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.
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.
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.