Issue 620

Australia

MELBOURNE — Workers and their supporters are continuing to picket the ABM Plastics factory in Braeside. The picket, which began on January 21, is aimed at forcing the company's owner, Abe Waisman, to pay $2.5 million in entitlements such as
Norman Brewer, Sydney "On the hottest day last month, the [NSW] minister responsible for Redfern, Frank Sartor, walked into the offices of the Aboriginal Housing Company [AHC] and dropped a bombshell: he didn't want any Aboriginal housing on the
DARWIN — Mass meetings of teachers held over the past few weeks across the Northern Territory have strongly endorsed the decision of the Australian Education Union (AEU) to reject the NT Labor government's latest wage-rise offer of 11% over two
Zoe Kenny, Sydney Students around the country responded angrily to the news that the government introduced its "voluntary student unionism" (VSU) legislation into federal parliament on March 16. The government is attempting to push through the
A gay refugee from Iran is currently being held in South Australia's Baxter detention centre. He is applying for a bridging visa and waiting for his appeal to be heard by the High Court. The detainee's name cannot be made public, but two Adelaide
John Gauci, Sydney The NSW Teachers Federation has become the first union in the state to call for Unions NSW — the new name of the NSW Labor Council — to organise a mass delegates/union representatives meeting to plan a mass union protest
BRISBANE — At workplace meetings held around the country in the early part of February, members of the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) employed in Centrelink overwhelmingly endorsed a union bargaining position for upcoming negotiations
Bill Mason, Brisbane While tensions continue to rise between the Aboriginal community on Palm Island, near Townsville, and the Queensland state Labor government, it has been revealed that some police officers involved in the "riot" on the island
MELBOURNE — Jack Thomas, a 31-year-old former taxi driver facing charges under the federal government's "anti-terrorism laws", won a significant victory on March 15 when the prosecution's appeal against Thomas's bail was thrown out of court. Thomas
Andrew Martin& Lynda Hansen, Brisbane On March 7, 180 Australian Manufacturing Workers Union delegates, activists and officials met to discuss the AMWU's response to the anti-union industrial "reforms" that the Howard government plans to push
BRISBANE — On March 11, former NSW Builders Labourers Union secretary Jack Mundey addressed a meeting attended by 72 plumbers to discuss the Howard government's planned anti-union legislation. Mundey told Green Left Weekly, "The important fight
BRISBANE — On March 12, 75 people crowded into the Terminus Hotel in South Brisbane to discuss the impact of the federal Coalition government's industrial relations agenda. Organised by the newly formed Brisbane Labour History Association, the
BRISBANE — The Festival of Women's Ideas into Action conference, held on March 3-4 at the Power House in New Farm turned into a conference on the crisis facing women's welfare services. Attended by 200 women, most of them working in women's
BRISBANE — "The Venezuelan people would give their lives to defend the revolution, to defend Chavez", Venezuelan activist Eulalia Whitney told an official launch of the Venezuela solidarity campaign on March 11. Thirty people attended a night of
Thousands of people rallied in cities and towns across Australia on March 18-20 to mark the second anniversary of the US-led invasion of Iraq. The protests demanded that PM John Howard reverse his decision to send more Australian troops to Iraq,

