Issue 1059

News

Staff of the Immigration and Border Force agency marked the first day of their newly merged federal department on July 1 by going on strike for the second time in a week. Two-hour stoppages and meetings took place at seaports, workplaces and international airports, including Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Darwin, Perth and Adelaide. Significant disruption of services was reported.
The Bring Back Asha campaign continues to grow. A snap rally at Sydney Town Hall on June 30, hosted by the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, had 300 demonstrators making a sea of white balloons and placards, listening to speakers condemning the return of baby Asha (not her real name) and her parents to the immigration detention centre on Nauru.
An ‪#‎Oxi‬ rally was held at Sydney Town Hall on the eve of the Greek referendum on the Troika's austerity ultimatum.
On July 4, hundreds of people rallied in Melbourne to "Let Greece Breathe." Protesters chanted "OXI"; meaning "NO" to the austerity cuts imposed by the banks on Greek people. Socialist Alliance Councillor, Sue Bolton, said "The Greek struggle is our struggle. A victory against austerity in Greece is important for the whole world." Photos by Ali Bakhtiarvandi.
Remand prison riot over smoking ban First Nations Liberation organised an action on June 30 in solidarity with the inmates, at the Metropolitan Assessment Prison, colloquially known as Metropolitan Aboriginal Prison because so many of the inmates are Aboriginal, following the riot that took place there in response to smoking bans due to commence on July 1. The action included a smoking ceremony. The ABC reported that about 300 prisoners were involved in the disturbance, which included breaching a “secure inner perimeter”.
An alliance of business, welfare and environmental groups and trade unions has formed to produce a joint set of goals and principles on climate policy. The Australian Climate Roundtable announced its formation on June 29. The group formed to try to reset the highly politicised and entrenched debate in Australia on climate change. It aims to demonstrate to politicians and the broader community that there is more that unites the business, environment, union and social groups than divides when it comes to wanting action on climate change.
SOSBLAKAUSTRALIA held its third round of international action against Aboriginal community closures over the weekend of June 26 to 28. There were rallies in most capital cities in Australia, including Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth, as well as London and Dunedin. Rallies in Sydney and Melbourne disrupted peak hour traffic due to rally goers marching through the city. In Sydney the march also included an Aboriginal dance troop performing at each intersection as the rally marched through the city to the Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy.
Venezuela halves malnutrition Venezuela was recognised by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on June 8 for meeting the UN millennium goal of halving malnutrition, Venezuelanalysis.com reported.
2015’s most pressing issues in 2015 GLTV team, Anna and Andry, asked participants at the Socialist Alliance National Conference held Sydney in June what they see as the most pressing issues of the day. They captured their thoughts in this video. Perth Freight Link: Fremantle council tells premier where to go!
Unions have slammed plans to axe more than 2700 jobs from the NSW power industry this year. Publicly owned electricity network companies Ausgrid, Endeavour Energy and Essential Energy have revealed plans to cut 2749 jobs from September, offering staff just one week to consult on the proposal. The announcement follows the recent passage of legislation by the NSW government to privatise the power "poles and wires" network. The proposed job cuts are part of preparations for the sale of long-term leases for the three public power companies.
More than 40 social workers, doctors, nurses, teachers and humanitarian staff who have worked inside Australia’s detention centres have signed an open letter challenging the government to prosecute them for disclosing abuses at detention centres. They have united in a show of defiance against the Border Force Act, which came into force on July 1, the day their letter was published. The Act criminalises the disclosure or recording of information about abuse occurring at detention centres.
The Communication Workers Union (CWU) has called for Australia Post (AP) CEO Ahmed Fahour to be sacked over his plans for 1900 job losses from the government-owned postal service. The call follows Fahour's statement on June 26 that AP would spend up to $190 million slashing employment in the agency in response to a declining volume of letter deliveries. AP employs 36,000 staff, with about 23,000 working in the mail service. Fahour claims the cuts follow losses in the mail delivery section totalling more than $1.5 billion in the last five years.
Website blocking legislation aimed at curbing Australian's access to online piracy was passed by the senate on June 21. The Copyright Amendment (Online Infringement) Act 2015 allows copyright holders to seek a Federal Court injunction to block websites they deem to have copyright infringement as their "primary purpose". The bill passed with bipartisan support and was opposed by Senators Ricky Muir, Glenn Lazarus, David Leyonhjelm and the Greens. Greens Senator Scott Ludlam put a series of amendments to minimise the most drastic elements but these were voted down.
ADELAIDE Learn at Students of Sustainability: Nourishing our roots, an annual environment and social justice conference, on Wednesday July 8 to Sunday July 12. Flinders University. Visit studentsofsustainability.org. CANBERRA Come to a conference: Queer Collaborations on Tuesday July 7 to Sunday July 12. The theme for this year is “Queer at Heart”. The Australian National University, East Rd, Acton. Visit qcanu2015.com. MELBOURNE
Locals and participants in the Radioactive Exposure Tour gathered to say no to Alkane's rare earths mine, on July 1. The mine, at Toongi, 30 kilometers south of Dubbo, will commence operation towards the end of the year. Uranium will not be sold, but it will be dug up and stored on site in a tailings dam, along with other toxic substances.
On June 24 about 150 people attended a forum organised by the Refugee Action Collective, Labor for Refugees and the Refugee Advocacy Network on the theme “How can we get Labor to oppose offshore detention?” Australian Council of Trade Unions president Ged Kearney told the meeting that the ACTU has recently adopted a stronger policy on refugees, based on recognition that “seeking asylum is a human right”.
There is standing room only at Singleton Diggers Club. People in hi-vis vests take turns with supporters of the village of Bulga giving short speeches to a panel of commissioners of the Planning Assessment Commission (PAC). At stake is the extension of a Rio Tinto coalmine. If it gets the green light, Saddleback Ridge, which buffers Bulga from the present noise and coal dust, will go. The 110 Aboriginal sacred sites will go. The amenity of rural life for the people of Bulga-Milbrodale and their belief in justice will go.
Under NSW government changes to TAFE called Smart and Skilled, many refugees are finding it difficult to study. While people with a permanent resident visa are allowed to study at TAFE, they are not eligible for VET-FEE HELP — the federal government loan that offers access to cover the cost of rising fees. Emmanuel Bakenga, a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo, lives in Wollongong and works part time for Green Connect, a social enterprise that employs resettled refugees to grow vegetables, keep waste out of landfill and turn food waste into compost.
Sydney protest in solidarity with Greece, June 28. Photo by Peter Boyle Protests are being planned in the Australian cities of Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra, Armidale and Brisbane in coming days in support of the Greek people and its elected SYRIZA-led government.
Over 100 people rallied in front of WA Parliament House on June 26, 2015 as part of the third #SOSblakaustralia "call to action" to stop forced closures of Aboriginal communities. Speakers included Aboriginal heritage advocate Clayton Lewis and Greens MLC Robin Chapple. Bella Bropho from the Swan Valley Nyungar Community gave a Welcome to Country.

