Issue 1055

News

Last week, the Gippsland environment group Goongerah Environment Centre (GEC) was shortlisted for the prestigious United Nations World Environment Day Awards in the Habitat Restoration and Biodiversity category. The announcement came as the Victorian government was threatening to prosecute GEC volunteers for exposing an illegal rainforest logging operation.
This month, the Radioactive Exposure (RAD) Tour will travel almost 5000 kilometres through three states exposing the reality of radioactive racism, the impacts of uranium mining, radioactive waste and nuclear expansion. The Rad Tour is a wild ride. It bundles activists, campaigners and anyone with an interest in learning about the nuclear industry into buses to travel dusty desert roads and long highways on a journey through Australia’s nuclear landscape.
ADELAIDE Watch a film with us: Class Dismissed: How TV Frames the Working Class on Saturday June 20 at 6.30pm. The film examines whether TV portrayals of the working class are accurate, and how they affect the ways viewers think and behave. Salvation Army Worship and Community Centre, 70 Marion St, Unley. Ph Matthew Buckley 0406 822 894. BRISBANE March at a rally to welcome refugees on Saturday June 20 at 11am. King George Square. Ph Paul 3392 3843. Email. CAIRNS
The University of Sydney has found no grounds to dismiss Associate Professor Jake Lynch as director of the university’s Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, following its investigation into possible breaches of its code of conduct. Lynch will keep his job and has been cleared of serious misconduct after an investigation into a campus protest left him facing dismissal. This follows an announcement by the university in April clearing Lynch of accusations of anti-Semitism.
Exorbitant gas and electricity bills are threatening Victorian living standards. The Essential Services Commission (ESC) of Victoria reported that more than 34,000 households were disconnected from essential utilities in 2013/14. The residential electricity disconnection rate increased this year to 1.47 disconnections per 100 customers, a 36% increase on the 1.07 disconnections in 2012/13. The ESC also reported an increase in the gas disconnection rate to 1.33 disconnections per 100 customers, a 42% increase on the rate in 2012/13.
JAPANESE ZOOS TO BAN TAIJI DOLPHINS In a decision heralded as “the beginning of the end of dolphin hunting”, Japan’s peak zoo association has voted to stop members buying dolphins captured in the globally condemned Taiji hunts. The decision came after a decade of sustained pressure and a lawsuit begun by animal welfare charity Australia for Dolphins, which led the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) to suspend its Japanese member due to its involvement in the hunts.
FRANCE BANS GROCERS FROM THROWING OUT LEFTOVER FOOD French supermarkets will be banned from throwing away or destroying unsold food and must instead donate it to charities or for animal feed, under a law passed unanimously by the French National Assembly to crack down on food waste.
Newcastle based group Hunter Asylum Seeker Advocacy (HASA) held a successful fundraiser for the asylum seekers who have been given so-called 'residency' on Nauru. Earlier this year one of the asylum seekers had opened up a Pakistani restaurant in Nauru. HASA asked The Love Tree Cafe in Newcastle if they could host a solidarity dinner there, following the recipes of the Pakistani restaurant. To their astonishment, The Love Tree not only agreed to do it, but did so gratis. Staff volunteered their time, and the venue and food were provided free to maximise the returns.
Dozens of members and officials of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) rallied at the Block on May 26to show support for the Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy (RATE) and its ongoing struggle for social housing for the Aboriginal community. They were also there to oppose the Aboriginal Housing Corporation’s attempt to evict the embassy from the site. The eviction notice for the embassy had come into effect that day.
The residents of Perth’s southern suburbs are fighting to stop construction of the Perth Freight Link (PFL), a $1.6 billion segment of the federal government’s national infrastructure program. The fight is as significant as Sydney’s struggle to stop WestConnex and Melbourne’s struggle against the East West Link.
On May 28 members and supporters of Climate Action Moreland rallied to urge the government to close Hazelwood power station. Hazelwood is Australia’s dirtiest power station. Burning brown coal in Hazelwood creates 15% of Victoria’s greenhouse pollution, a huge 16 million tonnes a year. It uses 27 billion litres of water a year, and it's Australia’s biggest emitter of dangerous dioxins. It is old, inefficient and hopelessly out-of-date.

