Issue 796

Australia

Members of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) from five Victorian universities took strike action on May 21.

NTEU members from the University of Melbourne, Monash University, Deakin University, RMIT, Swinburne University and Hawthorn Learning (bought by a private education...

On May 21 University of Newcastle cleaners staged a protest at the twin entrances to the campus. They demanded that big budget cuts be reversed and the prior cleaning regime and working hours be restored.

The university announced in March that it would be cutting its annual cleaning...

Two protesters abseiled from the front of parliament house on May 13 in a dramatic protest against the federal government's policies on climate change.

The two activists unfurled a banner reading "Carbon budget blowout" across the parliament house facade. A further nine protesters were...

Socialist Alliance member and Latin American solidarity activist Jim McIlroy addressed a forum organised by the Australia Venezuela Solidarity Network (AVSN) at the Brisbane Activist Centre on May 21. McIlroy and solidarity activist Coral Wynter had recently returned to Australia after six...

Close to 100 people attended a May 17 Community Action Against Homophobia (CAAH)-organised International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO) rally in Newtown to commemorate the day the World Health Organisation took homosexuality off its list of mental disorders.

Tracie O'Keefe (Sex and Gender...

The NSW Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) has criticised RailCorp plans to decimate station staff numbers.

Staff reviews on NSW rail stations have been completed on the Illawarraline, excluding the eastern suburbs railway. All 371 stations on the network are to be reviewed. The joint...

Chants of "Hardest working, lowest paid: Bligh and Wilson, be ashamed!" rang out from 4000 teachers at the gates of state parliament on May 19.

The Brisbane teachers were among thousands across the state who took strike action in opposition to the Queensland Labor government's pay offer....

A Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union (CFMEU) member in South Australia has become the second worker to face charges for refusing to speak to the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC).

Established by the Howard government in 2005, the ABCC is like a secret police...

World

"Soldiers, our race salutes you!" state the Sinhala-language slogans on huge placards plastered across Sri Lanka's countryside.

Sonali Samarasinghe Wickrematunge, the widow of murdered Sri Lankan journalist Lasantha Wickrematunge, revealed this bizarre slogan in a statement read out by...

The world has recently lost one of the most important leaders of the indigenous movement in Latin America.

Rosa Elena Transito Amaguana Alba was born in Pesillo, Ecuador, in 1909. She spent her childhood at La Chimba, the property of a rich landowner.

Her parents worked alongside...

Malalai Joya is the youngest elected representative to Afghan's parliament. In 2007, she was unjustly suspended for "insulting" other members of the parliament. Joya is an opponent of the US-led occupation and a strong supporter of women's rights. She opposes the brutal...

The national president of the US organisation Veterans for Peace, Mike Ferner has written an open letter to US President Barack Obama published below. VFP involves veterans from past and current US wars. Its members "draw on our personal experiences and perspectives...

"Our motherland has been completely liberated from separatist terrorism", Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa said in a May 19 "victory speech" to parliament. He was referring to the military defeat of the pro-independence Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) by the Sri Lankan Army.

...

Michael Lebowitz is a Canadian Marxist economist. He is the director of the "Transformative practice and human development" program at the Caracas-based left-wing think tank, the Centro Internacional Miranda. He is professor emeritus of economics at Simon Fraser...

The following is a May 6 statement by the Treatment Action Campaign (South Africa), AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa, RAVANE+ PVVIH Network for the Indian Ocean Region (Mauritius) and the Grassroots Empowerment Trust (Kenya). It is reprinted from

"A tiny portion of this sum could...

There is a revival of socialist feminism in Latin America, spearheaded by the Venezuelan and Cuban revolutions.

I have just returned from a workshop on gender-based violence organised by the Ministry of Women's Affairs and Gender Equality in Venezuela and the United Nations Development...

Nepal's political stalemate of sorts continues.

While political parties move to try to form a new government, about 300,000 people marched in Kathmandu (which as a population of 700,000) on May 17. The protest supported the demand of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M)...

\The article below is compiled from Prensa Latina reports on May 16 and 17.

International Day against Homophobia was observed in Havan on May 16, with the participation of a diverse, largely youthful public.

In the early hours of the morning, the day's activities began at the...

On May 18, human rights activists rallied outside Australian foreign affairs minister Stephen Smith's office in Perth to protest against the treatment of Burma's democratically elected leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.

Protesters wanted the Australian government to urge Burma's military regime to...

British comedian and activist Mark Steel discusses the growing scandal about expenses claimed by British members of parliament in the article published below. The scandal is causing widespread outrage and forced the resignation of House of Commons speaker Michael Martin on May 19 — the first...

