Issue 657

Australia

Raul Bassi, Sydney After deliberating for less than a day on February 14, a jury found that Mamdouh Habib, who was incarcerated without charge for three years at the US naval base in Guantanamo Bay, was defamed by an article published by the Sydney
DARWIN — Four-hundred workers at the Wickham Point Natural Gas Plant walked off the job on February 10 over concerns that emergency sirens were not loud enough to be heard above the din of machinery. The workers, members of the Australian Workers
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
SYDNEY — On February 15, the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network (Aftinet) held a meeting to report back on the World Trade Organisation's December 13-18 summit in Hong Kong. Aftinet spokesperson Jemma Bailey described the summit as a
Emma Clancy & Amanda Zivcic The socialist youth group Resistance will be selling "Australian flag-burning kits" to university students during campus orientation weeks, as part of its campaign to support freedom of expression. The kit is inspired
PERTH — On February 12, a protest against threats to sections of Kalamunda Hospital drew hundreds of residents to Stirk Park in Kalamunda. The WA Labor government has announced the closure of obstetrics and paediatrics at Kalamunda, although
NEWCASTLE — A Socialist Alliance and Green Left Weekly-sponsored public meeting on February 7 was addressed by GLW journalist Sarah Stephen on Australian nationalism and the role of racism in the white settlement of Australia. Stephen described
Farida Iqbal, Canberra On February 15, the University of Canberra Queer Collective (UCan Q) launched a campaign for a "queer space". The UC Students' Association, while supporting the queer space campaign, does not have adequate spare rooms to
MELBOURNE — Two dozen people attended an emergency action called by the Socialist Alliance on the steps of Parliament House here on February 14 to support removing control of RU486 from the federal health minister and returning it to the
Sue Bull, Ballarat In the first action of its kind, the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) has launched a class action on behalf of 700 academics and general staff at the University of Ballarat claiming that their employment contracts are
Green Left Weekly has been informed that our website, <http://www.greenleft.org.au>, has won a Hitwise Online Performance Award for the most popular website in Australia in 2005 in the "lifestyle and politics" category. The Hitwise awards,
MELBOURNE — The bar at Trades Hall Council was packed on February 10 to mark the second anniversary of the death of Redfern teenager TJ Hickey and to support the call to re-open the inquest and get to the truth of events surrounding his death. "A
SYDNEY — On the second anniversary of the murder of Redfern teenager TJ Hickey, 120 people joined a memorial and protest march on February 14, demanding that the reopening of the inquiry into TJ's death and an end to all Indigenous deaths in
Doug Lorimer Evidence presented on February 15 to the Cole royal commission into wheat export monopoly AWB Ltd's $290 million in kickbacks to Saddam Hussein's regime indicate that the company's top executives were aware that $220 million in
SYDNEY - Green Left Weekly hosted Joe Collins (pictured), secretary of the Australia West Papua Association, and Max Lane, chairperson of Action in Solidarity with Asia and the Pacific, at a forum on West Papua on February 15. Both agreed that the
Susan Austin, Hobart The nationwide Human Rights Act Campaign, initiated by the New Matilda online magazine, was launched in Hobart on February 4 with a rally at the Parliament Lawns. Speakers included Margaret Reynolds, president of the United
Duncan Meerding, Hobart On February 14, Metro Tasmania's 340 bus drivers voted 181 to 107 in favour of taking state-wide strike action from 6.30pm that day until midnight on February 16, to express their dissatisfaction with management's pay
Gillian Davy, Melbourne A powerful video message from Herman Wainggai, spokesperson for 43 West Papuan asylum seekers incarcerated on Christmas Island, was a highlight of a Free West Papua Collective public forum attended by 120 people on February
Alex Bainbridge, Sydney While rich celebrities and politicians gathered at the Opera House on February 17 for the state-organised glamourisation of the life of Australia's richest person, around 40 people protested outside. The protesters pointed
Richard Dennis, Greens parliamentary staffer, addressing a February 6 rally at the ACT Legislative Assembly marking the first anniversary of the signing of the Kyoto Protocol on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The rally called on the federal
MELBOURNE — Environmental groups have accused the waste disposal company Cleanaway of polluting the Moonee Ponds Creek and vowed to fight plans to extend the life of the Tullamarine landfill. The Friends of Steele Creek claim that the landfill

