Issue 1141

News

Proposed new logging rules for NSW public land will convert much of the north coast's public forests into “quasi-plantations”, reduce buffers on vital headwater streams and remove protections from most threatened animals and plants.

The proposed changes remove the need to look for and protect most threatened plants and animals. Only 14 animal species and populations are to retain their current protection, 23 will have their protection removed and 26 will have their protection significantly reduced.

Norwegian oil and gas company Statoil has taken over two exploration permits from BP and plans to begin drilling for oil in the Great Australian Bight by late next year.

Statoil and BP have signed a swap agreement covering four offshore petroleum titles. Under the deal Statoil transferred its 30% equity in two of its permits to BP and exited the licences. In return, BP has given its 70% equity in two other permits to Statoil and relinquished those licences.

Environmental approval for the expansion of Adani’s coal port at Abbot Point was ruled lawful in the Queensland Supreme Court on June 15.

Local group Whitsunday Residents Against Dumping (WRAD) had challenged the legality of the Queensland government’s decision to approve the controversial Abbot Point coal terminal expansion in Queensland’s Supreme Court on October 7.

In a statement to the Senate on June 13, the federal government confirmed it will sell uranium to Ukraine despite significant safety and security concerns raised by the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT).

In February a JSCOT investigation found that existing safeguards were “not sufficient” and there was a risk Australian nuclear material would disappear in Ukraine.

The following article is excerpted from a speech Rachel Evans gave at a vigil in Sydney to commemorate the first anniversary of the Orlando massacre in the US.

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I look into the crowd and see our diverse community. I see that we are creative, expressive people. I see that we are loved and that we love. I see our LGBTIQA community and I see our straight allies. I see that we are not white, that we are non-gender binary. I see our sadness, feel our loss.

VicForests' new Timber Utilisation Plan 2017 for western Victoria shows logging will target areas known to contain high numbers of threatened species, including the iconic red-tailed black cockatoo, and large areas of endangered, vulnerable or depleted native vegetation types.

Much of the timber to be harvested is for low-value uses including commercial firewood, poles, posts and some sawlogs.

The federal government and its offshore detention contractors will pay more than $70 million in compensation to 1905 refugees and asylum seekers for illegally detaining them in dangerous and damaging conditions on Manus Island.

In what may be Australia's largest ever human rights-related settlement, on June 14 the government settled out of court before the class action, brought on behalf of the refugees and asylum seekers detained on the island, began.

Compensation paid to 7-Eleven workers by 7-Eleven's head office has so far reached $110 million — an average of $39,000 for each of the 2832 claims by workers who were underpaid by franchisees.

The payout is much greater than fines that could be imposed under existing laws, raising questions about whether the federal government's proposed law to protect vulnerable workers will go far enough in holding similar conduct to account.

Production and maintenance workers at the Carter Holt Harvey Myrtleford site, who have been locked out by management for more than seven weeks, voted on June 8 and 9 to reject the company’s proposal for a new Enterprise Agreement covering the site.

The result of the secret ballot demonstrates that the company’s proposals are totally unacceptable to the workers.

There were chants and clicking knitting needles on June 9 as the Illawarra Knitting Nannas Against Gas (IKNAG) and Wollongong Climate Action Network (WCAN) joined concerned community members for a large, loud and long lunchtime rally outside the Commonwealth Bank in Wollongong.

They were there to tell the bank: “Don't wreck the Reef, don't wreck the climate and don't fund Adani”.

Analysis

After the recent spate of murders in Manchester, London and Melbourne people are increasingly asking what the past 20 years of the “war on terror” has done besides making the world a more dangerous, divided and fearful place.

Last November, two-thirds of the 350 members of a South Australian-government initiated Citizens' Jury rejected "under any circumstances" the plan to import high-level nuclear waste from around the world as a money-making venture.

“Don’t let the Green Left Weekly have its own way,” was the headline of Murdoch columnist Miranda Devine in a June 14 Daily Telegraph piece, and my first thought was: “She’s right.”

Here’s my two cents worth on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s leaked impersonation of US President Donald Trump.

If you are prime minister and you are going to do a private impersonation of Trump you could pick a better occasion than the Parliamentary Mid-Winter Ball which is packed with drunken politicians, journos and political advisers. So it is a mighty stretch to call it a leak.

However, if you are a conservative, hollow-man prime minister, down in the polls, the “leak” of a recording of the said impersonation might be a welcome circuit breaker.

Three important recent events are intensifying the pressure on the federal government and opposition over their bipartisan cruel treatment of refugees and asylum seekers, particularly those held in offshore detention.

The first event was the tabling of a damning UN report, the second was the world premiere of a new documentary, Chauka Please Tell Us the Time, (filmed inside the Manus Island prison) and the third was news of an out-of-court settlement by the federal government over the wrongful imprisonment of detainees on Manus Island.

The dramatic surge in support for Labour in the June 8 British election was a shot in the arm for progressive people around the world. Jeremy Corbyn — who had been roundly derided as “unelectable” — achieved the biggest swing of any Labour leader in Britain in more than 70 years.

As the celebrations marking 25 years of the Mabo decision died down, the Native Title Amendment (Indigenous Land Use Agreements) Bill 2017 quietly passed in the Senate on June 14, with the only opposition coming from the Greens.

