Issue 824

Australia

Seafarers in the offshore oil and gas industry, members of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA), are on the verge of winning historic improvements to their pay and working conditions, including a 30% pay rise and construction allowances that would give them parity with other workers involved in the construction phase of oil and gas projects.

Federal Labor’s workplace relations minister Julia Gillard and Western Australian Liberal Premier Colin Barnett joined forces last week, demanding striking Pluto project workers return to work.

On January 25, newly announced Australian of the Year and youth mental health expert Patrick McGorry said refugee detention centres were “factories for producing mental illness”.

“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.

The coronial inquest into the fatal explosion onboard a boat carrying Afghan asylum seekers in April 2009 began on January 25. Five people died and many were injured.

Despite rumours of a council ban, the annual January 26 Invasion Day rally and march from Parliament House to Musgrave Park went ahead, as it has done for more than 30 years.

Rail commuters are the latest victims of the Anna Bligh state Labor government’s asset sale madness.

The 157th anniversary of the birth of Cuban hero and independence fighter Jose Marti was celebrated on January 29 at an event organised by the Consulate General of Cuba.

On January 26, three refugee advocates — Sydney-based Tamil community activist Sara Nathan, Pamela Curr from the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre in Melbourne, and Jessica Chandrashekar from the Canadian Humanitarian Appeal for Relief of Tamils — were arrested in Merak, Indonesia.

On January 29, woodchipping giant Gunns Limited has dropped its law suits against the last four defendants in the “Gunns 20” case and agreed to pay the four $155,088 for legal costs.

World

The following is a joint statement by Asian left organisations in solidarity with the people of Haiti. To add your organisation’s support, email international@prp-indonesia.org.

At Sydney Town Hall on January 28, 50 people rallied against the militarisation of Haiti and highlighted that Haiti is suffering from a human-made disaster as much as a natural one. The rally was organised by the Latin American Social Forum (LASF).

Incumbent and Sri Lanka Freedom Party candidate Mahinda Rajapaksa has won the January 26 presidential election, receiving 58% of votes cast.

Howard Zinn, an activist and author for half a century and probably the best-known voice of the US left, died on January 27 at the age of 87.

Sri Lanka was guilty of crimes against humanity for their war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) that concluded last May, a People’s Tribunal in Dublin on January 14-16 found.

The article below is reprinted from www.itfglobal.org.

“We have three priorities”, United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon told a January 21 media conference on Haiti with former US President Bill Clinton.

The following statement was released on January 26 by Civil Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), which is part of the National Resistance Front Against the Coup (FNRG), on the protests planned for the following day against the inauguration of “president” Porfirio Lobo Sosa. It is reprinted from Honduras Resists.

On January 14, two days after the catastrophe in Haiti, which destroyed that neighbouring sister nation, I wrote: “In the area of healthcare and others, the Haitian people have received the cooperation of Cuba, even though this is a small and blockaded country.

Although New Zealand, like Australia, has not been as badly affected by the global economic crisis as the US or Europe, workers are facing hardship.

The article below is abridged from a statement by the South African Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers Union (SACCAWU) on the ending of its seven-week industrial dispute with hotel and gambling company Sun International.

On January 27, new puppets will take centre stage in the puppetry act in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. “President” Pepe Lobo (“elected” in a fraudulent poll on November 27 in which most Hondurans refused to vote) will accept the strings of attachment to the invisible power that continues to rule Honduras.On January 27, new puppets will take centre stage in the puppetry act in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. "President" Pepe Lobo ("elected" in a fraudulent poll on November 27 in which most Hondurans refused to vote) will accept the strings of attachment to the invisible power that continues to rule Honduras.

The results of Bolivia’s December 6 national elections confirmed the support won by President Evo Morales and his Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) party for the profound changes underway.

Pledging to move the country towards “communitarian socialism”, Bolivian president Evo Morales proclaimed the death of the “colonial state” during the January 21 inauguration of his second term as president. He said “a new plurinational, autonomy and solidarity-based state is being born”.

The theft of Haiti has been swift and crude.

Even if the meanings we give to dates are most often overblown, there is something about the mark of a new decade.

Analysis

In the lead-up to “Australia Day” on January 26, former TV host Ray Martin restarted a debate about the need to change the Australian flag.

The Australian Greens announced an “interim carbon price proposal” on January 21, whereby carbon would be taxed essentially within the framework of the federal Labor government’s proposed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS).

Immigrants to the developed world have frequently been blamed for unemployment, crime and other social ills. Attempts to reduce or block immigration have been justified as necessary measures to protect “our way of life” from alien influences.

Climate change minister Penny Wong has announced a target of a 5% cut in Australia’s carbon emissions by 2020, relative to emissions in 2000.

On July 14, 2009, the Alyawarr people from Ampilatwatja, three hours’ north-west of Alice Springs, walked off their community and set up a protest camp on their traditional homelands.

The actions of loan shark Sam Tomarchio, revealed on January 15 by the Australian, do not justify the expansion of “welfare quarantining” to the Aboriginal people affected.

On January 12, community group Climate Action Hobart launched its document Ten Steps for a Safe Climate — Tasmania’s contribution to preventing dangerous climate change, which was developed over the previous year with input from industry experts, scientists, climate activists and the general community.

General

The letter from Clare Sambrook last week on the detention of children (GLW #823) mistakenly said the writer was from Scotland. She is in fact from England.

Scotland has, in fact, stopped detaining children and Scots Parliament is doing a good job

Green Left Weekly has a long and proud tradition of covering the many struggles for justice waged by Aboriginal people and their supporters. This has especially been the case since the Northern Territory intervention was introduced, with GLW journalists making trips to Central Australia to make contact with, and report on, the communities resisting the paternalistic policies.

You’ve got to love Fox News. It’s like the saying on the t-shirt: “Is that the truth or did you see it on Fox”?

More US soldier deaths by suicide than combat

"[Mental health expert] Zul Merali said while more than 4,500 U.S. military personnel have died in combat since the beginning of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, 'a larger number are falling when

Resistance!

To give blood in Australia, it is first necessary to answer a lot of questions. Some make sense. They range from recent illness to cholesterol. Some are invasive and confronting. One question asks: “Within the past 12 months have you had male to male sex?”

Chain store Roger David has been selling offensive T-shirts with pictures of naked women bound or gagged with cloth over their mouths. Other shirts available for sale online have slogans on them such as “It’s not rape, it’s surprise sex”, and “Your princess is my little slut”.

Culture

The Men Who Killed Qantas: Greed, Lies and Crashes and How They Destroyed the Reputation of the World’s Safest Airline
By Matthew Benns,
William Heinemann, 2009,
307 pp, $34.95 (pb)

The Live Red Art Award and Festival, an initiative supported by Cultural Dissent seeks to promote and recognize art that investigates a radical social and political perspective.

Alistair Hulett died at the Southern General Hospital in Glasgow on January 28. The obituary published below was complied by Links, the international journal of socialist renewal. More information on Hulett and his career can be found at .