Issue 821

News

Tens of thousands of people took to the streets in cities across Australia in support of serious action against climate change.
On November 29, 50 people attended a forum on Sri Lanka organised by People for Human Rights and Equality, a multi-ethnic group comprising people of Sri Lankan origin living in Australia.
The shooting of two Aboriginal boys in Townsville on November 25 shows that racism isn’t going away in the North Queensland town. The two boys, aged just 8 and 10, were playing in a park in Wulguru when they were fired upon by a drunken Townsville soldier wielding an air rifle.
Unchecked urban expansion has chewed up large areas of Adelaide’s productive agricultural land for poorly planned and poorly designed housing developments, with no amenities and little or no access to public transport.
Socialist Alliance member and author Terry Townsend launched his new book The Aboriginal Struggle & the Left on December 2 at the Brisbane Activist Centre.
Pro-choice campaigners took to the streets of South Brisbane on December 2 to send a strong and clear message to the Queensland government that old laws need not die hard.
On November 26, after four months of negotiations, workers at industrial air conditioning manufacturer Buffalo Trident walked off the job indefinitely. The workers are fighting to have income protection and wage increases of 4% in the first year and 5% in the second year included in their enterprise bargaining agreement. Management at Buffalo Trident is ferociously anti-union. Evidence of this is that there have been no new union members at the plant since the introduction of Work Choices.
About 300 supporters from more than 30 groups rallied in Melbourne to call for the Australian government to let refugees into Australia. The rally opened with a motion of support for the 255 Tamil asylum seekers in the Indonesian port of Merak.

Analysis

It was no big shock. The Sydney electorate of Bradfield, the 5th safest Liberal seat in the country, remained in Liberal hands following the December 5 by-election.
Thousands of Australians will march in every major Australian city and more than 20 regional centres on December 12, to again demand genuine climate action from our government. The rallies are part of a global day of action that will take place during the Copenhagen climate summit.
The following article is from the soon-to-be published, updated What Resistance Stands For manifesto. Resistance branches around the country will be launching this exciting new document, and selling it at Walk Against Warming rallies on December 12.
When Labor came to power in November 2007, new Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said: "Today, the Australian people have decided that we as a nation will move forward, to plan for the future, to embrace the future and, together as Australians, to unite and write a new page in our nation's history."
The call by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez at the International Encounter of Left Parties in Caracas last month to begin to launch a ``Fifth Socialist International’’ could not have been better timed.
December’s United Nations-sponsored climate talks in Copenhagen were a key topic of discussion at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), held in Trinidad and Tobago in late November.
In September, the Victorian district committee of the mining and energy section of the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union (CFMEU) adopted the recommendations of the Crisis in Power report written by Dave Kerin.
Australian governments, both Liberal and Labor, have had a policy of treating refugees as enemies for at least 20 years. Probably the most infamous occasion was the Coalition’s November 2001 federal election victory, where the major parties adopted a joint policy of turning back 438 refugees who had been saved from drowning by the Norwegian freighter the MV Tampa.
In February 2008 — at the first session of parliament after he won government — Prime Minister Kevin Rudd delivered a moving apology to the Stolen Generations, the Aboriginal children abducted from their families last century as part of a policy of social engineering to extinguish the Aboriginal identity.
The state with some of the most promising renewable energy resources on the planet also has one of Australia’s most active climate change committees.
It has reached that time of year when Christian churches commemorate the birth of a child in a stable to homeless parents because “there was no room at the inn”. It is also a time of year when there is increased demand on homelessness services because of, among other reasons, family relationship breakdowns, domestic violence and mental illness.

