Issue 773

Australia

On October 30, 100 people attended a public forum and film screening of My Daughter the Terrorist, at the University of Melbourne.

On November 1, rallies took place in eastern states in response to the conviction of Lex Wotton, who has been charged with “riot with destruction” (see article on page 3).

A crowd of 1000 people marched through the Perth CBD to Parliament House on October 30 to tell the Western Australian government to keep the state GMO (genetically modified organism)-free.

Treasury modelling on the impacts of the federal Labor government’s proposed Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) was released on October 30.

People reading the October 22 Age were alarmed to discover that the Victorian Labor government had proposed legislation banning local councillors from voting on issues if they had made a submission relating to that issue, such as local development or planning changes.

Around the country on October 31, the annual Reclaim the Night (RTN) protests took place, demanding an end to violence against women. In Lismore, 200 women and children marched through the streets before rallying, along with male supporters, to hear activists and community leaders speak out
against violence.

Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union official Noel Washington appeared at the Melbourne Magistrates Court on October 31. He is charged with refusing to be forcefully interrogated by the Australian Building and Construction Commission.

Two

On October 31, 50 people gathered outside the offices of the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations to protest against the powers of the Australian Building and Construction Commission.

Speakers at the action, organised by

More than 1000 protesters crammed into the entrance of Flinders Street Station on October 26 for the Community Rally for Sustainable Public Transport, and to oppose the Victorian state government’s planned East-West road tunnel and extensions. These would result in massive destruction of homes and shift more trucks and commuter traffic into the suburbs.

Victoria’s three largest community water campaign groups have united to campaign for sustainable alternatives to the state government’s new water infrastructure projects.

On October 26, part of the roof of a multi-story Canberra building collapsed. The building is under construction in the city centre.

Aboriginal rock art found on Western Australia’s Burrup Peninsula is in danger of destruction. Friends of Australian Rock Art (FARA) released photographs showing the full extent of damage for the first time on October 25.

World

The United States Socialist Worker is maintaining an online election journal and analysis of the November 4 vote. Below is the account posted by SW journalist Alan Maas at 11pm on November 4 on the impact of the victory for Democratic Party candidate Barack Obama, who has become the first African American head of state in a nation founded on slavery and where, only a few decades ago, many African Americans were denied the vote in a number of southern states.

Hundreds of thousands of people have fled their homes in recent months as the Sri Lankan Army (SLA) attempts to capture areas of northern Sri Lanka held by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), a group that has fought for 30 years for self-determination for the Tamil people.

There is no doubt that October 21, 2008, will go down as a historic day for the Bolivian people.

“On November 23, we will not just be voting for this or that governorship, we will be deciding the destiny of this revolutionary process”, Stalin Perez Borges, a national coordinator of the National Union of Workers (UNT) and United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) militant, told Green Left Weekly.

The below article is based on a paper presented on October 8 by Eric Toussaint to the international Responses from the South to the World Economic Crisis seminar held in Caracas. It has been translated by Federico Fuentes and is abridged from socialist e-journal Links, Links. Toussaint is from the Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt.

In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 bombings of the World Trade Centre and Pentagon, US President George Bush declared an open-ended, apparently indefinite “war on terror”.

“They’ve been trying to solve problems by using only money, but not to solve the political problems through political means, that they’ve failed”, Fretilin leader Mari Alkatiri, told Radio Australia on October 26.

It was a powerful symbol. At the New York summit meeting at the UN General Assembly on September 22, the first point on the agenda was forgotten amid the financial crisis.

On October 29, the UN General Assembly approved by an overwhelming majority the resolution demanding an end of the US blockade of Cuba — the 17th consecutive year running such a vote as been passed by the assembly.

Six months ago the United States was already deep in a financial crisis. Yet, the conditions now are several orders of magnitude worse and are affecting the entire world.

Tensions continue to grow between the US and Bolivia as more evidence comes to light of the former’s role in stoking right-wing opposition to the government of President Evo Morales.

Former US diplomat Henry Kissinger’s recorded telephone conversations (“telecons”) relating to Chile in the early 1970s permit us to “eavesdrop on the most candid conversations of … US officials as they plotted covert intervention against a democratically elected government”, according to National Security Archive (NSA) scholar and The Pinochet File author Peter Kornbluh.