World

Rohan Pearce Even if one of the prisoners had survived, "both [of his] legs would have had to be amputated", a report by the US army on the deaths of two Afghan prisoners, who were chained to the ceiling during the assault, noted. The investigation
More than 130,000 high school students walked out of school to join March 8 rallies protesting a new law restructuring schools. The bill cut the number of subjects that schools guarantee to fund to, in effect, reading, writing, calculating and using
The Onondaga Nation filed a lawsuit on March 11 claiming that it owned 8000 square kilometres of land along the New York-Pennsylvania border, including the city of Syracuse. The tribe claims that the land was illegally taken from it through a series
On March 14, Saudi Arabian police raided a wedding hall, arresting 110 men in what authorities have described as a "gay wedding celebration". Eighty of the men were released, but 30 have been charged with various offences. Homosexuality is illegal in
On March 16, the US Senate approved opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling, voting 51 to 49 to defeat an attempt to remove ANWR drilling allowance from the budget bill. The oil industry believes that there are billions of gallons
Guatemala's president ratified the US-Central America Free Trade Agreement on March 15, hours after police killed two activists in a violent attempt to break up a protest calling for a referendum on the trade agreement. By lowering US tariffs, CAFTA
Fred Fuentes, Hanoi Enrique Ramos, president of the Venezuelan National Institute of Youth, told the February 27-28 Hanoi preparatory meeting for the 16th World Festival of Youth and Students, to be held in Caracas, that the festival "would be a
On March 19, 22 Georgetown University students entered their sixth day of hunger strike, demanding the university pays all its workers a living wage. Under university regulations, subcontracted janitors must be paid US$8.50 an hour. One janitor,
Doug Lorimer On March 11 the US government announced it would back the diplomatic efforts of Britain, France and Germany — the "EU-3" — in offering Iran economic incentives to abandon its plans to carry out uranium enrichment for its nuclear
Stuart Munckton On March 11 the constitutional chamber of Venezuela's Supreme Court annulled the infamous decision made by the court on August 14, 2002, that set free the four military officers who led the April 2002 coup against left-wing
Rohan Pearce On March 16, Iraq's new 275-member National Assembly met for the first time since US-sponsored elections were held on January 30. The parliament met inside Baghdad's Green Zone — the US-controlled area that houses most of the
Members of the Gana and Gwi bushmen tribes of the Kalahari used the March 8-12 World Tourism Fair in Berlin to launch a boycott call. The Gana and Gwi are calling for a moratorium on tourist development in the Kalahiri Game Reserve until they are
On March 14, Judge Frank O'Donell declared a mistrial in the prosecution of five peace activists, members of the Trident Plughshares, charged with criminal damage after de-arming a warplane at Shannon Airport in 2003. The Trident plane was bound for
Allen Myers, Phnom Penh The Cambodian government is under pressure to allow a controversial trial of the anti-HIV drug tenofovir. A planned trial of the drug was banned by Prime Minister Hun Sen last August after vocal protests by sex workers, whom
Across the world on March 19 and 20, activists rallied against the war in Iraq. In London, up to 200,000 people marched in on the US embassy, chanting, "George Bush, Uncle Sam, Iraq will be your Vietnam!". A full report on the London protest is
Eva Cheng Just as China completed its top leadership transition during the 10-day annual parliamentary session which ended on March 14, it upped the ante with Taiwan, seeking to intimidate any future efforts by the island to seek formal
James J. Brittain The US and the Colombian state have, since the 1960s, implemented a coercive socio-economic and military campaign to destroy the left-wing Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). However, this half-century effort has
Alison Dellit On March 10, US district Court Judge Jack Weinstein dismissed a lawsuit brought by more than 100 Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange against the 37 corporations that manufactured the deadly chemical. The plaintiffs claimed US
On March 14, several international experts arrived in Israel to address a meeting of the Knesset's Constitution, Law and Judiciary Committee, scheduled on March 15 to discuss the restrictions imposed on nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu. They
In early March, an Israeli military paramedic was arrested and sentenced to seven days' imprisonment for distributing sweets and fruit to Palestinian detainees in the prison he worked in. Reportedly a reservist drafted into the army, the paramedic
On March 14, 250 Israeli high school students signed a document declaring they would refuse compulsory military service because they "oppose the occupation over the Palestinian territories". The 17- and 18-year-olds sent the statement to Israeli
Feminist writer and human rights activist Nawal el Sadaawi has announced she will run for president in Egypt's September election. On February 26, President Hosni Mubarak announced that the country's law would be amended to allow more than one
Federico Fuentes As the dust settles from a wave of mobilisations that paralysed a nation, Bolivia finds itself with a president increasingly unable to govern. Once again, the indigenous peoples of Bolivia have shown that real power lies in the
On March 14, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination released the reports of its 66th session, including the judgement that New Zealand's Foreshore and Seabed Act was discriminatory because it extinguished native title over the
Marce Cameron The February 19 Good Weekend, the magazine supplement of the Sydney Morning Herald and the Melbourne Age, ran a cover story titled "Children of the Revolution" with a nice picture of smiling Cuban kids. "[Cuba's President] Fidel
On March 24-28, Sydney will host one of the most significant gatherings of left-wing leaders from Asia and the Pacific in some years. The Third Asia-Pacific Solidarity Conference is being attended by activists from the Philippines to Indonesia, from

Editorial

In a major victory for the international anti-war movement, on March 15 Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, one of the staunchest supporters of the US-led occupation of Iraq, announced that he would begin withdrawing Italy's combat troops from

Culture

I do not knowwhat will happen after I die.I do not want to know.But I would like the Potter to make a whistlefrom the clay of my throat.May this whistle fall into the handsof a cheeky and naughty childand the child to blow hard on the whistle
REVIEW BY ALEX MILLER SuperpatriotismBy Michael ParentiCity Lights Books 2004160 pages Michael Parenti's latest book is an impassioned and eloquent essay on "superpatriotism", Parenti's term for the ideology of US free-market global capitalism.
REVIEW BY EDMUND PARKER Revolutionary Volume 2Immortal TechniqueViper Records 2003Visit <http://www.viperrecords.com> Britney Aguilera? Robbie Timberlake? Paulini Sebastian? I occasionally have the misfortune to watch ABC's Rage on a
REVIEW BY JIM MCILROY To Truly Stand by Each Other: The Eureka Rebellion and the Continuing Struggle for DemocracyBy Hamish McPhersonBookmarks, Sydney 2004$5 (pb) "We swear by the Southern Cross to stand truly by each other, and fight to defend