Issue 792

Australia

A 19-year-old Cairns woman faces up to 14 years in jail after being charged under Queensland’s abortion laws. It is the first time in more than 50 years such charges have been laid.

Most of the world’s governments are quickly moving to shift the burden of the economic meltdown onto workers. However, on May 1, the revolutionary government of Venezuela will officially raise the minimum wage by 10%.

The following article is based on an April 24 statement from Aboriginal activist Michael Anderson. A co-founder of the Aboriginal Embassy in Canberra and a leader of the Euhalyi Nation, Anderson has called on Aboriginal affairs minister Jenny Macklin to resign. He explains why here.

A public meeting on April 21 organised by the Beyond Nuclear Initiative and the Sydney Nuclear Free Coalition, at the University of Sydney, attracted 100 people.

Greens candidate Adele Carles and Socialist Alliance candidate Sam Wainwright argued for cooperation among progressive candidates in election campaigns at an April 22 meeting. Both activists are contesting the May 16 Fremantle by-election.

The Aboriginal Deaths in Custody Watch Committee is organising volunteers to travel to Kalgoorlie for the next stage of the Coronial Inquest into the January 2008 death of Warburton elder Mr Ward. The inquest reopens on May 11.

Four hundred Tamils and their supporters gathered in Melbourne on April 23 for an emergency protest. It was organised in response to the Sri Lankan government’s latest brutal military escalation in the north of the island.

World

Australian property developers are pushing the Indigenous people of Vanuatu, the Ni-Van, off their land.

Just 53% of US adults believe capitalism is better than socialism, a Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey revealed.

The Sri Lankan government claims to be on the verge of totally defeating the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE — also known as the Tamil Tigers). The LTTE has fought for more than 30 years for an independent state for the Tamil people on the northern and eastern parts of the island.

On April 19, the Sri Lankan Army (SLA) moved ground troops into what it had declared a “no-fire zone” in the north of the island, into which tens of thousands of Tamil civilians remain crowded.

The fifth Summit of the Americas was held over April 17-19 in Trinidad and Tobago, bringing together representatives from all countries of the Americas except Cuba.

The world's largest manufacturer of newsprint, AbitibiBowater, has filed for bankruptcy protection in the US and Canada. The company employs 11,000 workers in Canada.

In the regional elections held on March 1 in the south-west Basque region (Bascongadas), the Spanish state banned left-wing Basque nationalist parties from taking part.

Less than two weeks after the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M) won by-elections in six constituencies across Nepal, it is facing fresh resistance by the old elite.

The Durban Review Conference, held in Geneva on April 20-24, was supposed to review the progress made in implementing Declaration and Program of Action of the World Conference against Racism held in Durban, South Africa, in 2001.

British police are under pressure over their violent attacks on protesters during the G20 summit in London this month.

At the centre of the Summit of the Americas held in Trinidad and Tobago over April 17-19, was the only country from the hemisphere not present — Cuba.

“The Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC), representing every Scottish trade union, voted overwhelmingly to commit to boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel”, the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign said on April 22.

The fifth Summit of the Americas, bringing together all the nations of the Americas except Cuba, occurred in Trinidad and Tobago over April 17-19. In the lead up, a meeting was held in Caracas of the nations that make up the Bolivarian Alternative of the Americas (ALBA — Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Honduras and Dominica).

On April 10, Fijian President declared a state of emergency and suspended the constitution. Elections, scheduled for this year, have been delayed for five years.

On April 16, Cuba celebrated the 48th anniversary of the proclamation of the socialist nature of its revolution. This step came out of the need to publicly embrace a fair and uniting doctrine.

Analysis

Blacktown ALP NSW MP Paul Gibson has openly urged Premier Nathan Rees to make public transport free.

Telstra has once again started to sack staff. The communications union fears up to 2000 workers will be “let go” by mid-year. This makes a total of close to 12,000 job losses over the four years since CEO Sol Trujillo took the helm.

The successful April 18 “Stop the Sell-Offs!” public meeting of the Sydney Power to the People coalition (pictured) gave the campaign against the privatisation of NSW public services a strong boost.

On April 21, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd finally conceded that “it’s inevitable that Australia … will be dragged into recession”.

On April 21, SBS screened two documentaries about Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez and the Bolivarian revolution he is leading. One of them was The Hugo Chavez Show, produced by Frontline, a program on the US-based PBS channel.

Sometimes you have to hand it to capitalism. It’s sheer magic the way the system takes promising concepts, hands them over to the market and turns them into howling social and environmental disasters.

On June 13, rallies around Australia will launch a new grassroots climate campaign for 100% renewable energy by 2020.

When an asylum seeker vessel exploded on April 16 while being taken to Christmas Island, killing five people, many of the critically injured were first transported to an offshore oil rig before being transferred to hospitals on the mainland.

An April 28 mass protest called by six national building industry unions against the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) in Melbourne has received full support from the Victorian Trades Hall Council (VTHC).

The following article is abridged from a speech given by Ian Angus, associate editor of Socialist Voice www.socialistvoice.ca in Canada, and founding member of the Ecosocialist International Network.

The speech was delivered at the final session of the World at a crossroads Conference in Sydney, Australia, April 12.

General

For the annual May Day march in Wollongong this year, workers and the community will march under the banner, “Put jobs before profits”. Now that our PM has finally admitted Australia faces a recession, these four words sum up nicely a just response to the crisis.

Resistance!

Business doesn’t want to rip off young workers. We have deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s word for it.

Two years ago the film Zeitgeist made its way onto the internet scene, receiving millions of views on YouTube. Last year a new film was released called Zeitgeist Addendum, which sparked the “Zeitgeist movement”.

Culture

Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent

By Eduardo Galeano

25th anniversary edition, Monthly Review Press, 1997

317 pages, $40 (pb)

Available from

Spinifex Man — The life of the Indigenous theatre and film actor, Trevor Jamieson. ABC, Friday, May 1, 6pm.

Guests of the Ayatollah — In the Iran hostage crisis, the military was authorised to rescue the hostages by force. The mission failed

“Quarry Vision: Coal, Climate Change and the end of the Resources Boom”

By Guy Pearse

Quarterly Essay, Issue 33

Black Inc, 2009

129 pages, $16.95