Issue 819

News

The Pacific Trade Justice speaking tour, sponsored by AID/WATCH, reached Sydney on November 19, after meetings in Melbourne and Canberra.
About 20 protesters gathered outside the prime minister's office on November 18 to protest against Australia’s “carbon colonialism”, telling Kevin Rudd “Don't dump on Indonesia”.
Portland-based Keppel Prince Engineering, which makes about 40% of Australia’s wind turbine towers, has indicated it may need to lay off 150 staff because of lack of work.
On November 18, 200 people rallied outside the Western Australian parliament to protest against the introduction of genetically modified crops. The state government will decide next year whether to permanently lift the ban on GM crops.
Despite ferociously hot weather, 50 people attended a November 13 protest against the Jerusalem Quartet. The Israeli chamber music group was performing at Adelaide Town Hall.
About 70% of TAFE teachers walked off the job on November 19 as part of a branch-organised wildcat strike.
Women and men have been picketing events at which Queensland Premier Anna Bligh speaks. They are protesting against Bligh’s refusal to have her attorney-general drop criminal charges against a Cairns couple for allegedly procuring an abortion.
Friends of Palestine Western Australia performed Seven Jewish Children on November 21, after a scheduled performance was cancelled the week before due to pro-Israel pressure.

Analysis

On November 12, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released labour force figures for October that showed unemployment had increased by 11,100 to 690,000 people. At the same time, monthly aggregate hours worked fell by 1.9 million hours (to 1521.1 million hours) from September.
Were it not so outrageous, it could almost be funny. A 12-year-old Aboriginal boy was brought before a Western Australian court on a charge of receiving stolen goods. He had accepted a chocolate Freddo Frog worth 70 cents from a friend who had allegedly stolen it.
The brutal nature of the Rudd Labor government’s “Indonesian solution” to deal with asylum seekers was revealed on November 15 when the Indonesian coastguard fired upon a boat carrying 61 Afghan asylum seekers headed towards Australia. Two of the passengers were shot and injured.
On October 6, BHP Billiton and the South Australian Department for Correctional Services announced a new agreement allowing the company to employ prisoners from Port Augusta at Olympic Dam — the world’s biggest uranium mine.
In 2004, the Coalition government, with Labor support, banned marriage for lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people. This year, the Greens introduced the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill to federal parliament, to try to overturn the ban.
Could the government’s proposed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) get any worse? The unfortunate answer is yes. It can, it has already and it’s likely to get worse still before parliament ends for the year.
Adelaide's Central Bus Station is an austere but pleasing building built recently near the middle of town. No longer merely for coach travellers, the structure is now to be Adelaide's version of the New Orleans Superdome — a place of public refuge from what threatens, in time, to be another full-scale natural catastrophe.
The Australian Human Rights Commission has condemned income management — a key plank of the Northern Territory intervention — as racist, in a report released on November 13.
Justine Kamprad is a co-convenor of the Fremantle Socialist Alliance, and was the campaign director for the October 17 Fremantle City Council elections, in which socialist Sam Wainwright was elected with 33.44% of the vote.

