Issue 740

Australia

For the first time in Australia, a convergence of climate change groups was held in Melbourne on February 9. While the convergence was focused on bringing together climate change groups from Victoria, several groups from Bondi, North Coast, Albury and Wagga Wagga in New South Wales also attended.

NSW firefighters, members of the Fire Brigade Employees Union, took strike action for one hour on February 15 after talks with the NSW state government on a pay offer broke down. The FBEU is seeking a 3.5% pay increase each year for three years, to keep pace with inflation.

On February 12, almost 2000 people gathered in the rain at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra, before marching, in the sunshine, to Parliament House to demand an end to the federal government’s racist “intervention” in the Northern Territory.

In December 2005, four activists (Christians Against All Terrorism) were arrested while carrying out a citizen’s inspection of the US Pine Gap war base, near Alice Springs. They carried out a simple “trespass” action and had permission from the traditional Aboriginal owners.

On February 8, the South Australian government voted to extend its moratorium on commercial GM crops, despite Victoria and New South Wales recently legislating to allow commercial GM plantings. Western Australia and Tasmania still have bans in place.

On February 14, at least 10,000 striking government school teachers rallied in the Vodafone Arena in the Melbourne Park complex in the largest stop-work meeting in the history of the Victorian branch of the Australian Education Union.

Stationery giant Esselte, which last year attempted to force its workforce onto AWAs, is threatening compulsory redundancies against eight workers due to changes to “business processes”.

On February 13, 50 people attended an angry public meeting at the Derbarl Yerrigan Health Services centre in East Perth. The meeting called for an immediate cessation of transporting prisoners long distances in road vehicles following the death in custody on January 27 of an Aboriginal elder.

World

The moves by US oil giant Exxon-Mobil to freeze more than US$12 billion in assets in Britain, the Netherlands, the Dutch Antilles and the United States belonging to Venezuelan state-owned oil company PDVSA is just the latest in a long line of attacks led by the US government on the government of President Hugo Chavez — which is seeking to construct a “socialism of the 21st Century”.

“This is pure judicial terrorism”, Venezuelan energy minister Rafael Ramirez told reporters in Caracas on February 8, in response to court injunctions obtained by US-based ExxonMobil Corp. — the world’s largest oil corporation — in January.

United States oil giant ExxonMobil Corporation has launched a major attack on the Venezuelan people's right to independence and self-determination.

In January and February, ExxonMobil used the courts in Britain, the US and the Netherlands to get

Justice secretary Jack Straw has been forced to order an investigation into allegations that a senior Muslim MP was bugged while visiting a constituent in prison. The February 5 Morning Star reported that Labour MP and government whip Sadiq Khan was allegedly bugged while visiting his constituent Babar Ahmad in a prison in Milton Keynes.

East Timorese President Jose Ramos Horta was rushed to Darwin to undergo emergency surgery after being shot three times in a February 11 attack on his residence by armed rebels. The apparent leader of the assailants, Major Alfredo Reinado, was killed in the incident.

Hollywood writers won gains following a 14-week strike against TV and film producers that ended with a new contract giving them a percentage of revenue for programs streamed on the internet — a demand that industry bosses had vowed to resist.

Since January 12, more than 1600 delegates to the founding congress of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) — along with thousands of local socialist battalions (branches — have been discussing the new party’s program, principles and statutes, and in large part the future of the Bolivarian revolution.

It was a victory long overdue. The corporate giant — plantation company Lion Group — could have resolved the issue a decade ago, but it chose the path of arrogance and sheer disregard for its toiling workers.

The following is abridged from a January 18 article by Richard Samuelson, the co-director of Britain’s Free West Papua Campaign ().

Despite claims by Washington’s puppet government in Baghdad that “security” in Iraq has dramatically improved over the past six months, the latest figures compiled by the UN’s refugee agency show that many more Iraqis are continuing to flee their war-torn country to neighbouring Syria than are returning.

In what country does protesting against water privatisation — or better put, protesting against the removal of your only source of water — lead to the police killings of a protesting child, arrests and bashings of protesters and a threatened 60 year jail sentence under the “anti-terrorism” legislation?

