Issue 656

Australia

SYDNEY — "Captain Cook's a crook" yelled members of the Maritime Union of Australia as 50 people picketed Captain Cook Cruises at Circular Quay on February 7 to protest against the company's decision to sack an employee simply for his union
Dale Mills, Sydney NSW Police are to trial Tasers hand-held stun guns that fire two metal probes attached to copper wires, delivering 55,000-volt electric shock that lasts for five seconds. Victims typically fall to the ground and involuntarily
Ron Perkins, Perth Following the surprise resignation last month of Geoff Gallop as WA premier, a by-election for his vacated seat of Victoria Park will be held on March 11. Victoria Park has been held by the ALP continuously since 1953. In such
Pip Hinman Around the globe, anti-war activists are gearing up for the protest rallies to mark the third anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. Across Australia, activists are doing the same, spurred on by the oil-for-food scandal, the new terror
Sue Bolton, Melbourne On February 8, 1200 angry members of the United Firefighters Union (UFU) marched to Victoria's Parliament House steps to protest the stalling by the Metropolitan Fire and Emergency Services Board (MFB) on negotiations over a
Kerry Smith The Refugee Council of Australia, which represents more than 100 organisations and individuals working with and for refugees in Australia and around the world, has questioned the Howard government's listing of the Kurdistan Workers
Dale Mills Ciaron O'Reilly, a Catholic peace activist, says he was treated in a heavy-handed way by two Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) officers when he was detained at Brisbane Airport on February 3. O'Reilly, an Australian
Sue Bolton, Melbourne Sixty-five people attended the feature session of the Socialist Party's two-day national summer school on "The great debate — Who would best represent working class people?" at Trades Hall Bar on February 6. Speakers for
Tim Doughney, Melbourne "To not speak out against racism would be cowardly", Dean Mighell, Victorian secretary of the Electrical Trades Union, told an anti-racist public forum held at the Brunswick Town Hall on February 9. He said workers should
Bruce Marlowe and Marcel Cameron Australian interest in Venezuela is growing, boding well for the forthcoming tour of Dr Carolus Wimmer, Venezuelan MP to the Latin American parliament (click here for details). Partially spurred by the United
Greens MLC Sylvia Hale and feminist doctor Kamala Emanuel were among speakers at a February 6 action in Sydney to protest against politicians denying women their right to choose to use the abortion drug RU486. On February 9, the Senate passed a
Bob Elliston, Hobart A five-year campaign to save part of historic Recherche Bay, in south-east Tasmania, has been won, with all parties involved having achieved a satisfactory resolution. The agreement was announced on February 8 by Labor Premier

