Issue 818

Australia

More than 200 people, many from the Tamil community, attended a public meeting at Monash University on November 10 called “Sri Lanka: Human rights issues and media representation”.

The Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly passed a civil unions bill on November 11 to allow same-sex couples the right to legally binding ceremonies. Civil unions with ceremonies have been a key demand of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) movement in the ACT since 2006.

On November 10, thousands of angry TAFE teachers attended stop-work meetings across New South Wales. They voted to reject the changes in working conditions mandated by the NSW Industrial Relations Commission (IRC).

Sex workers took to Sydney’s streets on November 13 to demand they be included in discussions about proposed changes to sex work laws. Sex work was decriminalised in New South Wales 13 years ago, bringing many positive changes to sex worker conditions.

A huge community campaign in opposition to the construction of a new dam on the Mary River, north of Brisbane, ended last week with a victory for people power.

On a 35-degree day, community services workers in not-for-profit organisations mobilised from across Victoria to call for equal pay. The Australian Services Union, which covers the workers, estimated almost 4000 people rallied.

Thirty supporters of maternity care choice staged a sit-in inside the Lismore office of local federal MP Janelle Saffin on November 9. They said the federal government must end plans to require independent midwives to have indemnity insurance.

A group of 10 TAFE students from Bendigo and Dandenong met with the Victorian minister for skills and workplace participation, Jacinta Allan, at her Bendigo office on November 6. The meeting was arranged after a student protest weeks earlier.

World

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez declared on November 8 that his country is prepared to defend itself against a possible act of aggression from Colombia or the United States.

Chris Harman, a leading British socialist and author of dozens of books and pamphlets on politics, economics, history and the Marxist tradition, died of a heart attack on November 6 at the age of 67.

The government has taken over Venezuela’s two largest coffee makers, Fama de America and Cafe Madrid. FdA has been nationalised and CM turned into a partially state-owned mixed-enterprise.

People across the world were shocked at the news that a US Army psychiatrist went on a shooting rampage on November 5 at Fort Hood army base in Texas, killing 13 people and injuring dozens.

Before and after the invasion of Iraq, the war’s goal of privatising Iraq’s oil to the benefit of Western oil corporations was highlighted not just by the war’s opponents, but also by many of its supporters.

A British travel agent has said it will no longer offer its customers carbon offsets because they are a diversion from dealing with climate change.

Here in Berlin, radio and TV are celebrating the fall of the Berlin Wall 20 years ago so intensively there’s hardly a moment for the weather report, which, unfortunately for all the planned events, turned out nasty and rainy.

At about 2am on November 16, 1989, Salvadoran soldiers burst into the home of six Jesuit priests teaching at the University of Central America. They proceeded to slaughter them.

Rains have caused 176 mudslides and 13 large floods in El Salvador. The town of San Vicente, was buried in mud and stones from the slopes of the Chinchontepec volcano.

Thirty years ago, the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) was enacted in the Sri Lankan parliament. It was meant to be merely a “temporary” provision, to stamp out the encroaching terrorist menace.

National Party leader Senator Barnaby Joyce has sought political capital by promoting an even harder line than the Rudd government on Tamil refugees. “Send the Oceanic Viking to Colombo and you will have made a strong statement”, Joyce told the Nine Network on November 8 about the 78 Tamil people refusing to leave the Australian custom ship to be imprisoned in Indonesia’s Tanjung Pinang Detention Centre.

“On November 29, we are not going to have time to vote”, Juan Barahona, a leader of the National Resistance Front Against the Coup on Honduras (FNRG) told the media in front of the Honduran Congress on November 12, Rightsaction.org said that day.

President of the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority (PA), Mahmoud Abbas, said on November 5 that he would not run in the presidential election scheduled for January 24.

Australia was one of 18 countries to vote against the United Nations Goldstone report into Israel’s December-January war on Gaza at the UN General Assembly in New York on November 5.

When United States President Barack Obama issued an executive order in January to close down the military-run prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, a collective sigh of relief spread across the world.

John Allen Muhammad, who was accused of killing 10 people over a three-week period in sniper attacks around the Washington D.C. area in 2002, was put to death by the state of Virginia on November 11.

