Issue 1090

Australia

Several hundred people joined a rally against racism in Melbourne on April 3. Neo-nazis had threatened the rally but in the end were too scared to show up.

The rally was organised by the Campaign Against Racism & Fascism. Speakers included Viv Malo from First Nations Liberation, Nazir Yousafi from Victorian Afghan Associations Network and anti-racism campaigner, Jafri.

On March 27, international award-winning artist Gurrumul Yunupingu was admitted to Royal Darwin Hospital vomiting blood and unable to talk. The treatment he received there has led to accusations of structural racism in the NT health system.

Gurrumul has suffered from Hepatitis B since he was three years' old, and his liver started bleeding as a result of his condition, causing him to vomit blood.

His friends and family had taken him to hospital and left him there, confident he would be quickly treated and come home safe.

An inner city girls' school will fly the rainbow flag in Melbourne to show its support for the same-sex attracted and gender diverse community.

Greens MP Adam Bandt purchased the flag after putting a call out for donations last month so schools could fly the flag in support of young lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and inter-sex (LGBTQI) people.

Melbourne Girls' College in Richmond will raise the flag when school resumes from holidays.

More than 80 people packed into a lecture theatre at Sydney University on March 31 for a public forum entitled: "Increasing Aboriginal literacy: The Cuban 'Yes I Can!' literacy campaign in Australia". The forum was organised by the Australia-Cuba Friendship Society (ACFS).

Publicity from the ACFS asked: "Why has a Cuba-inspired campaign achieved outstanding success where government schooling and adult courses have largely failed?

Monash University's draft Environmental, Social and Governance statement has ruled out directly investing in fossil fuel production — currently about 10% of their investments — and commits to phase out indirect investments in coal production over the next 12 months.

While this is a great first step, the bad news is there is no mention of gas or oil.

The statement comes after more than a year of sustained pressure from staff and students for the university to divest from all fossil fuel investments and commit to completely ending their ties to the fossil fuel industry.

The so-called “nice guy” Premier Mike Baird is introducing laws in New South Wales that are designed to intimidate ordinary people from taking part in legitimate protests.

The NSW government’s new anti-protest laws, which it is dressing up as being about public safety, were passed on March 15. Now, despite police minister Stuart Ayres admitting crime rates are falling, the government wants to give the NSW Police Force extraordinary powers to stop protests from even being organised.

Kurdish women struggle for a new society in Rojava

The struggles of Kurdish women in Rojava Kurdistan became known to many people in the world during the brutal attacks of ISIS against the city of Kobane in northern Syria on September 15, 2014. While Kurdish men and women defended the city from ISIS militia men with limited ammunition and inadequate weapons, Kurds worldwide took to the streets to be voice for Kurds in Rojava and Kobane.

The Immigration Department is reviewing Wilson Security's lucrative role at the Manus Island and Nauru offshore detention camps following allegations it was secretly controlled by Hong Kong billionaire Thomas Kwok, who is serving five years in jail for bribery, and his brother.

Wilson Security has denied allegations that the brothers concealed their ownership and control of Wilson after the claims emerged as part of the Panama Papers, the leak of millions documents from law firm Mossack Fonseca, based in Panama.

Australia's consumer affairs ministers have adopted a definition of "free range" eggs that allows eggs from hens kept at a stocking density of up to 10,000 birds per hectare — one bird per square metre — to be sold as "free range".

This definition reflects pressure from industrial egg producers. Animal welfare advocates had supported the CSIRO's Model Code of Practice, which sets a limit of 1500 birds per hectare.

Jasmine Pilbrow faced court on April 7 after she stood up for a refugee who was being deported on her Qantas flight.

About 500 people rallied in Melbourne on April 2 against the proposed 1300 jobs cuts at the CSIRO.

The rally, which follows rallies in Hobart and Canberra, was organised by the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU), CSIRO Staff Association and Australian Youth Climate Coalition.

As we write, the much-cherished Great Barrier Reef is experiencing the devastating effects of coral bleaching. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has declared severe coral bleaching underway on the reefs north of Cooktown.

The Walyalup-Fremantle branch of the Socialist Alliance announced on April 6 that Chris Jenkins will be its candidate for Fremantle in the federal election.

Twenty-six-year-old Jenkins is a nurse at Fremantle Hospital and resident of South Fremantle. He completed his degree at the University of Notre Dame, where he also campaigned for students' right to free speech in the face of stiff opposition from the university administration to students speaking out in favour of LGBTI rights.

After three days of relentless raids by WA police and Perth City Council rangers on the Matagarup Refugee Camp, participants responded with a night protest at parliament.

Tents were erected as protesters made a defiant statements indicating that they would not be intimidated by the police and council actions.

Activists from the Homeless Persons Union (HPU) began occupying vacant properties in the Melbourne suburb of Collingwood on March 30 in a protest at the lack of public housing.

