Issue 797

Australia

Canberra residents picketed the Minerals Council of Australia’s National Conference on May 28. The protest, organised by Climate Action Canberra, condemned the Rudd government’s free permits to Australia’s biggest polluters, worth $16 billion.

More than 120 people packed into a seminar “Media complicity: reporting Gaza and Sri Lanka 2009” on May 27 at the University of Technology.

Flawed Promises, a report released on May 25, found that the Victoria’s state government was protecting paddocks and previously logged areas instead of 500-year-old forests.

As the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) appears less and less likely to get through the Senate , the Australian Greens say now it is time for real action on jobs creation and climate change.

Mamdouh Habib, illegally detained in Guantanamo Bay and then cleared of all terror charges has, since returning to Australia in 2005, faced systematic harassment from security agencies and the NSW Police.

Abdul Hekmat, a Hazara refugee from Afghanistan, doesn’t believe that the US-NATO invasion and occupation of his country amounts to a “good” war, and is troubled by the prospect of the Taliban seizing more power.

Local residents held a rally on May 23 to stop trucks entering the Tullamarine toxic dump site in Melbourne’s west. Two days later they picketed to again stop trucks from entering the landfill site.

World

After the military defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which waged an armed struggle for independence for Sri Lanka’s Tamil minority, the extent of the killings of Tamil civilians by the Sri Lankan army (SLA) has begun to emerge.

In a call for action to stop the humanitarian crisis facing hundreds of thousands of Tamil civilians, a group of young Tamil Australians have initiated the statement below. Published at Fastuntoaction.wordpress.com, they are calling for as many people as possible to add their name.

Mass protests by indigenous communities continue to spread throughout Peru. This is despite a violent crackdown by police and military forces following President Alan Garcia’s declaration of a 60-day state of emergency in the Cusco, Ucayali, Loreto and Amazonas regions on May 9.

The rightward shift of the apartheid Israeli state has continued with a new law proposed that would make it a crime to commemorate the founding of the Israeli state as al Nakba (the catastrophe — which is how Palestinians remember the event).

The US government has nuclear weapons pointed at North Korea, a fleet of Navy vessels permanently positioned off its coast, and close to 100,000 soldiers stationed in South Korea and Japan.

On May 13, the Nigerian military began a military assault, including land, naval and air bombardments, on the oil-rich Niger Delta. Thousands of people are reported to have died, with entire villages destroyed.

In recent weeks, there have been a number of articles in the corporate media globally, including the Rupert Murdoch-owned Australian, on the creation of a new international union organisation — Trade Unions Linking Israel and Palestine.

Hundreds of thousands of workers answered the call of the European Trade Union Confederation with protests on May 16. The protests were in support of the ETUC’s “Fight the Crisis: Put People First” campaign and its efforts to win the adoption to win a “new social deal” for Europe.

On May 24, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa marked national independence day ceremonies with a promise to “radicalise and deepen” the “citizens’ revolution” his government is seeking to lead.

The Bolivian people, led by the government of President Evo Morales, are continuing their campaign to bring former president Gonzalo “Goni” Sanchez de Lozada and members of his cabinet to justice over the government-ordered massacre of dozens of protesters in 2003.

The most popular leader among the Arab population in the Middle East, the May 20 Christian Science Monitor said, isn’t even from the region: it is Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Addressing the 400-strong May 21 workshop with workers from the industrial heartland of Guayana, dedicated to the “socialist transformation of basic industry”, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez noted with satisfaction the outcomes of discussions: “I can see, sense and feel the roar of the working class.”

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced the nationalisation of six companies on May 21. “There will be no discussion”, he said.

Pakistan’s workers and peasants continue to be caught between the brutal military conflict waged between the Pakistani military, backed by the US, and the Islamic fundamentalist Taliban.

Analysis

When Pivot Fertilizer announced its closure in May, it became the latest in a long, list of Geelong-based manufacturers to close their doors.

Without doubt, climate change is the greatest challenge humanity has ever faced. The scientific evidence of the scale of the threat is overwhelming, compelling and frightening. Climate tipping points — which, if crossed, will lead to runaway global warming — are being crossed now.

Over a year ago I wrote to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown asking him to place a moratorium on new coal-fired power plants in Britain.

With its belching cows and giant diesel-powered tractors, the farm sector is widely known to be an important contributor to Australia’s impact on climate change. Just how important, however, is not often recognised.

If you have thought of taking action on climate change, now is the time. Drought, bush fires, floods and rising seas are already hitting hard. It's an emergency and we need emergency action.

