Issue 1018

Australia

Anti-coal activist Jonathan Moylan was sentenced at a hearing of the Supreme Court in Sydney on July 25. He was sentenced to one year and eight months imprisonment, but was released immediately on a two-year good behaviour bond with $1000 surety.

Moylan was charged under the Corporations Act for issuing a press release on ANZ letterhead saying the bank had withdrawn its $1.2 billion loan facility from Whitehaven’s Maules Creek Coal Project on environmental and ethical grounds. Whitehaven’s share price temporarily fell before quickly recovering.

The Refugee Action Coalition held a rally on July 19 demanding the Sri Lankan asylum seekers imprisoned on an Australian Customs boat in an unspecified location, be brought to Australia.

During a High Court hearing on July 22 it was revealed there are 157 asylum seekers on board the boat, not 153 as previously reported, and they are allowed only three hours of daylight a day.

At the weekly meeting of Unions NSW, unionists handed an open letter to Secretary Mark Lennon, calling for it to organise another daytime mass delegates meeting of all unions following the July 6 “Bust the Budget” rally and to plan for a NSW-wide strike.

The letter also calls on Unions NSW to call a weekday stopwork protest against the budget and coordinate with the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) and other state union peak bodies to turn this into a national day of action.

A small group of eight people from the racist, far right "Party For Freedom" held a protest outside Woolworth's supermarket in Marrickville on July 26.

They were objecting to a sign saying "Happy Ramadan" the store had put up earlier in the week.

The Party for Freedom is a newly formed group that grew out of the white nationalist Australian Protectionist Party.

The campaign against the East West Link received a boost on July 18 when the Moreland Council voted to take legal action against the Victorian state government in the Supreme Court in a bid to overturn planning minister Matthew Guy’s approval of the unpopular motorway.

The proposed East West Link is an 18-kilometre tollway between the Eastern Freeway in Collingwood and the Western Ring Road in Sunshine West.

In a special meeting, the councillors voted six to two to take the legal action, challenging the process by which the minister made the decision to give the project a green light.

Two Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) members addressed Unions NSW on July 17 about their dispute with Ausreo for wage parity with their Victorian counterparts.

Ausreo supplies concrete reinforcing products to the building and construction industry. According to its website, it “takes pride in manufacturing products which meet the highest industry standards and providing superior services and support to match”.

The Feminist Collective and newly-formed group the No Shelter Collective held a meeting at the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre on July 16 to address the NSW state government’s plans to defund key women and children’s refuges across the state.

About 130 people came to hear about government plans to defund around 80 specialist refuges, which could potentially force many women and children’s refuges to shut down, or be handed over to be run by private organisations.

Many women’s refuges have already been shut down or are under the process of being handed over.

World

For the second consecutive Saturday, a huge demonstration took place for Gaza in London on 26 July.

The Independent said: "Tens of thousands of people amassed outside the Israeli embassy in London today to protest against Israel's incursion into Gaza which has killed over 1000 Palestinians, including at least 192 children.

Everyone should be concerned about the June 30 US Supreme Court’s ruling in favour of retail arts and crafts company Hobby Lobby.

Along with two other family-owned firms, it sued the federal government, saying they should not have to pay for health insurance plans covering four contraceptives to which they object on religious grounds.

The decision represents an expansion of corporations’ rights at the expense of workers, health care provision and women’s reproductive health choice — all in the name of protecting religious freedom.

After the June summit meeting of the G77 + China leaders held in Santa Cruz, the Bolivian government and the Bolivian Workers Central (COB) sponsored an “Anti-Imperialist International Trade Union Conference” in Cochabamba over June 30-July 2.

The conference was attended by representatives of unions in 22 countries who are affiliated with the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU).

Palestine solidarity protesters burned their TV licences in front of BBC Bristol’s HQ on July 28 in protest at the broadcaster’s biased coverage of Israel’s onslaught on Gaza.

Peace activists began their occupation of BBC Bristol’s grounds on July 23.

The act of civil disobedience came after campaigners handed a dossier to BBC bosses providing examples of biased reporting of Israel’s war on the Palestinians.

It came after the BBC issued “notice to quit” letters in past couple opf days threatening court action if the protesters don’t end their “illegal occupation.”

The Brazilian government recalled its ambassador from Tel Aviv on July 23, the Wall Street Journal said the next day. Brazil condemned the "disproportionate use of force" by Israel in a military offensive in Gaza.

