Issue 691

Australia

Eight workers on strike at Thompson’s Roller Shutters in Turella returned to work on November 15 after winning a 12% wage rise over three years and other conditions in a collective agreement. The company had been the target of a number of community pickets over the preceding week.
On November 15, the High Court of Australia handed down a significant ruling on the legality of the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs’ (DIMA) administration of temporary protection visas (TPVs) for refugees.
Green Left Weekly is calling on supporters to help get the paper into thousands of new hands on November 30 — the ACTU-called national day of action against Work Choices. GLW is committed to the union and community campaign against these
In a majority decision of five to two, the High Court dismissed the legal challenge brought by state governments, Unions NSW and the Australian Workers Union (AWU) against Work Choices on November 14.
On November 11, the state Labor MP for Prahran, Tony Lupton, said there are discussions between gay rights activists and the government about a Tasmanian-style relationship registry being established in Victoria. But Civil Union Action (CUA) spokesperson John Kloprogge said same-sex couples want to know if Premier Steve Bracks’ Labor government will commit to legal equality.
As the Venezuelan presidential elections on December 3 draw closer, and the tensions grow as the revolutionary forces led by President Hugo Chavez face off against the US-backed opposition fronted by Manuel Rosales, the world is watching with huge interest. The stakes in this election are immense: the future of the Bolivarian revolution and the struggle to construct socialism of the 21st century are on the line.
Quoting New York Times economics writer Jeff Madrick, Newcastle University lecturer Chris Dorran told a November 13 meeting that “by almost any mainstream economists’ standard, the plan [for the economic transformation of Iraq] is extreme; in fact, stunning”.
A 550-strong lecture sponsored by the Australian Lawyers Alliance on November 13 heard David Hicks’ US military lawyer, Major Michael Mori, slam the Bush administration’s new military commission law, which will be used to try Guantanamo Bay detainees. Hicks is one of approximately 400 prisoners at Guantanamo Bay being held without charge.
On November 14, the federal court ordered the reinstatement of two National Union of Workers (NUW) delegates after their employer, Saint-Gobain Abrasives, was unable to prove that its decision to dismiss them was unrelated to their involvement with the union.
The new student organisation at the University of New South Wales, established as a result of the Howard government’s “voluntary student unionism” (VSU) law, is forcing staff earning $40,000 or more per year onto individual contracts (AWAs — Australian Workplace Agreements).
The Democratic Socialist Perspective will be holding its biennial educational conference at Sydney University on January 4-7, 2007. The conference theme — “Ideas to change the world” — is inspired by Karl Marx’s 11th Thesis on Feuerbach (1845): “Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point, however, is to change it.”
Australians have joined the international campaign calling on U2’s Bono — who has appealed to the world for peace and poverty reduction — to apply those same values to block the manufacture and distribution of a video game that promotes the invasion and destruction of Venezuela.
Three to four thousand people joined a rally and march against the G20 meeting on November 18. The rally opposed the neoliberal and militarist agenda of the meeting, which brought together finance ministers from the G8 group of rich nations, Australia, the European Union and 10 economically significant Third World nations, as well as the heads of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.
More than 200 Aboriginal activists and other supporters of justice for Indigenous people marched through Brisbane to commemorate the second anniversary of the death in custody of Palm Islander Mulrunji. A coroner’s report found that Mulrunji was killed by Queensland police sergeant Chris Hurley.
On November 16, 45 people rallied outside the Philippines consulate in the CBD to demand an end to the killings and harassment of political and trade union activists in the Philippines.
The Burj el Barajneh refugee camp in Lebanon and Doctors for Iraq will be the beneficiaries of a peace festival and benefit concert on November 25 at the Pioneer Park in Leichhardt.
On November 15, 60 police raided Camp Weld, a blockade that has for over a year prevented logging in Tasmania's majestic Weld Valley.
As the deadline passed on November 17 for the registration of how-to-vote cards for the November 25 Victorian state election, it was revealed that the Greens are issuing how-to-votes in nine Labor-held seats in the lower house that contain two options: putting Liberal ahead of Labor and vice versa. The Liberals are preferencing the Greens ahead of Labor in four Labor-held inner-city seats that the Greens hope to win.
In the first real policy statement of her election campaign, Jodi McKay, the NSW ALP's head office-imposed candidate for the state seat of Newcastle, told the Property Council on November 17 that she favoured cutting Newcastle's heavy rail service.
NSW planning minister Frank Sartor has attempted to "clarify" the outcome of a bill currently before the state parliament that would remove the current requirement that development proposals contain an adequate environmental assessment. The bill would also thwart a court case against the proposed Anvil Hill coalmine in the Hunter Valley.
A 550-strong lecture sponsored by the Australian Lawyers Alliance on November 13 heard David Hicks' US military lawyer, Major Michael Mori, slam the Bush administration's new military commission law, which will be used to try Guantanamo Bay detainees. Hicks is one of approximately 400 prisoners at Guantanamo Bay being held without charge.

