Issue 809

Australia

Imprisonment is still mandatory for refugees arriving by boat — despite the ALP government’s promise to mitigate the harsh anti-refugee policies of its predecessor. In the latest incident, the navy intercepted a boat carrying 52 refugees and three crew on August 29 and took them to the Christmas Island prison camp.

The “people's power speaking tour” of two Venezuelan revolutionaries began with a forum in the Geelong Trades Hall on August 31.

On August 21, a new group, “Forcewatch”, was launched to monitor the Queensland Police Service’s contentious “move-on power” laws.

Emergency services officers (ESOs) have returned to work at the Hazelwood power station with a clear win after an epic five months in dispute with their employer, contracting firm Diamond Protection.

In state parliament on September 2, Victoria’s shadow energy minister Robert Clark attacked climate activists planning a protest outside the Hazelwood power station. Clark called on the state government to “act urgently” to protect the Latrobe Valley’s coal-fired power generators from the September 13 “Switch Off Hazelwood” protest.

On August 17, the Network Working Group, formed out of the January Climate Action Summit, circulated its national network proposal to 300 climate action groups and networks that make up the grassroots climate movement. The groups have until September 18 to vote on the proposal.

World

An extraordinary summit of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) was held in Argentina on August 28, to discuss the proposed US military bases in Colombia.

I was angry that Timorese president and peace laureate Jose Ramos Horta used the 10-year anniversary of the United Nations-supervised ballot in East Timor on August 30 to declare: “There will be no international tribunal.”

Before the recent elections in the German states of Thuringia, Saarland and Saxony it seemed likely that Christian Democrat (CDU) German Chancellor Angela Merkel would return to power comfortably this year, probably in coalition with the free-market fundamentalists of the Free Democratic Party (FDP).

Leonard Peltier, an activist for the rights of Native Americans and one of the US’s longest-serving political prisoners, was denied parole by the US Parole Commission on August 21.

A humanitarian catastrophe has been escalating over the last three months in the internment camps in which 285,000 Tamil civilians have been imprisoned in the north of Sri Lanka.

The critical lack of quality and affordable health care is devastating for African Americans. Twice as likely as whites to go without health insurance, African Americans suffer chronic illnesses such as high blood pressure and diabetes at an escalating rate.

This abridged interview with Gerard Jodar, president of the pro-independence trade union federation Union of Kanak and Exploited Workers (USTKE), was first published in Liberation on August 17. He was interviewed by Matthieu Ecoiffier on the struggle of Kanaky, a French colony in the Pacific, for independence and social justice.

The Secretary General of the Communist Party of Vietnam, Nong Duc Manh will visit Australia from September 6 to 9 at the invitation of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to discuss upgrading bilateral relations to that of a “comprehensive partnership”.

In Sao Paolo, Brazil, over August 17-19, Green Left Weekly journalists Kiraz Janicke and Federico Fuentes, together with journalists from Marea Socialista (Venezuela) and Alternativa Socialista (Argentina) spoke to Gilberto Rios, from the National Popular Resistance Front against the Coup in Honduras (FN).

As Bolivia heads towards its December 6 national elections, the right-wing opposition has again turned to violence and disinformation to try to halt the process of change led by the country’s first indigenous president, Evo Morales.

Caracas will play host to one of the most important international gatherings of left parties in years, when delegates from across the world meet for the First International Meeting of Left Parties over October 7-9.

US author, dissident intellectual, and Professor of Linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Noam Chomsky met with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez for the first time on August 31. Together they analysed hemispheric politics during a nationally televised forum.

Analysis

Business economists and their paid media scribblers are frantically keen to announce the end of the financial crisis. Their aim is to return confidence in the market and to encourage working people to take on more debt.

National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) members at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) voted on August 31 to take strike action on September 16 in support of their enterprise bargaining claims

“This is a very dangerous time for Venezuela’s Bolivarian revolution and all of Latin America, and your solidarity now is extremely important”, Venezuelan ambassador to Australia, Nelson Davila, told the closing session of the Latin America Solidarity Conference in Melbourne.

The August 1 national day of action for equal marriage rights was the biggest demonstration for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) rights in Australian history.

“What do we want? Safe sites!” chanted 7000 workers marching to state parliament on September 1. The rally demanded best practice national occupational health and safety (OHS) laws.

From desert-fringe villages and drowning atolls, global warming is predicted to set climate refugees on the move. But arguably, the first climate refugees to reach Australia’s major cities are arriving already. And the places from which they have come are not exotic — rural towns like Mildura, Renmark and Griffith.

In April 2008, workplace relations minister Julia Gillard set up the National Review into Model Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Laws to develop a new national OHS standard. The process is called “OHS Harmonisation”.

Conservative Aboriginal leader Noel Pearson will present the opening address to the Brisbane Writers’ Festival on September 9. Brisbane-based Indigenous leader Sam Watson, who will also speak at the festival, has challenged Pearson to a public debate.

In the last week of winter, something strange happened: bushfires raged across New South Wales, with major fires in the Shoalhaven and Eurobodalla in the south of the state.

The recent resignation by NSW minister John Della Bosca over his affair with a woman revealed just how the big political parties and the corporate media trivialise Australian politics.

Last week, Queensland’s Bligh Labor government demonstrated it could remove the conscience vote on laws regarding abortion. It also instructed ALP parliamentarians to vote in favour of a law to allow medical terminations on the same limited grounds as now apply to surgical terminations.

August was a terrible month of climate vandalism in Western Australia.

"Forget ‘alternative’ energy — it can’t work!" That — and in almost those exact words — was among the messages of an article published in the Rupert Murdoch-owned Weekend Australian on August 8 by journalist Terry McCrann.

General

Green Left Weekly is launching a “spring offensive” to help us reach our 2009 fighting fund target of $250,000. By the end of August, we had raised $147,550 — about 60%. We need a push to get to 100% or more.

Resistance!

At Camps for Climate Action, climate change activists organise discussions on the politics of the climate movement and take direct action against major polluting industries.

Racism is alive and well in Australia today.

Culture

The Age of Stupid
Directed by Franny Armstrong
With Pete Postlethwaite
In cinemas

Sol Nationself-titled EP by Sol Nation
Released September through MGM
Email solnation@gmail.com

District 9
Directed by Neill Blomkamp
Written by Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell
With Sharlto Copley, Jason Cope, David James, Mandla Gaduka, William Allen Young, Vanessa Haywood, Kenneth Nkosi and Devlin Brown
In cinemas

Message Stick – The Deadly Yarns two-part series showcases the work of Western Australian Indigenous writers, directors and producers. ABC1, Friday, September 11, 6pm.

The Trials of J. Robert Oppenheimer – J. Robert Oppenheimer was one of the

Remembering Pine Gap: Women’s Peace Camp, November 1983
An exhibition from the archives of Jesse Street National Women’s Library
NSW Parliament House, Sydney
Until September 24