Issue 822

Australia

Steve Jenkins (March 10, 1956 — December 13, 2009) was one of the 47 elected Liverpool City Councillors who fought a titanic battle against the right-wing Thatcher government in the 1980s.

“It’s been a fantastic, energising experience”, Aboriginal activist and Sydney Socialist Alliance (SA) member Pat Eatock told Green Left Weekly at the seventh SA national conference. Her sentiments were echoed by many of the more than 220 participants in the January 2-5 gathering in Sydney.

Ken Colbung, a long-time leader in the Western Australian Aboriginal community, died on January 12 after a short illness, aged 78.

Around 200 people attended Camp for Climate Action (Western Australia) near the coalmining town of Collie, 200 kilometres south of Perth from December 17-21.

The Western Australian Liberal government is moving to slash public services using a combination of “efficiency dividends” and performance reviews. The plans closely follow the policy wish list presented by the WA Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCIWA) before the 2009 state election.

When the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Legislative Assembly passed a civil unions bill, on November 11, 2009, granting same-sex couples the right to legally binding ceremonies, speculation abounded about how long it would last.

Sydney-based shock-jock Alan Jones and Harbour Radio have been ordered to apologise and pay $10,000 compensation for comments made in the days before the Cronulla riots in 2005.

The January 15 Australian reported that outback prospector Sam Tomarchio had “struck a new kind of gold in Western Australia by taking control of Aboriginal Centrelink payments”.

More than 150 people are on a liquid-only fast to demand the closure of the United States-run prison camp at Guantanamo Bay. The fast also demands an end to the practice of torture and for all detainees held by the US to be granted full protection under US law.

World

An international petition has been circulated for the dropping of Haiti’s foreign debt. For an explanation of why this is a crucial move at this time, and why the debt is illegitimate and part of the exploitation of Haiti for decades, read this article by Eric Toussaint and Sophie Perchellet entitled: Haiti’s odious debt

In Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell described a superstate called Oceania, whose language of war inverted lies that “passed into history and became truth. ‘Who controls the past’, ran the Party slogan, ‘controls the future: who controls the present controls the past’.”

January 15 — Evidence of monstrous neglect of the Haitian people is mounting following the catastrophic earthquake on January 12.

Ashura, or mourning days for Shia Muslims, has deep historical roots in Iran. Mourning occurs through processions, passion plays and other such ceremonies dating back to pre-Islamic Iran.

In a January 5 statement, Bolivian President Evo Morales called on “the peoples of the world, social movements and Mother Earth’s defenders … scientists, academics, lawyers and governments that want to work with their citizens to the Peoples’ World Conference on Climate Change and Mother Earth’s Rights”.

The revival of death squads in Honduras has resulted in a significant increase in the abduction, rape, torture and murder of opponents of the regime that overthrew elected President Manuel Zelaya last June.

Five Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka, held at Christmas Island, face indefinite imprisonment without trial after Australia’s secret police agency, ASIO, deemed them “security risks”.

The agreements that helped end decades of armed conflict in the six counties in Ireland’s north still claimed by Britain are hanging in the balance over a lack of progress in their implementation.

"And you know, Christy, something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it. They were under the heel of the French … and they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, we will serve you, if you

During the so-called Troubles in the six counties in Ireland’s north still claimed by Britain, the assassination of republican activists opposing British occupation was a regular occurrence at the hands of security forces or pro-British “loyalist” terrorist groups (often with ties to the security forces). The article published below, abridged from An Phoblacht, reveals the dangers have not disappeared.

The January 8 violation of Venezuelan airspace by a P-3 US military combat plane is another example of the danger US military presence in the region represents.

On January 7, hundreds of Hondurans risked violent repression by the police and military to protest outside the national parliament building against the coup regime’s decision to withdraw the country from the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA).

The Venezuelan government announcement of a January 8 violation of Venezuelan airspace by a US plane is the latest in a series of US military provocations against the oil-rich South American nation.

More than 1400 activists from 43 countries travelled to Egypt to mark the first anniversary of Israel's December 2008-January 2009 assault on the Palestinian Gaza Strip.

When the Sea Shepherd vessel Ady Gil sank on January 8 following a collision with a ship in the Japanese whaling fleet, snap protests were called outside Japanese embassy offices in Australia. For some, this has become a political football to kick their own goals, but the cause of marine conservation deserves better.

World-renowned political organiser and one of Africa’s most celebrated poets, Dennis Vincent Brutus, died in his sleep early on December 26 in Cape Town, aged 85.

The brutal killing of three Palestinian men by Israeli military forces in Israeli-occupied Nablus on December 26 sparked grief and outrage across Palestine and brought the northern West Bank city to a standstill as thousands mourned the lethal attack.

Any large city in the world would have suffered extensive damage from an earthquake on the scale of the one that ravaged Haiti’s capital city on January 12. But it's no accident that so much of Haitian capital Port-au-Prince now looks like a war zone.

An independent United Nations human rights expert said on January 7 there are strong indications that a video of alleged extrajudicial executions by Sri Lankan soldiers that aired last August on British television is authentic, a UN News Centre article said that day.

