Issue 1118

Australia

Victoria Police has evicted homeless people from empty properties in Bendigo Street, Collingwood, that had been acquired by the previous government for the now-cancelled East West Link.

The government said the homeless people had to be evicted so it could give the houses to homeless people.

rally for workers comp

About 200 unionists rallied on November 3 to highlight the plight of injured workers in the state. The day marked the beginning of the NSW parliamentary Law and Justice Committee’s review of the 2012 changes to workers' compensation legislation by the Coalition state government.

Speakers included representatives of UnionsNSW and individual unions, state MPs, and workers who had presented testimony to the committee that morning.

A rally was held outside the US Consulate in Sydney on November 10 in solidarity with the Standing Rock protest camp against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

The Dakota Access oil pipeline is threatening to pollute water and land of the Sioux and other Native American groups. If completed it will move almost half a million barrels of oil a day, worsening climate change and threatening the entire planet's survival.

Malcolm Turnbull's proposed plebiscite on equal marriage was defeated 29-33 in the Senate late on November 7.

Months of speculation and political talk culminated in Labor, the Greens, the Nick Xenophon Team and Derryn Hinch combining to defeat the proposal.

Chair of Australian Marriage Equality Alex Greenwich said supporters of same sex marriage should refocus efforts on a direct vote in Parliament to change the Marriage Act.

As more than 3000 people rallied in Melbourne’s CBD on November 5 to protest against the federal government’s refugee policies, about 200 people gathered in the far northern suburb of Eltham in support of a group of Syrian refugees who will be resettled in the area in the coming weeks.

Ken Canning at UTS

The Jumbanna Indigenous House of Learning at the University of Technology Sydney has named a meeting room after Aboriginal activist, poet and playwright Ken Canning.

Canning has a long history of political struggle and activism.

His fight for equal rights for Indigenous people led him to education in the 1980s.

In 1988 he became the first Aboriginal graduate at UTS with a BA in Communications.

The list of things renewable energy can be blamed for received a creative contribution from little-known Liberal backbencher Craig Kelly on November 7 when he linked renewable energy with child drownings.

His argument went like this: environmentalists promote renewable energy policies; renewable energy will drive up the cost of electricity; public swimming pools require electricity to filter and heat; higher electricity prices mean pools will have to either cut swimming lessons or charge more for them; fewer children will learn to swim; therefore, more children will drown.

The WestCONnex Action Group (WAG), one of the main residents' groups opposing the NSW Coalition government's $17 billion WestConnex tollway, has slammed the government's latest changes to the controversial project.

Under new plans announced on November 10, the tollway's Camperdown interchange will be scrapped, and the M4–M5 Link tunnel widened and moved further west.

“These latest changes show yet again that the Baird government’s so-called ‘planning’ for WestConnex is a complete farce,” said WAG spokesperson Pauline Lockie.

One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts held a press conference on November 7 to release a 42-page document that claims the CSIRO and Bureau of Meteorology corrupted climate data and that global warming is an international Jewish banking conspiracy to gain global control through environmentalism.

Three Australian unionists, visiting Indonesia as part of a delegation to a South-East Asian asbestos conference, had their passports seized and were deported from Indonesia after visiting a picket line organised by transport workers in Jakarta.

The unionists, including Jackie Kriz, a member of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation and President of Geelong Trades and Labour Council, have been barred from re-entering Indonesia for six months. They were told by the Indonesian department of immigration they could apply to have the ban lifted after that time.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) announced on October 25 that last year, thanks to cost reductions and significant policy support in key countries, renewables have surpassed coal to become the largest source of installed power in the world. This has prompted the IEA to significantly boost its five-year forecast for renewable energy growth.

West Australian Senator and co-deputy leader of the Greens Scott Ludlam announced on November 4 he will be taking leave from his parliamentary duties to deal with long-term depression and anxiety.

In a statement on Facebook, Ludlam said he had been dealing with mental health issues for some time.