The article below is slightly abridged from a joint statement released on November 5 by the Socialist Alliance (Australia); the Socialist Party (Australia); the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM); the Network of the Oppressed People (JERIT — Malaysia); CWI Malaysia; the Confederation Congress of Indonesian Union Alliance (KASBI); the Working Peoples Association (PRP — Indonesia); the National Liberation Party of Unity (PAPERNAS — Indonesia); the Indonesian National Front for Labor Struggle (FNPBI); Socialist Alternative (Australia); Socialist Worker New Zealand; Partido Lakas ng Masa, Philippines; Transform Asia; Labour Party Pakistan; Resistance (Australia); Militan-Indonesia; H. Mahadevan, Asia-Pacific Regional Bureau of World Federation of Trade Unions; Solidarity (Australia); Socialist Appeal (New Zealand: and Partido ng Manggagawa Philippines To add your organisation’s name, email .

Analysis

The Northern Territory Emergency Response, a “tough love” government intervention into remote NT Aboriginal communities, has been renamed by the federal ALP government. Its official name is now "Closing the Gap NT".

The following speech by renowned journalist and film-maker John Pilger was delivered on November 5 as he accepted the 2009 Sydney Peace Prize. To read more of John Pilger's work, visit www.johnpilger.com

Well known author and environmentalist Clive Hamilton recently announced he will stand for the Australian Greens in the December 5 by-election for the seat of Higgins in Melbourne.

On November 6, the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) and the mining division of the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union (CFMEU) announced they would jointly donate $10,000 to the 78 asylum seekers aboard the Oceanic Viking.

“What threatens Australian workers is the abuse of guest workers and the use of guest workers to drive down Australian workers’ wages and conditions”, Dave Noonan, national secretary of the construction division of the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union (CFMEU) told Green Left Weekly.

Earlier this year, South African track athlete Caster Semenya was vilified in the international media for allegedly having both male and female biological characteristics. People with such characteristics are known as “intersex”. Green Left Weekly’s Farida Iqbal spoke to Gina Wilson from the Organisation Intersex International (OII) about Semenya and intersex politics.

The story of the 255 Sri Lankan boat people in the Indonesian port of Merak is a saga worthy of a novel by J. K. Rowling, with greed, betrayal and magic, all in a long voyage to find nirvana.

Many Queenslanders assume abortion is legal, since 14,000 terminations occur every year in the state.

Editorial

On November 15, Indonesian authorities said they had shot and wounded two Afghan refugees they said were trying to escape after their boat was intercepted three days earlier.

Letters

Left results in Germany

I read with keen interest the article by Duroyan Fertl (GLW #813) about the results of the recent national elections in Germany.

Some readers would have been surprised to read that: "It was the first time in German

General

In a recent reflection, veteran Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro noted that 237 members of the US Congress — 44% — were millionaires, including President Barack Obama.

Nearly a third of Egyptian kids malnourished

"Egypt has a hunger problem: Nearly a third of all children are malnourished, according to a new report compiled by the Ministry of Health and the UN Development Programme (UNDP).

"The Egyptian

Resistance!

A “pro-rape” Facebook group set up by students at the University of Sydney’s elite St Paul’s College has ignited a debate about the sexist culture and behaviour in university colleges.

The NSW state government wants to jail people as young as 13 for carrying a can of spray paint. Anyone with a spray can and no “legitimate reason” could face up to six months in prison

Culture

How to Make Trouble and Influence People
By Iain McIntyre
Breakdown Press, 2009
270 pages, $29.95
Available from www.breakdownpress.org>

Thirty-six artworks based on "A Certain Maritime Incident — the Sinking of the SIEVX"
By Nathalie Haymann
Kidogo Arthouse, Fishermans' Harbour (off Mews Road), Fremantle, WA
Until November 24, 10 am - 4 pm

Samson & Delilah — When tragedy strikes in an isolated community in the central Australian desert, Samson and Delilah embark on a journey of survival. ABC1, Sunday, November 22, 8.30pm.

Casualties of War — Follows the personal journey of

I wonder why

I've felt like shit ever since they declared war on drugs

I've been starving ever since they declared war on hunger

I've been depressed since they declared war on mental illness

I can't get a break since they declared war on

The Frock-Coated Communist: The Revolutionary Life of Friedrich Engels
By Tristram Hunt
Penguin, 2009
443 pages, $59.95 (hb)