Issue 834

News

This article first appeared at TamilNet. * * * More than 10,000 Tamils in Australia registered to cast their votes in the referendum across Australia over April 17 and 18 on the creation of independent Tamil homeland in Sri Lanka, reported SBS Australia, citing organisers.
The F Conference, a historic conference given the long gap between such gatherings, drew a diverse, non-separatist, multi-generational crowd . About 500 gathered at NSW Teachers’ Federation over April 10-11 to discuss feminist ideas and campaigns.
Four hundred fire service workers and supporters rallied in Melbourne on April 14 and submitted a report to the Royal Commission on the 2009 bushfires.
May Day events in Wollongong will feature the Tahmoor mine workers and their struggle for a fair go. The workers and their union, the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union (CFMEU), have been trying to negotiate an enterprise bargaining agreement with Xstrata, the owner of Tahmoor Colliery, for more than 18 months.
On April 15, Geelong unionists hosted a reception for Ark Tribe, an Adelaide construction worker facing six months in jail for refusing to be interrogated by the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC). Tribe was invited to the meeting by the Geelong Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union Shop Stewards Committee.
“Towards socialism and sustainability” was the theme of the Queensland Socialist Alliance (SA) state conference held at the Activist Centre on April 17. About 40 people gathered to discuss proposals for building the socialist project in 2010.
On April 13, people around the world celebrated the eighth anniversary of the Venezuelans’ defeat of a coup against President Hugo Chavez. The US-backed coup, on April 11, 2002, lasted only 48 hours, overturned by a massive mobilisation on the streets of supporters of the radical changes being led by Chavez.
Chanting "Stop killing Thai people, bring democracy back now, no more dictatorship!", 40 members and supporters of 'Thai Red Australia' marched from Hyde Park to the Thai Consulate on April 12. Organisers gave out a statement during the protest. The statement was handed to the consulate. It said: "At least 19 people have died and 825 injured as a result of violent clashes in Bangkok, Thailand, as troops tried to retake areas from anti-government protesters on April 10.

On April 11, in response to a rally by the far-right Australian Protectionist Party (APP) in opposition to refugee rights organised that day outside Villawood Detention Centre, activists held a protest in solidarity with the imprisoned asylum seekers and against racism .

A coalition of community environmental groups has been trying to stop logging in the Mumbulla State Forest in the NSW far south east, with a blockade of about 90 people. The forest contains the last known koala colony between Canberra and Victoria.

The logging is being carried out by Forests NSW, a public trading enterprise under direct control of the NSW state government. Ninety-five percent of felled trees are to be processed at the Eden woodchipping mill, owned by South East Forest Exports (SEFE).

Analysis

The April 9 announcement by immigration minister Chris Evans that, “effective immediately”, Australia would suspend processing asylum claims by Afghans or Sri Lankans is in contravention of the 1951 Refugee Convention.
The Greens face a choice between taking the Australian Democrats road of balance-of-power politics or becoming a more influential left-wing party, Sylvia Hale, Greens member of the NSW upper house, said in the 10th annual Juanita Neilsen memorial lecture on March 23.
The following was posted on Climateandcapitalism.com on March 16 by Britain-based environmental and social justice group The Corner House.]
In February, about 20 people from Victoria and NSW (and three from Germany), spent two weeks constructing a protest house with the people of Ampilatwatja. Actively Radical TV, a Sydney community-based video group, went to document the building of the protest house.
Sam Watson is a Murri leader and the Socialist Alliance Senate candidate for Queensland in the upcoming federal election. He told Green Left Weekly’s Jim McIlroy about the main issues facing Aboriginal people in the lead-up to the election.
According to an immigration department spokesperson, there are currently 275 people housed in eight tents in two separate immigration detention facilities on Christmas Island. One of the detained refugees spoke to Green Left Weekly’s Niko Leka about living conditions there. He asked that his name not be used as he was afraid it would affect his visa application.
An Upper Hunter community campaign for a full comprehensive health study on the effects of air pollution from coalmines and coal-fired power stations is coming to a head.
On May 6, 2009, the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (QIRC) made a landmark decision on pay equity that acknowledged the chronic undervaluation of women’s work in Queensland's community services sector. It awarded pay rises of between 18% and 37% to the workers concerned — 80% of whom were women.

On March 4, the first IQ² debate was held in Melbourne on the topic “Should Australia embrace nuclear power?”.On March 4, the first IQ² debate was held in Melbourne on the topic "Should Australia embrace nuclear power?".

Arguing the pro-nuclear case, Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation chair Ziggy Switzkowski and Erica Smyth, chair of uranium mining company Toro Energy were joined by NASA climate scientist James Hansen.

