Issue 742

News

Kathy Black, a convener of US Labor Against the War (USLAW), told a union reception in Sydney on February 29 that she is proud that the organisation has brought workers into the anti-war movement, remarking that “this was the first time that labour has been organised against a foreign invasion and occupation”.
As part of a series of nationwide delegates meetings, the Queensland branch of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union held a delegates’ forum on February 26 at the Queensland Council of Unions building.
The campaign against the privatisation of NSW electricity took an important step forward with a February 26 protest outside parliament. Power workers in Bega and Port Macquarie struck in support.
Twenty protesters staged a late afternoon rally on Friday 29 February against ExxonMobil’s new attack on Venezuelan sovereignty, outside the Treasury Casino.
Less than 12 months after its re-election, the NSW Labor government is in a poll slump — Premier Morris Iemma has a public approval rating of just 34%, according to a Nielsen poll released on February 26 (the Coalition’s Barry O’Farrell managed just 27%). The government has been rocked by scandals involving dodgy deals with developers, new hospitals unfit for patients, and faulty equipment delaying the opening of new rail lines.
Victoria’s Labor premier, John Brumby, and education minister Lyn Kosky have refused to meet with the Australian Education Union (AEU) to resolve a deadlock in negotiations over a new enterprise bargaining agreement for teachers.
On February 28, thousands of members of State School Teachers Union of the Western Australia (SSTUWA) defied an order by the Industrial Relations Commission (IRC) to attend stop-work meetings. The meetings were part of the union’s campaign to win a new public schools enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA).
On February 25, 100 people attended a forum at the Redfern Community Centre called “After sorry — where to for Aboriginal rights?”.
A Western Australian campaign group formed over the January 27 death in custody of an Indigenous elder has vowed to continue to fight for justice after being disappointed at the state government’s response.

Analysis

Barbara Shaw, a resident of the Mount Nancy town camp near Alice Springs and a member of the National Aboriginal Alliance, told Green Left Weekly on February 29 that the racist intervention into Northern Territory Aboriginal communities launched by the former Howard government “has been very negative for our people and undermined many of our own ways of dealing with issues”.
Aboriginal activist Natasha Moore has responded to the release of the Western Australian Coroner’s report into Indigenous deaths in the Kimberley by arguing only self-determination can make a fundamental difference to people’s lives.
Five days after the November 24 federal election, outgoing industrial relations minister Joe Hockey admitted, in a rare moment of political honesty, that Work Choices contributed to the Coalition government’s defeat. He declared that the new Labor government was given a mandate by the people to abolish the Work Choices legislation.
During a 10-day tour of NSW, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia in early February, Terry Boehm, vice-president of Canada’s National Farmers Union, and Arnold Taylor, president of the Canadian Organic Growers association, warned Australian farmers against adopting genetically modified (GM) crops.
During a 10-day tour of NSW, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia in early February, Terry Boehm, vice-president of Canada’s National Farmers Union, and Arnold Taylor, president of the Canadian Organic Growers association, warned Australian farmers against adopting genetically modified (GM) crops.
On February 19, Australian Defence Force chief Angus Houston told a Senate committee hearing that planning was underway for a mid-year withdrawal of the ADF’s 550 soldiers based in Iraq’s southern Dhi Qar province, as well as 65 army trainers. However, their withdrawal will leave in place 60% of the ADF personnel assigned to the Iraq war.
International Women’s Day, observed on March 8, is a testimony to women struggling to better their lives.

