Issue 1103

Australia

The campaign to stop Sydney University closing the Sydney College of the Arts (SCA) based in beautiful Callan Park has consolidated support from staff, arts institutions, political parties and community groups.

Plans to build a mosque in Buchanan in the Hunter Valley, NSW, were approved 6–4 after nearly two hours of emotional speeches at a meeting of Cessnock Council on July 20.

The Newcastle Muslim Association applied to build a 390 square-metre place of worship and funeral home on 23 hectares at Buchanan, south of Maitland.

But the 12 residents who spoke against the mosque said it is too big, will create traffic congestion and noise and is inappropriate in a rural area. Some also said they were concerned about the safety of their children travelling to school and feared increased crime.

Queensland Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath has announced plans to introduce legislation holding commercial vehicle registration holders to determinations by the Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB).

This would mean the registration of any commercial vehicle with slogans deemed to be offensive or that otherwise failed to comply with the ASB's standards, such as those on Wicked Campers vans, could be cancelled.

The National Union of Workers announced on July 15 that 50 workers who were locked out of a Victorian milk processing plant by Longwarry Foods on July 5 will be able to return to work after they voted for a new agreement.

Workers had been protesting outside Longwarry Foods, owned by Parmalat, one of the country's biggest milk producers, for 11 days, calling for better working conditions and to return to work.

This advertisement was booked to run in Melbourne newspaper the Herald Sun, to draw attention to the plight of 55 Carlton United Brewery workers who were unfairly sacked and offered their jobs back at 65% less pay.

Being the darlings of the big end of town that it is, the Herald Sun has refused to run it. But we can all help to share it far and wide.

As the dispute enters its seventh week, you can help to increase the pressure on the company.

The chief investigator for Coral Watch Justin Marshall who spent a week this month conducting surveys on the reefs around Lizard Island has said parts of the Great Barrier Reef are suffering from “complete ecosystem collapse”, as fish numbers plummet and surviving corals continue to bleach.

He said: “The lack of fish was the most shocking thing. I was seeing a lot less than 50% of what was there [before the bleaching]. Some species I wasn’t seeing at all.”

"The Waterloo Tent Embassy has made a big impact, is winning growing support every day, and has already gained government action on fixing longstanding maintenance problems at the Waterloo public housing towers," Richard Weeks, spokesperson for the Waterloo Public Housing Action Group (WPHAG), told Green Left Weekly on July 20.

The WestConnex tollway project continues to expand, despite widespread community objections to the consequences it will bring. These include increased traffic in the inner west of Sydney; environmental and pollution problems; forced acquisitions and destruction of heritage homes; associated increases in tolls for motorists; and the overall cost to the public — $16.8 billion and counting.

The chances of Australia achieving its 2030 emissions reduction target have been further weakened by Australia’s poor performance on an international scorecard for energy efficiency

Australia ranked 16th overall on the American Council for Energy Efficiency’s international scorecard released on July 20, which ranks the top 23 biggest energy-consuming countries on their energy efficiency across a range of areas. Australia was ranked in the bottom three countries for industry and transport.

The industrial action by Carlton & United Breweries (CUB) maintenance workers in Abbotsford has entered its seventh week. The company is refusing to back down from its decision to sack the workers and then offer to rehire them with a 65% pay cut.

The dispute started on June 10 when 55 fitters, electricians and maintenance workers backed by the Electrical Trades Union (ETU) and the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) were told by management that they would be sacked, only to be then “invited” to re-apply for their job through a third-party contractor, Catalyst Recruitment.

Kurdish-Australian journalist Renas Lelikan was charged under anti-terrorist laws at Parramatta Local Court on July 21 and refused bail. The charges accuse him of being a member of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

He was arrested the previous day in raids by the Australian Federal Police, which also seized more than 2000 emails. The prosecution asked for an adjournment until September, saying police needed time to translate the emails from Turkish. He has another bail hearing on July 28.

Activists blockaded a Wilson Security car park at Melbourne Convention Centre on July 20, with one activist hanging from a giant tripod for several hours. Police arrested three people, who were released shortly after and will be charged with offences relating to road safety.

Two Aboriginal elders were arrested at a protest against multinational mining company Rio Tinto blasting at the Mount Thorley-Warkworth coalmine in the Hunter Valley on July 18.

Wonnarua elders Kevin Taggart and his sister Pat Hannson were arrested after telling police they would not move from the side of Putty Road.

Residents of the village of Bulga are protesting against the expansion of the Mount Thorley-Warkworth mine, the closure of Wallaby Scrub Road and the destruction of Aboriginal and European cultural heritage.

Rail freight operator Aurizon has told workers that about 100 jobs will be cut in north Queensland next month, according to the Rail Tram and Bus Union (RBTU).