World

The UN COP15 Climate Summit in Copenhagen has dramatically revealed a growing divide between the poor and rich countries, whose development has depended on exploitation of the Third World and the environment.
It is has become clear that First World leaders are unwilling to commit to what current science indicates we need to do to avoid extremely damaging climate change. Representatives of the poor countries have become increasingly angry and vocal at their marginalisation by the rich governments.
"Can a finite Earth support an infinite project? The thesis of capitalism, infinite development, is a destructive pattern, let’s face it. How long are we going to tolerate the current international economic order and prevailing market mechanisms? How long are we going to allow huge epidemics like HIV/AIDS to ravage entire populations? How long are we going to allow the hungry to not eat or to be able to feed their own children? How long are we going to allow millions of children to die from curable diseases? How long will we allow armed conflicts to massacre millions of innocent human beings in order for the powerful to seize the resources of other peoples?" — Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, speaking at COP15, December 16, 2009
The article below is a December 17 column by former Cuban president Fidel Castro
The press conference by Ecuador’s delgation to the United Nations climate change summit in Copenhagen can be viewed here. Also, the join press conference of representatives nations from the Latin American anti-impieralist bloc, the Boliviarian Alliance of the Americas (ALBA) can be veiwed here. Representatives from Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua took part.
As I write, there are two Copenhagens. One is the Copenhagen swamped with 100,000 protesters demanding climate justice, social justice, solidarity and community before corporate profit.
A 28-year-old Tasmanian who’s never been to El Salvador or experienced civil war, I interviewed veteran Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) activist David Rodriguez.
“The Copenhagen climate summit was pretty much summed up in the high-level segment yesterday when [Australian climate minister] Penny Wong's speech was interrupted by whistles and chanting and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez got a standing ovation”, Lenore Taylor wrote in the December 17 Australian.
Below is the transcript from US radio show Democracy Now! of Bolivian President Evo Morales’s December 16 speech to the United Nations climate change summit at Copenhagen.
The Australian-Venezuela Solidarity Brigade organised its ninth solidarity brigade to Venezuela from December 1-9. Brigade coordinator Federico Fuentes, who works in the Green Left Weekly Caracas bureau, explains the inspiring experience of brigade participants. The AVSN is organising two brigades in 2010,further brigades, the first being from April 24-May 2, (registrations close February 1). For more information, or to register, visit www.venezuelasolidarity.org.
A large number of demonstrations against corruption have been sweeping Indonesia protesting allegations that a US$600 million government bailout was given to Century Bank on condition that some of the money be used to fund President Yudhoyono’s re-election campaign.
Just over a week into the December 7-18 United Nations climate change conference at Copenhagen (COP15) talks, thousands of people from around the world have already participated in what is being billed as the “people’s climate summit”, Klimaforum09, taking place in the Danish capital.
One hundred thousand protesters braved near freezing temperatures and took over the Danish capital, Copenhagen, on December 12 to crank up the heat on world leaders at the United Nations Climate Summit (COP15) and demand climate justice.
The article below was the December 9 “reflections” column by former Cuban president Fidel Castro.
Federico Fuentes was an Australian Socialist Alliance delegate to the International Encounter of Left Parties in Caracas from November 19-21. Fuentes’ comments are in English, with Spanish translation. This conference, which brought together 55 left groups from 31 countries, was made historic by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s call for a Fifth Socialist International to unite left groups and social movements internationally. Fuentes’ Green Left Weekly article on this historic event can be read here.
"Those who are exploited are our compatriots all over the world; and the exploiters all over the world are our enemies… Our country is really the whole world, and all the revolutionaries of the world are our brothers." -- Fidel Castro.[1]
Thirty-five years ago, workers at the Lucas Aerospace company formulated an “alternative corporate plan” to convert military production to socially useful and environmentally desirable purposes.
Thomas Sankara, the revolutionary leader of the West African nation Burkina Faso from 1983 to 1987, was killed in the belief that it could extinguish the example he set for African youth and progressive forces across the continent. This idea could not have been more wrong.
On November 23, 57 people were massacred in the Filipino Magnindanao province by the ruling Ampatuan clan that governs it. Many of those killed were journalists. On November 27, the primary suspect in the massacre, Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr, was arrested.
US officials in Afghanistan have unveiled a “new” detention facility within the US military-run Bagram Airbase called the Detention Facility in Parwan (DFP).
Honduran Supreme Electoral Commission (TSE) magistrate Enrique Ortes announced on November 29 that the election run by a regime installed by a military coup had been won by the “Honduran people” and it was to be a day “recorded in gold letters”.
“Climate Inaction Costs Lives.” That's the message Greenpeace activists delivered during a spectacular protest action in Ottawa on December 7, the opening day of the United Nations’ climate conference in Copenhagen.
December 5 — “It feels like we're going to war”, I overheard one teenager say to his friend. Such was the atmosphere of serious, creative resistance to government inaction on climate change that marked the London’s December 5 Wave demonstration.
“Today Bolivia has once again shown its democracy, and that change is possible”, Bolivian President Evo Morales said on December 6, after he was re-elected that day with more than 63% of the vote, the December 7 Granma said.
Preparations for the December 7-18 Copenhagen climate summit, where world leaders will discuss the greatest threat facing the planet, are going as expected — including a rare sighting of the African elites’ stiffened spines.
The Swiss, known for cheese, Alps, watches, chocolate, and secret bank accounts, at least two of which are full of holes, have now added a sixth important product: intolerance.
“I’m gon’ die for the People. ’Cause I live for the people. ’Cause I love the People. Power to the People!” — Fred Hampton.
The article below is an abridged editorial from the US Socialist Worker.
The plains of peninsular India are ringed by two rows of hill ranges with their bases in the south, spreading up the coastlines in two great arcs west and east. The eastern ranges, “eastern ghats”, start in the state of Tamil Nadu and cross the states of Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Orissa and trail off into Bengal.
The November 26 announcement that the sovereign fund Dubai World would require a six-month pause on payments on its US$60 billion debt sent tremors through international stock markets.
The article below is abridged from An Phoblacht, the newspaper of Irish republican party Sinn Fein.
By waging a brutal war against its own population on behalf of transnational interests, the Colombian state has earned the endorsement of successive Washington administrations. They have lavishly rewarded Colombia’s ruling elite with high praise and billions of dollars of military aid.
The Haiti Information Project (HIP) said in a November 23 article that Haiti’s Provisional Election Council (CEP) had allowed the Fanmi Lavalas party to register to run in elections scheduled for early 2010. Lavalas is the party of left-leaning former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who was overthrown in a US-backed military coup in 2004.
“Holiday-makers arriving in Lanzarote airport look on with curiosity at the frail woman lying in a nest of blankets on the airport terminal floor”. campaigning British journalist Stefan Simonowitz wrote on November 28 on Afrik.com
During the Bill Clinton impeachment idiocy of 1998, many on the left said if Clinton were removed from office, let it be for gutting welfare or for imposing sanctions on Iraq, and not l’affair Lewinsky.
A study by US researchers has shown that climate change has been a major driver of armed conflict in Africa. It said conflict was about 50% more likely in unusually warm years.
Read the original letter to Stephen Smith here. To add your name to its demands, email weekly.greenleft@gmail.com

