’s achievements in the field. He said that 14 million citizens (about half of the population) now have access to food at fair prices. On the TV show Desperto Venezuela, broadcast by VTV, Missair stressed the country is on track to meet the UN Millennium Development Goals of halving the proportion of the population that is undernourished.
Despite all the rhetoric on climate change, both the NSW and federal governments consider it acceptable to allow seismic testing and drilling to explore for gas and potentially oil off Australia's east coast. Despite the potential to develop entire new industries in clean, renewable energy, governments will not or cannot break their addiction to fossil fuels. They have literally placed the entire offshore Sydney Basin on the market for fossil fuel extraction; an area of 6000km², extending from Wollongong to Port Stephens.
Beware! Labour hire Little Jonny Howard's anti-worker IR laws are alive and well and living in a state near you. After asking if we could have a cleaner to look after the lunch sheds and toilets, I was sent an email while on RnR telling me I was no longer required, even though the Gorgon/Chevron gas project is still ramping up workers with my qualifications. North West Labour Solutions, based in Albany, WA, has taken advantage of workers and their good faith by offering employment under the guise of what is essentially an AWA.
Secret Affairs: Britain's Collusion with Radical Islam By Mark Curtis 352 pages (pb), Serpent's Tail, 2010. In Tony Blair's new memoir, A Journey, the former British prime minister says one of his biggest regrets is introducing the Freedom of Information Act, because journalists have used it “as a weapon”.