World

The Spanish parliament was the scene of a sharp clash on April 6 over the March 18 European Union-Turkey “pact of shame” that will return up to 50,000 asylum seekers from Greece to Turkey. The asylum seekers — most fleeing from the Syrian civil war — will then be placed in an archipelago of detention centres.

Acting Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy, of the conservative People's Party (PP), defended the agreement, saying “things are getting better, we have a procedure”.

Thousands of protesters marched on Downing Street on April 9 to demand British Prime Minister David Cameron resign after revelations about his tax affairs emerged in preceding days in fall out from the huge Panama Papers tax haven leaks.

Every so often, the bourgeois political system runs into crisis. The machinery of the state jams; the veils of consent are torn asunder and the tools of power appear disturbingly naked. Brazil is living through one of those moments: it is dreamland for social scientists; a nightmare for everyone else.

Vice-Chair of the socialist Workers' Party of Belgium (PTB-PVDA) David Pestieau, spoke to French paper L'Humanite Dimanche on March 31 about the March 22 terrorist attacks in Brussels and the latest anti-terrorist bill. An abridged version, translated from French, is below.

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What state is Belgium in after the terrorist attacks?

On April 1, police opened fire on indigenous and rural poor protesters who were blocking the highway into Kidapawan in the landlocked province of Cotabato on the island of Mindanao, killing three protesters and injuring at least 116.

While no investigation of the police action has yet taken place, 71 protesters remain detained. On April 4 a police spokesperson announced that Cotabato police chief Alexander Tagum would be suspended pending an investigation.


Protest by members of the Wer'suwet'en First Nation against tar sands oil pipelines.

Ian Angus is a Canadian ecosocialist activist and author. The editor of Climateandcapitalism.com, Angus is also the co-author of Too Many People? Population, Immigration, and the Environmental Crisis with former Green Left Weekly editor Simon Butler (Haymarket, 2011).


Sanders addresses rally outside his childhood home in Brooklyn, New York. April 8.

A McClatchy-Marist poll, conducted at the end of March, puts self-described democratic socialist Bernie Sanders ahead of establishment favourite Hillary Clinton by two percentage points in the Democratic presidential race, TeleSUR English said on April 5.


Members of the Oromo community in Melbourne protest against the Ethiopian regime, January 3. Photos: Ali Bakhtiarvandi.

“This government is at least better than previous ones,” remarked a 74-year-old Eritrean man to me last month in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, his longtime residence.

The 100th anniversary of Ireland’s Easter Rising against British rule was commemorated over the Easter weekend in Ireland and across the world. Although the rebellion failed, it spurred the Irish liberation struggle amid widespread anger at savage British repression.

In 1918, Sinn Fein swept elections in Ireland to British parliament, with Sinn Fein MPs refusing to take their seats and instead declaring independence. A war for independence ended in 1921 with a treaty that partitioned the island — provoking an Irish civil war.

The beating heart of the tax avoidance practice and industry is the city of London, Mark Donne, director of the award-winning documentary UK Gold told TeleSUR English in light of the recent Panama Papers scandal.

Donne emphasised that the practice has cost the Global South trillions of dollars in plundered resources and wealth.

“You really have to think of the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands and all those territories as branches, nothing more than just branches,” Donne told TeleSUR English in an interview on April 4.

In a move that has shocked Wall Street and Washington, the Puerto Rican Senate and the House of Representatives have passed an emergency declaration authorising the governor to suspend payments on US$72 billion in public debt, Democracy Now! said on April 6.

This sets up dramatic showdown between the United States colony and hedge funds amid the Caribbean island's historic debt crisis.

One of the most shocking revelations of the Panama Papers is that US protected multinationals and many of their allies around the world have US$32 trillion in tax havens.

The Panama Papers

1. The Panama Papers are a massive and historic leak of confidential documents that reveal how the rich and powerful from many countries around the globe use tax havens to hide their wealth.


At least 10,000 people protesters in Iceland on April 4, demanding to prime minister resign.

Iceland's Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson resigned on April 5 as the Panama Papers scandal claimed its first political scalp, Morning Star Online said.

With 93% of precincts reporting as of this writing, Bernie Sanders has secured win in the Wisconsin primary, claiming about 56.3% of the vote so far, US Uncut said.


Members of Commune Alberto Lovera in Anzoategui state taking part in their communal fishing enterprise. Photo from Venezuela Analaysis.

It is very hard to find words that can even begin to describe how progressive people all over Europe are viewing the “pact of shame” over refugees reached between the European Union and Turkey on March 18.

For €6 billion, the promise of accelerated EU access and a conditional end to Turkish citizens requiring visas to enter the EU, the agreement makes the repressive Turkish government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan the main cop controlling the flow of refugees towards Europe.

Cuban President Raul Castro has insisted on the need for the United States to end its more than 50-year-long economic blockade on the Caribbean island after US president Barack Obama’s historic visit to the island on March 21.

Castro also took the opportunity of the first visit to Cuba by a US president in more than 80 years to say his government rejected “double standards” on human rights.

