Issue 782

News

Canberra was the site of an historic four days of Aboriginal rights activism in Australia.
On February 3, Abdul Nacer Benbrika, the alleged leader of a “terrorist organisation”, was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment. His six “followers” were sentenced to between four and seven-and-a-half years for being members of a terrorist organisation.
On February 3, 200 people rallied against the Victorian Labor government’s unsustainable water plans.
We live in peculiar, troubling times, where the world’s climate scientists are all but screaming from the rooftops for governments to listen and take urgent action to avert climate change.
A number of new guest speakers from across the Asia-Pacific region have confirmed their attendance at the “World at a Crossroads: Fighting for Socialism in the 21st Century” conference, scheduled to be held in Sydney over the Easter weekend (April 10-12).
New South Wales teachers held meetings across the state on February 6 to consider a settlement on salaries and staffing negotiated by the NSW Teachers Federation.
Adelaide has been in the grips of an unprecedented heat wave, with temperatures soaring above 40°C for six consecutive days into early February.
Greens NSW MLC John Kaye has highlighted the massive inequity in school funding, citing the submission by Sydney Grammar School — one of Australia’s wealthiest schools — of plans to build a new $23.5 million assembly hall.
With the Queensland ALP state government rumoured to announce an election date soon, the Socialist Alliance (SA) has selected two candidates to contest the poll.
The Australian Hazara community protested in Canberra on February 3 to strongly condemn the continued killing of Hazara people in Quetta City, Pakistan, by Taliban and al Qaida-backed religious extremists.
Five thousand people, predominately from the Sydney Tamil community, gathered in Martin Place on February 4 to draw attention to the genocide being waged against the Tamil people in northern Sri Lanka. The same day, 150 people from the Tamil community and supporters of Tamil rights marched in Brisbane.

Analysis

The news, on February 3, that South African dock workers in Durban had decided not to unload an Israeli ship due in on February 8 was welcomed by the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA), a section of which wants the union to join the international campaign of sanctions against apartheid Israel.
Socialist Alliance national co-convener Dick Nichols interviewed two climate action summit participants, Paul Petit from the South Australian Climate Emergency Action Network (CLEAN) and Giovanni Ebono from the New South Wales North Coast Climate Action Network.
Green Left Weekly’s Simon Butler asked a number of activists present at Australia’s Climate Action Summit why they attended and why they thought it was so important.
The heatwave across south-eastern Australia in recent weeks has given a hint of what we can expect as global temperatures continue to rise: black-outs, fatalities and transport chaos as privatised infrastructure fails.
Two weeks ago, federal environment minister Peter Garrett announced he will give the go ahead to the expansion of an open cut mine that will divert the McArthur River in the Northern Territory six kilometres off course.
On February 3, the federal government launched its second economic stimulus package of $42 billion, to be spent on special grants to individuals, businesses and schools.
“Rudd is dangling the carrot of hope before us and it is a lie”, said Les Coe at the Aboriginal convergence in Canberra on February 3, at which 500 people protested the continuation of racist Howard-era policies by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

World

Angry workers at the Waterford Wedgewood’s crystal factory in Kilbarry, Ireland have begun an occupation of the factory, following the announcement on January 30 that the factory would be closed.
The international economic crisis has plunged a knife into the growth of wind-generated electricity in Europe.
Even before its official launch at its founding congress on the outskirts of Paris on February 6–8, the new Anti-capitalist Party (NPA) has had discussions with the Left Party (PG) on the possibility of forming a united Left Front (FG).
On February 2, President Hugo Chavez led the celebration of 10 years of his time in office with a caravan and mass rally in the Caracas.
More than 1000 people, including 920 elected delegates, attended the inaugural congress of Power of the Masses Party (PLM) on January 30.
Hundreds of thousands of workers and small farmers marched across Mexico, on January 30 in a huge mobilisation for economic and human rights.
“The choice facing Israel in eight days time concerns peace, and the country can say yes to peace or no to peace … A dove of peace is sitting on the window ledge, and we can decide to open the window and let it in, with all the apprehension, or slam the window shut”, Kadima party electoral candidate and current Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni told an international media conference on February 2.
The following article is by Kavita Krishnan and is reprinted from the January issue of Liberation, which is produced by the Communist Party of India-Marxist-Leninist. Krishnan is the editor of Liberation and is the national secretary of the All India Progressive Women’s Association. She is a featured guest at the World at a Crossroads conference in Sydney, for more information or to register, visit http://www.worldatacrossroads.org.
A boat of Burmese refugees found off Indonesia claimed on February 3 that they had been towed out to sea and set adrift by Thai authorities.
The abridged interview below with Walden Bello, from Focus on the Global South, was carried out and published by Alejandro Kirk for the Inter-Press Service about the tasks facing the World Social Forum (WSF), which met between January 27 and February 1 in the Brazilian city of Belem. The full interview can be read at http://www.ipsnews.net.
The ninth World Social Forum ended on February 1 in Belem with its “Assembly of assemblies” adopting “dozens of resolutions and proposals to be the subjects of a programme of mobilisations around the world in 2009”, according to a February 2 Inter-Press Service report.
The following press release was issued on February 3 by the secretariat of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee. For more information on the global BDS campaign, visit http://www.bdsmovement.net. On February 6, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) announced that members of the affiliated South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) "achieved a great victory" when a ship carrying Israeli goods to South Africa was unable to offload due to a SATAWU-imposed boycott.
More than 120,000 people marched in London on January 31 against the genocidal war being carried out by the Sri Lankan Army (SLA) that has conquered Tamil-controlled areas in Sri Lanka’s north and east at massive cost to the civilian population, according to Tamilforum.com.
“The reform is aimed as a personal project. This is neither revolution nor socialism, but personal ambition”, argued Federico Black of the student organisation Furthering the Country to the virulently anti-Chavez Venezuelan daily El Universal.
Somalia is often cited by Western politicians and journalists as the archetypical “failed state”, with no functioning state since the collapse of the last central government in 1991, and with power contested by warlords, Islamists, clan militias, armed criminal gangs and even pirates.Somalia is often cited by Western politicians and journalists as the archetypical "failed state", with no functioning state since the collapse of the last central government in 1991, and with power contested by warlords, Islamists, clan militias, armed criminal gangs and even pirates.

Culture

Milk
Directed by Gus Van Sant
Written by Dustin Lance Black
With Sean Penn, Emile Hirsch and Josh Brolin
In cinemas
February 12, 2009 is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Robert Darwin. His masterwork, On the Origin of Species, was published 150 years ago, in November 1859, initiating a revolution in science that continues to this day.
River of No Return — Frances Daingangan is a 45-year old mother of three who comes from the remote community of Ramingining in North East Arnhem land, and her dream came true when Rolf de Heer cast her in the lead female role of Nowalingu in Ten
I Don’t Wanna Play House
Written and performed by Tammy Anderson
Original Production Direction John Bolton
Q Theatre, 597 High Street, Penrith
Feb 24-28
Tickets 42/$37 Conc
Bookings (02)4723 7600 PREVIEW BY YVONNE HELLMERS

General

Next month it’s likely many of us will receive a one-off cash payment of up to $950 from the Rudd government.

Resistance!

“There is a systematic genocide going on in Sri Lanka at the moment and the world doesn’t know about it. That is why we are trying to create awareness about the issue and help put a stop to this genocide.”
Eighteen-year-old Cheyene Back was sentenced on February 2 to three months jail, despite having no prior convictions.