Issue 832

Australia

Leading solar energy company Solar Systems was sold on March 16 to Silex, a small Australian company specialising in uranium enrichment and the manufacture of solar panels.

PERTH — Construction, mining, maritime and metal workers rallied outside the Sheraton Hotel on March 23 while chief executive of mining giant Rio Tinto Iron Ore, Sam Walsh, hosted a business breakfast for Rio bosses.

A few months before the March 20 state election, the South Australian Labor Party was riding high in the opinion polls and the Liberal opposition was in disarray. But by election day, the result was too close to call. It wasn’t until four days after the election that Premier Mike Rann could claim a narrow victory for Labor.

On March 20, 120 protesters gathered at Foreshore Park in Newcastle to protest against the proposed Tillegra dam. The protest was the culmination of the week-long “Walk for the Williams”, which started at Brownmore, passing the site of the proposed dam near Dungog before proceeding along the Williams River to Newcastle Harbour.

“Save Straddie: National park, not mining”, was the main banner displayed outside the Queensland Supreme Court building on March 26, as Friends of Stradbroke Island, other conservation organisations and Indigenous residents of the island protested against moves to establish an industry to quarry and remove sand from the island.

Australians are being invited to join a special delegation to Venezuela this September to witness an important event for the country’s pro-poor Bolivarian revolution.

Socialist Alliance ran two candidates in the Tasmanian state elections on March 20. Melanie Barnes in the Hobart seat of Denison and Jenny Forward in the Kingston seat of Franklin campaigned for urgent action on climate change and to increase funding to public services.

In what is emerging as a deadly pattern in Western Australia, a 39-year-old Aboriginal prisoner died tragically in Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital on March 22, after laying for several days in a brain-dead state.

Two Socialist Alliance candidates for the coming federal elections — Rachel Evans for Senate and Pip Hinman for Grayndler — announced they were running on March 25, under Newtown's iconic “I have a dream” mural.

World

About 200,000 immigrants and supporters marched on March 21 in Washington to protest against the inaction of President Barack Obama and Congress on legislation that could legalise more than 11 million undocumented immigrants.

The Bolivian government is seeking to use the “people’s summit” it is organising in April to push for a global referendum on climate change, AFP said on March 17.

Alexis Adarfio is a revolutionary activist who has been nominated as a pre-candidate in the primary elections to determine the candidates for the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) in the September 26 National Assembly elections. He is based in the state of Bolivar, Venezuela’s industrial heartland.

In Copenhagen, Sydney-based climate justice advocate Natasha Verco and US activist Noah Weiss faces charges under Denmark’s “terrorism” laws. Verco faces up to 12-and-a-half year jail for her role in organising protests against the United Nations Copenhagen climate summit in December.

Hundreds of residents of the urban slum village of Kampung Guji Baru in West Jakarta besieged the office of Jakarta Governor Fauzi Bowo from early in the morning on March 18 to reject the planned eviction of their settlement.

February 4 marked 11 years since Hugo Chavez first assumed the presidency in Venezuela, following a landslide election victory that swept the country’s discredited traditional parties out of power.

On March 1, elected Malaysian Socialist Party (PSM) members became the only Malaysian politicians to publicly declare their assets.

Jorge Enrique Medina Delgado, a member of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), was assassinated on March 17 in San Antonio del Tachira in the opposition-controlled state of Tachira.

The small African nation of Eritrea had the United Nations Security Council impose sanctions against it in December 2009 for allegedly funding and arming the al-Shabaab islamic militia group in neighbouring Somalia.

On March 26, two Palestinians and two Israeli soldiers were killed in a clash near Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip when the Israeli army made an incursion into the besieged territory, the March 27 Guardian said.

On March 20, 10,000 people converged at the White House — the largest anti-war demonstration since the announcement of the escalation of the Afghanistan war.

In every corner of Greece, popular anger over the government’s latest neoliberal assault on job security, pensions and social services has lead to a series of general strikes involving hundreds of thousands of militant workers.

Australian activist Tash Verco and US citizen Noah Weiss were arrested in Copenhagen for the crime of helping organise a mass demonstration to coincide with the December United Nations climate summit (see here). Printed below is a March 22 letter from Verco and Weiss. It is reprinted from www.climate-justice-action.org, where English versions of Danish press coverage of the trail can also be read. To send a letter in their support to the Danish government, click here.

Physicians for a National Health Program is an organisation of 17,000 doctors who support single-payer national health insurance (similar to Britain’s National Health Scheme or Australia’s Medicare). It released the following statement on March 22 after the US House of Representatives passed the health care bill.

Ben Peterson is an activist with the socialist youth organisation Resistance and the Socialist Alliance who spent four-and-half-months in Nepal last year. In New Zealand for a March 21-26 speaking tour, Peterson spoke to UNITYblog, run by Socialist Worker New Zealand, about his experiences in Nepal — where a mass movement brought down a centuries-old monarchy, established a republic in 2008, and the poor continue to struggle for genuine democracy and social justice.

