Issue 1176

Australia

About 100 people, including many students from the nearby Haberfield Public School, protested at the pedestrian bridge on Parramatta Road, Haberfield, on April 10, against construction plans for the controversial WestConnex tollway.

Publicity for the protest proclaimed: "Tell WestConnex and the NSW government we oppose four more years of tunnelling, construction, dust and traffic at the Muirs sites, less than 200 metres from Haberfield Public School." The Muirs sites are a large area of former commercial land, now being used by WestConnex as a construction zone.

 

The ubiquitous Commonwealth Games mascot Borobi the blue koala belies the fate of the “Aussie icon” it represents. It is ironic that Borobis flourish in the very region where koala numbers have declined drastically in recent years.

Koalas are an endangered species in Queensland, NSW and the ACT and land clearing has long been recognised as the culprit. As well as the animals killed during the actual process of land clearing, the destruction of habitat results in increasing population losses.

Habiburahman, a Rohingyan refugee and founder of the Australian Burmese Rohingya Organisation, has called on the Australian government to suspend its military aid to Burma (Myanmar). Australia currently spends $450,000 a year on aid to the Burmese military.

Habiburahman was speaking at a public meeting on March 28, organised by the Refugee Action Collective. 

He called for a halt to Australian investment in Burma, with human rights conditions being imposed on any resumption. Woodside Petroleum has invested $400 million in offshore gas and oil exploration.

Astro Labe, the Hobart DJ who headbutted former Prime Minister Tony Abbott in September last year, has been sentenced to the maximum six-month jail term. He will be eligible for parole after two months, when he will be required to pay $2000 and commit no offence for two years.

The Hobart Magistrates Court was told Labe had been drinking at the Whaler pub in Salamanca Place when he saw Abbott walk past. Labe followed him and asked to shake his hand, before headbutting him, saying “you fucking deserved it”. Abbott was left with a swollen lip after the incident.

A jury has found gas company Linc Energy guilty of causing serious environmental harm at its trial underground coal gasification (UCG) plant near Chinchilla on Queensland's Darling Downs.

After a long battle, the residents of Western Sydney were relieved to hear on April 11 that the Department of Planning recommended it should not go ahead.

“This is a huge win for common sense and demonstrates the power of people when we stand together,” spokesperson for the campaign Melinda Wilson told Green Left Weekly.

“The NSW Coalition government needs to realise that the people of Western Sydney are sick of being dumped on. There is a history of human rights violations in the west.

More than 300 members of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA), their families and supporters gathered at the M Club in Maroubra on April 7 to mark the 20th anniversary of the historic Patrick’s dispute in 1998.

The Patrick stevedoring company had conspired with the John Howard Coalition government to send in security guards in balaclavas, dogs and scabs to force waterfront workers out and attempt to eliminate the MUA from the docks.

World

A suspected chemical weapons attack on April 8 killed at least 60 people and wounded more than 1000 in the Syrian town of Douma, the last rebel-held town in Eastern Ghouta. The Syrian opposition blamed the Assad government for carrying out the attacks, but Syria denied having any role. The chemical attack came one day after Syrian forces launched an air and ground assault on Douma.

The most extreme Spanish reaction to the April 5 ruling of the Higher Regional court of German state Schleswig-Holstein that freed Catalan president Carles Puigdemont was from radio shock jock Federico Jiménez Losantos.

“In the Balearic Islands there are 200,000 of them [Germans] as hostages,” he railed. “In Bavaria, well in Bavaria pubs could start being blown up. So, I’m proposing action? Of course, they’ve slapped us around, they’ve given us a kick in the you-know-what.”

The jailing of ex-Workers’ party (PT) president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva can only be seen as a continuation of the “institutional coup” begun in 2016 that ousted elected PT President Dilma Rousseff, writes Juan Cruz Ferre.

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, popularly known as “Lula”, decided to turn himself in after the Brazilian Supreme Court found him guilty of corruption and handed down a 12-year jail sentence on April 5. After 10 hours of debate, the Court turned down Lula’s plea to remain free by one vote— four against five.

Ever since his unexpected rise to British Labour Party leader, veteran socialist MP Jeremy Corbyn has faced sustained attacks and smears from the media, Tories and the right-wing of his own party. But over the past month, the attacks have become an unprecedented avalanche.

The body of Carlos Alexandre Pereira Maria was found on April 8 in a bullet-riddled car in Curumau, east of Rio de Janeiro, local media reported.

Pereira, 37, had been cited to testify in court as part of the investigation of the March 14 assassination of councilwoman and socialist activist Marielle Franco and her driver Anderson Gomes. Franco was a strong opponent of the military take-over of Mare, a poor neighbourhood in Rio home to about 140,000 people.

After the chemical attack on Douma on April 8 in which dozens of people were killed, the Stop the War Coalition in Britain released the statement below.

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A population of 800,000 makes Mansa a small town by Indian standards. The main market town of the agricultural Malwa region of Punjab, it has a long history of peasant struggle.

A stronghold of the revolutionary peasant movement since the 1920s, and the communist movement since the 1930s, within a few years of Indian independence left-wing peasants’ struggles had expropriated the region’s large feudal landowners.

Palestinians in Gaza had hardly begun their “Great March of Return” campaign before Israel responded with a level of violence and brutality not seen for some time, writes Lisa Gleeson. Yet their protests continue.

