Issue 1032

News

Protests continue to grip Mexico over the fate of 43 students from Ayotzinapawho were abducted -- in police vehvilces according to eyewitnesses -- Guerrerro state on September 26. Mexico's Attorney-General Jesus Murillo Karam says three detained “drug traffickers” had confessed to killing the students -- including burnig them alive. Dozens of police were arrested over allegations they had had students over to a drug cartel. Iguala mayor Jose Luis Abarca, accused of ordering the attacks, resigned on October 24.
About 8000 people from across NSW’s Northern Rivers region gathered in Lismore on November 1 for a rally to declare the region gasfield free. Protesters marched through Lismore CBD to demand the government cancel all petroleum licences in the region. It then officially launched four large signs at each of the roads leading into the region, proclaiming: "Gasfield Free Northern Rivers – protected by community.” Organiser Elly Bird said: "This community is saying loud and clear that they want full cancellation of the licenses across the region, and nothing less will serve.
About 300 Aboriginal people and supporters from around NSW rallied against legislation being pushed through state parliament that threatens the land rights of coastal Aboriginal communities. On November 3, Hyde Park was awash with Aboriginal flags and community members, young and old, representing many of the 120 Aboriginal land councils across the state. They were there to protest against the Crown Lands Amendment (Public Ownership of Beaches and Coastal Lands) Bill. The bill was introduced by Minister for Natural Resources Kevin Humphries last week.
About 1700 people packed Sydney Town Hall, and an overflow crowd of thousands filled the adjacent square, for the official memorial service for former Labor Prime Minister Gough Whitlam on November 5. Sprinkled through the crowd were people who still had their iconic “It's Time” T-shirts and badges from the 1972 election that brought the Whitlam government to power. It was a memorable gathering not just because of the passing of this former PM, but because Whitlam has come to symbolise a long-lost era of progressive reform in this country.
A small number of inner Sydney women's refuges flagged for closure received news on October 30 that their state government funding has been reinstated. However, other city and regional refuges continue to face closure or loss of specialist services for women, including Aboriginal women and young people, following their transfer into the hands of churches and charities.
Hundreds of Aboriginal elders and leaders will gather in Alice Springs for the Freedom Summit at the end of this month.
Almost 300 people gathered near Ipswich in Queensland for The Sunrise Project's Beyond Coal and Gas conference from October 24 to 27. The event featured more than 100 workshops and drew people from all states and territories as well as international visitors. There was a huge diversity of people and organisations including campaigners, activists, researchers, traditional owners and youth.
Melbourne solidarity rally with Kobani, October 23.
Residents of Millers Point public housing are supporting the campaign to stop the sell-off and possible demolition of the iconic Sirius apartments in the nearby suburb of The Rocks. The Save Our Sirius (SOS) campaign was launched on November 2 with an open day at the Sirius apartments building. The Sirius apartments were designed by Tao Gofers in 1975 for the NSW Housing Commission. Sitting beside the southern approaches to the Harbour Bridge, the apartments look out to Circular Quay and the Opera House.