Analysis

Hundreds of environmental activists blocked a port terminal in Seattle on May 16 to protest against Royal Dutch Shell’s proposed drilling in the Arctic. Shell is set to carry out more environmentally irresponsible deep-water drilling as a result of their planned $US74 billion takeover of rival company BG. BG is a British multinational with several deep-water drilling projects around the globe. In 2008, it paid $US3.4 billion for Curtis LNG in Queensland and now exports coal seam gas (CSG) to Asia from Gladstone.
This speech was given by high-school student Lawson Tanner at a rally for marriage equality in Sydney on May 31. *** The long road of changing public opinion and constant campaigning, which has brought us to now, a time where many believe this could be it. The Greens have recently introduced a private member’s bill to amend the Marriage Act to remove restrictions on marriage being between a man and a woman, and Labor have also put in a similar bill.
Marriage Equality has come to Ireland through a popular referendum. The result was hailed by the May 23 New York Times as placing Ireland “at the vanguard of social change”. This will be surprising to many, considering Ireland is a country in which transgender status is not recognised by the state, abortion is illegal, gay couples are denied access to surrogacy, unmarried couples cannot adopt, and homosexuality was decriminalised as recently as 1994.
On May 19, the federal government’s Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption released a 116-page discussion paper recommending a swathe of new attacks on union rights. The proposals give the clearest indication so far of the likely outcome of the expensive inquisition into the union movement when the commission releases its findings in December. The document presents little more than a sweeping wish list of restrictions on the rights of union officials and the ability of unions to carry out their work to benefit members.
A new enterprise bargaining agreement reached by the Shop, Distributive & Allied Employees’ Association (SDA) is set to leave thousands of low-paid workers worse off, according to detailed analysis conducted by union official Josh Cullinan, the May 24 Sydney Morning Herald said. “Cullinan, who works for the National Tertiary Education Union, did the analysis in a personal capacity, estimated Coles could be saving more than $20 million a year in wages by underpaying its staff.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott has turned playing the national security card into a cliche in his desperate attempt to reverse his unpopularity by promising to protect Australians' lives from a serious threat of terrorism. On May 26, he again gave a press conference in front of half a dozen Australian flags, arguing that stopping Australians from being harmed by terrorists was his government's overriding priority and foreshadowing announcements in the coming parliamentary sitting week of a new round of legislation attacking fundamental civil liberties.
If you listen to most Western politicians you could be forgiven for thinking that refugees are a pesky annoyance, greedy “economic refugees” from the Third World illegitimately trying to break into this wealthy country. Their now monotonously routine scapegoating of refugees for the pain and insecurity that more and more people feel, even in the richest countries in the world, translates into plain abuse out there in the public.
The federal government wants to allow burning native forest waste to qualify for renewable energy subsidies under the Renewable Energy Target (RET). They reached a compromise with Labor early this month for a renewable energy target of 33 gigawatt hours (GWh). However, negotiations have since broken down due to the federal government’s fine print inclusion of burning native forest biomass in furnaces and the retention of two-yearly reviews of the RET.
A 59-year-old Aboriginal man died in Darwin on May 21 while being held under controversial new “paperless arrest laws”. These laws give police the powers to arrest people for summary offences — such as “obscenity”, undue noise, offensive language — and hold them for up to four hours at a time. In NSW, a program that has been proved to prevent Aboriginal deaths in custody has lost funding under the federal government’s ironically named Indigenous Advancement Strategy.
Australian lawmakers are set to begin debating marriage equality, and the anti-equality brigade is not happy at all. The Australian Christian Lobby’s managing director Lyle Shelton is the public face of the campaign against marriage equality in Australia. I certainly don’t agree with him on everything, but I do agree with his motto, which can be aptly summarised by Helen Lovejoy’s catchphrase, “won’t somebody please think of the children.” But for once in my life I should make a minor confession: I mostly agree out of pure narcissism. This is my open letter to Shelton. * * *
The Baird Coalition government is rushing its legislation for the privatisation of NSW power assets through the Legislative Assembly, without waiting for the report of the Legislative Council’s inquiry into the sell-off, due on June 2. The move to fast track the bill before the inquiry, chaired by Christian Democrat leader Fred Nile, releases its report, exposes the inquiry as a sham, according to Greens NSW MLC John Kaye. Premier Mike Baird has ridden roughshod over the process and denied the public a proper investigation into the long-term impacts of the sale.
The township of Camberwell in the Hunter Valley and Camberwell coalmine in the background. Early this month, Beyond Zero Emissions published a report called Fossil Economy, which highlighted the potential economic risks to Australia because of its heavy dependence on fossil fuel exports.
In 1939, as Europe stood on the verge of all-out war, Nazi Germany, true to their promise, had issued and implemented 400 different decrees for the regulation of the public and private lives of Jews. Their properties were confiscated, and their businesses and synagogues were burned down. These laws effectively purged Jews from schools, academia, business and public life, and declared them “undesirables”. Many Jews were forced to seek asylum in other Western countries.
Socialist Alliance’s Sue Bolton spoke to Green Left Weekly’s Dave Holmes about her work as an elected socialist local councillor in Moreland, a municipality in Melbourne. This is the fourth in a series of interviews with Bolton. You can find the whole interview at links.org.au. * * *

