Issue 767

News

“There needs to be action in this country. People like yourselves can make it happen”, Palm Island Aboriginal leader Lex Wotton, who is facing a jail sentence of 10 years, told a public meeting at the Queensland University of Technology on September 10.
Ross Garnaut’s long-anticipated “Targets and Trajectories” report into Australia’s carbon emissions future signals a wholesale surrender to the corporations desperate to change as little as possible and preserve their profits at any cost. It is a refusal to take the steps necessary to avert the very real dangers that climate change poses to life on the planet.
Information released under freedom of information (FOI) laws shows that NSW Police is keeping detailed documentation about numerous groups and individuals on the political left. Police intelligence assessments have targeted a variety groups, including Mutiny and Greenpeace.
More than 100 people marched through the streets on September 13 to demand their right to participate in local council elections. The action, organised by Wollongong Against Corruption, was addressed by Vicki Curran, Paul Matters and Graham Larcombe from WAC, Peter Moran from the Greens, Jess Moore from the Socialist Alliance, plus others.
While “Blue Glue” may sound like a new party drug, it’s in fact much more sinister and less fun. According to the company of the same name, Blue Glue is a marvel of innovation, “helping clients create secure environments, manage information and deploy global solutions”, says the Defence Materiel Organisation’s website.
People in Australia are being urged to pressure the federal parliament to pass a resolution calling on the Japanese government to apologise and provide compensation to the “comfort women” of World War Two.
“We knew we had to have the support of migrant women, of the union, and of the community or we couldn’t win”, Robynne Murphy, from the Jobs for Women campaign (JFWC), told a September 11 forum organised by Green Left Weekly and the Socialist Alliance.
The Stop the Eastern Terminal Substation (SETS) Action Group, in the Perth Hills area, is an outstanding example of what can be achieved by community-based action groups.
A sign-on statement calling on the federal Labor government to abolition the anti-union Australian Building and Construction Commission, and extending solidarity to any worker victimised by the ABCC, was initiated last week by Tim Gooden, the secretary of Geelong and Regional Trades and Labour Council.
The United States administration has stepped up pressure to ban Hezbollah TV station Al-Manar (The Beacon) in Australia and Indonesia.
After a boring, month-long state election campaign, Western Australian politics suddenly burst into life immediately after the September 6 poll, in which Labor won more seats than the Liberals but neither major party won a clear majority.
The Greens and independents appear to be the main beneficiaries of a large swing away from Labor in the September 13 NSW council elections.
On September 4, the federal Labor government introduced a bill in parliament to partially end discrimination against same-sex couples.

Thirty people gathered at the Governor of Hindmarsh Hotel for the second Politics in the Pub hosted by the Socialist Alliance on September 11. The topic — “Can we solve the water crisis?” — was addressed by Peter Laffan, chair of the Save our Gulf Coalition, and Bernie Laidlaw of the Socialist Alliance.

The dumping or resignation of half a dozen ministers from the NSW Labor government over the last fortnight — brought on by internal warfare over the cabinet’s refusal to scrap its electricity privatisation plan — has still not convinced the new premier and ALP power-brokers to drop the plan altogether.
Women seeking a termination of their pregnancy during the second trimester, and beyond, may be denied access to Medicare funding if Tasmanian Senator Guy Barnett is successful in his bid to axe funding for abortions after the 14th week of pregnancy. Currently, women seeking an abortion are covered under the Medicare scheme up until 26 weeks of pregnancy.
Eight hundred unionists and supporters protested outside the Geelong Magistrates’ Court on September 12, as Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) official Noel Washington appeared, charged with refusing to cooperate with the Australian Building Construction Commission (ABCC).

Analysis

On September 5, the government’s climate change adviser, Professor Ross Garnaut, released his recommendations for medium-term cuts to Australian greenhouse gas emissions.
Less than a week after declaring that “the soap opera is over” in New South Wales politics, new Premier Nathan Rees had to sack his police minister of three days, Matt Brown, for allegedly drunkenly “mounting the chest” of Wollongong MP Noreen Hay in a “dirty dancing” party in Parliament House during the June budget session of parliament.
The following is abridged from an open letter distributed by the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) Committees in Australia on August 25.
The Fairfax Media workers’ strike on August 28-31 signalled growing troubles in the Australian media industry.

World

Speaking at the inaugural Ted Wheelwright Memorial Lecture for the Sydney University Department of Political Economy on September 1, Filipino anti-globalisation activist and academic Walden Bello, founding director of Focus on the Global South, contrasted the recent Beijing Olympics with the US Democrats national convention.
While the violent intensity and geographical spread of the recent attacks on immigrants across South Africa certainly surprised most of us, we should not have been surprised that such attacks happened — or at the state’s response.
Below is an abridged September 5 statement by the Australia Western Sahara Association, visit http://www.awsa.org.au.
“[Today] a civil-prefectural coup against the unity of the country and democracy has been initiated”, Bolivian minister of government Alfredo Rada declared on September 9, as a growing wave of violence by small gangs of fascist youth engulfed the city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra.
Try to laugh, please. The news is now officially parody and a game for all the family to play.
Below is an abridged transcript of an interview with progressive US radio program Democracy Now!, an independent program broadcast on over 700 radio stations. Visit http://www.democracynow.org for more information and the full transcript.
Progressives and supporters of the Cuban and Latin American revolutions all over the world were shocked to hear of the death in a car accident of Celia Hart Santamaria and her brother, Abel Hart Santamaria, in Havana on September 7. It is believed that conditions resulting from Hurricane Gustav may have been a cause of the accident.
Below is an abridged report from http://cubanfive.org. The Cuban Five are five Cuban men in jail in the United States for their role in infiltrating far-right terrorist groups based in Miami, in order to attempt to prevent attacks against Cuban territory and people. For these anti-terrorist activities, the five are currently serving combined jail sentences of 75 years. On September 2, the Atlanta Court of Appeals rejected a request to reconsider their case.
Below is an abridged August 19 statement by Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem.
Barely two weeks after being sworn in on August 15, a coup plot to oust newly elected Paraguayan president Fernando Lugo was exposed on September 2.
The below statement is from the Mineral Policy Institute, http://www.mpi.org.au.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez ordered the US ambassador in Caracas, Patrick Duddy, to leave the country within 72 hours on September 11.
The Wall Street “socialists” are at it again — with another big-government takeover of privately owned firms, aimed at protecting the rich by extorting money from working people.

Culture

Tibet: A precious Human Life
By Damon Annison
Distributed by Brumby Books, $35 (pb)
Hollywood’s Censor: Joseph I. Breen & The Production Code Administration
By Thomas Doherty
Columbia University Press, 2007
427 pages, $49.95 (hb)
Building The Revolutionary Party: Jim Percy Selected Writings 1980-1987
Resistance Books, 2008
212 pages, $20
Available from http://www.resistancebooks.com

General

Bruno, a supporter of Green Left Weekly, said to me last week that the political situation today reminded him of a famous quote from a story about a Sicilian prince at the time Italy’s feudal principalities were being challenged by Giuseppe Garibaldi’s “Redshirts”:

Letters

Workplace 'restructures' In my workplace we have been suffering restructuring for the whole time I have been there, which is three years now. We have had the closing down of sites, redundancies, increased workloads, unfair rosters and restrictions