Issue 1030

News

National rallies were held on October 23 to protest against continuing Aboriginal deaths in custody. About 300 people rallied in Melbourne at an event organised by the Indigenous Social Justice Association, Melbourne and First Nations Liberation. The catalyst for the rally was the death of a 22-year-old Yamatji woman known as Ms Dhu in police custody in Western Australia.
The controversial issue of where to dump dredge spoil from the Abbot Point coal port expansion was the focus for hundreds of North Queenslanders who want to protect the Great Barrier Reef from the environmental impacts the dredging will cause. On October 19, boats and kayaks formed a flotilla at the beach as others rallied onshore. After progressing a couple of hundred metres, the flotilla and the marchers were surprised to be joined by a group of scuba divers who emerged from under the water and made their way to the beach to join the rally on land.
A local man was arrested on October 23 after locking himself to the access gate to four coal seam gas (CSG) pilot wells in Gloucester, New South Wales. Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) of the wells, owned by AGL, was approved in August by NSW Minister for Resources and Energy Anthony Roberts. But residents in Gloucester stand opposed to any CSG drilling in the area. A resident of 25 years, Brett Jacobs, said: "AGL has a battle on its hands if it thinks it can turn our valley into a coal seam gasfield. This is our home and we are not giving up or going away.”
Young people from 13 Pacific Islands visited Australia in October to raise awareness about the risk climate change poses for their homes and communities. Known as the Pacific Climate Warriors, they spoke at public forums in Brisbane, Canberra, Perth, Sydney and Melbourne. They decided to tour Australia because they did not want to stand idly by as their homes sink. They said: “We are not drowning. We are fighting.” Their message to Australia was blunt: emissions need to be cut and fossil fuel production needs to be phased out.
The Wilderness Society released this statement on October 23. *** The standards of the world's leading timber certifying body, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), are being questioned after one of its British auditors gave an environmental tick of approval to log forests containing 600-year-old trees in Western Australia.
Kamala Emanuel gave this speech at a rally against Islamophobia in Perth on October 18. *** Like many of you here, I remember when the world’s biggest anti-war demonstrations took place in many cities in 2003. Millions of people rallied around the world and came together to say no to the West’s intervention in Iraq. I think it is important that once again we build up the kind of movement that says no to Western aggression in the Middle East.
Doctors have spoken out for refugees in unprecedented numbers, as an open letter to the government signed by more than 62,000 Australians was handed to parliament on October 20. The letter, signed by more than 240 health professionals, legal experts and academics, accuses the government of “willfully and deliberately” harming refugees.
Koby Bunney will stand as an independent in the Victorian state election for the marginal Labor seat of Buninyong, formerly Ballarat East. This is his platform for the November election. * * * I believe that all Victorians should have access to safe, stable accommodation that is suitable for the needs of each individual. This will enable them to participate in society and will benefit their health, wellbeing and sense of belonging as well as the economy and community as a whole.
"No GP Co-payment, Not Now, Not Ever! Hey Hockey, Hands Off Medicare!" was the theme of a rally organised by the Save Medicare Committee in Martin Place on October 23. More than 200 people attended the rally, which was followed by a march to state parliament. Nadine Flood, national secretary of the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU), told the crowd: “The next stage of the [federal] government's attack on our public health system is the plan to sell off Medicare. The government wants to move the work from the public to the private sector." Flood said 6000 jobs were at risk.
When New South Wales Minister for Resources and Energy Anthony Roberts cancelled the three coal seam gas (CSG) exploration licences held by Leichardt Resources near Kandos, Nowra and Moree on October 14, he said it was because the company had failed to fulfil its licence conditions. The alleged compliance breaches included failure to engage with the community. Roberts had earlier complained that it was the previous Labor government that made it easy for “speculators and cowboys” to be granted licences without proper regulatory oversight.
Heatwaves are still not considered an emergency by state governments, but they should be. There was a 24% increase in the number of deaths during the four day heatwave in Victoria in January. An additional 167 people died in the week of the heatwave when the temperature was above 41 degrees for four consecutive days in Melbourne and more than 45 degrees in other parts of the state. In 2009, there were an additional 374 deaths during the heatwave in the week before the Black Saturday bushfires.

