Issue 1107

News

Students from Sydney's College of the Arts began an occupation of the Dean's office at Callan Park on August 22 against the corporatisation of their school. Every day more support has been pouring in. On August 24, the Maritime Union of Australia joined the solidarity protest and afterwards was invited in to talk with the protesting students. The occupation is asking for solidarity at the daily convergences at 1pm and 5pm. * * * The Maritime Union of Australia joined the rally of support for the student occupation of the Sydney College of the Arts Administration Building.
"We can't afford your units and we can't afford the bus; if you keep ignoring us we're gonna make a fuss!" This chant rang through the streets of West End in Brisbane as 150 people marched against the proposed development at the old Absoe site on August 21. The action began with a community breakfast aimed explicitly at developing community connections.
Students from the Sydney College of the Arts (SCA) began occupying the campus's administration building on August 22. Resistance members have been involved in the occupation and the campaign leading up to it. Bronte Nicole Scott, Resistance member and a future SCA student, explained why she is part of the occupation to save SCA in a August 22 Facebook post. * * * Right now I am occupying the office of the Sydney College of the Arts (SCA) administration because it is absolutely criminal that the arts are always the first up on the chopping block.
First Nations activists Raymond Weatherall and Ken Canning have sent solidarity messages to the students occupying the Sydney Arts School (SCA) in protest at the University of Sydney's corporatisation plans. * * * I am Ngarr Birriwa Galimaay, I am Gamilaraay, Goonal Goonal clan. Through my uncles I have started my cultural journey and have begun to learn how important art is for expression, story telling and empowering ourselves and future generations.
The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU), which covers staff at the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), said PM Malcolm Turnbull should be "apologising not finger pointing” for the August 9 Census debacle. CPSU national secretary Nadine Flood said: “Staff saw these problems coming a mile off. There are 700 fewer staff at the ABS now than when the last Census was conducted five years ago and as a result staff are suffering under massive workloads.
More than 1810 academics from across Australia, including distinguished experts in refugee law, policy, health and politics, have signed an open letter to PM Malcolm Turnbull calling for a just and humane approach for refugees. The letter calls on the federal government to end offshore processing, boat turnbacks and the mandatory detention of asylum seekers.
In an unprecedented move, more than 100 workers currently or previously employed in Australia's offshore detention centres called on the federal government on August 17 to immediately resettle refugees and asylum seekers in Australia. Among those speaking out were doctors, teachers, case workers, managers and social workers from Broadspectrum (formerly Transfield), Save the Children, IHMS, Salvation Army and other contracted workers that have worked in the detention facilities on Manus Island and Nauru.
The Victorian government tabled a bill on August 18 to allow transgender, gender diverse and intersex people the right to specify their gender on new birth certificates. The Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Amendment Bill 2016 also ensures couples will no longer be forced to divorce if one partner wishes to change the sex recorded on their birth registration. People will be able to nominate as male, female or specify a gender diverse or non-binary descriptor.
CSIRO staff remain sceptical about the future of the group's climate research program, with media reports suggesting that science minister Greg Hunt's recent announcement of additional jobs in the area does not include any new funding from the federal government. The allocation of $37 million -- tied to the nascent Climate Science Centre in Hobart -- will apparently be sourced from CSIRO's own funds over 10 years and involves the creation of 15 new positions, based at locations still to be determined.
Following a four-hour stop work meeting, staff from Victoria's Thomas Embling Hospital marched on the office of state mental health minister Martin Foley on August 16, demanding better services, staffing and safety. Health and Community Services Union (HACSU) state secretary Lloyd Williams said: "There is too much pressure on our staff so it means people with mental illness miss out."
Firefighters rallied outside state parliament house on August 16 to demand greater support for the victims of toxic contamination at the Country Fire Authority's (CFA) former Fiskville training facility. Fiskville was closed down in 2015, but a state parliamentary enquiry found that CFA management had known about the contamination since 2010 and allowed training to continue there. The chemicals have been linked to a rise in the number of incidences of cancer and other diseases among firefighters who trained there.
While the New South Wales government's disastrous WestConnex tollroad project is facing new challenges, the public campaign against the $17 billion privatised road network continues to grow. The latest headache for the government came about when chief commissioner for the Greater Sydney Commission (GSC) Lucy Turnbull triggered a public outcry after stating she was unaware of any large-scale destruction of houses in the heritage suburb of Haberfield, precisely as homes were being demolished in the inner-western Sydney suburbs.
Climate change is not just a scientific or technical problem, nor can it be solved in the “usual” way. Instead, people need to get organised and develop solutions that improve lives and communities as well as protect the environment. This was the central theme behind the “Creating a climate for change” public meeting held on August 11 in the Northcote Town Hall. The meeting was organised by the Melbourne Playback Theatre Company and Darebin Climate Action Now.
The fence outside Labor deputy leader Tanya Plibersek's office in Ultimo was adorned with cardboard cut-outs of children trapped behind bars on August 15. Some had messages urging Australia to bring refugees from Manus and Nauru to Australia. The action was one of more than 40 across the country. They were organised as a response to the bipartisan cruelty towards refugees exposed in the Nauru files released by the Guardian the previous week.
An August 11 meeting at the Melbourne Trades Hall heard an inspiring report on the rebuilding of Kobane and the progress and problems of the Rojava revolution. Hawzhin Azeez, a former University of Newcastle academic and now a central figure on the Kobane Reconstruction Board, spoke for almost an hour outlining the significance of Kobane to the Kurdish freedom struggle and the importance of the rebuilding effort.
Australia's peak trade union body, the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), has finally adopted a position of supporting marriage equality. The decision follows a recent move by one of its largest affiliates, the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association, to drop its militant opposition to marriage equality.
A four-year campaign by local residents has forced agrochemical giant Monsanto to abandon its plans to build one of the world's largest transgenic seed factories in the province of Cordoba, Argentina. The campaign included protests, concerts, blockades and a campsite that had been maintained since 2013. Local activist Vanesa Sarton said of their struggle: "[It] has become an icon of resistance. It demonstrates that people can organize, and even though it had appeared that everything was ready, closed and sealed, these decisions can be overcome. If the people organise, it can happen.”
At least 170 people protested against land clearing outside the Queensland parliament on August 17 ahead of a bill which would have required landholders to prove they had not illegally bulldozed their land. The Palaszczuk government's bill was aimed at restoring stronger tree clearing laws and would have reversed the legislation brought in by the conservative Cambell Newman government. That change resulted in almost 300,000 hectares of native woodland being cleared each year.

