Issue 823

Australia

"We are human beings, why are we ignored?", a Tamil refugee inside the Christmas Island detention centre told Green Left Weekly on the night of January 28.

Mass protests by Tamils occurred that day at the Christmas Island Immigration Detention Centre, over delays in processing...

On December 16, the Victorian state government passed the Summary Offences and Control of Weapons Acts Amendment Bill 2009.

The amended legislation contravenes Victoria's Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities and hands increased powers to the police to combat "anti-social behaviour...

More than 1000 gathered on January 17 to protest the enforced closure of the Tote hotel, a victim of changes to Victoria's liquor licensing laws that have seen the popular inner-city music venue upgraded to a "high risk" venue.

The change in licensing from January 1 meant that the owner,...

The community campaign Save Solar Systems tried to construct a solar power station from cardboard boxes and tin foil on the steps of state Parliament on January 23 to protest against the lack of government support for the planned Mildura solar power station.

The company building the plant...

On January 18, the 250 Tamil asylum seekers in Merak, Indonesia, had spent 100 days on their boat in appalling conditions. This is despite almost half of them being already recognised by the United Nations as refugees.

A global day of protest was held in solidarity with them, and against...

After being confronted by protests in New Zealand, Israeli tennis player Shahar Peer was met by a protest organised by Australians For Palestine at the Australian Open in Melbourne on January 19.

Tennis Australia enforced an exclusion zone, in effect prohibiting protests anywhere in the...

Eleven men detained in the Christmas Island detention centre have been charged and appeared in court on January 20 over a fight that broke out among 150 asylum seekers on November 21. They were remanded until a later date.

The conflict was sparked between Hazara refugees from Afghanistan...

The Socialist Alliance's candidate in the February 13 Altona district bi-election, Margarita Windisch, has welcomed state transport minister Lynne Kosky's resignation as overdue. But she says Kosky was just a symptom of a larger problem for Victorians — a negligent Labor government with the...

In a disgraceful dismissal of the findings of a six-month parliamentary inquiry, the New South Wales Labor government will continue the legal ban on same-sex couples being able to adopt children.

The inquiry took submissions from activists and lobbyists such as the Gay and Lesbian Rights...

A group of activists known as the "Newcastle 23" went before the Newcastle Local Court on January 19. The 23 are charged with "rail safety offences" on December 20, after they stopped a coal train in response to the failure of the Copenhagen climate talks to agree to adequate binding emissions...

Since 2006, a group of activists in Melbourne have gathered on January 20 to commemorate two Aboriginal freedom fighters, Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner, who were hanged on that day in 1842.

Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner were among a group of five Tasmanian Aborigines who...

An Australian Education Union (AEU) commissioned report by Dr Jim McMorrow has revealed that the federal Labor government continues to fund private schools at the expense of public schools, just as the previous Coalition government did.

When the current funding agreement ends in 2012-13,...

What do league tables do?

Rank schools according to the performance of their students, much like football teams are ranked after each round.

What's the problem with them?

They ignore the social, economic and cultural differences between...

World

Avatar is real: the fictional planet of Pandora exists in South and Central America, and the Na'vi peoples are being displaced and killed right now. The names are different, but the facts are almost the same.

In the next generation, Central and South America will be the...

Politicians and newspapers love to revere a war hero from Afghanistan. It's strange, then, that they haven't got round to Lance-Corporal Joe Glenton, the British soldier who has been arrested for addressing an anti-war protest in October.

When Glenton went out to Afghanistan, he must have...

On June 10, 2006, the commander of US-run Guantanamo Bay military camp, Rear Admiral Harry Harris, said three detainees, Salah Al-Aslami, Yasser Talal al-Zahrani and Mani Shaman al-Utaybi, had committed suicide the night before in an act of "asymmetrical warfare".

After more than three...

Children are the biggest victims of the war in Afghanistan, a January 6 AFP article said. It quoted an Afghanistan Rights Monitor (ARM) report, which said more than 1050 people under 18 years of age were killed in 2009 alone.

"At least three children were killed in war-related incidents...