World

I’m sure that most Green Left Weekly readers are tired of reading Michael Barker’s paranoid ramblings against the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC) and his efforts to convince readers that I and other anti-imperialists and human rights activists who work with ICNC and similar NGOs are somehow acting as agents of the CIA and the Bush administration.
Following the announcement by Fidel Castro on February 19 that he would not stand in the election by Cuba’s National Assembly (AN) for the position of president, the Western media coverage has ranged from grudging acknowledgement of Cuba’s social gains in the face of 50 years of US aggression, to outrageous claims of “dictatorship” and US government plans for a “transition” in Cuba.
“Turkish fighter jets, helicopters and hundreds of commandos streamed across the border into northern Iraq Wednesday despite Iraqi and American calls to swiftly end an operation to root out Kurdish insurgents”, Associated Press reported on February 27.
The Reuters news agency reported on February 22 that the “UN nuclear watchdog said on Friday it confronted Iran for the first time with Western intelligence reports showing work linked to making atomic bombs and that Tehran had failed to provide satisfactory answers”.
Below is a statement from Solidarity Committee with Iranian Workers — Australia
This article originally appeared in the February edition of Progressive Magazine. Since it was published, the “anonymous” US student in Bolivia on a Fulbright scholarship has gone public about being asked by the US Embassy in Bolivia to spy on Cuban and Venezuelan doctors, causing a major scandal. It has been revealed that US Peace Corp participants (who volunteer overseas) were also asked by the embassy to provide information while in Bolivia. This breach of Bolivian law has caused major embarrassment to the US, whose ambassador was hauled in by the Bolivian government, which demanded an explanation. * * *
Franz Chavez is a noted Bolivian journalist who helped found La Prensa and La Razon — two of Bolivia´s most widely read news sources. Chavez currently works for Inter Press Service as part of their Latin American bureau.
Tens of thousands of Gazans attempted to form a human chain thelength of the Gaza Strip on February 25. The action was a protest against Israel’s illegal collective punishment of the 1.5 million residents of Gaza.
On February 24, the left-wing party Die Linke extended its recent run of breakthroughs in German regional elections, winning eight seats in the Hamburg state parliament.
Uruguayan author Eduardo Galeano once stated about US domination of Latin America: “Marines shouldered bats next to their rifles when they imposed imperial order in a region by blood and fire. Baseball then became for the people of the Caribbean what baseball is to [them].”
“Never again will they rob us — the ExxonMobil bandits. They are imperial, American bandits, white-collared thieves. They turn governments corrupt, they oust governments. They supported the invasion of Iraq.”"Never again will they rob us — the ExxonMobil bandits. They are imperial, American bandits, white-collared thieves. They turn governments corrupt, they oust governments. They supported the invasion of Iraq."
Should poor people be given pit latrines and other devices to limit their consumption of water? A resounding yes was heard at the Africa Sanitation conference held during February at the Luthuli International Conference Centre in Durban.
The National Student League for Democracy (LMND) held an action at the office of Exxon-Mobil in Jakarta on February 25 to demand the nationalisation of the Indonesian mining sector.
The following is abridged from an interview with Haiti solidarity activist Roger Annis for the Norwegian left daily newspaper Klassenkampens.
Visibly overcome with emotion, four former Colombian legislators — Gloria Polanco, Luis Eladio Perez, Orlando Beltran and Jorge Eduardo Gechem — held prisoner by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) for years, were reunited with their families in the Simon Bolivar International airport near Caracas on February 27 after a successful Venezuelan-led humanitarian mission.

Culture

The Manifesto of the Communist Party
Karl Marx & Frederick Engels (with a commentary by Leon Trotsky)
Resistance Marxist Library, 1998
74 pages, $8.50
Available at <http://www.resistancebooks.com>
A History Lesson: Art from the Howard Era
Ray Hughes Gallery, Surry Hills, Sydney
Images at
Contact
Until March 15

General

In the article “Anti-pulp mill campaigner: ’We can’t afford to lose’” in GLW #741, a quote was wrongly attributed. The article quoted a press release saying that “peaceful community protest at the construction site is a last resort and we hope it will never be needed. However, we respect the growing feeling in the community that people wish to express their distress at the failure of successive government processes to properly and transparently consider a wide range of concerns about the mill by peacefully protesting”. This press release was issued by Vica Bailey from the Wilderness society, not Bob McMahon from Tasmanians Against the Pulp Mill.
“I hear nothing, I see nothing, I know nothing!”, said Sergeant Hans Schultz in the 1970s US sitcom Hogan’s Heroes.

Letters

Palestine Clearly both Nigel Rogers and Kryten Walia in their respective letters (GLW #740) have some political differences with the Australian Jewish Democratic Society (AJDS). At a guess, they disagree with our support for a genuine two-state
Palestine Clearly both Nigel Rogers and Kryten Walia in their respective letters (GLW #740) have some political differences with the Australian Jewish Democratic Society (AJDS). At a guess, they disagree with our support for a genuine two-state

Resistance!

A lot has changed in the last few months: there’s a new government, Australia has ratified the Kyoto Protocol and climate change as an issue has arrived in the mainstream in a big way. Unfortunately, one thing that is still changing is our climate.