Issue 1097

News

The Queensland government moved a motion on May 26 that the Health, Communities, Disability Services and Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Committee is to report back to state parliament on the Abortion Law Reform (Woman's Right to Choose) Amendment Bill 2016 by August 26.
Thirty students representing 25 postgraduate organisations met at the Council of Postgraduate Association (CAPA) Special Council Meeting to discuss issues faced by postgraduate students in a corporatised university setting. CAPA is the peak, not-for-profit body that represents 320,000-plus postgraduate students, through its 33 postgraduate affiliates and the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Postgraduate Association (NATSIPA).
The NTEU released this further statement on the suspension of Roz Ward on June 3. * * * Maurice Blackburn has written on behalf of NTEU to La Trobe University Vice Chancellor John Dewar calling for Victorian Safe Schools Coordinator and academic Roz Ward to be reinstated following her suspension earlier this week. In a legal letter sent to the university, employment law expert Josh Bornstein has also encouraged the Vice Chancellor to withdraw all allegations that have been made against Ms Ward relating to a private post she published on her personal Facebook page.
Several NSW Police officers have been criticised in court for allegedly grabbing the breasts and neck of an anti-Reclaim Australia protester, then covering their actions up by deleting evidence, making up a false charge against her, lying under oath and attacking her in court. Simone White was arrested at a Martin Place rally last year for allegedly assaulting Senior Constable John Wasko. After a year-long court battle, a magistrate has thrown out the charge and ordered police to pay White's legal costs because their arrest, investigation and subsequent prosecution were so improper.
The Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union (CFMEU) has placed a "green ban" on redevelopment of the famous Bondi Pavilion, in support of community groups outraged by Waverley Council plans to effectively hand the building to private companies. Union and political leaders joined with local residents at Bondi Beach on May 29 to announce the union ban on work on the project.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews formally apologised on May 24 in state parliament for a past law that treated people as criminals for being gay. "It is never too late to put things right," Andrews said. "It is never too late to say sorry and mean it. "There was a time in our history when we turned thousands of young men into criminals ... this was profoundly wrong. "It is the first responsibility of a government to keep people safe. But the Government didn't keep LGBTI people safe. The Government invalidated their humanity and cast them into a nightmare.”
About 20 people gathered at Sydney Town Hall on May 28 to demand, "No to right-wing coups in Brazil, Venezuela" and "US hands off Latin America" The rally was organised by the Latin America Social Forum (LASF), with the support of other solidarity groups.
All references to Australia were removed from the final version of a major UN report on climate change after the Australian government intervened, arguing that the information could harm tourism. The report World Heritage and Tourism in a Changing Climate, initially had a key chapter on the Great Barrier Reef, as well as small sections on Kakadu and Tasmanian forests. But when the Department of Environment saw a draft of the report, it objected, and every mention of Australia was removed.
The CFMEU has labelled the $21,225 fine imposed by the Federal Court on May 30 for taking action over hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid wages as a “disgrace”. WA CFMEU secretary Mick Buchan said this action characterises the absolute bias of the Fair Work Building Commission (FWBC). “They came after the union for helping workers get the wages that were owed to them for work they had done. We are being punished for doing our job.”
Anti-Poverty Network SA launched a new campaign this week: Target 80K (80,000) Jobs For SA . The campaign is about shifting the discussion on unemployment away from the relentless victim-blaming, the attacks on job-seekers, and onto governments that know full well but refuse to acknowledge, let alone do anything about the fact there are not enough jobs to go around. In South Australia, we have 9,800 job vacancies and 89,600 job-seekers. We need another 80,000 jobs. Anti-Poverty Network SA released this statement on June 1 to coincide with the launch. * * *
About 80 people rallied outside the Turkish consulate in Melbourne on May 25 to condemn the massacre of Kurds and support the People's Democratic Party (HDP) MPs now facing prosecution by the Recep Tayyip Erdogan government.
Pressure is mounting for the replacement of Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) chief executive Dr Larry Marshall as the crisis deepens over the proposed sackings of hundreds of research scientists from the organisation's climate change and other divisions. Marshall is the controversial former Silicon Valley entrepreneur, appointed head of CSIRO in late 2014.