A far-reaching strategic debate is underway about how to respond to the global financial crisis.

Analysis

The October 23 acquittal of Jack Thomas from a terrorism charge highlights what is wrong with Australia’s anti-terror laws and the way they are being applied.

On October 24, Palm Island community leader Lex Wotton was found guilty of “riot with destruction” in a trial where police were accused by the defence counsel of “lying through their teeth”. Wotton is due to be sentenced on November 7.

On September 29, Harry Nelson, former Yuendumu (Northern Territory) council president, presented Indigenous affairs minister Jenny Macklin with a statement, written in Warlpiri and English, signed by 236 residents. Macklin was in the community to officially open a new pool, the funding of which predates the NT intervention. An abridged version of the statement is reprinted below.

With its banks secured in the warmth of the southern spring, Australia is not news internationally. It ought to be. An epic scandal of racism, injustice and brutality is being covered up in the manner of apartheid South Africa.

A new documentary, A Well-Founded Fear, to be broadcast on SBS on November 19, documents the deaths of nine Afghan refugees who were returned to Afghanistan after having their asylum applications rejected.

The following statement was written by Bree Blakeman (Djawulanganing) on behalf of the Gumatj clan nation, MataMata Homeland, North-East Arnhem Land.

In early September, residents of the Brookland Greens estate, about 50 kilometres south-east of Melbourne, were advised by the Country Fire Authority that methane from the landfill nearby had reached potentially explosive levels and they should get out of there as soon as they could. No emergency housing was offered to them.

The Climate Emergency – No More Business as Usual conference, held in Adelaide on October 10-11, included 18 workshops canvassing many issues around the politics of the environment: from food production and peak oil, to theories of political change and educational programming. The following article is based on discussion arising from one of these workshops titled “Sustainable solutions”. The presenters in the workshop were Bev Hall from the Australia Cuba Friendship Society, Andrew Hall from the Australia Venezuela Solidarity Network and Margaret Rhode, a member of Urban Ecology and resident of the Christie Walk EcoCity development in Adelaide.

The world is going through difficult times and right now there seems no end to the downward spiral of the global economy. Fears of economic depression on the scale of the 1930s are widespread.

Turan Ertekin, an activist in the Turkish community and Socialist Alliance member, came to Australia in 1980.

Financial journalists are earning their bread and butter speculating on the depth of the recession that awaits the world economy.

Teachers in New South Wales public schools are committed to an ongoing campaign of legal, political and industrial action to secure salary justice and maintain rights and conditions that have been achieved through past struggles.

Letters

Fudging workers' rights

Graham Matthews takes former justice Murray Wilcox to task for "fudging" the issue in his October 3 discussion paper on the ABCC (GLW #771). This is perhaps a little harsh — his job is precisely to fudge, rather than

General

Despite the spectacular vaporisation of trillions of dollars of financial assets, and the collapse of more than a score of banks around the world, we haven’t seen a single banker jump out of a window in Wall Street or its equivalents around the world.

This year, Green Left Weekly has been running a regular Arabic-language supplement called The Flame. It aims to cover news from the Arabic-speaking world as well as news and issues from within Australia. The current issue of The Flame, as PDFs, can be read here

Resistance!

The Young Liberals are testing the long-held notion that academic autonomy is sacrosanct. Their so-called “Make Education Fair” campaign is really a witch hunt against progressive educators and academics.

Having “free” and “fair” multi-party elections is the United States’ main claim to democracy. But just how democratic is US capitalism?

Culture

Biology Under the Influence: Dialectical Essays on Ecology, Agriculture & Health

Richard Lewontin & Richard Levins

Monthly Review Press, 2007

390 pages, US$22.95

Available from

The Logic of Life: Uncovering the New Economics of Everything

By Tim Harford

Little Brown, 2008

264 pages, $35

Bottlemania: How Water Went on Sale & Why We Bought It

By Elizabeth Royte

Scribe, 2008

248 pages, $32.95 (pb)

The President's Guide to Science — The decisions the new US president will make will affect every one of us, from nuclear proliferation to climate change. SBS, Sunday, November 9, 8.35pm.

God is Green — Filmmaker Mark Dowd questions religious

Hold Everything Dear: Dispatches on Survival & Resistance

By John Berger

Verso, 2008

142 pages, $26 (pb)