Issue 722

News

Melbourne workers have decided to take to the streets again. A meeting of around 500 shop stewards and job delegates from the building, construction, manufacturing and related industries on August 22 endorsed a proposal to hold a pre-federal election mass rally and march at 10am on September 26. The rally and march will begin from the Victorian Trades Hall building
In a major victory for protesters who defied police attempts to prevent a peaceful protest against US Vice-President Dick Cheney from taking to the streets in February, all seven activists who have so far faced court have had wins. These activists faced charges including resisting arrest, obstruction of police and assault.
A four-day rooftop protest by three detainees at Sydney’s Villawood Immigration Detention Centre ended peacefully on August 21. The three detainees — New Zealand men Montana Kelly, 27, and Bruce Ngaromo, 32, and 30-year-old Vietnamese man Van Nguyen — scaled the roof in protest at the cancellation of some visiting and excursion rights after a detainee failed to return from day leave.
On August 17, Ali Humayun, a Pakistani gay man locked up in Sydney’s Villawood detention centre, received a report from the federal ombudsman recommending he be released into the general community while he waits for the High Court to hear his appeal against a decision by a member of the Refugee Review Tribunal (RRT) to reject granting him refugee status.
Anti-war activist Anna Samson was given the third degree by customs when she arrived back in Australia on August 22 following a work-related visit to Malaysia. This stands in contrast to APEC officials who are being escorted through customs without having to even pass through quarantine.
The federal government’s political campaign against Dr Mohamed Haneef took a further blow on August 19, when Federal Court judge Jeffrey Spender ruled that immigration minister Kevin Andrews had unlawfully cancelled Haneef’s work visa on character grounds.
Hundreds of social-movement activists, trade unionists, students, Indigenous people, environmentalists and other progressive people will be gathering in Melbourne in mid-October to hear the most impressive line-up of international guest speakers to meet in Australia for many years.

Analysis

In a desperate attempt to justify the criminal and disastrous US war of occupation in Iraq, President George Bush has chosen to wrestle the ghost of the US defeat in the Vietnam War.
In a move that blatantly undermines the cause of nuclear weapon non-proliferation, on PM John Howard announced on August 17 that Canberra had reached an “in principle” agreement with New Delhi to sell uranium to India, one of only three states in the world — along with Pakistan and Israel — that have not signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Thousands of people will gather at Sydney Town Hall on September 8 in what is expected to be the largest protest demonstration during the coming Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit.
Health was thrown into the pre-election spotlight on August 1 when PM John Howard stepped in to rescue Mersey Hospital in Tasmania from financial difficulties. In a mantra with some similarities to that used to justify the takeover of Indigenous communities in the Northern Territory, Howard blamed an inefficient state government for its inability to solve the crisis.
Radio shock jock Alan Jones has done it again: he’s inciting the police to violently repress peaceful protesters who want to rally when US President George Bush comes to Sydney for APEC.
The fight over Gunns Ltd’s proposed pulp mill, which has now moved to the national stage, is so contentious because it will determine the future of Tasmania. If this mill is allowed to be built, the logging of native forests in Tasmania will be massively expanded and an investment of this size would lock Tasmania into the logging industry for decades to come.
The National Business Action Fund Limited, a collection of some of the largest business peak groups in Australia (including the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) and the Business Council of Australia (BCA)), launched a series of ads earlier this month, aimed at scaring voters away from supporting parties that did not support the Coalition’s IR “reforms”.
Working with Aunty Mary Davis, who died at the age of 67 on August 12, was working with a powerful fire, determined to rip through prejudice and create justice. “She was always at the forefront of anything, with government and non-government agencies, organisations, the community”, says Aunty Mary’s son, Richard.