World

COCHABAMBA: Bolivian President Evo Morales Ayma condemned the capitalist system in the opening session of the 1st World Conference of the Peoples on Climatic Change on April 20. Morales, in his April 20 intervention in the inauguration, stated that capitalism is the main enemy of the Earth, only looking for profits, to the detriment of nature, and that capitalism is a bridge for asymmetries and inequality.
The Sri Lankan government’s fake sincerity towards the plight of the country’s Tamil minority may have impressed the Australian government, which claimed “changed circumstances” as the reason behind its decision to suspend the processing of asylum seekers from Sri Lanka for three months. But it has done nothing to resolve the ongoing oppression of the Tamil people.
The article below is an excerpt from a March 2010 Greenpeace report entitled Koch Industries: Secretly Funding the Climate Denial Machine, published in March 2010 by Greenpeace. The full report can be read here.
The ruling United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA) won nearly two thirds of the seats in the Sri Lankan parliament at the April 8 national elections. The exact figure is uncertain, because the result in two electorates was annulled because of polling day violence.
On April 10, the Thai military opened fire on unarmed pro-democracy protesters, known as “Red Shirts”, who were on the streets of Bangkok to demand the unelected government be dissolved and new elections called.
A British lawyer has launched a campaign to have the mass destruction of ecosystems recognised by the United Nations as a serious crime on par with crimes against humanity and genocide, the April 9 British Guardian said.
The Obama administration is out to upgrade the US nuclear arsenal and pressure world leaders into imposing sanctions against countries — like Iran— that allegedly harbour ambitions to develop nukes of their own. The following article is an abridged US Socialist Worker editorial.
On April 13, Venezuela celebrated eight years since a popular uprising defeated a US backed coup against President Hugo Chavez in April 2002 with a swearing in ceremony of 35,000 new militia members in Caracas. The day was named “Day of the Bolivarian Militias, the Armed People and the April Revolution”.
It was hailed as the first “competitive”, “open”, “multi-party” elections in Sudan in 24 years, but there was little free, fair or open about the national poll that began on April 11 and was boycotted by opposition parties.
On April 11, the Hamoked Center for the Defence of the Individual (HCDI) released a statement headlined: "A new military order defines all residents of the West Bank as ‘infiltrators’ who may be jailed and deported.”
At the failed United Nations climate in Copenhagen in December, Bolivian President Evo Morales proposed that, given the lack of an accord among governments, the world’s people should be consulted in a global referendum.
An Israeli journalist who went into hiding after writing a series of reports showing lawbreaking approved by Israeli army commanders faces a lengthy jail term for espionage if caught, as Israeli security services warned at the weekend they would “remove the gloves” to track him down.
The US state department has suspended its climate change aid to Bolivia and Ecuador because both countries have refused to endorse the accord drawn up by rich nations at the United Nations Copenhagen climate summit in December.
The Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM); Working People's Association (PRP) of Indonesia, People’s Democratic Party (PRD) of Indonesia, Turn Left Thailand, Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM) of the Philippines, Socialist Alliance of Australia, and Solidarity (Australia) issued the following statement on April 10.The Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM); Working People's Association (PRP) of Indonesia, People's Democratic Party (PRD) of Indonesia, Turn Left Thailand, Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM) of the Philippines, Socialist Alliance of Australia, and Solidarity (Australia) issued the following statement on

On April 14, a delegation of 30 people led by Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) staged a protest at the Royal Thai Embassy in Kuala Lumpur. The protesters included PSM Selangor state assemblyperson Dr. Nasir Hashim and PSM member of national parliament for Sungai Siput Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj, as well as a representative from the Student Federation of Thailand.

Five thousand farmers marched in Asuncion on March 25 to call on Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo to deliver on his election promise of land reform. The National Federation of Campesinos (FNC), an organisation that has fought for farmers' rights for more than 17 years, led the action.

Hungary’s nationalist Movement for a Better Hungary (Jobbik) party has won 17% of the vote in national elections, placing it third after the right-wing Fidesz party and the incumbent governing Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP).

Hungary's nationalist Movement for a Better Hungary (Jobbik) party has won 17% of the vote in national elections, placing it third after the right-wing Fidesz party and the incumbent governing Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP). Fidesz's result of 52.8% in the first round translated into 206 seats in the 386-seat legislature.

CARACAS — Following nation-wide assemblies involving more than 10,000 electricity workers to collectively discuss solutions to the sector’s problems, 600 delegates gathered in Caracas on April 8-9.

Culture

Smile or Die, How Positive Thinking Fooled America & the World
By Barbara Ehrenreich
Granta Books, 2009
235 pages., $29.99
On June 19, 1953, in a hideous example of US anti-communist hysteria, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed, accused of spying for the Soviet Union. They had two young children, six-year-old Robert and 10-year-old Michael.
La Frontera: a Journey into the Borderlands of Mexico and the United States
Available as podcast

The Strength of the Pack: The Personalities, Politics & Espionage Intrigues that Shaped the DEA
By Douglas Valentine
TrineDay, 2009

After 40 years, the "war on drugs" is about to become the longest continuous war in US history. In The Strength of the Pack, Douglas Valentine explains why dismantling the US$44 billion a year Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) juggernaut is unlikely to happen as long as the US attempts to maintain a world empire.

Editorial

Australians voted out the Howard Coalition government in 2007. But the Labor government's decision to suspend processing new refugees arriving by boat from Afghanistan and Sri Lanka means John Howard's racist refugee policies have been revived.

General

According to new research, Australia's richest 1% of taxpayers — those earning more than $197,000 — accounted for 9.8% of total income in 2007-08, up from 8.8% in 2002-03.
This issue is a two-week issue, to allow GLW staff and campaigners to take part in the Resistance 2010: The World Can’t Wait! conference. The next issue will be dated May 5.

Australian GHG pollution: wrong direction

In November 2007, the Australian Labor Government was elected in part on the promise to "tackle climate change". Unfortunately, nearly two-and-a-half years later and despite the global economic downturn, Australia's domestic plus exported greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution in the last complete financial year of the Labor Government (2009-2010) is on track to be more than 5% bigger than that in the last complete financial year of the previous Liberal-National Party Coalition Government (2006-2007).