Issue 798

Australia

More than 200 supporters chanted “One law for all!” as construction worker Ark Tribe entered Elizabeth Magistrates Court through an arc of union flags and banners on June 9. He faces charges that could lead to a six-month jail term or a $22,000 fine.

Ninety workers stopped work on June 10 across the three manufacturing sites of Tieman Industries in a battle for a new collective bargaining agreement. Among their demands are a 36-hour week — in effect a nine-day fortnight — a better redundancy clause and a decent wage increase.

A forum on human rights and media freedom in Sri Lanka attracted 200 people on June 6.

Premier Anna Bligh’s push to privatise Queensland’s public assets is just how former National Party premier Joh Bjelke Petersen ruled Queensland said state secretary of the Electrical Trades Union, Peter Simpson.

Thousands took the streets on June 13 for the National Climate Emergency Rallies. Protesters declared a climate emergency and demanded the Australian government take emergency action on climate change.

Last week was one of much activity in the regional city of Cairns, as the push for abortion law reform in the state shows no sign of slowing down.

World

Saharawi workers met in El Aaiun in Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara on May 15 to discuss their grievances with their former employers: both Spanish companies and the Spanish government.

As more US people become homeless and the recession deepens, The Guaranty Bank of Austin has decided to demolish 12 brand-new double story homes in Victorville, California.

US President Barack Obama’s June 4 speech at Cairo University has been reported in the Western media as a decisive change in US foreign policy. It has been presented as the fulfilment of his election promise to find a way out of the wars and conflicts that his predecessor, George Bush, had started or helped fuel.

The Hezbollah-led opposition March 8 Coalition has conceded defeat in the June 7 Lebanese federal elections, which were marked by increasing US interference in the elections. For its part, the Israeli government raised fears a victory for the opposition would lead to war.

The May 21 announcement by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez of the nationalisation of a series of companies involved in steel and iron production has shaken up an otherwise lacklustre election campaign in Argentina for National Congress on June 28.

The article below is abridged from a June 3 statement by the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador. For more information, visit .

Veolia is the French corporation that owns Connex, which runs Melbourne’s train system. It has been the target around the world, including in Melbourne, of protests by the Palestinian solidarity campaign as part of the growing “boycott, divestment and sanctions” (BDS) campaign targeting Israel in protest against its apartheid policies towards Palestinians.

The June 2-3 general assembly meeting of the Organisation of American States in Honduras passed a resolution that overturned the OAS’s 1962 decision to exclude Cuba from the body due to its commitment to socialism.

As part of a the struggle for a new, participatory and democratic socialism, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), the mass party led by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, has called for a national debate on the role of the corporate-owned private media.

General Motors, as we know it, has been totalled.

Peruvian President Alan Garcia ordered a violent crackdown on indigenous protesters near the town of Bagua Grande, 1400 kilometres north of Peruvian capital Lima. Special Forces opened fire, including from helicopters.

In response to the fatal clashes between indigenous protesters and the Peruvian government, Venezuela’s foreign ministry has released a statement expressing its solidarity with both the security forces and the indigenous people killed. Venezuelan indigenous affairs minister Nicia Maldonado called the Peruvian government’s violent repression “terrorism”.

With some 375 million eligible voters from 27 countries electing 736 members of parliament, the European Parliament elections, from June 4-7, were the largest multi-country elections ever held.

The Don’t Extradite the Basques Campaign was formally launched on June 10 against the extradition to Spain of Belfast-based Basque pro-independence activists Inaki de Juana and Arturo “Benat” Villanueva at a press conference in west Belfast.

Analysis

Joe de Bruyn, national secretary of the Shop Distributors Alliance and Allied Employees’ Association (SDA) and fervent Catholic militant had some novel advice on how to resolve the debate about the Australian Building Construction Commission (ABCC) within his Labor Party.

The June 2-4 Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) congress passed a series of motions calling on the federal government to abandon plans to build a radioactive waste dump in the Northern Territory.