"I will return to work as soon as I'm able to give the commitment the work demands,” he wrote.

"I am fortunate to be getting the very best of care from my friends and family and my health professionals.”

Ludlam has been granted a pair until the end of the year.

The Refugee Action Collective organised a public meeting on November 7, addressed by Harry Wicks, who had worked as a carpenter at the Nauru detention centre and Bernard, a Malaysian who has done volunteer work at refugee camps in Malaysia.

Wicks said that Nauru, a small island with a population of 10,000 people, has a 90% unemployment rate.

Monash University plans to remove one-third of its counsellors and replace them with contractor or private practice psychologists.

It says this will improve access to counselling services.

But Monash Student Association spokesperson Kim Stern said: “Students are extremely angry. It’s a known thing at Monash that the services are minimal, to put it nicely.

"It’s very hard at the moment to get a counsellor and it’s a slap in the face that there’s now moves to cut counsellors and limit their role on campus.”

People who work in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education have become concerned by recent, unexplained and unadvertised changes to Abstudy eligibility.

The purpose of the Abstudy scheme is to reduce the educational disadvantages faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and to encourage Indigenous students and apprentices to take full advantage of available educational opportunities and improve their employment opportunities.

In the wake of the horrific burning to death of Brisbane bus driver Manmeet Sharma on October 28, the Rail Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) held a national day of respect on November 9 to highlight the issue of driver safety across Australia.

In a statement RTBU national president Phil Altieri said: “It was an honour to join sisters and brothers from across the union movement today in honouring Manmeet Sharma (Alisher).

World

Sarah Palin.

As President-elect Donald Trump began his transition to power on Thursday, early reporting has opened a window into what the nation can expect as his "cabinet of horrors," as AFP put it, takes shape.

In defiance of both the Obama administration and ongoing indigenous protests on the Standing Rock Sioux reservation, the company behind the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline announced on November 8 it would soon begin drilling under the Missouri River.

The pipeline operator, Energy Transfer Partners, made the announcement late in the afternoon on Election Day, when most media outlets were preoccupied with the presidential election.

The following statement was released on November 11 by Farooq Tariq, spokesperson for the Awami Workers Party in Pakistan.

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On the night of November 3, the Turkish police detained Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ – the co-chairs of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) – alongside several other Members of Parliament who were democratically voted in with over 5 million votes in the last parliamentary election.

Brazil’s constitutional affairs committee in the Senate approved the PEC 55 constitutional reform to create a 20-year ceiling for federal spending on November 9.

The committee voted 19-7 and approved PEC 55, previously called PEC 241, which was proposed by coup-imposed President Michel Temer in a bid to cut Brazil's budget deficit.

The Bersih (“Clean”) movement for free and fair elections in Malaysia is planning its fifth major mobilisation — dubbed “Bersih 5” — on November 19 despite attempts by authorities to ban the march and threats from the right-wing “Red Shirt” gang to attack the march.

Bersih 5 rallies and marches are also being organised by Malaysian democracy activists in more than 50 cities around the world.

Greenhouse gases are rising so fast that it could soon be “game over” for the climate, a leading scientist warned in response to a new study published on November 9 that finds the planet could be heading for more than 7°C warming within a lifetime.

The study, published in the journal Science Advances, reported that the United Nations’ most accurate estimates on the “business as usual” rate of global warming may actually be vastly underestimated.

Leonard Cohen, the Canadian singer-songwriter who died just two days after Donald Trump seized the White House, seemed to predict this moment.

In his dystopian song “The Future”, from the 1992 album of the same name, Cohen sang: “I've seen the future, brother: it is murder.”

“Things are gonna slide,” the famously dark singer suggested, “slide in all directions ... the blizzard of the world has crossed the threshold.”

Protesters on the streets after Trump's win.

