Issue 1038

News

The workers of International Flavours & Fragrances began occupying their building on January 27 as part of an ongoing strike. The Dandenong Leader reported workers "were locked out today after negotiations for a new workplace agreement stalled. About 60 workers were stranded by indefinite lockout by management early this morning. Negotiations have been ongoing since June, after contention arose over management’s proposal of a 55 cent an hour wage increase if workers forfeited one of their two paid ten minute breaks.
"Today was the best Invasion Day protest that I have ever been to," Socialist Alliance councillor Sue Bolton told Green Left on January 26. "There was a real feeling of Aboriginal Pride and Resistance. The crowd was bigger today too." The protest began with a smoking ceremony near Parliament House and then a rally on the Parliament Steps.
Help distribute Green Left Weekly. Call 1800 634 236 or drop in to your local activist centre and pick up a bundle of papers to hand out in your workplace, school or community. Melbourne's annual Pride March recognises and celebrates Victoria's gay, lesbian, bisexual, intersex and transgender community. This year it celebrates its 20th anniversary. Join more than 100 groups in a march down Fitzroy Street in St Kilda on February 1.
"The Abbott government's humiliating backdown on its proposed $20 GP rebate cut, further deepens the government's general political crisis," Susan Price, Socialist Alliance candidate for the seat of Summer Hill in the March 28 NSW state election, said on January 22. "The fact that the government was forced by a public outcry from doctors and the community to drop its plan to slash the Medicare rebate paid for GP consultations of less than 10 minutes is a major win for the movement to defend Medicare over the past 12 months," she said.
There is one message refugees in the Manus Island detention centre want Australia to hear: we need help. In a letter written on January 20, a group of asylum seekers taking part in a mass hunger strike wrote: “In here alarms are ringing but heartless politicians are still indifferent.” They said they were writing “from the heart of Manus” as the hunger strike entered its “ninth day and it will continue”. “We will continue our push until we reach our ultimate goal, which is freedom.”
More than 10,000 followers of the beautiful game sang, danced, shouted and chanted their way into AAMI Park for the Palestine vs Jordan match in this year’s Asian Cup. Although the 5-1 result in Jordan’s favour was no real surprise, supporters were as jubilant at the mere presence of the Palestinian team as they were at its first tournament goal.

Twenty-two members of Resistance: Young Socialist Alliance initiated a 24-hour hunger strike in solidarity with the hunger-striking refugees on Manus Island. The action, held from noon on January 20 until noon on January 21, aimed to draw attention to the plight of 700 refugees on Manus Island. It was a symbolic gesture that allowed young people from around the country to start conversations with others who were unaware of what was happening on Manus Island at the direction of the Australian government.

