Philadelphia – The October 13 the New York Times ran a news story headlined “Door Opens to Health Claims Tied to Agent Orange”, which was sure to be good news to many American veterans of the Indochina War.
International News & Analysis
In workplace and neighbourhood assemblies across Cuba and in the base committees of the Communist Party (PCC), millions of Cubans are responding to the call by President Raul Castro for a nationwide debate on the future of the country’s socialist revolution.
At the centre and south of Europe – in Germany and Portugal – parliamentary elections on September 27 marked a historic electoral setback for social democracy. In Germany, the SPD lost a third of its electorate, or more than 4.5 million votes, in five years, and with 23% of those voting, obtained its lowest score since 1949.
“We are destroying our planet. We need to realise that and we need to act”, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez told the 64th General Assembly of the United Nations in his September 24 speech. “The effects of this climate change are now visible … These are scientific facts. There are … studies by NASA [showing] a 0.8 degree increase in temperature in the last 30 years.
Auburndale, Massachusetts – I was dismayed when I heard Barack Obama was given the Nobel Peace Prize. A shock, really, to think that a president carrying on wars in two countries and launching military action in a third country (Pakistan), would be given a peace prize.
A special session of the 47-member United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on October 16 voted for a resolution calling for the adoption of the “Goldstone report” on Israel’s December-January war on Gaza.
On October 2, Marek Edelman died in Warsaw at the age of 90. He had been the last surviving commander of the resistance forces during the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto uprising against the Nazi occupation. Born in Poland, Edelman became a member of the youth organisation of the socialist General Jewish Labour Union, commonly known as the “Bund”, in the late 1930s.
Ramallah Underground is using music to spread the message that Palestinians have the strength to challenge Israel’s continuing brutal occupation of Palestine. Its members are Stormtrap (producer/MC), Boikutt (producer/MC) and Aswatt (producer/DJ), and the style is a fusion of Hip Hop with electronica and traditional Arab music.
Jakarta – Street protests across Indonesia greeted the inauguration of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Vice President Budiono on October 20. Yudhoyono was re-elected president on July 8 with 60.8% of the 121 million votes cast. A former army general, he had served as president since winning the 2004 presidential election.
Australian News & Analysis
Environment and social justice campaigners will be confronting top executives of BHP Billiton, the largest mining conglomerate in the world, at their AGM scheduled to occur in Brisbane on November 26. The campaigners will be focussing on BHP Billiton’s abysmal record in the areas of Indigenous rights, environmental sustainability and climate change.
In August Direct Action organised a speaking tour of Australia by Venezuelan revolutionary youth leader Heryck Rangel. In September-October, Direct Action organised a speaking tour of Australia by Indonesian feminist socialist Vivi Widyawati. These tours and the continued existence of Direct Action depend solely on the support of our readers.
In the early hours of October 9, the Latin American House (Casa Latina), Hut 47 at the Addison Road Community Centre in Marrickville, Sydney, was destroyed by a fire. Casa Latina had been the meeting place of various Latin-American solidarity groups, with the hut being used to raise funds for these groups through raffles, concerts and a Latin-American BBQ held every Sunday.
As workers filed out from their shift at the Buana factory in western Jakarta, they were greeted by members of the Solidarity Alliance for Workers Struggle (GSPB) who handed them leaflets demanding wage rises and improvements to working conditions. Very few of Indonesia’s mostly women industrial workers are unionised.
Tamil asylum seekers from Sri Lanka, diverted from entering Australia and put on the Australian Customs ship Oceanic Viking, had been refusing food for two days and refusing to leave the ship at Kijang for the Indonesian immigration detention prison, Tanjung Pinang, on Bintan Island on October 26.
Sam Wainwright, the Socialist Alliance candidate for the Fremantle City Council (FCC) ward of Hilton, was elected to the FCC on October 17 with 33.4% of the vote. Wainwright received 438 out of 1310 valid votes, 100 more than his nearest competitor, Dave Hume, a member of the Australian Labor Party. (The election was first past the post, not preferential.)
During October, Richard Downs, an elder of the Alyawarra-speaking community from the Northern Territory township of Ampilatwatja (300km north-east of Alice Springs) toured major eastern Australian cities to raise support for a protest camp established 3km from the township.
On November 28, rallies will take place across Australia to demand same-sex marriage rights. Organised by the Equal Love Coalition, the national day of action will demand the passing of the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2009 – legislation put to the Senate by the Australian Greens to remove discrimination in the Marriage Act on the basis of sexual orientation.
Views, Discussion & Debate
When industrial capitalism developed in Western Europe in the 19th century, the great majority of businesses were privately owned. That is, they were the property of a single individual, or sometimes a family, or sometimes two or three partners with defined shares. There was no normal mechanism by which some outsider could become a part owner of the business.
A century and a half has passed since Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species, yet this book is still surrounded with controversy. It would not be an overstatement to say that the ideas of Charles Darwin on evolution sparked a revolution in human thought. But like most revolutionary ideas, Darwinism was, and still is, contested.
We stand for the transformation of human society, from its current basis of greed, exploitation, war, oppression and environmental destruction, to a commonwealth of social ownership, solidarity and human freedom, living in harmony with our planet’s ecosystems.
Deer Hunting With Jesus: Dispatches From America’s Class War
By Joe Bageant
Scribe Publications (2009), 288 pages (pb), $24.95
On October 24, about 5200 actions occurred worldwide as part of a campaign organised by 350.org to demand that political leaders agree to aim to stabilise atmospheric greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations below 350 parts per million (ppm). I attended the event at the Sydney Opera House, along with what I would estimate to be around 700 others.
Earlier this year I criticised the decreasingly radical Green Left Weekly for echoing the conservatives’ claims about the “underlying causes of domestic violence” (see Letters, DA #8).
In Their Own Words
“Disappointing.” – A spokesperson for federal energy minister Martin Ferguson commenting on October 15 on the failure of the PTTEP drilling company to stop an oil leak off the north-west coast that has been emitting at least 400 barrels of petroleum a day since August 24.