Issue 663

Australia

Raul Bassi, Sydney At about 10.30pm on March 29, dozens of residents gathered together after two young men were gunned down in a drive-by shooting in Blaxcell Street, in Sydney's western suburb of Granville. Among the residents were Mamdouh Habib
SYDNEY — A former advisor to the Iraq police force working as part of the US and Australian occupation forces will be the next person in charge of supervising police responses to political protests in NSW. NSW police minister Carl Scully announced
ADELAIDE — On March 27, 80 people picketed Liberal Senator Nick Minchin's electoral office to protest against the Coalition government's new industrial relations regime. A breakfast was cooked for the picketers by workers from the Teys Brothers
SYDNEY — On March 29, as news of the general strike in France began to reach Australia, 20 Sydney University students and staff attended a Resistance-organised forum on the revolt against the French government's new First Employment Contract (CPE).
Paul Oboohov, Canberra In a typical barnstorming media stunt, ALP federal leader Kim Beazley breezed into the tea room of the Action bus depot in Belconnen on March 29 and let rip, vowing to tear up the Coalition government's new industrial
Paul Benedek, Brisbane More than 1000 workers from most unions attended a Queensland Council of Unions "Workers' Breakfast" on March 29, to protest against the enactment of the Howard government's Work Choices laws. The crowd heard from former
PERTH — One hundred and fifty people joined a 'You're sacked!' demonstration outside the Australian Industrial Relations Commission office on March 27 to protest against the enactment that day of the federal Work Choices legislation. The action
The number of trade union members in Australia rose by 70,000 in the 12 months before the federal government gained control of the Senate, according to an Australian Associated Press report on March 28. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)
Ben Courtice, Melbourne PM John Howard is "Public Enemy No 1" and "we must get him out of office", Victorian Trades Hall Council (VTHC) secretary Brian Boyd told 1800 union delegates on March 29. Boyd announced the next union protests against
Karen Fletcher, Melbourne A rally and march against racism on Sydney Road in Melbourne's City of Moreland attracted more than 120 people on April 1. Chanting "Migrants are welcome, racists are not", the marchers drew smiles and waves from shoppers
Graham Matthews, Sydney On March 23, Qantas closed its heavy maintenance facility at Mascot, making 480 workers redundant. While the company has promised that it will not outsource maintenance to China, the 140 extra jobs promised for Melbourne and
Susan Austin, Hobart When the news broke on March 30 that a local El Salvadoran family was being threatened with deportation, the Socialist Alliance and Tasmanians for Refugees called a protest action for that afternoon. The Refugee Review
Nick Everett, Canberra On March 28, 100 teachers from the ACT's 27 Catholic schools, meeting at the Manuka Oval, voted unanimously to strike. The ACT's 780 Catholic school teachers are seeking a pay increase of 13% over three years after their most
Dale Mills A coalition of community and legal organisations has slammed the Australian government's decision on February 15 to declare the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) a terrorist organisation in Australia. The listing of the PKK as a terrorist
SYDNEY — On March 23, NSW Labor and Coalition MPs voted to deny a request by Greens parliamentarian Lee Rhiannon to join a NSW Legislative Council inquiry visit to the "Supermax" (maximum security) wing of the Goulburn prison. "The major parties
On March 22, World Water Day, Malcolm Turnbull said that water is Australia's most precious resource and its largest conservation challenge. "My intention is to substantially raise the level of debate and accountability on urban water issues",
Nick Everett, Canberra British PM Tony Blair received a 21-gun salute and gushing praise from both PM John Howard and Labor leader Kim Beazley when he arrived at federal parliament on March 27. But a more fitting tribute was provided by 150
Sue Bull, Geelong At Geelong's Basell plant, in the Shell refinery complex, construction workers were forced off the job on March 28 by fears, which were later confirmed, of a legionella outbreak and chemical leaks. One worker went to the hospital,
Sue Bolton, Melbourne The implications of the Howard government's draconian new workplace laws have dominated the airwaves over the last couple of weeks. You would therefore think that the decision by a meeting of 1800 union delegates to support a
Ray Fulcher, Melbourne Joseph "Jack" Thomas was sentenced to five years' jail on March 31 for receiving $3500 and an airline ticket from an al Qaeda operative. Thomas was convicted by the Victorian supreme court in February of receiving support
MELBOURNE — On March 28, 20 students disrupted military and ASIO recruiters at the Careers Expo at Melbourne University with eggs and paint bombs. Students made the point that the university should be a place to learn how to live, not how to kill.
Kiraz Janicke, Sydney Federal Liberal MP Bronwyn Bishop has introduced a private member's bill to make it an offence to destroy or damage the Australian flag. The bill imposes a six-month prison sentence or a fine of up to $11,000. Resistance
Ian Jamieson, Fremantle Despite the spin from the Howard government about "choices" for workers and their unions under its new industrial relations laws, the big construction companies in Western Australia are gunning for the construction workers'

