Issue 829

Australia

On March 2, more than 40 people packed into La Tropicana cafe for a public forum on the theme “The Aboriginal struggle continues”. The meeting was organised by the Socialist Alliance.

Western Australian public servants are mounting an important battle to stop the government terminating their job security as part of an overall government assault on community services. Unionists say thousands of jobs are in danger and public services are threatened.

A petition signed by 35 distinguished Australian Jews rejecting the automatic right of Jews from anywhere in the world to settle in Israel is printed below. Under the racist “law of return”, Jews do not need to have any connection with Israel to obtain citizenship.

Signatories include ethicist Peter Singer, feminist campaigner Eva Cox, author and journalist Antony Loewenstein and writer Sara Dowse.

Green Left Weekly reported in its last issue (#828, March 3) that the immigration ombudsman was about to visit the Christmas Island Immigration Detention Centre, and that coincidentally, construction of a gym in the alpha compound had commenced.

The River, Lakes and Coorong Action Group (RLCAG) has sent out a probing questionnaire that asks candidates in the March 20 South Australian elections to answer 76 questions relating to the River Murray and the lakes at its mouth.

The Socialist Alliance (SA) held its Victorian state conference on February 27, with about 80 people taking part.

The Communist Party of Australia is waging a very active campaign for the seat of Lee in the March 20 state elections. Candidate and CPA state secretary Bob Briton has featured several times in local media and support for the campaign has exceeded local branches’ expectations.

Around 150 people protested against the proposed internet filter in Melbourne. The rally heard from speakers from Socialist Alliance, Greens, Electronic Frontiers Australia, Exit International, Pirate Party, Sex Party.

“There are two messages we want to get across as part of our campaign in the federal elections”, Socialist Alliance candidate Alex Bainbridge told Green Left Weekly.

For the second year in a row, flag-raising ceremonies in Victoria marked the anniversary of the Saharawi Republic, as a gesture of solidarity and friendship with the people of Western Sahara. The Saharawi Republic was declared on February 27, 1976. However, the country remains under Moroccan occupation.

“The prime minister’s proposed shake up of public hospital funding has the capacity to reduce waiting lists to see specialists, to have surgery, and to get seen in emergency departments when needed”, Dr Tim Woodruff, president of the Doctors Reform Society, said in response to PM Kevin Rudd’s March 3 statement on healthcare reform.

World

In the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre, Republican President George W. Bush launched illegal wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Bush enacted “anti-terrorism” policies under which people could be labelled “terror suspects” without evidence and abducted, jailed and tortured in secret.

The article below from a statement released on February 28 by Chilean socialist organisation Movement of the Revolutionary Left (MIR) about the earthquake that hit Chile the previous day. It was translated by Earl Gilman.

The article below is by Giles Ji Ungpakorn, a member of the socialist Turn Left Thailand group. He was forced to leave Thailand after being charged under Thailand's anti-democratic lese majesty (insulting the monarch) laws. Former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who despite his corrupt record still enjoys support from much of Thailand’s poor, was overthrown in a 2006 coup by royalist army officers. For more information, visit Wdpress.blog.co.uk.

Since the 1959 Cuban Revolution overthrew the US-backed Batista dictatorship and began a process that ended US economic exploitation of the Caribbean island, Cuban has been repeatedly attacked by its powerful neighbour. There have been many terrorist attacks organised or launched from US soil against Cuba.

The call published below is being promoted by the Global Justice Ecology Project. The GJEP said in 2004, it “traveled to Chile for meetings with [indigenous] Mapuche organizations fighting the devastating impacts of industrial timber plantations.

Greek workers shut down hospitals, schools and public transport again on March 5 in protest at the government's “socially unjust” spending cuts.

On February 18, Niger’s President Mamadou Tandja was overthrown in a military coup. A military junta calling itself the Supreme Council for the Restoration of Democracy, headed by Major Salou Djibo, took power.

Manju, one of the 254 Tamil refugees aboard the Jaya Lestari in Merak, Indonesia, is due to have her baby on 5 April.

The article below is abridged from the British Morning Star.

The Haiti Emergency Relief Fund is a San Francisco-based grassroots organisation founded in 2004. It is working with Haitian organisations to provide relief in the aftermath of the January 12 earthquake.

The article below is abridged from the British Morning Star.

The article below is reprinted from the website of the Malaysian Socialist Party (PSM).

The statement published below is a call for protests when US President Barack Obama visits Guam, Indonesia and Australia in late March. It was released by the Working Peoples Association (Indonesia), Socialist Alliance (Australia), Socialist Workers (New Zealand), Power of the Masses Party (PML — Philippines), Solidarity (Australia), Labor Party Pakistan, and Socialist Alternative (Australia).

On February 26, parliamentarians from the left-wing party Die Linke were expelled from the Bundestag (the national parliament) for holding a protest against the war in Afghanistan.