Analysis

This statement was released on November 6 by Sean Broklehurst, the Socialist Alliance candidate for Pascoe Vale in the November 29 Victorian elections, and Sarah Hathway, the Socialist Alliance candidate for Geelong. It refers to the project, set to cost at least $15 billion, to link Melbourne’s Eastern Freeway and City Link, with the major part of the project being a 4.4 kilometre tunnel. ***
For those paying attention to the science of climate change, it might seem counterintuitive to talk about hope. To some it might even seem in bad taste, given that the future impacts include the melting away of the Himalayan glaciers that provide fresh water for 1.3 billion people in Asia and the possibility that many low-lying island nations may become uninhabitable.
Oxfam released a report in January that found companies have hidden between $21 trillion and $32 trillion in offshore bank accounts to escape paying tax. That amount is double US GDP or about 20 times Australian GDP. One of the issues that will be discussed at the G20 meeting in Brisbane is how to set up an international framework to stop this tax avoidance. Unfortunately, it will not work.
“The Battle of Brisbane.” These were the words that greeted readers of Queensland’s Courier Mail on October 28. The article, taking up the front cover and several subsequent pages, dealt with the alleged threat of violent protests at the G20 summit to be held in Brisbane on November 15 and 16. The police, according to the Courier Mail, should meet the protesters with brutal suppression. The actual threat of violence was left vague. In many ways, the phrasing of the subhead for the piece told it all: “Cops vow to crush G20 ferals”.
Aboriginal activists in Western Australia are gearing up for a rally on November 12 to protect remote communities in the face of federal government attacks. It will follow a September 16 rally against state government threats to Aboriginal heritage and an October 23 rally against ongoing Black deaths in custody. The federal government announced on September 24 that it would withdraw funding for 180 remote Aboriginal communities in WA. It will grant $90 million to the WA government for a two-year “transition period”.
The witch-hunt into unions descended into farce last month as the Royal Commission’s attempt to justify its existence instead showed that it is an inquiry compromised by its politically motivated construction and damned by its own incompetence. The week began with Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) assistant secretary Tim Lyons attacking royal commissioner Dyson Heydon and senior counsel assisting Jeremy Stoljar for confusing workplace bargaining with corruption and failing to understand the role of unions they had been asked to investigate.
Sarah Hathway and Sean Brocklehurst are running as Socialist Alliance candidates in the Victorian election. They released this statement on November 7. *** The federal government's concern about “corruption” is very selective. For many months, there have been calls for a royal commission into the Commonwealth Bank and ASIC to investigate how thousands of people were stripped of their life savings as a result of fraud by dodgy financial planners working for the bank.
Australians for Kurdistan began this petition on Change.org. It asks the Australian federal attorney-general to arrest Turkey's President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, when he visits Brisbane for the G20 summit on November 15. It also asks the attorney-general to remove the Kurdistan Workers Party from the list of terrorist organisations. To sign the petition go to www.change.org. * * *
The Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) held a hearing on October 29 to allow the community to express their views on Incitec’s proposal to build an ammonium nitrate production facility in Newcastle. All 18 speakers slammed the proposal as presenting an unacceptable risk of a catastrophic explosion that could threaten the lives of thousands of people in the city. Speakers ranged from explosives expert Tony Richards to the Socialist Alliance, the Greens, and several community groups from Stockton and Mayfield, as well as members of the public.
A campaign organised by Cambodians has led the country’s first vice-president of the National Assembly to urge Australia to back down from its bid to resettle refugees there. Kem Sokha said in a letter to the Australian Ambassador to Cambodia, Alison Burrows, that the deal to transfer up to 1000 refugees from Nauru could have “negative impacts which would possibly be caused by economic, social situations”. Joyce Fu, who works for NGO Corner Link and was part of organising protests and petitions calling for the refugee deal to be abandoned, said Cambodia was ill-equipped for the plan.
Brisbane is almost in lockdown as preparations get under way for the G20 Summit over November 15 and 16. Road closures began a week before world leaders and their media lackeys were due to arrive. Manholes and utility service grates in footpaths in the CBD and around the G20 venue in South Brisbane have been sealed as a precaution against sabotage.
Protesters successfully stopped self-described “pick up artist” Julien Blanc from giving his planned seminar on October 6 on how to manipulate and sexually assault women. Protests followed Blanc throughout his attempted Australian tour, causing venues to dump his events in multiple cities, and he finally returned to the US on November 7.