Analysis

Sitting safely inside the head of a pale, grey telebot, slowly gyrating in an attempt to be innocuous; it turned to face the audience, introducing itself as Edward Snowden — the Worlds Most Wanted Man.
In May 1939 the St Louis, carried 935 Jews seeking asylum from Nazi Germany. Many countries refused to let them in, including the US, which used coast guard ships to stop the St Louis from docking. Eventually they were forced to return to Europe, and most of the passengers died in the Holocaust they were fleeing.
“Bernie! Bernie! Bernie!” the lady from California enthusiastically chanted down the phone. Some 12,000 kilometres away on a couch in Sydney, I started to chant too. It was infectious. Mathis, in the middle of his own phone call, grinned from across the room. So did Marcus and Alannah. I would soon learn this sort of thing happened quite a bit when calling US voters on behalf of Bernie Sanders.
When I began full-time work in the late 1980s, the working day began and ended at the same time every day. Any change to the routine meant overtime, paid at time-and-a-half or more. Even a delay in the regular lunch break meant overtime paid until the work stopped. Now, for many, overtime payments are a thing of the past and Patricia Forsyth and the Sydney Chamber of Commerce want to make the working day even more “flexible” — but at whose expense?
When donations to political parties from property developers in NSW were prohibited by then-NSW Labor premier Nathan Rees in November 2009 the decision was not well received by significant groupings in the state Labor and Liberal parties. The ban followed an Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) inquiry into Wollongong City Council which, in 2008, found that local developers had received favourable treatment from elected councillors and staff.
Below is a transcript of a message John Kaye recorded shortly before his death. It was printed in a collection of articles and speeches given out at a memorial in Sydney to celebrate his life on May 27. * * *
In the plans of governments in Adelaide and Canberra, South Australia is to become the country’s “nuclear waste dump state”. Most South Australians remain sceptical. And among the state’s Aboriginal population — on whose ancestral lands the dumps would be located — opposition to the scheme is rock-solid. “It’s very simple and easy to understand,” Aboriginal activist Regina McKenzie told Green Left Weekly on May 24. “No means no!” In the plans of governments in Adelaide and Canberra, South Australia is to become the country's “nuclear waste dump state”.
Is there anything more wretched and dishonest than the suggestion by pro-capitalist media commentators that any attempt by working people to claw back a fraction of the wealth they create every day represents the "politics of envy"? It is even more poisonous when coupled with an effort to breed resentment towards fellow workers who have managed to fight for and win better wages and conditions that others. An example is the crass attempt to whip up outrage about Victorian construction workers winning a 15% wage rise over three years.
The Victorian branch of the National Tertiary Education Union released this statement on June 1. It condemned La Trobe University's decision to suspend Roz Ward for a post on her personal Facebook page that said the Australian flag is racist. Ward has been a key activist in the Safe Schools anti-bullying campaign for school students. Murdoch's The Australian has run a witch hunt against her with the aim of destroying Safe Schools, which teaches respect and understanding for LGBTIQ students. * * *
The “Say NO to Racism in Moreland” rally on May 28 was originally conceived early this year and organising for it started back in February. We wanted to offer residents and communities an opportunity to take a public stand on the racist policies of the major parties: their Islamophobia, xenophobia and fear mongering. We also wanted to stand in solidarity with First Nations peoples, who are on the receiving end of institutionalised racism.
Australian capitalism is still relatively profitable by international standards. But the structural adjustments underway to compensate for the end of the mining boom are already having a dire impact on poor and middle income people.
Disengagement from mainstream politics is so widespread that when the marginalised and poor start getting engaged the establishment, and its media, hits back. This explains the corporate media's sexist-tinged blitzkrieg against Sue Bolton and Roz Ward, both Melbourne-based activists. Both women have come to prominence recently for their determination to stand up for the most marginalised and dispossessed sectors of society and involve others in the process.
This banker-premier's salesman's smile has well and truly worn thin. The Mike Baird Coalition government of New South Wales is on the nose. The mood of the thousands of people who marched on NSW Parliament House on May 29 recalled the mounting public rejection of former prime minister Tony Abbott expressed by the March In March movement in 2014. Abbott dismissed March In March as insignificant but by September the following year he was history.