Tens of thousands of people rallied across Italy on March 1 to defend and extend the rights of immigrants, on a day that organisers dubbed “St. Papers”.

On June 28 last year, Honduras’ left-wing President Manuel Zelaya was overthrown in a military coup — supported by the rich elite with United States collaboration. As well as moves such as increasing the minimum wage by 60%, Zelaya was seeking to start a process leading to a constituent assembly to democratically rewrite the nation’s pro-rich constitution.

Claudia Larisa Brizuela Rodriguez, a supporter of the National People's Resistance Front (FNRP) was gunned down in her home in San Pedro Sula on February 24, CISPES.org said the following day. “Her two young children, ages 2 and 8, witnessed their mother’s murder.”

Analysis

According to the Reserve Bank of Australia, the future of the Australian economy is so bright we should all start wearing shades. Justifying the RBA’s decision to lift official interest rates a further 0.25% on March 2, governor Glenn Stevens said, “the risk of serious economic contraction in Australia [has] passed”.

Last year’s national Climate Action Summit was groundbreaking. It set a national grassroots movement on its feet, something I haven’t seen on such a scale in my two decades of activism. A new ongoing network has been set up, with more than 100 groups now signed onto the initial structure.

Carbon trading schemes have become the most favoured government strategy to deal with climate change, including in Australia. But as economics professor Clive Spash found out, government employees who question whether such schemes can actually deliver emissions reductions can find themselves under huge pressure to be silent.

When it comes to avoiding the most catastrophic impacts of global warming then whatever the financial cost, the price is still worth paying. But new research by Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE) shows Australia could meet 100% of its stationary energy needs from renewables in a decade and stimulate the economy at the same time.

Changes to Aboriginal employment, infrastructure and welfare programs have stripped remote Aboriginal communities of resources and left many Aboriginal people, in effect, working for rations.

On February 25, federal education minister Julia Gillard announced the release of the new national curriculum. She sounded like a consultant for a private education firm, yet at the same time revealed her utter ignorance of education in this country.

John Bellamy Foster is a renowned Marxist economist and ecologist. He is the editor of the US socialist journal Monthly Review and is the author of Marx's Ecology and The Ecological Revolution (published by Monthly Review Press. Foster will be a featured speaker at the Climate Change — Social Change conference in Melbourne in November (see ad on page 13 for more details).

Shortly before Christmas, the owners of the big three free-to-air commercial television networks, Seven, Nine and Ten, accompanied by Free TV Australia lobbyist and former Queensland ALP premier Wayne Goss met with Kevin Rudd at Kirribilli House. They cried poor and demanded corporate welfare for their “struggling” businesses.

The proposal by the Greens to the Rudd government that it introduce a price on carbon (starting at $23 a tonne) “as an interim measure in the transition to a functional and effective emissions trading scheme” is provoking a lively debate in the grassroots climate action movement.

Letters

Green Left Weekly can do better

I have been a subscriber to the GLW for many years, because I believe it is essential to have publicly available sources of information that are independent of the mainstream media.

But for the GLW to be of

General

The NSW government has just approved plans for two, 2000-megawatt power stations, one near Lithgow, the other in the Hunter Valley. If coal is chosen as the fuel source NSW’s greenhouse gas emissions will increase by 15.1%. If gas is chosen the increase will be 7.1%. It’s likely the government will go with coal.

Chile earthquake 'chilling' ... for capitalists

"The massive earthquake that hit Chile on Saturday, and put nearly a quarter of the world on tsunami alert, is a chilling reminder that investing in insurance companies is high risk."

— Adele

For environmentalists, Indigenous rights activists, feminists, socialists and all progressive people, Latin America is a source of hope and inspiration today. The people of Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Ecuador and El Salvador, among others, are showing that radical social change is possible and a better, more just society can be imagined and built.

Resistance!

Almost everyone has seen the iconic photo of Ernesto Che Guevara taken in 1960 by photographer Alberto Korda. In the decades since it was taken, it has been reproduced countless times, including on towels, lunchboxes, cigarette packets and especially T-shirts.

Culture

Spencer Tunick’s all-nude art makes us rethink things.

My hands began to shake
And my tears were held by my fight for strength
As my body turned to ice
They began with the story they were about to make

Like a novel they began to tell what my ears could not bear to hear
Their mouths moved but I

Free to a Good Home, By Catherine Deveny, Black Inc., 2009, 213 pp, $24.95 (pb)

Sex sells. So this year’s Mardi Gras flaunted itself. Its cod-piece was the python-esque parade snaking up Oxford Street, a ribald, risque body of bodies-politic. Marchers fed off a frenzied live street audience of more than 100,000 with even more watching on TV. It’s a show with a capital S, buoying pink-dollar tourism and state coffers by $30 million.