Issue 1027

News

This year has seen prime minister Tony Abbott and education minister Christopher Pyne deliver a cruel budget that has promised a cut in university funding and a deregulation of course fees. Join this National Day of Action, where we oppose the budget and take our education back into our own hands. Let's say no to $100,000 degrees - education should be for all, not just the rich. October 16 ADELAIDE - 3pm, Maths Lawns, Adelaide University https://www.facebook.com/events/1573329979562601/?notif_t=plan_user_invited
The latest in a growing tide of actions targeting the fossil fuel industry, over 60 people occupied the headquarters of AGL on October 9, to protest against its efforts to scrap Australia’s Renewable Energy Target and frack 330 unconventional gas wells in Gloucester, NSW. Over 60 people sat-in at the company headquarters, while others blocked the entrance door and stood outside with a banner reading: “AGL invests in climate chaos.”
Snap protest was held on September 29 and October 7 in Sydney by members of the progressive Kurdish community. It was called in response to news that ISIS killers had entered the besieged town of Kobane, which is part of the Rojava Kurdish liberated zone in northern Syria. On Friday morning (October 10) members of the community will a protest fast in Sydney Town Hall Square from 9am. A flyer by the Kurdish Association distributed by the Kurdish protesters/hunger strikers in Sydney says:
"Venezuela: The revolution continues," was the theme of a solidarity conference held at Redfern Town Hall here on October 6. About 120 people attended the conference, which was organised by the Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, in conjunction with the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network (AVSN), the Bolivarian Circle, the Latin American Social Forum (LASF), other solidarity organisations, unions, and political groups, including Socialist Alliance.
The Ron Tandberg cartoon in the Age on September 24 sums up what a rort the East West Link is. In it, one person asks someone from the East West Connect consortium: “Are you concerned that Labor might stop the project?” They answer: “Either way we'll make a killing.” The cartoon is referring to the announcement by Labor opposition leader Daniel Andrews on September 11 that Labor would not build the East West Link if the Moreland and Yarra councils win legal action against the project in December.
Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has made a deal with the Palmer United Party to reintroduce Temporary Protection Visa’s (TPVs) for asylum seekers. These will be known as the Safe Haven Enterprise visa. The Refugee Action Coalition released this statement on September 25. *** The government’s bill introduced on September 25 will not just reestablish TPVs. In sweeping changes to definitions and processing arrangements, the minister is trying to use the legislation to undermine human rights and remove appeal rights for asylum seekers.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are being removed from their families and traditional country by the statutory child protection authority Family and Community Services (FACS) in unprecedented numbers. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reported a rise in the rate of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged up to 17 in out of home care across all states and territories over the past decade.
Treasurer Joe Hockey could not escape hearing the voice of the people when 100 staff, students and community activists rallied on the Smithfield campus of James Cook University in Cairns on September 18. The rally highlighted the federal government's planned cuts to higher education and the rest of the budget. The National Tertiary Education Union JCU branch called the rally because Hockey was speaking at a business conference at JCU before attending a G20 finance ministers meeting in Cairns.
Preparations are advancing for a solidarity conference under the theme, "Venezuela: The Revolution Continues," being held in Sydney on October 6. The conference is being co-sponsored by the Venezuelan Embassy in Australia, the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network, the Bolivarian Circle, unions and other political and solidarity organisations.
The NSW Coalition government is refusing to tell the community how it will spend millions of dollars gained from the sale of Millers Point public housing. Potentially hundreds of millions of dollars will be reaped if the sale of nearly 300 houses goes ahead. The government has received more than $11 million from the auction of the first four houses.
Several hundred people attended a rally and march to Prime Minister Tony Abbott's electoral office in Manly on September 20. The demands of the rally were: "No compromise — no GP co-payment; no cuts or privatisation; and free, public health care for all." General secretary of the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association Brett Holmes said the GP co-payment would spell the end of equitable, universal health care under Medicare and it was time the federal government listened to the people it purported to represent.
Aboriginal activist Kyol Blakeney has won the position of Student Representative Council (SRC) president at the University of Sydney. The ticket that supported him, “Grassroots”, was backed by progressive Greens, independents and socialists. It beat the Labor ticket by a significant margin. University newspaper Honi Soit reported on September 25 that Blakeney had won every voting booth, with 61% of the vote.
The Herald Sun has launched a vitriolic campaign against two councils in Melbourne for their opposition to the Victorian government’s $15 billion East West Link toll road project. In an appalling lack of sensitivity, the paper has also sought to use the rape and murder of journalist Jill Meagher in defence of the paper’s pro-corporate and road-building agenda.
G4S was labelled “fundamentally flawed” in 2005, when its operation of onshore detention centres led to the wrongful detention and mistreatment of Australian resident Cornelia Rau, as well as the detention of Naomi Leong from birth until she was three years old, and several cases of “unsafe and inhumane” treatment of refugees.

