Issue 1021

News

Moreland residents were outraged when they heard Moreland City Council had voted to cut $100,000 from the Carbon Management Plan in the council's budget last month. This cut the budget for climate action from $525,000 to $424,000 and would have resulted in some of the council's solar energy projects not going ahead. The $100,000 cut came as a shock, considering the council’s previous initiatives to tackle carbon emissions.
At a rally in solidarity with Palestine in Sydney on August 9, Chilean community activist and Socialist Alliance member Paula Sanchez told the 1000-strong crowd about the growing number of Latin American countries cutting diplomatic and trade ties with Israel in protest against its war on Gaza. Sanchez addressed the rally on behalf of the Latin American Social Forum.
The National Union of Students called a national day of action to “celebrate” education minister Christopher Pyne’s 47th birthday on August 13. Students used the occasion to protest the federal government’s funding cuts to higher education, which will mean students will have to pay up to three times more for a university degree than they do now and will pay more interest on their HECS-HELP fee.
One of the promises Prime Minister Tony Abbott made when he was elected last year was to create 1 million jobs over the next five years. This translates to a monthly increase of about 17,000 jobs. Yet in the 10 months since September last year, only 11,000 jobs a month have been created – and more than half of these were part-time jobs.
More than 200 staff and students rallied outside Fisher Library at Sydney University on August 13 to protest proposed cuts to the university's library system. The cuts will involve closures and staff redundancies. "If the university gets its way all four libraries will lose their staff and collections. Two will become little more than post-grad only PC labs," the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) said.
An inhumane policy that damages some to deter others. Detention centres that cause psychiatric disorders, self-harm and suicide. Arbitrary. Unjust. Cynical. This is how an open letter, named "J'accuse", signed by more than 220 psychiatrists, human rights lawyers, priests, health professionals and other experts describes Australia’s refugee policy.
The NSW Coalition government will face pressure at the state election in March next year. The resignations of sitting Liberal MPs Tim Owen and Andrew Cornwell, after being investigated for alleged corruption by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), will likely trigger a byelection that could hand the seats to Labor. After the corruption scandals under Labor rule, the Coalition were elected on the back of promises to “clean up” NSW politics. But the Coalition has now proved to be no better than the Labor Party.
This year’s Australian Climate Action Summit will take place over September 19 to 21 in Brisbane. The Community Climate Network released this statement saying the timing of the summit is more urgent than ever. *** The Australian Climate Action Summit brings individuals from diverse backgrounds, businesses, educational institutions and industries together to discuss climate change and the implementation of methods that not only provide for a sustainable future but to also combat unstable climate change.
Labour activist Wally Stubbings died on July 6, aged 101. The following is abridged from a tribute by Brisbane Labour History Association president Greg Mallory when Stubbings was awarded BLHA life membership. *** It is a great pleasure to nominate Wally Stubbings for life membership of the BLHA. Wally has been a BLHA member since 2000 and at 96 years of age he is one of the last remaining labour activists with links to the 1940s. Wally receives his life membership because of his lifelong involvement with the labour movement, both industrially and politically.
Victoria police are vetting registrants and scouting venues to try to provide security for the besieged World Congress of Families in Melbourne on August 30. The final venue for the event remains unclear as they try to avoid clashes with widespread community opposition. Activists are already causing chaos for conference organisers Babette Francis of the Endeavour Forum (formerly Women Who Want to be Women) and John Brennan of the conservative Catholic men’s group Knights of the Southern Cross.
A new report from Friends of the Earth suggests combined pressure from habitat loss, inbreeding and disease may pose significant threats to the survival of the koala in Victoria and South Australia. The group is calling for federal protection for key populations of the species.
NOWSA, or the Network of Women Students Australia, holds a conference every year dedicated to women’s activism. More than 160 students from across Australia gathered last month for its national conference in Perth, making it the biggest NOWSA conference in many years. The weeklong event from July 14 to 18 took place at Edith Cowan University. It featured a range of workshops and speakers, who focused on issues relating to racism, trans rights and sex worker rights.
An open letter signed by 164 Australians of Jewish identity and background calls on Jewish Australians to break their silence on the onslaught on Gaza by Israel. Among the signatories are actress Miriam Margolyes, union leader Kim Sattler, and writers Sara Dowse, Antony Loewenstein and Susan Varga. Vivienne Porzsolt of Jews against the Occupation, which organised the open letter, said: “Silence is consent and as Jews, we must oppose atrocities taken in our name. Our public stand demonstrates that many Jews reject the brutal occupation of the Palestinians by Israel.
The Victorian Coalition government faces an uphill battle to win a second term in the November state elections. Its commitment to building the controversial East West Link toll road and the impact of the federal budget cuts has made the Coalition very unpopular. Socialist Alliance candidate for Pascoe Vale Sean Brocklehurst said the East West Link is “a huge handout to big corporations.

