Issue 751

News

NSW Labor’s proposal to build a dam in the Tillegra Valley will be a waste of $300 million, according to local residents who picketed the offices of Hunter Water in Newcastle on May 16.
More than 1000 electricity workers, employed by Energex, Ergon Energy and Powerlink, marched through the city on May 14 in an escalation of the combined power unions’ campaign for improved pay and conditions from the three state government-owned corporations.
Five months into its term the Rudd government delivered on one of its pre-election promises and ended the Temporary Protection Visa program. The TPV program was hatched by the ultra-racist Pauline Hanson and introduced by the Howard government in 1999. It placed successful asylum seekers on three year temporary visas, having to endure the horror of being reviewed and possibly deported after three years.
For the last four weeks, Muslim students at the city campus of RMIT have been protesting the university administration’s decision to convert the newly built Muslim prayer room into another multi-faith centre. Muslim students have held their Friday prayers in congregation in an open public space, to demonstrate their need for a dedicated Muslim prayer facility.
Public school teachers committed to keeping a state-wide centralised model of staffing that guarantees teachers’ transfer rights and delivers equity for students and school communities voted on April 8 for a 24-hour strike on May 22.
Israel’s 60th birthday caused quite a stir in Leichhardt (Sydney). To mark the 60th anniversary of what Palestinians call al Nakba (the catastrophe), on May 8 the Leichhardt Public Library allowed a local peace activist group to install Hebron and al Nakba.
“Today Israel celebrates its 60th birthday. Today is anything but a celebration for Palestinians. For them it is the 60th anniversary of The Catastrophe (Al Nakba, in Arabic)”, Fay Waddington from the Queensland Palestinian Solidarity Campaign told a speak-out on May 15. The speak-out was organised by the QPSC, Fair Go for Palestine and the Stop the War Collective.
After more than three years of detention, on May 16 Ali Beg Humayun was told by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship he had been granted permanent residency.
Thirty people held a Quaker-initiated vigil at the steps of Newcastle Local Courthouse on May 13 in support of the “Kooragang 16”. The 16 faced charges for trespassing on the construction site of a new coal-loader being built in Newcastle.
Angry at the raw deal they received in Treasurer Wayne Swan’s budget, up to 300 pensioners blockaded one of Melbourne’s busiest intersections on May 16.Angry at the raw deal they received in Treasurer Wayne Swan's budget, up to 300 pensioners blockaded one of Melbourne's busiest intersections on May 16. Traffic was blocked for up to an hour before police moved the crowd onto the footpath; and some of the protesters stripped off to express their frustration.

Analysis

Since beginning its first parliamentary term with the symbolic apology to the Stolen Generations, the Rudd Labor government has promised a shift away from the hostility towards Indigenous Australians shown by the previous Howard government.
I’m writing on May 13 at 5:19am from the city of Wanzhou, Chongqing Municipality, China. I’ve just re-entered my apartment after the latest aftershock sent everyone onto the streets once more. It’s been a long 15 hours since the initial earthquake yesterday afternoon that so devastated Wenchuan and surrounds, such as the beautiful city of Chengdu. At this moment, my understanding of the scope of this disaster is only what I have been able to garner from international news websites and secondhand reports from my Chinese friends.
The Rudd government’s first budget, touted as a “Robin Hood” budget, takes very little from the “rich” and gives practically nothing to the poor and disadvantaged. In its fundamentals, it continues on from where the former Howard Coalition government left off.
“First World countries are the leaders in carbon emissions, and it is the Third World who faces the consequences”, Bangladeshi Professor Anu Muhammad told a crowd of 50 at public forum on May 14. “A one-metre rise in sea level would displace 40 million people and would submerge 30% of our country.”
The following statement is from the Climate Camp organising committee.
A casual glance at the ALP’s federal budget would have you believe that there will be a net loss of 1224 public sector jobs over the next financial year. That figure, derived from an actual cut of 5061 jobs, balanced by 3837 new jobs, belies what will happen.
The federal Labor government says it is not homophobic. Yet it agrees with its Coalition predecessor that marriage is a “union between a man and woman”. Regardless of opinion on marriage, the legal rights afforded this institution should be available to all couples regardless of gender.
The coal industry is planning to replace oil by turning coal into liquid fuels and into feedstocks for the chemical industry. Of course they are also planning to burn ever-more coal to produce electricity. If these plans materialise, green chemistry and renewable solar energy will both be sidelined for the rest of this century.
The battle over the privatisation of NSW electricity continues. A power industry delegates’ meeting on May 15 condemned the state ALP government’s push to privatise the retail electricity providers and generators and reaffirmed its “total rejection” of the government’s plans.

