Issue 754

Australia

Key NSW public sector workers — firefighters, teachers and nurses — are to negotiate new agreements this year and are fighting a tough campaign for fair wages as they face attacks from an anti-worker state Labor government.

A report released on June 5 by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) calls for massive job cuts and fair hikes to make Sydney train services more “efficient”. The report recommends cuts amounting to $480 million a year, the June 6 Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Mining giant Xstrata has been condemned by environmental campaigners for its failure to release 1999 data quantifying the impacts of mining operations on lead levels in the Mount Isa area.

One of the less noticed consequences of the ALP’s pre-election promise to take a “meat axe” to the federal public service has been the impact of the cuts being made to cultural institutions.

The Victorian state government’s TAFE “reform” blueprint Securing our Future Economic Prosperity: Discussion Paper on Skills Reform, released in April, pitches for higher course fees and a Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS)-style payment system spread over a few years. Currently, TAFE students pay their course fees up front.

On June 2, the West Australian reported that WA Premier Alan Carpenter had called for a nationwide suspension of approvals for foods containing genetically modified (GM) crops until more health research was carried out. Carpenter said the national food regulator, Food Standards Australia New Zealand should not approve any more food for human consumption until independent scientific trials were conducted to better determine the safety of GM foods.

NSW Treasurer Michael Costa’s third budget, on June 3, included massive handouts to big business and a nasty backhander to workers.

A new group of climate activists resolved on May 31 to campaign against the construction of a massive electricity substation in state forest in the Hackett’s Gully area.
The Hills Climate Action Group was holding its first business meeting after forming at a May 17 public forum.

One thousand farmers from across Victoria descended on Melbourne on June 3 to protest the state government’s North South Pipeline plan, which will bring 75 billion litres of water each year from the Goulburn River across the Great Dividing Range to Sugarloaf Reservoir. The pipeline is due to be completed by 2010.

“Under the jackboot of Howard’s Northern Territory intervention, the great majority of Aboriginal people supported Rudd in the last election. Now they feel betrayed by the Rudd Labor government”, commented Sam Watson, the Socialist Alliance’s national Indigenous affairs spokesperson, at its Queensland state conference on May 31.

The June 5 South Australian Labor government budget has been praised as “outstanding” by business groups and the corporate media. The budget reduces business taxes and funds extensive infrastructure development.

World

The Bolivian government nationalised on June 2 the TR-Holdings company, which owns 50% of the stocks of the Transredes company, consolidating the process of nationalising Bolivia’s gas industry begun on May 1, 2006, the Bolivian News Agency (ABI) reported.

The Colombian government appeared on June 3 in Geneva before the Committee on the Application of Standards at the ILO’s annual session of the International Labour Conference.

I cannot say that I ever liked Ehud Olmert. But now I almost feel sorry for him.

In a massive show of support for the new United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) — established to unite the mass movement that supports the Bolivarian revolution led by President Hugo Chavez — on June 1 some 2.5 million PSUV members participated in an historic process of electing candidates for the upcoming regional elections in November.

“America, this is our moment”, stated Barack Obama on June 3 after winning enough delegates to become the presidential nominee for the Democratic Party.

There is a trial currently taking place in Belfast that seems to explain plainly how nothing makes any sense.

Hector Antonio Ventura and 13 others, now known as the Suchitoto 14, were arrested in July last year for their participation in an anti-water privatisation forum in the town of Suchitoto.

New York Governor David Paterson has instructed all state agencies to revise policies and regulations to recognise same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions, the Associated Press reported May 29. Such issues include family health care plans, joint

On June 1, the eastern Bolivian provinces of Beni and Pando followed the May 4 referendum in Santa Cruz, holding referendums for “autonomy” from the national government. Together with Tarija, whose “autonomy” referendum is scheduled for June 21, these four eastern provinces, known as the “half moon”, are a stronghold of the right-wing oligarchy that is attempting to destablise the government of President Evo Morales.

We all know about climate change, forest destruction and other ecological threats, but in Latin America environmental concern is treated more seriously than perhaps in any other part of the world.

Farmer and civil society leaders carrying out a peaceful action on June 3 in Rome, at the UN Food and Agricultural Organization Summit on the Food Crisis were forcefully removed from the premises. During the action, the security guards seized a

Below is an abridged statement by the US-based Venezuelan Information Office. Visit http://rethinkvenezuela.com.