World

Agustin Otxotorena, a Basque executive living in Caracas, grew tired of constant calls from friends and relatives in Spain telling him that there was no food in Venezuela. So on May 20, he began publishing photos on Facebook of supermarkets in upscale sectors of Caracas filled with goods.
Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa spoke out on June 1 about efforts by right-wing political forces in Latin America to oust democratically-elected governments, saying that it would set a dangerous precedent for democracy in the region. “Right-wing politicians don't just want to return to power, they want to return with a thirst for vengeance,” said Correa during an interview with Ecuador Public Television.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro at a demonstration in support of the government's emergency economic measures emergency measures, Caracas, May 14. Photo via AVN.
A long political campaign in the south Indian state of Kerala has again been played out according to the pattern followed for the last few decades. The Communist party of India-Marxist (CPI-M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) defeated the incumbent Indian National Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) in May 19 elections. The elections continued the state’s recent history of swinging between the UDF and the LDF. The two fronts have alternated in power since 1982.
United We Can. United We Can — the united ticket made up of Podemos, the United Left, the green party Equo and three broader alliances in Catalonia, Galicia and the Valencian Country — is campaigning in the June 26 Spanish general elections on a plan to reverse economic austerity.
Protest in Rojava against exclusion of Kurdish-led democratic forces from negotiations in Geneva, March 30. Photo: Hawar News Agency. The Syrian Kurds and allied communities declared their areas the “Federation of Northern Syria and Rojava” on March 17, and announced that democratic federalism is a viable alternative to the detrimental politics of both the Syrian regime and the jihadist opposition.
Chief minister of the Northern Provincial Council, CV Wigneswaran, addressing a commemorative event at Mullivaikkal, May 18. Photo: Tamil Guardian. Tamils throughout the north and east of the island of Sri Lanka held ceremonies on May 18 to remember those who died in the genocidal war waged by the Sri Lankan Army against the Tamil people.
Indigenous communities representing various nationalities marched through the streets of Caracas on June 2 to show their support for the government of Nicolas Maduro and Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution. The groups taking part in the demonstration were responding to a call made by the government to develop grassroots solutions to the economic crisis the country is facing.
Brussels, May 31. Parts of Belgium came to a halt as transport strikes by public sectors workers intensified on May 31. Workers are protesting against the government's social and economic policies, which includes budget cuts. By May 31, train drivers had been on strike for six consecutive days, causing serious disruptions in the capital of Brussels, where only limited services of buses, metros and trams were running.
A general strike rocked France in late May in the latest escalation of protests and workplace actions against the government's attempt to scrap long-standing protections for workers. The economy ground to a halt as dockworkers in port cities, workers in oil refineries and nuclear power stations, airport and Paris metro workers and many more took action. Workers took to the streets on May 26 with massive protests. Unions estimated that 300,000 people took part in demonstrations, including railway workers, postal workers, students, low-wage workers, the unemployed and retirees.
Mohamed Abdelaziz. Photo: An Phoblacht. Mohamed Abdelaziz, President of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), died on May 31, following a long illness.
Jailed socialist candidate Baba Jan and supporters outside the Supreme Court at Gilgit on 22 May, before police took him back to jail.
Returning to the United States in an election year, I am struck by the silence. I have covered four presidential campaigns, starting with 1968; I was with Robert Kennedy when he was shot and I saw his assassin, preparing to kill him. It was a baptism in the American way, along with the salivating violence of the Chicago police at the Democratic Party's rigged convention. The great counter revolution had begun.

Culture

Rafael “Rafucko” Puetter is a Rio-based artist and activist who put together an “Olympic anti-souvenir shop” to highlight the injustices that arrive with the summer games.
I was sitting in the waiting room when you flashed across the screen A heatwave smothered India and you were on the scene. As you tried to cross the street, your shoe stuck to the road So you ran on scorched bare feet, as the black tar slowly flowed. Where there once were straight white lines, a crazy pattern morphed and swirled, As if a giant with a paintbrush splashed out and dwarfed the world. You long for cooling rain, but the monsoon will be late. And this is how some people face their climate fate. You’re a woman of Maharashtra; farm life is what you know.
The reverberations. Not the rumbles, the reverberations. The death of Muhammad Ali will undoubtedly move people's minds to his epic boxing matches against Joe Frazier, George Foreman, or there will be retrospectives about his epic “rumbles” against racism and war. But it's the reverberations that we have to understand in order to see Muhammad Ali as what he remains: the most important athlete to ever live. It's the reverberations that are our best defense against real-time efforts to pull out his political teeth and turn him into a harmless icon suitable for mass consumption.
I just returned to the United States from Rio de Janeiro, where I was researching a story on the Olympics in August for The Nation. People spoke to me about the displacement and police violence that are accompanying the games. Yet one of the hottest points of discussion emerged from outside the country: a call to move, or at least postpone, the Olympics to prevent the global expansion of the Zika virus, currently exploding in Rio.

Good news (for a change)

Duncan Hart, a student who works part-time at a Coles supermarket in Brisbane, has won a David and Goliath battle against his employer and the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA) in the Fair Work Commission. He claimed the enterprise bargaining agreement between Coles and his union left thousands of workers worse-off than they would be under the award, and was therefore invalid.