Analysis

The recent Australian Council of Social Service report into poverty has found one third of sole parents live in poverty. Many sole parents are suffering after being switched from Parenting Payment Single to the much lower Newstart Allowance. Under former prime minister Julia Gillard, about 100,000 sole parents were switched to the lower payment.
Sean Brocklehurst is the Socialist Alliance candidate for Pascoe Vale in the November 29 *** A good example of the anti-worker attitude of Denis Napthine’s government is its treatment of paramedics. Victoria's paramedics have been campaigning for pay parity with interstate paramedics for more than two years with no sign of a resolution.
Cairns Woolworths caused outrage recently by stocking a singlet with the Australian flag and the phrase “If you don't love it, leave...” But let no one be confused by such a slogan, which, at first glance would seem a little reminiscent of “Fuck off, we're full” stickers or even the infamous “I grew here, you flew here” slogan that raised its head during the 2005 Cronulla race riots.
Recent opinion polls show the Queensland Liberal-National government has 51% electoral support compared with 49% for Labor. So it is not surprising that the privatisation rhetoric has shifted from asset sales to leasing. Under the “Strong Choices Plan”, endorsed by the government on October 7, $37 billion in public assets are to be leased to the private sector on 99-year contracts. Premier Campbell Newman said: “Today we say very clearly the assets are not for sale.”
In the outpouring of grief over Gough Whitlam’s death at the age of 98 on October 21, many people remembered how their lives were changed by the reforms his government brought in. In an age of worsening neoliberal attacks led by the anti-poor class warriors in Tony Abbott’s government, the reforms associated with Whitlam's twice-elected 1972-75 government can seem almost utopian.
Across the political and media elite in Australia, a silence has descended on the memory of the great, reforming prime minister Gough Whitlam, who has died. His achievements are recognised, if grudgingly, his mistakes noted in false sorrow. But a critical reason for his extraordinary political demise will, they hope, be buried with him.
With his harsh budget in tatters and his popularity in decline, Prime Minister Tony Abbott and outgoing head of ASIO David Irvine raised the terror alert from medium to high on September 13. It was justified, they claimed, by the threat of those returning from fighting in the Middle East — all 70 or so of them — posing an increased risk to Australia’s way of life.
In NSW, the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) heard evidence from Operation Spicer of significant breaches of donations laws by Liberal candidates and private donors before the 2011 state election. The hearings have exposed 12 state and federal Liberal politicians, who have either resigned or stood aside, including former NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell. ICAC is due to release its full report next year and this will include recommendations on whether criminal charges should be laid.
In Problems of Greater Britain, the English politician Sir Charles Wentworth Dilke concluded that high wages, cheap food and the time available for sporting and cultural activities made Australia a workers’ paradise. If Dilke’s observation in 1890 ever had any truth to it, it was a paradise soon lost. The average weekly wage did not recover from its fall in the 1891 depression until 20 years later. For the less skilled in the labour force, the 20% wage loss in the depression wasn’t clawed back until 1921.
Green Left Weekly and ActionAid will be co-sponsoring a Political Economy Society seminar at Sydney University on October 29 to discuss the case for greater international efforts to combat corporate tax avoidance before the G20 summit. Large corporations systematically avoid paying the statutory level of company tax — a low 30% in Australia — by numerous means including siphoning funds to notorious international tax havens.

