Issue 1072

Australia

A rally was held in Geelong on October 12 to protest sexism from the city's mayor Darryn Lyons.

Lyons was photographed at a local Octoberfest event on October 10 wearing a tshirt featuring an image of a naked Madonna hitchhiking, taken from her 1992 book Sex, paired with the caption “Gas, grass or ass, no one rides for free”.

Geelong Trades Hall Council president Jackie Kriz gave the following speech on October 12 at a rally protesting against Geelong mayor Darryn Lyons wearing a sexist tshirt. She is a member of the Australian Nurses and Midwives Federation and the Socialist Alliance.

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We have to ask ourselves — is what the mayor did really that bad? I mean, he only wore a tshirt depicting a naked lady with some captions.

We've heard the comments — it's only a tshirt, or it's political correctness gone mad. What's the fuss? It's a trivial matter.

Thousands of people rallied in Melbourne on October 11 as part of a national day of action for refugee rights

The day before, doctors at the Royal Children's Hospital announced that they would refuse to let children in hospital be discharged into detention.

3-400 people rallied and marched in Brisbane on October 11 calling for the closure of detention centres at Manus Island and Nauru.

One feature of the rally was the involvement of campaigners for freedom of Mojgan - a refugee who was pulled out of her secondary school class in December 2014 and put back in detention.

The rally was organised by the Refugee Action Collective.

Talks are continuing in the Fair Work Commission between the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) and Hutchison Ports over the sacking of 97 waterside workers on August 6. Meanwhile, community assemblies are being maintained outside the gates of Hutchison terminals at Port Botany and the Port of Brisbane.

The company has said it is seeking a new enterprise agreement with the union, and has agreed to pay wages to the sacked workers until at least mid-November.

Moreland City Council voted unanimously to divest from fossil fuels on October 7. It is the first Australian council to do so.

Socialist Alliance councillor Sue Bolton, who has been working with 350.org and Climate Action Moreland on the campaign, said it was a “tribute to their hard work over almost three years”.

Greens councillors have also supported the campaign from the start.

“Last night, we crossed the final hurdle and decided to divest. Without the grassroots campaign, councillors would never have done this,” Bolton said.

A group of 20 refugee supporters staged a sit-in at the Department of Immigration and Border Protection on October 7. They were protesting the ongoing rapes and assaults against refugees on Nauru.

The protesters occupied the office for about 90 minutes before police arrived. According to one of the demonstrators, the activists entered the building at about 10.30am and started chanting.

The staff closed the reception area and called security, who filmed the demonstrators and told them to leave. When the activists refused to leave, the police were called.

The community campaigning organisation GetUp! recently emailed subscribers seeking donations so it could develop a pathway to 50% renewables by 2030.

Fifty percent renewables by 2030 is also Labor's current target. While it is an improvement on Labor's previous policies, it is not sufficient. The South Australian government has a 50% renewables target by 2025; the ACT has 100% by 2025.

We are facing a climate emergency, and Australia needs a rapid shift to renewable energy. Most climate campaigners have long called for 100% renewable energy, plus an end to coal exports.

A leaked management briefing from New South Wales government-owned electricity network business Ausgrid has revealed a plan to slash jobs, close local depots, axe apprenticeships, sell off state-of-the-art training facilities and outsource call centres all in the lead-up to the privatisation of the company.

The state government is committed to selling off 50.4% of Ausgrid on a 99-year lease in 2016.

The New South Wales government is preparing a fire sale of state-owned properties around the Sydney Harbour foreshore, on the pretext of funding an upgrade of the Circular Quay ferry wharves.

Premier Mike Baird announced on September 28 that government-owned hotels and office buildings would be sold to raise $200 million for the renovation project.

The 23rd Ernie awards for sexist behaviour were held late last month. The peak body for soccer, Football Federation Australia, took out the Gold Ernie for the gross pay gap between male and female soccer players.

When the Socceroos won the Asian Cup each player was paid $103,148. In contrast, if the Matildas had won the World Cup, they would have been paid $5600 each.

The Socceroos receive a $6000 base payment for every international game, while the Matildas get just $500.

The Queensland government did not prosecute gas company Santos over that state’s third largest oil spill despite the Department of Environment saying it had sufficient evidence, according to documents obtained by the Wilderness Society.

About 250,000 litres of crude oil was spilled at Santos’s Zeus oil field in the Cooper Creek floodplain south of Windorah in May 2013.

Santos took five days to stop the spill largely because it did not have contingency plans or experts in place and had to fly in an expert team from the United States.

A Queensland woman has won a High Court challenge against corporations owning human genes.

Yvonne D’Arcy took her fight against US-based biotech company Myriad Genetics to Australia’s highest court. The company has a patent over the BRCA1 gene that is linked to an increased risk of hereditary breast and ovarian cancers.

A Queensland woman has won a High Court challenge against corporations owning human genes.

In an embarrassing twist in one of the few prosecutions to come from the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption, the ACT Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) will drop a blackmail charge against Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) organiser John Lomax.

ACT DPP Jon White confirmed his office would offer no evidence against Lomax when he next appears in court on October 19.