Brazil's foreign ministry said in aJuly 23 statement: "We strongly condemn the disproportionate use of force by Israel in the Gaza Strip, from which large numbers of civilian casualties, including women and children, resulted.

"The Brazilian government considers unacceptable the escalation of violence between Israel and Palestine," it added.

Malaysian Airlines lost its second Boeing 777 this year on July 17, when flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was apparently hit by a missile over war-torn Eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board.

The incident happened while the Ukrainian army was carrying out a huge land and air offensive to crush breakaway republics in eastern Ukraine, over whose territory the plane was shot down.

Most passengers were Dutch, but 38 Australians were also killed.

During a recent visit to China, Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa signed an agreement to give China 1200 acres of land in the Trincomalee area on a long term lease for “defence-related development”.

Part of this land is occupied by temples, mosques, schools and houses. The Tamilnet website said about 450 families will lose their homes. Those affected are mainly Tamil-speaking Muslims.

China’s plans for the area are unknown. However, Trincomalee’s renowned natural harbour, situated on the north-east coast of the island of Sri Lanka, was used as a naval base by the British.

One of the most important public debates over the future of Venezuela’s revolutionary process has opened up after the publication of a document by recently ousted planning minister Jorge Giordani.

In it, Giordani launched a series of scathing criticisms of the “new path” he says the government has taken since former president Hugo Chavez died in March last year.

Giordani dropped the bombshell on June 18, a day after he was removed from the post he had held almost uninterruptedly since 1999.

Data Brainanta is one of quite a few Indonesian socialists who have been supporting the successful presidential bid of Joko Widodo, or “Jokowi” as he is popularly known.

So he was happy when Indonesia's electoral commission (KPU) finally confirmed on July 22 that Jokowi had defeated his sole contender, the sacked former Suharto-era general Prabowo Subianto, by 57% to 43% of the nearly 130 million direct votes cast on July 9.

The city of Detroit has been declared bankrupt, reeling from the closure of many auto plants and related enterprises that were once the backbone of the city.

City administrators are making working people bear the brunt of this severe economic crisis. They are driving many out of their homes and out of the city, while a small area is gentrified.

Whole neighbourhoods are disaster areas. Schools and community centres are being shut.

Now a new twist has been added -- cutting off water to the poorest, creating a humanitarian and health crisis.

British Prime Minister David Cameron may want a politics-free Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, but campaigners have railed against sponsors’ links to deaths and human rights abuses at home and abroad.

The Tory PM told business leaders on a jaunt to Glasgow University on July 23 that he wanted to steer clear of politics as the clock wound down to the games opening ceremony. A crowd of protesters thronged outside the university library where he spoke, with picketers ranging from the Radical Independence Coalition to Our People’s National Health Service.

When the Palestinian national football (soccer) team secured entry into the 2015 Asia Cup to be played next January in Australia, it won the right to play in an international tournament for the first time in its 86-year history.

Crowds gathered by the hundreds on the beaches in Gaza to dance, play music and watch the triumph of their national team on large movie-sized television screens on the beaches.

Ireland: Sports fans fly flags for Gaza

Dublin Gaelic Athletics Association fans unfurled a huge banner reading “Free Gaza” during the Leinster Senior Football Final on July 20, while Palestinian flags were flown by crowds at other sporting events across the country.

Marta Harnecker, a veteran Chilean-born author and politcal analyst who as an advisor to the government of late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez between 2004-11, spoke to Jose P. Gurrero about the new left-wing government in El Salvador.

Mississippi cuts $1,3 billion from schools, gives $1.3 billion to Nissan

“Since 2008, Mississippi has violated a constitutional mandate to adequately fund the state’s public K-12 schools,” Reader Supported News said on July 23. “Mississippi has spent $648 less per student than it did in 2008. Currently, Mississippi has underfunded its public schools by at least [US]$1.3 billion.

Tens of thousands of Palestinians marched across the West Bank on July 25, following large protests the day before that in with Israeli bullets.

The largest rallies in years in the occupied territory came as Israel's ongoing assault on the Gaza Strip killed at least 850 people, including hundreds of children.

Israel has fired on protesters, shooting at least nine dead, Electronic Intifada said that day.

Ecuador withdrew its ambassador from Tel Aviv on July 18 in protest at Israel's offensive, which has already killed more than 700 Palestinians. Middle East Monitor reported that Ecuador's foreign minister Ricardo Patino said: “We condemn the Israeli military incursion into Palestinian territory, we require cessation of operations and indiscriminate attacks against civilians.”

