Issue 790

Australia

Three young Tamil Australians began a hunger strike on April 11 to demand that the Australian government press for a permanent ceasefire by the Sri Lankan Army. The SLA is carrying out a brutal military offensive against the Tamil people in the

On March 30, a Federal Court hearing at Nepabunna gave a consent determination finally confirming the Adnyamathanha people’s native title rights over their traditional lands.

As part of Palestine Solidarity Week — March 30 to April 3 — renowned Jewish author Antony Loewenstein spoke at campus meetings at La Trobe University, Monash University and the University of Melbourne on April 1. The public lectures were organised by Students for Palestine.

Qantas workers at Sydney Airport struck for four hours on March 30. Workers held a mass delegates’ meeting to respond to plans to outsource jobs at Sydney, Launceston and Hobart airports. Baggage handlers, ramp, fleet and catering staff at airports in Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth also took industrial action.

Members of the Aboriginal community were joined by construction and manufacturing unionists at a 350-strong protest on April 3 to bring an end to deaths of Aboriginal people in custody.

Omar Hassan is the Education (public affairs) officer for Monash University’s student union. He is also a member of Students for Palestine. On March 31, the Monash Student Council (MSC) sanctioned Hassan for his involvement in the group.

In the biggest shake-up of job centres since the Howard government’s replacement of the Commonwealth Employment Service (CES) with the privatised Job Network in 1998, the federal Labor government has created a new Job Services Australia (JSA) network. It halves the number of not-for-profit agencies involved and cuts thousands of jobs.

A forum held by the University of Sydney environment collective and the Political Economy Students’ Society attracted 70 people on March 31.

Leader of the International Socialist Organisation Zimbabwea and former MP for Highfield in Harare, Munya Gwisai, along with two representatives of the external relations committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam, Le Vinh Thu and Le Gia Kien, are the latest additions to the growing international speaker line-up at the World at a Crossroads conference.

World

The Iraqi Teachers' Union is under attack from the Iraqi government. The government has authorised an official body to take over the union with the pretext of forcing the union to hold elections. It is worth noting that the ITU has already held several national conferences since 2003 and had elected an ITU leadership openly and democratically.

The article below is by Brian Senewiratne, who is from Sri Lanka’s Sinhalese ethnic majority and a long-time Tamil rights activist. For his uncompromising stance against the long-term oppression, and current brutal military offensive, against the Sri Lanka’s Tamil minority by the Sinhalese chauvinist regime, he was recently barred from entering Malaysia and was singled out and victimised by Canadian and Australian immigration officials.

A March 27 ACN article reported that former Cuban president Fidel Castro has been awarded the Order of the Companions of O.R. Tambo, South Africa’s highest distinction. South African President Kgalema Motlante handed over the order to the Cuban ambassador, Angel Fernandez.

A new left alliance has formed in Britain to stand in the European Union elections set for June 4.

The article below is by Peter Boyle, the national secretary of the Democratic Socialist Perspective, which is a Marxist tendency in the Socialist Alliance. Boyle attended the founding congress of the new mass-based left-wing Power of the Masses Party (PLM) in Manila in February. He also met with military rebels, some supportive of the PLM, currently in prison for trying to overthrow the corrupt, neoliberal government of President Gloria Arroyo. A longer version of this article can be found at the socialist e-journal Links, http://www.links.org.au.

In a disturbing development, US President Barack Obama has announced that Pakistan is now a main focus for the “war on terror” — foreshadowing an increasing expansion of the US-led war in Afganistan across the border.

Senator Humaira Namati, a member of the upper house of the Afghan parliament, said the new law that has been signed by US-backed President Harzai Karzai was “worse than during the Taliban”, the March 31 British Guardian said.

The United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), the party led by Chavez that has almost 6 million aspiring members, has also produced a document analysing the global economic crisis and the tasks for revolutionary socialists for discussion in its branches across the country. A translation of the document can be read at the socialist e-journal, Links ().

Israel’s High Court ruled to allow leaders of the extreme right to march bearing Israeli flags through the Palestinian majority town of Umm al-Fahm, near Haifa, on March 24.

The Group of 20 meeting of leaders of the world’s biggest economic powers was marked for failure even before it began on April 1.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez argued on March 27 that the economic measures his government has adopted, to confront the global economic crisis, contain “not one neoliberal element”, unlike those adopted by the previous governments.

Nearly 700 people marched on March 29 from a Baptist church to the courthouse of rural Powhatan County, Virginia.

The article below is by Salim Vally, a leading member of the Palestine Solidarity Committee in South Africa and a veteran anti-apartheid activist. A longer version is posted at http://www.links.org.au. Vally will be a featured guest at the World at a Crossroads conference, in Sydney, April 10-12. For more information, or to register, visit ;http://www.worldatacrossroads.org.

“The trouble makers are out in force again”, George Monbiot wrote on April 1 in the Guardian Online.

The unemployment rate jumped to 8.5% in March as the economy shed another 663,000 jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. With the job loss reported for March, and upward revisions of 84,000 for the prior two months, the economy has lost an average of 684,000 jobs per month since November 2008.

The article below is abridged from a March 31 Ma’an News Agency report.

Bolivian President Evo Morales denounced the decision of the April 2 G20 summit to inject more than US$1 trillion into the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as a means of combating the economic crisis, comparing it to leaving a wolf to care for a flock of sheep, according to an April 3 AFP report.

“You want to haul us out to jail? Fine. Let the world see how government has been ineffective”, Bertha Lewis, chief organiser for Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), told the February 17 New York Times.

