Issue 668

Australia

Ben Courtice, Melbourne According to the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU), 35 casual workers employed at Ballarat's MaxiTrans, which builds semi-trailers, have been sacked while 25 guest worker welders hired last year have been kept
Duncan Meerding, Hobart A May 11 meeting of workers employed at the Beaconsfield goldmine in northern Tasmania called for an independent judicial inquiry into the rock fall in the mine on April 25 that resulted in the death of miner Larry Knight,
Chris Peterson, Melbourne On May 15, 200 students rallied outside a university council meeting at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology to protest against RMIT's decision to cut funding to the student union. RMIT plans to cut funding to the
NEWCASTLE — On May 12, 80 residents rallied outside the government's planning department office to protest developer Hardie Holdings' proposal to construct a "village" on a 2300-hectare site between North Rothbury and Branxton, with 28,000
SYDNEY — On May 14, 50 people attended a "Vigil for a Free Palestine" at Circular Quay, one day before the 48th anniversary of the beginning of Al Nakba (The Catastrophe), when 750,000 Palestinians were driven from their homeland by Zionist
MELBOURNE — The employer of two workers who were sacked and then reinstated after a community picket at their workplace subsequently encouraged Channel Nine's A Current Affair show to film the two workers at the factory against their wishes,
Liam Mitchell A series of delegates' meetings across Sydney approved a Unions NSW resolution calling for a rally in Blacktown, in western Sydney, on June 28, the national day of action called by the Australian Council of Trade Unions. The
PERTH — On May 14, 80 people heard Iraqi doctor Salam Ismael describe the situation in war-torn Iraq at the Australian Islamic College in Kewdale. Organised by the Perth Peace Group, the forum was also addressed by UnionsWA secretary Dave Robinson,
MELBOURNE — Residents of the western suburb of Broadmeadows are celebrating a small victory after the Howard government announced in its 2006 budget that it had decided to scrap the construction of a $120 million, 500-bed immigration detention
Kim White, Sydney On May 6, 500-700 people attended the Rock the Block festival in the inner-city suburb of Redfern, enjoying five hours of Indigenous and non-Indigenous music and films. Money raised by the festival will contribute towards a new
GEELONG — On May 9, 25 members of the Geelong Community and Union Solidarity Group (GCUSG) met to discuss the fight against the Howard government's Work Choices laws. Joan Doyle, Victorian branch secretary of the communications workers' union,
PERTH — Federal workplace relations minister Kevin Andrews received a rowdy reception when he arrived at a business luncheon in the outer suburb of Middle Swan on May 16. He was greeted by 100 angry workers chanting, "Work Choices, no choice —
Katie Cherrington, Wollongong On May 19, 35 student anti-war activists from universities in Canberra, Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong attended a cross-campus Students Against War conference hosted by the University of Wollongong Undergraduate
GYMPIE — Two successive rallies bringing out a total of 3000 people have been held in the last fortnight in the Mary River Valley to oppose Queensland Labor Premier Peter Beattie's $150 million proposed mega-dam. Up to 1000 residents are expected
James Caufield, Canberra On May 10, 100 people chanting "Refugees yes, racism no, Johnny Howard has got to go", rallied outside federal parliament. The demonstration was called by the Refugee Action Committee to protest against the introduction of
Solidarity rallies took place in Sydney, Brisbane, Canberra and Melbourne as part of a May 20 international day of solidarity with Venezuela and Cuba. The day was initiated by social justice and solidarity groups in the US opposed to their
A colourful flotilla will occupy and disrupt the world's largest coal exporting port — Newcastle Harbour — on June 5, World Environment Day. We want canoes, kayaks, surfboards, surf-skis, tinnies, rafts, floating banners, flags and people
MELBOURNE — In the early hours of May 11, police attacked 150 Indigenous activists and their supporters as they removed embers from the "sacred flame" that had been burning in the Kings Domain park in central Melbourne since the Camp Sovereignty
James Vassilopoulos, Melbourne Martin Kingham, secretary of the Victorian branch of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union, urged the 150 people who attended a May 17 forum at Brunswick Town Hall to "join with us for the June 28