Analysis

Sean Brocklehurst is running as a candidate for the Socialist Alliance in the November 29 Victorian election. This is a speech he gave at the election launch on September 20. *** We are here because we want to see change in Victoria. We want to see community need put before corporate greed. Victoria is going in the wrong direction. It is being run by and for the corporate elite and not in the interests of ordinary people.
It is a sadly familiar story: More death, pain and terror for the many translates into large profits for giant weapons making corporations. “Led by Lockheed Martin, the biggest US defence companies are trading at record prices as shareholders reap rewards from escalating military conflicts around the world, reported Richard Clough from Bloomberg News on September 25.
Susan Austin gave this speech at the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) in Hobart on September 21 as part of a global day of action on climate change. She is a member of Climate Action Hobart. *** UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon called a special Climate Summit at United Nations Headquarters in New York City on September 23. Shamefully, Tony Abbott will not be there, even though he will be in New York the next day for a security meeting. The security of our future is at stake due to climate change but he, and many of our other political and business leaders, is ignoring that.
Criminal lawyer Rob Stary has represented many people accused under Australian “counter-terror” laws. Green Left Weekly’s Karen Fletcher spoke to him about the police raids in Sydney and Brisbane on September 18. *** Last week you commented that the raids gave you a sense of “deja-vu”. What is repeating here?
If you’re an Australian citizen, you have a greater chance of being killed by the following causes than you do by a terrorist attack: slipping in the bathtub and hitting your head; contracting a lethal intestinal illness from the next dinner you eat at a restaurant; being struck by lightning. In the post-9/11 era, there has been no terrorist attack carried out on Australian soil: not one. The attack that most affected Australians was the 2002 bombing of a nightclub in Bali which killed 88 of its citizens; that was 12 years ago.
More than six years ago, 21-year-old Australian backpacker Jock Palfreeman was walking home with friends after a night out in Sofia, Bulgaria, when he saw a group of 15 men attacking two others. The next morning he was in a police cell — accused of “unprovoked murder” and “hooliganism”. Held without bail, he was convicted two years later and sentenced to 20 years jail.
In the past few weeks we have been subjected to a media frenzy. The early morning police raids on homes in suburban Sydney and Brisbane on September 18, resulting in 15 people being detained without charge and two arrests, was orchestrated to create a climate of fear of looming “terrorist” attacks and set the scene for the federal government’s security crackdown. The latest raft of “anti-terror” legislation will severely limit civil rights and comes in the context of Australian forces being committed to a new war in Iraq.
Socialist Alliance in Victoria released the sttement below on September 25. *** Authorities have inundated the media with “leaks” to portray Numan Haider, shot dead outside a police station in Endeavour Hills on September 23, as a terrorist in the making.

World

Those who were expecting to see the supporters of Scottish independence dispirited ― and who hoped that the issue of independence was settled for at least a generation ― were quickly disappointed after the September 18 referendum. This defeat, in which the pro-independence vote lost by roughly 45% to 55%, bears the seeds of future victory ― for at least three reasons.
Cuba said it will send nearly 300 more doctors and nurses to West Africa to help fight the Ebola epidemic, Al Jazeera reported on September 26. The Cubans will work in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, Regla Angulo, head of the Cuban medical relief agency said in a statement that day. Al Jazeera said: “The announcement means that up to 461 Cuban medical personnel would have been sent to help address the epidemic spreading across West Africa.
Peru will host the UN-sponsored Conference of Parties climate talks this December. The world’s peak climate conference, the COP is an annual event first held in Berlin in 1995, leading to provisional developments such as the Kyoto Protocol. Peru is also a country increasingly affected by the consequences of climate change. A study published by the United Nations Development Project said: “Peru has been ranked third globally in terms of risk to climate related disasters.”
The Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee(CHRAC), a coalition of 21 NGOs, issued the statement below on September 26 in response to the deal with the Australian government to resettle asylum seekers in the impoverished south-east Asian nation. * * * CHRAC is urgently calling for the Australian government to release much needed information regarding this deal that has allegedly been struck between the two governments, including: * The number of refugees that will be resettled from Nauru, Papua New Guinea and other offshore detention centers?

