Issue 1092

News

A new survey commissioned by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage has found communities across New South Wales are big fans of renewable energy. An overwhelming 91% of the 2000 people surveyed across NSW said they support the use of renewables to generate electricity.
Sun filters through as a golden blur in low-resolution photos and a few seconds of shaky video clips — evoking the difficulty of getting footage of a protest the Nauru government does not want you to see. But even with three fences in the way, you can still see the 144 asylum seekers, including children, who are protesting against their detention in the Nauru Regional Processing Centre.
A Facebook page that rated the appearance of students at Melbourne University has been taken down, four days after the launch of a petition calling for its removal. The 'Hotties of Melbourne Uni' page had been active on Facebook for years. It featured photos of Melbourne University students posted without their consent. Law student Laura Blandthorn launched a change.org petition claiming that: "The Hotties of Melbourne University" Facebook page perpetuates rape culture, sexism and disrespect." The petition received more than 23,000 signatures.
Hundreds marched down the main street of Katherine in the Northern Territory on April 20 to call for the protection of water, country and culture from fracking gasfields. From Alice Springs to Arnhem Land, pastoralists, Traditional Owners, kids, community, musicians and whip crackers turned out to have their say.
Tiga Bayles, a Birri Gubba Gungalu man and a Dawson River Murri has died after a long battle with cancer. When I heard that Tiga had passed away I was taken back to when I first met him at Sydney's Radio Skid Row. He felt strongly that Indigenous voices should be heard on air, and helped set up Radio Redfern, which started broadcasting for 10 hours each week on Radio Skid Row in the early 1980s. He told me at Radio Redfern in 1989: “My people have an oral history and culture so we use radio.”
Activists from Stop CSG Sydney and the Australian Student Environment Network toured the AGL Camden CSG gasfields on April 17 to see for themselves how close gas wells are to homes. AGL has promised to end gas mining in Camden by 2023. Residents want them shut down now. The NSW government has said that gas wells cannot be drilled within two kilometres of homes, but it is happy for Landcom, the government's own developer, to sell house and land packages within a few hundred metres of major gasfields.
When I met up with Mathis Dührsen, he was looking a bit sleepy. And no wonder! He'd stayed up between 1.30am and 11.30am making phone calls to prospective voters in the New York state primary for the Democratic Party presidential candidate to urge support for Bernie Sanders. He is only one of a modest but growing group of people in Australia campaigning for Sanders from afar.
Chants of "MUA, here to stay!" rang out outside the electoral office of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on April 13, as around 200 members of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) rallied in protest against federal government attacks on the shipping industry, threats to reduce penalty rates and the Coalition's industrial relations agenda.
In a week of divestment actions, dubbed “Flood the Campus” starting on April 18, students across Australia took action demanding their universities divest from fossil fuels as a step towards tackling climate change. Initiated by 350.org, the protest was supported by the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC), environmental collectives, Resistance clubs among others.
The first screening of the cinematic tale of women fighting for jobs at Port Kembla steelworks screened to 250 people at the Gala Cinema in Warrawong on April 17. Set in 1973, The Women Who Were Never There tells a dramatic story, based on real events, of women who chained themselves to the front gates of BHP to protest the lack of jobs for women. The film brings to life the drama of the women who took on Australia's biggest corporation in their fight for equality.
The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) has rejected an "arbitrary deadline" of April 15 for acceptance of Patrick Stevedores' "final offer" on a new enterprise agreement (EA) for its waterfront workforce. Patrick set a 36-hour deadline on April 14 for the MUA to accept the new enterprise agreement or the company would consider taking "penalty action" against workers in Sydney, Fremantle, Melbourne and Brisbane, which reportedly includes a lock-out.
Police have launched an internal investigation into why an eight-year-old Aboriginal boy was left unattended in a police paddy wagon for three hours at Coraki in northern NSW. The boy's mother, Jane Williams, said she was at work on April 13 when she got a call that her son had been picked up by police for throwing rocks at a council car. When she got to the police station they did not know where the boy was, but after a call to a colleague the officer found him in a paddy wagon parked at the station.
Concerned residents gathered outside Lismore City Council on April 19 as the NSW Planning Department briefed council on the Draft North Coast Regional Plan. Spokesperson for Gasfield Free Northern Rivers, Dean Draper said: “They should be offering a community briefing in Lismore so we can clearly send our message that this regional plan must be amended to remove the current references to CSG. As well as this removal we are demanding that the plan clearly spells out that there will be no unconventional gas exploration at all for the life of the plan.
Queensland Natural Resources and Mines minister Anthony Lynham announced on April 18 that the government has banned underground coal gasification (UCG) in the state, arguing the environmental risks outweigh the economic benefits. He said the ban, which would apply immediately as government policy, would be legislated by the end of the year. Underground coal gasification involves converting coal to a synthesised gas by burning it underground. The syngas is processed on the surface to create products such as aviation fuels and synthetic diesel.

