Issue 816

News

On October 26, 150 people rallied at Federation Square to demand the Australian government accept the 78 Sri Lankans asylum seekers currently moored off Indonesia’s Riau Islands.
October 30 was a national day of action in support of South Australian building worker Ark Tribe.
A vibrant and noisy crowd of about 300 women rallied at the State Library in Melbourne to demand an end to violence against women.
More than 1500 workplace representatives and union officials attended the annual Victorian Occupational Health & Safety Reps Conference on October 28 in Melbourne.
On October 23, tyre manufacturer Bridgestone Australia announced to a shocked workforce that the Adelaide factory would be closing in April 2010. Six hundred workers will lose their jobs.
A lively rally of 1000 people marched through Yarraville Village on October 24, demanding the reinstatement of their local high school. The school serviced the Seddon, Kingsville and Yarraville area.
Watching the terrible plight of the Tamil asylum seekers aboard the Australian customs ship Oceanic Viking last week brought home the depressing continuity in policy and perspective between the previous John Howard Coalition government and Labor rule under PM Kevin Rudd. Australia's razor-wire enclosed refugee detention centres are once again filling up with desperate victims of war and oppression.
The Rudd government plans to double the capacity of Christmas Island detention centre to maintain its of policy mandatory detention of all refugees that arrive by boat. Plans are under way to expand the prison-like facility to house up to 2300, the Age said on October 31. Already, the government has installed an extra 200 bunks. It has also transported cramped and unsafe shipping containers to the island to house new arrivals.
The Tasmanian ALP government is facing another political crisis stemming from its pro-business politics. This time it is over the contract it signed with shipping operator Southern Shipping to provide a 50 kilometre ferry service between the Bass Strait islands and Bridport, on the Tasmanian mainland.

Analysis

The fatal explosion on board a boat carrying 47 Afghan refugees in April created a storm of controversy in Australian politics and the media.
A gay Bangladeshi couple have been battling to gain citizenship in Australia for 10 years. The Refugee Review Tribunal knocked back their claims three times, and three times a higher court has overturned the rulings.
Admit it: you’re just a little disturbed when industrialists, fossil-fuel lobbyists and the Liberal and National parties thunder that big, quick cuts to carbon emissions would bankrupt Australian business. Well, aren’t you?
It seems like only yesterday we were being exhorted to spend. Pensioners, parents, homebuyers and workers were plied with “free” money from the Labor government and asked to go and spend it to save the economy.
On November 2, 1923, 636 members of the Victorian police force went on strike. All were sacked and replaced by volunteer strikebreakers.
The following abridged statement was released on October 29 by Aboriginal people from Northern Territory communities targeted by the federal government’s NT Emergency Response laws.
Justice and Freedom for Ceylon Tamils is a human rights action group based in Melbourne. It was formed in 2007. A spokesperson for the group, Nagamuthu Wickiramasingham, told Green Left Weekly that Tamil refugees had good reason to flee the brutal Sri Lankan regime by boat.

World

The re-election of Uruguay’s Frente Amplio (FA — Broad Front) government, and the defeat of the right-wing National Party candidate and former neoliberal president Luis Alberto Lacalle, came one step closer on October 25.
In France, you pay nothing to go to college. In Britain, the National Health Service is free. And in Sweden, any woman who gives birth receives two years of paid maternity leave.
While two boat loads of Tamil refugees fleeing Sri Lanka push their case to be admitted into Australia, two reports on Sri Lankan atrocities against Tamils have been released without a word from the Australian media or government.
US President Barack Obama, winner of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, is planning another war to add to his impressive record.
The Stop the War Coalition-organised demonstration on October 24 brought the centre of London to a standstill. It was a landmark demonstration, led by Lance Corporal Joe Glenton — the first serving soldier in the British army to join an anti-war march.

With the death of Dr K. Balagopal at age 52 on October 8, India and in particular his home state of Andhra Pradesh, have lost an untiring worker for human rights. Over almost three decades of activism as a human rights investigator, a public intellectual and 10 years as a lawyer, Balagopal had become synonymous with the human rights movement in India.

The following joint statement by the Confederation Congress of Indonesia Union Alliance and the Working People’s Association was released from Jakarta on October 27.
There’s something touchingly innocent about the argument that the far-right British National Party (BNP), which won two European parliament seats in June, should be allowed space in the mainstream media as this will “expose their ignorant ideas”.
The administration of US President Barack Obama administration tried to defend the nearly half-century-old US economic blockade on Cuba at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) October 28. The result was another overwhelming vote, 187-3, telling Washington that enough’s enough.
The United Nations Development Program's Human Development Report 2009 was released on October 5. It again highlighted some of Cuba’s extraordinary achievements.
Once again Pakistan has become the focus of world attention. Every day there is news about the latest suicide attack or military operation, with killings, injuries and displaced communities.
A 14-month struggle by Venezuelan electrical workers for an industry-wide collective contract culminated with the resignation of the president of the state-owned electricity company Corpoelec on October 22.
Greenpeace recently released a report that clearly shows why Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) offset projects will neither address climate change nor stop deforestation.
A three-day official visit of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Pakistan occurred against a backdrop of carnage. Within hours of her arrival on October 28, a car bomb exploded in a crowded market in Peshawar, capital of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP).
After more than 120 days of mass resistance by the poor majority against a coup regime that overthrew elected President Manuel Zelaya, the regime has finally signed an agreement for Zelaya’s reinstatement.

Culture

Summer of Blood: The Peasants’ Revolt of 1381 By Dan Jones Harper Press, 2009 238 pages, $49.99 (hb)
The Scourge of Termite-ists By Allan Scarfe Seaview Press, 2009 260 pages, $22.95 Contact Seaview Press at www.seaviewpress.com.au
The revered Argentinean matriarch of protest music, Mercedes Sosa, died in Buenos Aires on October 4. She was 74.
Jesus never sang Onward Christian soldiers, Deserving as He might Never marched into battle Claiming the Lord on His side. So never confuse God With the strident archbishop Waving banners crusading for Vengeance and conversion. Love

General

Every time capitalist politicians play with racist prejudice against asylum seekers, there are violent consequences. I'm not just referring to the threatened forceful disembarkation of the Tamil refugees from the Oceanic Viking, which is outrageous. The bipartisan anti-asylum seeker rhetoric in Canberra is also very likely provoking more racist violence across Australia.

Letters

Ethical elitism My article "Ethical elitism on climate change?" (GLW #814) and Simon Butler's response, "Ethical elitism?", (GLW #815) are both unnecessarily caustic. This culture that sees it as acceptable to humiliate political opponents (or