World

Since the US and Mexico signed the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994, the number of Mexicans illegally crossing the border into the US seeking employment has risen to 500,000 a year.
In stark contrast to the surge of pro-lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) activism, and legislative and legal progress in recent months, Maine voters overturned equal marriage rights in a referendum on November 3 by a margin of 53% to 47%.
In the wake of a narrow loss to the right wing in Maine in a November 3 referendum on whether or not to reverse same-sex marriage equality in the state, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights activists mobilised across the country to raise their voices for equality.
The article published below is by Santiago Reyes, a representative of the Honduras National Front of Resistance Against the Coup (FNRG) based in Australia. It has been translated from Spanish by Anabel Morales.
“There’s no village”, 75-year-old Sam Telly said. “I’m from a hiding place.”
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said on November 15 that the only “practical solution” to tensions with neighbouring Colombia, which escalated as a result of an October 30 military pact between the US and Colombian governments, is an “immediate” end to the deal.
More than 200 activists, including a large proportion of youth and women, packed Kuala Lumpur’s Chinese Assembly Hall for the first day of Socialism 2009, an annual conference organised by the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM).
Eighteen former South African workers who suffer from silicosis or silico-tuberculosis are bringing a test case against the mining giant Anglo American South Africa (AASA), a subsidiary of the British-based Anglo American Corporation, the British Guardian said on November 17. The workers were employed by AASA between the 1970s and 1998.
Tata, the transnational Indian conglomerate whose wholly-owned subsidiary Tetley makes the world famous Tetley Teas, has taken 6500 people hostage through hunger, IUF.org said on November 12. The se include 1000 tea plantation workers and their families on the Nowera Nuddy Tea Estate in West Bengal, India. The workers have been locked and denied wages for all but two days’ work since early August
The article published below is by Hisila Yami, a leading figure in the United Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M). Yami is the author of People's War and Women's Liberation in Nepal. This article is abridged from eKantipur.com.
November 9, the 20th anniversary of the opening of the Berlin wall, was the occasion for self-congratulation by supporters of the capitalist system. They talked of the wall’s fall as heralding a new era of freedom.
The administration of US President Barack Obama has announced it will bring five Guantanamo Bay detainees to the US for prosecution in federal courts.
The Guantanamo Bay prison camp is still open and conditions inside it are reportedly worse than before US President Barack Obama took office. It has been reported that the camp will not be closed by the January deadline set by Obama.
The United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), led by President Hugo Chavez and created to help deepen the process of radical change, held nationwide delegate elections on November 15 for its First Extraordinary Congress. The congress will be held over the next several weekends in Caracas.
When General Suharto, the West’s man, seized power in Indonesia in the mid-1960s, he offered “a gleam of light in Asia”, rejoiced Time magazine. That he had killed up to a million “communists” was of no account in the acquisition of what Richard Nixon called “the richest hoard of natural resources, the greatest prize in south-east Asia”.
Ignoring calls from the Washington-based Human Rights Watch to tie the granting of further money to the Sri Lankan government to demands such as resettling the more than 250,000 Tamils imprisoned in detention camps, the International Monetary Fund has granted the regime a further $329.4 million.

Culture

There’s a Riot Going On: Revolutionaries, Rock Stars & the Rise and Fall of ‘60s Counter-Culture By Peter Doggett Canongate, 2008 598 pages, $29.95 (pb)
I'm Sorry Mr. Okoye — and Mr. Nguyen too For the abuse you suffered at the hands Of those who should have better things to do; There are evils done under the cover of night Or in distance and desert, hid from our sight You know we mistreat
Becoming Muhammad Ali — The story of Cassius Clay, a charismatic black boxer from Kentucky, who defied the personal and political restraints of his time, to emerge a global hero. SBS2, Sunday, November 29, 11am. Living Black — Australia's only
Seventy years ago in New York City, a combination of outraged political radicalism and artistic grandeur derived from wounded humanity produced a song that struck to the heart of racism in the US.

Editorial

For environmentalists, Indigenous rights activists, feminists, socialists and all progressive people, Latin America is a source of hope and inspiration today. The people of Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Ecuador and El Salvador, among others, are showing that radical social change is possible and a better, more just society can be imagined and built.

General

Green Left Weekly is delighted to publish the first edition of Latin America Social Forum (Foro Social Latinamericano), a Spanish-language supplement to be produced regularly by the Latin America Social Forum in Sydney. It can be read online, with a longer introduction about hte publication in English, here.
United States: UN investigator slams 'shameful neglect' of homeless "A United Nations special investigator who was blocked from visiting the US by the Bush administration has accused the American government of pouring billions of dollars into
Most people reading or hearing the news story last week about the 12-year-old Aboriginal boy who was taken to court in Western Australia (WA) and charged with receiving stolen goods — a 70 cent chocolate Freddo — would have thought this was a sick joke.

Letters

Freddo Frog charge A 12-year-old Aboriginal boy in living in Northam in regional Western Australia was charged with stealing a Freddo Frog chocolate. He was told he would face court over this matter. The worse part of this story is that he did

Resistance!

The following article is from the soon-to-be published, updated What Resistance Stands For. Resistance branches around the country will be launching this exciting new document, and selling it at Walk Against Warming rallies on December 12.
As reported in Green Left Weekly previously, the ALP New South Wales government has tabled new anti-graffiti laws. The proposed law will punish children caught with spray-paint cans without a “legitimate reason” with up to six months jail.