Analysis

Less than 1% of rental properties are affordable for low-income families in Sydney and the Illawarra, according to a new report launched on April 21 by Anglicare Sydney.
The electioneering has begun. In a campaign set to be dominated by economic issues, the Coalition and Labor are locking horns over who can best manage our finances, protect jobs and make housing more affordable. The Greens predictably decry the major parties, including their cavalier climate change policies.
The federal government's move to reintroduce the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) is an attempt to make it harder for the unions to go in and fight for workers' rights and conditions in all parts of the construction industry. Conditions in the building industry are now extremely varied. At the Barangaroo development the big builders are doing massive hours but their workers are paid decently and their safety is reasonable to good.
I live and work as a nurse in Fremantle and I'm the Socialist Alliance candidate for the seat of Fremantle in this year's federal election. The Socialist Alliance recognises that not only has corrupt, business-as-usual politics caused a deepening social and climate crisis, but that those entrenched and greedy interests are unwilling and incapable of providing real solutions. Major system change is needed. There is a growing despondency amongst large sections of the community; real anger and frustration in the way things are going. And rightly so.
The federal government has succeeded in scrapping the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal (RSRT). Legislation to abolish the tribunal passed the Senate without Labor and the Green's support on April 18 after two hours of debate. The bill passed 36 to 32 with the support of the crossbench except Ricky Muir from the Motoring Enthusiast Party.
There is a joke in Australia that there will be a high-speed rail service linking the major cities on the Eastern seaboard that will run about once in every three years — whenever there is an election looming. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has, like the previous Labor government, again floated the idea.
This month marks 25 years since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody tabled its national report. With five volumes of research, investigative accounts of 99 deaths in custody, and 339 recommendations, the report was meant to be a blueprint for reducing the disproportionate incarceration of Indigenous Australians and deaths in custody. But a quarter of a century later, the situation is actually worse. The impetus
Mainstream media chatter about recent polls showing the Coalition's honeymoon has dramatically ended has ignored another revealing statistic: there is a growing slice of the population that rejects the politics-as-usual model. They are the people the surveys lump into the category of “don't know”. These are the people who do not engage with the pollsters' questions. They have a variety of reasons, but disengagement from the whole political process as they see it on TV and hear it on the radio is one of them.

