Human rights activists protested the visit to Melbourne of Israeli war criminal, Benny Gantz on March 7. 'We will always live by our sword', declared Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, upon his retirement from the role of Chief of General Staff of the Israel Occupation Forces, 12 months ago.
Right-wing Western Australian senator Joe Bullock has announced his resignation from the Senate over Labor's decision to remove the conscience vote for equal marriage rights in 2019. The former head of the WA branch of the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association entered the Senate in 2014 after a back-room deal to dump the Left's Louise Pratt.
Comedian and filmmaker Dan Ilic unveiled a portrait of environment minister Greg Hunt on February 29 outside Parliament House in Canberra. The portrait, entitled “Greg Hunt, best minister in the world for clearing trees” was in response to Hunt being named the “Best Minister in the World”. The irony of the award is that Hunt has overseen a huge rise in tree clearing and carbon emissions, while his government is spending billions from the Emissions Reduction Fund to keep trees in the ground and plant new trees.
The residents of the tiny Hunter Valley village of Bulga have applied to have the Planning Assessment Commission’s (PAC) approval of a Rio Tinto coalmine expansion declared invalid due to a legal error. The Environmental Defenders Office’s chief executive officer Sue Higginson, who is running the case, said: "This is an appeal not based on the merit of whether this mine should go ahead or not, but based on whether the PAC has applied the law as it applies to mining projects in high biodiversity areas."
Melbourne’s Liberal Lord Mayor Robert Doyle has been offered a campaign donation, rumoured to be about $200,000, by a councillor in return for them running as deputy lord mayor in the October election. Ken Ong, the council's chair of planning, said: "The offer is not $200,000 specifically. It might be less or it might be even more if the campaign demands." When questioned whether the donation is conditional on being Doyle's deputy, Ong said: "Well, if I'm not the deputy lord mayor, I don't need to contribute."
Victoria's firefighters union has rejected a pay rise from the Country Fire Authority (CFA) because it says the offer compromises safety conditions. The CFA offered workers a 19% pay rise over six years, but the United Firefighters Union said 350 promised positions had been removed from the agreement. Union secretary Peter Marshall said: "These... new positions weren't arbitrary, they were … for locations that do not have enough firefighters.
A new climate is emerging in Australia, according to maps released by the Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre (AEGIC). AEGIC analysed data from more than 8000 Bureau of Meteorology stations around the country and discovered that traditional rainfall zones have shifted 100–400km since 2000. The only expansion of the winter rainfall zone has occurred in southeast Tasmania where winter rainfall has become more reliable.
Anti-coal seam gas (CSG) activists took direct action on March 2 to prevent Transpacific Waste Water from accepting waste water from AGL's coal seam gas operations in Camden. Members of the Knitting Nannas Against AGL, CSG Free Western Sydney, Stop CSG Sydney, Stop CSG Penrith, Stop CSG Camden, Stop CSG Blue Mountains and Stop CSG Hawkesbury showed their concern about Transpacific's handling of AGL’s waste water by blockading their trucks.
“Turnbull's NBN in crisis”, blared the front-page headline in the February 29 issue of The Sydney Morning Herald. "Malcolm Turnbull's cut-price National Broadband Network is facing mounting delays and rising costs, according to a damning internal report obtained by Fairfax Media," the article said. Fairfax revealed that the report, labelled “commercial in confidence” and “for official use only”, details a litany of problems in delivering the Coalition's supposedly more budget-friendly fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) model.
South-west Victorian farmers have used sheep to spell out their opposition to unconventional gas mining in the region. Gasfield Free West Victoria organised for 2000 sheep to run into a paddock and spell out “BAN GAS”, as a reminder to the Victorian government that they do not want gas mining on their prime agricultural land. It took two weeks to train the sheep to follow the grain trail that spelled out the message.
Dozens of people protested in Bendigo on February 26 for the right to breast feed in public. A Bendigo mother had earlier been forced to leave a shopping centre food court after someone complained to a plaza employee. While Luci White initially held her ground, when a worker asked her to relocate to the centre's “specialised feeding facility”, she said she felt she had no choice but to comply with the demand.
About 300 people from the neo-Nazi United Patriots Front (UPF) marched in Bendigo on February 27 to launch their new political party, Fortitude. It was the final leg of the UPF’s tour of the east coast, following gatherings of less than 50 people in Orange and Toowoomba. It was met by about 100 anti-racist protestors organised by the Bendigo Action Collective, who held a “March Against Fascism and Bigotry”.