World

Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore finally stepped down on October 31, ending his 27-year rule and handing over to joint chief of staff General Honore Traore. Campaore first came to power in a coup that overthrow the revolutionary government headed by Thomas Sankara, which was leading a profound transformation of the west African nation. The president was forced out of office by a burst of violent protests in which parliament was set ablaze. Protesters refused to accept anything short of his immediate resignation.
Thai dictator Prayuth Chan-ocha has told reporters not to “speculate” when elections would be held again in Thailand. Many analysts are predicting that elections will not take place until at least 2016 ― rubbishing the initial promises of the military junta that seized power in May to hold elections next year. Meanwhile a panel of anti-reformist junta lackeys were pontificating about the legacy of the October 14, 1973 uprising against the military and how this would “influence” the present anti-reform process.
The Court of Justice of the European Union has annulled the EU’s ban on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. The ban was imposed in 2006. The Council of the EU claimed that the LTTE, which had waged an armed struggle for an independent Tamil homeland against the Sri Lankan state, was a terrorist organisation. After its military defeat in May 2009, the LTTE no longer exists in its original form of an armed independence movement. However, the continued ban on the LTTE has restricted the peaceful political activities of Tamils campaigning for human rights and national self-determination.
A deranged gunman, Michael Zehab-Bibeau, shot dead a soldier at the Canadian war memorial in Ottawa before being shot dead while trying to storm parliament on October 22. The motive for the actions, if there was a clear one, remains unknown. The attack came two days after two Canadian soldiers were hit by a car in Quebec. The car was driven by Martin Couture-Rouleau, a 25-year-old Canadian who had recently converted to Islam. One of the soldiers died, as did Couture-Rouleau when he was shot by police upon apprehension after allegedly brandishing a large knife.
Malala Yousafzai, the 17-year-old Pakistani activist, has won a well-deserved Nobel Peace Prize, putting her and her amazing, tragic story back in the spotlight. But as usual, the corporate media have taken this positive development and exploited it in the service of US imperialism. The corporate media love talking about Malala's remarkable bravery and strength in standing up for girls' rights to education ― and highlight the brutality of the Taliban forces that tried to assassinate her on her school bus.
Thousands of students protested in the Mexican city of Guadalajara on October 22 to demand justice and a clear investigation into the death of an engineering student who was arrested by municipal police, only to be found dead hours later. The corpse of Ricardo Jesus Esparza Villegas was found on the morning of October 19 in an alley outside a private home in the historic city of Guanajuato. According to information provided by the municipal government, the student was killed “by a sharp blow to the skull”. However extra information from the authorities has yet to be made public.
Thousands of Venezuelan youth and supporters of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) government took part in a march on October 18 against terrorism and for peace. The youth march was organised in response to the assassination of Robert Serra, a 27-year-old PSUV parliamentarian and Chavista. Serra was murdered along with his partner Maria Herrera in their home on October 1. The demonstrators filled the streets of Caracas to take their demand ― that lawmakers officially declare the murder of Serra as an act of terrorism ― to the National Assembly.
Predictions by pollsters and commentators that Evo Morales would easily win Bolivia’s October 12 presidential elections were confirmed when he obtained more than 60% of the vote. Most, however, differ over why, after almost a decade in power, Morales’ Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) continues to command such a huge level of support. Their explanations tend to focus on specific economic or political factors, such as booming raw material prices or the MAS’s ability to control and co-opt the country’s social movements.
Left Unity is a new political group in Britain created out of a call last year by filmmaker Ken Loach for a new party to the left of Labour, which has moved rightwards in recent years and supports anti-worker austerity measures. The call was supported by thousands of people and Left Unity held its founding conference in November last year. Green Left Weekly's Denis Rogatyuk spoke with Left Unity's national secretary Kate Hudson, a veteran campaigner who is also general secretary of the campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.
For 48 hours, it looked as if Thursday, October 16, 2014 might join similar October Thursdays in 1907, 1929 and 1979 as another dramatic moment when sharemarket panic triggered economic downturn. However, it was not to be. The US$3 trillion slump in world sharemarket values in the first two-and-half-weeks of October had, by October 24, been partially reversed by a coordinated effort of “calm engineering” by central bankers. But how long can that treatment ― whose message to the gambling fund managers is that interest rates will stay low ― succeed?
About 150 people rallied outside the Ferguson Police Department on October 22 to demanding justice for the murdered unarmed Black teenager Michael Brown, and the arrest of the police officer who shot him, Darren Wilson. Part of the National Day of Protest Against Police Brutality, similar protests were held in Sacramento, San Francisco, New York, among others. The protests were organised by the Ferguson October movement, an African American-led movement demanding a halt to police vience against Black people.
At the same time as the United States government has responded to the Ebola crisis in west Africa by sending soldiers ― and the Australian government by refusing to send any medical personnel at all ― Cuba has sent 460 medical personnel to affected countries. In his regular column, reprinted from the Cuban News Agency, former Cuban president Fidel Castro explained Cuba's response. ***
The statement below was released by the general command of the People's Protection Units (PYG) on October 19. *** To the media and the general public, It has been 33 days that the city of Kobane has been fighting terrorism, in eventful days of resistance, redemption, and enormous sacrifices in combating the terrorist attacks of ISIS and its evils.
Akit and Aydinlik are two Turkish newspapers usually diameterically opposed. Akit is pro-government, and Islamic fundamentalist, while Aydinlik is the paper of the nationalist and Maoist Workers Party (IP). But on one day during the recent protests by the Kurdish people in Turkey in solidarity with besieged city of Kobane (also known as Kobani), in which almost 40 people were killed, they ran almost the same headline.
As talks between Hong Kong protesters and the Chinese government began on October 21, the region’s current chief executive C.Y. Leung spoke out against free elections on the grounds that it would empower the poor. In his first interview with foreign media since the pro-democracy movement began, Leung said that if the public were allowed to nominate any candidate of their choosing, elections would be dominated by the large sector of Hong Kong residents now living in poverty.
About 8000 people packed the Palacio Vistalegre in Madrid on October 18 and 19, with 150,000 taking part online, for the the final stages of the Citizens' Assembly “Si se puede” (Yes we can). The assembly discussed draft documents for the foundation of Podemos.
Bolivian President Evo Morales was re-elected for his third term on October 12 with more than 60% of the vote.
Huge crowds demonstrated against water charges on the streets of Dublin's city centre on October 12 as voters delivered a stunning message of “no confidence” to the Fine Gael-Labour coalition government in two by-elections. Traffic in Dublin’s city centre came to a standstill due to the unprecedented scale of the anti-austerity march. About 100,000 people took part in the march, which took one hour and twenty minutes to pass the Spire in O’Connell Street.
Thomas Dandois and Valentine Bourrat, two French journalists arrested by Indonesian authorities on August 6 while reporting on West Papua's independence movement, will face trial on October 20, AFP reported on October 14. Despite a petition signed by more than 8800 people, the journalists will go on trial in a local court of West Papua for “abusive use of entry visas”.

Culture

As with all advertisements, there are a few deceptions at the heart of Apple's commercial for U2's newly released Songs of Innocence. The most immediate is that it ends with the tagline “free on iTunes now”. Given that the album was delivered ― without permission ― into the digital libraries of over 500 million iTunes users, implying any kind of choice in the matter seems at the very least misleading. A better version of the ad might read “yours whether you like it or not”.
Marx on Gender & the Family: A Critical Study By Heather A. Brown Haymarket, 2013 US socialist Heather Brown has performed a great service in this short, yet detailed survey of all of Karl Marx’s writings on women and gender ― including some that have never been published in any language. Brown shows how Marx did not just analyse economics and history, he interrogated all forms of literature (even police files) to tease out the threads of social oppression.