Analysis

Israel uses cinema to shore up its carefully manufactured international image as an enlightened “beacon of democracy in the Middle East” – a world away from the fanaticism of the settlements, the separation wall, the checkpoints, and the siege and butchery of Gaza. Film festivals like the Israeli Film Festival are an attempt to culture-wash Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people. The goal is for the international public to see Israel as a civilised country committed to peaceful, artistic pursuits – not as the warmongering power oppressing an entire people, that it really is.
You can see where federal treasurer Joe Hockey is coming from with his comment about poor people not having cars and so not being affected by the rise in the fuel excise tax, can't you? On the planet he seems to be lost on, the rich are the real oppressed. The rich are paying too much tax — or even “all the tax” according to a recent rant in the Australian — doing all the work, doing the heavy lifting, while the rest of society bludges off them.
Two ministers and five backbenchers have been suspended from the Liberal Party in NSW as a consequence of Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) investigations over the past couple of months. The latest ICAC hearings, which resumed on August 4, are centred on illegal donations from property developers in Newcastle and the Central Coast. When Labor Premier Nathan Rees banned these donations in November 2009, it was not well received by significant groupings in the Liberal and Labor parties.
Media reports about a deal being struck this week between the Australian government and Cambodia to resettle refugees from Nauru have been denied by Immigration and Border Protection Minister Scott Morrison. However the government has confirmed that negotiations towards a memorandum of understanding was continuing.
The federal government took the first steps towards privatising the Medicare payment system on August 8, asking businesses for expressions of interest in taking over the handling of claims and Medicare and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme payments. This $29 billion annual operation is currently carried out by the federal Department of Human Services (DHS), the government's largest department.
A few months ago, the Daily Telegraph ran a headline, “The Ferals are Revolting”. That headline is very revealing, not just about the nature of the media, but also about how young people and students are seen in society in general. We are seen these things that are just supposed to work terrible jobs for terrible pay, and whatever our opinions are, they don’t really mean anything and we are just supposed to put up with it.
The federal government has plans to expand Work for the Dole. From July next year it will be compulsory for job-seekers aged 18-30 to do 25 hours of work a week. The Anti-Poverty Network South Australia spoke to two former participants, Jarred Sferruzzi and John Murcott (not his real name) about their experiences on the scheme under the John Howard government. *** When were you on Work For The Dole?