The new Minister for Education and Training, Simon Birmingham announced on October 1 that he has no plans to reintroduce legislation to deregulate university fees this year: the key words in that statement are “this year”.

On September 21 the federal government released a Radicalisation Awareness Kit. The kit consists of a 32-page booklet that links environmental activism, “alternative music” and terrorism. Most prominently the case study of a young woman named Karen has been shared widely on social media. While Karen’s story starts off excitingly enough with university politics, direct action to protect the environment and alternative music, sadly in the end Karen sells out her activist ideals and joins an NGO.

Greens MLC and spokesperson for women Mehreen Faruqi launched her bill to remove abortion from the NSW Crimes Act on September 28, International Day of Action for Access to Safe and Legal Abortion. Faruqi said that there needed to be a campaign to “bust the myths surrounding abortion”.

World


Activists from France's Left Front. The Left Front is divided by strategic debates over how to confront Europe-wide austerity.

Five key figures of the European left have launched a new initiative “for a Plan B in Europe”.

Who won the September 27 elections for the Catalan parliament, called as a substitute for the Scottish-style independence referendum that the Spanish People's Party (PP) government refuses to allow? It depends who you ask.

On the night, most commentators on Madrid-based TV and radio called the result a defeat for the pro-independence camp: its two tickets — the mainstream nationalist Together for Yes and the anti-capitalist People's Unity Candidacies (CUP) - won only 47.74% of the vote against 52.26% for “the rest”.

Every year, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) sends a group of economists to Australia to survey the domestic economy, comment on the effects of government policy and make some suggestions as to what might best be done in the coming year. It is known as an “article IV consultation”.

The IMF executive board’s latest report was publicly released in early October. After commending Australia’s economic performance during the past two decades, the report noted some challenges ahead. Chief among them is the prospect of “slow growth” in the coming year.

The United Nations Human Rights Council has unanimously adopted a resolution called “Promoting Reconciliation, Accountability and Human Rights in Sri Lanka”.

This resolution, of which the United States was the main sponsor, welcomed a proposal by the Sri Lankan government to establish a “judicial mechanism” to investigate “abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law”.

Indonesian police shot two senior high school students in Gorong Gorong, Timika, West Papua on September 28, the Institute for Papuan Advocacy and Human Rights (IPAHR) said the next day.

The IPAHR said 17-year-old Kaleb Bogau was shot in the chest and died on the scene. Efrando Sabarofek, also 17, was shot in the chest and leg and is in a critical condition in the Timika hospital.

The statement below was released by Resistance:‭ ‬Young Socialist Alliance,‭ ‬the youth group of Australia's Socialist Alliance,‭ ‬on October‭ ‬8.‭

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Resistance:‭ ‬Young Socialist Alliance condemns the killing of three Palestinian youth by Israeli security forces and settlers in the past‭ ‬24‭ ‬hours.‭ ‬They have joined the nearly‭ ‬500‭ ‬Palestinians who have been injured by the Israeli occupation forces since clashes began several days ago.

A desperate Conservative Party launched a vicious attack on Labour and the tens of thousands who have protested against its October 4-7 conference in Manchester — highlighting the government's fear of growing mass opposition.

Wales Secretary Stephen Crabb accused protesters of spouting “venom and bile” because they dared to speak out against Tory cuts and oppose privatisation of public services and attacks on workers' rights.

Jeremy Corbyn's successful leadership campaign team launched a new group of the left on October 7 to transform Labour into a “mass movement.”

Called Momentum, it will be independent of the party leadership, but was welcomed by Corbyn as offering to “put the people’s values back into politics”.

It will hold mass rallies and seek to organise activists inspired by Corbyn both inside and outside the Labour Party.


Photo: Jewish Voice for Peace Albuquerque Chapter.

For most of its existence since 1948, Israel has had the support of most Jews in the US. There have always, however, been some dissident voices, especially among Jewish members of socialist and communist groups.


Evo Morales.

Bolivia is calling for investigations into cables leaked by WikiLeaks that reveal the US had plans in 2008 to topple the left-wing government of President Evo Morales, including potentially backing his assassination.

“This requires an in-depth investigation,” said Bolivia's minister of the presidency, Juan Ramon Quintana. “We need to do an investigation to subsequently take decisions with regard to the United States government.”

Russia followed the lead of Western powers on September 30 and began direct military intervention in Syria – using the same form (air strikes) and the same declared enemy, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

Russia's campaign, aimed to shore up the beleaguered regime of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, will also target the al Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front and other armed groups fighting the dictatorship.

Russia's entry into the fray has dramatically heightened tensions between Russia and the West and further complicated the already confused, multi-sided conflict in Syria.

The United States and 11 other Pacific Rim nations, including Australia, reached an agreement on October 5 on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the largest regional trade accord in history.

The agreement has been negotiated in secret for eight years and will encompass 40% of the global economy. The secret 30-chapter text has still not been made public, although sections of draft text were leaked by WikiLeaks during the negotiations.

South America’s largest country, Brazil, has been rocked in recent months by a political crisis, partly fuelled by mass protests calling for the removal of centre-left President Dilma Rousseff. The protests come as the country officially moves into recession, with Brazil’s economy expected to contract by 2% this year.

