Issue 653

Australia

Justin Tutty, Darwin The Radioactive Waste Management Act was passed by federal parliament on December 8 after debate was postponed to allow 20 days for an inquiry into the legislation. The inquiry was uncommonly brief — it failed to visit the
Amy McDonnell, Canberra Anti-war activists are gearing up to "welcome" British PM Tony Blair to Australia. The ACT Network Opposing War (ACTNOW) is starting to organise a protest outside Parliament House in Canberra, to be held when the pro-war
Sue Bolton, Melbourne The WorkChoices legislation was rammed through federal parliament just before Christmas and is due to be enacted on March 29. Many unionists believe that the union movement needs a national stoppage to signal to employers
Ian Jamieson, Fremantle In an Australia-wide precedent, waterside workers in Fremantle have won the right to insist on safety standards on ships bearing asbestos. During the Christmas break, wharfies employed by Patricks came across suspicious
John Tognolini, Sydney When 41-year-old scaffolder and father of three Paul Hughes fell eight stories to his death in Sydney's CBD on January 6, it put the spotlight not only on one of the building industry's most dangerous occupations but also
Sue Bull, Ballarat After the defeat by the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) last year of two ballots for a non-union enterprise agreement at the University of Ballarat, management resorted to offering Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs)
Adam Baker, Brisbane Since their arrival here in 1987, Jim McIlroy and Coral Wynter have become permanent fixtures in the local activist scene. There has been barely a left or progressive campaign in the last 18 years that has not benefited from
Stuart Martin, Melbourne The workers at Colrain's Derrimut site who have been fighting the imposition of individual contracts (AWAs) won on December 19, despite the company's use of scabs, physical intimidation and the police to attempt to break
Pip Hinman, Sydney On January 9, ALP leader Kim Beazley repeated his call for the Howard government to commit to a timetable for the withdrawal of Australian troops from Iraq. According to Beazley, "The war in Iraq is ... significantly compromising
Zoe Kenny, Sydney At its annual conference in November, attended by 400 delegates, the NSW branch of Young Labor adopted a policy supporting the reinstatement of a national draft for high-school students. NSW Young Labor will lobby for inclusion of
SYDNEY — Sixty people gathered in front of the DIMIA offices on January 20 to protest the removal of the West Papuan refugees to the Christmas Island and call for their release into the community while their asylum claims are being assessed. The
Farida Iqbal, Sydney On January 11, the first meeting of the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate was held in Sydney, attended by government and business representatives from six of the world's biggest coal-exporting nations.
Kerryn Williams, Sydney A protest by Sydney's Sudanese community and supporters on January 17 at the Egyptian consulate condemned the killings of dozens of Sudanese refugees in Cairo on December 30 and demanded that those responsible be brought to
Simon Butler, Newcastle In the days immediately following the racist riots in Cronulla late last year, text messages began circulating in Newcastle advertising a "Cronulla-style" rally at the local Nobby's Beach. Within 48 hours of receiving this