Kavita Krishnan is the national secretary of the All India Progressive Women's Association and a former president of the All India Students' Association. She is also a central committee member of the Communist Party of India-Marxist-Leninist (CPI-ML) and editor of Liberation magazine. Krishnan will be an international guest at the World at a Crossroads conference in Sydney, April 10-12. For more information, or to register, visit World at a Crossroads.

International human rights group Amnesty International issued a report on March 30 accusing the Greek police of widespread abuses during the wave of street protests that shook the country late last year. The report claimed police conducted arbitrary arrests, physically abused detainees, and disproportionately targeted immigrants.

The combination of a ten-year long “people’s war” waged by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), and a pro-democracy uprising in 2006 overthrew the centuries-old Nepalese monarchy and paved the way for elections to a constituent assembly to draft a new constitution. Elected last year, the largest number of seats are held by the United Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist, which is aligned with the PLA and currently heads a coalition government.

Some 200 workers occupied the Visteon car parts plant in Belfast in Ireland's north in response job cuts on March 31. The workers acted after the bosses summarily announced the closure of the plant with the loss of all jobs. Visteon took over the plant from Ford in 2000. All plant makes parts for Ford.

Speaking on March 30 in Qatar, the day before the two-day summit of South American and Arab countries, Venezuela President Hugo Chavez said the meeting represented the “coming together” of two regions that have experienced “centuries of struggle against colonialism”.

The Victorian ALP state government has cynically tried to dress up its attack on public sector workers as an attempt to save jobs. Public sector workers will have their wage rises slashed from 3.25% to 2.5% annually.

Teachers’ salaries in Venezuela have increased 550% since 1999, education minister Hector Navarra said on March 23, according to the March 24 Diario Vea.

Analysis

“I’m a huge supporter of the civil society and the internet is the Wild West at the moment”, federal communications minister Stephen Conroy told SBS’s Insight on March 31. Conroy and the Labor Party remain determined to fence the internet in, joining a short list of countries that attempt to censor it.

The federal government is hoping those who receive their $900 “stimulus package” payment from April 6 spend and spend big.

In 2005, anti-dredging campaign group Blue Wedges joined Somali pirates, Peruvian raiders and Gulf terrorists on the US Office of Naval Intelligence’s international threat list as a credible threat to international shipping.

The Building Industry Group (BIG) unions have decided to up the ante on the campaign to abolish the undemocratic Australian Building Construction Commission (ABCC).

Labor governments at state and federal levels are persisting with two unpopular proposals for education in remote Aboriginal schools — the scrapping of bilingual education and the linking of welfare payments to school attendance — despite opposition from communities and educators.

Green Left Weekly’s Simon Butler spoke to Karen Cieri, one of the founders of Top End Transition group based in Darwin.

The federal government’s report on the future of the Australian Building Construction Commission (ABCC), released on April 3, was met with disappointment by unionists.

As the economic crisis continues to worsen, with capitalism unable to stop the spiral towards a global depression that will plunge millions into poverty, women will experience the negative consequences more rapidly and with more severity.

A number of Climate Action Groups (CAGs) in NSW held a series of actions at federal MP offices on March 27.

The struggle against the privatisation schemes of the NSW government is beginning to revive. On April 2, an angry demonstration of prison officers besieged parliament house, protesting against prison privatisation plans.

This article is based on a speech given by Jay Nathan, a young Tamil activist, at a rally protesting the Sri Lankan genocide against the people of Tamil Eelam, in Sydney on March 28.

Editorial

As the only weekly newspaper in Australia to regularly house news, discussions and debates on capitalism’s crises and socialist solutions, Green Left Weekly is proud to be hosting the World At A Crossroads conference, to be held at Sydney Girls High, over the Easter weekend (April 10-12).

General

It is with sadness that we inform you that long-time left-wing Alistair Dickinson passed away on March 13. Dick was 75 years old. He had fought hard for some months against cancer.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown proclaimed at the conclusion of the London G20 summit: “We have resolved that from today we will together manage the process of globalisation … We have agreed that in doing so we will build a more sustainable and more open and fairer global society.”

Resistance!

According to a 2008 report by UN agencies UNAIDS and the World Health Organisation, an estimated 1.9 million people were newly infected with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa in 2007, bringing the number of people living with HIV in the region to 22 million.

As capitalism sinks into a growing crisis of war and economic meltdown, people around the world are waking up to the fact that something is drastically wrong with the system that is throwing millions into poverty, wrecking our climate and turning entire countries into battlefields.

Culture

Visual artist Van Thanh Rudd created a stir in Melbourne with his installation “Economy of Movement — A Piece of Palestine”. Rudd was invited to exhibit at an art space called the Platform, in the group show Resisting Subversion of Subversive Resistance. The Platform is situated directly beneath Melbourne’s Flinders Street train station.

The (International) Noise Conspiracy (T(I)NC) formed in Sweden in 1998. It’s well known for its strong political stance on many progressive issues. The band will be touring Australia until May 29. Dates are available at http://www.myspace.com/internationalnoiseconspiracy.

A necessary part of life

new life wakes me: a tiny sun

with roots I must water daily

encouraging them

to plan their own attack upon discord.

Poor little bread of solidarity,

banner against the cold, fresh water for all the

The Great Financial Crisis: Causes and Consequences

By John Bellamy Foster and Fred Magdoff

Monthly Review Press, 2009

160 pages, $25

Available from <http://www.resistancebooks.com>