A meeting of 500 First Nations representatives voted on February 3 to reject Constitutional recognition and to begin talks on self-determination and a treaty with the Victorian government. The proposed treaty would be a legal document covering Aboriginal affairs and services and addressing past injustices. It would be the first such agreement in Australia and follows similar arrangements with First Peoples in Canada, the US and New Zealand. Dja Dja Warrung elder Gary Murray said the national debate around Constitutional recognition was just "a distraction".
Hundreds of pro-refugee protesters rallied in Melbourne on February 27, calling on political leaders to let refugees stay and close the prison camps. The action was called in response to a visit by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition leader Bill Shorten to the Lonsdale St Greek Festival. People chanted “Turnbull, Shorten. Blood on your hands” and “Let them stay" as they arrived on the stage. The action was called by Refugee Action Collective and First Nations Liberation.
What do politicians do after leaving parliament to earn a few more dollars? They go and work for gas and coal companies. • Former Nationals leader and Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson became chair of Eastern Star Gas — the company behind the Narrabri Gas Project now owned by Santos — about 2 years after leaving politics. • Former National's leader and Deputy Prime Minister Mark Vaile became a director and then chair of Whitehaven coal.
“These girls have stories that would make the biblical movies that we grew up on look tame,” Pamela Curr told a forum on women in Nauru in Sydney on February 29. The journey of women seeking asylum in Australia is filled with misery, fear, shame, sexual harassment, vulnerability and torture. It is a story of survival against all the odds meeting an Australian government with a detention system designed to be worse than what they are fleeing from.
Racism and homophobia are on the rise. Millions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex (LGBTI) and sex and gender diverse identifying (SGDI) people face life-threatening persecution. About 2.7 billion people live in the 76 countries that criminalise homosexuality. The death penalty for homosexuality is applied in Iran, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen. In China, several hospitals use electric shock therapy as “anti-gay treatments”.
When looking at the world through the prism of the mainstream media it can sometimes be easy to get stuck in a pessimistic feedback loop. Take, for example, the US presidential primaries, where candidates vie to become the presidential candidate for their respective party. On the one hand there is the almost unstoppable rise of Donald Trump in the Republican presidential race and, on the other, there is the campaign of Bernie Sanders.
The Labor and Liberal National parties hope to slip in four-year fixed parliamentary terms in Queensland through a referendum being held at the same time as state-wide polls for local councils. A four-year term proposal was defeated in 1991.
On March 2, two Gamilaraay men, Paul Spearim and Allen Talbot, and a Githabul man, Laurence Miles, locked on to concrete barrels at the entrance to Whitehaven's controversial Maules Creek coalmine, stopping work. The action followed protests earlier in the week, with one man stopping coal trains near Willow Tree and three others locked to bulldozers.
From a distance, Australia's tax system looks gender neutral. The tax return carefully avoids gendered words and the tax rules were purged several years ago of direct gender discrimination. There is no assumption that the male in a partnership is the primary breadwinner or that the female is the primary carer. There is no assumption that one partner must disclose to the other all their financial affairs to enable a tax return to be sent on behalf of both of them, unless they explicitly agree to it. Single men and women are not treated differently for income tax purposes.
Why is the government so keen to reform Senate voting with the threat of a double dissolution election hanging in the air? The government and the Greens are supporting legislation to enact some recommendations of a parliamentary committee into the 2013 election while Labor and most small parties and independents are opposing them.
We can blame the livestock corporations for the destruction of antibiotics' ability to fight human infection. They routinely inject all the animals we eat — chickens, cows, sheep and pigs — with huge amounts of antibiotics so that the animals grow faster and plumper, without any infection. The faster they can put meat on the kitchen table for us to consume, the greater their profits.
A survey of 604 Australian youths undertaken by Our Watch has come up with some dismaying findings about their attitudes towards sex and consent. Of those polled, one in four said it is normal for men to pressure women into sex, and 60% said it was “up to the girl to make it very clear if she does not want to have sex”. Thirty seven per cent reported that it was hard to respect a female when she was drunk and 27% said it was hard to respect a woman in revealing clothing.
