Issue 794

Australia

News that millionaire developer and Fremantle Labor candidate Peter Tagliaferri has been a member of the “500 club” — a Liberal party fundraising group — has mired the Labor campaign in controversy in the final weeks of campaigning for the May 16 Fremantle by-election.

On May 5, Nelson Davila, charge d’affairs for the Venezuelan embassy in Australia, travelled to Newcastle for a day of discussion about the history and progress of the Bolivarian revolution.

Cityrail management began a staff review process on April 29 for staff working on the Illawarra line. The breakneck speed of the process so far has raised concerns among Cityrail workers that this is just another exercise in cost-cutting that will run down the already stretched rail network.

Scuffles broke out in Parramatta mall on May 5 as police and Lord Mayor Tony Issa forcibly shut down a Tamil hunger strike protesting the Sri Lankan government’s genocide of the Tamil people.

The following motion was passed by Students for Palestine (University of Western Sydney) on May 6.

On April 29, the steps of Victorian Parliament were filled with the stomping feet of angry protesters. They had marched through the city demanding public transport concession fares for international and postgraduate students.

World

More than 2,000 civilians were slaughtered by Sri Lankan Army shelling on the night of May 9, Tamilnet.com reported.

Motorola, Caterpillar, Veolia, the Tesco supermarket chain, and other companies across the world that do business with Israel are suffering losses due to a global boycott in support of Palestinian rights.

Much has been made in the international media of right-wing multimillionaire Ricardo Martinelli’s victory in Panama’s May 3 presidential elections. Martinelli’s triumph has been trumpeted as a break in the recent trend of left-wing electoral victories in the Americas.

Police detained dozens of opposition activists, lawyers and legislators on May 6 and 7, as protests erupted around the ruling National Front (BN) removal of the opposition People’s Alliance (PR) state government of Perak.

On April 30, the US state department released its 2008 Country Reports on Terrorism.

Supporters of El Savador’s left-wing Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) stormed parliament on May 1 in protest against attempts to impose a right-wing deputy as Congress president.

On May 6 and 7, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zadari was in Washington to exchange platitudes with US President Barack Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

The article below is abridged from a May 7 Inter-Press Service report.

When it comes to reporting on the situation for the Tamil minority in Sri Lanka, with no reporters on the ground to witness the Sri Lankan Army’s carnage, newspapers like the Melbourne Age and the Sydney Morning Herald suddenly discover “reliable information” on what the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) are up to!

“We ask the Afghan government to force the American forces to leave Afghanistan. They kill more civilians than Taliban”, an angry Haji Nangyalai told AFP on May 7 at a demonstration outside government offices in the western town of Farah.

The article below is abridged from a May 6 Tamilnet.com report.

A huge mobilisation of up to a million workers took place in Caracas on May 1 — the international workers’ day.

The article below is reprinted from a May 5 Tamilnet.com report.

Frances’s eight major union federations held demonstrations across the country on May 1 — the international workers’ day. It was the third jointly organised day of mass workers demonstrations this year.

“This is not just a Maoist movement”, Green Left Weekly’s correspondent in Kathmandu, Ben Peterson, said on the struggle that has erupted in Nepal. “This is threatening to become a new people’s movement, like the one that swept away the monarchy.”

“The country is not going to sink. Despite the world economic crisis, we will keep advancing in social and human development”, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said, inaugurating a new pharmaceutical plant at Las Adjuntas, Caracas, on May 3. He was speaking on his weekly TV program Alo Presidente.

Bolivian President Evo Morales called a special press conference in New York on April 22. The UN general assembly had passed a motion put by Bolivia’s radical, pro-poor government to make that day “International Mother Earth Day”.

The statement below was released by the International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran. For more information, contact info@workers-iran.org or alliance@workers-iran.org. Visit the site of Solidarity Committee with Iranian Workers-Australia, at www.unionkar.com.

An uprising by the Amazonian indigenous people of Peru continues to grow and get more radical in the face of government inaction.

Analysis

New South Wales Teachers Federation (NSWTF)president Bob Lipscombe has announced an new position on performance pay on the federation’s website.

The federal Labor government’s pre-election promise to abolish anti-worker Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs) has once again been exposed as a lie.

More than 40 Australian academics have signed a statement calling for a boycott of Israeli academic and cultural institutions.

Since the global economic crisis began, there has been a sharp fall in global demand for steel, resulting in more competition between steel makers.

Domestic violence support centres in Alice Springs are in desperate need of funds to meet demand.

“Integral fast reactors” and other “fourth generation” nuclear power concepts have been gaining attention, in part because of comments by US climate scientist James Hansen.

The federal budget will be presented to parliament by Treasurer Wayne Swan on May 12. While Swan has been officially tight-lipped about its contents, he has already released significant details about the cuts to programs and
government jobs the budget will hand down.

Melbourne-based climate activist Pablo Brait sent the letter below to the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) on May 5.

Within 24 hours of the Rudd government’s announcement of new changes to the proposed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, 66 climate action groups signed a statement condemning the decision.

PM Kevin Rudd’s announced changes to the proposed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) has again split the climate movement, and this time it’s very serious, with three large, rusted-on-to-Labor groups running cover for an appalling policy that won’t guarantee a reduction in Australian emissions for decades.

Ask an average Australian what they might hope the federal government would spend $300 billion on and the answer would hopefully be vast investment in new jobs and services, given we’re heading into recession, and reducing Australia’s climate change impact.

This is an abridged version of the speech given to the Wollongong May Day march on May 2 by Fred Moore.

Letters

Another Rudd betrayal

The Rudd Labor Government's latest anti-science, pro-coal, pro-pollution Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) proposal betrays Labor voters, Australians and humanity — and comprehensively demonstrates its unfitness to

General

Famous Cuban singer/songwriter Silvio Rodriguez has been banned by the US State Department from attending folk singer Pete Seeger’s 90th birthday celebrations in New York.

Resistance!

PM Kevin Rudd has announced plans for a scheme that will deny youth allowance to unemployed people under 20 years old, unless they are at school or engaged in full-time vocational training.

Culture

Corporate and White-Collar Crime

edited by John & Leonard Minkes

Sage

210 pages, $71.92(pb)

Gay Hollywood — In the 1920s, Hollywood was the most homosexual friendly place to be, as most of the behind-the-camera staff were gay. But for those in front of the camera there was no tolerance from the movie-going public. SBS, Friday, May 15,

Charlie Chaplin did much of his best work as an actor, director and even composer in films such as The Kid, The Gold Rush, The Circus and City Lights.