On June 4, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in the US issued its ruling upholding the convictions of the five Cuban nationals being held in US jails, including the espionage and murder conspiracy convictions. The “Cuban Five” had infiltrated right-wing Cuban exile groups in Miami to help prevent terrorist attacks.

At the same time, the US government has refused demands from the Cuban and Venezuelan governments to extradite convicted terrorist Luis Posada Carriles, responsible for blowing up a Cuban airliner in 1976 that killed all passengers, to Venezuela where he escaped from jail.

Below, is an abridged statement at a May 20 press conference by Gloria La Riva on behalf of the US National Committee to Free the Cuban Five. For more information, visit http://freethefive.org.

According to a June 5 Prensa Latina report, Cuba condemned the Declaration of the Rome Summit on Food Security, describing it as "the result of the lack of political will of the countries of the North" to promote a fair, lasting solution to the

According to a May 25 Tolo TV report, translated and posted on http://rawa.org, civilians in Garmsir District of Helmand Province claim that US forces, involved in military operations in the district in the past two weeks, have killed and imprisoned

“The announcement by the Prime Minister of increasing the price of fuel by 78 sen and increasing diesel by RM1 added with the increase in electricity as well lifting the cap on chicken prices tantamounts to a declaration of war against the ordinary people of Malaysia”, S.Arutchelvan, the secretary general of the Malaysian Socialist Party (PSM) declared in a June 5 statement.

Over 3000 activists and supporters of Labour Party Pakistan (LPP) took part in rally in Lahore on June 6 against the ongoing neoliberal policies of the current Pakistan People’s Party government.

The below appeal for solidarity was posted on . Please send messages of support to arahkiri2009@yahoo.com.

Analysis

“The thought of our beautiful Camden accommodating to this religion is a disgrace … This Islamic school will change the town forever”, “Hayley”, a Camden resident, was quoted by the November 6 Sydney Morning Herald as saying in relation to an attempt to build an Islamic school in the far-outer Sydney suburb.

May marked 60 years since the formation of the state of Israel. Resistance, the socialist youth, organised a national tour of Israeli peace activist Isaac Suisha. Green Left Weekly’s Ewan Saunders spoke to Suisha, who grew up in Israel.

Green Left Weekly asked these Resistance activists what they hope to get out of the national conference in Sydney later this month.

Twenty-first century capitalism has sentenced millions of workers to near slavery in the form of various migrant labour schemes that underpin the mega profits of many giant corporations. From Singapore to Dubai to the US, such schemes spell super-exploitation. So would a “guest
worker” scheme in Australia be much less exploitative?

Like many others, I cut my activist teeth during the Franklin River campaign of the early 1980s. Like thousands of others, I joined the blockades in south west Tasmania and, like hundreds of others, was arrested for my troubles and spent a week in Risdon Jail.

In a country where the balance of power is tipping away from bosses and towards ordinary workers, Venezuela\'s annual May 1 labour celebration holds great significance. It has been declared a national holiday.

When 72-year-olds take their shirts off in anger on a cold winter’s day in Melbourne, you know something is wrong. Seriously wrong.

On June 2, while announcing the withdrawal of 550 Australian combat troops from Iraq, PM Kevin Rudd told parliament that all the arguments justifying the troop deployment in the first place were lies. This vindicates the anti-war movement’s position since the 2003 invasion.

General

On June 5, I joined a suburban World Environment Day campaigning stall organised by Resistance, a socialist youth group in Australia.

Culture

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Directed by Steven Spielberg

Story by George Lucas

With Harrison Ford, Cate Blanchett & Karen Allen

Ningla a-Na

Produced & directed by Fabio & Alessandro Cavadini

Distributed by Smart Street Films

Screening by the Inner West Film Fanatics, Petersham Bowling Club, June 24, 7.00pm

http://www.thepbc.org.au or email innerwestfilmfanatics@yahoo.com.au

Rural Impact!: What to expect from the gas industry & how to address it

Documentary by Aurielle Andhara & Bill Sitkin

Two Cent Films & Crestone Media

crestonemedia@gmail.com

Yossi & Jagger — Two young male officers in the Israeli army are deeply in love with each other, but both have different perceptions about their relationship. SBS, Saturday, June 14, 1.20am.

Embassy Days: Part 2 — Follows the confrontations in