World

On August 20, Israel deported 50 Sudanese refugees who had entered the country from Egypt. The deportation went ahead despite 63 of the 120 members of the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) signing a petition calling on the Olmert government to allow them to remain in Israel until an alternative country could be found to take them in.
Having come out of an intense period of political confrontation, including the biggest mobilisation in Bolivia’s history, this landlocked country situated in the heart of rebellious South America seems on the verge of plunging into a new phase of open conflict. At the centre of this is the country’s Constituent Assembly — a central plank of Bolivia’s cultural and democratic revolution, led by the country’s first indigenous president, Evo Morales — which was convened over a year ago with the goal of achieving a new social pact between Bolivia’s conflicting sectors and drafting a new constitution that would for the first time include the country’s indigenous majority.
The official left-wing of the Scottish Labour Party has failed to get a candidate onto the ballot paper in the election of the party’s next leader. The August 22 Morning Star reported that “Any leadership candidate needed a minimum of five other MSPs [members of the Scottish parliament] to support them, but the Scottish Campaign for Socialism was only able to muster four names in total as nominations for the post closed at noon on August 21”.
In GLW #718, Jack Duvall, the president of the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC), published a letter in response to a couple of “errors” Eva Gollinger made in her interview “US continues destabilisation push in Venezuela” in GLW #716. Duvall denied accusations that his group had been involved in training activist groups involved in the recent “color revolutions” in Eastern Europe, and in opposing Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. However, Duvall does admit in his letter that in March 2005 the ICNC “gave support to the [Albert] Einstein Institute for a workshop it conducted on nonviolent action for Venezuelans, [which was] held in Boston”.
On August 16, Iraqi PM Nuri al Maliki and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani announced the formation of a “new” political alliance consisting of Makili’s Islamic Dawa (Dawn) party, Talabani’s Patriotic Union of Kudistan (PUK), Massound Barzani’s Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) and Abdul-Aziz al Hakim’s Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council (SIIC).
The Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), the Cuban- and Venezuelan-initiated Latin America trading bloc that bases itself on solidarity and cooperation, is continuing to expand and develop as a genuine alternative to the US-pushed neoliberal “free trade” policies that have caused widespread suffering across Latin America.
On August 15 — the third anniversary of President Hugo Chavez’s victory in the recall referendum of 2004 and the 202nd anniversary of Venezuelan independence hero Simon Bolivar’s famous oath not to rest “until the chains of oppression are lifted from my people” — tens of thousands of people turned out to an extraordinary session of Venezuela’s National Assembly (AN) to hear the president’s proposed constitutional reforms.
New evidence has been presented in a judicial review of Garuda Indonesia pilot Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto — who was acquitted last year for murdering renowned human rights activist Munir — that links the murder with the National Intelligence Agency (BIN).
The Chicago Black community has accused the police of unjustifiably killing two unarmed Black men during the first week in August in separate incidents and abusing those who have come into the street to protest those killings.
Following the first collapses among its lenders last year, the US subprime mortgage market began a sharper collapse in recent weeks, sustaining losses that an investment offshoot of Banque Agricole estimated in mid-August to be US$150 billion.
Representatives of Western Sahara’s Polisario Front (the Saharawi liberation movement) and the Moroccan government met in Manhasset, New York, on August 10 and 11 with a view to “achieving a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution, which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara” — the words of UN Security Council’s Resolution 1754, adopted on April 30.
Former East Timorese prime minister Mari Alkatiri has called for the withdrawal of Australian troops from his country. Speaking to Agence France-Presse on August 20, he said: “It would be better for Australian troops to just return home if they cannot be neutral. They came here to help us solve our problems, but they came to give their backing to one side and fight against the other.”

Culture

Message Stick: Aboriginal Rules — Showcases the work of Indigenous writers, directors and producers through the production of five-minute films. ABC, Sunday, September 2, 1.30pm.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
By J.K. Rowling
Bloomsbury, 2007
607 pages,49.95
Save Sandon Point
Exhibition & fundraising auction
Mori Gallery, 168 Day Street, Sydney (near Darling Harbour)
September 1, from 3pm
For information. Ph 0415 111 631, 0423 341 781 or Mori Gallery (02) 9283 2903
Simpsons Movie
Directed by David Silverman
Written by James Brooks & Matt Groening
With Dan Castellaneta & Julie Kavner.

General

Debra Jopson is an investigative reporter with a conscience and a very good record for exposing the crimes that continue to be committed against Indigenous people of Australia. Her latest expose, in a series of articles in the Sydney Morning Herald on August 21-22, was of a multi-million dollar robbery of funds allocated to address the Third World-like conditions of Indigenous Australians. And who was the robber? The Howard government.

Letters

APEC protests I am constantly outraged at the way the media and government label any protests at events such as the upcoming APEC summit as "violent". Two months ago they were already writing articles about the potential violence that will occur

Resistance!

Radio show hosts, politicians and government bureaucrats have been competing to be the most vehement to condemn the September 5 student walkout against US President George Bush’s visit to Australia.
Perth high school and university students explain why they are joining the September 5 national student walkout against the visit of US President George Bush.
Students organising the September 5 walkout against US President George Bush have initiated the following sign-on statement for parents and teachers to support the right of students to protest.