The union says the cuts, which affect workers from Townsville to Gladstone, come on top of 200 jobs that the company has already shed over the past year.

RTBU northern manager Les Moffitt said the move affected coal and wagon maintenance which could not afford to lose more staff.

The company said it would be offering voluntary redundancies, while looking at retraining and relocating staff where possible.

World

Teachers affiliated to the radical CNTE union took to the streets of Mexico City on July 19, as their leaders hold talks with authorities to discuss the education reform that has led to two months of mass protests across the country.

The march kicked off at the national trainee teachers' college in the heart of Mexico City. Protesters held banners opposing President Enrique Pena Nieto, who spearheaded the neoliberal reform in 2013.


General strike to protest mass layoffs under President Mauricio Macri. Buenos Aires, February 24. Photo: EFE.

The Republicans gathered in Cleveland over July 18-21 to ratify the verdict of primary voters and choose Donald Trump as their presidential nominee for the November elections — with Indiana governor Mike Pence his running mate.

A last-minute attempt by the “Never Trump” forces to obstruct his nomination was easily overcome when party officials rushed through a voice vote on convention rules. Despite Republican internal divisions, the Trump-Pence ticket emerged intact.

Warehouses belonging to Kimberly-Clark Corporation — which recently had its factory seized and handed over to the workers — were found to be full of raw materials. This is despite the insistence from the factory's owners that they could not produce goods, Venezuelan industry minister Miguel Perez Abad said on July 15.


A memorial to victims of the Nice killings.

Out of the 84 victims who died in the Nice attacks on France's Bastille Day, at least 30 were Muslims, figures based on the types of funerals required by relatives released by local Nice authorities said on July 19.

And that was how the horror came to my doorstep. To tell you the truth, like many people who live in the provinces – a somewhat disparaging term used to refer to the rest of France that exists outside of Paris and its surrounds – I thought terrorist attacks were mainly a concern for those in the capital.

On July 14, this certainty was blown apart by the sad and harsh reality: 84 people of various nationality and beliefs, among them dozens of children, died due to the actions of a lunatic on the Promenade des Anglais, the “Malecon” of the city of Nice, in the south-east of France.


Members of the Merida communal council distributing food. Photo by Tamara Pearson.

It's been three years now of food shortages, inflation, and queues in Venezuela, and the millions of people involved in community and movement organizing have been the most affected. But they've also defied right-wing and general expectations, and even perhaps the expectations of the Maduro government, and have become stronger and better organized as a result of the hardships.

The number of refugees in France’s Calais Jungle camp has topped 7000 for the first time, despite eviction attempts by the French authorities, solidarity groups said on July 21.

Morning Star Online reported that a census carried out by Help Refugees and L’Auberge des Migrants showed there were now 7307 people living in terrible conditions there.


A march for jobs in Zimbabwe.

A national shutdown or 'stay away' in Zimbabwe this month paralysed the country. For the first time in years the country's ruling party, ZANU-PF, and the tenure of 92 year old president Robert Mugabe, were seriously rattled. Young people, workers and traders – who survive by hawking food, cheap imported goods in cities and towns – engaged in pitch battles with the police and army, in many cases outnumbering the security forces.

Washington pressed Greece on July 21 to cut public spending to the bone in return for the latest slice of bailout money, Morning Star Online said.

After a meeting with Greek finance minister Euclid Tsakalotos, US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said Athens needed “to make headway on the next set of milestones due in October”.

The new administration of Prime Minister Theresa May marks a sharp shift in Britain's Conservative Party government towards the xenophobic right.

May has had a remarkable clearout of ministers who served under ex-PM David Cameron — who resigned after leading the failed campaign to stay in the European Union — in order to shape the government in her image.

Declaring "We have abolished the case for austerity", left-wing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn officially launched his campaign for re-election in London on July 21. He used the occasion to make a strong putting a case for a clearly anti-austerity Labour Party to oppose the Tories and a rise in racism (see full speech below the article).


Fascist mobs, with support from the police, attacked neighbourhoods populated by Kurds, the Alevi religious minority, other minorities and leftists. Istanbul, July 16. Photo: Sendika10.org.

Faced with an attempt to overthrow his government, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan described the coup as “a gift from God” — and wasted no time in exploiting it to further entrench his authoritarian regime.

In the dead of night on July 17, police vans snaked their way into Chak 4-L village in Okara City in Punjab province.

At about 2am, several dozen police officers forced entry into the house of Mehr Abdul Jabbar, younger brother of jailed peasant leader Mehr Abdul Sattar.

