Issue 771

Australia

Around 600 members of the Australian Tamil community converged on Canberra on October 14 to protest Sri Lankan foreign minister Rohitha Bogollagama’s visit to Australia to meet with foreign minister Stephen Smith. Bogollagama was addressing an invite-only audience of Australian journalists inside the National Press Club.

SYDNEY — More than 100 people attended a public forum on October 17 featuring Maria Eugenia Guerrero, sister of “Cuban Five” political prisoner Antonio Guerrero.

Environment groups are calling for the dredging of the Yarra River to stop immediately until there has been an investigation into whether there is radioactive waste in sediments of the river.

Socialist Alliance candidates for local council elections in Geelong and Queenscliffe in late November are calling for “climate action councils” that will stand up against polluting industries and big developers.

Conditions in South Australian prisons have been brought to light by prisoners at the Port Augusta Prison protesting on October 9.

“How can we maintain a safe and habitable climate? That’s the question we need to pose to build this movement”, Kirrliee Boyd from the Adelaide Hills Climate Action Group told a workshop at the Climate Emergency — No More Business as Usual conference on October 10-11.

With the release of its third report into corruption in Wollongong City Council, the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) recommended charges be laid against 11 people for 139 criminal offences.

Train drivers employed by Rio Tinto’s Iron Ore operations in transporting iron ore in the Pilbara struck on October 11 and will stage a 24-hour stoppage on October 22 .

One hundred students and staff at RMIT attended an information session on October 14 organised by the Islamic Students Society (ISS).

The Queensland Plumbers Union says the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) is a gross waste of taxpayers’ [money] and called for it to be scrapped after a case against the union was thrown out of court.

The Parramatta Climate Action Network (ParraCAN) will stage a Walk Against Warming (WAW) in Parramatta CBD on November 15, as a lead-in to the city-wide event being organised at 11am.

The latest issue of the Socialist Alliance’s national discussion bulletin, Alliance Voices, is out, in a new web-based format. It can be found at http://alliancevoices.blogspot.com.

On September 30, more than 400 people gathered on the courthouse lawns in Mparntwe-Alice Springs to demand an end to the Northern Territory intervention.

A police officer who is a key witness against Palm Island Aboriginal resident Lex Wotton has admitted at the trial that he lied during a previous investigation into senior sergeant Chris Hurley.

Following the announcement by South Australian Treasurer Kevin Foley that the Asia Pacific Defence and Security Exhibition has been cancelled, peace activists who had been planning anti-APDSE protests had reason to celebrate.

An independent review into the Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER), or NT intervention, has been accused of being “watered down” before its final release in order to not embarrass the federal Labor government.

Across 12 Melbourne suburbs, a groundswell of community outrage is growing against the proposal for a new road tunnel that will link the eastern and western suburbs.

Melbourne residents who live in the Yarra, Maribyrnong and Moreland local council areas will be able to vote for socialist candidates in the council elections in November.

World

In August, over 1300 people attended the Revolutionary Communist League’s (LCR) annual “Summer University”.

Independent presidential candidate and anti-corporate activist Ralph Nader led a protest of hundreds in front of the New York Stock Exchange against the US government’s US$700 billion Wall Street bail-out package on October 16, according to an AFP report that day.

Hand in hand with the struggles of French workers and students has been the massive growth in popularity of postal worker and Revolutionary Communist League (LCR) spokesperson Olivier Besancenot.

Distributing a parody newspaper may seem an unlikely crime.

On October 15, the United States and Iraqi governments agreed on a draft security pact, which could result in US troops being withdraw from Iraqi cities by the middle of 2009 and from Iraq entirely by 2011.

Hundreds of Tamil people turned up on October 11 for an awareness and protest campaign in Toronto against the Sri Lankan cricket team.

On October 10, McDonald’s workers who are members of the Unite union, as well as community fair trade groups held a protest outside Queen Street McDonald’s in Auckland.

The case of the Cuban Five, five Cubans who have spent the past 10 years in US jails for the undercover gathering of intelligence on terrorism against their country, provides further evidence of the hypocrisy of US rhetoric about fighting terrorism and supporting human rights.

Venezuela’s tax and customs enforcement office, SENIAT, forced a 48-hour closure of all 115 McDonald’s restaurants in the country on October 9 as a punishment for tax irregularities, according to an October 10 Venezuelanalysis.com article.

On October 12, the National Day of Indigenous Resistance, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez delivered land titles to traditional land to four indigenous communities, according to an October 14 Venezuelanalysis.com article.

Several hundred students and other activists brought the City of London to a standstill in a flash protest on October 10, according to a report posted to Socialistworker.org.uk the followed day.

Bankers in Chicago are angry with Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart.

Ever since Andrew Johnson welcomed the New York Mutuals to the White House in 1867, presidential politics has exploited professional sports. It’s a foolproof way for politicians to show voters they enjoy competition, fair play and are salt-of-the-turf Americans.

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe declared a 90-day “state of emergency” on October 9 to break up a six-week strike by the National Association of Judicial Employees (Asonal Judicial — AJ).

The developed capitalist system is today in a crisis.

The interview below was carried out by Argentinean newspaper Pagina 12 with Monthly Review editor and Marxist economist John Bellamy Foster.

It was posted on http://www.mrzine.monthylreview.org on October 10, from which the version below is abridged. The full version is included as part of a wide-ranging collection of articles and videos on the financial crisis posted at socialist e-journal Links, http://links.org.au.

Bolivian President Evo Morales has called for a national referendum on the country’s new draft constitution on December 7.

The recent infant milk formula scandal in China, in which at least four babies have died and over 50,000 have become sick due to poisoning with the industrial chemical melamine, highlights the way capitalism cannot guarantee the health and well being of people — particularly the most vulnerable.

As stock markets crashed and a global credit squeeze threatened global economies, Latin American governments pushed ahead with plans for a new financial architecture, to replace the current bankrupt system.

Analysis

Former federal court chief justice Murray Wilcox has been commissioned by deputy PM Julia Gillard to prepare a review of the powers of the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) and its integration as a specialist division into Labor’s proposed industrial relations umbrella, Fair Work Australia (FWA), in 2010.

Our addiction to coal is not only killing our planet but also those who mine it, burn it and live around it, a Perth climate activist has claimed.

“This strategy is designed to help pensioners, carers and families, and first home buyers”, declared Australia’s Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in his October 14 address to the nation. Rudd was announcing a $10.4 billion “economic security strategy” in response to the global financial crisis.

Letters

The vanishing protest

The October 13 meeting of the Parramatta Your Rights at Work group received a visit from a young organiser from Unions NSW, whose lamentable job it was to report on the future of the campaign against power

Thank you for your article "Is the abortion law reform in Victoria enough?" [GLW #768]. I appreciate your comments about Canada (one correction: the Canadian Abortion Rights Action League has been defunct for about 5 years, and a different national

General

I’ve lost count of how much bailout money governments have thrown at the global financial crisis. We all remember the US$700 billion that the US Congress recently approved, but in the months before that the US Reserve had already dished out nearly the same amount in bailouts, buyouts and guarantees for bad loans.

Resistance!

A student at a Hobart High School was suspended two weeks ago for dying his hair a bright colour.

Young people today face an uncertain future. Watching the news on any channel at night is proof enough of this. The current crisis taking precedence on news broadcasts around the globe is of course the financial crisis.

Culture

The Blogging Revolution

By Antony Loewenstein

Melbourne University Press, 2008

294 pages, $32.95 (pb)