Issue 763

Australia

Thirty people protested outside the office of NSW Labor MP Carmel Tebbutt on August 16 as part of a “Super Saturday” of campaign stalls against electricity privatisation. Around 50 electorates around the state were targeted by Power to the People — a campaign group that includes ALP members, trade unions, Greens, the Socialist Alliance, Solidarity, and other community and environment groups.

Thirty people protested outside the office of NSW Labor MP Carmel Tebbutt on August 16 as part of a “Super Saturday” of campaign stalls against electricity privatisation. Around 50 electorates around the state were targeted by Power to the People — a campaign group that includes ALP members, trade unions, Greens, the Socialist Alliance, Solidarity, and other community and environment groups.

In one of the youngest local government election tickets ever, the Socialist Alliance is standing Laura Ealing, 21, Tom Cameron, 19, and Zane Alcorn, 24, for ward 3 in the upcoming Newcastle council elections.

The WA branch of the Socialist Alliance will stand Julie Gray, a nurse, as a candidate in the September 6 state election. Gray will compete for the Metropolitan North area of the Legislative Council.

Victorian TAFE teachers voted on July 18 to take 24-hour strike action on August 20 in support of better pay and conditions after negotiations with the Victorian TAFE Association stalled.

In a reprise of the battle to save the Franklin River, rural and urban communities are uniting to oppose plans by the Queensland state government to construct a dam across the Mary River. David White asked Steve Posselt about the campaign.

Issy Wyner, one of the early Australian Trotskyists, passed away on August 13, aged 92.

On August 13, Justice Bernard Bongiorno began his summing up in the trial of 12 Muslim men accused of terrorist offences.

Victorian Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) vice president Noel Washington will now face the Geelong Magistrates Court on September 12. Washington was summonsed on June 19 to appear in court on August 8 for failing to comply with the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC). Lawyers acting for Washington contested the charges.

On August 6, in memory of the bombing of Hiroshima by the US in World War II, a vigil to call for the abolition of nuclear weapons was held outside Hobart’s Town Hall. The vigil, attended by 40 people, had a street theatre component to it titled Target X. Members of the Medical Association for Prevention of War (MAPW) and medical students demonstrated the effect nuclear weapons had on people.

“All those who want to live in a healthy, equal society should vote for the Socialist Alliance”, Soubhi Iskander, one of three candidates to contest ward 3 of the Blacktown City Council elections for Socialist Alliance on September 13, told Green Left Weekly.

“Renewables now!”, “Leave coal in the ground”, “No carbon trading loopholes!”, “Expand public transport” and “Keep power in public hands” will be the key demands of a climate emergency rally to be held at Darling Harbour in Sydney on October 2, just days after Ross Garnaut is to deliver his final report on recommendations for Australia’s response to climate change.

More than 200 people attended the preview screening of This is Our Country Too on August 13 at the NSW Teacher’s Federation Auditorium. The event was organised by the Stop The Intervention Coalition, Sydney.

Around 200 angry residents crowded into Sunshine’s Glengala Community Centre on August 12 for a second meeting on a proposed $9 billion east-west road tunnel to be built in their neighbourhood.

A group of maintenance workers at the National Foods milk processing plant in Chelsea Heights has won a 21% pay rise after having been on strike for three and a half weeks from late July. They will resume work on August 17.

Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs) were “abolished” by the Rudd Labor government in February. However, mining giant BHP has taken advantage of “gaps” in the new laws to sign up 46 new employees to a virtually identical Enterprise Workplace Agreement, according to Steve McCartney, WA president of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU).

The Socialist Alliance campaign for Marrickville council is underway, with a ticket of three committed activists nominated for the north ward. The candidates are Pip Hinman, Jill Hickson and Howard Byrnes.

World

With 99% of votes counted, Bolivia’s first indigenous president won a crushing 67.43% vote in the August 10 recall referendum.

On August 7, after a week of border clashes, Georgia’s pro-Western President Mikheil Saakashvili launched a military attack against South Ossetia.

Indonesian labour activist and chairperson of the Deliberative Council of the National Liberation Party of Unity (Papernas), Dita Sari, has declared that she will run for the Star Reform Party (PBR) in the 2009 legislative elections.

Political and social conflict continues to grow in Peru in the wake of a general strike against the neoliberal policies of President Alan Garcia’s government, which saw much of the country paralysed on July 9.

Over the past few months, the Cuban government under President Raul Castro has announced a series of reforms to the island nation’s agriculture and food production policies.