Analysis

Carlton United Breweries' (CUB) attack on its maintenance workers was clearly premeditated. The brewery forced workers to do large amounts of overtime to build up its stock before sacking 55 maintenance workers on June 10. Although the 55 workers were told they could reapply for their jobs through a new contractor, they were not told who the new employing contractor would be or what their new terms and conditions would look like. Meanwhile, CUB had secretly recruited temporary workers from interstate to replace the sacked workers.

A week after Green Left Weekly reported on the Brighton Grammar scandal, it has been revealed that this is just the tip of the iceberg: a large-scale child pornography ring is being run by boys and young men at high schools across Australia.

When a gang of right-wing goons from the Party For Freedom (PFF), dressed as stereotypical Muslims, stormed the Sunday service at the Gosford Anglican Church on August 14, their actions were nominally disowned by Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party in a written statement. However, the statement also sought to justify and excuse the actions of the PFF.
The refugee rights movement is gaining momentum, but the establishment is looking for ways to placate and demobilise it. The growing breadth of the campaign is evident in the response to the Guardian's release of the Nauru Files, which contained more than 2000 reports detailing sexual assault, child abuse and acts of self-harm in Nauru detention centre. Almost immediately, "Love Makes A Way" actions were organised, involving a diversity of organisations protesting outside more than 40 Coalition and Labor MP's offices across the country on August 15.
A fight broke out on a beach on the French island of Corsica on August 13 after a tourist began taking photos of women wearing burqinis. Following the altercation, the local mayor decided to ban the full-body swimwear. That's right: someone took photos of women without their permission, people got upset and, in response, the state is now dictating what women can and cannot wear.
The Pine Gap military spy base was established 50 years ago on the traditional lands of the Arrernte people, about 20 kilometres outside of Alice Springs, in the Northern Territory. Pine Gap is supposedly a joint US-Australian defence facility, but very little of it is “joint” or “defence” related.
Some would have seen One Nation Senator-elect Malcolm Roberts' performance on ABC's Q&A on August 15. He went hammer and tong repeating ad nauseum that academics are doctoring the science, that the major science bodies are corrupt and that the science on climate change is anything but settled. Here is one small excerpt from his exchange with British physicist Brian Cox: Roberts: “I'm saying ... two things. First of all, that the [climate] data has been corrupted and we know that the 1930s were warmer than today.”
Fifty years ago this week, 200 Aboriginal stockmen and domestic servants walked off the job at Lord Vestey's Wave Hill cattle station, 600 kilometres south of Darwin. Most of them were members of the Gurindji people, with small numbers of Walpiri and other indigenous people. They were to stay out on strike for ten years.
The issue of just treatment of asylum seekers is close to my heart. I am Jewish and the child of refugees who fled the Nazis. As a child of immigrants in Australia, I was picked on for being “different”. My life of activism for social justice is rooted in this history. I am driven by a passion that all human beings should be included, should be valued, should be embraced. Inclusion is a fundamental value for me. When we look at what this country is doing to people incarcerated in our detention centres, what other word can we truthfully use besides “cruelty”?
On January 26, 1988 - the bicentenary of the invasion of Australia - Burnum Burnum planted the Aboriginal flag under the white cliffs of Dover and took possession of England on behalf of the Aboriginal people.
Nicholas Miklouho-Maclay (1846-1888) was a Russian anthropologist, biologist and explorer who lived and worked in Sydney for nine years and established himself as a respected member of the New South Wales scientific community.

