Issue 720

News

Around 100 posties and unionists rallied outside the headquarters of Australia Post on August 1 to protest the latest attempts by its management to undermine the wages and conditions of its employees and reduce its service to the community.
On July 31, ALP environment spokesperson Peter Garrett and Labor leader Kevin Rudd — or at least larger-than-life puppets of them — lead a march of 150 people in Newcastle against the coal industry.
Hundreds of people packed out the State Cinema in Hobart to watch the premiere of The Wilderness Society’s (TWS) pulp mill film Tasmania’s Clean Green Future: Too Precious to Pulp. The short film was made by award-winning film-maker Heidi Douglas, who is one of the “Gunns 20’’ defendants being sued by Gunns for previous films. It aims to counter the Tasmanian government’s latest propaganda campaign supporting the proposed pulp mill in the Tamar Valley, which consists of television and newspaper ads and large glossy brochures.
An estimated 8000 people rallied at South Bank and marched to state parliament on August 3 to protest the Queensland Labor government’s plan for the forced amalgamation of 156 local councils into 72. The majority of the marchers were residents of Noosa shire, who were opposing the inclusion of their council into a Sunshine Coast super-council, involving Noosa, Maroochydore and Caloundra.
Eighty people gathered on the steps of Parliament House on August 4 to mark Hiroshima Day, chanting “Land rights — yes! Uranium — no! Johnny Howard has got to go!”
In a landmark case, a South Australian court has ordered the state government to pay $525,000 compensation to 50-year-old Aboriginal man Bruce Trevorrow for damages related to being taken from his mother and given to white foster parents.
Green Left Weekly supporters packed out a global solidarity dinner and cultural night in Footscray on July 28. Special guest Malainin Lakhal, secretary-general of the Union of Saharawi Writers and Journalists, addressed the crowd. Singer/songwriter Anthea Sidiropoulos got everyone dancing and singing to the Greek blues (Rembetika) and Greek love songs (Kantathes).
The Illawarra Aboriginal community led more than 200 protesters through the centre of Wollongong on August 2 in a day of action to express disgust and outrage towards the Howard government’s Northern Territory intervention plan.
In an August 2 media release, Sydney branch of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) announced that it rejects “any suggested implication that demonstrating against the injustices of globalisation and war means support for violence”. The MUA statement was made in response to a NSW police training video for the September APEC summit that featured footage of MUA officials participating in legal non-violent protests.
As striking workers at office supplies manufacturers Esselte Australia in Minto entered their seventh week of resilient action against forced Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs), their boss was getting more desperate.
On July 28, 45 people attended a seminar on “People’s Power in Latin America: rebellion, workers’ control and 21st century socialism”. Held at the Princess May Community Centre, the forum was a joint initiative of the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network (AVSN) and the Australia Cuba Friendship Society (ACFS).
Planning is well underway for the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network’s sixth brigade to Venezuela, to be held from November 23 to December 3, and registrations are open to everyone interested in this unique opportunity to witness firsthand a revolution in the making.

