Issue 1017

News

The Community and Public Services Union (CPSU) has slammed a move by the federal government's biggest department, the Department of Human Services, which incorporates Centrelink, Medicare and the Child Support Agency, to force staff to work extra time for no additional pay. The department wants its 35,000 staff to work an additional half hour a week in negotiations for a new industrial agreement.
Students for Women’s Only Services released this statement on July 14. *** Candles, as well as petitions, will be given out at a Sydney rally to shine a light on the statewide closure of independent women’s homelessness services. University students have organised the vigil for July 24 in Pitt St Mall at 5.30pm and hope to gain the attention and signatures of late-night shoppers.
Aboriginal communities from across Australia met in Brisbane on July 11 to attend a day of protest and planning against the ongoing removal of children from Aboriginal families. Aunty Karen Fusi from the Brisbane Aboriginal Sovereign Embassy and Aunty Hazel Collins from Grandmothers Against Removal Gunnedah told the National Forum Against Ongoing Stolen Generations that child removal is having devastating effects on families and communities.
Anti-coal activist Jonathan Moylan is awaiting sentencing after Justice David Davies adjourned his decision at a Supreme Court hearing in Sydney on July 11. On the same day, more than 100 people gathered outside the court in a silent vigil to support Moylan. Moylan pleaded guilty in May this year to one count of disseminating false information to the market, after being charged last year under the Corporations Act 2001 for making a “false or misleading” statement.
The Australian government's efforts to pressure Cambodia to take refugees from Christmas Island is fraught with risks, experts told a forum organised by the Refugee Action Coalition (RAC) on July 14. Kyja Noack-Lundberg from RAC told the meeting that Cambodia could soon be signing a memorandum of understanding with the Australian government to resettle refugees from Nauru. The deal being negotiated between Australia and Cambodia appeared to be on track in May, however news of it has all but disappeared from the media since then.
The case of 153 asylum seekers from Sri Lanka taken into Australian custody at sea returned to the High Court on July 18. Due to government secrecy, court proceedings have so far been the only reliable source of information about what is happening to the group. Documents submitted to the High Court on July 17 revealed further details about the conditions in which 153 Tamil asylum seekers are being held. Lawyers representing 86 of those taken aboard an Australian Customs ship but not brought to Australia say the asylum seekers have not been able to make any formal refugee claims.
NSW Premier Mike Baird has pushed ahead with plans to privatise the state's power network, without waiting for the results of the NSW election in March next year. The Stop the Sell Off campaign has condemned the move, saying it makes a mockery of the premier's claim that he would seek a mandate from voters before pressing on with the sale of 49% of the state-owned electricity network businesses Ausgrid, Endeavour Energy, Transgrid and Essential Energy.
Journalist Nic Maclellan spoke at a public meeting in Melbourne on July 10 about his visit to New Caledonia to observe the May 11 elections. Maclellan said New Caledonia was colonised by France in 1853. Indigenous Kanaks have been reduced to a minority in their own country. Kanaks are now 44% of the population. In addition to settlers from France itself, there are also people from other French colonies in the Pacific (Tahiti, Wallis and Futuna), as well as people whose ancestors came from former French colonies such as Vietnam and Algeria.

