Over 100 people, including Taser victim Kevin Spratt, attended a rally on November 13, which focused on the excessive use of Tasers by police. Most speakers, including Deaths in Custody chairperson Marianne Mackay, called for a complete end to the use of Tasers by police. However shadow attorney general John Quigley merely called on the government to release video footage of a second Taser attack on Spratt that it has kept secret.
There are renewable energy options for WA. This was the clear message of a forum hosted by Safe Climate Perth on November 13 as part of its campaign calling on the state government to cancel approval for five new or refurbished coal-fired power stations. Tim Barling from Sustainable Energy Now spoke about the range of options that are available and agricultural scientist Chris Johanson presented the Beyond Zero Emissions plan for 100% renewable stationary energy by 2020.
The US has stepped up flights by pilotless drones and increased the deployment of special forces and CIA operatives in the Middle Eastern nation of Yemen. The US military and CIA have been covertly operating in Yemen since at least 2002. The November 7 Washington Post quoted unnamed US officials as saying that drones operating over Yemen now included Hellfire missile-equipped Predators. The article said that “up to 100” extra US “Special Operations force trainers” and an unspecified number of “additional CIA teams” were being deployed.
Malalai Joya is an Afghan feminist and anti-war activist who opposes the US-led occupation of her country. An opponent of both the Islamic fundamentalist Taliban and the equally fundamentalist and corrupt warlords in the US-backed regime of President Hamid Karzai, Joya was the youngest member elected to Afghan parliament in 2005. She was suspended after she said the parliament was full of warlords. Joya is touring Australia and will speak at UTS in Sydney on November 16 (see www.greenleft.org.au/calendar for details).
Hundreds of thousands of victims of the Mount Merapi volcano eruption in central Java face economic and social destruction unless the government carries out a comprehensive recovery plan to help them. By November 9, the Data Communications Centre from the health ministry has put the death toll from the October 26 eruption at 168 people, with 1105 injured and 279,779 evacuated. In solidarity with the victims, the Indonesian Poor People’s Union (SRMI) has set up disaster relief centres in eight districts: Mungkid, Salam, Ngluwar, Salaman, Muntilan, Mertoyu, Srumbung and Borobudur.
“Rise like lions after slumber/In unvanquishable number!/Shake your chains to earth, like dew/Which in sleep had fall’n on you/Ye are many —they are few.” These days, the stirring lines of Percy Shelley’s “Mask of Anarchy” from 1819 may seem unattainable. I don’t think so. Shelley was both a Romantic and political truth-teller. His words resonate now because only one political course is left to those who are disenfranchised and whose ruin is announced on a British government spreadsheet.
At first glance, you might have mistaken London’s packed streets on November 10 for a Mardi Gras carnival. There young faces and large grins, combined with incessant whistle-blowing, trumpet-blasting and drum-beating. All mixed together to form the din of student protest. The noise took shape and all of a sudden burst from the centre of the crowd, picked up by everyone else: “No ifs, no buts, no education cuts” — the main chants of the 50,000 students marching forward from Westminster to the destination of the Milbank headquarters of the Conservative Party.
“The whole process was a fake!”, said Khin Maung Swe, a 68-year-old leader of the National Democratic Force (NDF), a breakaway from the National League for Democracy (NLD) led by Aung San Suu Kyi. “We just won 16 seats [out of the 163 the NDF contested] because of the so-called advance votes.” Khin Maung Swe expressed outrage at the process of counting votes in Burma’s elections held on November 7 for the first time in 20 years. Opponents of the military junta said it rigged many “advance votes” — votes cast before the official date of the election — through threats and bribes.
President Nicolas Sarkozy enacted a new law on November 10 that increases the retirement age of French workers. The move came just days after more than a million workers and students mobilised across France against the law. The November 6 protests were the eighth national strike and protests since September 7 against the bill — although it was the easily the smallest of the mobilisations.
Moroccan occupation forces brutally attacked and destroyed the Saharawi Gdeim Izik protest camp on November 8, which had grown to over 20,000 since being established on October 9. The camp, 15 kilometres outside the capital, El Aaiun, was established to protest lack of job opportunities for Saharawi under the Moroccan occupation and mistreatment of Saharawi by Moroccan authorities.
When the United Nations Millennium Development Goals Summit took place in September, leaders from rich countries, as well as aid and research organisatons, met with Third World nations and “recommitted” to eight anti-poverty goals. The goals were set in the Millennium Declaration in 2000, to be met by 2015. “Donor” countries pledged financial and technical aid to halve extreme poverty and reduce hunger, disease and illiteracy across the global South.
Demonstrators marched in Santa Cruz, the capital of Spanish-ruled Canary Islands just off the north-west African coast, on November 11 against the week-long assault on a protest camp in Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara. James Tweedie wrote on Ositorojo.blogspot.com that day that more than 1000 people, many Sahrawis but mostly Spanish Canarians, marched through the city centre to demand an end to the police and military operation.
Cuba and Venezuela condemned on November 11 the repression by Moroccan forces against Sahrawi people in El-Aaiun, the Venezuelan News Agency (AVN) said that day. Cuban and Venezuela’s ambassadors to Algeria, Hector Michel Mujica and Eumelio Caballero, condemned the attack by Morrocco, which is illegally occupying Western Sahara. The ambassadors are also the accredited diplomatic representatives of their nations to the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), the independence of which is being denied by Morocco.
More than 50,000 German anti-nuclear protesters defied 17,000 police over the weekend of November 6 and 7and blockaded a train carrying spent nuclear fuel rods from France to Germany. On November 8, the fuel rods finally reached the small north German village of Dannenberg. From there, they were trucked a further 20 kilometres to an interim nuclear storage facility in the town of Gorleben. Anti-nuclear activists drove more than 600 tractors, blockading roads and the railway in the largest ever demonstration over the transportation of spent nuclear fuel rods in Germany.
More than 5000 workers from across Venezuela marched to the Venezuelan National Assembly in Caracas on November 9. The rally was organised by the National Workers’ Union (UNT). The central demand of the rally was that a radical new labour law currently tabled in parliament, which would greatly benefit Venezuelan workers, be passed. The September 26 election resulted in the pro-revolutionary forces losing the required two-thirds majority required in parliament to pass entirely new (organic) laws, although they still have an overall majority.
More than 100 people attended a Brunswick candidates’ forum about planning issues on November 11. The high attendance reflected anger at the many high-rise buildings planned for the inner-Melbourne area. Six state election candidates addressed the meeting. Socialist Alliance candidate Trent Hawkins said residents must be involved in decision-making. Planning minister Justin Madden has "called in" 230 projects so far this year, allowing him to overrule local council decisions. Hawkins said development decisions must involve the community.