World

The exoneration of a man accused of the worst of crimes, genocide, made no headlines. Neither the BBC nor CNN covered it. The Guardian allowed a brief commentary. Such a rare official admission was buried or suppressed, understandably. It would explain too much about how the rulers of the world rule. The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague has quietly cleared the late Serbian president, Slobodan Milosevic, of war crimes committed during the 1992-95 Bosnian war, including the massacre at Srebrenica.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and FARC commander Timoleon Jimenez at a signing ceremony in Havana, Cuba for a historic ceasefire in June.
Palestinians gather in the Gaza Strip for a rally against Israeli attacks on August 21. People in the Palestinian Gaza Strip said at least 30 Israeli airstrikes took place in the territory on August 21. The air strikes came after a rocket was fired earlier in the day from the territory into Israel, landing in an open area and injuring no one.
The death of yet another Black man at the hands of police — this time in Milwaukee on August 13 — touched off nights of rebellious protests as crowds of people confronted officers and demanded justice. The bitter discontent was years in the making. It is the result of systematic racism and discrimination that has left Black residents in Wisconsin's largest city as second-class citizens.
Members of the Media Workers Union of Swaziland (MWUS) protested low wages, management intimidation and poor working conditions at the Swazi Observer. Negotiations between the paper, in effect owned and controlled by absolute monarch King Mswati III, and MWUS had started in April. But no real progress has been made since they became deadlocked in June.
Protesters target the Bakken pipeline. Despite ongoing resistance by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, a North Dakota federal court has ordered the indigenous group to stop their blockade protests against a US$3.8 billion oil pipeline.
The US’s first Black swimmer to win a gold medal, Simone Manuel, dedicated her win to ending police brutality on August 11. Manuel tied with Penny Oleksiak from Canada at 52:70 to win gold in the 100 metre freestyle race at the Rio games that day.
"And, no, it's not going to end today. I can't tell you it's going to end tomorrow. I don't know when it's going to end. But it's for y'all to start." This is what Sedan Smith, the brother of Sylville Smith, the 23-year-old African American man shot dead by police, told Democracy Now! on August 15. "This is what you get! We're not the ones killing us! You're killing us! We can't make a change if you all don't change."

Culture

Howard Gayle during his time with Liverpool. Photo: Facebook/Howard Gayle. The first Black football player for English club Liverpool, Howard Gayle, said he declined a nomination for the Member of the British Empire (MBE) honour because he felt he would be betraying his Black ancestors who suffered oppression at the hands of British colonialism.
Rafaela Silva. There is joy in Olympic Rio, make no mistake about it. Maybe it takes two hours to travel 25 miles across the city; and maybe only 15% of the Olympic decorations were delivered; and maybe there are more soldiers on the ground, per capita, than the United States had in Iraq at the height of Bush’s war; but there is joy.
During a August 17 European Champions League qualifying fixture in Glasgow against Israeli club, Hapoel Beer Sheva of Israel, fans of Glasgow's Celtic FC flew the Palestinian flag in solidarity with Palestine's struggle for freedom. The action came in defiance of UEFA threats to punish the club if fans flew the flag, and even Scottish police threats to arrest fans who flew the flag.
With the highest record of Olympic medals in Latin America, Cuba owes its sports achievements to its socialist revolution. The devastating US blockade on Cuba, which has lasted for more than 50 years and includes restrictions on the nation's sporting industry, has not stopped the island from becoming the most successful Latin American country in Olympics history.
Celtic fans defy a UEFA ban and police threats to fly the Palestinian flag during against against an Israeli team. During Glasgow-based football club Celtic FC's August 17 European Champions League qualifying fixture in Glasgow against Israeli club, Hapoel Beer Sheva of Israel, Celtic supporters defied an explicit UEFA ban to fly Palestinian flags in solidarity with Palestine's struggle for freedom.