Tough talk by the warmongers at the November 20-21 NATO conference in Lisbon, Portugal, obscured the growing opposition in the US and Europe to the nine-year occupation of Afghanistan. Ten thousand people took to the streets of London on November 20 to protest the war. Angry at the British government’s recent cuts to services and pensions, many carried “Cut war not welfare” placards.
Workers with disabilities are speaking out against the Supported Wage System (SWS), which encourages employers to legally underpay workers with disabilities. The federal government’s Job Access program markets SWS as a progressive innovation by burying it among more egalitarian policies such as funding improvements to workplace accessibility. The Job Access website says the SWS is “a process that allows employers to pay less than the award wage by matching a person's productivity with a fair wage”.
The 2005 Naivasha Agreement ended the civil war between the Sudanese government and the Sudanese Peoples Liberation Movement (SPLM), based in South Sudan. About 2 million people were killed in the 1983-2005 conflict. A further 500,000 people were killed in the 1955-1972 civil war, also fought between the government and rebels in the south. Under the agreement, a referendum on independence will be held in the south in January 2011. The SPLM leadership recently endorsed independence for the South, while prior to the peace process it been committed to a united, democratic, federal Sudan.
Chilean activist Manuel Olate Cespedes was arrested in Santiago on October 29 after the Colombian government alleged he is linked to left-wing guerilla group the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Below is an abridged statement issued by the Latin America Social Forum (LASF) Sydney that calls for Cespedes’ release and opposes plans to extradite him to Colombia. *** The LASF (Sydney) wishes to express its opposition to the arrest and detention of Manuel Olate Cespedes. We also express our grave concern regarding Colombia’s request to extradite Cespedes.
"You can't come in”, Friends of the Earth (FOE) organiser Drew Hutton told mining companies on behalf of a coalition of farming groups from South-West Queensland, outside State Parliament on November 22. The farmers launched the campaign in opposition to mining companies’ plans for up to 40,000 coal seam gas wells and massive new coal mines on the farming land of the Darling Downs. "All the laws are weighted in favour of the mining interests and against farmers”, Hutton said.
The gas industry is rapidly increasing its scope in the Australian energy market as, state and federal government approve drilling sites across the nation with little community consultation and relaxed environmental safeguards. Natural gas will account for 33% of Australia's primary energy consumption by 2030, compared with 8% from renewables, according to the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARE).
The sixth plenum of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist — UCPN(M)) began on November 20 in Gorka District. It was the largest meeting in the party’s history; more then 7000 local members are taking part in discussions. The Nepalese revolution is in a state of limbo. The current government resigned in May, but continues in a caretaker fashion, as no alternative has come forward.
The debate around the Murray Darling Basin crisis has brought to public attention the need to rethink agriculture in Australia. Today, sustainable food production is relegated to niche status — squeezed out by methods of farming that are seen to be more efficient. However, the efficiency of the dominant mode of agriculture relies heavily on chemical inputs for fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides. This agriculture degrades soils, pollutes waterways and contributes heavily to climate change.
The 2011 UN climate conference in Cancun, Mexico, is not expected to agree to sharp cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. But the UN and rich nations will push for the conference to endorse a carbon trading scheme to protect forests, known as Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD). Below is an “open letter to the indigenous peoples of the world” from Bolivian President Evo Morales. Released in September, the letter calls for the protection of the world’s forests, and also for opposition to REDD and other carbon trading schemes. ***
On October 23, the Age reported that increased alcohol prices are driving many young people to switch to the party drug ecstasy, according to drug researchers, nightclub owners and young people themselves. “It is cheaper and convenient to use pills”, said Professor Jake Najman, director of the University of Queensland’s Alcohol and Drug Research and Education Centre. “A lot of young people are making that choice to switch between alcohol and ecstasy. Pills can be cheaper, there is no question.”
Representatives of 76 indigenous peoples said they reject market-based mechanisms as a false solution to the climate crisis at a recent international conference. They said UN-backed carbon trading schemes such as Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD), “are offered as solutions but have negative impacts and cause divisions among indigenous peoples, whose access and control of forest resources are eroded”.
Irish election officials said on November 26 that Sinn Fein candidate Pearse Doherty had won a long-awaited by-election in Donegal with an overwhelming 40% of the vote. The election was blocked for months before it was forced on Prime Minister Brian Cowen by the Irish courts. Cowen faces a struggle to win votes on raising taxes and cutting spending when the 2011 budget is unveiled in parliament on December 7.
The Rise of the Green Left: Inside the Worldwide Ecosocialist Movement By Derek Wall Pluto Press, 190 pages, paperback www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745330365& Review by Mat Ward As the threat of climate catastrophe looms ever larger, Derek Wall has written what he calls "an explicit call to non-violent arms".
Mulrunji Doomadgee died in police custody on Palm Island in November 2004. Despite reviewing findings highly critical of police by coroner Brian Hine at the third Coronial Inquest in May, on November 23 the Queensland Criminal Justice Commission (CMC) found there was insufficient evidence to prosecute the officers involved.
The federal Labor government of Prime Minister Julia Gillard filed a submission to Fair Work Australia (FWA) on November18, which backed away from its year-long commitment to support the Australian Services Union (ASU) application for an Equal Remuneration Order for social and community sector and disability workers. The government said it supported the principle of pay equity, and agreed community sector workers were underpaid, but its submission argued against granting equal pay to this historically exploited section of the workforce because of budget constraints.