Analysis

The Defence Department’s website says: “Exercise Talisman Sabre 2015 is a biennial combined Australian and US training activity, designed to … improve the combat readiness and interoperability between our respective forces. This exercise is a major undertaking that reflects the closeness of our alliance and the strength of the ongoing military-military relationship” and is “focused on the planning and conduct of mid-intensity ‘high end’ warfighting.”
The Aboriginal Medical Service Western Sydney (AMSWS) is an Aboriginal community-controlled health service based in Mt Druitt. The federal government has decided to stop its $4 million annual funding from July 1 this year, effectively forcing it to close down. AMSWS services the largest Aboriginal population in Australia. It has more than 11,000 active patients from greater Western Sydney and the Blue Mountains. Its closure will leave thousands of community members without access to essential services and put pressure on local hospital services and systems.
Redfern Aboriginal Tent Embassy (RATE) has led a successful occupation of the Redfern Block for more than a year, calling for affordable Aboriginal housing to be built on the site. RATE has been fighting off attempts by the Aboriginal Housing Corporation (AHC), led by Mick Mundine, to develop the site with a $70 million commercial and residential development. In the 1960s and ’70s the Block became a focal point for the modern day urban land rights movement. Protests led to grassroots organisations such as the Aboriginal legal, medical cultural and housing services.
The radioactive exposure tour — the RadTour — organised by Friends of the Earth and the Anti-uranium and Clean Energy collective (ACE), was on again this year from June 27 till July 8. Twenty-five people travelled from Melbourne through south and western NSW then onto South Australia. Green Left Weekly's Rachel Evans caught up with the RadTour at Lucas Heights and spoke to Dr Jim Green from Friends of the Earth. * * * How has the campaign to make Australia nuclear free been going?
We are at a point in time in which we face a huge ecological threat. A research article by six leading biological and environmental scientists published on June 19 in Science Advances estimated that vertebrate species were becoming extinct at more than 100 times the normal rate.
The Border Force Act came into force on July 1. Under this Act, people working in immigration detention centres risk two years’ jail for disclosing evidence of the horrendous, inhumane conditions in those places.
"Another bloody bogan. Shows she can't manage her money", the Coles cashier said as Sally left the store. It was Sally's first time using the Basics Card, and things were not off to a good start.
Things can seem overwhelmingly dark these days, but at least we get to watch conservatives losing their shit over marriage equality. Reactionary heads exploded across the US over the June 26 US Supreme Court decision to effectively legalise same-sex marriage in all 50 US states. And in Australia, panic grows at the prospect that we may follow suit.
Institutional corruption and lack of governance are serious issues requiring forensic and transparent public examination both in Australia and throughout the rich world. The global economy has been stagnant since 2008, thanks to unregulated financial derivative markets estimated at the time at one quadrillion (one million billion) US dollars. Betting on interest rates and foreign exchange rates accounted for more than half of this amount.