World

Prensa Latina reported on May 12 that the US government closed several websites by Steve Marshall, a British resident in Spain, owner of a travel agency, for their trade links with Cuba. In October Washington ordered the US Web hosting company eNom
An expanded form of this article first appeared in Revista Corriente Alterna. The translation of this extract is by British group, Socialist Resistance.
East Timor's foreign minister Zacarias Albano da Costa met with his Cuban counterpart Felipe Perez Roque in Havana where he thanked the country for its continuous support of East Timor, "even under the most difficult circumstances", according to a
Karl Marx, born nearly two centuries ago, had in 1867 (in the first volume of Capital) laid bare the “intimate connection between the pangs of hunger of the most industrious layers of the working class, and the extravagant consumption, coarse or refined, of the rich, for which capitalist accumulation is the basis”.
In May and June of 1968, a movement erupted in France that threatened not just the survival of the government of President Charles De Gaulle but the system that it represented — capitalism.
Reuters reported on May 16 that Venezuela had "shut the door to new gold projects and threatened other mining and logging concessions". Environment minister Yuviri Ortega said Venezuela will "deny environmental permits" for any open-pit mines and
In the May 1 local council elections in England and Wales, the ruling Labour Party, led by Prime Minister Gordon Brown, suffered its worst election defeat in 40 years.
Twenty thugs brutally attacked the offices of Political Committee of the Poor — FPRM-PRD in Balikpapan, East Kalimantan on May 17 while activists were present. Police and intelligence agents, who had the offices under surveillance, were seen to
A May 13 statement from the Zimbabwe International Socialist Organisation (ISO) condemned “the arrest and detention of Zimbabwe congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) President Lovemore Matombo and Secretary General Wellington Chibhebhe on the 8th of May”.
Below is an abridged statement by the Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Campaign.
The Residents’ Action Movement has been growing rapidly in the last month (with around 100-300 people joining per week) as a result of the popularity of their key campaign — to remove the 12.5% goods and services tax on food.
The article below was originally from Tolo TV news. It was translated by the Revolutionary Association of Women in Afghanistan, see http://rawa.org.
A new period of uncertainty has opened in Bolivia with the initiation of recall referendums for the president and prefects of Bolivia’s nine departments by the opposition-controlled Senate.
Below is a May 10 article from the Earth Times. It is reprinted from http://rawa.org.
@intro = Two hundred protesters from churches, unions and community groups marched and picketed outside the office of the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in downtown San Francisco on May 5.
According to Nigel Roberts, World Bank country director for the West Bank and Gaza, closures of Israeli checkpoints and roadblocks that divide the West Bank “are the key factor behind today’s crisis in the West Bank. They have fragmented the economic space of Palestinians, raised the cost of doing business and eliminated the predictability needed to conduct business.”
“Ten days after Cyclone Nargis, Burma faces further crisis as its military regime refuses to acknowledge the plight of its people”, according to a statement released by seven pro-democracy groups in Burma on May 14.
The drums of war are once again beginning to sound, as US imperialism steps up its propaganda attack on Venezuela’s Bolivarian revolution.

Culture

The Whale Warriors: On Board a Pirate Ship in the Battle to Save the World’s Largest Mammals
By Peter Heller
HarperCollins, 2007
303pages, $28 (pb)
Stop-Loss
Directed by Kimberly Peirce
Written by Kimberly Peirce & Mark Richard
With Ryan Phillippe, Channing Tatum & Abbie Cornish
In cinemas August 18

General

“Two things keep me sane”, wrote in a Green Left Weekly subscriber with her payment for renewal, “Green Left Weekly and Radio National”. She is just one of a large number of loyal readers and supporters of this important project for change.

Letters

Carlos Caceres (Write On #750) observes that a doubling of renewable energy capacity worldwide would only result in a 0.29% reduction in global emissions, and insinuates a reduction of this scale would be "inconsequential". No shit, Sherlock. Why do

Resistance!

While we heralded the end of the Howard regime, those of us involved in the many campaigns for social and environmental justice knew the fight had not ended with his demise. We knew the struggle for real and lasting justice would go on, and this is why it is important that we stay inspired and active.