Issue 1000

News

This behind-the-scenes look at Green Left Weekly was produced by Green Left TV to celebrate 1000 issues of the paper. )
Beyond Nuclear Initiative released this statement on March 11. *** On the third anniversary of the continuing Fukushima nuclear crisis, environment groups have called on New South Wales Premier Barry O’Farrell and his government to shelve plans for uranium exploration and mining in the state. ACF nuclear free campaigner Dave Sweeney said: “It was confirmed to the federal parliament in October 2011 that Australian uranium directly fuelled Fukushima.
Aboriginal footballer and Australian of the Year, Adam Goodes, has given high praise to John Pilger’s new film Utopia at the same time as condemning the mainstream media for their silence in reviewing the film or mentioning the large crowds that have come out to watch free screenings. In an http://www.theage.com.au/comment/hostility-to-john-pilgers-film-a-denial...
The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) at a Perth university has been forced to the brink of industrial action. University of Western Australia (UWA) management has spent over a year dragging its feet in enterprise bargaining negotiations, but has refused to budge on key issues of pay, workload limits and parking fees.
The Climate Change Authority, the body responsible for setting Australia’s carbon emissions, has recommended that the target for emissions be increased from 5% to 19% below 2000 levels. It also said that in the decade after 2020 the emissions reductions target should be between 40% and 60% below 2000 levels by 2030.
About 1000 Latrobe Valley residents gathered at Kernot Hall in Morwell on March 2 to protest against government and corporate mishandling of the fire in the Hazelwood coalmine. Residents directed their anger at government inaction and misinformation, and corporate negligence by GDF Suez, the multinational operator of the mine and power station. Fire Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley explained to the meeting the efforts and risks being taken by the firefighters.
"Chavismo represents the entry of the ordinary people of Venezuela onto the political stage," former Caracas-based journalist Federico Fuentes told a forum in Sydney on March 4. The forum, “Venezuela: Revolution under attack: The people fight back”, was part of a month of activities to commemorate the death of former Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez on March 5 last year.
In late January, the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) decided not to assess a proposal for fracking in Western Australia’s Kimberley region. Buru Energy plans to conduct 34 fracks in the region starting this year. It intends to conduct most of these fracks at four existing wells: two at Yulleroo, 90 kilometres east of Broome, and two at Valhalla/Asgard, 320 kilometres east of Broome.
About a thousand people took part in the 2014 International Women's Day march in Sydney on March 8. The rights of women workers, single parents, migrant and refugee women and threats to the right to abortion were among the issues highlighted. The organising committee raised as two central demands: "Stop Zoe's Law!" and "Equal pay now!" ""We are facing the biggest attack on our reproductive rights that this country has seen in recent history with the introduction of a foetal personhood law (titled "Zoe's Law") in NSW Parliament.
Several prominent forest advocacy groups, including the Huon Valley Environment Centre and Still Wild Still Threatened, released this joint statement on March 5. *** Australia’s forest advocacy groups have responded to Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s attack on forests and praise for the industry that destroys them. Many of Australia’s forest conservation groups have been working to have the remaining forests and the wildlife within them protected over the decades.
The Coaliton for Justice and Peace in Palestine released this statement on March 7. *** Associate Professor Jake Lynch, Director of Sydney University’s Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, has been taken to the Federal Court of Australia in a legal action brought by Shurat HaDin, the Israel Law Centre, alleging racial discrimination due to his support of the Palestinian call for an academic boycott of Israel.
Pro-choice activists are concerned that a bill that aims to give foetuses legal rights for the first time was not debated in the NSW Legislative Council on March 6. They wanted it to be tabled and voted on because they were confident it would be defeated. The bill known as Zoe’s Law was listed for debate but Liberal MP Marie Ficarra did not table it. Later, it was rumoured that the bill’s supporters could only count on 10 votes. Last November, the bill passed through the NSW Legislative Assembly, 63 to 26.
One of the most important initiatives that can be taken to revitalise manufacturing in NSW is to implement policies that will encourage the rapid development of renewable energy products. The one thing we should not be doing is developing new coalmines.
The EarthWorker Cooperative is off to a good start this year, as it begins to distribute its renewable energy products. The EarthWorker project has been the result of a 16-year development between trade unions and green movements across the country, also involving small-scale businesses that have been financially damaged by the neoliberal policies of the state and federal governments for the past two decades.
World Autism Awareness Day will be held on April 2 and members of the autistic self-advocacy movement are campaigning for basic services and social acceptance. Autistic activists from groups like the Geneva-based Autistic Minority International, Wrong Planet and the Autistic Self Advocacy Network are organising to be heard as a community rather than being primarily represented by experts and professionals in the field.
The Socialist Alliance Victoria released this statement on March 2. *** The mine fire that has been burning since February 9 is an immediate and serious threat to the health of residents in Morwell and other towns near the Hazelwood mine. Immediate health threats include: elevated levels of carbon monoxide, a toxic gas; fine particulate pollution in the PM2.5 and PM10 size range; ash fallout over the area, potentially containing many toxic compounds; carcinogenic compounds in ash and particulates.