Analysis

On August 2, the federal government announced it would legislate to stop same-sex couples adopting a child from overseas. The move follows the landmark adoption of a boy by two gay men in Western Australia in June.
On July 28, 80 people attended a public forum to hear speakers in support of state Labor MP Candy Broad’s parliamentary bill to remove abortion from the Victorian criminal code.
You wake up in the middle of the night to find three men in your home, stealing documents. One of them is a well-known criminal, one a police officer and one a CIA agent. Don’t worry, it’s all legal and no judge has been bothered for a warrant.
British scientist James Lovelock, famous for his Gaia theory of the earth as a self-regulating organism, was in Adelaide on July 7-8, speaking at the Festival of Ideas. He has researched across a range of disciplines and has much of interest to say. But on the topic of nuclear power, Lovelock is inaccurate and irresponsible.
In Australia, as in other major capitalist countries, the official response to global warming is to deny or gloss over the utter catastrophe confronting human society and try to carry on with business as usual, making only a few relatively minor adjustments here and there.
The front page of the July 25 Australian gushed with a headline making the astounding claim that the Australian Building and Construction Commission(ABCC) had delivered “a $15 billion boost to the economy” by improving productivity as a result of reining in “thuggish union behaviour”.
What do Victorian Labor Premier Stephen Bracks, his successor John Brumby and former Liberal premier Jeff Kennett have in common? A love for neoliberal politics.
With the city of Geelong still reeling from Ford’s announcement that by 2010 it will shut down its V6 engine assembly plant and dismiss 600 workers of the company’s 2600 Geelong employees, another manufacturer has announced that it is reviewing its operations.
When it emerged that Kafeel Ahmed, one of the men implicated in the June 30 botched terrorist attack in Glasgow, had a second cousin working in the Gold Coast Hospital in Queensland, it must have seemed to the Howard government that its election worries were over. Racism, xenophobia and the manufactured threat of terrorism have served Howard well in previous elections. However this time it backfired, with more public anxiety about the frame-up of Dr Mohamed Haneef than about supposed terrorists in our midst.

World

The following is abridged from a July 29 report by the Residents Action Movement (RAM).
About 1400 nurses in Fiji, who began a strike on July 25, were joined on August 2 by thousands of teachers and other public servants, resulting in at least half of Fiji’s 20,000 public sector workers being on strike.
When Rafael Correa was elected president of Ecuador in 2006, campaigning on a strong anti-neoliberal platform to bring about a “citizen’s revolution”, one key social force seemed notably absent from his campaign — the country’s powerful indigenous movement.
The following is abridged from the August 3 edition of US Socialist Worker.
On July 27-28, 200 trade unionists from the higher education, electricity, telecommunications, finance, municipal services, pharmaceutical and health-care sectors in the Israeli-occupied West Bank attended a conference to set up the Coalition of Independent and Democratic Trade Unions and Workers’ Committees.
This appeal was issued on July 30 by Public Services International (PSI) following the assassination of Miguel Angel Vasquez Argueta, finance secretary for PSI’s affiliate STSEL in the electricity sector. PSI is calling for a full and independent investigation into the matter.
Venezuela’s Bolivarian revolution, and in particular its experiments with workers’ co-management and in some instances workers’ control, is at the cutting edge of the global movement against capitalism. With the bosses’ lockout in 2002-03, which shut down much of the Venezuelan economy for a period of two months, hundreds of factories were closed down and workers turned out onto the streets to fend for themselves.
As the European Union, the US and big business vie with each other to be recognised as taking serious action on climate change, Larry Lohmann wonders whether the real leadership is not to be found elsewhere.
One of the leaders of demonstrations in Gaza calling for the release of the BBC reporter Alan Johnston was a Palestinian news cameraman, Imad Ghanem. On July 5, he was shot by Israeli soldiers as he filmed them invading Gaza. A Reuters video shows bullets hitting his body as he lay on the ground. An ambulance trying to reach him was also attacked.
In a July 26 media statement, the Institute for Papuan Advocacy and Human Rights (IPAHR) in Australia expressed its concern at threats by the Indonesian military (TNI) to use militia groups against “separatists” in West Papua.
Five months into a Baghdad-centred “security crackdown”, US officials continue to claim that the 160,000 US troops occupying Iraq are making “progress” in reducing “sectarian violence” in the war-ravaged country. But, according to a July 26 Associated Press tally, at least 1759 Iraqis were killed in war-related violence in July — a 7% increase on the 1640 who were reported killed in June.
Venezuelan private television station RCTV, owned by multi-millionaire Marcel Granier, began broadcasting via cable and satellite television inside Venezuela on July 16, according to a July 31 Wall Street Journal article. RCTV had previously been broadcasting via the government-owned Channel 2 airwaves, however the station’s 20-year concession to use Channel 2 expired on May 27. The government decided not to renew the concession, citing the role played by RCTV in helping to organise the 2002 US-backed military coup that briefly overthrew the elected government, as well as more than 600 violations of Venezuela’s broadcasting law.
As part of the expansion of the pro-poor social programs — known as “missions” — promoted by the government of socialist President Hugo Chavez, Venezuelanalysis.com reported on July 26 that Chavez had announced plans for the construction of 15 new hospitals. The article reports that building new hospitals, along with the transformation of run-down existing public hospitals, make up the third and fourth stage of one of the government’s best known and most successful missions — Barrio Adentro (“Into the Neighbourhood”).