The election of Donald Trump as president of the United States is a shocking and dangerous turn of events — not only for the US, but for the entire world. The election does not, however, represent an overwhelming turn to the right in US society — and not only because Trump lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton. Instead, we see a political polarisation in which both the right and the left are growing.

One year on from the Paris climate change agreement, world representatives are coming together again in Marrakesh, Morocco, for COP22 UN climate talks from November 7–18.

Hannah Holleman is a US activist and assistant professor of sociology at Amherst College in Massachusetts.

Her recent articles include “De-naturalizing Ecological Disaster: Colonialism, Racism and the Global Dust Bowl of the 1930s” in The Journal of Peasant Studies.

She was interviewed by David Kiely on the legacy of imperialism in relation to the fight for climate justice. It is abridged from LeftVoice.org.

The political situation in Turkey continues to deteriorate in the wake of the attempted coup d’état in July, allegedly organised by the Gülen Movement, a former ally of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). It has in fact led to a slow incremental counter-coup where President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his cronies have progressively jailed, marginalised and silenced opponents of all hues — but especially the Kurdish movement.

Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) Kars deputy and party spokesperson Ayhan Bilgen said 441 HDP members have been detained since the arrest and imprisonment of 10 HDP MPs on November 4.

Speaking to the press in Ankara on November 10, Bilgen said there had been a systematic crackdown on HDP members and those protesting the imprisonment of the left-wing pro-autonomy HDP's MPs, including co-chairs Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ.

In a deeply polarising election, the Greens Party campaign for the US presidency, with Jill Stein for president and human rights activist Ajamu Baraka fore vice-president, won more than 1.2 million votes (about 1%), up from about 470,000 in 2012.

In response to the victory of far-right populist Donald Trump — which some Hilary Clinton supporters have tried to blame the Greens for — the Stein campaign has issued a strident call for resistance, which is reprinted below.

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Morocco is eagerly promoting its green credentials in its hosting of the November 7–18 United Nations COP22 climate change conference in Marrakesh. But a new report discloses that the North African country is consolidating its hold on occupied Western Sahara through European-built energy projects.

Surrounded by a barren desert landscape in the far south west of Algeria, about 100,000 people inhabit refugee camps, entirely dependent on aid from the international community. About 100 kilometres away, behind a 2700 km long border fence, is their homeland — Western Sahara.

People took to the streets in major cities, and high school students walked out of class to reject Donald Trump's election as president of the US.

Protests broke out across the country with people chanting, “Not my president!” and “America you are better than this,” as many continue to question the future of the country under the real estate billionaire after an 18 month-long racist, misogynistic and xenophobic campaign.

Protesters at Standing Rock. Many groups have stood with Standing Rock, from Black Lives Matter, the major environmental groups, to Palestinian youth and many more.

Police and company armed guards have launched new attacks on peaceful protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation.

On October 27, police unleashed a wave of brutality on Native American “water protectors” seeking to block pipeline construction. About 300 highly militarised police with armoured vehicles and riot gear, joined by 80 North Dakota National Guards and 150 DAPL employees, attacked with pepper spray, Tasers, sound cannons, bean bag rounds and rubber bullets.

One thing is crystal clear: Hillary Clinton is a failure. And so is the neoliberal establishment.

Even if Clinton had narrowly managedto defeat Donald Trump, she would still have lost. Her failure is not individual, however, but a failure of Clintonism, the Democratic Party, and decades of failed economic policies.

A Trump rally.

From US SocialistWorker.org election night coverage

Why? How? Those questions are dominating the mainstream media as they take stock of Donald Trump's victory in the presidential race.

They are dominating us at SocialistWorker.org, and no doubt our readers, too. It is hard to come to terms with the upside-down results we are seeing. But here are some thoughts.

Thousands of people demonstrated in London on November 6 in the latest protest against the mass arrests of pro-Kurdish politicians in Turkey. On November 4, the regime of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan issued arrest warrants for all 59 MPs from the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), a left-wing largely Kurdish-led party.