On January 13, Rupert Murdoch's US network FoxNews claimed that while the US "was leading [the] international relief effort in Haiti", Cuba was "conspicuously absent from the roster of helping hands".

The opposite is the case. At the time the earthquake struck, Cuba already had 344...

As debate over the travel ban on US citizens visiting Cuba continues in the US Congress, many US citizens remain afraid of visiting their largest Caribbean neighbour.

Most are probably unaware that Washington has virtually abandoned the policing of individual travel to Cuba.

In...

The article below is abridged from Aporea.org. It has been translated by Kiraz Janicke.

Spokespeople for the so-called Somali pirates have expressed willingness to part of their loot captured from transnational boats to Haiti.

Leaders of these groups have declared they have links...

A new study has revealed that a major glacier in Antarctica could collapse because of warmer seas caused by climate change, ScienceDaily.com said on January 18.

Even worse, the glacial melt could destabilise the West Antarctic ice sheet — a three kilometre thick block of ice the size of...

The December United Nations Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen ended without achieving any binding agreement to cut carbon emissions. Extreme actions were taken by Denmark to ensure that protests were stifled and voices not heard.

Despite the intimidation, about 100,000 people marched in...

During the United Nations Copenhagen climate summit in December, fresh allegations emerged that unscrupulous carbon traders were buying up the rights to the carbon stored in forests in Papua New Guinea from indigenous landowners.

One PNG man told the December 12 SBS news he was forced to...

About 100 people gathered outside the Embassy Suites in the heart of New York's financial district on January 13 to rally against the Second Annual Carbon Trading Summit. The summit was organised for the most powerful institutions and industries to discuss new opportunities at profit in the...

Right-wing columnist David Brooks began his January 15 New York Times piece by reminding his readers that when, in October 1989, the San Francisco Bay Area was hit by an earthquake similar in magnitude to the one that devastated Haiti on January 12, the death toll was 63.

The...

Since the earthquake struck Haiti on January 12, there has been a global outpouring of support. Many people, horrified by the scenes of sheer devastation, the astronomical death toll and the struggle of survivors to gain access to medicines, food and shelter, are left wondering: why so many?...

Debt and military intervention are recurring themes in Haiti's history. During the epic 1791-1804 war of independence, Haiti's rebelling slaves had to fight not only their French former masters, but invading Spanish and British armies. In 1825, to overcome an international blockade, Haiti agreed...

On December 23, almost one year after Israel launched its brutal war on the Palestinian Gaza Strip, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) released its report on the situation facing Gazans.

Entitled 23 Days of War, 928 Days of Closure, the report detailed the effects of...

The "open letter" published below has been initiated by the Canada Haiti Action Network. CHAN is calling for individuals and organisations to add their names to the statement, You can add your name here

21 January 2010

We, the undersigned, are outraged by the scandalous delays in...

Left-wing Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa said that a conspiracy to destabilise his country, funded by the right-wing factions in the United States, has been uncovered, a January 4 Juventud Rebelde article said.

During a television broadcast, Correa said: "Since they know they...

Since 1993, oil giant Texaco, owned by Chevron since 2001, has been fighting an ongoing legal and publicity battle against an unlikely adversary.

Thirty thousand indigenous people of Ecuador's Amazon rainforest have accused the oil giant of massive and intentional environmental...

Emergildo Criollo, 51, is a community leader of the indigenous Cofan nationality and has lived in Dureno since his small community was displaced from their ancestral lands. Since a massive oil spill in the 1960s contaminated the Aguarico River, his family and community have...

It was pretty clear that Democrat candidate Martha Coakley's goose was cooked before the polls closed in the January 19 Massachusetts election to fill deceased Democrat Ted Kennedy's seat in the US Senate.

First, only the Democratic candidate's advisers were claiming that their "internal...

The ring of mighty warships off the coast of Port-au-Prince is a stark symbol of the true intentions of the U.S. government in its "humanitarian" mission following Haiti's devastating earthquake.

The Navy and Coast Guard vessels aren't there with food or water or rescue teams. They're on...

