Issue 1078

Australia

Environment groups have welcomed the passage of legislation on November 12 that restricts sea dumping and port expansion in the Great Barrier Reef heritage area as a victory for people power.

Emergency protests were held in Sydney and Melbourne on November 14 against the Turkish government's military bombardment and siege of the Kurdish city of Silvan.

Since November 2 parts of the town of Silvan have been occupied by the Turkish military. There is a 24-hour curfew and civilians are not allowed to leave for basic necessities, to take the wounded to hospital or bury the dead. Armoured cars and helicopters have been machine gunning parts of the city.

ADELAIDE

Come to the Latin America and Aboriginal Grassroots Solidarity Conference. Sharing ideas, experiences and stories of struggle against capitalism. Saturday November 28, 11am-5pm. Tenth & Gibson, 87 Gibson St, Bowden.

ARMIDALE

Join us at the Socialist Alliance New England Workshops. Reappraise socialism as our species faces its greatest collective threat in history. Saturday November 28 – Sunday November 29. Kent House, Faulkner St, Armidale. Phone Bea 0458 752 680. Email bbleile@bigpond.net.au.

BRISBANE

A plan for a new national park to protect the endangered Leadbeater's possum has been dealt a blow with revelations VicForests has locked in millions of dollars of new logging contracts.

State Labor ducked a promise to create a Great Forest national park in the recent state election following pressure from the CFMEU, which had threatened to campaign against Labor on the basis that ending logging in the area would threaten jobs.

An Aboriginal man has died five days after attempting suicide at Casaurina prison, 35 kilometres south of Perth, just two months after another Aboriginal man killed himself at the same prison.

He was found in his cell on October 28 and was taken to nearby Fiona Stanley Hospital, but died on November 2.

His is the fourth Aboriginal death provisionally put down to be suicide by hanging at the prison since 2013. The families of each of those men are still waiting for the coroner to set the date for their respective inquests.

The Queensland Land Court has begun hearing objections to the expansion of New Hope Coal's Acland Stage 3 coalmine in the Darling Downs, one of Australia's richest agricultural and pastoral regions.

There are 27 objectors to the mining lease applications and 35 objectors to the draft Environmental Authority.

The objectors include Oakey Coal Action Alliance, Darling Downs Environment Council, Clean Air Queensland and many local farmers concerned about the impact the coalmine expansion will have on the sustainability of their operations.

Despite the immigration minister's attempts to block information and ban journalists from offshore detention camps, information continues to leak out.

Ali Bakhtiarvandi was held in immigration detention for four and a half years in the early 2000s before being recognised as a refugee. He is in regular telephone contact with detainees on Christmas Island.

He spoke to Green Left Weekly's Chris Peterson about the recent events on Christmas Island.

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Australia's offshore oil and gas authority, National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) has rejected BP's application to drill for oil in the Great Australian Bight on the grounds that its “environment plan does not yet meet the criteria for acceptance under the environment regulations”.

NOPSEMA had earlier said BP needs a comprehensive risk assessment and a comprehensive oil pollution emergency plan.

More than 50 teachers at Yeronga State High School in Brisbane, including principal Terry Heath, held an afternoon strike on November 17 as part of their campaign to free 21-year-old Mojgan Shamsalipoor from immigration detention.

About 200 people rallied outside the NSW Supreme Court building on November 12 to demand justice for the small community of Bulga, in the upper Hunter Valley, and an end to the expansion of the Rio Tinto Warkworth coalmine that is threatening the future of their village.

“We're all very happy and proud of our efforts in this dispute: 106 days ago we didn't have a job and now we are going back inside,” a waterfront worker at the Hutchison Port Botany community assembly told Green Left Weekly on November 19.

He was commenting on the settlement agreed between Hutchison management and the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) to bring to an end conclusion the long-running industrial battle over the jobs of 97 workers sacked by text and email on the night of August 6.

Around 1000 people rallied in Martin Place on November 18 to protest the Coalition state government's moves to forcibly amalgamate local councils in Sydney and throughout New South Wales.

The rally began with a black coffin to mark the “near death experience for democracy in the state”.

The rally was held on the last day the NSW government had allowed for councils to “voluntarily” agree to merge. While some councils had submitted to the amalgamation push by the deadline, the majority have refused to surrender to the government's ultimatum.

The campaign against fracking in the Northern Territory ramped up a few notches last week, with the government announcing a successful bidder in the North East Gas Interconnector project coming amid allegations of a conflict of interest for a key NT government advisor.

World

If the horrific attacks in Paris, France have taught us anything, it is that some tragedies matter more than others.