World

Some 450 activists from a variety of countries gathered in Rostock, northern Germany, on the November 11-12 weekend for the second Action Conference to plan protests against the G8 summit in 2007. A week of protests is planned against the June 6-8 G8 summit, which will be held at the Kempinski Grand Hotel in Heiligendamm.
Independent surveys by the Jerusalem Media Communication Centre, the Ramallah-based Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research (PCPSR) and the Najah National University Centre for Opinion Polls and Survey Studies have each found two-thirds of Palestinian in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza support the formation of a national unity government as a way to overcome the economic embargo imposed by Israel, the US and the European Union.
On November 14, Philippines special state prosecutor Deana Perez denied the motion of the lawyers of 49 individuals charged with rebellion to dismiss the preliminary investigation on the grounds that there was no valid complaint-affidavits. The 49 were alleged to have taken part in the coup attempt last February 24.
“The central message of the 2006 election was so unmistakable that even George Bush couldn’t miss it. Get. Out. Of. Iraq.” This was how the November 17 US Socialist Worker weekly summed up the results of the November 7 US mid-term congressional elections, in which the Democrats won control of both houses of the US Congress for the first time since 1994.
At a joint November 17 press conference with his New Zealand counterpart Helen Clark, Australian Prime Minister John Howard announced that a “joint Australian-New Zealand force of both military personnel and police will, in response to a request from the government of Tonga, go to Tonga tomorrow morning”.
The US-backed government of Lebanon’s Sunni Muslim prime minister, Fuad Siniora, has been thrown into crisis after five Shiite cabinet ministers resigned over the November 10-11 weekend after Siniora refused to change the makeup of his government to give more cabinet posts to Hezbollah and its allies.
On November 6, quoting the Ministry of Public Security, the official Xinhua News Agency proudly announced there were only 17,900 “mass incidents” — Beijing’s term for mass protests — in the first nine months of 2006. Xinhua said it represented a drop of 22% from the same period last year.
For years, the role of the United States in conniving with Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic in the destruction of the Bosnian Muslim town of Srebrenica has been shrouded in mystery.
The day after a US-created Iraqi tribunal sentenced former president Saddam Hussein to death, a senior Iraqi official heading a committee set up by the US authorities in 2003 to purge members of the former ruling Baath Party from public life announced that it will recommend allowing most of them to take back their government jobs or get pensions.
“The central message of the 2006 election was so unmistakable that even George Bush couldn’t miss it. Get. Out. Of. Iraq.” This was how the November 17 US Socialist Worker weekly summed up the results of the November 7 US mid-term congressional elections, in which the Democrats won control of both houses of the US Congress for the first time since 1994.
Some 450 activists from a variety of countries gathered in Rostock, northern Germany, on the November 11-12 weekend for the second Action Conference to plan protests against the G8 summit in 2007. A week of protests is planned against the June 6-8 G8 summit, which will be held at the Kempinski Grand Hotel in Heiligendamm.
Eva Golinger is a Venezuelan-American lawyer and author of The Chavez Code, which exposed US government involvement in the April 2002 military coup that briefly ousted left-wing Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, before he was reinstated by a popular uprising. Golinger is a determined campaigner against Washington’s attacks on revolutionary Venezuela. She has just published a new book, Bush vs Chavez: Washington’s War on Venezuela, detailing the current US threats to Venezuela. She spoke to Green Left Weekly in late October.
As the campaign for the Venezuelan presidential elections on December 3 entered its final month, the popular mobilisations in support of left-wing President Hugo Chavez increased in size and intensity. On October 30, thousands of residents of one of the largest communities in Caracas, Barrio 23 de Enero (Barrio January 23) braved intermittent rain to surround the truck carrying Chavez through the neighbourhood’s hilly streets.
Venezuela’s socialist President Hugo Chavez began a November 8 press conference, the first with the international media for many weeks, with a passionate statement against Israel’s war on Palestinians, which had killed four children and two women that morning.
On October 31, Morocco’s allies on the United Nations Security Council — including France, the United States and Britain — blocked a motion to condemn human rights abuses against the people of occupied Western Sahara. Despite reports of Morocco’s escalating repression of the Saharawi independence movement, the resolution passed by the Security Council merely extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), a 15-year-old “peacekeeping” mission that has failed to facilitate a referendum on self determination.

