Anti-racism

Federal immigration authorities have pressured one of San Francisco’s major building service companies, ABM, into firing hundreds of its own workers. Some 475 janitors have been told that unless they can show legal immigration status, they will lose their jobs in the near future. ABM has been a union company for decades, and many of the workers have been there for years. Olga Miranda, president of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 87, said: “They’ve been working in the buildings downtown for 15, 20, some as many as 27 years.
Laws punishing women for wearing the burqa and the niqab in public were passed by the Belgian lower house of parliament on April 29. A similar law has been discussed by French President Nicholas Sarkozy, and the French National Assembly passed a non-binding resolution in favour of a ban on May 11. These laws have been pushed by right-wing governments on the basis of security needs and protecting national identity, but the laws have also been justified as promoting equality for women. On this basis, the laws have received support from sections of the left and the feminist movement.
The Socialist Alliance has endorsed Dr Renfrey Clarke to run for the Senate in South Australia. Clarke was one of the founders of the Climate Emergency Action Network in 2008, and is a well-known activist and writer on environmental topics. He is a member of the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union. A specialist on Russia and Latin America, Clarke worked for many years as a foreign correspondent for Green Left Weekly and other progressive media. Below, Clarke outlines the priority issues around which he campaigns.
It had to happen eventually. Kevin Rudd's popularity has gone into decline, and the Labor party now trail the Liberals in the latest polls. According to a May 3 Essential Research poll, Rudd's approval rating has fallen to 46%, down from 71% a year ago. The Liberals lead Labor by 51% to 49% on a “two party preferred” basis according to polling by Newspoll published in the May 4 Australian.

Tens of thousands of people joined counter-protests against far-right marches across Germany on May 1. Sozialistische Alternative website said in Berlin, 15,000 people blockaded the Prenzlauer Berg district, restricting a march by 400 neo-Nazis to just 350 metres of their intended six-kilometre march route.

A battle has been joined for the very soul of Arizona. On one side, there are the Minutemen, the craven state Republican lawmakers, Governor Jan Brewer, and the utterly unprincipled John McCain, all supporting SB 1070, a law that codifies racial profiling of immigrants in the state. SB 1070 makes it crime to walk the streets of this state without clutching your passport, green card, visa, or state ID. It not only empowers, but requires cops to demand paperwork if they so much as suspect a person of being undocumented.
Across the United States, large rallies were held on May Day (May 1, the international workers’ day). Opposition to attacks on immigrants were a major theme in big cities and small towns. Organisers of the march in Los Angeles estimated 250,000 immigrants and supporters staged a boisterous march in opposition to Arizona’s anti-immigrant SB1070 law. In Tucson, Arizona, 15,000 protested against the racist law. About 30,000 people protested in New York and about 3000 marched in Washington D.C.
The Union of South American States (Unasur), a regional body uniting all South American nations, passed a motion opposing Arizona’s racist anti-immigrant law at its May 4 summit, Venezuelanalysis.com reported the next day.
Senior Queensland police officers have been accused of using improper methods to cover up for fellow police officers when investigating the death of 36-year-old Palm Island man Mulrunji Doomadgee in 2004. A coroner has described Doomadgee’s November 2004 arrest for intoxication as “not an appropriate exercise of police discretion”. Within an hour of the arrest by Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley, Doomadgee had died from blows to his body which almost split his liver in two.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect from the Villawood detention centre. Most of what I knew came from mainstream media, which usually ignores a particular perspective: that of the refugees themselves. “Queue-jumpers”, “expensive”, “unwelcome”, “should be sent back” are common themes. This rhetoric reduces asylum seekers and their experiences to nothing more than blood-sucking parasites looking for a warm place to nestle. “Boat people” make up only 3% of all refugees coming to Australia. The rest arrive in planes. Where’s all the hype about “plane people”?
Beyond Black & White By Manning Marable Verso Press, 2009, 319 pages Review by Malik Miah Manning Marable’s latest book is an update of a valuable critique of Black and US politics first issued in 1995. He revised it last year, adding new chapters covering the period from 1995 to 2008, including an analysis of the meaning of the election of the first African American president of the US, Barack Obama, in November 2008.
In the United States, Google-owned video-sharing site YouTube has banned the video for hip hop star M.I.A.’s new single “Born Free”, citing the graphic nature of its content. More than nine minutes long, the clip, directed by Romain Gavras, begins with heavily armed soldiers with US flags on their uniforms raiding someone’s home. The location is not known, but the setting is reminiscent of Baghdad or the Palestinian West Bank.
In a turbulent meeting on April 20, City of Yarra councillors voted to reinstate a ban on public drinking, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The motion was passed by a coalition of Labor councillors and independents, five votes to four. The votes against were from the Socialist Party councillor and three Greens. It overturned a March decision to lift the drinking ban during daylight hours. The ban, known as Local Law 8, was passed in October and implemented in December.
Forty refugee rights supporters protested outside Labor foreign minister Stephen Smith's office on April 23, demanding an end to the government's "freeze" on asylum-seeker applications from Afghanistan and Sri Lanka. Speakers included Refugee Rights Action Network members Phil Chilton and Victoria Martin-Iverson, Socialist Alliance candidate for Perth Alex Bainbridge and Greens Senator Scott Ludlam. The next action planned by the Refugee Rights Action Network is an overnight vigil outside the Perth Immigration Detention Centre on May 7.
Over April 19-20, Indonesian police and naval officers forced almost 150 Tamils onto buses at Port Merak and took them to the Tanjung Pinang detention centre. For seven months, more than 250 Tamils had withstood appalling conditions aboard a squalid boat at the West Java port. Their hope was for refugee status in Australia. Their fear was of being locked up in Indonesian detention centres or deported back to Sri Lanka.
Have you heard about the campaign called “Four Days in July”? Well, you are about to. From now until July 6 we are planning to ask: “Will you join us in Alice Springs for a better future? Just four days in July, that’s all we are asking.” Such a small thing to ask but imagine the momentum: it won’t stop at Four Days in July, it will be historic, people will talk about it for years to come. They’ll talk about:

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