For example, look no further than these headlines:

120 Dead in Paris Attacks, Worst Since WWII (ABC/AP, November 14);
Paris Wakes Up Under Siege After Deadliest Attack Since WWII (The Daily Beast, November 14);

With refugees at the centre of debate after the terror attacks in Paris, the plight of European Jews fleeing Nazi Germany during the 1930s and '40s springs to mind as a parallel to the current crisis.

It has come to light in recent times that the family of Anne Frank — the Jewish teenager whose famous diary details her and her family's failed attempts to hide from the Nazis in Amsterdam — was among those denied the necessary papers that would have allowed them access to the United States.

On November 10, it was 20 years since Ken Saro-Wiwa, president of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), and eight other Ogoni leaders were hanged by Nigaria's military dictatorship in Nigeria.

Known as the Ogoni Nine, their crime was demanding a share of the proceeds of oil exploitation.

The Niger Delta covers a huge area of some 27,000 square miles on Nigeria’s southern coast. Once almost all tropical rainforest, it has one of the highest levels of biodiversity on earth and is home to 31 million people. Ogoniland comprises 400 square miles in the eastern delta.

Women are crucial to the Bolivarian process and will play a vital role in Venezuela's national elections next month, legislator and candidate for the governing United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) Tania Diaz told TeleSUR.

California has what is called a Mediterranean climate, which means it has two seasons, wet and dry one. The wet one usually starts in November and lasts through the winter and early spring and is characterised by rain, and snow in the northern part of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. In the dry season, from mid-spring through October, there is little or no rain.

The secret text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership was released on November 5 and was swiftly condemned by green groups around the world, which said the trade agreement fails to provide adequate protections for the environment.

The TPP was agreed to on September 5 by the US, Australia, Singapore, New Zealand, Chile, Brunei, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Vietnam and Japan. These countries represent about 40% of global GDP.

Campaigning began in Venezuela on November 13 ahead of crucial National Assembly elections next month.

The vote will see the socialists supporting the Bolivarian Revolution, backed by President Nicolas Maduro, against the right-wing US-funded opposition amid ongoing tensions and economic problems.

From November 13 through to December 3, candidates from the ruling and opposition coalitions will be allowed to canvass for votes by public appearances, leaflets and on regional and national media.


A meeting in Rojava's capital, Qamislo, of the Assyrian ethnic minority. Photo from www.robertgraham.wordpress.com.


Marda Permaculture Farm in the West Bank. Photo from mardafarm.com.

Ownership of the land of Palestine is hotly contested, so it is little surprise that the Earth itself is often the first casualty of Israel's occupation.

Washington, DC joined Manila and 10 other cities in protests on November 16 against the Pacific trade agreement that is expected to affect all aspects of ordinary life.

Crowds shut down traffic in the US capital and occupied various offices that are implicated in the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, which is still to be voted on by legislatures of the 12 nations negotiating the deal.

The Pacific rim nations involved, which represent 40% of world GDP, are the US, Australia, Singapore, New Zealand, Chile, Brunei, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Vietnam and Japan.

The United States National Security Agency (NSA) accessed the internal communications of Venezuela's state-owned oil company, PDVSA, and acquired sensitive data it planned to exploit to spy on the company's top officials, a highly classified NSA document has revealed. It shows the operation was carried out in concert with the US Embassy in Caracas.

The March 2011 document, labelled “top secret” and leaked by former NSA contractor-turned-whistleblower Edward Snowden, was reported exclusively by a parternship between TeleSUR and The Intercept.

Since the terrorist attacks in Paris on November 13, the world's leaders and media have predictably reminding the world that the attacks' perpetrator – ISIS – has declared war to the death against humanity.

ISIS would not deny this. Indeed, making this point was the reason it carried out the Paris attacks, which killed 129 people.

As the initial horror and outrage of the attacks in Paris on November 13 subside, the impacts they are already having on French and European society are becoming clearer.

A state of emergency has been declared by the French government and will persist for up to three months.

French officials announced on November 17 that France would see an extra 115,000 police officers, gendarmes and soldiers deployed across the country.

In this context, rational debate is being restricted and progressive movements are on the defensive.

Refugees

Analysis

The Great Barrier Reef is in immense danger and if nothing is done to save it, it will simply be destroyed.

Australia is the largest per-capita producer of carbon of any developed Western country, and it is a silent national disaster. The Australian Academy of Science, the UN and Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority have all stated that, in the face of rising carbon emissions decimating the reef, we cannot afford to do nothing.

Ahead of the climate talks in Paris in December, it is important that people mobilise and demand strong action on climate change.

Without a clear message from ordinary people, the demands that business and polluting industries make of governments are more likely to dilute the outcomes.