Culture

I’m old enough to remember when a rendition was the singing of a song
and old enough to remember when we knew right from wrong
when clusters referred to gems not bombs
when the Bushes were places that birds hid in
when collateral damage meant you’d lost assets
when civilian casualities caused concern
when daisy cutters were used to mow meadows
when climate change meant it might rain
when we paid countries for their oil rather than invading
and I’m young enough to remember that those were better days.
Sicko
Written, directed and produced by Michael Moore
In cinemas nationally from 9 August
On July 22, 1987, Palestine’s most famous cartoonist, Naji Salim al-Ali, was shot in London an by unknown assassin. He lapsed into a coma and died five weeks later on August 29.
Dream Days at the Hotel Existence
Powderfinger
UMI, 2007
11 tracks, $22.99
Two events took place in Brisbane to commemorate one of the bitterest industrial disputes in Australia’s history. A forum held by the Brisbane Labour History Association, and a musical theatre production Red Cap explored the events of the 1964-65 Mt Isa miners’ strike that put the north Queensland town on the map, galvanising the community in support of the miners.
As It Happened: Fidel Castro — During the 20 years after the Bay of Pigs invasion, Cuba became a prime example of a socialist state, with free education and free health services for its population. SBS, Friday, August 10, 8.30pm. XY Doc: Here's

General

Green Left Weekly is taking a one-week break from publication. The next issue will be dated August 22.
For the last week, I’ve woken up each morning at five to join ordinary Hanoi residents exercising in Lenin Park, which surrounds one of several huge lakes in the centre of the city. The first time I went out of curiosity, but it was such a buzz I’ve returned every morning.

Letters

Uranium exports Last year, the federal government weakened Australian laws that regulate the export of uranium, in order to open up markets in China. Now a further weakening of Australian controls and safeguards is proposed to do the same for

Resistance!

The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting will be held in Sydney in September. Twenty-one nations are represented, from both the First and Third Worlds. It describes itself as the “premier forum for facilitating economic growth, cooperation, trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region”. In reality, it works to ensure that the Third World nations attending further open their markets. This makes it easier for multinational corporations, along with First World nations, to strip the poorer countries’ natural resources with no regard for the environment and to further exploit their work forces.
Imagine a world where international trade was fair. Where, instead of sending troops and police overseas, the Australian government sent thousands of doctors and teachers to poor countries to provide free medical care and education to help the people there improve their lives. The Australian government is not doing this. It has sent hundreds of troops to help steal Iraq’s oil and sends police to the Solomon Islands and other places in the Pacific to guard the theft of these countries’ natural resources.
When US President George Bush comes to Sydney this year, it will be vital that we use his visit to draw attention to the ongoing struggle for same-sex marriage rights and an end to all homophobic policies. PM John Howard and Bush top the list of threats to civil liberties, including some of the most basic rights queers are still fighting for.
US President George Bush and PM John Howard are the world’s biggest climate criminals. The United States emits 25% of the world’s carbon emissions, and Australia is the largest carbon polluter per person in the world. Both countries are the only two developed nations that haven’t signed on to the Kyoto Protocol. For their entire political lives Bush and Howard denied climate change was even happening, but when people all around the world started to see the climate chaos taking place and put pressure on them, they grudgingly acknowledged that it is a reality.