Issue 1120

Australia

A conservation group in the Kimberley is calling for six oil and gas exploration licences released this month by the Western Australian Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP) to be withdrawn.

The leases cover sensitive areas of the region, including two national parks — Windjana Gorge and Tunnel Creek — and two conservation parks — Devonian Reef and Brooking Gorge. Another lease covers the Margaret River that flows into the Fitzroy.

Federal Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR) staff have made history by rejecting a management proposed deal on pay and conditions for the fourth time, each time by a larger margin.

Two other enterprise bargaining agreements were also rejected by staff in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and the National Museum of Australia.

The Retail and Fast Food Workers Union (RAFFWU) was launched on November 21 to challenge the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association (SDA) in the wake of several wage scandals.

RAFFWU secretary Josh Cullinan said enterprise agreements struck between major retailers and the SDA mean “every day retail and fast food workers have over one million dollars taken from their pay packets”.

Cullinan said the RAFFWU is determined to help these underpaid workers.

About 40 members of Unions ACT, CPSU, United Voice, retired workers' organisation Vintage Reds, Socialist Alliance and the AMWU and ETU from Melbourne, representing the unions covering the 55 sacked workers from Carlton United Breweries, along with their inflatable anti-mascot, "Scabby the Rat", protested on November 22 on the front lawns of Parliament House.

About 100 members of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) and other unions rallied outside the Indonesian consulate in the Sydney suburb of Maroubra on November 16 in support of 1000 Indonesian truck drivers and port workers who have been on indefinite strike since November 1.

Leichhardt residents and other opponents of the controversial $17 billion WestConnex motorway project picketed a test drilling rig site near Pioneer Park on November 21, preventing the site’s establishment for 24 hours.

Protests continued at the site for several days after that, with information pickets planned every morning over the next week.

Due to route changes announced by Sydney Motorway Corporation (SMC) in early November, the M4–M5 link tunnel is now slated to go underneath a larger part of Leichhardt than previously proposed.

Iranian refugee Mojgan Shamsalipoor finally received her high school certificate on November 16 after missing her graduation last year because she was in immigration detention.

Shamsalipoor arrived in Australia by boat in 2012 and attended Yeronga State High School.

She lived in the Brisbane Immigration Transit Accommodation Centre (BITAC) but was suddenly removed to the Darwin detention centre last August.

Mark Rogers, a 66-year-old retiree and grandfather, has been threatened with legal action by the Department of Human Services (DHS) over a “misleading or deceptive” logo using the Medicare colours for his website, savemedicare.org.

Rogers has been campaigning to defend Medicare from the attacks of the Tony Abbott-Malcolm Turnbull Coalition government since 2014.

Wedge-tailed eagles have found a new but unlikely prey in the Western Australian goldfields: mining company surveying drones.

South African goldmining company Gold Fields, the world's seventh-biggest gold producer, has lost nine drones to the birds, costing the company more than $100,000.

Wedge-tailed eagles are one of the largest birds of prey in the world.

Their wingspan is more than twice that of the one metre-wide drones and they have razor-sharp talons that allow them to grab and destroy the drones in flight.

More than 150 community members marched down the main street of the western New South Wales town of Cowra to demand justice for Dennis “DJ” Doolan, who was shot in the back by local police two months ago. Doolan remains in custody in Bathurst jail.

The peaceful protesters, with banners and flags, demanded justice for all Aboriginal deaths in custody as they made their way to Squire Park.

Doolan’s relative Les Coe thanked the community for their support and said he hoped this show of solidarity would unite the community beyond Cowra.

Employees of a Brisbane 7-Eleven store have told the ABC they were forced to pay back thousands of dollars from their wages or face losing their jobs.

They have backed up their claims with covert video showing an employee handing back a sizeable portion of her pay to the store franchisee.

Known in the industry as the “cash back” scam, workers are paid the full award rate of $25 an hour, but have to hand back up to $11 for every hour worked to the store franchisee.

Refugee rights activists in the Illawarra dropped off nearly 300 postcards at the Wollongong office of local MP Sharon Bird on November 18.

The postcards call on Labor to close the Manus Island and Nauru detention centres and bring the refugees to Australia.

A rally outside Victoria’s Parliament House on November 20 organised by far right racist groups United Patriots Front (UFP) and True Blue Crew to celebrate the election of US president-elect Donald Trump attracted about 25 people, far short of the 1000 hoped for by the organisers.

The racists were outnumbered more than 10 to one by 300 anti-Trump protesters and more than six to one by police who kept the two groups apart.

Solidarity actions were held in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth on November 16 as 100,000 people joined in the Bersih 5 democracy march in Kuala Lumpur on November 19.