World

Two blasts ripped through a rally of the left-wing HDP (People’s Democratic Party) in the city of Amed (Diyarbakir) southeastern Turkey (North Kurdistan) on June 5, killing four people and injuring more than 400 just two days before a general election, the Dicle News Agency (DIHA) said. The HDP is presenting a strong challenge to the AK Party of authoritarian President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Strike actions in the region of Puno. Photo: TeleSUR / Rael Mora. A 48-hour strike regional strike in the south of Peru defied a state of emergency on Mary 27 and 28, continuing to protest against Southern Copper Corp's unpopular Tia Maria mine.
The Bulgarian Prisoners' Rehabilitation Association (BPRA) won a victory on May 22 when it was invited to send a representative to a Ministry of Justice working group on prison reform. The BPRA was founded in 2012 by Jock Palfreeman, an Australian anti-racist activist serving a 20-year sentence in Sofia central prison after he was framed for murdering a neo-Nazi. It is the first inmate-run prisoners' rights group in Bulgaria's history.
Since the 1973 United States Roe vs Wade Supreme Court decision in legalising most abortions, there has been a steady erosion of women’s abortion rights in the US - with the complicity of both major capitalist parties. A new wave of restrictions spearheaded by Republicans has developed in the past three years, gaining more traction in the past year.
Protest against Guarimba, Caracas, January 21. Photo: Cory Fischer-Hoffman. Leftists in Venezuela have put forward several explanations for the pressing economic difficulties and growing discontent that have beset the nation recently. These difficulties raise the possibility of an opposition takeover of the National Assembly in this year’s elections.
Air strikes by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen killed more than 80 people on May 27, making it the deadliest day since the start of Saudi military operations against the Yemeni rebels two months ago. The Saudi raids took place near Yemen's border with Saudi Arabia. Residents told Reuters that more than 40 civilians were killed as the coalition's planes failed to target the rebel combatants who were fighting Saudi border soldiers at Bakeel al-Meer area in Hajjah province.
The long-running Iraq war, now in its 12th year, re-appeared in the corporate media with news another major city, Ramadi, had fallen to the self-styled Islamic State (IS). Barely 11 months after the Iraqi army's defeat in Mosul, it turned and fled the Ramadi battlefield, surrendering US military equipment to the IS. Ramadi, situated in the predominantly Sunni province of Anbar, has always resisted the US military and its client armies, such as Shia militias controlled by the Baghdad authorities.
“Iran is not a safe space,” Bahman, an Iranian refugee living in Australia and active in Iranian Workers Solidarity, told Green Left Weekly. Bahman was responding to Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop’s recent visit to Iran, where she tried to persuade the Iranian government to accept asylum seekers sent back to Iran involuntarily.
Saudi Arabia, a member of the UN's Human Rights Council and a close US ally, is hiring more executioners, according to its Ministry of Civil Service website.
It was clear early on that something special was happening in the May‭ ‬24‭ ‬local government and regional elections across the Spanish state.‭ In Spanish elections,‭ ‬the voter participation rate gets announced at‭ ‬1pm and‭ ‬6pm‭ — ‬while voting is still taking place.‭ ‬Well before the polling stations closed,‭ ‬the news was that participation was up about‭ ‬5%‭ ‬in Catalonia and about‭ ‬8%‭ ‬in the working-class districts of Barcelona.‭
Washington DC was the converging point for some of the world’s most oppressive regimes on May 13 and 14, when President Barack Obama hosted a billionaire conglomerate known as the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). The group consists of the Middle Eastern countries of Kuwait, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE and Oman. The cosy US-GCC relationship exemplifies the twisted nature of US foreign policy, especially in regards to Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia has been accused of human rights violations against its own citizens, including political activists, journalists, and women.
Celebrations and street parties broke out across Ireland after the success of the May 22 referendum to legalise same-sex marriages. “Same-sex couples could be married in Ireland by the end of the year after a referendum described as a 'social revolution' solidly backed equal rights,” the Morning Star said on May 25.
Celebrating referendum victory in Dublin. Photo: An Phoblacht. As most of Ireland celebrates marriage equality – passed overwhelmingly in a May 22 referendum - the six counties in its north carved off and still claimed by Britain remain excluded.

Culture

Argentine football legend Diego Maradona welcomed the arrest of six FIFA executives by Swiss police in an interview with the Argentine Radio La Red on May 27. “Stop these shady businesses, stop lying to people, stop throwing a dinner to re-elect Blatter,” Maradona said, referring to current FIFA head Sepp Blatter, who is seeking re-election. Blatter was not named in the indictment, but his re-election in 2011 is part of the United States-initiated corruption probe.
Freedom Fallacy: The Limits of Liberal Feminism Edited by Miranda Kiraly & Meagan Tyler Published by Connor Court, 2015 With Miley Cyrus declaring herself “one of the biggest feminists in the world”, and Beyonce performing at the 2014 MTV Music Awards in front of a huge illuminated sign that read “Feminist”, it would appear that feminism has gone mainstream.
Independent journalist and author Antony Loewenstein has made a name for himself writing about war crimes, human rights abuses and corporate profiteering. For the first time, he is seeking to speak truth to power through the medium of film — with his first documentary Disaster Capitalism now in production. You can see a teaser at Loewenstein's website. You can visit http://antonyloewenstein.com for more details on his articles and books.
Here's this month's radical record round-up, with an emphasis on International Workers' Day, May 1. What album, or albums, would you suggest? Comment below, on Twitter or Facebook.

1. MARCEL CARTIER - UNITED STATES OF HYPOCRISY