Politics, culture and sports take center stage in Cuba this February, beginning with a Chinese New Year celebration, a coast-to-coast cycling competition, international jazz festival, mammoth book fair and, yes, the election of the next Cuban president.

The pink slips are piling up, and jobs are getting a lot harder to find. That’s the unmistakable conclusion of the US government’s employment report for December.

In a world where the mainstream media riddles dumbed-down news reportage with inane sports metaphors, sometimes it takes sports to remind us of the gravity of the actual news.

Analysis

Over the last few weeks, a series of Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) articles have revealed the corruption of the federal Socio-Economic Status (SES) funding model, used to allocate education funds to private schools.

Almost universally, governments are refusing to recognise the scope and urgency of the changes demanded by global warming. The menace, however, is real, and the time available for concerted action to combat it is frighteningly brief.

Members of the NSW Teachers’ Federation (NSWTF) have much to be concerned about — salaries, public education system award conditions, staffing arrangements and the teacher shortage responsible for increased teacher workload and lowering of teacher qualifications standards.

A packed public meeting at Brisbane’s Activist Centre on February 6 heard Brian Senewiratne, a Sinhalese consultant physician in Brisbane, deliver a passionate and informative presentation on the long struggle of Sri Lanka’s Tamil-speaking minority against persecution by that country’s Sinhalese-dominated government.

“As prime minister of Australia, I am sorry. On behalf of the government of Australia, I am sorry. On behalf of the parliament of Australia, I am sorry.” With these words, on February 13, PM Kevin Rudd opened the first session of the newly elected government and did what the previous Howard government had failed to do for its eleven years in power.

The basic argument in favour of the privatisation of electricity generation and distribution is simple — public ownership allows too much bargaining power to electricity workers and their unions (which they will always use to defend “inefficient practices” and “overstaffing”); it also fosters over-investment in generation capacity by engineers concerned to guarantee service reliability (“gold-plating”).

In the afterglow of saying sorry to the Stolen Generations, the federal Labor government introduced its first piece of industrial relations legislation into parliament on February 13 — the Workplace Relations Amendment Bill. While the government claims that this legislation is the first step in dismantling Work Choices, in fact, it will leave most of Work Choices intact.

Letters

Tet offensive

Thanks for your excellent piece in GLW #737 on the 1968 Tet offensive. It filled a gap in my knowledge on the Vietnam War. It's a pleasure to read well-written articles in the media. (You can imagine what kind of print media we get

General

“M” was born in a small town in Western Australia’s wheat belt. Around those parts, lads like M were called “Keller fellers”. They were wildly applauded when they performed for the local football team but they knew about certain lines that they could not cross. An outsider could not see those invisible fences, but to the locals, white and black alike, they may as well have been painted in fluoro paint.

Resistance!

This year is the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day. Each year, people gather all over the world on March 8 — or the closest weekend — to celebrate working class women and the struggle that has gone before us, and to continue the struggle into the future.

Music is an expression of the human condition and human society, so in exceptional moments in history, exceptional music is produced. It is no coincidence that when there is an increased political consciousness in society, new political music and culture accompany it. Whether it’s the unemployed workers of the 1930s or the anti-globalisation movements of today, there are always particular musicians that capture the mood of the moment.

Culture

On January 26, Invasion Day, Anti-Flag opened their Sydney show, with bass player, Chris #2 beginning, “On behalf of all nationalist, racist holidays, this songs called ‘Fuck You and Your Fucking Flag!’”

The Prodigal Son — Explores how two first-generation migrant parents have struggled to come to terms with their son's sexuality. SBS, Friday, February 22, 3pm.

Footprints in the Sand — It is over forty years since "Yullala", as Geoffrey is

Last Night I Dreamed of Peace: An Extraordinary Diary of Courage from the Vietnam War

By Dand Thuy Tram

Rider, 2007

225 pages, $32.95 (pb)

The heArt of my reVersing: a redemption song through original poems and short stories in verse

Lili Tuwai

Vusa Wai Tui Publishing, 2007

$14.95, <http://www.lilituwai.com/>

On January 26, Invasion Day, Anti-Flag opened their Sydney show, with bass player, Chris #2 beginning, “On behalf of all nationalist, racist holidays, this songs called ‘Fuck You and Your Fucking Flag!’”