Issue 765

Australia

The NSW Greens have called for moratorium on the issuing of water licenses in the Murray-Darling Basin until a thorough independent study of the cumulative impact of mining on water resources in the basin has been made.

The call came from an August 25 public forum hosted by the Greens in...

"People are eating mainly bread, flour, milk powder and sugar, and deriving a huge proportion of their energy from these foods that cost the least but are going to fill people up and divert hunger", Julie Brimblecombe told ABC Radio National's The World Today on August 25.

...

Up to 5000 Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union members in Victoria's building industry unanimously endorsed an enterprise agreement that guarantees a 15% pay rise over the three years of the agreement.

CFMEU assistant state secretary Bill Oliver said the agreement will cover...

A Rudd government plan to punish parents dependent on welfare with up to three months' loss of income if their children play truant has been condemned as "elitist and out of touch" by Tasmanian Aboriginal leader Michael Mansell.

Last week, the government unveiled plans to extend the...

Fifteen hundred electricity workers walked off the job on August 29, just 24 hours after the NSW cabinet voted to sell off electricity retail in NSW.

The workers, from power retail and generation, will consider further action at a stop-work meeting on September 2.

United Services...

"Archbishop [John] Bathersby must have solved all Brisbane problems of homelessness, of abuse, of refugees ... if he wants to focus on such idiotic matters", a St Mary's parishioner told a 500-strong packed gathering at the South Brisbane church on August 25 in response to the archbishop's...

Teachers in Victoria have been dealt another blow, with greater powers being handed to the Victorian Institute of Teaching as part of a review of the VIT launched mid-2007.

On August 22, the state government announced that minor offences, and allegations by teachers of minor offences,...

Building unions, legal representatives and building workers met with ALP parliamentarians in Canberra on August 25 to lobby for the abolition of the Australian Building and Construction Commission.

The ABCC has unprecedented legal powers and was set up under the previous Howard government...

The Queensland branch of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union has called statewide stop-work actions and rallies on September 12, the day Victorian CFMEU official Noel Washington faces an initial hearing in Geelong over charges brought by the Australian Building and Construction...

Journalists at Fairfax publications walked off the job after mass meetings on August 28. The journalists, members of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA), struck for a pay increase and against the announced sacking of 550 staff from Australian and New Zealand Fairfax operations....

On August 28, federal environment minister Peter Garrett announced the expansion of the Beverley uranium mine, situated in South Australia's far north-east.

Heathgate Resources, a subsidiary of US company General Atomics, will now expand the area of land mined, while the already approved...

In a breakthrough for the WA anti-uranium movement, Premier Alan Carpenter has promised to legislate to ban uranium mining in the state if his government is re-elected at the September 6 state poll.

The announcement is a policy reversal: while having maintained a ban through Carpenter's...

On August 27, outside a "Defence White Paper community consultation", Stop the War Coalition held a protest. Inside, peace activists made up about 40% of an audience of about 100.

Chairing the consultation was former national ALP president, now business consultant, Stephen Loosely — who...

A county court judge reduced the sentences of four G20 protesters on appeal on August 28. The four, along with other activists, received severe penalties last April in relation to altercations with police at a protest against the G20 meeting held in Melbourne in November 2006.

Five...

A busload of "Save the Mary River" activists from Brisbane will join an expected 1000-plus protesters to form a human chain at the location of the planned Traveston Dam on the Mary River on September 6. The rally will be part of GetUp's climate torch relay, in support of actions to address...

The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) has finalised the first agreement in a new round of collective bargaining in universities. The University of Ballarat agreement gives a 10.9% pay increase over 15 months.

A range of other gains include an increase in loading for casual teaching...

World

Below is the text of the resolution of the
National Coalition for Change (CONALCAM) meeting held in Cochabamba on August 22-23. It is reprinted from Bolivia Rising, &http://bolivirarising.blogspot.com.

CONALCAM brings a together the United Union Confederation of Peasant Workers...

On August 20, Uruguay's sole union confederation, the Inter-union Plenary of Workers–National Convention of Workers (PIT-CNT), organised its first 24-hour general strike since the centre-left President Tabare Vasquez, from the Frente Amplio (FA), was elected in 2005.

Involving a high...

Under pressure from Iraqis opposed to the ongoing occupation of their country, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamil al Maliki released a statement on August 25 calling for the complete withdrawal of all foreign forces from Iraq by 2011.

The call was made in the middle of negotiations of a "...

A Rwandan judicial commission of inquiry into the role of France in the 1994 genocide, in which around 1 million Rwandans were killed in 100 days, has called for the indictment of 33 high-ranking French political and military leaders.

One of those named, then-president Francois Mitterand...

Announcing on August 29 a decree to organise a referendum to be held on December 7 on the proposed new constitution, Bolivian President Evo Morales declared: "We must advance in the re-founding of Bolivia to guarantee a state for multiple ethnic groups."

The mandate of the people is to "...

An international campaign is underway in defence of 21 workers facing trial for their involvement in a labour dispute following the unfair dismissal of nine workers at the Fundimeca fan assembly plant in Valencia.

Among those facing a possible jail term is Stalin Perez Borges, a national...

Two international activist boats successfully broke the Israeli blockade on the Palestinian Gaza Strip enclave on August 23.

Israel has maintained a medieval-style siege on Gaza, which begun in 2006 and has been tightened since and includes heavy restrictions on essentials like power,...

