Five decades ago, on August 10, 1961, U.S. forces conducted the first spraying mission of so-called “herbicides” or “defoliants,” beginning the chemical warfare which lasted for almost 10 years (1961-71). The use of Agent Orange brought about untold human death and suffering, as well as environmental destruction to South Vietnam and surrounding areas.
International News & Analysis
Despite the Vietnam War ending 35 years ago the US chemical bombardment of Vietnam is still claiming victims. More than 3 million Vietnamese have suffered the effects of Agent Orange – the nickname given to dioxin rich herbicides sprayed by the US military over large parts of central and southern Vietnam.
“I’d do it exactly the same all over again”, Fidel Castro insisted on July 24, making one of his first public appearances since a devastating intestinal illness in 2006 forced him from the public eye. The former president was referring to the failed 1953 attack he led against the Moncada Barracks in Oriente province, which proved to be the opening salvo in the Cuban Revolution.
San Francisco – The firing of African American Shirley Sherrod from her job with the Department of Agriculture, where she worked to help the rural poor for decades, has again brought to the fore the oppression of black people.
Jakarta – Under the theme “Unite against capitalism and the regime that supports it, build a united national labour movement that is progressive, militant, democratic and independent”, on July 9, 76 labour union representatives from around the country gathered in the Jakarta satellite city of Bogor for a three-day congress to establish a new union federation, the Indonesian Labour
Jakarta – At around 2.30am on June 28, a group of men arrived at a major news distribution outlet in Central Jakarta. “We want to buy all copies of this magazine”, said one, pointing to Tempo, hot off the press with a cover story titled “Police officers’ fat bank accounts”.
Haneen Zoabi, a member of the Israeli Knesset, was stripped of her parliamentary privileges on July 13 following her participation in the Gaza flotilla, which was attacked by Israeli commandos who murdered nine human rights activists.
On July 1, US President Barack Obama signed into law a new bill that imposes unilateral US sanctions targeting foreign companies that sell petroleum products to Iran. On July 26, the European Union followed suit. New EU sanctions include a ban on the sale of equipment and services to Iran’s energy sector.
On September 26 the people of Venezuela will again head to the polls, to vote for the 165-member National Assembly.
US military authorities announced the laying of charges against Bradley Manning, a 22-year-old military intelligence analyst, on July 6. Manning was accused of leaking classified US military information through the whistle-blower web site Wikileaks.
Canadian G20 protests
A new high of hysteria and aggression by the Canadian state marked the G20 meeting held in Toronto June 26-27. Reportedly US$1.2 billion was spent by the Integrated Security Unit (ISU) (a trumped up name for police) to protect the ruling class together with the bourgeois media.
Australian News & Analysis
Statement from Hamish Chitts, Revolutionary Socialist Party candidate for Griffith:
Thousands of waterside workers across Australia mourned the death of yet another workmate and comrade on July 23, walking off the job to attend memorial services and shutting all ports for nearly 24 hours.
The increasing isolation of the Israeli state as a result of its assault on Palestinians in Gaza in late 2008 and the slaying of nine solidarity activists on the MV Mavi Marmara aid ship in June has given rise to a qualitative change in support to the rights of Palestinians within the Australian union movement.
The continuing trial of construction union (CFMEU) member Ark Tribe before Adelaide’s Magistrate Court has again led to big rallies across Australia, with about 10,000 unionists marching on July 20 in all capital cities and in a number of regional centres.
The Northern Territory Emergency Response legislation, commonly referred to as the NT Intervention, is a prime example of the ALP’s and Coalition’s bipartisan approach to racism. Initiated by the Howard government months before it lost the 2007 election, the intervention was readily continued by the Labor government.
While the ALP and the Liberal-National Coalition put on grand theatrics on how different they are from each other (usually with no actual basis) when it comes to foreign policy neither party seems willing to display any difference.
July 17 in the Myer Centre, Brisbane: activists target Israeli cosmetics company Seacret as part of the international boycott, divestment, sanctions campaign against apartheid Israel.
A north Queensland couple will face court in Cairns on October 12 on charges brought under the state’s anti-abortion laws. A woman is facing charges for intent to procure a miscarriage, which carries a penalty of up to seven years in prison. Her partner is facing charges for assisting her, which carries a penalty of up to three years in prison.
The current federal election campaign is proceeding and will proceed until August 21 without the issue of climate change being seriously discussed. Neither the Labor Party nor the Liberal-National Coalition wants a serious discussion of the issue. Julia Gillard announced a “new” policy of doing nothing, except for a Rudd-style talk-fest to be called a “Citizens’ Assembly”.
Without a doubt, the biggest winners of the 2010 federal election will be the huge corporations that run Australia.
On August 14, thousands of people will rally around Australia for equal marriage rights regardless of sex, sexuality, or gender identity. This will be the 7th annual national August mobilisation protesting the Marriage Amendment Bill, passed by the federal parliament on August 13, 2004, which banned the legal recognition of same-sex marriage in Australia.
On June 24, Julia Gillard was sworn in as Australia’s first woman prime minister after the right-wing faction withdrew its support for Kevin Rudd. Rudd’s support had evaporated so quickly that he didn’t even contest the leadership ballot. This made Rudd one of the shortest serving prime ministers, the shortest being Frank Forde who held the office for eight days in 1945.
As news filtered through within minutes of the latest death on the waterfront that Thursday morning, every wharfie froze. Who? Where? And more pertinently, why ... yet again?
Australian Palestine solidarity activists and supporters of human rights will gather in Melbourne in October for the first national conference in support of the Palestinian-initiated boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign.
Van Rudd for Lalor (Vic)
Van Thanh Rudd was born in Nambour, Queensland and is currently working as a visual artist in Melbourne's west. His involvement in the arts over the last 15 years included his early obsession with landscape painting around Nambour and Brisbane. Once moving to Melbourne in 1995, he studied figure drawing in various community venues around Melbourne.
Like in the rest of the world, workers in Australia have suffered almost three decades of what has been described here as “economic rationalism” and in the rest of the world as “neoliberal reforms”. These “reforms” have entailed massive privatisation of government-owned business and utilities such as banks, airlines, power stations, urban public transport, etc.
Views, Discussion & Debate
Racism is at the forefront of the 2010 Australian election.
Julia Gillard’s successful challenge to Kevin Rudd for leadership of the federal ALP on June 24 delivered Australia its first female prime minister. Sydney Morning Herald journalist Josephine Tovey wrote the next day that, “While her role as the first female Prime Minister will make her a hero to many women, it is her actions that will keep her being one ...
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.
“The ultimate reason for all real crises”, Karl Marx argued in Capital, his seminal work on the laws of motion of the capitalist system, “always remains the poverty and restricted consumption of the masses as opposed to the drive of capitalist production to develop the productive forces as though only the absolute consuming power of society constituted their outer limit”.
It’s easy enough to see that there are many things in this world that need changing. Figuring out how to change them is a bit more complicated.
North Star – A Memoir
By Peter Camejo
Haymarket Books, Chicago, 2010
In Their Own Words
“It’s the sort of radical proposal that often comes up in these sort of reports that goes too far.” – John Brogden, chief executive of the finance industry’s lobby group, on the Cooper review’s proposal that the finance industry should take less of our superannuation.