Analysis

Thousands of people in Sydney joined many demonstrations around the world in support of Palestine on July 20, staging an angry demonstration starting at Town Hall.
You know, there is a lot of ridiculous and quite unfair criticism of Israel floating around, simply because it has been relentlessly bombing 1.5 million people trapped in a 360 square kilometre open-air prison over which it maintains a brutal siege and has slaughtered hundreds of people including dozens of children, supposedly in retaliation for homemade rockets fired from Gaza that has kill a total of one person in the current conflict. But there is a little reported story that shows exactly what Israel's true values are.
Numerous wind farm developments across Victoria may face termination due to the highly inflexible and restrictive nature of the Denis Napthine government’s anti-wind farm laws and permit rules. The Weekly Times reported that the 20 companies granted permits before the introduction of these laws have been denied the ability to make simple upgrades to their turbines.
It was the theme du jour at the B20 gathering in Sydney, which brought together more than 300 business leaders seeking to shape the agenda of the G20: Business knows best so leave the big decisions to us. Prime Minister Tony Abbott said it and numerous self-serving CEOs happily served as a chorus. But the standout croaky voice was that of global media mogul Rupert Murdoch: “Everybody in this room knows dozens or hundreds of very, very fine businessmen. How many people know a politician who can run a business?”
Two teenage asylum seekers have been taken from their homes in a community detention program in Adelaide’s inner-northern suburbs and sent to a closed detention centre, causing other young asylum seekers to run away from their homes in fear. On June 26, two young Vietnamese asylum seekers, who attended Woodville High School, were taken from their homes and detained by the immigration department.
Australian swimmer Ian Thorpe came out in an interview with Michael Parkinson on July 13. Thorpe is a sporting hero. He has smashed 22 world records and won five gold, three silver and one bronze Olympic medals. He retired from professional swimming in 2012 after battling depression. In the interview, Thorpe said: "I'm not straight and this is only something that very recently — we're talking in the past two weeks — I've been comfortable telling the closest people around me."
ABOUT 10,000 PEOPLE rallied in Melbourne on July 12 to protest against Israel's attack on Gaza. Samah Sabawi, a playwright, poet, political analyst and human rights advocate originally from Gaza, gave the speech below to the rally. *** As Israel continues its ruthless bombardment of the Gaza Strip, Palestinians in Gaza have been sending their messages to the world using social media. They want us to hear their voices and to carry them to those around us. I will start by honouring their request and sharing with you some of their messages.
One petition I saw circulating recently called for both Israel and Hamas to put down their weapons. I dispute this approach that blames both sides equally. Israel is the aggressor. Not only is Israel bombing indiscriminately with a view to maximising civilian casualties, it continues to maintain its inhumane and illegal siege of Gaza. The kidnapping and murder of the Israeli teenagers was simply a pretext. There is no evidence that it was a Palestinian or a Hamas member who killed the teenagers. Israel has set itself as judge, jury and executioner. 
The Royal Commission into the Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has asked for another $104 million from the federal government to hold hearings until the end of 2017. The commission has released an interim report, for which they held more than 1600 private sessions and received more than 1600 written accounts from survivors of sexual abuse.