New policies announced by the federal ALP Aboriginal affairs minister, Jenny Macklin, turn back the clock on Aboriginal land rights more than 30 years.

Dick Nichols is a national co-convenor of the Socialist Alliance. This article is based on a talk to the April World at a Crossroads conference.

About 350,000 Queensland workers plan to fight Labor Premier Anna Bligh’s plans for massive privatisations. Unions have warned of widespread industrial action, including strikes.

In 2000, the small Pacific island nation Tuvalu made a formal request to Australia to accept its people if they were forced to evacuate because of global warming-induced sea level rises.

Telstra workers took their campaign for a new enterprise bargaining agreement to the streets on May 27, with a farewell to former Telstra CEO Sol Trujillo.

With climate emergency rallies on June 13 demanding 100% renewables by 2020, it’s important to dispel some myths about alternative energy sources such as wind power.

The following article is based on a speech given to a May 23 rally in Melbourne.

On May 17, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced a new “solar flagships” initiative. The government will invest $1.4 billion in four solar electric generating systems, which will have a combined output of 1000 megawatts. Rudd claims it will be the world’s biggest solar energy project.

Ark Tribe worked as a rigger on a construction site at South Australia’s Flinders University in May 2008 when an industrial dispute arose due to safety issues. He has been charged by the Department of Public Prosecutions (DPP) with refusing to answer questions from the Australian Building Construction Commission (ABCC) in relation to the dispute.

Below are details of just some of the 250 climate action groups nationwide organising to demand urgent action on climate change. For information on how to get involved contact your local group or visit your closest Resistance Centre (details on page 2).

General

Green Left Weekly will be taking a one week break. This means the next issue will be dated June 17.

Imagine a government trying to sell to the public a new proposal to reduce murder rates by selling right to murder. The government brazenly names it the Murder Reduction Scheme.

Resistance!

On May 4, Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) head Don Henry said: “We have achieved a significant step forward on climate change.” The achievement was convincing the federal Labor government to merely consider adopting a target of a 25% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.

Scientific agreement on the need for drastic action to combat climate change has prompted the search for ways to ease humanity’s increasing burden on the planet, including consideration of population growth and consumption habits.

“Climate change has placed all humankind before a great choice: to continue in the ways of capitalism and death, or to start down the path of harmony with nature.”

The climate is changing faster than we thought. Changes we believed would happen in 100 are starting to happen now.

In a time of climate crisis, logic dictates we should be cutting carbon pollution and ending our reliance on burning coal for energy. Yet the opposite is happening in Australia.

The threat of climate change means that for the first time humanity is faced with the very real possibility of extinction. The root cause of the ecological crisis is capitalism’s drive to maximise immediate profits above all else.

The federal Labor government wants to introduce its Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS), otherwise known as the emissions trading scheme, in July 2011.

We all know about the government and big business’s so-called “solutions” to the climate change crisis: “clean” coal, carbon trading schemes, etc. But what are some real world solutions to the climate crisis and what real action is being taken?

The Australian government and coal industry’s push for so-called “clean coal” technology is justified on the grounds that if we can keep burning and selling coal, but in a “sustainable” way, many Australian jobs will be saved. This is pure propaganda.

In Australia and the rest of the capitalist world, production is decided by privately owned businesses on the basis of the “profit motive”. That is, companies decide what and how much is produced based on what will achieve the greatest profit and consequently the most money for the company owners.

Culture

On May 18, President Hugo Chavez sent condolences on behalf of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela on the death the previous day of revolutionary Uruguayan poet, novelist and playwright Mario Benedetti. The following is abridged from Chavez’s letter.

“This book is part of the red armband view of Australian history”, Marxist historian Humphrey McQueen told an audience at Brisbane’s Paddington Workers Club at the May 28 launch of his new book, Framework of Flesh: Builders’ Labourers Battle for Health and Safety.

Carbon footprints, melting icecaps and ecological disasters — the hot-button issue of the century is explored in a series of films that focus on sustainability at the Sydney Film Festival.

Talking Stick: Sport — Presenter Miriam Corowa speaks to Indigenous and non-Indigenous insiders about sport, Indigenous sports stars and how they inspire Indigenous kids. ABC1, Friday, June 5, 6pm.

The Wind that Shakes the Barley — Directed by

On its opening day, Israeli soldiers walked past piles of books for sale and commemorative PalFest’09 tote bags into the Palestine National Theatre in Jerusalem to tell the owner that the Palestine Festival of Literature was an event organised by the Palestinian Authority and therefore illegal.