Issue 803

Australia

The Sydney Nuclear Free Coalition organised a protest at the Marrickville office of Federal ALP MP Anthony Albanese on the morning of July 15. They called on Albanese to call for a repeal of a bill that allows radioactive waste dumps in the Northern Territory.

Cindy Shelley had worked for Thomastown-based tooling specialist Sutton Tools for more than 20 years when she was told that her job was gone.

“Under your intervention team's poor management, my people and community is in disarray”, said Ampilatwatja community spokesperson Richard Downs, reported the July 16 Sydney Morning Herald.

The New South Wales Teachers Federation annual conference was from July 12 to 14. Of the many issues discussed by delegates, two stood out as big threats to public education, requiring strong union opposition: the introduction of school league tables and attacks on special education.

“We as human beings tend to confuse the unprecedented with the improbable”, former US vice-president Al Gore told the July 13 launch of the new environmental NGO, Safe Climate Australia (SCA). Present were 1000 invited guests including environment activists, business representatives and professionals working in related fields.

About 5000 people turned out for the government-organised Harmony Day march through Melbourne on July 12.

World

The article published below is an abridged July 10 column by former Cuban President Fidel Castro. It was originally published in Granma.

The article below is abridged from a July 12 column by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. In it, Chavez takes up an allegation of the Honduran coup plotters that overthrew the elected President Manuel Zelaya on June 28. They claim their action was justified because Chavez was seeking to control their country. This allegation has been used by right-wing forces across Latin America.

The Sri Lankan government claims that, after its military victory against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, which was fighting for an independent homeland in the island’s north-east for the Tamil minority, Tamil “terrorism” has been crushed, and that the outlook for the country is rosy.

“Is it not bizarre as well as obnoxious that the Israelis should abduct all those on that ship into a country that they had no intention of visiting and then deport them from it?”, British Labour MP Gerald Kaufman told the House of Commons on July 13.

On July 12, Greek police demolished a refugee camp in the port of Patras, home to about 150 people who were applying for asylum. The action was part of a “clean sweep” operation to discourage refugees and migrants from entering Greece.

June 28 was the anniversary of the two bookends of World War I, in which it is estimated more than 15 million people died. On that date in 1914, Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo. Five years later, in 1919, 90 years ago this year, the Versailles Treaty was signed in Paris.

Mass resistance to the illegal military coup that overthrew elected Honduran President Manuel “Mel” Zelaya on June 28 is continuing to grow.

US President Barack Obama used his African heritage in his July 11 speech to the Ghanaian parliament in Accra as justification for proceeding to blame Africa’s problems on its own people.

July is the infamous marching season of the Orange Order in the six counties in Ireland’s north still claimed by Britain. The Orange Order, a Protestant sect, is strongly “loyalist” (supporting British rule over the six counties) as well as anti-Catholic.

Zero point eight of a degree of warming may not seem like that much. This is how much average temperatures have risen over the past two centuries as a result of carbon pollution.

The United States state department has admitted it had prior knowledge of the military coup that overthrew President Manuel Zelaya on June 28.

The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) is well-known for its mission to expose the Venezuelan government of President Hugo Chavez as a threat to free speech “all over the continent”.

Five Tamil doctors who had revealed death counts of Tamil civilians during the Sri Lankan Army’s brutal offensive on Tamil-held territory this year have faced a staged media conference after two months behind bars, Associated Press said on July 9.

Analysis

Almost immediately after the Rudd Labor government’s Fair Work Australia came into effect on July 2, the Australian and other News Ltd newspapers launched a sustained attack on the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union’s (AMWU) wage claim for the manufacturing industry.

He occupied a (somewhat self-appointed) position as a hero of Australia’s environment and Indigenous rights movements for decades. Yet these days, former Midnight Oil frontman and current ALP environment minister Peter Garrett works overtime to prove his credentials as a defender of big business and the big polluters.

The 42 nations that make up the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) have called for world governments to set targets that would limit global warming to a 1.5°C increase.

In late June, the federal government helped launch a paper entitled Bridges and Barriers: Addressing Indigenous Incarceration and Health.

There they all were at the recent G8/G20 summit in L’Aquila, Italy, nodding their approval as Kevin Rudd once again announced his global carbon capture and storage institute. But in truth, the L’Aquila photo-op only highlighted the chasm between the emission cuts demanded by the climate science and the steps political leaders are willing to take.

The documentary film Stolen is now largely discredited.
It has been in the press recently for its controversial claim that slavery still exists among Saharawis in Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara.

This is the second part of an interview about breaking Australia’s addiction to coal between Green Left Weekly’s Zane Alcorn and retired Hunter Valley coal miner and climate activist Graham Brown. The first article can be read here.

They discuss how a “just transition” away from coal could be made – a transition that benefits the workers and communities now dependent on coalmining and coal-fired energy plants.

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) sent the open letter below to Melbourne International Film Festival on July 5.

Letters

If Obama were genuine…

Top scientists and economists tell us that carbon trading (ETS — emissions trading schemes) proposals are dangerous, fraudulent ponzi schemes and that genuine, non-manipulatable, equitable carbon taxes are urgently

General

In a fortnight when the world's wealthiest countries escalated their war on one of the world's poorest, Afghanistan, and when Peter Sold-His-Soul-To-The-Devil Garrett gave the nod to a new uranium mine to be run by a company controlled by a billionaire US arms merchant and former contra gunrunner, you'd be keen to get some good news.

Resistance!

On July 1 the Age reported the federal government had understated the number of international students who had died in Australia during 2008. The government had reported 51 deaths — a disturbingly high number. But the real figure was “at least 54” and is probably higher, the Age said.

On July 16, satirical ‘Billionaires for Coal’ group rallied in Wollongong Mall to welcome a raft of state government decisions that will benefit the rich. The billionaires congratulated the NSW ALP government on its plans to expand coal mining and burning.

The July 14 Age reported on unoccupied “ghost mansions” in the well-heeled Melbourne suburb of Toorak. These million-dollar houses have been bought by wealthy landowners and left unoccupied – in some cases for decades.

Culture

Comedian Rod Quantock launches his new show, Bugger the Polar Bears, This is Serious, in Melbourne on July 21. He spoke to Green Left Weekly’s Jay Fletcher about climate change, government inaction and the urgent need to create a global movement to save the planet.

Former US congresswoman Cynthia McKinney was among a group of activists who made international news when they were seized from their boat, the Spirit of Humanity, and imprisoned by the Israeli military on June 30.