Issue 779

Australia

The following is abridged from a call for a convergence in Canberra on the opening day of federal parliament, February 3, to say ‘no’ to racism and demand justice for Aboriginal Australia.

The incumbent ALP faction has scraped back in to retain control of the 43,000-strong NSW Public Service Association (PSA) after elections held on December 5.

Environmental activists and climate action groups from across Australia are joining together for a Climate Action Summit in Canberra from January 31 to February 3.

Activists from the National Union of Students, University of Western Sydney, University of NSW, University of Technology, Ultimo TAFE and University of Sydney have established a cross-campus collective to oppose Israel’s attack on Gaza.

Australia is already the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases per capita in the world. Even more worrying is that the nation’s emissions continue to spiral out of control.

Aboriginal activists launched a “peace walk” on January 9 from Sydney to the steps of Parliament House in Canberra in protest against the continuation of the NT intervention and the mining of nuclear materials on Aboriginal land — policies that they label “Rudd’s betrayal of Aboriginal people”.

Indigenous people living in remote communities in northern and central Australia will be among the hardest hit by climate change, according to an article in the Medical Journal of Australia on January 5.

On January 5, federal environment minister Peter Garrett delayed final approval for the Gunns' Tamar Valley pulp mill in Tasmania, rejecting three modules of the environmental assessment while approving nine others.

Protests against the Israel’s ongoing military assault and siege on Gaza have continued across Australia as the Palestinian death toll mounts.

The Federal Labor government has decided to push ahead with major changes to Indigenous welfare despite outrage from affected Aboriginal communities.

Twenty seven environmental activists have been arrested for blockading a planned forestry road after a police raid on January 12.

Six Filipino workers were sacked in December without reason by the John Holland Group from a major Queensland construction project.

A group of Victorian trade unions have sought legal advice on the possibility of lodging a complaint with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) against the ALP federal government.

The refugee policy of the Kevin Rudd Labor government has been slammed in a new report released by the Australian Human Rights Commission.

World

On January 2, after five months of fighting, the Sri Lankan Army (SLA) finally captured the town of Kilinochchi in northern Sri Lanka.

Fresh evidence of ongoing US subversion in Venezuela came to light following a January 8 secret meeting held in Puerto Rico between right-wing political leaders, a media baron and representatives from the US embassy in Venezuela.

“Say what they like, the new Sambil is not going ahead”, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said on December 23.

On January 11, up to 80,000 people braved freezing temperatures in Berlin to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the murder of socialist revolutionaries Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht.

Bolivian President Evo Morales has declared the Andean nation to be free from illiteracy, according to a December 22 Granma report.

“We want to believe we are safe here … but the bottom line is that I’ve lost confidence in the Israeli side and that needs to be restored urgently, and it is their duty to restore this confidence”, United National Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) head John Ging told AP on January 13.

On January 1, 2009, the small island nation of Cuba celebrated the 50th anniversary of a revolution that overthrew a brutal dictatorship and set Cuba on its long and often complicated road towards socialism.

According to recent Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) figures, another 40 million people were pushed into poverty and hunger in 2008 as a result of spiralling food prices. he total number of people suffering hunger and malnutrition has reached 963 million worldwide.

Around 6 million signatures, in support of a referendum to amend Venezuela’s constitution and allow all elected public officials to stand for indefinite re-election, were handed over to the National Assembly on January 16.

The statement below was issued on January 15 by the Australia Venezuela Solidarity Network (AVSN). For more information, visit http://www.venezuelasolidarity.org. Since this statement was released, the Ecuadorian government of President Rafael Correa has condemned Israel's "crimes against humanity" and advocated sanctions be applied. In the Arab world, Qatar and Mauritania have suspended diplomatic and economic ties with Israel.

Giles Ji Ungpakorn, a political science professor at Thailand’s Chulalongkorn University and a well-known socialist activist, has been ordered to appear at a Bangkok police station to be charged under the country’s stiff laws for insulting the country’s monarch.

Citizens across Cuba have thronged the streets of cities and towns to welcome the “Caravan of Liberty”, a convoy of trucks and buses retracing the path of Fidel Castro and the victorious fighters of the Rebel Army, after the declaration of the defeat of the Batista dictatorship on January 1, 1959.

The below article is an abridged update released by the Committees in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES) on January 12. The full article can be found at http://www.cispes.org.

“When the truth is replaced by silence”, the Soviet dissident Yevgeny Yevtushenko said, “the silence is a lie”.

On January 1, US drones pounded Waziristan in Pakistan’s north-western tribal areas, killing five people.

We have to state and repeat it: we are not witnessing a war in Gaza, but a massacre carried out by the third largest air force in the world against a defenceless civilian population.

The January 14 announcement by the Sri Lankan government that its forces had completed the capture of the Jaffna Peninsular, effectively bringing all of the historic Tamil nation in Sri Lanka’s north-east under military occupation, was a grim reminder that the Israeli assault on the Gaza ghetto is not the only holocaust at the start of the new year.

Analysis

The traditional holiday season was cut short for the activists who produce and distribute Green Left Weekly - the Israeli government’s latest genocidal war on the Palestinian people in Gaza made certain of that.

Rosa Luxemburg, one of the great figures of the socialist movement, was callously murdered in Berlin on January 15, 1919.

The Indigenous community at Mona Mona, a former mission near Kuranda, 30 kilometres west of Cairns, are continuing their remarkable four-decade-long occupation.

January 26 is the first Invasion Day (Australia Day) since the federal Labor government made the official apology recognising the wrongs suffered by the Stolen Generations - the Aboriginal children forcibly removed from their families and lands.

Alice Springs, the heart and pulse of Australia. While that is true in terms of location, few Australians know very much about their heart.

If authoritative, peer-reviewed science suddenly found obesity or smoking to be twice as lethal as earlier believed, would the news be all over the media? Of course it would.

Watershed Victoria is an environmental organisation dedicated to the campaign against the proposed desalination plant at Wonthaggi in Victoria, and for a sustainable water policy. Watershed’s Chris Heislers spoke to Green Left Weekly’s Katherine Bradstreet.

News of a pending pay claim by Alcoa power plant workers in Western Australia has unleashed a flurry of indignant calls for wage restraint from corporate media outlets, bosses and the federal government alike.

Green Left Weekly’s Zane Alcorn spoke to Sally Corbett, chairperson of the No Tillegra Dam group, which is seeking to have Hunter Water reverse their 2006 decision to build a dam comparable in size to Sydney Harbour near Dungog, about 90km out of Newcastle.

Editorial

The January 15 bombing with white phosphorous of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency that housed hundreds of refugees and humanitarian aid was not an isolated incident.

Letters

Israel's carnage

Once again, well done for your coverage of Israel's treatment of another set of human beings.

Many people seem to be a bit credulous and have fallen for the Exclusive Jewish state's public relations campaign in the period

Resistance!

On January 15, around 25 homeless students and supporters marched on the administration building of the University of Melbourne. They carried mattresses and bedding, having been evicted from their houses two days earlier in a pre-dawn raid.

Culture

The competitive frenzy for winning in sports has been fuelled by aggressive marketing.

The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008)

Directed by Scott Derrickson, starring Keanu Reaves & Jennifer Connelly

Screening in cinemas Connelly

The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

Directed by Robert Wise, starring Michael Rennie & Patricia Neal.

I never knew death until I saw the bombing of a refugee camp
Craters filled with disfigured ankles and splattered torsos
But no sign of a face, the only impression a fading scream
I never understood pain
Until a seven-year-old girl clutched my