El Salvador is an exciting Central American nation to be watching at the moment, because if current polls are to be believed, the left-wing Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), looks set to win the parliamentary elections in January, and the presidential elections in March.

After a massive campaign launched in February by survivors of the 1984 Bhopal disaster, the Indian government announced on August 8 that it would concede their demands to establish an “empowered commission” for rehabilitation of victims and the environment, and pursue legal action against Dow Chemicals.

In recent years, there has been an intensive, continuous process of concentration and centralisation of corporations operating and controlling the entire production process of global agriculture.

The below appeal for solidarity has been issued by Peace and Justice for Colombia (PJFC), . Liliany Obando was a featured international guest at the Latin America and Asia International Solidarity Forum held in Melbourne over October 11-14 last year. Obando has been contracted to carry out work for Agricultural Workers Union Federation (FENSUAGRO), although she was never an official representative or member of a leadership body of the union.

Cooperativist ecological farmers supported by the Venezuelan government’s land reform programs were attacked on August 7 by armed and masked men who, the farmers say, were hired by large estate owners in the area to cut short the changes heralded by the Bolivarian revolution in their rural Andean mountain valley of El Vallecito.

With the July 16 vote against Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s proposed tax increases on agricultural exports in the Senate, following the biggest social and political confrontation since the 2001 uprising the overthrew several presidents in one week, the right has scored a clear victory.

The below article is reprinted from the website of Action in Solidarity with Asia and the Pacific (ASAP), http://asia-pacific-action.org. Messages of solidarity should be sent to arus_pelangi@yahoo.co.id. For more information, visit http://www.aruspelangi.or.id.

The below statement was released by the Pacific Network on Globalisation (PANG) on August 4. Visit http://pang.org.fj.

“Go Red for China!” was the slogan unveiled on the Chinese mainland by Pepsi-Cola, whose ubiquitous blue can will, “for a limited time”, be red.

Analysis

With the focus on media censorship in China during the Olympics, it is somewhat ironic that Channel Seven refused to run an ad encouraging PM Kevin Rudd, while he was in China, not to remain silent on the repression of the Tibetan people.

On August 4, the Australian Education Union’s (AEU) federal president Angelo Gavrielatos announced the union’s proposed reforms for teachers’ career structure and salaries. It amounts to an endorsement of the divisive “performance pay”, in which schools are treated as businesses rather than places of teaching and learning.

It’s easy to get confused about forests and climate change. Deforestation and forest degradation contribute to around 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions, second only to the burning of fossil fuels to produce energy. Climate scientists say that preserving our forests is a quick, easy and cheap way to prevent further global warming.

Mamdouh Habib, who was tortured in Egypt then detained in the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay for three-and-a-half years before being released in February 2005 without charge, has faced continal harassment and persecution since his return to Australia.

“All those who want to live in a healthy, equal society should vote for the Socialist Alliance”, Soubhi Iskander, one of three candidates to contest ward 3 of the Blacktown City Council elections for Socialist Alliance on September 13, told Green Left Weekly.

Letters

Georgia

I am writing to condemn our news coverage of the war in Georgia.

You could not tell from our "news" or "current affairs" or interviews with "experts", that a US puppet state, armed and trained by Israel and the USA, attacked killing

General

Which bank? Umm, the whole lot of them, actually. But let’s start with “the bank”, the Commonwealth Bank, because its profit report came out last week.

Resistance!

As the Olympic Games opened in Beijing, world leaders have been issuing entreaties to “put politics aside”.

A number of student organisations have responded angrily to the revelation that the National Union of Students (NUS) has reneged on agreements to advocate that the government lower the age of “independence” to 18-years-old immediately.

Culture

The River Runs Free: Exploring & Defending Tasmania’s Wilderness

By Geoff Law

Viking, 2008

292 pages, $32.95

Flesh and the Devil — Looks at compulsory celibacy in the Roman Catholic priesthood, and whether there is a connection between enforced celibacy and deviant sexual behaviour. ABC, Sunday, August 25, 2.35am.

Cutting Edge: Blair and Power — Tony

Privatisation — Sell-off or Sell-out? The Australian Experience

Bob Walker & Betty Con Walker

Sydney University Press, 2008, $19.95

Rod Quantock marks his 40 years in comedy in his latest show, "First Man Standing" running until September 6 at Trades Hall, cnr Lygon and Victoria Streets, Carlton. In the "year of revolutions", 1968, Quantock told his first jokes to an audience and