World

Doug Lorimer "Malnutrition among Iraqi children has reached alarming levels, according to a UN-backed government survey showing people are struggling to cope three years after US-forces overthrew Saddam Hussein", Reuters reported on May 15. The
Tim Stewart Indigenous lawyer Anne Kajir from the Environmental Law Centre in Papua New Guinea is one of six recipients of the US$125,000 Goldman Environmental Prize. According to the prize's website, she won this year's award for her tireless work
Jim McIlroy & Coral Wynter, Caracas "The Venezuelan revolution is a very popular mobilisation, which was revealed especially in the opposition to the counter-revolutionary coup in April 2002 and the bosses' strike of early 2003", Pedro Eusse,
The Cuban medical brigade sent to Pakistan in the wake of last October's massive earthquake is ending its mission after it attended to around 1.7 million patients. The earthquake struck the north of the country, killing more than 73,000 people and
Doug Lorimer "People like this president. They're just sour right now on the [Iraq] war." This was the assessment made by Karl Rove, US President George Bush's top political adviser, of an opinion poll showing that Bush's approval rating had fallen
On May 15, two West Papuans were shot dead by police outside the Wamena court. Serpi (Sodema) Hubi and Mokanineak Kossy were among a group of protesters demonstrating outside the court house in support of a local man facing corruption charges, where
On May 15, the US announced that it would halt weapons sales to Venezuela due to its alleged lack of cooperation in the US "war on terrorism". In response, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez told the BBC during a recent London visit: "If it's true that
On May 6, the third day of the European Social Forum in Athens, more than 100,000 people demonstrated against neoliberalism and the possible war on Iran. Many different left groups from across Europe participated in the ESF, the largest contingent
Around 120,000 public sector workers returned to their jobs on May 15 after they were laid off for two weeks. On May 1, the Puerto Rican government laid off 95,000 employees, closing down the public school system and partially closing almost half of
John Pilger I have spent the past three weeks filming in the hillside barrios of Caracas, in streets and breeze-block houses that defy gravity and torrential rain and emerge at night like fireflies in the fog. Caracas is said to be one of the
In the best electoral result for the English left in many years, Respect won 16 councillors in the May 4 local council elections. In the seats of Newham and Tower Hamlets — both poor, working-class, inner-city areas of London with substantial
Jon Lamb Heightened tensions within East Timor and rumours of further violent clashes have subsided with the passing of the Fretilin congress, held in Dili on May 17-19. The congress was a test of support for Fretilin leader and East Timor's Prime
George Monbiot Civilisation has a new enemy. He is a former coca grower called Evo Morales, who is currently the president of Bolivia. On May 15 he stood before the European parliament to explain why he had sent troops to regain control of his
On May 14, Venezuela's socialist President Hugo Chavez spoke to a meeting of 800 people in London, with hundreds more being turned away, during a triumphant two-day visit hosted by Mayor Ken Livingstone. Thousands of people turned out to greet
Doug Lorimer Newly elected Solomon Islands Prime Minister Mannasseh Sogavare hit out on May 7 at Australian leaders for interfering in the internal affairs of the archipelago-nation after they publicly criticised his decision to include two
Five-hundred AIDS activists marched through central Harare on May 19 to commemorate International AIDS Memorial Day. A street demonstration is a rare event in Zimbabwe and marchers made the most of the opportunity to call for increased access to
Doug Lorimer Opposition by Russia and China appears to have stalled Washington's attempt to have the UN Security Council adopt a resolution requiring that Iran, under threat of punitive action, halt its production of nuclear fuel (low-enriched
Abohoraira Ali On May 5, a leader of one of the main factions of the largest rebel group in Darfur, the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM), signed a peace deal with the Sudanese government to end the bloody three-year conflict that has killed
The following statement was issued by the Democratic Socialist Perspective (DSP) on May 19. In 1999, following the pro-independence vote at the UN-supervised ballot in East Timor, the Indonesian military and its hired militia thugs went on a
Jim McIlroy & Coral Wynter, Caracas Paramilitaries infiltrated across the border from Colombia have murdered 1700 people in the south-western region of Venezuela over the past two years, according to Luis Tascon, the May 5 daily Diario Vea
On May 14, Venezuela's socialist President Hugo Chavez proposed a program to provide cheap heating oil to low-income communities in Europe. This follows a successful program in the US by Venezuelan oil subsidiary Citgo, providing subsidised heating
James Crafti On May 12 Sydney resident Phillip Reiss was shot with a "rubber" bullet in the back of the head while demonstrating in the Palestinian village of Bil'in. The misleadingly named "rubber bullet" — a metal cylinder covered by a
On May 11, 10,000 riot police attempted to prevent a pro-democracy demonstration in Cairo in support of two judges facing disciplinary hearings for exposing corruption in the November elections. Dozens of protesters, as well as media reporters, were
Deirdre Griswold President George Bush's speech on immigration, carried live by the media on May 15, was full of demagogy. He said, "The United States is not going to militarise the southern border". But he laid out a plan to send up to 6000
Thousands of teachers across Papua New Guinea launched a nationwide strike on May 10 to demand a 4% pay rise and 7% housing allowance increase. Teachers ignored an Industrial Registrar ruling that the strike was illegal. An agreement was signed by
Michael Karadjis A wide-ranging public discussion in the lead up to the 10th congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) — held in Hanoi on April 18-25 and attended by 1176 delegates — focused on issues of corruption, calls for greater
Grant Morgan, Auckland Slap workers in the face and call it a helping hand. That's the strategy behind a "work probation" bill sponsored by National Party MP Wayne Mapp. Ross Wilson, president of the NZ Council of Trade Unions (CTU), wrote in an
Eloise Schnierer The New Caledonian islands lie 1200 kilometres off the east coast of Australia. A French territory that is co-governed by a provincial New Caledonian parliament and the French government, New Caledonia (or Kanaky) is a biodiversity

Culture

The Great Labor Schism: a retrospectiveedited by Brian Costar, Peter Love & Paul Strangio Scribe, 2005 384 pages, $35 (pb) REVIEW BY MATTHEW LAMB Although the essays collected in The Great Labor Schism are said to be a retrospective of the
Message Stick: The Lost Ones — Academic Henry Reynolds and Queensland woman Bron Nurdin are trying to trace their Aboriginal heritage, their families and where they belong. ABC, Friday, May 26, 6pm. The Chaser's War on Everything — Confronts
Hope: A fifty-minute documentary about Amal BasryDirected by Steve Thomas and Sue BrooksIn production PREVIEW BY SARAH STEPHEN Hope is a story of survival and determination, of the indomitable and forgiving spirit of Iraqi refugee Amal Basry, who
The Vote: How It Was Won And How It Was UnderminedBy Paul FootViking (Penguin) 2005 506 pages REVIEW BY ALEX MILLER Paul Foot, who died in July 2004, began this ambitious book in 1990, and completed it shortly before his death, having been