Issue 823

News

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

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.
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.
Bashings of Indian students continue, revealing that despite official statements to the contrary, racism in Australia persists.
I read Volume One of Karl Marx's Capital while working on a production line in a food factory.

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.
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.
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”.
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.
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”.
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.
The article below is abridged from Aporea.org. It has been translated by Kiraz Janicke.
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.
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.
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.
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 pollution market.
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.
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 to pay compensation to France for the colonists’ loss of property (the property being the Haitians themselves).
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.
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
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.
Since 1993, oil giant Texaco, owned by Chevron since 2001, has been fighting an ongoing legal and publicity battle against an unlikely adversary.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.

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
The Native Title Market By David Ritter UWA Publishing, 2009 120 pages, $19.95
EM>Socialism & Modernity By Peter Beilharz University of Minnesota Press, 2009 225 pages, $47.95 (pb).
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.
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. Goldenberg is a Melbourne-based medic who also works as a locum, stepping in for doctors in some of Australia's farthest-flung communities. Raft is his account of those experiences.

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.
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

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

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”.
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.