The amending legislation effectively negates the Federal Court ruling of February 2 that all native title claimants had to sign off on an indigenous land use agreement (ILUA) for it to be registered.

Australia’s Chief Scientist Alan Finkel presented the Blueprint for the future: Independent review into the future security of the national electricity market, known as the Finkel Review, to the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Leaders’ meeting on June 9.

The mainstream media has focused on one recommendation — a Clean Energy Target — and the Coalition’s reaction.

World

Under President Barack Obama, the US acknowledged killing between 2867 and 3138 people in strikes in countries like Somalia, Yemen and Pakistan.

In the waning days of his presidency, Obama took some steps to improve transparency about drone strikes, including providing the total estimated death toll. However, a new report by the Columbia Law School Human Rights Clinic and the Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies says that the US is still lagging in providing a full accounting of its drone program.

The first round France’s National Assembly elections have been marked by record abstention of 51.29% of the electorate.

The abstentionism primarily impacted on the far-right and left parties. Meanwhile, recently elected President Emmanuel Macron’s The Republic on the March (LREM) and its allies look to secure a strong parliamentary majority in the second round of elections on June 18.

The recent British general election delivered very different results in Scotland than those of England and Wales.

While the question of Scottish independence was still a major issue for voters, tactical errors by the Scottish National Party (SNP) and a muted Jeremy Corbyn-effect in Scottish Labour’s favour led to some unforeseen outcomes.

Hundreds of angry residents stormed council offices on June 16 as they demanded support, housing and answers over the Grenfell Tower disaster amid accusations of “mass murder.” They gathered outside the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea civic centre and entered the building to stage a sit-down protest. Council leaders refused to meet them.

Residents held placards demanding “Justice for Grenfell” and chanted “come downstairs” as they presented a list of immediate demands to the council.

Just days after US President Donald Trump publicly scolded Qatar for being a "high level" exporter of regional terrorism in the Middle East, the Qatari government announced on June 14 it had signed a deal to buy $12 billion worth of F-15 fighter jets from US weapons makers.

The US Senate voted on June 13 to approve a widely criticised $500 million sale of precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia, narrowly beating back a bipartisan effort to block the deal.

The final tally was 53-47 in favour of the sale, which is just part of a massive $100 billion arms package.

Jose Maria Lemus, president of the Tibu Community Board in Colombia’s North of Santander state, has been killed, the Peoples’ Congress reported June 14.

His murder adds to the growing list of recently assassinated social, Indigenous and human rights activists in the South American country.

"This is a fundamental precept of paramilitarism: clear the land to ensure smooth functioning for big business deals and, in this sense, this is no different to what has happened in the past few years in this country, which is the consolidation of what I would call a militarised neoliberal model, militarised in both a state and para-state sense."

An interview with Renan Vega Cantor, a professor at Colombia’s National Pedagogical University.

In the aftermath of the fire that destroyed the 120 apartments of the Grenfell Tower in London, with at least 17 fatalities, a heartbroken Grenfell Tower Action Group pointed to the repeated, detailed warnings it provided to authorities that the building was a disaster waiting to happen.

Recent weeks have brought to the fore two main issues concerning US President Donald Trump.

The first was his doubling down on one central theme of his election campaign — economic nationalism. This was found in his charge that most of the rest of the world is somehow “exploiting” the United States — and he will fight back.

The second is his drive to establish himself as an authoritarian president, the “strongman” who can take on the dysfunction in the two capitalist parties that dominate US politics.

Since opposition protests began in Venezuela in early April, much of the media coverage has focused on clashes in Caracas. However, the opposition’s campaign to bring down the government of Nicolas Maduro has not been limited to the country’s capital.

Marco Teruggi reports on a recent visit to the small, but strategic town of Socopo, in the largely rural state Barinas, which has been the site of a campaign of terror and an all-out struggle for power.

Nothing alarms Spain’s establishment more than the prospect of the unity of the Spanish state being threatened by the desire for self-determination of the peoples that live within its borders.

Culture

The year 1917 offered an extraordinary course in political literacy for the people of Russia.

In the February anti-Tsarist revolution, which “dispensed breakneck with a half millennium of autocratic rule”, and then in the October socialist revolution, eager workers and peasants stumbled over and then mastered a new way to speak of economic and political democracy, writes China Mieville in October, his narrative of the Russian Revolution.

Chauka, Please Tell Us the Time
Written & directed by Arash Kamali Sarvestani & Behrouz Boochani
 

Chauka, Please Tell Us the Time is a ground-breaking film that gives audiences a new window to look into Manus Island detention centre.

Melbourne is known for good coffee, horrible weather, Australian Rules football and militant unions. Since 1974, community radio station 3CR has been a supporting beam in the city’s radical infrastructure.

Green Left Radio, like all 120 programs on the station’s schedule, are calling on listeners and supporters to donate to the annual 3CR Radiothon and keep the signal strong on their June 16 show.

Resistance!

The shine has rubbed off Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s apology to those men charged with historic gay sex offences, delivered in May.

Palaszczuk was hoping to score points by introducing a Historical Homosexual Convictions Expungement bill, which is now before a parliamentary committee, but it looks like she has struck out.