World

Jim McIlroy & Coral Wynter, Caracas Around 450 delegates from some 35 indigenous communities, representing more than 500,000 people across Venezuela, met on March 24-26 for the Fifth National Congress of Indigenous Peoples, under the theme of
Eva Cheng After a seven-year battle by the Malaysian Socialist Party (PSM) to obtain legal registration, the Appeals Court will hear the case on April 10. This follows attempts to pursue the case with the Registrar of Society, the Home Ministry,
Rohan Pearce On March 22, US Army Sergeant Michael Smith was sentenced to six months' jail for his part in the torture of Iraq prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison. The real scandal, however, is not that his pathetic sentence is such a slap in the face
Jim McIlroy & Coral Wynter, Caracas Venezuela's socialist President Hugo Chavez announced a major housing program on March 26, pledging the construction of 150,000 new homes by the end of the year and the possible expropriation of houses being sold
Around 150 delegates, half of them from abroad, met in Hanoi late March for the first international conference on the victims of Agent Orange. Participants discussed and launched the following international appeal concerning the ongoing health and
Doug Lorimer The UN Security Council unanimously approved a statement on March 29 urging Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment research activities, despite the fact that such activities are allowed under the 1970 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
Vannessa Hearman Following Indonesia's withdrawal of its ambassador to Australia, Hamzah Thayeb, from Canberra in response to the granting of temporary protection visas to 42 West Papuans, the Australian government has been at pains to point out
Millions of students and workers marched on March 28 against the First Employment Contract (CPE) law, which allows employers to sack workers aged under 26 years without reason within the first two years of their job. On March 30, France's
CAIRO — The fourth Cairo Conference took place on March 23-26 under the theme "With the resistance in Palestine and Iraq — against globalisation, imperialism and Zionism". Those attending the conference included the International Socialist
Dale Mills The FBI has long been known to engage in extensive surveillance of activists in the United States. However, the sheer extent of those operations has shocked civil libertarians following the release of a large amount of material under
Patrick Elie has been a leading figure in the popular movement in Haiti since his youth, during the years of the Duvalier tyranny. He was a minister of the first government of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, 1991-96. He helped found a political
Jim McIlroy & Coral Wynter, Caracas On March 28, supporters of the head of Venezuela's National Electoral Council (CNE), Dr Jorge Rodriguez, who announced his resignation the day before, marched to the gates of the National Assembly. Rodriguez said
The Human Rights Commission of Northern Ireland has expressed concern over a trial of Taser guns. On March 23 the Policing Board of Northern Ireland invited a two-week "consultation", stating it is "proposed that the use of Tasers be introduced on a
Pip Hinman, Karachi It had been touch and go for this six-day World Social Forum, postponed from January because of the devastating earthquake last October. But in the end, more than 35,000 people attended — mostly Pakistanis but also activists
Zoe Kenny On March 16-22, representatives of 148 countries converged in Mexico City for the fourth World Water Forum. The first WWF was held in Morocco in 1997 and is an initiative of the World Water Council (WWC), which describes its mandate as to
Raul Bassi On March 24, 1976, when the Argentine armed forces staged a coup, those of us who were politically active expected hard times. But what followed was a horrific sequence of events that could never have been imagined, the results of which
Sol Salbe Palestinians and their supporters were generally indifferent to the March 28 Israeli election. And for a good reason: they couldn't tell the difference between most of the parties. Few of the parties offered even the most minimal program
"Electricity output has dipped to its lowest point in three years in Iraq, where the desert sun is rising toward another broiling summer and US engineers are winding down their rebuilding of the crippled power grid", Associated Press reported on
Doug Lorimer A storm of outrage has been expressed by Shiite politicians against the US occupation forces following a raid by US troops and Iraqi commandos on a Shiite mosque in eastern Baghdad on the evening of March 26. The next day, Iraqi
Barry Sheppard, Los Angeles In what the LA Times called "A thunderous display of clout", up to 1 million immigrants — with immigration papers and without — and their supporters marched through the streets of Los Angeles on March 25 demanding
Stuart Munckton Associated Press reported on March 29 that Venezuela's oil minister Rafael Ramirez has said US oil giant Exxon Mobil is no longer welcome in Venezuela. Exxon Mobil had attempted to resist new legislation passed by Venezuela's
Edward Mercado For the last seven years, a great majority of Venezuelans, including myself, have defended a new democratic administration being built under Venezuela's new constitution. This is the only constitution in our history that has ever
Bronwen Beechey, Auckland In an historic victory, the Unite workers' union has won a union employment agreement with Restaurant Brands, New Zealand's biggest fast-food chain. The new contract awards significant pay increases and improvements in
Associated Press reported on March 29 that Venezuela's socialist president Hugo Chavez, "long critical of big transnational companies", was promoting a free open-sourced software as an alternative to "market-dominating" Microsoft. AP reported that
BUENOS AIRES — On March 24, more than 100,000 people gathered at the Plaza de Mayo, made famous by the mothers of the disappeared, who, along with unions, human rights organisations, students and people from all walks of life, demanded justice
Kerryn Williams Millions of students and workers marched on March 28 against the First Employment Contract (CPE) law, which allows employers to sack workers aged under 26 years without reason during the first two years of their job. The law was
A VPRC poll conducted on march 14-15 and published in Kathimerini on March 18 found that 94% of those surveyed believe the world is a more dangerous place as a result of the war on Iraq. Just 3% of Greeks believe the decision to invade Iraq was
James Balowski, Jakarta According to a survey conducted by the Indonesian Survey Institute (LSI) on March 8-18, an overwhelming majority of Acehnese want local political parties to be established. To date the only such move has been the launch of

