Issue 956

Australia

The National Tertiary Education Union released the statement below on March 1.

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National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) members at the University of Sydney will strike for 24 hours on March 7 over enterprise bargaining.

“This is the first strike in a decade and shows just how riled our members are at management's arrogance and its lack of commitment to the enterprise bargaining process,” said branch president Michael Thomson.

“We logged our enterprise bargaining claims on August 7 last year.

In Western Australia, mental illness is the second-highest cause of disease for women and the fourth-highest cause for men.

Premier Colin Barnett has responded by publishing a green paper for public discussion for a new Mental Health Act. The proposed act contains provisions that would improve the rights of people subjected to a Compulsory Treatment Order (CTO). But it negates those same provisions by allowing the treating psychiatrist to simply ignore them.

About 10,000 nurses and midwives across Western Australia were threatened with disciplinary action and deregistration by the state’s director general if they went ahead with a 24-hour strike on February 25.

The evening before the planned action, WA premier Colin Barnett intervened to offer the nurses a 14% pay rise over three years.

Australian Nursing Federation (ANF) members accepted the offer after voting at a mass meeting on February 25.

The campaign against the gas hub at Walmadan (James Price Point) in the Kimberley received a huge boost when about 20,000 people marched through the streets of Fremantle and attended a vibrant and political “Concert for the Kimberley” on February 24.

“The Stain” is the name of a photo exhibition by Turkish artist A. Suderin Murat, which looks at the issue of violence against women.

Coinciding with International Women’s Day, the exhibition will be open to the public from March 4-10 at the Auburn Town Hall Exhibition Gallery.

For many years, Murat has campaigned against all kinds of discrimination. She considers art to be “the most effective and peaceful tool” for helping society.

More than 200 people from Melbourne’s Hazara community held a three-hour protest in Federation Square on February 25 to draw attention to the rising violence against the Hazara community in Pakistan.

About 100 Hazara people were killed in the latest bomb massacre in the city of Quetta in Balochistan province on February 16.

The Indigenous Social Justice Association released this statement on February 25.

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The Indigenous Social Justice Association (ISJA), is organising a rally outside the office of the Police Integrity Commission (PIC) in Sydney as part of a national day of action for Justice for Rex Bellotti Jnr.

We will send the message to all Australian police forces that all forms of police brutality must end.

The Northern Territory government passed new mandatory sentencing laws on February 14 that will increase the minimum time offenders spend in prison and restrict judges’ right to suspend sentences for certain crimes.

NT justice minister John Elferink told AAP on February 14: "These new mandatory minimum sentences correct the failed attempt by the former Labor government to be tough on crime."

Venezuelan ambassador to Australia Nelson Davila introduced the film El Caracazo: A day that shook a country at a public screening on February 27. The event was hosted by the Venezuelan embassy and the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network (AVSN).

About 200 Sensis workers chanted "Our jobs: yes, outsourcing: no, John Allan has to go", at a rally outside Telstra's Melbourne head office on February 28.

John Allan is the CEO of Sensis, a Telstra subsidiary that has announced plans to sack 700 workers.

Lorraine Cassin, the secretary of the printing division of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU), told the rally that 400 of the jobs would be transferred to Manila and Mumbai.

Standing for public office in an already rigged electoral system just became even harder.

On February 25, the Senate approved Labor’s new election rules that will discriminate against minor parties and independents.

The new law doubles the nomination fee for all candidates in the federal elections among other changes.

World

Venezuelan media today announced that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has died.

At approximately 5.30pm local time on March 5, Vice-President Nicolas Maduro addressed the nation, stating that after nearly three months of treatment in Cuba and Venezuela, Chavez passed away in the Dr. Carlos Arvelo military hospital in Caracas.

“Those who die for life, can’t be called dead,” he stated, after announcing that the president has lost his two year battle with cancer.

Police raids have targeted members and leaders of Turkey's public sector union KESK in the early morning of February 19, global union solidarity site Labour Start said in an appeal for support

The appeal said: “This new attack against the Turkish trade union movement, carried out by the authorities in 28 cities across the country, resulted in the arrest of at least 100 unionists, including many members of teachers' union Egitim Sen.

A Singapore court has sentenced four Chinese immigrant bus drivers to up to seven weeks in prison for instigating the city-state's first strike in 26 years, MorningStarOnline.co.uk said on February 25.

Three of the men were sentenced to six weeks' jail. A fourth faced an extra charge of publicising the strike online and received a seven week sentence. Another driver was jailed for six weeks in December.