World

Despite a steady barrage of corporate media reports and White House statements claiming that Iran has a secret nuclear weapons program, less than one in 10 US residents favour taking immediate military action against Iran, according to a February
The Israeli Ministry of Defence has introduced a new military order preventing Palestinians from entering Israel via roads used by Israelis, restricting their entry to 11 crossings specifically earmarked for Palestinians. Previously, Palestinians
On February 13, Venezuela's vice-president, Jose Vicente Rangel, said that his government would welcome leaders of the Islamic group Hamas, which recently won the Palestinian elections, if they visited Venezuela during an expected tour of the region.
V. Selvam, a leader of the Malaysian Socialist Party (PSM) and general council member of the Malaysian Trade Union Congress, visited Melbourne in early February at the invitation of the Socialist Party. Green Left Weekly's Chris Slee spoke to him
A 2500-page report by the Portugese Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation, titled Chega! (Enough!), documents the experiences of the East Timorese people under 24 years of brutal Indonesian military occupation, including the removal of
Hands off Venezuela and Venezuela Solidarity Campaign supporters gathered outside the Venezuelan consulate in London on February 15 to express solidarity with the Venezuelan revolution and to oppose the attacks made on Venezuela by Prime Minister
Doug Lorimer In a widely reprinted story, the February 8 Washington Post reported that Iran has completed drawings of an underground shaft that could be used for testing a nuclear weapon. Citing unnamed US officials who claimed to have examined
On February 13 and 14, more than 400 women were arrested for protesting against high prices and unemployment, after inflation shot past 600%. More than 240 were arrested in the capital, Harare, on February 14 for participating in an annual march led
Doug Lorimer Pentagon statistics on attacks by Iraqi resistance fighters that were declassified for a US Senate hearing have revealed that the vast majority — about three-quarters — were aimed against US and allied foreign occupation forces,
Doug Lorimer "Virtually every measure of the performance of Iraq's oil, electricity, water and sewerage sectors has fallen below pre-invasion levels even though $16 billion of US taxpayer money has already been disbursed in the Iraq reconstruction
Stuart Munckton On October 8, 1967, the Argentinean-born socialist revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara was murdered by a CIA agent in Bolivia. Having helped lead the successful Cuban Revolution, Che was in Bolivia attempting to spread the struggle
Jim McIlroy & Coral Wynter, Caracas "By sending gas for heating to poor, homeless people for free and at very low prices for those who can pay, Venezuela is giving a great example of cooperation and solidarity with the people of the United States.
Le Thanh Thuy, Hanoi Her body is that of a two-year-old, deformed and limp. And yet, Truong thi Thuong is 16, a brilliant student in the village of Phu Dong (in Vietnam's central Quang Nam province). With a dark, stern look on his face, Truong
On February 9, Vanuatu's minister for internal affairs ordered the deportation of West Papuan activist Andy Ayamiseba. However Ayamiseba was returned to Vanuatu when Australian authorities denied him entry, because he lacked any travel documentation.
Unions representing workers and academics at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) on February 16 — after eight days of militant strike action and demonstrations — agreed to suspend industrial action following a 7% wage offer from management.
On February 11, 15 carloads of police and security forces arrived at Khartoum's Juba University and began attacking a group of students who were peacefully gathered in front of the administration building. In the ensuing battle, students set fire to
On February 15, protests were held outside Iranian consulates in various countries to demand the release of jailed members of Tehran's bus drivers' union, including its leader Mansoor Osanloo. Hundreds of unionists and family members were arrested
Kavita Krishnan, the president of the All India Students Association, was arrested on February 8 for her part in a protest almost a decade ago. In April 1997, Krishnan led a demonstration following the assassination of Jawaharlal Nehru University
Harrison Healy Mohammad Mansour, a Palestinian activist involved in the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), was due to face trial on February 16. The case has been postponed until March 21. If found guilty, Mansour could go to jail and
Eva Cheng Backed by the Vietnamese government, in January 2004 a few of Vietnam's estimated 3-4 million surviving victims of Agent Orange, the chemical weapon widely used by the US during the Vietnam War, brought a lawsuit in a US district court
Sixty-six per cent of Venezuelans intend to vote for Hugo Chavez in the December 3 presidential elections, according to a poll conducted by the US organisation North American Opinion Research Inc, released on February 16. Opposition candidate Julio
On February 15, Mujahid al Simadi, a 20-year-old disabled Palestinian man, was shot dead by Israeli troops near the West Bank town of Jenin. According to a February 15 BBC report, "Local residents said Mujahid al Simadi had gone up to the troops with
Bronwen Beechey & Grant Morgan, Auckland History was made on February 12 when 800 fast-food workers and supporters met in the Auckland Town Hall. The meeting was organised by the Unite union, which wants a NZ$12 minimum wage, no youth rates, and
Alex Holland, Caracas Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez responded angrily to British PM Tony Blair's critical comments on February 8, calling Blair, "shameless and subordinate to the commands of Washington". Chavez said Blair is an ally of "the
Federico Fuentes It seems a strange way to fight a war against terrorism but the US government currently has five Cuban men imprisoned for "espionage" when they were gathering information on terrorists. The men's case is currently before the
Long-time Venezuelan activist and deputy to the Latin American Parliament Carolus Wimmer will be touring Australia in late February-early March, hosted by the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network. Green Left Weekly's Jim McIlroy and Coral Wynter
John Pilger Has British PM Tony Blair, the minuscule Caesar, finally crossed his Rubicon? Having subverted the laws of the civilised world and brought carnage to a defenceless people and bloodshed to his own, having lied and lied and used the death
In a February 9-12 USA Today/CNN/Gallup Poll, 56% of US residents surveyed described themselves as opponents of the Iraq war, compared to only 40% who said they were supporters. Fifty-five per cent believe the US invasion of Iraq was a mistake. In

Culture

What Resistance Stands ForResistance Books, 200632 pages, $3.00Available at Resistance Bookshops (see page 2) or order at <http://www.resistancebooks.com> On February 10, the Sydney Morning Herald published a cynical article downplaying
The Bogus WomanWritten by Kay AdsheadLeicester Haymarket TheatreQueens' TheatreFrom February 25 until March 19Bookings, phone (08) 8418 8666 or visit <http://www.adelaidefringe.com.au> REVIEW BY JONATHAN STRAUSS The presentation by
Message Stick — Inside the lives of Indigenous Australians across the country. Stories presented from the perspective of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in their own voices. ABC, Friday, February 24, 6pm. Cuba Mia: Portrait of an All-Woman
Acclaimed Cuban director Juan Carlos Cremata is in Australia to present his two films Viva Cuba and Nada Mas (Nothing More) as part of the Latin American film festivals in Sydney and Melbourne. He spoke to Green Left Weekly's Roberto Jorquera. Viva
We Are Australians Too: Women Against RacismCasula Powerhouse Arts Centre, Liverpool Regional MuseumMarch 8 to April 1Tuesday to Saturday, 10am-4pmPhone (02) 9824 1121Free admission REVIEW BY VIVIAN MESSIMERIS The Cronulla race riots of December