The U.S. government will release a count of how many people it has killed in "counterterrorism" strikes since 2009, the Obama administration announced on March 7. Meanwhile, US air strikes killed 150 people in Somalia, in an attackt he US said was targetted at the al-Shabab terrorist group, an affiliate of al-Qaida.
The European Left Parties Solidarity With Kurdish People conference was held in the Kurdish city of Amed in south-eastern Turkey on February 20. It was organised by the People’s Democratic Party (HDP), Democratic Society Congress (DTK), the Party of Democratic Regions (DBP) and the Free Women’s Congress (KJA). The conference released a declaration, published below. It is reprinted from ANF News. * * *
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is again pushing a proposal to deport Palestinians from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip, despite broad opposition to what would be a violation of international law. In a March 2 letter, Netanyahu asked Israel's attorney-general to conduct a legal review of the proposal, which would allow families of convicted “terrorists” to be deported. Ynet reported that the prime minister said during a cabinet meeting that he does not agree with “how it [war crimes] is defined in the Geneva Conventions”.
TeleSUR English: Peace, unity and prosperity was the message on March 5, which marked the third anniversary of the death of Venezuela's late socialist president Hugo Chavez.
"Senator Bernie Sanders is the projected winner of the Maine caucuses, meaning the Vermont senator has won three out of four states in the last two days," US Uncut said on March 6. "With 76 percent of precincts reporting, Sanders won Maine by a 64-35 margin, according to The New York Times' election results." The socialist candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination also easily won the Kansas and Nebraska Democratic caucuses the day before, while his opponent Hillary Clinton had a big win in Louisiana.
More than 2000 people took to the streets in Peru's capital, Lima, on February 29 to protest against the government's plan to privatise public water services. The protest was organised by small neighbourhoods and the public water workers’ union Sedapal. Millions of people across Peru lack basic water and sewer systems, putting them in a highly vulnerable sector suffering endemic health issues.
A 100-day Plan for urban agriculture started on February 28 in eight Venezuelan cities in a bid to provide about 1300 people with vegetables and fruits. Urban agriculture minister Lorena Freitez said one of the plan's objectives consists of teaching people how to cultivate and stir their interest for agriculture. In the long term, the products should be able to supply about 20% of the total food consumption of the residents living in the eight participating cities: Barcelona, Barquisimeto, Caracas, Los Teques, Maracaibo, Maracay, Mérida y Valencia.
Arnaldo Otegi on his release from jail on March 1. There were celebrations in the Basque Country and among solidarity activists around the world on March 1 as Basque political prisoner Arnaldo Otegi was released from a Spanish jail after more than six years. Otegi, a leader of the Basque struggle for self-determination, was jailed by the Spanish state for politically organising in support of Basque independence.
80,000 people marched in Dublin on February 20 to call for a "government of change" ahead of the February 26 elections. Photo via An Phoblacht. In a sign of popular anger, the combined vote of the two parties that have long dominated the southern Irish state — Fine Gael (FG) and Fianna Fail (FF) — has fallen below 50% for the first time in Irish electoral history.
Vince Emanuele, a former Iraq veteran-turned-anti-war activist and journalist, spoke to Green Left Weekly's Pip Hinman about how Bernie Sanders' socialist campaign for the Democrats' presidential nomination -- an Donald Trump's hate-filled Republican campaign -- is shaking up politics across the United States. Emanuele is a presenter at The Progressive Radio Network and is a correspondent for Latin American news outlet TeleSUR.
A “cessation of hostilities” in Syria, sponsored by the United States and Russia, came into force on February 27. Only some of the internal and foreign participants in Syria's multi-sided conflicts signed on. The air wars that the US and Russia are waging in Syria are both officially directed against ISIS. But in reality, Russia is keen to protect its ally, the dictator Bashar al-Assad, while the US and its regional allies, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, have given money, weapons and logistical and diplomatic support to his opponents since the civil war began in 2011.
Tens of thousands of Nigerian fisherpeople and farmers were given the green light to sue energy giant Shell in a British court on March 2 for a series of destructive oil spills in the Niger Delta over the past decade. The action, brought by London-based law firm Leigh Day on behalf of Nigeria’s Ogale and Bille communities, alleges that decades of uncleaned oil spills have polluted fishing waters and contaminated farming land. As well as a compensation package, both groups want the Anglo-Dutch oil company to clean up the land devastated by the spills.