Waving banners saying "Yes to expropriation!" workers from the supermarket chain Exito celebrated the decision of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to nationalise the French-Colombian owned transnational company for speculation offences on January 17.

Nationalisation proceedings were...

On January 19, German political police raided the Berlin and Dresden offices of several anti-Nazi groups, including the Dresden Nazi-Free Alliance, No Pasaran, Red Stuff and the left-wing party Die Linke.

Thousands of posters, stickers and leaflets for an anti-Nazi protest on February 13...

For decades, there was no socialist party of significance in Malaysia. But in 2009, the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) made some impressive gains. The party more than doubled in size and had members elected to state and national parliament for the first time.

PSM activist Sivaranjani...

Analysis

A global temperature rise of 2° Celsius — the target set at the United Nations climate summit in Copenhagen in December — is a death sentence for Tuvalu.

It means disaster for the 12 thousand people living there — plus those in other low-lying Pacific Island nations — who will be subject...

On January 14, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that Google had removed links to Encyclopedia Dramatica, a user-editable, "satirical" website that uses the same MediaWiki software as Wikipedia.

Google's actions were in response to a complaint from Steve Hodder-Watt, an...

Bashings of Indian students continue, revealing that despite official statements to the contrary, racism in Australia persists.

Nitin Garg a 21-year-old Indian student was stabbed to death in Melbourne's western suburbs on his way home from work on January 2. Jaspreet Singh, 29, suffered...

I read Volume One of Karl Marx's Capital while working on a production line in a food factory.

I don't mean I read it during my tea breaks: I read it while "working" on the line. I had an injury and was doing a "quality control" job, which entailed sitting next to a conveyor...

Letters

Child detention

Congratulations to Sue Gilbey for winning the International Bremen Peace Award and working to end Australia's shameful treatment of asylum seekers. (Suffering in the 'lucky country', GLW #822).

My country, Scotland, also treats asylum seekers shamefully....

General

Bob Lutz, senior General Motors executive, thinks global warming "has nothing to do with CO2" and "everything to do with solar activity", the January 21 Sydney Morning Herald said.

Lutz, who in 2008 described global warming as "a crock of shit", would no doubt feel right at home...

United States: 'Post-racial' reality

"According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in November 2009 unemployment for whites was 9.3%, but 15.6% for Blacks … Long-term unemployment … is twice as high for African Americans.

"Black men working at full-time...

Resistance!

A nightclub in Singapore held an event on January 16 encouraging women to have their breast size judged in exchange for alcohol. Material for the event titled Fill my Cups invited women to "step right up to the Boobie Booth and flaunt what you've got".

Two judges visually...

The recent murder of Nitin Garg highlighted continuing violence against Indian students. It has led some to ask "Is Australia a racist country?" and put others on the defensive about Australia's racist image.

The ongoing Northern Territory intervention, which required the suspension of...

Culture

Iraqi Girl: Diary of a Teenage Girl in Iraq Edited by Elizabeth Wrigley-Field, developed by John RossHaymarket Books, Chicago, 2009206 pp, $24.95

Hadiya (a false name) was just an ordinary 15-year-old girl until the US invaded Iraq. Suddenly, everyday life became...

The Native Title Market
By David Ritter
UWA Publishing, 2009
120 pages, $19.95

David Ritter is a rare beast: a lawyer with a heart and the ability to explain complex legislation in plain English. He has made his living for a decade helping...

EM>Socialism & Modernity
By Peter Beilharz
University of Minnesota Press, 2009
225 pages, $47.95 (pb).

This book is a collection of essays published between the mid-1980s and 2009, highlighting the relationship between modernity and socialism....

Avatar is a visually stunning marvel of film technology, as many reviewers will tell you. But what really stands out in James Cameron's newest film is its unabashed critique of corporate greed — and its inspiring tale of solidarity and resistance against occupation.

Set on a...

Raft
By Howard Goldenberg
Hybrid Publishers, 2009
225 pages, $29.95 (pb)

When it comes to closing the gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal health, Howard Goldenberg's new book, Raft, could be just what the doctor ordered.

...