Analysis

Jonathan Sri, Greens candidate for the seat of South Brisbane, joined Evan Verner to talk about the state of politics in Queensland and Australia, what made him run as a politician and his views on different political issues. In this interview, Sri discusses his views on politics and how music has influenced his view of the world. * * * The first time I saw Jonathan Sri was at a rally where he was on stage delivering one of his slam poems. "This is Queensland, where no man is carried we like our blacks in jail and our gays unmarried
The Abbott government is very keen to tell us all that the new Productivity Commission review into workplace relations is not, in any way, a bid to revive the Coalition's deeply unpopular WorkChoices laws. Which, of course, as they keep saying, are totally “dead and buried”.
The policy objective of most central banks, including the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), is full employment, even though it continues to be the failed promise of governments at every level. The federal government pledged to create one million jobs over five years when it was elected in 2013, a rate of more than 16,500 jobs a month. Yet in its first year of office less than 12,000 jobs were created each month as the official unemployment rate went up.
Forty Australian economists have issued a statement prior to the Greek national elections on January 25 to condemn the debt recovery program imposed on the nation as unsustainable. The wide ranging list includes nine professors of economics, among them Professor John Hewson from the Australian National University (former federal leader of the Australian Liberal Party).
The Socialist Alliance released this statement on January 23 on the Queensland election. * * * The re-election of the Liberal-National Party (LNP) for a second term on January 31 — with or without Premier Campbell Newman — would be devastating. A re-elected LNP would claim a mandate to complete the sale of public assets, begun by the previous Labor government and extended during the first three years of LNP.
As the Queensland election campaign enters its final days, a Labor victory seems unlikely. Labor and the Liberal-National Party (LNP) say they will not do deals with minor parties. Recent opinion polls indicate the LNP will be re-elected with a clear majority. However, Campbell Newman could still be replaced as premier. Opinion polls are predicting between 10% and 11% swings to Labor. It needs a swing of 5.4% to unseat Newman in his electorate of Ashgrove.
BABY FEROUZ AND HIS FAMILY RELEASED FROM DARWIN DETENTION Baby Ferouz Myuddin and his family have been released from detention in Darwin. Ferouz was born in Brisbane two months after his Rohingya parents arrived on Christmas Island seeking asylum. The family have been involved in a long-running legal battle with the government over whether the boy could apply for a protection visa as he was born in Australia. The government argued that he could not because he was an unauthorised maritime arrival and the Federal Court agreed.
Despite the brutal cuts to leading renewable energy bodies by the Coalition government last year, incredible benchmarks in the field have been achieved.
Under the cover of Christmas, 10 peak representative bodies of people with disability were defunded by the federal government. Hang on, how does that work? Is this government not rolling out the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) that seeks to consult widely with people with disabilities and their advocates? Is this not the promise of a new arena of flexibility and choice, a “consumer-led” initiative that puts disability rights and voice front and centre?
People with a disability or a mental illness and their families have not had sufficient access to the services, programs and funding necessary for fully independent inclusion in society. For a person with a disability to participate in the community, in many circumstances, equipment and organisational assistance is needed.
A study conducted by Oxfam and released on January 19 highlighted the widening gap between rich and poor, showing that by 2017 the world’s richest 1% would own more than half of the world’s wealth. The study, titled Wealth: Having it all and wanting more, was released to coincide with the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos. It analysed data from Credit Suisse and Forbes about the makeup of the 1% and the global distribution of wealth.
"They took my boy’s body away," said mother, Gwen Sturt. "I wanted to go with my son. They left us behind. They didn’t care to listen."
The shocking bipartisan cruelty towards refugees and asylum-seekers continues to expose the moral bankruptcy of the federal coalition government and the equally culpable ALP opposition. The latest despicable acts of criminal neglect and denial of human rights by our government towards asylum-seekers have been tragically playing out in a Darwin detention centre and in the Australian detention centre on PNG’s Manus Island, to our daily horror and disgust. Iranian asylum-seeker “Martin” is now at a point of no return after more than 80 days on hunger strike in a Darwin detention centre.
A popular argument suggests Aboriginal people always burned country so non-Aboriginal Australians should too, albeit for modern purposes, such as fuel reduction burns. Historian Bill Gammage argued this in the popular and influential book The Biggest Estate on Earth (2011). Remarkably, the book has attracted the praise of writers from both the left wing Green Left Weekly and the far-right Institute of Public Affairs (IPA).
Every week, on average, in Australia, more than one woman is murdered by her present or former partner. Family violence is now the leading cause of death and injury for women under 45, and a staggering one-in-three women experience violence by a former or present intimate partner. On International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on November 24 last year, Telstra announced the introduction of an employment policy that provides for 10 days paid domestic violence leave each year for its employees.

