Issue 764

News

On August 18, former Guantanamo Bay detainee Mamdouh Habib was fined $400 in the Ryde Local Court for offensive language and behaviour towards police. The ruling will be appealed in the Parramatta District Court on September 11.
On August 20, activists from the Student Housing Action Collective (SHAC) at Melbourne University occupied four terrace houses in Faraday St, Carlton. The houses are owned by Melbourne University and were used as student counselling offices until 2005.
Wollongong residents, concerned and angry about the systemic corruption of the local council, its subsequent sacking and the prospect of another fours years without democratic representation in the region, met on August 16 at the Fraternity Club for a major anti-corruption conference.
The people of El Salvador will go to the polls on January 18 for the legislative elections, then again on March 15 for the presidential ballot.
The Socialist Alliance has condemned NSW Premier Morris Iemma’s latest bid to rush through enabling legislation to sell off the state’s energy retailers and generators.
In a move eerily reminiscent of the lousy pay offers this year to NSW and Victorian public sector workers, the Queensland Labor government has offered staff at the Department of Main Roads a 3.25% per year increase for the three years of their current enterprise agreement. The offer is significantly below the official inflation rate in Brisbane of 5.1%, the highest of any capital city in Australia.
Two thousand striking Technical and Further Education (TAFE) teachers gathered at Melbourne’s Atheneum Theatre on August 20 to demand better pay and conditions. The last time Victorian TAFE teachers went on strike was under Jeff Kennett’s Coalition state government 13 years ago.
Documents leaked from Telstra’s human resources department and released by the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) to the Sydney Morning Herald on August 14, show that the company wants to bypass unions and impose a non-union collective agreement on its 32,000 employees, thereby cutting its annual wages bill by $50 million. On August 13, Telstra announced a $3.7 billion profit for the 2007-08 financial year.
Around 150 women and men gathered on the lawns of the Mt Isa Civic Centre on August 19 to condemn Mayor John Moloney’s recent statement degrading women and to demand his resignation.

Analysis

When you see the line-up of candidates running for Newcastle council in the September 13 elections, you notice the average demographic is seriously out of whack with that of the region.
When a teacher at Fort Street High School recommended that students read the economist John Maynard Keynes, the school boy Isadore Wyner suggested Karl Marx. Young Issy was reprimanded. This did not stop him from engaging with the world for another eight decades.
The act of a doctor performing an abortion in Victoria has been listed as a crime in the Crimes Act since 1958.
The social impact of increasing petrol prices and mortgage costs, and persistent inflation, continues to deepen. The financial pressure on lower-income households across Australia has massively increased, according to Jago Dodson and Neil Sipe in their study Unsettling Suburbia: The New Landscape of Oil and Mortgage Vulnerability in Australian Cities, released through Griffith University on August 11.
November 11 is Remembrance Day, marked each year to commemorate those who have died in war.
Low-income tenants in community housing will face greater hardship following a recent NSW government policy decision that means tenants will lose their rent assistance.
This month the federal Labor government announced a pilot seasonal worker scheme in the horticulture industry. Under the trial, up to 2500 visas will be available over three years for workers from Kiribati, Tonga, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea to work in Australia for up to seven out of any 12 months. Swan Hill in Victoria and Griffith in NSW, among other horticultural districts, are being considered for the pilot.
On July 28, the Sydney Morning Herald revealed internal state government documents stating that even if prices for petrol, parking and road tolls increased massively, Sydney’s car use would still climb beyond NSW government targets by 2016.

World

Gilda Chacon is the Asia, Oceania, Africa and Middle East representative of the Cuban Confederation of Trade Unions (CTC) and an elected delegate of the People’s Power Municipal Assembly. Green Left Weekly’s Annolies Truman interviewed her during her August 17 – 20 visit to Perth to liaise with WA trade unions.
Approximately 10,000 people rallied at Launceston City Park on August 23 in opposition to Gunns’ proposed pulp mill.
Attn: The Public Prosecutors Office No.5 of the city of Valencia, Control Tribunal 7 of the city of Valencia, State of Carabobo, Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela
“We are the creditors!” insist a new layer of African social activists, victimised by the ongoing Third World debt crisis but now gathered to fight back.
The Sri Lankan government’s war against the Tamil people is intensifying.
Since the European Union-brokered ceasefire brought the shooting war between Georgia and Russia to an end on August 12, there has been a war of words between Russia and the West.
Climate Code Red: The Case for Emergency action
By David Spratt & Philip Sutton
Scribe Publications, 2008
320 pages, $27.95
The owner of Fundimeca, an air conditioning factory in Valencia, Carabobo, is waging an intense campaign of terror and intimidation against the factory’s work force.
Violent attacks on police officers, roadblocks, civic stoppages enforced by armed fascist youth groups and threats to cut off meat supplies and take over gas fields have all been part of what left-wing Bolivian President Evo Morales has denounced as an attempted “civil coup” by “desperate people” following his August 10 recall referendum victory.
Durban’s University of KwaZulu-Natal vice-chancellor Malegapuru Makgoba is expected to deliver an edict that the UKZN’s Centre for Civil Society (CCS) will close on December 31.
The admission by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) that it knows the location of loyalist paramilitary weapons dumps, is no surprise considering the involvement of police in the six counties that make up Northern Ireland with loyalist killer gangs over the years, according to Sinn Fein’s Alex Maskey.
Thousands across Pakistan celebrated the humiliating departure of dictator Pervez Musharraf on August 18.
On November 22 this year, the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders’ meeting will convene in Lima, Peru.
For four months following the historic elections for a constituent assembly — which formally ended the monarchy and established a republic — the small Himalayan nation was in a state of limbo as right-wing forces disrupted attempts to establish a national consensus government.
The Dalai Lama has accused Chinese authorities in Tibet of opening fire on unarmed protesters, and alleged that at least 400 people had been killed since March, according to an August 22 AFP report.
Over August 9-11, almost all of the candidates of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) registered for the upcoming November 23 state and regional elections in the National Electoral Council (CNE) office, many accompanied by large marches of their supporters.
Taking advantage of the political capital it gained with the Colombian military rescue of high-profile Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) prisoner Ingrid Betancourt on July 2, the government of Colombian President Alvaro Uribe has launched a major crackdown on political opponents and social movement leaders.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has promised new Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo “all the oil he needs” during a public event in Uruguay after Lugo was inaugurated on August 15.
Unemployment in Venezuela dropped from 8.8% in July 2007 to 7.2% in July 2008, the National Statistics Institute (INE) announced on August 14.

Culture

Love War & Peace
Featuring the Sydney Soloists
September 1, 7pm, Music Workshop, Sydney Conservatorium of Music
Tickets $25
Bookings http://www.cityrecitalhall.com or (02) 8256 2223
Tasmania’s Wilderness Battles: A History
By Greg Buckman
Jacuna, 2008
272 pages, $29.95
Succumb
Music by David Bridie
Liberation Music
11 tracks, $26.99

General

There is good news and bad news. Let's have the bad news first.

Letters

Fraternite, egalite and liberte? While I deeply share Luke Vanni's concerns (Write On #763) about the exploitation of women, I find the French State Council's decision to deny Faiza Silmi's application for citizenship on the basis of wearing a