Analysis

When the CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology released their State Of The Climate 2014 report on March 4 it should have made headlines for days, provoked a big parliamentary discussion and a public debate about the emergency action we need to take to address the climate crisis. But it didn't. The report made the news for a day but the main impression put across mainstream media was that Australia was getting wetter. That's good news, right?
You can tell how good a newspaper is from the enemies it keeps. The Australian wrote a sneering dismissal of the new Saturday Paper, launched last weekend, and used its ultimate insult by comparing the new paper to Green Left Weekly, calling GLW “ignorant, moralistic and simplistic”.
For the past eight months, I worked at a well-known retail chain for a fraction of the cost of other employees. I am 16-years-old and was being paid “youth wages”. I resigned at the end of February, even though I enjoyed working there. I was receiving second-class wages for the same work as older workers with the same position. When I originally applied for the job in June last year, I was told that my pay would be scaled down a certain percentage for every year under 21 years of age I was.
John Fenton is a farmer from Wyoming in the United States who has 24 gas wells on his property. He recently toured Australia to speak about the environmental and health impacts the gas industry has had on his land and community. He spoke at 11 meetings in gas hotspots throughout Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, organised by the Greens and Lock the Gate Alliance. These meetings were well attended. In Narrabri, in northern New South Wales, 600 people came to hear him speak.
A report commissioned by the Victorian branch of the Electrical Trades Union (ETU) shows that energy sector privatisation in Australia has been "a dismal failure", which has produced "no benefits" for consumers, but has resulted in "large fiscal losses" for taxpayers. Economist John Quiggin, from the University of Queensland, reviewed energy sector privatisation and the related process of electricity market reform between the early 1990s and now, and found no long-term benefits for either governments or consumers.
The federal Coalition government is set on a path of unprecedented cuts to public services; Medicare is under threat, as are workers' penalty rates. Added to this is the large-scale selling out of action on climate change along with important natural environments, such as forests and the Great Barrier Reef, to make way for destructive mining and logging industries.
Shares in Qantas were traded at $1.25 on February 21, the highest price since October last year. Anyone with more than a passing interest in the stock exchange would know that the company has been in deep trouble for some years. In October 2011, it stranded thousands of its passengers after it grounded its entire worldwide fleet during a union dispute. When rumours began circulating throughout the media after its half-yearly report meeting that Qantas was preparing to shed thousands of jobs at, its share price began to rise. Sacking workers is a profitable sign for speculators.
These are dark times for would-be political satirists. We've now got a self-proclaimed “government of adults” headed by Tony Abbott and featuring the likes of Christopher Pyne and Cory Bernardi. These jokes are just impossible to top.