Cables from the first term of Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa show how the US sought to defend the interests of US companies in Ecuador, and protect the position of foreign investors in general. Moves against the power of transnational corporations by Correa's government, first elected in 2006, were seen as attempts to increase control over the economy, which the US government views as the domain of private interests. The US Embassy in Quito therefore tried to influence Ecuadorian economic policy in conjunction with allies from other embassies and from within the private sector.

“The excessive focus on profits neither respects Mother Earth, nor takes human needs into account,” Bolivian President Evo Morales said in his speech to Untied nationals climate summit on September 23. “The continuation of this unequal system only leads to greater inequalities.” Prensa Latina said that day that Morales called for incentives to respect Mother Earth and exhorted the developed countries to live up to their promises.
On September 24, one day after the United Nations climate summit in New York once more failed to come up with any form of serious action to confront the climate crisis, Filipino socialist group Party of the Labouring Masses released the statement below. * * * Philippines President Benigno Aquino concluded his United Nations speech in New York on September 23 by posing the question: What more can we do? The question is rhetorical, even hypocritical, as the president well knows what needs to be done: to address the demands of the mass movements, which he has heard, but not heeded.
Staring down scandals related to revelations in a recently published book, Dirty Politics, and revelations of mass government surveillance, incumbent Prime Minister John Key led his right-wing National Party to become the first party with an outright majority in parliament since the current electoral system was set up in 1996. The Labour opposition, however, slumped to about 24% of the vote ― its worst result ever.
“Britain needs a pay rise!” That was the main running theme through this year’s annual congress of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) of England and Wales, which covers 6.2 million workers in 58 unions in England and Wales, held in Liverpool from September 7 to 10. Its key demand ― for a £1-an-hour wage rise across the entire public sector ― was the main factor behind the successful July 10 public sector general strike.
In her previous books The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (2007) and No Logo: No Space, No Choice, No Jobs (2000), Canadian author and activist Naomi Klein took on topics like neoliberal “shock therapy,” consumerism, globalisation and “disaster capitalism”. Klein extensively documented the forces behind the dramatic rise in economic inequality and environmental degradation over the past 50 years.
As a deal to resettle refugees from rich Australia to Cambodia, one of the poorest countries in the world, was signed in Phnom Penh on September 26, poor Cambodians displaced from their villages as a result of land-grabbing by powerfully connected developers, youth, monks and civil society activists marched on the Australian embassy. Among these protesters was Pisey Ly, an activist with Social Action for Change (SAC), who was interviewed by Green Left Weekly.
Besieged since September 15, the northern Syrian Kurdish-majority city of Kobane (whose Arabic name is Ayn al-Arab) has mounted a heroic, all-out resistance to the murderous Islamic State gangs. As of September 25, despite the superior heavy weaponry deployed by the IS, it appears that fierce resistance and determined counter-attacks have halted or slowed the assault. Nonetheless, the IS has pushed closer to the city centre than ever before and the situation remains perilous.
With the US and allied nations, including Arab countries, carrying out air strikes in Syria, the Turkish government is trying to convince the West it does not support the Islamic State (IS) forces the US is targetting. Newly elected President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (the former prime minster) linked the adjective “terrorist” with “IS” for the very first time on September 23 during a US TV interview while attending the United Nations climate summit. “Turkey will do whatever needs to be done to stop this terrorist organisation, militarily, and politically,” he said.
The largest demonstration to date on the need to stop global warming was held in New York City on September 21. It was the largest of the global demonstrations in more than 160 cities that day ahead of a United Nations climate summit held on September 23 in New York. The historic protest brought together a wide range of groups and individuals in a march through Manhattan, two days before heads of states gathered to discuss the issue.

Culture

The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret FBI Betty Medsger Knopf, 2014 596 pages, $46.95 (hb) As far as burglaries go, this one was pretty audacious. On March 8, 1971, nine anti-Vietnam-war activists in Pennsylvania burgled the FBI. They stole secret files in the regional FBI office in the small town of Media. With careful planning, a little luck and plenty of pluck, the amateur burglars exposed, for the first time, the FBI’s political spying and suppression of democratic dissent.
Unspeakable Things: Sex, Lies & Revolution Laurie Penny Bloomsbury, 2014 English author Laurie Penny describes herself as a “journalist, activist, feminist, troublemaker, nerd and net denizen”. Her book, Unspeakable Things, is a collection of polemical essays in which Penny takes aim at mainstream (liberal) feminism, which she says “remains tepid and cowardly”.