World

It may sound like an ironic joke, but it isn’t. Less than a week after the huge rallies in defence of “free expression” after the murders of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists, French authorities have jailed a youth for irony. The arrest is part of a harsh crackdown on free speech in the country that has prompted criticism from national and international human rights groups.
Venezuelan assistance to Palestine has played an important role in helping Palestine achieve domestic development goals, said Palestine's ambassador to venezuela, Linda Sabeh Ali. Sabeh Ali said her people hope to achieve some of the same freedoms the Venezuelan people have enjoyed in recent years. “Venezuela is a free land of liberators. We dream of a free country like this [Venezuela],” Sabeh Ali said in a January 21 interview to Venezuelan state media.
The wave of social and environmental destruction sweeping India in the age of globalisation can be seen in the “development” being imposed on entire sections of small farmers, fishing communities, forest tribes and small artisans. It can be gauged from two instances of attempts to build coal-fired power stations in sensitive ecological regions of coastal Andhra Pradesh, a state in south-east India.
Allegations made by south Indian Tamil fisherfolk against the recently deposed Mahinda Rajapaksa government in Sri Lanka reveal a trail of death and corruption. They said 750 fisherfolk have been killed by the Sri Lankan navy since 1983. Eighty-four boats were seized in the past six months alone.
The Venezuelan government has congratulated Alexis Tsipras, the leader of the left-wing Syriza party, who won a huge victory in Greece's parliamentary elections on January 25. Tsipras has been inaugurated as the country's prime minister. A Venezuelan government statement said: “Venezuela warmly congratulates the Syriza coalition party and Alexis Tsipras for their historic victory, wishing them success and complete solidarity and support.”
In Australia, the life of a teaching student comes with certain inconveniences, but not acute physical danger at the hands of law enforcement, political authorities and organised crime. Sadly, that is not the case in Mexico. On the night of September 26-27 last year, in the southern state of Guerrero, police attacked a bus convoy taking a group of students from their normales rurales (rural teaching college) in Ayotzinapa to the city of Iguala.
Leader of the Greek radical left wing party SYRIZA Tsipras, took an oath pledging to "always serve the interests of the Greek people", rather than the traditional religious oath, in his swearing-in as the nation's new prime minister on the afternoon of January 26. The ceremony was held before the President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias at the Maximos Mansion in central Athens. This is the first time in the history of Greece that a prime minister has not taken the traditional oath and blessing of holy water from the Archbishop of Greece.
The victory of SYRIZA — Greece’s Coalition of the Radical Left — in the January 25 elections caused enormous outpouring of joy on the streets of Athens and confirmed general expectations. The “poll of polls” done on the day before the election had SYRIZA winning 37.5% and 146 seats. The final result was 36.49% and 149 seats. SYRIZA will now form government in alliance with the socially conservative, but anti-Brussels, Independent Greeks.
Green Left Weekly/s Vivian Messimeris spoke with SYRIZA activist and pensioner Sissy Vovou in Athens about the effects of austerity and the hope a SYRIZA government brings. You can read all of the Green Left reporting from Greece here and follow the Green Left live blog on the elections here. What impact have the austerity measures had on you?
“Greece is leaving behind the destructive austerity, fear and authoritarianism. It is leaving behind five years of humiliation and pain,” SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras told a joyous crowd of flag-waving supporters after the radical left party won a large victory in the January 25 elections. You can follow all the news and updates at Green Left's live blog.
Thousands gathered to watch SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras give his victory speech in front of Athens University on the night of Jaunary 25, after SYRIZA won the Greek elections with more than 36% of the vote. Some were jubilant, but others were visibly moved. SYRIZA member Marina Moutafidou described how she had been waiting for this moment for more than 40 years.
Today we visited one of the solidarity clinics that operates in the suburb of Peristeri. We met with some of the volunteers that work in the clinic that included two doctors as well as other activists. The clinic is staffed by 60 volunteers, including 20 doctors, and offers free medical consultations and pharmaceuticals. Peristeri is largely a working class suburb of 400,000 people and is located in west Athens, which has a population of 1 million. Before the economic crisis most residents worked in blue-collar industry or were self-employed in small businesses.
A crowd of about 80 people gathered to hear SYRIZA candidates speak at an outdoor meeting held in the suburb of Ambelokipi. Several candidates spoke passionately about the need for change, the need for action and the need for self-reliance. I was asked to present greetings in Greek on behalf of Green Left Weekly and Socialist Alliance.
