Few people from the 20th century can really claim to have changed history. One of them was General Vo Nguyen Giap, who led the Vietnamese people to defeat the French and American empires. Giap died on October 4, aged 102. Mainly remembered as a military leader, Giap was also one of Vietnam’s most significant political leaders. He was a revolutionary intellectual, an environmentalist and a campaigner for progressive change within Vietnam.
Father Rod Bower has been the rector at the Gosford Anglican Church for 14 years. His cheeky and very direct signs on the church board have received up to 50,000 views and thousands of shares on Facebook. He spoke to Green Left Weekly's Niko Leka about joining the convergence for refugee rights in Canberra on November 18. *** What sort of responses have you had to your messages of support for asylum seekers?
Left Hand Drive Craig McGregor Affirm Press, 2013 334 pages $24.95 (pb) Two experiences of institutional conformity — as a boarder at an elite private school and as an Australian army conscript — bequeathed a lifelong “fear and hatred of authoritarian systems” to Craig “Rob-Roy” McGregor, a blues-playing guitarist, would-be rebel, fringe Bohemian, journalist, novelist, cultural studies professor and fierce believer in equality.
Murder in Mississippi John Safran Penguin, 2013 368 pages. There probably has never been a true-crime book quite like Murder in Mississippi. Melbourne-based “documentary filmmaker of sorts” John Safran filmed a segment for his most recent TV show Race Relations that featured Mississippian white supremacist Richard Barrett. Barrett took legal action, however, preventing any footage of him being used.
Madlands: A Journey to Change the Mind of a Climate Sceptic Anna Rose Melbourne University Press, 2012 357 pages, $19.99 (pb) Anna Rose, a young climate change activist, was warned by her many colleagues in the environment movement of the risks of agreeing to do a television documentary, screened earlier this year by the ABC, pitting her against the former Liberal Party senator, science minister and climate change denialist Nick Minchin.
The Israeli authorities must drop all charges against a Palestinian human rights lawyer now released on bail, Amnesty International said. A military judge at Ofer Military Court ordered the release of Anas Barghouti on bail because confessions from other detainees submitted as evidence failed to prove he is a security threat. The accusations against him relate to alleged activities from over a year ago.
October has been a month of sharp shifts in French politics. On October 4, an Ifop poll in the French weekly Nouvel Observateur showed the xenophobic and racist National Front (FN) of Marine Le Pen leading voting intentions for next year's European elections with the support of 24% of those interviewed ― up 3% in six months. On October 13, in the second round of the by-election for the canton of Brignoles (in the Mediterranean department of Var), the FN easily defeated the mainstream conservative Union for a Popular Movement (UMP), by 53.9% to 46.1%.
Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison on August 7 for leaking classified US government documents to WikiLeaks. These documents revealed evidence of war crimes and human rights abuses carried out at the behest of the US government. Diplomatic cables leaked by Manning also show the lengths to which the Bush administration was prepared to go to ensure that those responsible for such crimes would remain unreachable under international law. Immunity
The Business Council of Australia (BCA) is a powerful right-wing lobby for big corporations, which has spearheaded the push for deregulation and privatisation in Australia for four decades. It has also led the war on trade unions and the promotion of individual contracts to replace collective bargaining.
The result of the October 19 Fremantle Council election was a real glimmer of hope for us in Western Australia, particularly after the bleak state and federal results this year. Under the first-past-the post system used in WA council elections, I was re-elected in Hilton Ward with 58% of the vote, compared with 33% in 2009. In the other wards, the incumbent councillors defeated more conservative opponents. Mayor and Greens member Brad Pettitt won more than 70% of the vote, defeating former state and federal Liberal candidate Matthew Hanssen.
Representatives from the Nyoongar tent embassy gave a presentation forum on Nyoongar native title at Murdoch University on October 15, hosted by the Kulbardi Aboriginal Centre. The focus of the forum was the ongoing negotiations between the Western Australian state government and the South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council (SWALSC) to extinguish native title in the Nyoongar territories of WA (roughly the region south of Geraldton and east to Esperance) in exchange for a $1.3 billion cash and land package.
Members of the Chilean community and other Latin American supporters rallied outside NSW parliament on October 23 to protest against Liberal Upper House whip Peter Phelps, who has praised Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet as a "hero." Protesters are demanding an apology from Phelps and disciplinary action against him from Premier Barry O'Farrell. Phelps made a speech to parliament on September 11, the 40th anniversary of the military coup that overthrew elected socialist president Salvador Allende in 1973. Phelps described Pinochet as a "morally courageous man”.
Last month, the High Court heard a case brought by lawyers for Ranjini, a Tamil woman who was accepted as a refugee but is being held in indefinite detention because ASIO considers her a security threat. Ranjini is one of 47 people in this situation. They face the prospect of spending the rest of their lives in detention because ASIO claims that they are “likely to engage in acts prejudicial to Australia’s security”. Ranjini’s lawyers said detaining people for life without charge, trial or conviction for any crime is illegal. The High Court has reserved its decision.
Immigration minister Scott Morrison reintroduced temporary protection visas (TPVs) on October 18 in a two-page “regulation” that amends the Migration Act and strips many rights and protections for refugees in Australia. Morrison said the move was part of the government's “border protection policy” and aimed to “discourage” people from making “dangerous voyages to Australia”.
The Australian Capital Territory assembly passed a same-sex marriage bill on October 22. The Marriage Equality (Same-Sex) Bill 2013 allows same-sex marriages of ACT residents and non-residents, and is a huge step forward for marriage equality. The ACT is the first Australian jurisdiction to legalise same-sex marriage, after a mammoth fight against a federal same-sex marriage ban. The Labor ACT government passed the bill with the support of Greens MLA Shane Rattenbury while the Liberal Party opposed it. The bill passed narrowly, nine votes to eight.
Soh Sook Hwa, a member of the Socialist Party of Malaysia, is taking part in the conference “How to make a revolution” organised by Resistance. Resistance member Sean Brocklehurst interviewed her about the political campaigns she is involved with in Malaysia. *** What is happening in Malaysian politics at the moment? There was a historic election in May this year. Many Malaysians expected the government to lose power but the ruling coalition, Barisan Nasional (BN), was re-elected with a majority of seats and 47% of the popular vote.