Bersih is the Campaign For Free and Fair Elections in Malaysia and this was its fifth major mobilisation since 2007.

Greens leader Senator Richard Di Natale expressed his strong support for the embattled Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in Turkey at a Kurdish solidarity meeting at the Victorian Trades Hall on November 17.

The left-wing party has a strong base among Australia's oppressed Kurdish community. Di Natale condemned the current crackdown by the regime of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The HDP’s joint leaders, Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag, have been arrested along with a number of the party’s MPs.

World

The end of October brought an end to the deadlock within Spanish congress with the re-election of Mariano Rajoy of the Popular Party (PP) as prime minister with the support of the neoliberal Citizens and the abstention of the traditional social democratic Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE).

But while the political and economic elites breathed a temporary sigh of relief in Madrid and Brussels, almost 100,000 opponents of the new right-wing government gathered to protest in Puerta del Sol, in the heart of the capital.

Legendary Cuban revolutioary Fidel Castro died aged 90 on November 25, leaving behind a legacy not just as a leader of Cuba's revolution that has achieved impressive social gains but a record of profound internationalism.

Fidel Castro, former president and leader of the Cuban revolution, died on November 25 at age 90.

Haitham Mohamedain is a prominent Egyptian labour lawyer and member of the Revolutionary Socialists who has been unjustly jailed repeatedly by the military regime led by President Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi.

In April, Mohamedain was detained again as part of a crackdown on a new wave of protests against the Sisi regime, including its transfer of two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia.

The victory of Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) in the November 2015 national elections in Burma (Myanmar) was hailed by Western leaders as heralding a new era of democracy and respect for human rights in the country.

Once isolated by sanctions imposed on the pretext of the widespread human rights abuses by previous military regimes, Burma is now a profitable destination for Western investment. By September, the US had lifted its last remaining sanctions.

More than 50,000 donations have been made to Planned Parenthood, a US non-profit group promoting reproductive health, in the name of anti-choice Vice President-elect Mike Pence in a show of creative resistance and organising against the incoming Donald Trump administration.

Come December, North Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) protesters will likely be receiving support from hundreds of US veterans who have committed to their cause.

Organiser Wes Clark Jr, a former US army officer best known as co-host of the Young Turks show, called the Standing Rock resistance to DAPL “the most important event up to this time in human history”.

Since being elected in November last year, Argentina’s right-wing President Mauricio Macri has pushed harsh neoliberal measures, including mass lay-offs. This provoked big protests and strikes, and the growing influence of the radical Left and Workers Front (FIT) reflects the push back by popular sectors against the right-wing offensive.

On November 19, more than 20,000 people filled a football stadium in Buenos Aires for a mass rally called by the FIT.

Hundreds of people protesting in front of Turkey’s parliament building in Ankara burst into celebrations on November 22 after the government announced the withdrawal of its proposal to exonerate child rapists.

Proposed legislation would have allowed men accused of sexually abusing underage girls to go free if they were married to their victims.

Despite facing one of the most oppressive atmospheres in its history, thousands of Turkish protesters took to the streets of Istanbul on November 20 against a crackdown on Turkey’s main pro-Kurdish party, its lawmakers and mayors in the country’s south-east, as well as on opposition media outlets following the July coup.

The Colombian government and the left-wing Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) signed, for the second time, a peace agreement on November 24 that aims to end the country’s 52-year armed conflict. It comes after a previous peace deal was narrowly rejected in a popular vote in October.

President-elect Donald Trump has tapped for US Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, a conservative billionaire who “does not hide her contempt for the public schools,” according to historian Diane Ravitch.

The US$3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), if completed, would carry up to 570,000 barrels of crude oil daily from the North Dakota to refineries in Illinois.

If built, it will cross the Missouri River, the main source of drinking water and irrigation for 8200 residents of the Standing Rock reservation.

Those facts have turned DAPL into a flashpoint in dual struggles for climate justice and Native rights.

Western Sahara.

Braodcasting from the November 7-18 United Nations climate talks in Marrakech, Morocco, Democracy Now! reported on an issue that is largely ignored: Morocco’s 41-year occupation of the Western Sahara, considered by many to be Africa’s last colony.

Proceedings in the latest in the United Nations’ ongoing conferences on Climate Change — the November 7–18 COP22 that just concluded in Marrakech, Morocco — were disturbed by the news of the US election result.

A belligerently anti-environmental president is set to take office in the world’s greatest greenhouse polluting nation at the same time a shaky international climate treaty is being pieced together that will need US involvement to be effective.