World

The United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) is held its primaries on June 28. Photo: TeleSUR. The latest study from polling firm Hinterlaces shows that 62% of Venezuelans want the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) to stay in government.
Photo: Stopwar.org.uk. Anti-war campaigners challenged British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon on July 2 after his call for more air strikes in Syria, warning that the action could fuel Islamic State recruitment. When the PM obtained Commons approval for the bombing of militant positions last year, he made it clear that this was limited to Iraq.
Streets in cities across Greece has erupted into celebrations as results from Sunday’s referendum showed voters clearly rejecting the bailout terms put forward by the country’s lenders. With over 91 percent of the votes counted, from nearly 9 million voters, the "No" vote rejecting the bailout terms from European Creditors continues to be well ahead in the polls.
Tens of thousands of Hondurans took to the streets in torch-lit marches on June 26 for the fifth week straight of Friday night protests. Marchers demanded the resignation of President Juan Orlando Hernandez and an independent investigation into the multi-million dollar corruption scandal embroiling the government.
Cuba is a world leader in healthcare. Photo: socialmedicine.org. Cuba became the first country in the world to be recognised by the World Health Organization (WHO) for officially eliminating mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis on June 30. “This is a major victory in our long fight against HIV and sexually transmitted infections, and an important step towards having an AIDS-free generation” said Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General.
Celebrations in Athens after the 'no' vote won. The statement below was released by Gabi Zimmer, president of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) bloc in the European parliament. The GUE/NGL unites representatives from left wing and socialist parties elected to the European parliament, including Greece's governing Syriza party. ***
Havana, Cuba, July 1. The US and Cuban governments announced on July 1 the official restoration of formal diplomatic ties by reopening embassies in each country. The two countries will open embassies as of July 20. The respective US and Cuban special interest sections, which function as diplomatic delegations, will be upgraded to embassies, with ambassadors soon to be appointed.
YPJ fighters defending Kobanê, June 26. Photo: ypgrojava.com. The “Islamic State” (IS) terror group attacks in Tunisia, Kuwait and France have grabbed global attention and condemnation. But the group's attack on Kobane in Rojava (Syrian Kurdistan) — and the fierce resistance — has been largely ignored.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro voiced solidarity with the Greek government of Alexis Tsipras on June 30 after Greece failed to pay US$1.8 billion to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Venezuelanalysis.com said on July 1. “I want to officially express solidarity to Prime Minister Tsipras and the Greek people on behalf of Venezuela,” Venezuela's socialist leader said on his weekly television program shortly after the IMF deadline.
Marchers in Honiara in support of West Papua’s bid to join the MSG, June 19. The Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) granted the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) observer membership during a summit meeting in Honiara on June 26. It also upgraded Indonesia’s membership from observer to associate.
President Rafael Correa called a rally on July 2 in defence of democracy and the pro-poor Citizens' Revolution his government leads after plans by the right-wing opposition for a violent coup were exposed. “We are ready to defend the revolution against the coup plotters,” Correa told thousands of supporters gathered outside the Presidential Palace on the evening of July 2. “We will remain firm in defending the revolution against the ultra-right.” he added.
Marchers in Athens reject austerity and demands of Greece's creditors, July 3.
The Jubilee Debt Campaign (JDC) released figures in April showing the International Monetary Fund had made €2.5 billion of profit out of its loans to Greece since 2010. With Greece missing its June 30, deadline for a €1.6 billion payment to the IMF, the figure fell to €900 billion. But JDC said if Greece repays the IMF in full, the figure will rise to €4.3 billion by 2024.
Across Africa, western Asia and Latin America in the 1980s, the growth of per capita GDP was brought to a halt. This was not a recession, it was a severe depression. And its cause was reckless lending by banks in the ’70s. A decade earlier, the euro currency had been invented. US dollars deposited in non-US banks and held there to avoid restrictions of US laws became negotiable financial instruments. These formed the basis for an unregulated market specialising in short-term loans.
“When I graduated from high school - Catholic high school - in 1983, I didn't even think that this would ever be on the map,” said Jeff Mead, now a middle school teacher from San Francisco. The “map” that Mead was referring to took on a drastically new appearance on June 26 when the US Supreme Court announced its five-four decision to strike down state laws banning same-sex marriage. This effectively legalised such marriages across the US.
We, the undersigned, stand in solidarity with the people of Greece and the SYRIZA-led government as they prepare for a referendum on July 5, 2015, on whether to accept the continuation of the program of neoliberal austerity or chart a new course free from the debilitating stranglehold of the Troika — the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank, and the European Commission. We support the call of SYRIZA for a “no vote” as the only option for the people of Greece, especially the working classes, to assert sovereign control over the country's economy and their own future.
The ALBA bloc, comprised of 12 Latin American and Caribbean nations, expressed its support to Greece, as the Mediterranean country continues to renegotiate its debt with eurozone lenders. In a statement June 28, the bloc, which calls itself a “People’s Trade Treaty,” said it stands with the Greek people and the SYRIZA government against the "destructive consequences of neoliberal transnational capital," which regional organization said looks to subvert Greek democracy through financial measures.
The message from the mainstream media and parties across Europe is Greece is to blame for its own predicament. But a growing grass-roots movement across the continent is pushing for an alternative approach that demands democracy, not austerity. In a speech to the Belgian parliament on June 10, conservative Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel declared that “the end of the Greek holiday has sounded.”