Peruvian President Alan Garcia suffered a major political setback on August 22 after Congress voted 66-29 in favour of repealing controversial presidential decrees that would have facilitated the privatisation of communal indigenous lands.

Only days before, Garcia, who is becoming...

The following is a heavily abridged talk by Mario Masuko at the Zimbabwe-Swaziland Solidarity Conference held in South Africa, August 10–11, 2008. Masuko is president of Peoples United Democratic Movement (Pudemo). A longer version can be found at http://www.links.org....

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has intervened in a land dispute in the Sierra de Perija region, near the country's north-western border with Colombia, where the Yukpa indigenous people have occupied 14 large estates to demand legal title to their ancestral lands.

"There should be no...

Four thousand people turned out for a campaign rally for independent presidential candidate and long-time anti-corporate and consumer rights activist, Ralph Nader in Denver, according to an August 29 CQpolitics.com report.

Speaking at the rally, which coincided with the Democratic...

Afghanistan lives in fear of US-sponsored warlords.

These hated warlords are not scared by the Taliban monster raising its head in the south. But ironically, they live in the fear of an unarmed women in her late twenties: Malalai Joya.

To silence Joya's defiant voice, the warlords...

On August 27, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced the end of negotiations with former owners Ternium over the nationalisation of the Sidor steel factory, stating that the government would "take over all the companies that it has here", insisting Ternium "can leave".

Speaking during...

Analysis

The Business Council of Australia (BCA) — representative of the 100 largest companies in Australia — has threatened that its members will be "forced" to relocate offshore if the federal government's Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) is implemented.

On August 21, the BCA released a...

An arrogant ALP state government, with only the approval of cabinet, announced on August 28 it would start selling off NSW energy retailers as well as public land to energy corporations for future power stations.

This is despite 86% of NSW residents opposing the sell-off.

Having...

Toni Warden, the Greens WA candidate for Kalamunda in the September 6 Western Australian elections, is a founding member of the Stop the Eastern Terminal Substation Action Group (SETS) and a member of the Hills Climate Action Group. She told Green Left Weekly that the main issues in the...

Julie Gray, a laboratory worker in the health sector and an active trade unionist, is contesting the North Metropolitan Legislative Council seat for the Socialist Alliance in the Western Australian elections on September 6.

Gray told Green Left Weekly: "We've got a two-tier boom...

On August 7, the Western Australian ALP government called an early election for September 6.

This short time frame for the election campaign followed the August 5 resignation of Troy Buswell from the leadership of the Liberal Party and the subsequent election of Colin Barnett as fourth...

Are our national parks in need of a facelift to attract the tourist dollar? Should our wild places be better at catering for those wanting some luxury and pampering?

If you talk to some in the tourist industry, they would strongly agree. And the NSW government right now is blithely...

On September 9, the Victorian parliament will start debating the Abortion Law Reform Bill 2008. The bill will make abortions up to 24 weeks of gestation lawful.

Despite overwhelmingly public support for a woman's right to choose to have an abortion, it is still a crime under Victorian...

Among the crowd of some 2000 protesters in front of South Australia's Parliament House on August 1, eco-activists in jeans and windcheaters mingled with people in Akubra hats and Driza-Bone jackets. Mentions of Labor Party Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, federal water minister Penny Wong and South...

David Spratt co-wrote Climate Code Red: The Case for Emergency Action with Philip Sutton. The book has been recently published and a review can be read in GLW #764. Spratt spoke to Green Left Weekly's...

Letters

Educational feudalism

Julia Gillard sure wants to take the neoliberal stick to public education and parents.

Firstly, impoverished parents who find it difficult to send their children to school every day will become even more impoverished by having their pensions suspended....

General

Every now and then the mask slips and we see the true face of the corporate dictatorship that Every now and then the mask slips and we see the true face of the corporate dictatorship that pretends to be democratic Australia.to be democratic Australia.

August 29 was one such day. The...

Resistance!

The University of Western Sydney Student Association (UWSSA) has launched a new campaign for better quality education, with speak-outs, information stalls and open forums that are drawing many students into action.

Political activity by students is increasing on the UWS's Bankstown campus...

On August 21, deputy PM Julia Gillard announced that the federal government would change how student services at universities are funded. However, there appears to be no intention to abolish the Voluntary Student Unionism (VSU) laws introduced by the former Howard government.

VSU...

Students from Melbourne's Collingwood College protested on August 21 in defence of a student who was threatened with suspension for wearing a "Free Tibet" T-shirt.

The Year 8 student, Michael, had been removed from class after a Chinese language teacher took offence at his T-shirt.

...

Culture

Black Coffee: Gold in Your Cup — Coffee drinkers are questioning the origin of their coffee, the living conditions of those who produce it, and the misery of the slaves who were in the original coffee trade. SBS, Friday, September 5, 7.30pm.

Promise...

Flat Earth News: An Award-winning Reporter Exposes Falsehood, Distortion & Propaganda in the Global Media

By Nick Davies

Chatto & Windus, 2008

408 pages, $54.95 (hb)

Just another day at the news factory — short-staffed on...

The role of music in the early civil rights movements is fairly widely known.

Classic gospel songs, some more than a century old, were refashioned and sung at demonstrations, on picket lines, and across the South.

Even the iconic song "We Shall Overcome" is based on an early...