On February 27, 1989, the poorest Venezuelans took over the streets in protest against price rises. Thousands of Venezuelans took the streets in February 1989 in a wave of protests that highlighted the right-wing misrule in the South American country. The protests came to be known as the Caracazo — an uprising that began in the capital Caracas — and ultimately shaped the country's future.
A new report has found huge tax evasion by foreign logging companies that are running rampant in Papua New Guinea. The Great Timber Heist was released by the Oakland Institute on February 16. The PNG rainforest is the third largest in the world. It covers about 80% of the country, 60% of which is untouched forest.
Honduran indigenous and environmental organizer Berta Cáceres has been assassinated in her home in Honduras. She was one of the leading organizers for indigenous land rights in Honduras. In 1993, she co-founded the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras, or COPINH. For years, the group faced death threats and repression as they stood up to mining and dam projects that threatened to destroy their community. Last year, Cáceres won the Goldman Environmental Prize, the world's leading environmental award.
United States Democratic Party presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton has built her campaign around her self-proclaimed dedication to fighting for women’s rights, as well as her superior experience in the realm of foreign policy. Many feminists have disputed her claims, and the women on the receiving end of her foreign policy, particularly in Latin America, are even less likely to see the former Secretary of State as a champion of their rights.
Cizre, March 2. Photo: Hatice Kamer/BBC. The following report for BBC Turkish by Hatice Kamer in Cizre was translated for Green Left Weekly by I Zekeriya Ayman.
* * *
Kurşunlu mosque in Amed. Damage is from bombardment by the Turkish military. The following statement was released by Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) co-chairs Figen Yüksekdağ and Selahattin Demirtaş on March 1.
* * *Across 58 separate curfews imposed in several neighbourhoods of the 21 districts of 7 Kurdish provinces, 290 citizens have so far lost their lives.
Protestors knock down police barricade in Amed, March 2. Photo: Kurdish Question. Thousands of people marched to the Sur district of Kurdish city of Amed (Diyarbakir in Turkish) in Turkey's south-east Sur district from all corners of the city on March 2 to break the three-month siege and curfew by Turkish state forces.
Far right Republican candidate Donald Trump and Democratic establishment favourite Hillary Clinton were the biggest winners from the "Super Tuesday" caucuses on March 1, but socialist candidate Bernie Sanders won some key states to stay in the race. Voters took part in the caucuses in 11 states, on a day when a quarter of all delegates, who will vote on who will be the candidate for each party in November presidential race, were decided.
Ahead of the March 1 "Super Tuesday" primaries, nationwide marches has swept across the Untied States in support of Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders on February 28, US Uncut said that day. Organisers reported that demonstrations were held in at least 40 cities, and possibly as many as 70, in support of the self-described socialist.
French riot police fired tear gas as they began demolishing the Calais “Jungle” refugee camp on February 29, Morning Star Online said. Tear gas was reportedly used in response to stone-throwers at the shanty town, which is home to about 4000 people. Lines of police vans gathered on the perimeter of the camp's southern section and people were prevented from entering the site.
Before being elected to Parliament, I worked as a trade union official, with garment workers who were owed back pay by unscrupulous employers. Later I worked with public-sector workers fighting to protect their jobs and services and low-paid women fighting for equal pay. And I know how much harder it is now today for the trade union movement — with Britain home to the most restrictive anti-union laws in Europe, which are about to get even more restrictive.
Various actors called for a boycott of the 2016 Oscars ahead of the awards night held on February 28, due to the lack of Black nominees for the second year in a row. Many spoke out about Hollywood's racism, with no non-white nominees in major categories for the second year running, via the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite
Toy company Hasbro has taken a lot of criticism in recent weeks regarding the conspicuous absence of Rey, the lead female character in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, from its Star Wars-themed Monopoly game. A lot of people have made thoughtful and well-articulated arguments about why this is sexist, but probably the most insightful (and concise) critique came in the form of a brief letter to the company written in rainbow colours by an eight-year-old girl: “Dear Hasbro,
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has filed a lawsuit against Distinctive Assets, the company distributing a luxury gift bag to Oscar nominees that includes an all-expenses paid trip to Israel sponsored by the Israeli government. “Distinctive Assets has been falsely representing that its extravagant 'gift bags' [are] redistributed by the Academy, at its direction, or with its endorsement or approval,” an Academy spokesperson told the Hollywood trade publication Variety.