Analysis

Even John Howard has got the point at last: human-made climate change can’t be denied. But the minor reductions in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions available from existing “solutions” - from the Kyoto Protocol to Howard’s technofixes - won’t stave off further destruction. We need a radically different approach - a massive, immediate turn to renewable energy sources.
In a document released on November 25, the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) calls on the Australian government to ratify the Kyoto treaty, as part of a strategy to combat climate change.
With the speed of global warming and the seriousness of climate chaos now firmly established in the minds of our politicians, it is urgent that they display leadership on actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The leadership so far — in that it has promoted the dirty lie of “clean coal” and the farcical view of nuclear energy as clean and green — has been ethically vacuous. The frames that the Howard government has used to drive public debate on our energy future are dangerous dead ends that will deliver huge problems to future generations.
Glenn Albrecht correctly identifies coal as the biggest contributor to greenhouse gases. But his support for a type of carbon credit scheme, whereby the rest of the world pays Australia not to mine its coal, implies confidence that the market will correct itself. However, the decisions made over the last 100 years of capitalism are precisely what has led to today’s climate crisis.

Letters

Population growth In his letter in GLW #690, Colin Hughes blames global warming on population growth, and calls for the end to the "baby bonus" so as to reduce incentives for population increase. He makes this claim based on the assumption that

Resistance!

The following statement was issued by Resistance, a socialist youth organisation, on November 16.

Culture

Almost anyone else found to have been cheating, lying and secretly on the take would have been the subject of a frothing rant over the airwaves by Sydney shock jock Alan Jones, but when Jones was caught being paid millions in commercial sponsorships over the past decade to present advertising as news, there was no public self-flagellation. As Chris Masters’ biography of Jones argues, the Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA) hearings showed that “Jones was for sale”, despite Jones’s proclamations that his opinions are his alone.
I Pledge Allegiance to Myself
Lizzie West
Appleseed Recordings <http://www.appleseedrec.com>
Art Resistance TV, DVD Edition 17
$25 (including postage and handling)
Email or phone (02) 9564 1277
The Road to Guantanamo
Directed by Michael Winterbottom and Mat Whitecross
In cinemas now
The Inheritance — In 2000, Hungary's Tisza River was flooded with 120,000 tons of cyanide from an Australian-Romanian gold mine in Baia Mare, Romania. SBS, Friday, November 24, 1pm. Message Stick: 50 Years Indigenous TV — A look at the