Culture

My son goes to a sprawling public school that provides the majority of players for our local soccer (football) league in Washington DC. He plays on a team of boys and girls where, as is often the case with six-to-eight-year-olds, the girls frequently dominate on the field of play. In addition, his awesome classroom teacher played soccer at the most legendary women’s collegiate program in the United States.
Bolivian President Evo Morales inaugurated a new football (soccer) stadium on June 24 in the central department of Cochabamba, naming the new athletic facility after the late Venezuelan revolutionary leader and president, Hugo Chavez. During his inauguration speech, Morales highlighted Chavez's legacy, saying: “He was a leader who possessed so much solidarity, as a president he taught us not be afraid of those who try to dominate us.”
Command & Control Eric Schlosser Allen Lane, 2013 632 pages A Short History Of Nuclear Folly Rudolph Herzog Melville House, 2014 252 pages Atomic Comics: Cartoonists Confront The Nuclear Age Ferenc Szasz University of Nevada Press, 2013 179 pages Atomic bombs have only been used in warfare twice, but they have nearly been detonated, through accident or mistake, many more times, writes Eric Schlosser in his book on nuclear weapons mishaps, Command and Control.
Float, Float, Dirty old boat Dirty old trade People afloat, crying, dying, fish holds of shame. Wave after wave, desperate, wretched, people abandoned, stranded by men who profit hope. Men who politic no hope, praying to Jesus, Who spoke, "Knock and the door shall be opened for you" Prime Minister, who prays spoke, Nope nope nope. Vote, Vote, Dirty old vote Dirty old politics People remote, receive, believe, lies full of shame. Wave after wave, affluent, feckless people democracy, hypocrisy. Deny the dirty old boat. Decry the people who float
Below Average The Funkoars www.thefunkoars.com Half-way through The Funkoars' set at The Basement in Sydney, the band suddenly announce that they are going to bring a "very special guest" on stage. Their fans, who were already acting like a bunch of unhinged lunatics, start roaring like they've been freed from the asylum. Who could it be? Perhaps their label mate from Golden Era Records, Aboriginal hip-hop heavyweight Briggs? Maybe their label bosses, Australia's most popular hip-hop act, the Hilltop Hoods?
Fans at a US college football match. It is a rare day when we wonder what National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) coaches are saying about racial justice and social change in the United States.
After delivering some bad news to presidential candidate Donald Trump to stop rockin’ to his “Rockin' In The Free World” song, it looks like Neil Young has also upset some of his fans over at Monsanto. In a statement to Billboard, multinational corporation Monsanto is letting it be known that its feelings have been hurt by the rock legend. The 69-year-old Canadian musician is releasing a new album entitled the Monsanto Years, targeting the chemical giant’s use of genetically modified seeds and pesticides.
Argentine football legend Diego Maradona confirmed on June 21 that he will run for FIFA's presidency, according to his friend and former co-host of a TeleSUR football show, Uruguayan journalist Victor Hugo Morales. “Diego will be candidate for FIFA [presidency], with all the authority he has,” Morales said, who now hosts TeleSUR's De Chilena! show.