Culture

Stalin’s Nemesis: The Exile and Murder of Leon Trotsky By Bertrand Patenaude Faber and Faber, 2009 340 pages, $50 (pb)
At Christmas time, 1989, Leonard Bernstein conducted a version of Beethoven’s 9th symphony in Berlin in which he changed one word in the well-known Ode to Joy in the fourth movement. "Freiheit" ("Freedom") replaced "Freude" ("Joy"), to celebrate the fall of the Berlin Wall that had occurred weeks previously
Tony Hancock: The Definitive Biography By John Fisher HarperCollins, 2009 627 pages, $33 (pb)
In 1899, no woman could Vote, but Some suffered, were jailed, So today you count! Women in 2009 are MPs, can be the Premier of Queensland, but If any fell pregnant and didn't want to be They could be charged and punished for An abortion
John Fleming still rides free one hundred and seventy years after the massacre. The plaque set up to honour the twenty-eight (who were slaughtered for the theft of a cow) has been defaced by Fleming who is still very much alive in Northern
Listening to Grasshoppers: Field Notes on Democracy By Arundhati Roy Penguin, 2009 256 pages, $30

Editorial

On the face of it, 2009 is drawing to an end with a new outbreak of political madness.

General

In this final issue, we at GLW want to thank you for your strong support in 2009.
To read the November-December edition of The Flame, an Arabic-language supplement in Green Left Weekly, please click here.
Rees would know ""Should I not be Premier by the end of this day, let there be no doubt in the community's mind, no doubt, that any challenger will be a puppet of Eddie Obeid and Joe Tripodi." — Former NSW premier Nathan Rees on the day the

Letters

Rudd's climate cheats/strong> The Australian negotiators in Copenhagen are being revealed as the leaders of a carbon cheat strategy. Kevin Rudd is trying to cook the books at Copenhagen by pushing for a loophole which would allow countries to

Resistance!

The state of public transport across Australia is not a new story: overcrowded, underfunded, overpriced and infrequent. In the outer suburbs, public transport is completely inadequate, at times, even non-existent.
The University of Wollongong (UOW) environment collective increased its activity this year, and established a formidable presence on campus. It is now playing a leading role in promoting grassroots climate action in the Illawarra.
A recent study by Foundation for Young Australians has shown that racism permeates Australian schools. Eighty percent of students from a non-Anglo background said they have been the subjected to racial prejudice. Even white Australians feel they have been subject to racism when at schools. In all, more than two-thirds of young people in Australia feel they are the victims of racism while at school. What a disgrace! We should all feel disgusted and ashamed that racism is still an issue we are yet to overcome. It truly is a sad reflection on the world we live in.