They broke down the front door and opened fire indiscriminately, shattering cupboards and other household items. They departed 15 minutes later but left behind a cloud of uncertainty and fear that spread among the villagers jolted awake by the gunfire.

[The following opinion piece was written by Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK) Executive Committee member and founder Duran Kalkan on July 17. It can be read as the official stance of the PKK regarding the failed coup attempt in Turkey.]

The following press release was issued by the Awami Workers Party on July 18.

* * *


"The AKP's fascism drove the army into Kurdish cities and towns, made them burn cities to the ground and massacre hundreds of civilians." Cizre, Bakur.

The umbrella organisation of the Kurdish movement, the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) Executive Council Co-Presidency, released the following statement on July 16

* * *

Analysis

In the past few weeks #BlackLivesMatter rallies have been organised around Australia and internationally in solidarity with the Black victims of US police violence and to raise awareness of the racism experienced by Australians of African descent and First Nations communities.

In Melbourne, a rally on July 17 drew a diverse crowd of more than 3500 people. It was organised by just four young activists and mobilised many communities who have experienced racism, as well as their allies.

Australia recently gained an unenviable title: perhaps the first country to lose a mammal species to climate change.

The Bramble Cay Melomys, a native rodent found on one tiny sand island in the remote northern regions of the Great Barrier Reef, reportedly became extinct after rising seas destroyed its habitat.

In the discussion about Pauline Hanson's election to the Senate and her recent appearance on ABC's Q&A there have been appeals by some commentators to go easy on her because: "She is just saying what a lot of people are thinking".

Well, dopey racist ideas need to be condemned for what they are, regardless of how many people share them.

This defence of Hanson is like the completely false idea that the degrading treatment of asylum seekers by Labor and Coalition governments is just responding to what the voters want. This of course puts the cart before the horse.

The irony in the controversy that has broken out about whether Australia should impose a total ban on Muslim immigration to combat ISIS terror is that if only Iraq had been able to close its borders to Western invaders back in 2003, this whole ISIS shit could have been avoided.

Murri leader Sam Watson does not have a high opinion of Pauline Hanson's intellect or her lack of substantial policies. However he told Green Left Weekly that “she can't be ignored”.

“I was very pleased to see in the last few days when she went to appear on Q&A that there were comrades on the street to challenge her,” he said.

He was also pleased when First Nations activist Murrandoo Yanner ordered her out of the building at the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair.

“She is evil and we need to confront that evil and challenge that evil.”

Suicide was unknown to Aboriginal people prior to invasion. There was no word for suicide in the ancient Yolngu language and, up to the 1980s, suicide was rare among Aboriginal people.

But now 95% of Aboriginal people have been affected by a suicide and Aboriginal people are six times more likely to commit suicide than non-Aboriginal people.

In the Northern Territory, 50% of suicides were by Aboriginal people in 2010, up from just 5% in 1991.

The Australian government released its National Strategy on International Students 2025 in April.

At its heart lies a strategy for exploiting international students and increasing the commercialisation of the education sector. It aims to swindle hundreds of thousands of international students and normalise the neoliberal idea that students are consumers and that education and learning are commodities.

Pauline Hanson came across a racist and incoherent cartoon character on the ABC's Q&A program on July 18.

But it would be a mistake to think that Hanson, and the more than half a million people who voted for her in the July 2 federal election, can simply be laughed away. They represent, in a distorted way, the deepening contradictions in our society that have to be addressed at their root.

The myth of the egalitarianism of Australia is cracking up after 50 years of Coalition and Labor Party governments helping the super rich get even richer at the expense of the rest.

Culture


FBI raid in Miami gathering evidence on FIFA. May, 2015.

The Dirty Game: Uncovering the Scandal at FIFA
Andrew Jennings
Arrow Books, 2016
305 pages

The unravelling of the empire of Sepp Blatter, the multi-millionaire president of world football, began in 2014.

Palestinians are using the viral smartphone game Pokemon Go, that has taken the world by storm, to highlight their political grievances, News.com.au reported on July 19.

While seemingly innocuous at first, the game has been subject to a number of conspiracy theories, including in China and also among Egyptian security forces, which claims its links to the CIA threatens Egypt's national security.

Ghostbusters
Written by Kate Dippold & Paul Feig
Directed by Paul Feig
Staring Melissa McCarthy; Kristen Wiig; Kate McKinnon; and Leslie Jones
In cinemas now

Internet troll Zane Alchin will be sentenced in Sydney next week after pleading guilty to “using a carriage service to menace, harass or offend”, to wit 55 vile comments on a Facebook post.


Image via Jewish Voices for Peace.

Major literary figures are among more than 150 writers urging Israel to release Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour, who has been under house arrest since January for a poem she wrote.