"I believe that we must reject torture without equivocation because it does not make us safe, it results in unreliable intelligence, it puts our troops at risk, and it contradicts core American values", US President Barack Obama said while campaigning for the White House in March last year....

"We don't live in the territories, we cannot throw stones and we cannot participate in the legitimate resistance against occupation", Haneen Zoabi, a Palestinian member of the Israeli Knesset (parliament) told Green Left Weekly.

"We participate in the struggle so our own position as...

Analysis

There are still about 12.3 million people worldwide who work in some form of bonded or forced labour, according to a May 12 International Labour Organisation (ILO) report.

This includes 4.2 million sex workers and 8.1 million agricultural labourers, manufacturing workers and construction...

Despite some new health spending on infrastructure and research, the recent budget failed to address the growing public health care crisis.

Dr Lesley Russell, of the Menzies Centre for Health Policy, wrote in the Croakey health blog on May 18 that the budget shows "the bean counters...

Plans are underway for the fifth national day of action for same-sex marriage rights. Rallies are already planned in seven cities across Australia on August 1.

The national day of action has been held every year since 2005 to commemorate the ban on same-sex marriage, passed by the...

Schools and clinics in many Aboriginal homelands and outstations are likely to close under proposed changes announced by the Northern Territory government on May 20.

The NT government's Working Futures — Remote service delivery discussion paper outlines its vision for outstations...

Climate scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology released a disturbing new study on May 19. Without drastic action, the Earth's surface temperature could rise by 5°C or more by 2100, they said.

This roughly doubles even the most pessimistic predictions made until now. A 5°C...

A three month long industrial dispute at the West Gate Bridge strengthening project in Melbourne has ended. Unions and construction giant John Holland reached a settlement on May 15.

John Holland sparked the dispute by not honouring an existing workplace agreement. John Holland instead...

Prominent journalist Jeff McMullen questioned the Northern Territory intervention at a forum organised by Reconciliation for Western Sydney on May 20 in Wentworthville.

McMullen said the Indigenous policies of the Rudd government continue many of the worst policies of the previous Howard...

The victory for Greens candidate Adele Carles in the May 16 by-election for the WA state seat of Fremantle is a breakthrough for the progressive movement and a testament to the Greens' consistent efforts to raise a left alternative to Labor.

Beyond the boundaries of that electorate, it is...

When the United Nations describes the Sinhalese army's attacks on the Tamil areas of Sri Lanka as a "bloodbath on the beach" you know a massacre is going on.

The ultra-racist Sri Lankan government of Mahinda Rajapaksa refused to allow foreign observers into the war zone. This has helped...

Opinion polls in both the Fairfax and Murdoch dailies on May 18-19 show voter support for PM Kevin Rudd has fallen. Rudd, who scored a 74% approval rating in the Fairfax Nielsen poll on March 30, dropped 10 points in the May 18 poll, down to 64%.

At the same time, support for the Labor...

Letters

Fremantle Greens victory

The ALP failed to ask them selves this question. Who were these Green voters? It was the first time many people from the ALP and Liberals voted Green.

The excuse the ALP made [for the Greens victory] is that there was no Liberal candidate...

General

On May 14, the Senate upheld the parliamentary remuneration tribunal's decision to raise electoral allowances for federal politicians by $90 a week ($4700 a year). The vote was 38 votes to 7.

So you guessed it: Liberal and Labor senators united to give themselves a "back-door pay rise"....

Resistance!

After rugby league commentator and former player Matthew Johns gave an insincere and misdirected apology on The Footy Show on May 7 — preempting the ABC Four Corners program that named Johns as part of an alleged sexual assault in 2002 — Paul "Fatty" Vautin slapped him on the...

Last week's university staff strikes across Victoria were in response to decades of attacks on higher education.

Casualisation has hit universities hard, so most staff are now in low-paid, insecure employment. Class sizes have also ballooned, while the workload has been concentrated on...

Culture

Samson and Delilah

Written and directed by Warwick Thornton

With Marissa Gibson and Rowan MacNamara

In cinemas

Samson and Delilah is an accurate but harshly unrelenting portrayal of life on a remote Aboriginal community...

Friends in deed

By Heather Saville

Australia Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) Inc., 2009

337 pages, $24.95 plus postage (pb)

Friends in deed traces the 50-year history of Quaker Service...

The Declarations of Havana

By Fidel Castro, with an introduction by Tariq Ali

Verso, 2008

138 pages, $26.95 (pb)

As Cuba celebrates the 50th anniversary of the revolution that overthrew the US-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista in...