World

The Spanish government’s response to the move by armed Basque pro-independence organisation Basque Homeland and Freedom (ETA) to put its weapons beyond use has clearly demonstrated it favours continuing conflict over peace. On February 21, ETA released a video showing two of its members meeting with representatives of the International Verification Commission. The IVC were inspecting weapons that had been put beyond operational use.
Scotland will vote on September 18 on whether to become an independent nation or stay in the British “union” led by England that includes Wales and Northern Ireland. Independence is opposed by major political parties in Westminster and establishment forces in England and Scotland. However, support for independence is growing.
More than 350 climate activists were arrested March 2 in Washington, DC, after zip-tying themselves to the White House fence. The civil disobedience action was the highlight of two days of protest, dubbed XL Dissent by organisers, to demand that the Obama administration reject building the Keystone XL pipeline. The pipeline runs from Canada through the US and will shift oil from tar sands in Canada, which emits more greenhouse gases than conventional oil when burned. The Obama administration is yet to make a decision on allowing a key part of the pipeline to be built.
It has been 10 years since the February 29, 2004, coup d’etat that ousted the democratically-elected government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide in Haiti. Paramilitary groups ― including many former members of Haiti’s disbanded army and CIA-funded death squads ― engaged in a campaign of violence directed against supporters of the government and the Haitian National Police (HNP), for years before the coup.
Around 6.40am on Feburary 19, a United States Border Patrol agent shot and killed Jesus Flores Cruz, a 41-year-old Mexican national, four miles east of the Otay Mesa port of entry to the US in southern San Diego. Employing what has become an all-too-familiar explanation, authorities said Flores Cruz, an unauthorised migrant, pelted the agent with rocks. Reportedly fearing for his well-being, the agent shot his pistol twice, fatally wounding the alleged attacker.
Venezuela has commemorated the one year anniversary of the death of former president Hugo Chavez with rallies across the country. Supporters of the late socialist president turned out in hundreds of thousands for official commemoration services. In a show of support for the revolutionary process Chavez led, in Caracas crowds in red flooded the city centre for military and civil parades. Supporters of social programs launched under Chavez, along with social movements aligned with the government of President Nicolas Maduro also rallied in the capital.
Venezuelan opposition protesters in Caracas attacked three journalists after a march demanding “greater freedom of the press”. Meanwhile, barricades in Tachira state have claimed another life. Luis Gutierrez Camargo was killed instantly during a collision with an opposition roadblock in Tachira on March 4, communication minister Delcy Rodriguez announced via Twitter. Rodriguez condemned the use of street barricades, describing them as “murderous methods”.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced his country was severing all diplomatic and economic ties with Panama after its government sought the intervention of the Organization of American States (OAS) into Venezuela’s domestic affairs. The move came as the US House of Representatives approved a motion calling on countries in the region to stand in solidarity with protesters currently seeking to topple Maduro. Maduro saidright-wing Panamanian president Ricardo Martinelli has been “actively working against Venezuela”.
Millions of Colombians are set to the ballot box on March 9 to vote for the country's Senate and Chamber of Representatives. Presidential elections themselves are not until May, but Congress elections are no less important as the left wing parties fight for space in one of Latin America’s most, if not the most, conservative-led countries.
The February 21 collapse of the government of Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich in the face of anti-corruption protests has led to the most serious confrontation between the US and Russia since the end of the Cold War. The Russian Federation is not the superpower the Soviet Union once was, but it remains the world’s second largest nuclear power after the US, which has about 80% of the world’s nuclear weapons. The US and its allies are insisting that Ukraine is indivisible, including the autonomous region of Crimea.
Below, Australia Venezuela Solidarity Network activist Federico Fuentes, provides answers to common questions about recent events in Venezuela. Key facts are referenced, largely from media outlets that could not be identified as pro-government. * * * Is recent unrest in Venezuela due to government repression against peaceful protests?

Culture

“It's no secret that many of the actors at the Oscars were wearing borrowed clothes and jewellery after being feted by designers keen for a priceless plug,” the Sydney Morning Herald said on March 5. “But not many would have been lent a suit because they couldn't afford one.”
This article on 10 thought-provoking lyrics from Native rap artists in the US first appeared at Indian Country Today Media Network. ***

There’s always a verse, hook, or rhyme that listeners hear and say – whoa, I wasn’t expecting that. But, regardless of its effect, we find ourselves singing along to it.

Necrocracy Exhumed Relapse Records Released August 6, 2013 www.relapse.com/exhumed Californian death metal band Exhumed couch their cutting politics in horror-themed lyrics. Green Left Weekly's Mat Ward spoke to frontman Matt Harvey. ***
A fresh protest by fans in Australia's A-League football (soccer) competition against restrictions on their rights took place at Parramatta Stadium on March 2 in a match between the Western Sydney Wanderers and the Newcastle Jets. The Red and Black Bloc (RBB), the “active support” group for the Wanderers sat still in their seats for the entire match in a 90-minute long “silent protest”.
Their names are Jawhar Nasser Jawhar, 19, and Adam Abd al-Raouf Halabiya, 17. They were once soccer players in the West Bank. Now they will never play sports again. Jawhar and Adam were on their way home from training in the Faisal al-Husseini Stadium on January 31 when Israeli forces fired on them as they approached a checkpoint. After being shot repeatedly, they were mauled by checkpoint dogs and then beaten. Ten bullets were put into Jawhar’s feet. Adam took one bullet in each foot.

Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

A path to socialism ― building on Chavez's legacy It is now one year since the unfortunate death of Hugo Chavez on March 5, 2013, writes Venezuela-based Canadian socialist Michael Lebowitz. How Chavez will be remembered depends significantly on whether we build upon the foundations he began, and advance the struggle for a humanist socialism of the 21st century. Ukraine: Views from the left