If military victory and strength are measured by the number of civilians, especially children, that an army can deliberately target and slaughter with sophisticated machines, then there is no doubt that Israel is winning in Gaza — and has always been the winner in Palestine.

The United Nations Human Rights Council voted on July 23 to launch an international inquiry into allegations of human rights violations and war crimes committed by Israel during its latest bloody assault on the besieged Gaza Strip that began on July 7.

Analysis

The minister of the death stare (and foreign affairs) Julie Bishop would like us to believe she cares about people and their suffering.

"Time and time again, I would say to those that we were negotiating with over the terms of the resolution that this is all about the human side of this. It was all about the victims."

Resistance: Young Socialist Alliance has created a new zine called Another World is Possible. Let’s Build it Now! It covers a number of issues important to young people today including ecosocialism, racism, feminism, LGBTI liberation, education and class.

Below is an extract from the zine. To get a full copy, email resistancenationaloffice@gmail.com.

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The Socialist Alliance released this statement on July 24.

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The Socialist Alliance conveys its condolences to the families of all victims of the suspected shooting down of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 over war-torn eastern Ukraine. But it rejects the inflammatory Cold-War-style political posturing of both Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Labor opposition leader Bill Shorten.

One of the most significant welfare measures announced in the federal budget is the expansion of Work for the Dole. This will affect jobseekers aged 18-30 who will be forced to undertake placements of up to 25 hours a week for six months.

You know, sometimes it seems these days all I ever do in these columns is rant angrily about terrible suffering and misery. So I thought I'd try and change it up this week and talk about Gaza.

The NSW Public Service Association (PSA) has launched a campaign against the state government's total privatisation of disability services, being imposed as part of the implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in NSW.

The campaign is being supported by the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association, and is seeking broader community backing.

Jock Palfreeman, a young Australian imprisoned in Bulgaria, wrote this open letter on July 9.

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On July 6 at 8.30am, a guard, Peter Petrov, performed the morning roll call. He entered cell 11 and shouted in Bulgarian, a language no one present understood. As the roll call finished for that cell he assaulted a mentally ill man from behind for not moving fast enough.

The repeal of Australia’s carbon price is a milestone for a Coalition government that thinks nothing should stand between a mining company and big pile of money.

The article below is based on a speech given at a Socialist Alliance forum on July 20 in Sydney after the thousands-strong rally against Israel's assault on Gaza.

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I have been an activist for justice in Israel-Palestine for 25 years. My parents were refugees from Hitler and I have drawn from them a strong humanist ethic.

I have visited Israel-Palestine many times and worked along side fellow Jews and Palestinians and international activists in actions to alert the world to the situation of the Palestinians.

As the bombs fall on the Gaza Strip, taking the lives of over 750 Palestinians — including many civilians and children — one voice has emerged attempting to defend the Israeli regime on a very curious basis: that Israel should be defended because it is a bastion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) rights and dignity in a sea of nations that would deny these rights.

More importantly, American LGBTI people should be thankful “for all Israel has done for us” and remember how important Israel is to the US in the region.

The Socialist Alliance released this statement on July 23.

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Socialist Alliance councillors Sam Wainwright, from the Fremantle City Council in Western Australia, and Sue Bolton from the Moreland City Council in Victoria, today called on the Australian government to expel Israel's ambassador to send a strong message of condemnation of the brutal Israeli military offensive against Gaza.

Culture

Citizen Strangers: Palestinians & the Birth of Israel's Liberal Settler State
Shira Robinson
Standford University Press, 2013
352pp, US$24.95

If anyone still believes that the apartheid label applies only to Israel’s occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, and not to present-day Israel itself, they need only read Shira Robinson’s Citizen Strangers: Palestinians and the Birth of Israel’s Liberal Settler State to be disabused of the notion.

Charlie's Country
Directed by Rolf de Heer
Starring David Gulpilil
In cinemas now

From the opening moments of Charlie’s Country you know that you are witnessing a different kind of cinematic experience.

Co-written by its star David Gulpilil and its director Rolf de Heer, and produced by Aboriginal actor Peter Djigirr, Charlie’s Country presents an Aboriginal cinematic vernacular.

The Invisible Hand of Market
Cyclotimia
Released April 2014
www.cyclotimia.com

Russian electronic duo Cycloctimia's fascination for technology and sharemarkets has paid dividends – more than 10 satirical albums so far. Green Left Weekly's Mat Ward spoke to Max K, who describes his role as “keyboards, music, sampling and market rituals”.

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Tell us a bit about your childhood in Russia.