Culture

By John Tomlinson From Pig Iron Bob to Yellow Cake Johnthe story's been the sameit's the rich who take the profitsand the poor who end up lame.Tycoons own the mining sharesthey own the rich ore lodethe poor just labour in the minesand tramp the
Noreen Navin, Sydney On March 31, the management of community television station TVS Sydney instructed the producers of the half-hour Sunday night Actively Radical TV program that they were not to screen a 10-minute segment from ARTV's documentary
Art Resistance TV DVD Edition 11Email <artres@aussieisp.net.au>Single DVD $25 (includes postage and packing) BY NOREEN NAVIN The latest DVD featuring the work of Art Resistance Community TV has been released. The DVD includes M1: People
Iraq Ablaze: Inside the InsurgencyBy Zaki ChehabIB Tauris, 2005Distributed in Australia by Palgrave MacMillanRRP $45. REVIEW BY ROHAN PEARCE Much of the Western media has presented one-dimensional reporting of the armed rebellion gripping Iraq,
Dickens: His Work and His WorldBy Michael Rosen and Robert IngpenWalker Books 200595 pages REVIEW BY ALEX MILLER According to Peter Ackroyd, Karl Marx once said to Frederick Engels that Charles Dickens had "issued to the world more political and
Changing ClimateExhibition by Ron GuyCusp Gallery, 238 High Street NorthcoteApril 4-22Phone (03) 9482 2731 REVIEW BY VANNESSA HEARMAN Ron Guy is an artist and a shift worker, as well as the union representative on his job. He is a passionate