Welcome to Green Left's live election blog for the Greek Elections! Dick Nichols, Vivian Messimeris and Athanasios Lazarou will be updating live from Athens throughout the day. Voting has just begun in Athens and the big news is that the Coalition of the Radical Left party, SYRIZA, are widely believed to be set for a historic victory over the current New Democracy government. Led by the young and charismatic Alexis Tsipras, SYRIZA are set to become the first left wing party to hold power in Europe for decades and will be the first anti-austerity party to come to power in the Eurozone.
Vivian Messimeris is part of the Green Left Weekly team covering the elections in Greece, which polls give radical left group SYRIZA a strong chance of winning on January 25. She spoke to Hara Petsiou, a cleaner sacked from her job at the finance ministry. The sacked cleaners are fighting for their jobs. You can read more of Green Left's eyewitness coverage of Greece here. *** Can you explain what you are protesting about?
Green Left Weekly journalist Vivian Messimeris, in Greece as part of Green Left's team reporting on the country's crucial January 25 elections, spoke to people in Athens on the elections and the likelihood of a win by radical left group SYRIZA. You can read more coverage of Greece and the elections here. *** Manolis Litsioltis Pensioner
Ozgur Amed is a journalist, columnist, teacher, and activist from Diyarbakir in south-eastern Turkey. He spoke to Dylan Murphy, in conjunction with Rojava Report, about the democratic revolution underway in predominantly Kurdish Rojava in the Syrian state ― opposing both the Assad regime and fanatical Islamic State (IS). Despite sustained attacks by IS on Kobane in Rojava, resistance fighters liberated most of the city ― and Rojava's fascinating and inspiring experiments in direct democracy live on.
Early each morning, Um Atiya makes toast on a mud stove. She has become reliant on the stove since Israel’s 51-day attack on Gaza in July and August last year. Electricity and cooking gas are scarce throughout the Gaza Strip. The situation has been particularly difficult in recent weeks. Gaza’s power plant was shut down on December 28, its fuel reserves exhausted due to lack of funds. Um Atiya only has six hours of electricity a day.
Sami Ziadna, who died as a result of excessive tear gas inhalation on Jaunary 18, was the 50th Palestinian citizen of Israel to be killed by Israeli police since October 2000. Then, as protests spread throughout Palestinian communities in Israel, 13 unarmed demonstrators were shot and killed by police officers in northern Galilee. About 1.7 million Palestinians carry Israeli citizenship, but dozens of discriminatory laws stifle their political expression and limit their access to state resources, including land and education.
An estimated 33,000 people marched through the Basque city of Donostia on January 17 to protest ongoing Spanish state repression against civil rights activists and lawyers in the Basque Country. Marching under a large banner reading “Human Rights, Resolution, Peace”, the demonstration included members of the Basque pro-independence left coalition EH Bildu, trade unions and supporters of Basque political prisoners.
Tens of thousands gathered in Omonia Square to hear Alexis Tsipras, leader of radical left party SYRIZA, speak at the last campaign rally before Greece's January 25 crucial election — which polls indicate SYRIZA will win. The crowd packed into the square and stretched as far as the eye could see. The atmosphere was electric. People were aware of the political significance and historic weight of this moment.
In the days ahead of Greece's January 25 general elections, all signs point to victory for the Alexis Tsipras-led Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA). The big unknown is whether the party will win an absolute majority in the 300-seat Greek parliament, freeing it from the need to negotiate with minority parties and ending the chance of a further national poll in case negotiations fail.
Speakers from the SYRIZA -- the radical left force poised to win Greece's January 25 general elections -- addressed the topic of “How To Recover From Unemployment” and the role of the Manpower Employment Organisation (OAED) in Athens on January 20. The meeting was addressed by SYRIZA candidates Despina Spanou, Dimitrios Stratoulis and Nazos Iliopoulos, as well Maria Karamesini, a SYRIZA member and economics lecturer at Panteio University.

Culture

Here's this month's radical record round-up, from Japanese robotics to Italian hardcore. What album, or albums, would you suggest? Comment below, on Twitter or Facebook.

1. DAVID ROVICS - MEANWHILE IN AFGHANISTAN

Blue King Brown (pictured) have are back on tour in January to promote their new album Born Free and just generally to spread the love with their fans. The album, which was released in November, is a cutting-edge roots selection of tracks centred around the message of internationalism and the people of the world coming together to support social justice.
Blowing The Roof Off The Twenty-First Century: Media, Politics, and the Struggle for Post-Capitalist Democracy Robert W McChesney Monthly Review Press 272 pages Published November 2014 www.blowingtheroofoff.com The work of renowned media critic Robert McChesney “has been of extraordinary importance”, says the “world's top public intellectual”, Noam Chomsky. Green Left Weekly's Mat Ward spoke to McChesney about his new book, Blowing The Roof Off The Twenty-First Century. * * *