World

Roberto Jorquera The National Assembly (AN) elections held on December 4 marked another significant step forward in Venezuela's Bolivarian revolution led by socialist president Hugo Chavez. Pro-Chavez candidates won all 167 seats, receiving nearly
Eva Cheng The sixth ministerial summit of the World Trade Organisation on December 13-18 was only saved from the brink of yet another collapse after strong-arm tactics and divide-and-rule manoeuvring by the imperialist countries defeated the
Roberto Jorquera The election of the Socialist Party's Michelle Bachelet as president on January 11, with 3.6 million votes (53%), was greeted with street parties throughout Chile. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez immediately rang Bachelet and
Eva Cheng Since Beijing started to dismantle China's rural communes in 1979, a process that was completed in 1984, only one village is widely known to have taken the bold step to revert back to collective production. Nanjie Village in Henan
Last month, during a visit to Cuba by East Timorese Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, Cuban President Fidel Castro announced that Cuba is prepared to send up to 300 doctors to East Timor, in addition to the 65 currently working there. This year, more
Over the past year, the major US auto-makers have suffered an ongoing profit squeeze. In the first nine months of 2005, General Motors and Ford lost several billion US dollars. These losses, which reflect the increasing competitive pressure within
Stuart Munckton On January 12, as part of Venezuela's commitment to provide cheap heating fuel to the US poor, an agreement was signed with Maine state governor John Baldacci to provide heating oil at a 40% discount to low-income residents in
Michael Shaik The collapse of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has caused a storm of controversy around the world as opinion-makers on left and right have vied with one another to define his life, his career and his "legacy". On January 7, the
Rohan Pearce As the third anniversary of the invasion of Iraq approaches, the imperial ambitions of the Bush junior White House are running smack-bang into the reality of what seems to be a militarily unwinnable counterinsurgency war. The reserves
On January 19, at least 100 political leaders and movement activists were arrested or house-detained following early morning raids by King Gyanendra's autocratic army, which seized power in a February 2005 coup. The arrests took place on the eve of a
A United Nations report leaked to the Australian and reported in its January 19 edition found that under Indonesia's brutal occupation of East Timor between 1975 and 1999 some 183,000 East Timorese people were killed. Public beheadings, genital
Tania Roth On January 13, the ARD public television's magazine Panorama and the national newspaper Die Sueddeutsche Zeitung (SD) broke the news that in 2003, two agents of the German secret service (BND) stayed in Iraq and worked as informants for
Doug Lorimer The final outcome of Iraq's December 15 parliamentary election was announced by the country's electoral commission on January 20. The United Iraqi Alliance, the coalition of Shiite religious parties that dominates the current
John Pilger On Christmas Eve, I dropped in on Brian Haw, whose hunched, pacing figure was just visible through the freezing fog. For four-and-a-half years, Brian has camped in Parliament Square with a graphic display of photographs that show the
Federico Fuentes After 500 years of domination and colonialism, more than 50 years since the introduction of universal suffrage and five years of intense social struggle, the indigenous majority of Bolivia have, for the first time, elected one of
On January 17, more than 200 rank-and-file workers demonstrated at the Human Resource Ministry in Putrajaya, forcing the deputy minister to meet with a delegation of protesters. The protest was led by the Coalition of Factory Workers and Trade Unions
Jim McIlroy, Hong Kong Around 1000 militant protesters against the World Trade Organisation ministerial meeting were arrested on December 17 in a confrontation with police, dubbed "The Siege of Wan Chai" by the December 18 Hong Kong Sunday Morning
Veteran member of the Venezuelan Communist Party and deputy to the Latin American Parliament Carolus Wimmer will be touring Australia next month. He will be address public meetings on the dates below. Make sure you don't miss this opportunity to hear
Doug Lorimer Iran's January 9 decision to reopen its uranium enrichment research facilities after a voluntary year-long suspension has been seized on by the US and its European Union allies to push for Iran to be referred by the UN's Vienna-based
Forty-two Sri Lankan military personnel were killed in the four weeks to December 28, in attacks believed to have been carried out by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in retaliation for the killing of LTTE supporters. The LTTE, which fought a
Patrick Bond, Johannesburg Unless political elites change strategy and tactics in 2006, North-South relations will continue to degenerate. By the end of last year, opportunities ranging from rock concerts to summits and trade negotiations were
The Sixth World Social Forum will be held in Caracas on January 24-29, and is expected to involve some 100,000 participants in more than 2000 events. Themes include "Power, politics and the fight for social emancipation" and "Imperial strategies and

Editorial

Over the last few weeks it has been confirmed by the government-initiated commission of inquiry that AWN Ltd, Australia's wheat export monopoly, paid $300 million in bribes to the government of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein between 1999 and 2003 to

Culture

The United States of NothingWitten and directed by Stephen SewellStarring Roy Billing, Katrina Foster, Kristian Schmid and Amelia CormackWorld premiere at the SBW Stables Theatre, Kings Cross, SydneyTo February 4 REVIEW BY HELEN JARVIS With his
Cutting Edge: The Last Abortion Clinic — Looks at how increasing US state abortion regulations and the decline in abortion providers will affect the pro-choice movement's influence in this enduring debate. SBS, Tuesday, January 24, 8.30pm. The
Their names sink down in the nation's history.SIEV X. The strange name of a shameful story.353 children and adults gently sought out our compassion,We could hear them from behind the fencesWhile we saw their souls float away.They are asleep.
Tristan and YseultKneehigh TheatreThe Seymour Centre, SydneyUntil February 19 REVIEW BY BRENDAN DOYLE Live theatre should be a joyful experience. Who wants to be bored or lectured to? The audience should feel emotionally and intellectually
Jean Paul Sartre: A LifeBy Annie Cohen-SolalThe New Press, 2005602 pages, $29.95 (pb) REVIEW BY PHIL SHANNON "Shoot Jean-Paul Sartre!" was the slogan of the 5000 ex-soldiers demonstrating in the Champs-Elysees in 1960 in support of France's war