World

In an interview with Pagina do MST's Iris Pacheco, Alexandre Conceicao, a national leader of the Movement of Rural Landless Workers (MST), said social movements played a fundamental role in the October 26 re-election of President Dilma Rousseff, the candidate of the Workers' Party (PT). Dilma won 51%, defeating her main rival, Aecio Neves. The interview, below, was translated by Federico Fuentes. * * *
The protests over the 43 missing students in Iguala, who are now said to have been assassinated and burned, have continued in Mexico City. Hundreds of Mexicans protested overnight on November 8 in Mexico capital. They expressed theri outrage in relation to statements given the day before by the head of the attorney-general's Office, Jesus Murillo Karam, who said the 43 students were executed and burned in Ayotzinapa.
Delegates from environmental groups from around the world gathered on the Venezuelan island of Margarita this month as part of the country's “Social Precop”. The event was coordinated by the Venezuelan government in a bid to take the “voice of the people” into the United Nations talks on climate change scheduled for December in Peru. Over several days, movements and activists put the final touches to the “Margarita Declaration” that was drafted in July after four days of debate and discussion.
Representatives of victims of Colombia's decades-long civil war, who are taking part in the peace talks in Cuba, issued a statement on November 2 requesting more protection from the Colombian government. They were responding to death threats and warnings from right-wing paramilitary groups. The talks are taking place between the Colombian government and the left-wing Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.
Bolivian President Evo Morales has handed over three new schools and two roofed outdoor community centres in the Sacaca Municipality of the southern Potosi Department. “We are going to continue working, your vote has not been in vain,” said Morales, who was re-elected on October 12 with more than 60% of the vote. In the Caripuyo municipality in Potosi, Morales also inaugurated a market and an electrical system for the Caripuyo community.
An incredible political transformation has been taking shape in the “Land of the Upright or Incorruptible People”, Burkina Faso. Twenty-seven years after the assassination of revolutionary leader Thomas Sankara, Burkinabes turned out in their hundreds of thousands, for several days of protest. Chanting “enough is enough”, it echoed a long history of trade union activism against political repression in the country, as well as protests staged through the Balai Citoyen collective. After four days of the popular anger, president Blaise Compaore vacated his post.
The controversial Sivens dam project in south-west France has been temporarily suspended after the death of 21-year-old activist Remi Fraisse while protesting at the site on October 25. An autopsy found that Fraisse had likely died from a police stun grenade that hit him in the back. Protests erupted across France in the immediate aftermath of the incident.
The statement below was released by the British Fire Brigades Union (FBU). *** The FBU Executive Council is appalled by the ongoing siege of the predominantly Kurdish town of Kobane in northern Syria by Islamic State (IS) forces. The executive council notes: • The IS attack on Kobane and resistance of Kurdish and other local forces. • The role of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE (all British/US allies) in building, assisting and encouraging the growth of IS.
The statement below was released by WikiLeaks on October 16 after it published a second leaked chapter from the proposed TransPacific Partnership trade deal. The TPP is being negotiated behind closed doors by the United States, Japan, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, Chile, Singapore, Peru, Vietnam, New Zealand and Brunei. ***
The number of Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land have doubled in the past 54 months, UN Commission on Human Rights member Cees Flinterman said ton October 31. Middle East Monitor said that day that Flinterman presented the fourth stage of a report monitoring activity of Israel's practices in Palestinian territory.
Millions of residents of Catalonia will indicate their preference for the future political status of their country, one of the 17 “autonomous communities” (regional governments) within the Spanish state, in the November 9 Catalan “participatory process”. The “process” will present voters with the same ballot paper as the original non-binding consultation adopted by the Catalan parliament on September 26 — which was immediately suspended by the Spanish Constitutional Court. Its asks: “(1) Do you want Catalonia to become a state? (2) If yes, do you want that state to be independent?”
Tunisians are now enjoying the pleasure of thinking up the most improbable “scenarios” of political alliances between political Islamists, militant secularists and left wingers. Why? The Tunisian parliamentary elections of October 26 did not produce a majority party and rumours are everywhere. For the left, the results have posed serious problems.
Green Party gubernatorial ticket in New York in the November 4 elections — headed by left-wing activist Howie Hawkins for governor and International Socialist Organization activist Brian Jones for lieutenant governor — scored a large rise in the Green vote.
In the run-up to the November 4 midterm elections, Democrats filled e-mail inboxes to the brim with messages that ranged from panicky to pleading. The subject lines revealed the desperation of the Democratic establishment as it tried to drum up money and support: “heartbreaking shame”, “deep trouble”, “devastating loss”, “Terrible news”, “we're BEGGING”, “begging … BEGGING”, “kiss any hope goodbye”.
Since Israel’s July-August military offensive against the Gaza strip, Venezuela has sent 50 tonnes of food and medicine to Palestine. On November 2, the Venezuelan government sent its third shipment of aid to Palestine as part of the measures ordered by President Nicolas Maduro to help Palestinians after Israel’s war. The shipment was sent by plane and consists of 10.3 tonnes of food and medicines.
More than 200,000 people demonstrated on streets up and down the country in protest against water charges. Even in the smaller towns across Ireland, people marched in their thousands, while cities crowd numbers were in the tens of thousands. About 30,000 braved incessant rain in Cork city. The march took almost an hour-and-a-half to make its way through Cork city centre. Among the politicians protesting was Sinn Fein’s Jonathan O’Brien, who said: “The government needs to recognise the numbers on the streets. People are not going to pay, it is a tax too far.”
Mumia Abu-Jamal, the most well-known political prisoner in the United States, now has a new law directed against him personally. The Pennsylvania legislature ― both Democrats and Republicans ― overwhelmingly voted to adopt the “Revictimization Relief Act” and Democratic governor Tom Corbett signed it into law. It came after Mumia delivered a pre-taped speech to Goddard College in Vermont on October 5. Mumia had been a student at Goddard as a youth. Students and faculty members voted to ask him to make this year's commencement address.
For all the supposed faults of Keynesian economics, the so-called cure of neoliberalism is proving far worse than the counter-cyclical spending disease so despised by conservatives. From the early years of the Industrial Revolution, a cycle of “boom and bust” was identified as a distinctive feature of capitalism after the first global slump in 1860. It was these crises, expected to be repeated every seven to 11 years, which led Karl Marx and Frederick Engels to predict that they would bring about the destruction of the system that engendered them.
Young black males are at a far greater risk of being shot dead by police in the United States than their white counterparts, a new study has found. Salon.com said on October 13 that Black youths were 21 times more likely to be shot dead by police, according to a ProPublica analysis of federally collected data on fatal police shootings between 2010 and 2012.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott is determined to blame the Russian government for the tragic deaths of 298 civilians, including 38 Australians, when Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine. Abbott went as far as to threaten to “shirtfront” Russian President Vladimir Putin during the November 15 and 16 G20 Summit in Brisbane.

