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.

He joined the British Labour Party while studying at Liverpool University in the 1970s. Reactionary...

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".

Tomarchio takes possession of Aboriginal welfare recipients' bank cards and PIN numbers. The article...

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.

The fast began on January...

"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...

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

Colbung rose to achieve national prominence in 1997 for his role in bringing the head of Aboriginal warrior Yagan back to Perth. Yagan befriended the early...

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.

Collie is a community heavily reliant on the coal industry, with several mines and coal-fired power stations in the area.

...

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.

The ACT had previously had civil unions for a few months...

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 order was made on December 21 by the NSW Administrative Decisions Tribunal, which found that Jones and the...

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...

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'."

Barack...

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

As life-saving medical supplies, food, water purification chemicals and vehicles pile up at the airport in Port au Prince, and as news networks report a...

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.

On December 20, US-Venezuelan lawyer Eva Golinger wrote in a Chavezcode.com post: "...

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.

The Israeli war on Gaza cost 1400 Palestinian lives, mostly civilians. The Gaza Freedom March (GFM) intended to march...

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...

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.

Even in his last days, Brutus was fully engaged, advocating social protest against those responsible for climate change and...

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.

However, their voices were drowned...

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 1978, the Ashura days proved decisive in overthrowing the dictatorship of the US-backed...

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...

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.

Death squads tied to the regime have increased their activity in the weeks after...

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 four men and one woman have all been found to be genuine refugees by the United Nations High Commission...

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.

The media have focused on the "sex-and-loans" scandal involving Democratic Unionist Party...

"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 get us free … true story. And so the devil said, 'OK...

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...

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.

During a live television broadcast on the evening of January 8, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez revealed that at approximately...

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 protest was called by the...

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...

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.

On December 9, the EU's law enforcement agency Europol estimated up to 90% of all market...

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...

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.

Much of the devastation wreaked by...

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.

Philip Alston, the...

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...

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 general strike was the...

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

During his weekly radio address on January 2, President Barack Obama set the stage for a new front in the US war on terror. He linked a December 25 bombing attempt by Nigerian...

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

Haiti's grassroots movement — including labor unions, women's groups, educators and human rights activists, support committees for prisoners, and...

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...

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...

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 2006, the median weekly gross income...

"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.

"Then we were herded into missions and our movements restricted across this land. Today...

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...

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".

This denial around the attacks on Indians is not...

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.

The refugees have refused to leave the boat, which has been at Merak since October, when Australian...

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.

The Australian government, and Rudd in particular, was singled out...

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...

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.

A January 6 statement from the Environmental Defenders Office states: "The Land and Environment Court today dismissed...

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.

Human civilisation stands at a precipice. The level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is already too high...

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 what activists...

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.

This is the most we've raised in a single rally and it gives us the confidence to launch our...

Culture

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.

Born into a poor family in small town East Tupelo,...

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

In the last few decades, national apologies by political leaders for past wrongs have become common.

How cynically should these expressions of...

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

British artists in early colonial Australia are notorious for painting what was in front of their eyes as a variation on English scenes.

It was the Heidelberg School of Australian...

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...

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...