Brazil has been governed by a Workers’ Party (PT)-led coalition for over a decade, firstly under Luiz Ignacio “Lula” da Silva and now Dilma, as she is commonly known.

Analysis

This week Parramatta found itself the shocking scene of terror — the sort of thing you might expect in foreign nations, but which many Australians surely believed would never happen on our streets.

In our “A World to Win” series, Resistance: Young Socialist Alliance activists speak on issues that affect young people. This week, Emma Fields discusses the right to free, decent housing for all.

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When the Universal Declaration of Human Rights talks about “standard of living adequate for health and well-being”, it means suitable access to food, clothing, housing and medical care.

Negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) were finally completed in Atlanta on October 5. Final agreement on the treaty had been delayed for years as negotiating countries tried to protect their own industries while trying to gain market access in others.

The TPP was negotiated by countries on the Pacific Rim: the US, Australia, Singapore, New Zealand, Chile, Brunei, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Vietnam and Japan. These countries represent about 40% of global GDP.

Carol Hucker worked in Manus Island Detention Centre as a counsellor for International Health and Medical Services (IHMS) and as a case worker for the Salvation Army from June 2013 to July last year.

She has allowed Green Left Weekly to publish her account so that people can become more aware of what is happening on Manus Island. She said: “It is my hope that through this brief account the men on Manus will not be forgotten.”

This is the sixth part of a multi-part series and covers February 2014.

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The abrupt arrival of this year's bush fire season should be taken as another warning of the urgency of tackling the climate change crisis.

The El Nino phenomenon of severe droughts and flooding rains that will make this a more dangerous summer has been a part of longstanding weather patterns on the Australian continent. But research has shown that El Nino will double in frequency and severity as global warming increases.

Last week US religious figure Troy Newman, who campaigns against abortions, was denied entry into Australia on the grounds that he would be a danger to the community. Some are hailing his banning a victory for women's rights. But was it?

Newman is the president of Operation Rescue, a right-wing misogynist organisation in the US dedicated to stopping women having abortions and doctors from performing them.

This is part of a series of articles detailing the policies and platform the Socialist Alliance will be taking to the Federal election.

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For tens of thousands of years, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of this continent and its islands looked after the diverse ecosystems, developed complex languages and cultures, and traded among themselves and with visitors from overseas. They were strong, proud peoples.

A new terror campaign aimed at young people — particularly Muslims — was launched in Sydney’s western suburbs following the fatal shootings of two people outside Parramatta police station on October 2.

The tragic shooting of police technician Curtis Cheng by 15-year-old Farhad Khalil Mohammad Jabar and his shooting by special forces police have allowed fear-mongering politicians a new round of Muslim bashing. This time it is being led by the so-called “Mr Nice Guy” — New South Wales Premier Mike Baird.

While the whole globe — from polar regions to the equator — has experienced record-breaking high temperatures, a small part of the Earth has experienced the opposite. Scientists say both are indications of the dangerous affects of climate change.

In September, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced that the first eight months of 2015 were the hottest ever recorded in the 135 years since records have been kept.

The United Nations Climate Change Conference will take place in Paris between November 30 and December 11. By the time it starts, 2015 is almost certain to have beaten last year as the warmest year ever.

This August has now been confirmed as the hottest August since records began in 1880. Other months this year that broke records were February, March, May, June and July.

About 50 people attended the Queensland Water Summit in Dalby on September 23. Despite its midweek timing, a wide range of people attended from across the state, including farmers threatened by increasingly severe drought and mining company pollution of their water sources, to community members, doctors and clergy from communities impacted by coal seam gas, underground coal gasification and coalmining.

The summit was organised and funded by independent Senator Glenn Lazarus, who spoke briefly but mostly listened to the concerns raised by attendees.

I was asked to speak today about my perspective on abortion law reform in NSW as a medical student.

I realised that my perspective on this — even though it’s fairly well informed — actually can’t be separated at all from my perspective as a young woman in NSW, especially a young woman who, dare I say it, has sex.

Culture

Books are lives compressed, humanity summarised into screaming or striking stories.

One would think the book world would be a safe haven from inequality. But instead the traditional publishing industry — the big corporate publishers — is perpetuating prejudice and limiting ideas by elevating certain authors, characters, and thoughts above all others, with significant social consequences.

Amir Amirani's documentary film We Are Many — on the huge outpouring of public opposition to the Iraq War in February 2003 — has its Australian premiere at the Adelaide Film Festival on Oct 22 and 24.

On Feb 15, 2003, 30 million people marched against the impending US-led war in Iraq. The protesters warned the Iraq invasion would be a disaster and humanitarian catastrophe — and were tragically proven right.

The WikiLeaks Files: The World According to the US Empire
Verso, 2015
624 pages, hardback

George Orwell said: “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”

These are dark times, in which the propaganda of deceit touches all our lives. It is as if political reality has been privatised and illusion legitimised.

The information age is a media age. We have politics by media; censorship by media; war by media; retribution by media; diversion by media — a surreal assembly line of clichés and false assumptions.