World

Before May 25, there were no elected representatives of what is called the “radical” left in Belgium, unlike in other countries in Europe. This anomaly has now been corrected. The Belgian Workers’ Party-Left Opening! (PTB-GO!) lists are sending two members to the Belgian federal Chamber of Deputies, two to the Walloon parliament and four to the parliament of the Brussels-Capital region.
With tanks rolling through the outskirts of Gaza and the Israeli Defense Force organises new air strikes targeting hospitals and civilians playing football on the beach, almost 100 protests took place right across the world on July 19 and 20, calling for an end to the brutal occupation of Palestine and the bombing of Gaza.
The statement below was issued as a “declaration of the assembly of citizens of Ukraine and representatives of international solidarity networks” at an anti-war conference in Yalta, Crimea on July 7. The text is reprinted from Canadian socialist Roger Annis's blog, who attended the conference and signed the statement. You can read the full list of signatories to the statement. * * *
The article below draws its information substantially from ABC Radio National's Background Briefing program "Deep sea riches could spark Pacific mining boom" from October 20 last year by reporter Ann Arnold. You can listen to the program or read the full ABC Radio National Background Briefing program transcript. * * * If you had to pick one place in the world that could be considered safe from the rabid expansion of the mining industry, you might choose the deep sea floor.
The publication of a document highly critical of the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, authored by one of the longest-serving ministers in former president Hugo Chavez’s government, has triggered an unprecedented debate among Venezuelan revolutionaries. Jorge Giordani dropped the bombshell on June 18, a day after he was replaced as planning minister. This was preceded by his dismissal from the boards of Venezuela's Central Bank and state oil company PDVSA, the state oil company. He had held the post almost uninterruptedly since Chavez first came to power in 1999. .
When you travel through France, there’s one name that appears most in public space ― on streets, schools and metro stations. Not Jeanne d’Arc, Napoleon, or even World War II resistance leader and later president Charles de Gaulle. No, the name you can pretty safely bet you’ll find on some sign in the next sleepy village is that of Jean Jaures. Jaures was France’s most famous socialist leader and deputy, a tenacious and passionate fighter for workers’ rights and against war, anti-Semitism, clericalism and colonialism.
In Slovenia, the left has broken the vicious circle of anti-communism in the post-Yugoslav context. All the commentators say the United Left Coalition (ULC) was the biggest surprise in the July 13 parliamentary elections. But the path was difficult. The ULC was formed for the May 25 European elections. It is made up of the Party for Sustainable Development (TRS), the Democratic Labor Party (DSD) and the Initiative for Democratic Socialism (IDS). From early on, the ULC was marginalised by the mainstream.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is trying to make good on his announcement on July 11 that his army, or the fascist militias fighting alongside it, will kill “dozens and hundreds” of people in the east of the country for every Ukraine soldier dying in the war his regime is waging there. Since his pronouncement, his armed forces have been bombarding cities and towns in south-east Ukraine. Fighter aircraft, tanks and other armoured vehicles are engaged.
GREEN LEFT WEEKLY EDITORIAL The apparent shooting down of Malaysia Airlines passenger flight MH17 is an unspeakable tragedy and a criminal act that has sent shock waves around the world. Green Left Weekly offers our condolences to the families of all its victims. Nobody yet knows who was responsible for this crime, despite Western media and governments pointing the finger at either the rebel forces in Ukraine's east, which the West accuses Russia of arming, or the Russian military itself.
France bans pro-Palestine protests “France's Socialist government provoked outrage today by becoming the first in the world to ban protests against Israeli action in Palestine,” the Daily Mail reported on July 18. “In what is viewed as an outrageous attack on democracy, Socialist Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said mass demonstrations planned for the weekend should be halted … Thousands were set to march against the ongoing slaughter in Gaza.
In a September 2006 article for the Electronic Intifada, I defined the Israeli policy towards the Gaza Strip as an incremental genocide. Israel’s present assault on Gaza alas indicates that this policy continues unabated. The term is important since it appropriately locates Israel’s barbaric action ― then and now ― within a wider historical context.
Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro has launched an “SOS Palestine” campaign to demand an end to Israel’s ongoing bombardment of Palestine’s Gaza strip, Venezuela Analysis said on July 12. “Enough already, I’ve joined the campaign,” he told supporters during a televised broadcast. “#SOS Palestina, let’s launch it.” Holding up a handwritten placard, he asked fellow citizens to join the campaign, stating, “The Palestinian people have the right to live in their ancestral lands in peace.”
A US drone attack in North Waziristan in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) killed 20 people on July 16. It brought the number of people killed by US drones in North Waziristan since June 12 to 50. The July 16 Nation reported, “five drones are still flying over the Datta Khel area and hampering the relief activities underway there. This … is fomenting a fear of the death toll rising.”
News has broken that Israel has now followed its sustained air bombardment of the besieged Gaza Strip, which has already killed at least 230 people, with a ground invasion. This weekend, rallies are being held in cities across Australia to rally for Palestine int he face of Israel's carnage (details below).
The unofficially successful bid for presidency Joko Widodo (popularly known as Jokowi) is “unprecedented thus far in post-authoritarian Indonesia”, according to Dr Vannessa Hearman, a lecturer in Indonesian Studies at the University of Sydney. The bid survived a vicious anti-communist smear campaign by supporters of Jokowi's sole contender for presidency — the sacked former Suharto-era general Prabowo Subianto.
Joint statement by Asia-Pacific left organisations In the past week, Israeli military forces have escalated their offensive on the Gaza Strip. Israeli warplanes have increasingly targeted houses, civilian-populated areas and civilian facilities in the Gaza strip. Israeli warplanes have destroyed a number of houses while their residents were inside, without any prior warnings, killing and wounding many Palestinian civilians.

Culture

All The News That’s Fit to Sing David Rovics Released July 4 www.davidrovics.bandcamp.com So here it is, the latest album from prolific radical songwriter David Rovics All The News That's Fit to Sing. It contains some completely new songs and some previously released some already available on Youtube, some that die-hard fans might have heard on the sneak preview Rovics gave on his Spreaker online radio show, “June in History and Song”.
The old rocker who owns the local music store has a t-shirt on display that reads: “When words fail ... music speaks.” One could also say that when speech fails, David Rovics sings. As Wally Brooker recently noted about the US folk singer: “What's striking about Rovics is his ability to bring first-hand reports of local struggles from around the world to each community that he visits.”
Capital in the 21st Century Thomas Piketty Havard University Press, 2014 US$39.95, 696 pages By now, perhaps, you’ve heard the fuss about French economist Thomas Piketty’s new book Capital in the 21st Century, but haven’t been able to carve out time to read it. Waiting for a movie version? It could be a long time coming (more on that below). In the meantime, here are some critical takeaways, and omissions, for labour activists.