The vicious underbelly of the right-wing “tea party” movement was on full display in the run-up to March 21 vote on health care in Washington.

More than 20 African countries are selling or leasing land for intensive agriculture on a shocking scale in what may be the greatest change of ownership since the colonial era, a March 10 Alternet.org article said.

Arctic researchers have found vast amounts of methane — a powerful greenhouse gas — are leaking from the seabed off the East Siberian coast. This is the first time a study has found so much methane escaping into the atmosphere from the ocean.

Two Melanesian activists are currently touring Australia to promote their campaigns against land privatisation through the Asia-Pacific region.

BRITAIN: Hypocrisy of anti-union brigade

Over March 22-24, British Airways cabin crew staged a three-day strike over the refusal of BA management to negotiate a reasonable long-term pay offer. A second round of strikes was scheduled to begin on March 27. British socialist and comedian Mark Steel responded to the media and government hysteria against the strike in a March 17 column posted at MarkSteelinfo.com .

Analysis

The Danish government is Australian activist Natasha Verco and US citizen Noah Weiss, who are standing trial and facing a potential 12-and-a-half-year jail sentence for organising a protest during the December United Nations climate summit. This follows a global trend.

On March 3, the New South Wales government approved a new 2000 megawatt (MW) “baseload” power station, Bayswater B, to be built adjacent to the existing Bayswater power station in the Hunter Valley.

On March 23, Ewan Saunders was preselected as Socialist Alliance candidate for the seat of Brisbane in the upcoming federal election. Saunders is Queensland co-convenor of SA and is studying occupational therapy at the University of Queensland.

At Easter, many people will eat a lot of chocolate. What they won’t necessarily know is that much of it is produced using child slave labour in Third World countries.

The 2010 Global Atheist Convention was held at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre over March 12-14. Organised by the Atheist Foundation of Australia and Atheist Alliance International, tickets were sold out months before the conference.

Employment in the Latrobe Valley in Victoria is heavily dependent on brown coal for electricity generation.

The same weekend that Tasmanian Labor Premier David Bartlett congratulated the Tasmanian Greens on their “slick” electoral campaign — comparing it to that of US President Barack Obama — the NSW Greens refused to take part in an anti-war rally, afraid it reflected too heavily on the president.

The Danish government is Australian activist Natasha Verco and US citizen Noah Weiss, who are standing trial and facing a potential 12-and-a-half-year jail sentence for organising a protest during the December United Nations climate summit. This follows a global trend.

Adelaide is Australia’s festival city. Its arts festival is currently in swing. Polite debate, aesthetics and high-octane wine are putting the world to rights. With one exception. Adelaide is where Rupert Murdoch began his empire.

We hear a lot from mainstream journalists, politicians and even some environmental groups about forming partnerships with the “business community" to fight climate change. Many assume a carbon trading scheme or carbon tax alone will be enough to give business an incentive to shift to clean energy.

Just in case anybody thought the episode involving mild criticism from Labor parliamentary leaders over Israeli involvement in forging Australian passports was going to lead to a change in Australia's craven support for Israeli apartheid, foreign minister Stephen Smith has put the record straight.

In the past year in Indonesia, almost 3000 asylum seekers have been stopped from heading to Australia, the Herald Sun said on March 23. The Australian government does not care what happens to these people, who are often detained in horrific conditions or deported back to unsafe countries.

Letters

Israel's state terrorists

The recent revelations that Israeli state terrorists used four forged Australian passports to assassinate a Palestinian official in Dubai, and that Mossad has regularly faked Australian passports for criminal purposes,

General

What would be the cost of eradicating poverty in this country? What would be the cost of solving homelessness or unemployment? Could Australia afford to provide universal, free healthcare and education? Is there enough material wealth here to move to a safe, low-carbon economy?

Green Left Weekly is taking a one-week break. Our next issue will be dated April 14.

Waterside worker and long time Aboriginal activist Charles "Chicka" Dixon has died in Sydney aged 81 — struck down by asbestosis he contracted while working on the wharves.

Banks' price gouging profit bonanza

"The Australia Institute has picked the week of another increase in mortgage rates to launch what it claims to be a comprehensive history of the price gouging habits of the big four banks.

"Not only have [the

Resistance!

Newcastle City Council voted on March 16 to close down the South Newcastle Beach legal graffiti wall. This is Newcastle’s sole legal graffiti wall. The only vote against the motion was from Greens councillor Michael Osborne.

On March 20, 500 equal marriage rights activists rallied in Sydney once more as part of the 2010 National Year of Action for marriage equality. Ten speakers from diverse political and personal backgrounds addressed a loyal crowd eager to share in their stories and views.

Culture

Johnny Ray’s Downtown

By Perry Keyes

CD, Laughing Outlaw Records

www.perrykeyes.com, $24.95

San Patricio
By The Chieftains featuring Ry Cooder
CD, Fantasy/Concord

Doosra: The life and times of an Indian student in Australia

By Roanna Gonsalves

ABC Radio National 360 documentaries

www.abc.net.au/rn/360