Analysis

Doctors 4 Refugees banner

Phone calls, emails, social media posts, street protests, visits to MP’s offices and Senate inquiry submissions are building momentum to block the federal government’s latest anti-refugee bill in the Senate.

The proposed legislation seeks to place a lifetime ban on any asylum seeker who comes to Australia by boat from ever setting foot in the country. It includes refugees who are resettled in another country and wish to come on tourist, business or partner visas decades later.

You'll all be familiar with the stories about lazy dole bludgers that the commercial media roll out a few days before the federal government announces another cut to welfare payments.

In fact, there is a massive reservoir of people unemployed or underemployed who are desperate for work. This includes people with a disability.

Australia has some of the highest rates of poverty and lowest rates of workforce participation for people with a disability in the developed world.

An orange baboon obsessed with the size of his hands.

If you want a bright side to the US elections, consider Paddy Power, the Irish bookmaker who lost a huge chunk of cash after paying out early to those who put money on a Clinton win. 

Enjoying the misfortune of a representative of the bloodsucking gambling industry may be grasping at straws, but as we await the race between a nuclear holocaust and climate change-induced eco-holocaust, we might as well take what we can get. As for Paddy Power, they can at least make their money back offering decent odds on the nuclear option.

Life has existed on Earth for roughly 3.7 billion years. During that time we know of five mass extinction events — dramatic episodes when many, if not most, life forms vanished in a geological heartbeat.

Canadian author and activist Naomi Klein accepted the 2016 Sydney Peace Prize on November 11, delivering a searing speech that reflected on Donald Trump's presidential victory in the United States and the factors that allowed it to happen.

Sections 18C and 18D of the Racial Discrimination Act — the law against racial vilification — are under renewed attack from the right. These attacks have the backing of Rupert Murdoch's media empire and the support of the federal government, which has announced a parliamentary inquiry to determine whether this law imposes unreasonable limits on free speech and recommend whether the law should be changed.

The 2015 Annual Report from Barwon Health revealed a budget deficit of $13 million. Barwon Health is Victoria’s largest regional health service and Geelong’s largest employer, with more than 7000 employees across all its operations.

Barwon Health’s board aims for small surpluses, but the report revealed the 2015–16 operating deficit contributed to a total net deficit of $22 million after depreciation and other capital items were accounted for.

To the fury of business spokespeople, South Australia’s “Citizens’ Jury on Nuclear Waste” has effectively exploded plans by the state Labor government to host the world’s largest nuclear waste dump.

The jury was intended by Premier Jay Weatherill to lend his scheme a garnish of popular consent. But in their final report on November 6, the jurors instead concluded that the dump plan should not go ahead “under any circumstances”. The vote was overwhelming, with two-thirds of jury members opposing the government’s projections.

Culture

Adding to ongoing protests against Donald Trump’s election victory, basketball teams appear to have also come out to play against the US president-elect. At least three NBA teams have said they will not be staying at Trump brand hotels, with other teams expected to follow their lead.

The Milwaukee Bucks, Memphis Grizzlies and Dallas Mavericks have already stopped, or will no longer stay, in Trump branded accommodation while they are on the road to play against the New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets and Chicago Bulls.

Imagine hearing that your favourite athlete had drowned after being stuffed in the hull of a ship in order to avoid authorities and cross a treacherous body of water. Their goal in this alternative universe was to flee violence as well as earn enough to support their families.

That is exactly what happened to the goalkeeper for the Gambian national women’s football team, Fatim Jawara.

In unity with all at Standing Rock today we do stand
To the many First Nations elders, brothers and sisters protecting their water and lands
Protectors not protestors defending Mother Earth
For they know life with no water has no worth.
It's common sense you know, there is no tricks
Basic science teaches us that oil and water don't mix.
Since this pipeline began nothing has gone right
Explosions, spillages and loss of life
The worst spillage 840,000 gallons North Dakota 2013
Over 18 million people living downstream.