Issue 826

Australia

Anti-war and democratic rights activists are organising protests for US President Barack Obama’s upcoming visit.

More than 2500 TAFE teachers filled Sydney Town Hall on February 11 during a 24-hour strike. The action was in response to New South Wales government attacks on TAFE teachers and the delivery of quality education.

Forty-five people attended a Womens Action Abortion Coalition (WAAC) forum on February 6. They discussed the need to reanimate the campaign for women’s right to control their own fertility, in the wake of the charging of a Cairns couple in April 2009 for using the abortifacient, RU486.

More than 200 coal miners in Tahmoor, southwest of Sydney, were locked out with no pay, on February 9.

On February 1, NSW premier Kristina Keneally announced changes to public transport fares and ticketing at a Parramatta railway station press conference.

New figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics said unemployment had fallen in January by 22,300 to 612,000 — a drop of 0.2% to 5.3%. The ABS, which released its unemployment figures on February 11, estimated that 52,700 jobs were created in January.

Andrew Bolt of Melbourne’s Herald Sun published a mind-blowing scoop on his blog on February 6: there are socialists in the movement against climate change.

Socialist councillor Sam Wainwright has called on Fremantle residents to support a March 11 rally against the state government’s attacks on the public sector.

When minimum wage negotiations begin in March, the Australian Council of Trade Unions will push for a rise of $30-$40 a week. The current minimum wage is $543.78 a week, or $14.31 an hour.

From February 1-14, in a remote part of the Northern Territory, a group of trade unionists and Aboriginal rights activists from Victoria, New South Wales and the NT joined forces with the Alyawarr people from Ampilatwatja community to help make history.

World

In our 5000-channel, Tweeting, shouting culture of constant distraction, there are precious few annual events that unite the US national gaze. In fact, there is really only one: the Super Bowl.

For two weeks in January, Belgian brewery workers blocked roads, set fire to beer crates, kidnapped managers and handed out free beer in protest against job cuts proposed by Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s largest brewer.

US rock group the White Stripes has protested at what it says is the unauthorised use of an instrumental version of its song “Fell in Love With a Girl” in a recruiting ad for the US military, the New York Times said on February 9.

The December 7-18 United Nations climate conference in Copenhagen was supposed to “seal a global deal” to tackle climate change. It failed miserably.

Dwarfing recent opposition protests, more than 100,000 supporters of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez marched in Caracas on February 4 in defence of the government and to celebrate 18 years since Chavez led a failed civilian-military uprising against a corrupt government in 1992.

The statement published below has been signed by the Working People’s Association (Indonesia); Confederation Congress of Indonesia Union Alliance; the Singapore Democratic Party; the Socialist Party of Malaysia; Socialist Alternative (Australia); Socialist Alliance (Australia); and Socialist Worker New Zealand. If your organisation wants to sign this joint statement, email international@prp-indonesia.org.

US National Director of Intelligence Admiral Dennis Blair presented the “annual threat assessment” before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on February 2

There has been much ink spilled in the corporate press about the number of dollars and soldiers being committed to Haiti by “the international community”, but as a January 20 US ABC News headline bluntly put it: “In rebuilding Haiti, opportunity knocks and companies profit.”

It was November 19, 2009, at 3:15am.

During the 1960s, radical student movements broke out in countries across the world. Unlike in Europe, North America or Australia, Pakistan’s student movement proved strong enough to overthrow a government.

Further evidence of the authoritarianism of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s regime came with the February 8 arrest of former general Sarath Fonseka, who had stood against Rajapaksa in the January 26 presidential elections.

After holding power in Chile since the end of Pinochet’s military dictatorship in 1988, the social democratic coalition Concertacion lost power to the right wing Alianza coalition in the December and January elections.

On the January 18, 2009, Israel pulled its troops out of the Gaza Strip leaving many Palestinians with tremendous losses. Israel’s war on Gaza, known as Operation Cast Lead had begun on December 27. The vicious attack killed 1417 people, wounding 5303 and leaving many thousands homeless, widowed and orphaned. To add pain to misery, many women who were pregnant at the time gave birth to defected children due to inhaling white phosphorous. One year after the attack, after its was confirmed by the United Nations Goldstone report, the Israeli government finally admitted that white phosphorous was used during its war on Gaza.

The statement published below was released by Burma Campaign Australia on February 9.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton engaged in some fearmongering on Iran on the February 7 edition of CNN’s State of the Union.

What I found most striking about President Barack Obama’s first “State of the Union” address before Congress on January 27 was what he didn’t say.

In a rambling 40-minute speech crafted to appeal to every Fox News devotee in the room, former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin told the February 6 National Tea Party convention held in Nashville, Tennessee that the US was “ready for another revolution”.

Analysis

The spectre of the locally powerful woodchipping corporation Gunns and its relationship with the government hangs over the impending state election like a murky cloud. This is despite construction of Gunns’ proposed pulp mill remaining stalled, due to public pressure and its inability to raise finance.

The federal government has announced a major overhaul of the permanent residency skilled migration program and scrapped the current eligibility list of more than 100 occupations.

Western Australia Liberal premier Colin Barnett wants to introduce draconian legislation which will give police more power. A wide spectrum of critics agree the proposed new powers are unprecedented in most of the Western world, would be grossly intrusive and would disproportionately penalise the most marginalised groups.

The stress on Afghan and Tamil refugees waiting for their asylum claims to be processed in the Christmas Island Detention Centre is taking its toll.

A Nielsen poll published in the February 8 Sydney Morning Herald showed a sharp drop of support for Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's key climate change policy, the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS).

How to sum up the Liberal Party’s “direct action” scheme to tackle global warming? Well, how about: a fraud wrapped in demagogy inside a delusion?

Minister for Aboriginal affairs Jenny Macklin will move in March to restore the Racial Discrimination Act (RDA) in the Northern Territory. But the move has been described by Aboriginal advocates as a cynical ploy.

February 7, 2009, Black Saturday: you’re glued to your TV watching an inferno devour Victoria’s bushland, terrified that in a country like Australia, such a fire could have happened anywhere.February 7, 2009, Black Saturday: you're glued to your TV watching an inferno devour Victoria's bushland, terrified that in a country like Australia, such a fire could have happened anywhere.

Burning with the force of 1500 Hiroshima bombs, the fires tore their way through 450,000 hectares of land — burning them to a crisp, along with anything or anyone unfortunate enough to be trapped in its path.

Letters

Response on population

Replying to the article we wrote on immigration for GLW #824, Alex Milne writes: "Describing everyone opposed to Australia's record high immigration as an "anti-immigration bigot" does nothing to contribute to intelligent

General

United States President — and Nobel Peace Laureate — Barack Obama will spend nearly US$1 trillion on war this year.

Resistance!

“Governments making new laws all of the time
Try to tell 'em that being young's not a crime”
— Area 7

Culture

Wiki Government: How Technology can make Government Better, Democracy Stronger, & Citizens more PowerfulBy Beth Noveck, Brookings Institute Press200 pp, US$28.95

In a hot, leaky, corrugated tin shed behind Redfern’s disused railway yards lie the embers of a smouldering story of injustice. As an Aboriginal artist, 69 year-old Gordon Syron knows about injustice. He's seen systemic apartheid, legal bias and abuse of Aboriginal people all his life.

Inside the Revolution: A Journey into the Heart of Venezuela
Directed by Pablo Navarrete

One Dimensional Woman
By Nina Power, Zero Books, 2009, 81 pp., $22.95