Issue 781

Australia

On January 27, a Western Australian delegates’ meeting of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) passed a significant motion of support for Palestine, denouncing Israel’s recent aggression and calling on the federal government to cut all ties with Israel.

Immigration minister Chris Evans is facing increasing criticism as refugee advocates voice concern for 20 unaccompanied children who are being detained on Christmas Island.

International interest and participation is growing rapidly in what will be the most important gathering of activists to discuss socialist solutions to capitalism’s crisis in Australia this year.

Nine young Tamil activists staged a hunger strike in Sydney’s CBD from January 28. They urged the Australian government to support calls for a ceasefire between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and the Sri Lankan military.

More than 40 people packed into the Kuril Dhangun room in the State Library on January 29 to hear from Rhonda Brim and Andrew Duffin, residents from the Mona Mona Aboriginal community in Far North Queensland, a community under threat from the Queensland government.

Reminding us once again why the Venezuela revolution has captured the hearts and minds of millions around the world, Venezuela’s foreign minister last week responded to Israel’s decision to expel the Venezuelan ambassador by declaring: “The response of the state of Israel is weak, late, and in any case for us it’s an honor. We’re proud that the state of Israel that exists today, led by these criminals, made this decision.”

Three hundred people rallied for Aboriginal rights on Invasion Day in Hobart. Protesters pointed out that Aboriginal people remember January 26 as the date that their land was first invaded, their ancestors massacred and their rights trampled.

Four hundred people rallied in Sydney outside Town Hall on January 31 to protest against the criminal blockade and attacks on the people of Gaza.

World

A human banner made up of more than 1000 people, seen and photographed from the air, sent the message “SOS Amazon” to the world, in the first action taken by indigenous people hours before the opening in northern Brazil on January 27 of the 2009 World Social Forum (WSF).

Yet another global warming sceptic argument has bitten the dust with the release of new research indicating that Antarctica is warming rapidly.

On January 25, the people of Bolivia voted overwhelming to approve a new constitution, a demand first raised by the indigenous movements in the early 1990s.

Ongoing mass demonstrations in response to a severe economic crisis has led to the collapse of the Icelandic government. Prime Minister Geir Haarde resigned on January 23 along with the whole government cabinet.

Israel is an apartheid state. This is the explanation for the appallingly assymetrical nature of the Israel-Palestine conflict, graphically demonstrated in the latest carnage in Gaza.

The worrying part about whether the ceasefire in Gaza can hold together will be whether the international community can stop the flow of arms to the terrorists.

At a rally of tens of thousands in Plaza Caracas on January 23, President Hugo Chavez called on Venezuelan workers to mobilise for the electoral battle for the “Yes” campaign for a vote in the February 15 referendum in favour of a constitutional amendment to abolish the two-term limit on elected positions in Venezuela.

“What truce are they talking about. We work on the land just like farmers. We don’t have bombs. These people don’t want to make any truce”, Khalil Mohamed Breaim told Al Jazeera on January 28.

“Huge crowds have taken to the streets in France to protest over the handling of the economic crisis, causing disruption to rail and air services”, according to a January 29 BBC News report.

A senior leader of the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-M), CP Gajurel stated that the Maoists are prepared to unleash yet another “massive” struggle to institutionalise the Nepal’s new republic, According to a January 4 NepalNews.com article.

The article below is reprinted from http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org. For more information, contact the Communist Party of Israel, http://www.maki.org.il, info@maki.org.il.

John Bellamy Foster is editor of US socialist publication Monthly Review, professor of sociology at the University of Oregon and author of a number of books including Marx’s Ecology. This interview with him on the economic crisis is republished with permission from WIN magazine, the journal of the US-based War Resisters League (http://warresisters.org/win).

After Bolivia’s new constitution that greatly expands rights for the indigenous majority was passed in a national referendum on January 25, thousands gathered in La Paz to celebrate.

The “war” that is going on in Sri Lanka is a liberation struggle of the Tamil people for their right to self-determination, which would enable them to exist with equality, dignity and safety in the area of historical habitation of the Tamil people — the north and the east of Sri Lanka.

Analysis

On January 27, a day before heading off to the exclusive Swiss ski-resort of Davos for the World Economic Forum, deputy PM Julia Gillard met with representatives of charities and social service providers to discuss improving government support for the unemployed.

In a 2003 lecture subsequently posted on Youtube, Samir Abu Hamza, director of the Islamic Information and Services Network of Australasia, claimed that it is acceptable for a man to hit his wife and that rape is impossible in marriage. It is only right that anyone who cares about women’s rights would be outraged.

“People will die because of the BBC decision. Let me be clear about that. … It is capitulating to Israeli pressure”, Stop the War Coalition (StWC) president and retired Labour politician Tony Benn told BBC on January 24.

The Israeli military’s horrifying attack on Gaza over the past month has revealed, yet again, the profound humanity and international leadership of the revolutionary governments of Cuba and Venezuela.

In the last month, Australian mine workers and mining communities have been rocked by layoffs and mine closures as mining companies have moved to reduce production in response to collapsing commodities prices.

A multinational mining company that has been exposed for leaking uranium into Lake Ontario in North America is now exploring uranium deposits only a few kilometres from a significant Alice Springs water supply.

In December 2008, Green Left Weekly’s Emma Murphy and Peter Robson spoke to William Tilmouth about mandatory welfare quarantining — a feature of the federal government’s Northern Territory intervention — and its impacts on the Aboriginal town camps in Alice Springs. Tilmouth is the executive director of Tangentyere Council, the umbrella service delivery agency for the town camp Aboriginal housing associations.

Members of Tasmania’s Aboriginal community didn’t mince their words about how they feel about the celebration of Australia Day.Members of Tasmania's Aboriginal community didn't mince their words about how they feel about the celebration of Australia Day.

"You stole our land, you stole our rights and we won't celebrate invasion day", the protesters chanted as they marched through the streets of Hobart. Symbolically, they carried three coffins with them to the steps of the state parliament on January 26.

Editorial

As the traumatised people of Gaza mourn their dead and nurse their injured following Israel’s horrendous three-week massacre, another brutal genocide has unfolded in Sri Lanka.

Letters

The conflict in Palestine

Unfortunately the present ceasefire in Gaza is no real solution to the conflict in Palestine. As long as the Israeli occupation continues and Palestinians have no homeland, the resistance and violence will go on.

More

General

In a speech to a gathering of bosses and union leaders at Kirribilli House on January 19, PM K-Rudd called for national unity in the face of capitalism’s latest meltdown. “We are all in this together”, he said.

Resistance!

After eight bloodthirsty years, the tenure of former president of the United States, George Bush, finally came to an end on January 20 when Democrat Barack Obama took the presidential oath.

Culture

Hell & High Water: Climate Change, Hope & the Human Condition

By Alastair McIntosh

Birlinn, 2008

289 pages, $29.95

Message Stick: The Apology — Looks at the anniversary of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's apology to the Stolen Generations. ABC, Sunday, February 8, 1.30pm.

Dateline — Interview with former prime minister and now president of Israel, Shimon Peres,

Valkyrie

Directed by Bryan Singer

Written by Christopher McQuarrie & Nathan Alexander

With Tom Cruise & Kenneth Branaugh

Battle in Seattle

Written and directed by Stuart Townsend

with Woody Harrelson, Charlize Theron, Michelle Rodriguez and Andre Benjamin

available on DVD