World

Amnesty International sent a letter to the US State Department on February 6 condemning the treatment of five Cubans held in the US for seven years on espionage charges. Known as the Cuban Five, the men were gathering information on right-wing
Rohan Pearce On January 24, Iraqi reporter Mahmoud Zaal was killed during a shoot-out between US occupation forces and Iraqi rebels in the city of Ramadi. He was the second Iraqi journalist to have been killed this year; 35 reporters and other
Jim McIlroy &Coral Wynter, Caracas The United States government has infiltrated special forces troops into Venezuela along the frontier with Colombia, as part of its destablisation plans against President Hugo Chavez, according to US writer and
Merhdad Valipour Up to 500 bus drivers in Iran's capital were arrested on January 27 in an attempt by the Iranian authorities to pre-empt strike action called for January 28 by the 9000-member Union of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company.
Halliburton subsidiary Kellog Brown & Root has been awarded a contract worth up to US$385 million to build temporary immigration detention centres in the US. According to the February 4 New York Times, KBR executives said the centres would be built
BHP Billiton has announced plans to sell its Tintaya copper mine in Peru following disputes with local residents. Last year, the Australian mining giant was forced to close down its operations for one month after residents of the nearby town Espinar
Seven activists who blockaded the British distribution centre of Israel's biggest state-owned agricultural export company Agrexco in November 2004 were acquitted of all charges on January 26. The activists had been charged with "aggravated trespass
In the January 25 elections to the Palestinian Legislative Council, the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) won a landslide victory. The US and the European Union have stated that unless Hamas renounces violence, disarms and changes its 1988 charter
Percy Ngonyama South African President Thabo Mbeki's "State of the Nation" address, delivered on February 3 in Cape Town at the highly militarised opening of parliament, was a further blow for the country's poor masses. While recommitting to
On March 19, the third anniversary of the US-led invasion of Iraq, Veterans for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Military Families Speak Out, Gold Star Families for Peace and hurricane survivors' groups will
Jim McIlroy &Coral Wynter, Caracas On February 2, the Latin American TV channel Telesur and the Arabic channel Al Jazeera signed an agreement to exchange information and technology, formalising a growing link that was initiated when Telesur began
Michael Karadjis Beginning late last year, tens of thousands of Vietnamese workers downed tools at dozens of foreign-invested enterprises (FIEs) in southern industrial zones around Ho Chi Minh City, demanding implementation of a 40-48% wage rise
Trevor Ngwane is a well-known campaigner against the ANC government's privatisation and commercialisation of basic services, like power and water. Ngwane lives in Pimville and thanks to an electricity connection provided by grassroots campaigners, he
Eva Cheng On January 26, after a seven-year battle, the Seoul High Court awarded US$85 million in compensation to a third of South Korea's 20,000 known victims of the chemical weapon Agent Orange (AO) used by the US military during the 1961-73
The government of the Czech Republic has sent a letter to the Communist Youth Movement (KSM) announcing its intention to ban the organisation. The letter justified the move by claiming the KSM's goals interfere with those of Czech political parties,
HAVANA — On February 3, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation awarded Venezuela's socialist president Hugo Chavez the Jose Marti International Award, for his contribution to Latin American and Caribbean unity and the
Stuart Munckton The February 2 expulsion from Venezuela of the US embassy's naval attache Captain John Correa has sparked a significant increase in US aggression against the government of socialist President Hugo Chavez. In response, up to 2.5
On February 4, the Saharawi Red Crescent made an urgent appeal for assistance for 158,000 Saharawi refugees in the south of Algeria. Emergency food supplies will only last until March, the organisation stated, and medical supplies have already run
DURBAN — On February 8, the third day of their strike, 2000 University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) staff marched in defiance of management's ban on mass action on campus. All four unions at the university called the action. Staff at UKZN are on
Australian oil company Baraka Petroleum has decided to cease involvement in the Cap Juby prospect off Western Sahara. Western Sahara is occupied by Morocco, which licenced Western Sahara's marine area to US-based Kerr McGee last year. The Saharawi
Eva Cheng Due to a united boycott by Nepal's opposition parties, participation in the country's February 8 local government elections was reportedly only about 20%, compared with a 60% turnout in the last municipal elections. Despite this, King

Culture

This City Now: Glasgow and its Working Class PastBy Ian R. MitchellLuath Press, 2005180 pages REVIEW BY ALEX MILLER If Edinburgh was the city of the 18th century enlightened bourgeoisie, Glasgow was, and to a certain extent still is, the city of
MunichDirected by Steven SpielbergWritten by Tony Kushner and Eric RothWith Eric Bana, Geoffrey Rush, Ciaran Hinds, Mathieu Kassovitz, Daniel Craig, Hanns Zischler REVIEW BY KIM BULLIMORE Steven Spielberg's film Munich, on the aftermath of the
The First CasualtyBy Ben EltonBantam Press, 2005381 pages, $32.95 (pb) Terry Jones's War on the War on Terror: Observations and Denunciations by a Founding Member of Monty PythonBy Terry JonesNation Books, 2005163 pages, $17.95 (pb) REVIEW BY
Message Stick — Inside the lives of Indigenous Australians across the country, in their own voices. ABC, Friday, February 17, 6pm. The End of the World as We Know it — Writer Marcel Theroux examines the issue of global warming. SBS, Friday,