Culture

Here's this month's roundup of left-leaning music, with a strong contingent from Melbourne. What album, or albums, would you suggest? Comment below, on Twitter or Facebook. * * *
Activist Arts Festival The Bella Union, Carlton South November 15, 12.30pm Sea Shepherd, Amnesty and Refugee Action Collective are among a range of activist groups involved in the Activist Arts Festival, an initiative set to connect local communities with activist groups across Melbourne in a non-protest environment.
100 Days Phil Monsour September, 2104 $19.99 www.philmonsour.com Referring to the war in Vietnam, Joan Baez once said that if you don't fight against a rotten thing you become a part of it. It’s an attitude Brisbane-based singer-songwriter Phil Monsour lives by. For more than a decade, he has made it his mission to fight the rotten thing at the heart of the Middle East: Israel’s genocidal dispossession of the Palestinians.
Renegades Of Munk Renegades Of Munk Released September 2014 Impossible Odds Records www.renegadesofmunk.com Mark Munk Ross says he has learnt to make his music more appealing by injecting a big dose of humour into his hard-hitting songs. "I try to make them humorous, which then makes it accessible to fans that might not be that political," says the man better known as Munkimuk, the "Grandfather of Indigenous hip-hop". "But they are still digesting it, whether they know it or not," he says. "Smart game plan I think."