The Bersih 5.0 demonstration for clean elections and against corruption in Malaysia made a huge splash on November 19 despite threats of serious repression. The night before the demonstration, at least 10 prominent figures (including key organisers of the rally) were arrested.

Although fit and healthy until near the end of his life, Stan Hilton, the 98-year old veteran of the Spanish Civil War as one of the almost 60,000 International Brigade members who travelled from around the world to join the fight against fascism who passed away on October 21, could no longer recall his four-month adventure in Spain in 1937 and 1938. Thankfully, his son, Gordon, and grandson, Adam, still keep alive the stories and recollections he told them over many years.

Analysis

Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, has taken the unusual step of personally telling Senator Malcolm Roberts he was "mistaken" in his claim that the agency had falsified key data to exaggerate warming in the Arctic. He expressed surprise that Roberts had actually been elected as a Senator.

"You appear to hold a number of misconceptions which I am happy to clarify at this time," Schmidt wrote to Roberts. "The claim that GISS has 'removed the 1940s warmth' in the Arctic is not correct."

The influence of president-elect Donald Trump’s attack on “elites” is taking hold in the Australian parliament, with the Coalition attacking “latte-sipping” opponents of coal mining and joining enthusiastically in a debate questioning climate science in the Senate.

One outcome of last year's inquiry into the Morwell Mine fire in Victoria's Latrobe Valley was the discovery that the default plan for “rehabilitating” the mine would be to let it fill with water naturally, perhaps to become a recreational lake. The hitch: it would take more than a hundred years to fill naturally and the water quality would be terrible due to pollution from coal seams.

In a continuation of the rancid rape culture spewing from Australian university and high school campuses, a national grouping of young men identified with the Facebook page “Yeah the Boys”, which boasts half a million likes, is spitting chunks onto social media.

The page is receiving attention now because members of the group scheduled a “male-only” meet-up at Sydney's Coogee Beach. While the anonymous ‘Yeah the Boys’ page admins sought to distance themselves from the event, within hours thousands of the page’s followers had jumped behind it.

Usually, when people mention dying in a ditch, they are discussing something they would much rather avoid. But for the South Australian state Labor government of Premier Jay Weatherill, dying in a ditch seems a positive ambition.

For Weatherill and his cabinet, the “ditch” is the government’s plan to host up to a third of the world’s high-level nuclear waste in a giant dump in the state’s remote north. The dump scheme was rejected decisively on November 6 by a government-organised “Citizens’ Jury”.

Just as the big 4 banks will be promoting how important they are to the community, Green Left Weekly will be there to fight them and argue for putting them under our democratic control for the benefit of society and the planet. But we need your support to do this...

It is an old trick in the neoliberal capitalist handbook for selling austerity to try to gain public support for another cutback by claiming to address “intergenerational inequity”.

First, young people were told they should not think that they are entitled to rights, such as free education, permanent jobs, unemployment benefits and even pensions when they are too ill or old to work.

Dickensian children in factories and coal mines; Karl Marx debunks Capitalism; revolutions and war grip Europe; and inequality casts a gloomy smog over Europe. Ships depart with slaves, convicts and political dissidents bound for the New Worlds, of which Australia is one.

It is the 19th century, the century of capital — a time that will dialectically reverberate shockwaves towards the greatest revolutions, the greatest economic collapse and the greatest bombs.

The Kensington Legal Centre (KLC) is running a police accountability program to try to raise awareness about racial profiling and police harassment after numerous young people have been harassed by Victoria Police.

This program, which has been running for some time, began when a group of young teenagers approached KLC after being harassed by Victoria Police.

The young men report being stopped while doing everyday things.

Resistance!

The Young Workers Centre at Victorian Trades Hall released a new petition on Facebook on November 17 calling on burger restaurant chain Grill’d to “Stop the scam”.

A Grill’d employee has come forward, accusing the chain of using traineeships as an excuse to pay lower wages. Employees are being signed up to hospitality certificates, but the business refuses to schedule regular training sessions.

Culture

Nazis In Our Midst: German-Australians, Internment and the Second World War
David Henderson
Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2016
197 pages

When World Word II began, Australia’s then Prime Minister Robert Menzies said that it would be “absurd to intern refugees and anti-fascists when they were on the Allies’ side”.

Yet, writes La Trobe University historian, David Henderson, in his case-study history, Nazis in our Midst, this is exactly what happened in Australia during the war.

This year has seen a remarkable renaissance of star athletes in the United States for the first time since the 1960s and ’70s using their hyper-exalted platform to speak about politics.

One person who can speak about these eras like no one else is legendary sports sociologist Dr Harry Edwards, who played a role in advising activist athletes from Muhammad Ali to Colin Kaepernick.