World

San Francisco Bay Area activists have not allowed a vessel from Israel’s largest shipping company to unload in the Oakland Port for four consecutive mornings. On August 19, at 6:45am, activists declared yet another victory against the Zim Line, which has been trying to make its way into Oakland since August 16. Lara Kiswani, the executive director of the local Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC), told The Electronic Intifada that they are now waiting to hear if the Zim Line will leave the Port of Oakland today with the cargo it brought.
Argentina came out swinging on August 13 against the US judge overseeing its debt default case. The Argentine government said it would not agree to restart discussions with the vulture funds anytime soon as the stalemate over Argentina's debt continues. Argentina also slammed the US District Court Judge Thomas Griesa, who said on August 8 he would fine Argentina in contempt of court unless Argentina stopped claiming it had met its obligations and was not in default. Argentine Cabinet Chief Jorge Capitanich said: “The proper conditions do not exist to negotiate.”
After Brown killing, LAPD shoot another Black man dead Just two days after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, 25-year-old Ezell Ford was shot by Los Angeles Police Department officers in South Central Los Angeles, teleSUR English said on August 13. Officers came to the scene of West 65th and Broadway on the night of August 11 to conduct “an investigative stop”. Witnesses say that Ford was complying with police and lying on the ground when he was shot in the back.
Since 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed by an unidentified police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, on August 9, the majority Black city just outside of St Louis has been rocked by protests against a system that sees the lives of young Black men as disposable. The response of authorities has been to flood the town with hundreds of police from dozens of neighbouring cities and towns, decked out in riot gear, and armed with assault weapons, attack dogs and militarised vehicles for "crowd control".
The Thai military marked its second month in power by unilaterally imposing an Interim Charter giving the military chieftain heading up the junta, euphemistically named the “National Council for Peace and Order” (NCPO), the power to issue any decree to “preserve public peace and order”.
Police used smoke and tear gas to enforce a curfew on protesters early on the morning of August 17 in Ferguson, Missouri, where an unarmed black teenager was killed by police on August 9, Morning Star Online said the next day. Seven people were arrested during the night. Campaign group More claimed that all seven were arrested after being “dragged out of cars, some parked in their own driveways”.
Hideous. Sadistic. Vicious. Murderous. That is how veteran academic and author Noam Chomsky describes Israel’s month-long offensive in Gaza that killed at least 2000 people and left almost 10,000 injured.
Venezuela sent its first batch of aid to Palestine on August 12, teleSUR English said. As well as government aid, Venezuela's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has collected food, medicines and clothes from a supportive population, seeking to ease the suffering of the people of Gaza. Venezuela Analysis reported on August 14 that Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said he would convene a meeting of Arab leaders to coordinate reconstruction efforts for the war-torn Gaza Strip.
United States planes have launched air strikes in Iraq again. The war in Ukraine is reaching a bloody outcome as the Kiev government crushes the rebellion in the east of the country. A top US general was killed in a supposedly safe base in Afghanistan, and the Taliban overran Sangin province, where many British soldiers were killed. A Royal Navy ship was dispatched to Libya to rescue British citizens as the embassy closed due to fierce fighting between militias. Israel restarted its brutal assault on Gaza and the death toll of Palestinians reached nearly 2000.
I am proud to join more than 250 Jewish holocaust survivors and descendants of survivors in condemning the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza and the ongoing genocide of the Palestinian people. Our statement of solidarity (published below) calls for "An immediate end to the siege against Gaza" and a"full economic, cultural and academic boycott of Israel". We believe that "never again", the often-repeated lesson of Hitler's holocaust, "must mean never again for anyone!" -- especially the Palestinians.
Former British prime minister, and current United Nations’ Middle East “peace envoy”, Tony Blair has an insatiable appetite for cuddling up to despots and tyrants. This time it is Egypt's dictator, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, responsible for the mass murder of more than 1000 peaceful demonstrators.
United States: Don’t drink Ohio’s water “The aquapocalypse in Toledo, Ohio is now entering its third day after citizens in the greater Toledo area woke up to a stark reality on Saturday morning when city officials had issued an unprecedented, region wide water advisory warning people not to drink or boil local tap water due to toxic contamination,” said an August 4 Counterpunch article.
The Kurdish people are facing an unprecedented challenge. Across a vast swathe of northern Syria and Iraq, the region’s Kurds are locked in a desperate and heroic struggle with the genocidal forces of the so-called Islamic State (IS). Fighting is raging across a huge front hundreds of kilometres wide, from Aleppo and Kobane in Syria to Mosul and Kirkuk in Iraq — and all points in between.
Another African American teenager has been murdered by the police in the United States, sparking angry protests and police repression. In Ferguson, Missouri, a generally quiet working-class community was shattered by the August 9 shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown as he went to visit his grandmother. Police had been called after reports of shoplifting from a local corner store. Brown was walking down the street when he was told to “Get on the fucking pavement”.
Hundreds of thousands of South African demonstrators marched through Cape Town on August 9 to protest against Israel’s military assault on Palestinians in Gaza, Morning Star Online said the next day. Organisers said it was one of the biggest rallies in the city since the end of apartheid. Demonstrators carried posters stating “Israel is an apartheid state” and “Stop Israeli murder.”
Human rights groups announced today that they would organise an aid flotilla to Gaza to breach Israel’s illegal blockade. The Freedom Flotilla Coalition (FFC) said it would sail to Gaza “within 2014” in a “reflection of the growing worldwide solidarity with the Palestinian people, from the US to Malaysia, from Scandinavia to South Africa”. The boats also aim to carry back Palestinian goods purchased by buyers worldwide to “complete the work of Gaza’s Ark” — a cargo boat intended to breach Israel’s punitive embargo which was bombed by Israeli Defence Force aircraft last month.

Culture

All it took was a recording of Donald Sterling insulting Magic Johnson in a derogatory manner for the 24-hour news world to stop on its axis. Now imagine if Donald Sterling ― in all of his paranoid, racist fervour ― had an army at his disposal and bombed Magic Johnson in his home, killing him in his sleep. If such a scenario sounds like hacky Phillip K Dick fan fiction as written by Mike Lupica, then you have not been paying attention to the dystopian, genocidal panorama in Gaza, where no one is safe. You are unfamiliar with the name Ahed Zaqout.
The Coral Battleground Judith Wright Spinifex, 2014 203 pages, $29.95 (pb) From the days when Captain Cook’s Endeavour tangled with the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Queensland, humans had learned to fear the Reef with its “treacherous waters and weather”. But now the reef “should fear us more”, writes Judith Wright in The Coral Battleground. It is a reprint of her 1977 account of the campaign to save the largest and most spectacular marine coral ecosystem in the world from oil drilling.
We Are Many Directed by Amir Amirani June 2014 http://www.wearemany.tv February 15, 2003. We know it was the biggest protest in world history. We know that millions of people who'd never before felt like they could make their voices heard by taking action, marched in the streets of 800 cities to say “Not In Our Name”; that they dared hope for peace, but were committed by their governments to a bloody and illegal war.
1. Public Enemy frontman Chuck D is back with another hard-hitting solo album. The Black In Man blends his baritone tones with heavy metal riffage and super-heavy funk. There's no let-up in his cutting wordplay and pointed barbs at the state of modern rap, such as the line: "I'm no fan of how urban radio has made rap fit for animals, best exhibited in some of today's mixtape culture, which invites black men into USA jails.

Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

United States: Working-class and left electoral politics back on the radar? The US political system, so highly polarised between conservative Republicans and moderate Democrats, has experienced in the last year some interesting changes on the left-hand margin of the national political scene, Dan Botz writes. Israel and the coming Arab revolution