Remember Rio? Kyoto? Copenhagen? At the Conference of Parties (COP) 21 conference in Paris, our leaders need to do more, and fast.

The ecological effects of the four-fold increase in global manufacturing output between 1950 and 1970 were subject to scientific analysis in an international study published in 1972.

The authors of the aptly titled Limits to Growth warned that the tripling of carbon dioxide emissions that came with this unprecedented growth would lead to ecological and economic collapse in the 21st century if overuse of resources continued.

But the essential condition for the successful functioning of capitalism is a minimum 3% compound annual growth rate — for ever.

In our “A World to Win” series, Resistance: Young Socialist Alliance seeks to give voice to the ideas and demands of radical young people involved in the struggle to make the world a better place.

In this week's article, Lucinda Donovan puts the case for why green capitalism cannot solve the climate crisis.

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I just want to get this straight: we cannot help Syrian refugees, many of whom are fleeing from ISIS, because of the ISIS attack on Paris that was carried out by French and Belgian nationals?

Well, who knew a horrifying mass murder thanks to a terror attack in a major world city would lead to such bizarre responses? If only we had some precedent to warn us.

If we needed any further proof that our politicians are "fossil fools", despite recent leadership changes, look no further than the responses made by the Prime Minister and federal resources minister to the call for a moratorium on new coalmines by the President of the Pacific island nation Kiribati, Anote Tong.

With the Paris climate talks just around the corner it is timely to consider what effective policies to cut emissions might look like. Nationalisation and direct public investment are key policies that have historically been “bread and butter” political demands both for socialists and for the more radical voices within social democratic parties.

Climate activists from the Greens and Labor Environment Action Network should revisit these ideas, as they are a useful alternative to the dead end that is carbon trading.

Direct public investment

The appointment of nuclear power advocate Alan Finkel as Australia's next Chief Scientist led to speculation that the federal government might be softening up Australians for the introduction of nuclear power.

But that speculation is likely misplaced. Finkel is not the first Chief Scientist to support nuclear power. It goes with the turf: boys like toys and Chief Scientists like nuclear power. Finkel's comments were actually quite nuanced and at least as supportive of renewables as nuclear power.

Kiribati, a nation made up of 33 islands in the South Pacific, is predicted to be one of the first countries to vanish beneath the sea before the end of the century. The government has already bought 2400 hectares of land in Fiji in case they need to more the entire population.

The use of the drug ice in Australia is said to be at “epidemic'' levels. There is nothing new in this claim for both Australia and much of the rest of the world.

Epidemics have accompanied the use and misuse of stimulants since the late-19th century. John Rainford traces that history in the second of this three-part series.

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Should the climate movement call for the restoration of a safe climate, rather than just zero emissions?

According to a recent paper, Striking Targets, by climate writer Philip Sutton, greenhouse gas concentrations are already too high to avoid dangerous global warming, so the zero emissions goal is inadequate.

The Socialist Alliance and its youth wing, Resistance, expresses our solidarity with the people of Paris and Beirut who were targeted in back-to-back acts of terror by ISIS forces in the past few days.

In Paris, coordinated bombing and shootings at six separate locations on November 14 killed 129 people and injured 200 others. In Beirut, 43 people were killed and more than 200 injured in two suicide bomb attacks just 24 hours earlier.

We condemn these acts of violence.

Culture

Born To Rule: The Unauthorised Biography of Malcolm Turnbull
Paddy Manning
Melbourne University Press,2015
442 pages

Coalition Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull likes to downplay his image as a privileged, wealthy silvertail by touting his time as a flat-dwelling young boy from a broken family.

But, writes the business journalist Paddy Manning in his biography of the former investment banker, Turnbull's upbringing was not that humble.

The Black players on the University of Missouri’s football (gridiron) team — a team in the national title hunt just two years ago — went on strike against racism on November 7.

The players demand was simple: they would not play until school president Tim Wolfe resigned over his inability to address a series of racist incidents on campus.

Marx & Nature: A Red & Green Perspective
By Paul Burkett
Haymarket Books, 2014

Marx and Nature is a challenging, but very important book for all those concerned with developing and acting on the ecological insights in Marxist theory.

Good news (for a change)

After three years of campaigning, Tamil refugee Ranjini was suddenly released from Villawood detention centre on November 12.

Even though she had been granted refugee status, Ranjini was whisked off the streets of Melbourne and locked up in 2012, due to a sudden ASIO decision to declare her a threat to national security. She was never allowed to find out why this had happened, see the evidence or challenge it in a court.

More than 50 others suffered the same fate. Some have been released after six years in prison. Others are still there.