On June 3, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released its estimates of the national accounts for Australia for the January-March quarter. Following on from a small overall drop in gross domestic product (GDP) of 0.6% for the December quarter, a fall in the March quarter would mean that Australia had entered a “technical” recession.

On May 29, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd told radio 3AW that his government has “absolutely no plans to make any change” to the superannuation preservation age — the age at which workers may access the superannuation paid into a super fund by their employer.

With more than 20,000 extra US soldiers being deployed to Afghanistan, a member of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) argues that eight years of foreign occupation has made life worse for ordinary Afghans.

Three months after wining a state election, Queensland Premier Anna Bligh has been given the green light by the June 6-7 ALP state conference to push ahead with her $15 billion sell-off of state-owned assets.

The morning air is crisp and the smoky air wafts over the strike camp in the shadow of the imposing Hazelwood power station in Victoria’s La Trobe Valley. We receive a warm, country welcome from two emergency services officers (ESOs), Mick and Brian.

At first glance, the climate change policy decided at the June 2-4 Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) national congress looks serious. Global warming is “the policy challenge of our time”, it declares.

“Delivering for all Working Australians” was the slogan for the 2009 Australian Council of Trade Unions congress held June on 2-4. This raises the question — what if you are not working or an Australian citizen? But the congress will not be remembered for such philosophical questions — there were many more immediate issues at stake.

On May 31 in Melbourne, 5000 angry students marched against the increasing number of violent attacks on Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi students.

On the morning of May 31, international students in Melbourne began a powerful protest against the recent street violence that has targeted South Asian international students in particular.

Marion Scrymgour — the highest ranking Aboriginal member of any government in Australia — quit the Northern Territory Labor Party over its Aboriginal policy on June 4. As an independent, she now holds the balance of power.

More than 200 people packed into the Brisbane city hall on June 1 for a public forum on why individual rights in Australia needed to be enshrined in a Human Rights Act.

“Say it loud, say it clear! Racists are not welcome here!” chanted protesters at the steps of Federation Square in Melbourne on June 10.

Jean Hale (nee Heathcote) was born on July 29, 1912 in Brisbane. Her grandfather, Wyndham Selfe Heathcote, was an Anglican clergyman who opposed the Boer War. His opposition to the Anglican Church’s social policies and his opinions, such as this from one of his essays – “The death of Jesus, as a social reformer using direct action, has been transmuted into the death of a God dying for the world” – found him at loggerheads with the Church and resulted in his leaving to become a Unitarian Minister.

General

Recent protests by Indian students in Australia have drawn global attention to a resurgence of racist violence in Australian cities. An Indian student lies in a Melbourne hospital recovering from serious stab wounds to his abdomen, while others live in terror.

Resistance!

Over the past year and a half, Australia’s rental crisis has hit Canberra especially hard. The nation’s capital has the highest rents in the country.

Green Left Weekly’s Chris Peterson spoke to Indian student and Resistance activist Ajay Kumar who took part in the 5000-strong anti-racist protest in Melbourne on May 31.

A satirical group of Wollongong “billionaires” and representatives of the fossil fuel industry gathered in the city centre on June 10 for a “Stand up for Big Polluters” rally. They demanded “profits before people and the planet”.

Culture

The Chaser comedy team had its top-rating show, The Chaser’s War on Everything, suspended by the ABC for two weeks after an outcry over a sketch screened on June 3 that joked about the Make a Wish Foundation charity for sick children.

My Name is Rachel Corrie

From the writings of Rachel Corrie, edited by Alan Rickman and Katharine Viner

Directed by Shannon Murphy

With Belinda Bromilow

Seymour Centre, Sydney until June 20


Tickets from $20

Visit www.seymour.usyd.edu.au/boxoffice/bite_rachel09.shtml

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

Written by John Boyne & Mark Herman

Directed by Mark Herman

With Asa Butterfield, Vera Farmiga, David Thewlis & Jack Scanlon

In cinemas

Talking Stick: Health — Three dedicated people talk about closing the gap in health between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. ABC1, Friday, June 19, 6pm.

Message Stick: Intervention — Two years ago, the Howard Coalition Government