Issue 613

Australia

Nick Everett, Canberra Department of Employment and Workplace Relations employees have voted overwhelmingly against a non-union agreement put forward by DEWR management. The result, declared on January 27, was 78% against the proposal. DEWR
Kamala Emanuel, Hobart Twenty people attended an "Iraq pre-election fire sale" on the Salamanca Lawns on January 29. The Peace Coalition organised the action to draw attention to the massive privatisation of Iraqi assets that has been prepared or
Chris Slee, Melbourne A meeting held by the Moreland Peace Group in Brunswick on January 24 discussed the arrest of Jack Thomas under Australia's "anti-terrorism" laws. Thomas is being held in Barwon prison near Geelong. His brother Les Thomas
Jim McIlroy, Brisbane Around 400 Aboriginal protesters and their supporters rallied in Roma Street Forum and marched through city streets to Musgrave Park to mark Invasion Day, January 26, the day white settlers first arrived in Australia. The
Sarah Stephen, Sydney Refugee supporters rallied on January 25 outside the Downing Centre Local Court. The rally coincided with a court appearance by refugee-rights activists who have been charged with allegedly helping escapees from the Villawood
Dale Mills, Sydney The renewal of the Terrorism (Police Powers) Act 2002 by the NSW parliament looks certain after a review. The law allows a senior police officer to give special powers to police that will suspend civil liberties. This
Stuart Martin, Melbourne Electrical Trades Union (ETU) members have received a minor setback in their fight for an enterprise agreement with BlueScope Steel at the Western Port facility in Hastings, Victoria. On January 17 the Australian Industrial
Chris Latham, Perth On January 18, construction workers on a number of Perth building sites walked off the job over fears that a heavy haze that has been affecting Perth was hazardous to outdoor workers. The stoppages caused outrage from
Roberto Jorquera Solidarity activists from around Australia are preparing for an international solidarity brigade to Venezuela in July-August. The Brigade will include participation in the World Federation of Youth and Students (WFDY) conference
Tamara Pearson, Sydney With just one day's notice, 60 people gathered in Bankstown to welcome Mamdouh Habib home on January 29, after he was released from the US prison camp at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. The rally was organised by the Justice for
Selena Black, Sydney "No-one is fooled by the US-orchestrated Iraqi elections: they will not bring peace and democracy to the country. Instead they have been the 'justification' for the more intense bombing, killing and torture campaign of Iraqis
HOBART — Incat management has agreed to some of the demands put by unions following industrial action in support of a 5% wage rise and a 38-hour week. Following the lead of 20 electricians who took strike action the previous week, 100 workers
Kate Howard, Newcastle Labour-hire staff working at the Telstra call centre in Newcastle gained a significant victory over their employer, Choice HR, at the Australian Industrial Relations Commission on January 21. Last August, Choice HR reduced

World

Jon Lamb Cuba's shining example A nation that has been forced to endure major economic upheavals and constraints, Cuba is a shining example of what can be done to diversify agricultural production and meet energy needs in a sustainable way.
Polish police arrested 28 demonstrators on January 26, at a rally to protest the planned presence of Russian President Vladimir Putin at a memorial service at the Auschwitz concentration camp on January 27. The protesters argued that Putin was a war
On January 26, Pentagon police turned away five "Gold Star" families (those who have a relative killed in Iraq) who wanted to confront Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld about the reasons for the war in Iraq. Police said the group, which did not have
The leaders of the more-than-30 unions that make up the Central American Common Union met on January 18 in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, to establish the next moves in their campaign against the US-Central America Free Trade Agreement. They slammed CAFTA
Cartoon character Sponge Bob SquarePants, is a sea sponge who lives in a pineapple under the sea, whose movie is currently showing in Australia, has been condemned by evangelical Christian groups. Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family and
Michael Leutert Since the reunification of East and West Germany, the Party of Democratic Socialism has become a major player in electoral politics in the east. At times, the PDS polls the majority of votes in the areas that were formerly part of
The member organisations from the National Left Committee (CNI) and the Peruvian Progressive Parties (PPP) announced on January 27 through a written document the formation of a "Broad Front" (FA) with the purpose of building a real alternative to the
On January 25, Israeli troops rolled into the town of Saida and placed the whole village under curfew: since then, no-one has been allowed to leave his or her home. One of those in the town is Australian aid worker Donna Mulhearn, who sent the
Max Lane "The death toll in Aceh from the tsunami is closer to 300,000 people", Thamrin Ananda, chairperson of the Aceh People's Democratic Struggle Front (FPDRA), told Green Left Weekly by phone from Jakarta on January 27. The FPDRA has been
Jeff Shantz, Toronto A controversial report released by the Washington Post on January 23 has put a harsh spotlight back on the Canadian government's plans for involvement in the US-sponsored missile defence shield program. The report, which
James Petras A major diplomatic and political conflict has exploded between Colombia and Venezuela, after the revelation of a Colombian government covert operation in Venezuela that involved the recruitment of Venezuelan military and security
According to police estimates, more than 200,000 people participated in the January 26 rally to mark the beginning of the fifth World Social Forum. Finishing on January 31, the WSF brought together 150,000 activists from more than 100 countries,
Raul Bassi In the early hours of December 31, more than 4000 people were enjoying local rock band Los Callejeros in Buenos Aires when suddenly joy became misery. A fire ripped through the Republica Cromagnon nightclub, killing 190 people, and
On January 26, British Home Secretary Charles Clarke outlined planned "control orders", which would enable the government to subject those suspected of terrorism to house arrest, curfews or tagging, without needing to try them. The announcement
Lara Pullin Within hours of the federal budget being passed on January 28, outraged students and staff occupied the University of El Salvador, vowing to lead national mass actions to overturn it. They have called for mass protests at the national
Alex Miller Carolyn Leckie, one the Scottish Socialist Party's six members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs), has been sentenced to seven days in jail for refusing to pay a fine relating to her arrest at an anti-nuclear protest at Faslane Naval
John Pilger I tried to phone her the other day. I still have a number she gave me, which I could call infrequently and exchange a few words. It was fruitless to try this time; the hurried click at the other end was an echo of her Kafkaesque
Doug Lorimer On January 15, US Army soldier Charles Graner was sentenced by a court martial to 10 years' imprisonment for his role in physically abusing and sexually humiliating Iraqis held at the US-run Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad in 2003. A few

Editorial

For the last three years, two Australian citizens have been imprisoned without trial, tortured and defamed by another country's government in clear contravention of international law and all standards of basic humanity. On January 28, one of these

Culture

Indonesia's Secret War in AcehBy John MartinkusRandom House340 pages, $32.95 (pb) REVIEW BY JON LAMB The social and political impact of the tsunami tragedy in Aceh is becoming clearer as the process of aid delivery and reconstruction slowly
We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families: Stories from RwandaBy Philip Gourevitch1998, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York356 pages, US$10.50 from <http://www.amazon.com> REVIEW BY SIMON TAYLER Stories
Which Side Are You On? Trying to Be for Labor When It's Flat on Its BackBy Thomas GeogheganThe New Press, 2004355 pages, $37 (pb) REVIEW BY PHIL SHANNON An unhappy love affair drove Thomas Geoghegan to his unexpected career as a labour lawyer.