An alleged attempt to defraud Ivory Coast citizens of millions of dollars of compensation awarded for being poisoned by toxic waste has been protested by Amnesty International. An AI letter to the Ivory Coast justice minister on December 18 accused an organisation called the National Coordination of Toxic Waste Victims of Cote D’Ivoire (CNVDT-CI) of falsely claiming to represent the 30,000 victims who brought a case against oil-trading company Trafigura in Britain.

The movement in Nepal for the restoration of civilian supremacy continued in December, with 100,000 people demonstrating in Kathamndu on December 22 on the final day of a three-day general strike called by the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M).

The US government had a terrifying New Year’s message for the people of Yemen — you are our targets this year.

Daniel Bensaid was a veteran French socialist activist and theoretician. A member of the New Anti-capitalist Party (NPA), he was also a leader of the Fourth International. In the article below, slightly abridged from www.internetionalviewpoint.org Francois Sabado, an NPA activist and FI leader, pays respect to his friend and comrade.

The integrity of the European Union’s embattled Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) was rocked by revelations in December that carbon-trading tax fraud has cost European taxpayers more than €5 billion.

The 15th Conference of the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (COP15) in December was marked by a farcical, undemocratic process whereby a handful of rich countries sought to impose a deal worked out in secret. That deal not only failed to meet the needs of humanity as dictated by science, but was actually a step backwards from already existing UN agreements.

Thousands may have been killed and tens of thousands left homeless. This is a moment in which your solidarity is of critical importance.

The terrible devastation caused earthquake in Haiti, the worst to hit the Caribbean half-island in 200 years, is a combination of natural and human-made catastrophes. The series of articles listed below explain the history of how Haiti, which won its independence from France in 1804 through a revolution by the island’s slaves, has become the poorest nation in the hemisphere.

Analysis

The following article is abridged from a speech by Peter Boyle, former national secretary of the Democratic Socialist Perspective, to the January 2 opening of the seventh national conference of the Socialist Alliance. The DSP was the largest affiliate organisation within the Socialist Alliance. For more information on the Socialist Alliance, visit here

“Two hundred years [ago], we had all the country out there, we had freedom to move, freedom of access to all our sites”, Aboriginal leader Richard Downs told Green Left Weekly on January 4.

Deputy PM Julia Gillard’s different reactions to two media controversies say a lot about the denial of racism in Australia. After performers on the television show Hey Hey It’s Saturday did a blackface skit Gillard was insistent that “obviously I think whatever happened was meant to be humorous and would be taken in that spirit by most Australians”.

The Indian Mail Today cartoon that has so outraged Australian politicians was a response to Australian authorities’ claims that the spate of murders and assaults against Indian nationals in Australia was “not racially motivated”.

Indonesia plans to force the 240 Tamil refugees, moored on a boat in Merak, into detention at the end of this week, “at gunpoint if necessary”, the January 14 Australian reported.

With the help of an all too submissive local media, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has crafted an image for himself as a world leader on climate change. This image took a beating at December’s Copenhagen climate change summit.

My name is Sue Gilbey. I live in an urban eco-village located on the land of the Kaurna people, in what is now Adelaide. I say that to acknowledge the people who lived here first and to boldly state that I will endeavour to be as good a custodian of my little bit of land as they were.

The campaign to prevent longwall coal mining under the fertile Liverpool Plains region in NSW has suffered a setback, with a legal challenge to the mine being dismissed.

Statistics:
• The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports a 17 year gap in life expectancy between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in Australia.
• Twice as many Aboriginal babies are of low birth weight as non-Aboriginal babies.
• In

Editorial

The formal outcome of the Copenhagen climate summit was a huge fiasco. It confirmed the world’s corporate rulers were simply unwilling to act in defence of people and the planet.

Letters

Congratulations

To start the year I would like to give some congratulations. First of all, to the Green Left Weekly people to get it together every week. What really strikes me is the empty punditry of the "commentators" in the big papers, and

General

In a rally organised by the Socialist Alliance during its January 2-5 national conference, pledges totalling $125,057 were made to support the Green Left Weekly 2010 fighting fund.

Culture

The Sins of the Nation & the Ritual of ApologiesBy Danielle CelermajerCambridge University Press 2009283pp, $150 (hardback)

McCubbin: Last Impressions 1907-17McArt Gallery of Western AustraliaUntil March 29

Menzies & Churchill at War – Lifts the lid on a bitter behind-the-scenes battle between the leaders of Britain and Australia during World War II. ABC1, 5pm, Sat Jan 23.

Everyone Loves a Wedding – A story of two couples from war zones who have

Elvis Presley, born 75 years ago on January 8, 1935, grew to be more than a human being: he was the “king of rock and roll” and, magnified by a multi-million dollar publicity apparatus, reflected something of the US cultural psyche.

British reality TV show The X Factor, which presents itself as a singing competition, has succeeded from 2005-08 in securing the number one Christmas single in the British charts for the winner of the competition. The X Factor has been repeatedly criticised for being rigged and for its shallow commercialism.