World

Whoever cares about an issue can stand up, write a corresponding committee name on a sheet of paper, sit on the square and start discussing the subject with others — and just like that a new committee is born. During the protest on March 31 against France's new labour law, a few protesters handed out leaflets which read Nuit debout (“rising up at night”), echoing Etienne La Boetie's Discourse on Voluntary Servitude: “Tyrants appear great only because we are on our knees”.
Scientists from Brazil and the United States have discovered a huge coral reef in the Amazon river that stretches for more than 600 miles -- a surprising finding due to the fact that such marine structures thrive only in salty ocean and sea waters with access to sunlight. However, scientists have warned the newly discovered reef is threatened by oil drilling in the area. The findings were published in the journal Science Advances on April 22 and revealed that the reef spans from the southern tip of French Guiana to Brazil's Maranhao State.
The US government has admitted to killing 20 civilians in Iraq and Syria over five months, a death toll far below that estimated by independent observers. Washington had previously acknowledged 26 civilian casualties. In a statement released on April 22, the US Central Command insisted that the killing of the civilians, and the injuring of 11 others, was legal.
It was highly moving to hear British Prime Minister David Cameron explain that the reason he gave misleading answers about benefiting from his father’s offshore tax arrangements exposed by the Panama Papers leaks was because he was angry with comments made about his dad. It makes you realise that, when it comes to tax avoidance, the Camerons are the real victims.
Sarah Eleazar is a Pakistani journalist and member of the socialist Awami Workers Party (AWP). She co-edits Tajdeed, a left research journal in Urdu. Eleazar will be a featured guest at the Socialist for the 21st Century conference in Sydney on May 13-15. She spoke with Green Left Radio on Melbourne community station 3CR in March about the fight for women’s liberation and socialism in Pakistan. The first part of an abridged transcript is below. ***
The biggest barrier to the rational economic policies of Jeremy Corbyn, the socialist leader of the British labour Party, is the huge profits the super-rich are making from irrational ones. The Bank of England has shelled out £375 billion in “quantitative easing” since the 2008 crash. It has, quite literally, created electronic money out of nowhere and used it to buy up financial assets held by the banks. The idea has been to pump “liquidity” — lendable money — into the economy.
Four lawmakers from Spain's far-left Podemos party and its allies are participating in a week-long hunger strike to try to rally public support for refugees. The lawmakers began their hunger strike on April 16 and called on people to occupy public squares for 24 hours on April 22, the day their actions end. The hunger strike is a gesture of support for those people at the center of Europe's biggest migrant crisis since World War II. Twenty-four hour assemblies were planned for a dozens cities on April 22.
Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa has praised the efforts of rescuers, health teams and security forces that have significantly helped the lives of the people affected by the April 9 7.8-magnitude earthquake.
In response to a recent vote in the lower house of Brazil’s parliament in favour of impeaching Workers’ Party (PT) President Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s two main coalitions of social movements issued the statement below on April 17. Rousseff is under attack over a series of corruption scandals, but the forces allied against her — the political, media and corporate elite — have themselves been implicated in corruption. Many in Brazil, including left opponents of Rousseff’s government, see the impeachment as an institutional coup by the right wing.
In a stunning rebuff to the party establishment, delegates to the federal convention of the Canada’s social democratic New Democratic Party, meeting in Edmonton, Alberta April 8-10, voted to reject Thomas Mulcair as their leader. They voted to begin reorienting the party to become a leader in Canada’s climate justice movement.
Palestine has sent 19 rescuers to Ecuador in the aftermath of the South American country's devastating earthquake — which is 19 more than the US, who have sent none at all, TeleSUR English said on April 21.
Palestine has sent 19 rescuers to Ecuador in the aftermath of the South American country's devastating earthquake — which is 19 more than the US, who have sent none at all, TeleSUR English said on April 21.
Supporters at a Bernie Sanders rally in St Mary’s Park in the Bronx on April 14. Despite a decisive victory on April 19, providing further confirmation of her likely nomination, in many respects Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton emerged from the New York primary more damaged and her party more divided.
Okara, April 17. A gathering of thousands of peasants in the Okara District of Punjab, to mark International Peasants Day on April 17, went ahead despite a violent crackdown by the police, paramilitaries and the army. The gathering was organised by the Tenants Association of Punjab (AMP) and supported by the Awami Workers Party (AWP).
The killing of six Kashmiri civilians in Indian-occupied Kashmir have moved Kashmiri communities around the world to organise a coordinated series of vigils on Friday April 22. "These innocent civilians were murdered by the Indian armed forces during a protest march, after reports of a sexual assault on a minor girl by the Indian troops," said Anjun Rafiqi, one of the organisers of a candlelight vigil planned in Sydney.
Cuba joined a long list of Latin American countries lending assistance to Ecuador on April 18 by deploying a team of 53 health and rescue specialists to treat victims wounded in the devastating 7.8 earthquake that struck the Andean nation April 16, TeleSUR English said. The quake has killed at least 350 people and injuring thousands more.

Culture

Photo: Arabfilmfestival.org. Speed Sisters Directed by Amber Fares 2015 http://speedsisters.tv Google “sport” and “Palestine” and what does the search engine return? Football, football and more football.
Left-wing supporters of Scottish independence in the 2014 referendum campaign. Is There A Scottish Road to Socialism? Edited by Gregor Gall Scottish Left Review Press Third edition, 2016 £5.99, 164 pages This is the third edition in a series previously published in 2007 and 2013. A range of left-wing activists and commentators debate the question of whether Scottish independence would help or hinder the prospects for socialism in Scotland.
Black Panther #1 By Ta-Nehisi Coates Marvel comic series The new Black Panther is “Black as hell” — a phrase Ta-Nehisi Coates used to describe himself on Twitter a week ahead of the release of Black Panther #1, the highly anticipated first issue in a new 12-part Marvel series penned by Coates. That's no small thing in the comics world. Sure, comic companies have begun to show an understanding that their core audience is diverse, increasingly female and of colour.