Bradley Manning read a 35-page statement to a US court on February 28, in which he explained and defended his decision to leak hundreds of thousands of secret US documents to WikiLeaks. Manning explained he felt the information leaked, which detailed serious war crimes and cover ups, deserved to be made public. Manning pleading guilty to all charges, except for "aiding the enemy".

Eight Indonesian soldiers were killed on February 21 in West Papua. The attacks were claimed by the armed wing of the Free Papua Movement (TPN-OPM).

The attacks came after a series of violent crackdowns by Indonesian authorities on a growing movement of peaceful protest by Papuans calling for end to Indonesian occupation and for self-determination.

In the first attack, a military post in Tingginambut, Puncak Jaya, was raided. One soldier was killed and another injured.

The film Zero Dark Thirty has sparked debate on its justification of torture, its misuse of facts, and its pro-CIA agenda. The main focus of the debate so far has been on whether torture was necessary to track Osama bin Laden and whether the film is pro or anti torture.

Air pollution is an emerging environmental issue in the big cities of Pakistan. Dust and smoke particles in Pakistan are generally twice the world average and five times higher than in the developed world. Though some of the pollution comes from natural sources, most is the result of human activities. The biggest causes are fossil fuel-burning power plants and cars. Combined, these two sources are responsible for about 90% of all air pollution. The most serious issue relating to air pollution in Pakistan is the presence of excessive suspended particulates matter (SPM).

More than 10,000 Palestinians took part in a funeral procession on February 25 in the West Bank village of Saeer for 30-year-old Arafat Jaradat, who died while in Israeli detention.

Jaradat's death on February 23 in Megiddo Prison came less than a week after he was arrested for throwing stones at Israeli cars in the West Bank. Although Israeli officials say he died of cardiac arrest, an autopsy shows clear signs that his death was the result of horrific torture, according to Palestinian Authority officials.

In a five-to-four split decision, the Supreme Court ruled that, in effect, no citizen may challenge the constitutionality of any of the executive orders, or laws passed by Congress, that violate democratic rights under the pretext of the “war on terrorism.”

The decision was in response to a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Amnesty International, Global Rights, Global Fund for Women, Human rights Watch, PEN American Center, Service Employees International Union, journalists Naomi Klein and Chris Hedges, and several defense attorneys.

As Washington ramps up anti-Venezuelan rhetoric, its proxies in the South American nation appear to be following a US-backed plan to bring down the democratically elected government.

On February 15, opposition students began a four-day protest outside the Cuban Embassy.

The group of about students allegedly assaulted an elderly passer-by. In the past, members of the same group have allegedly been involved in blockading roads and burning tires during protests in the city of Merida.

Leaders of the developing world made renewed calls for greater solidarity and opposition to Western imperialism at the third Africa-South America Summit (ASA), despite some criticism of the role of Brazil in Africa.

Over February 20-23, 66 African and South American countries took part in the Summit, held in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea.

In an open letter read by Venezuelan foreign minister Elias Jaua, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez denounced Western intervention in Libya and Mali, and urged the building of a “true pole of power” in the global South.

Nearly 10 years after the Spanish high court outlawed previous Basque left nationalist political groups, the movement has finally given birth to a new legal party ― Sortu (“to create” or “to be born” in Basque).

The new arrival is a powerful force for Basque independence and progressive politics in the Spanish state ― socialist, feminist, ecologically aware and staunchly internationalist.

Since mid-January, a group of illegally laid off Cambodian garment workers – mostly women – have been picketing the factory they worked in. Their objective was to stop the company, which closed down owing the workers, collectively, about US$200,000 of unpaid wages, from removing the equipment from the factory.

Bradley Manning is the US soldier alleged to have leaked hundreds of thousands of secret US documents to WikiLeaks. The documents exposed serious war crimes and corruption by the US and other governments. He has been imprisoned by US authorities without trial since 2010. The Bradley Manning Support Network reports below on the latest developments.

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WikiLeaks released the statement below on February 7 in response to revelations the FBI had sent agents to interrogate a young man in Iceland over WikiLeaks’ activities – even after the Icelandic government ordered the agents to leave.

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Analysis

The statement below was released by the Socialist Alliance on March 2.

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Legal proceedings are under way against long-term trade union and community activist Bob Carnegie. The case has serious implications for trade union rights and broader civil liberties.

Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr, US Ambassador to Australia Jeffrey Bleich, and writer and activist Eva Cox took part in the ABC’s Q&A on February 25. More than 15 minutes of the program was spent discussing WikiLeaks journalist Julian Assange.

Vincent Emanuele is from the Iraq Veterans Against the War in the United States. He recently visited Australia to promote the documentary film On The Bridge which follows seven returning service men and women.

This is an edited version of a speech that he gave to a forum hosted by the Marrickville Peace Group, the Independent and Peaceful Australia network and Stop the War Coalition in Sydney on February 26.

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In the week that US citizen Bradley Manning admitted in court that he leaked military secrets to reveal to the public the “the true costs of war”, I attended the first screening in Sydney of the documentary On The Bridge.

The screening was part of the inaugural Big Picture Festival, a social justice film festival.

This is an extract from Towards a socialist Australia, produced by the Socialist Alliance and its affiliate, Resistance. Read the first installment in last week's issue of Green Left, and the full text online on the Socialist Alliance website. ***

The federal government said on February 23 it would introduce several changes to the 457 temporary visa program, to take effect from July. The proposals were applauded by the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) and criticised by big business. The 457 visa system is a highly exploitative, insecure and discriminatory visa system, originally introduced under the former John Howard government. Once elected, the ALP kept the visa class in place as a favour to big business, tinkering with it rather than abolishing it in favour of strengthening permanent skilled migration.

The federal Coalition has used the alleged sexual assault of a young woman on Macquarie University to call for increased monitoring of asylum seekers.

Police have charged a Tamil asylum seeker with the attack, which allegedly took place when the man broke into the woman’s room and put a hand down her pyjama pants while she was asleep. He fled when she woke up and screamed.

“It’s move over Olympic Dam with a massive shale oil find confirmed for Linc Energy in South Australia, which sent its share price into orbit,” the ABC’s The Business said on January 29, exulting at a big discovery of unconventional oil and gas near the remote town of Coober Pedy, 800 kilometres north-west of Adelaide.

Dear Darren,

I’ve never understood rugby league, but have seen enough State of Origin matches to know there is something special about the way you play the game. They say you are a captain’s captain, a leader’s leader: the fast-as-lighting country boy who would be king.

So I am distancing myself from my Queensland brothers and sisters in writing this letter. But I wouldn’t be writing it if you hadn’t already distanced yourself from your followers.

It has been a colossal past year for women’s rights, with global and local attention flaring across a range of horrific individual tragedies and broader issues, including sexual assault and violence against women, the ongoing gendered disparity in income, and the debate on misogyny. In Melbourne, Jill Meagher’s abduction and murder lead to about 30,000 people rallying in Brunswick, while the Reclaim the Night march drew a crowd of 5000 people to Sydney Road in a huge public declaration that “Enough is enough”.

Culture

A selection of this week's celebrity news...

Frenzal Rhomb frontman Jay Whalley reveals pig tapeworm egg infected his brain http://goo.gl/J8UwF

Madonna, Bruce Springsteen Lead Billboard's 2013 Top 40 Money Makers http://goo.gl/2nXse

Sean Penn Mourns Death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez http://eonli.ne/XNjLJD

Edward Furlong Sentenced to 6 Months in Jail for Violating Probation for battery http://eonli.ne/XNaxNt

Anderson Cooper on First Strip Club Visit: I Was Talking to the Ladies About Their Shoes http://eonli.ne/XN3NPH

The Waugul by Kaiber (Dennis Simmons). Performed at "Occupy Cottesloe - Colin Barnett has got to go" on March 2, 2013. This was one week before the state election and was organised by Occupy Perth. Public land was claimed on the Cottesloe beach foreshore for the event.

All That I Am, A Novel
By Anna Funder
Penguin 2011
370 pp, $29.95

Germany at the end of World War I entered a political and cultural maelstrom that tested the integrity of all its participants. This factually based narrative, or “open-source novel” as author Anna Funder calls it, brings to life some of those who committed their lives to trying to bring socialism to Germany and combat Hitler.

The gold shall not be sold
For thirty pieces of silver
No to the mine that contaminates
No to the mine that kills ya!

The copper shall not be sold
For thirty pieces of silver
No to the mine that contaminates
No to the mine that kills ya!

Conga no way…
Conga’s just not happening…
That’s the verdict of the people
And there’s no reversing

The NEWMONT conquistadors
Come not with cross and sword
They come with five billion dollars
And they leave you with nothing

The NEWMONT conquistadors
Come not with bibles and diseases
They come with their heavy machinery