What began as a protest in 1976 after a rash of land confiscations by Israel — met by Israel with the killing of six unarmed Palestinians — Land Day each March 30 is an annual focal point for Palestinian frustration at being forcibly displaced and unable to return home.

The Brazilian Supreme Court decision jailing former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva for 12 years — ruling out the politician leading opinion polls ahead of October elections — has caused an uproar in Brazil, writes Zoe PC.

João Pedro Stedile, leader of the Landless Rural Workers’ Movement (MST), sees the latest developments as a continuation of the coup of 2016 that forced out democratically elected president Dilma Rouseff, from Lula’s Workers’ Party (PT). 

Oklahoma teachers proudly marked themselves absent from school since April 1, Michelle Chen writes at In These Times on April 5, and they had an excellent excuse: They made themselves present in politics instead, with a historic march on the Capitol in hopes of finally capturing the legislature’s undivided attention

British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, a long-time supporter of Palestinian rights, posted a statement on Facebook that was to be read out April 7 demonstrations across Britain against Israel's latest killings of Palestinians in Gaza. By April 8, the death toll of Palestinians shot dead by Israeli forces while protesting in Gaza since March 30  had risen to 22.

Analysis

In 1513, Niccolo Machiavelli, arguably the finest political theorist of his time, used his famous work The Prince to tease out “means and ends” theory. He concluded that when it came to the exercise of power, a ruler should use any methods available to maintain stability. The means are irrelevant if the ends are positive enough to trump them.

Aboriginal activists and supporters have been protesting in Bundjalung Country, also known as the Gold Coast, exposing the whitewashing Commonwealth Games.

Continuing the legacy of actions against the Commonwealth Games in 1982, the “Freedom Camp” at Doug Jennings Park has been exposing the Games’ establishment elitism with actions almost every day. Aboriginal activists from Western Australia, the Northern Territory, New South Wales and north Queensland have converged on the park.

 

This is an abridged version of an interview with assistant secretary of the Victorian Branch of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) Jeff Hoy, which was broadcast on Green Left Radio on 3CR.

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The wharfies are on strike at Webb Dock once again, 20 years after the infamous Patrick dispute. Can you tell us about the current strike and the factors that led to this industrial action?

Medical students and professionals are taking inspiring action, in defiance of the Australian government, to assert that health is a human right as the crisis on Manus Island and Nauru rapidly worsens, writes Zebedee Parkes.

“We have a system of detention for people arriving by boat which is deliberately designed to cause harm,” psychiatrist Dr Peter Young told a rally of hundreds of medical students in Sydney on April 7.

Animals Australia released a video on April 8 that showed sheep suffering horribly on board a ship bound for the Middle East. 

The footage apparently even appalled the agriculture minister David Littleproud, who said he was horrified and shocked at what he saw. However, he said the Agriculture Department had investigated the case last year and, according to the minister, gave him a report that was nothing like the reality documented in the video.

It is a basic right of working people to organise collectively through our unions

We own our own labour and should have the right to control our labour by organising collectively through our unions. Workers and our unions should not be prosecuted or penalised for organising our labour.

Our current industrial laws are anti worker, anti union and simply unjust and make it harder for workers to organise to defend our wages, conditions and living standards. 

The growing scandals engulfing the Big Four banks, now being amplified through the financial services royal commission, have opened the way for a major discussion about alternatives to the corporate banking oligopoly in Australia.

Now, Greens leader Richard Di Natale has entered the fray with a proposal for a People’s Bank to offer low-cost mortgages for home-buyers and other facilities.

Below is a part of the Socialist Alliance’s climate action plan. For more information go to the policy page.

Global warming of 1.5°C is imminent, likely in just a decade from now. David Spratt reviews several recent studies that point to this alarming conclusion.

So how does hitting warming of 1.5°C one decade from now square with the 2015 Paris Agreement’s goal of “holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C”?

In two words, it doesn’t.

This Autumn heat wave across the eastern states should remind us that we have less and less time to deal with the catastrophic consequences of an unscientific energy policy.

We live in an era of catastrophic anthropogenic climate change and yet horse-and-buggy politicians, such as Tony Abbott MP and PM Malcolm Turnbull, continue to insist that we still need coal-fired power.

Culture

Night Shift: 270 Factory Stories
David Macaray
CreateSpace Independent Publishing
Los Angeles, 2015
360 pages, US$17.99

David Macaray’s enjoyable and readable Night Shift is an exquisite study of industrial work in a US manufacturing site between the mid-1970s and the mid-’90s. Being a marvel of industrial sociology, it avoids managerialism’s dehumanisation of factory workers — e.g. human resources (HR) and of management studies that turn into an academic research object.

The Asian Network of People who Use Drugs (ANPUD) and the International Network of People who Use Drugs (INPUD) have called on Netflix CEO Reed Hastings to demand the entertainment company cancel plans to stream a series that promotes the Phlippines’ murderous drug war.

cultural dissent

Climate and Capitalism editor Ian Angus looks at six new books for reds and greens covering climate change and disease’ capitalist power and the planet’s future’ brain, body, and environment’  oceanic art and science’ essential fungi and life, and the political economy of water.

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Lyme: The First Epidemic of Climate Change
By Mary Beth Pfeiffer
Island Press, 2018