At the recent meeting of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the three remaining Republican presidential candidates and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton vied to outdo each other as the most supportive of Israel and its right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

AIPAC is the powerful lobby in the US for the Israeli government and its policies. It exerts great pressure on all members of Congress.

Eritrea, a small country in the horn of Africa, generally receives little attention in the international media. But in recent years there have been occasional reports of mass drownings of Eritrean refugees in the Mediterranean.

As of June 2015, there were 383,869 refugees from Eritrea registered with the UNHCR. There were also 60,157 asylum seekers who had applied for refugee status.

Sikhosiphi “Bazooka” Rhadebe, chairperson of the Amadiba Crisis Committee and a leading campaigner against the Australian-owned Xolobeni mineral sands mine in South Africa was shot dead in his home on March 22.

Analysis

Immigration minister Peter Dutton announced on April 2 that for the first time in a decade there were no children in Australian detention centres. “When I got the call,” he said, “it was something I was proud of.”

With the announcement came news that 196 of the 267 asylum seekers who lost the High Court case challenging the government's legal right to deport them to Nauru would be moved to community detention in Australia.

Jafri is an anti-racism campaigner who protests with his distinctive sign every Friday outside Melbourne's Flinders Street Station. This is his story.

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I started doing this campaign last year. I was racially abused at the Royal Melbourne Hospital by a doctor. I complained to the hospital but they denied it. So I complained to the Health Service Commissioner and after contacting the hospital, no one could help me.

"Cool fuel" was the groovy title of the Ed! supplement about natural gas in the April 5 edition of The West Australian that gets distributed to all our schools.

To be sure natural gas is "cool" when liquefied. But nowhere among the topics covered, such as "Careers in LNG", "Power to You" and "West is best" is there any mention of natural gas as a significant contributor to catastrophic global warming. Nor does it mention that because of fugitive emissions in the production cycle natural gas is up there with coal as a carbon polluter.

Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) management planned to stop "doing science for science's sake" and would no longer carry out research for the "public good," unless it was linked to jobs and economic growth, emails between senior managers released to a Senate inquiry reveal.

The emails are among almost 700 pages of internal CSIRO documents made available to a Greens-Labor convened inquiry into the proposal to slash up to 350 jobs in the organisation.

The fault in the out-of-service Basslink power cable connecting Tasmania to mainland Australia has reportedly been found, and repairs are expected to be completed by June. Meanwhile, a battery of diesel generators has been deployed and a mothballed gas power station re-opened to supplement the state's dwindling hydro-electric dams which are below 14% capacity.

A recent study, led by Victoria University and West Justice Youth Office, has revealed that students from low socioeconomic families cannot afford to travel on public transport, or pay the fines they incur for travelling without a valid myki card.

West Justice chief executive Denis Nelthorpe said: “Up to 80,000 Victorian students a year were unable to pay fines, resulting in many of them skipping school.”

Resistance: Young Socialist Alliance released the following statement on April 1.

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Resistance: Young Socialist Alliance joins with young people around the country in condemning several proposals by the federal government which seek to relocate financial problems of the state onto the backs of young people.

The proposal to lower the income at which the government can start to collect study loans from students comes after a Grattan Institute report found that a significant portion of students will never earn an income high enough to repay their debt.

Resistance: Young Socialist Alliance released this statement on April 1.

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Resistance: Young Socialist Alliance (RYSA) is strongly opposed to the federal government's moves to restrict and gut funding to the Safe Schools Program. The program was designed to counter homophobic and transphobic bullying in schools, and is a vital lifeline for young queer people in Australia.

On April 3, the Queensland mines minister Anthony Lynham and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk approved the three mining leases of Indian multinational Adani for the Carmichael coalmine and rail project in the Galilee Basin.

Federal approval was granted by federal environment minister Greg Hunt in October.

The Socialist Alliance released this statement on April 8.

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In the wake of the recent demonstrations of thousands of people in Timor-Leste's capital Dili and in other places around that country, the Socialist Alliance joins in support of the Timorese people's demand that the Australian government end its illegal occupation and plunder of Timor's rightful exclusive economic zone.

Rosalie Kunoth-Monks, a prominent member of the Aboriginal community of Utopia, said on April 1 that elderly Utopia residents were starving because they were not receiving adequate nutrition from their daily care packages provided by the Barkly Shire Council.

“The whole community including children and the elderly go without food, often on a daily basis,” she said in a press release by advocacy group Concerned Australians.

"What I saw appalled me, even my dogs are fed a hell of a lot better than old black people are being fed," she told AAP.

Culture

On April 8, US rock star Bruce Springsteen published the statement below on his website.

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As you, my fans, know I'm scheduled to play in Greensboro, North Carolina this Sunday. As we also know, North Carolina has just passed HB2, which the media are referring to as the “bathroom” law.


US women's soccer team celebrates winning the 1015 Women's World Cup.

“Women who seek to be equal with men lack ambition.” That quote is often attributed to Marilyn Monroe, but was more likely said by psychologist and LSD guru Timothy Leary.