Issue 1179

Australia

Santos has ignored the 23,000 mainly oppositional submissions on its Environmental Impact Statement in a 1000-page response released on April 23, which claims its Narrabri Gas Project can be developed "safely" and "sustainably".

Founder of 350.org Bill McKibben addressed a sell-out crowd of more than 500 on May 1, on the Sydney leg of his national tour.

Referring to the rapid progress of climate change McKibben said: “Things are changing fast: what isn’t is government policy. The environment movement is engaged in a fight against money and power."

The Supreme Court in Brisbane on May 2 overturned the Land Court decision of May 31 last year that recommended rejection of the stage 3 expansion of the New Acland (NAC) coalmine on Queensland's Darling Downs.

On February 14, the Department of Environment and Science refused the application for an amended environmental authority to allow for Stage 3, however the minister deferred a decision pending the outcome of the judicial review.

Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas unveiled his election year state budget on May 1, with highlights including increased investment in public transport, health and education, with more than $172 million dollars allocated to make TAFE free for 30 priority courses.

A new report, Supercharging Australia’s clean energy transition, by the Univeristy of Technology Sydney’s Institute of Sustainable Futures, suggests that an annual investment of just 7.7% of Australia’s trillion-dollar superannuation nest-egg could underwrite the transition to a 100% renewable energy electricity grid by 2030.

"On April 17, the Planning Minister [Anthony Roberts] secretly approved Stage 3 of the WestConnex toll road project. Only 10 days later did they bother to tell the people of NSW about it," activist group No WestConnex: Public Transport (NOWPT) said a statement.

"The project is a scam. The process is fake. The decision is illegitimate."

The Queensland government has reached a $30 million settlement with Palm Island residents in a class action in the Federal Court over the 2004 Palm Island riots that followed the death in police custody of Aboriginal man Cameron Doomadgee. But Doomadgee's family says no amount of money will alleviate the pain of losing him.

The state will also apologise to the community after a landmark racial discrimination case in which the Federal Court found police were racist in their response to riots that followed Doomagee's death.

 

April 29 marked two years since then Minister for Resources and Energy Josh Frydenberg selected the South Australian outback as a site to store Australia’s radioactive waste.

“Political hostages” is an apt term to describe the situation of the several hundred men on Manus Island, Greens Senator Nick McKim told a forum hosted by the Refugee Action Coalition in Sydney on April 29.

McKim gave an insight into the siege on Manus Island detention centre in October and November last year. Aziz, one of the refugee leaders on Manus Island, spoke via video, detailing the desperate situation the men are living in today.

The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) says that contracting another 1000 private call centre operators to answer calls to Centrelink will not fix the problems caused by the federal government’s damaging cuts to the agency.

Minister for Human Services Michael Keenan announced on April 23 the introduction of another 1000 low-paid and insecure jobs, on top of the 250 positions currently generating a profit for multinational company Serco.

World

McDonald’s workers in Britain called for a “McStrike” on May Day to demand three simple things: a £10 an hour minimum wage, the end of zero-hours contracts and the right to unionise, TeleSUR English said.

Workers from at least five different branches in Manchester, Watford, Crayford and Cambridge walked out on May 1, the International Workers’ Day, to demand their labour rights, with the support of the country’s fast food and trade unions.

Demonstrations to mark May Day — International Workers’ Day, commemorated globally on May 1 — took place in cities around the world, as workers protested for their rights and celebrated their gains.

Across France, about 150,000 people took part in labour marches, according to government estimates, up slightly on 2017. 

“La Manada” (The Wolf Pack) is the name of a WhatsApp group chosen by five men to organise a trip to los sanfermines — the running of the bulls — in Pamplona, Navarra. During the festival, in the early hours of July 7, 2016, they gang raped an 18-year-old woman in a small room under the stairwell of a block of flats.

Three hours later, one of them shared a video of the attack in another male-only WhatsApp group with 28 members, called “Danger”. One of the five was an off-duty National Guard officer, another a soldier. During the trial, evidence of another attack committed by four of the five several months earlier was uncovered.

Despite this, although the trial found the men guilty of sexual abuse, it cleared them of rape.

Almost six months after it began, the #MeToo campaign is still having an impact and generating debate — and not just against the right wing, notes Elizabeth Shultz.

The combined International Workers Day and memorial rally for Tomas Borge, a cofounder of the leftist Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN), held in the capital Managua on April 30 seems to have vindicated the Sandinista government of President Daniel Ortega, with estimates of the turnout varying between 100,000 to 200,000 supporters.

The march came a week after violent protests rocked the country for five days starting on April 18.

Incumbent presidential candidate Nicolas Maduro prioritised visits to dissatisfied campesino communities over April 28-29 as part of a campaign strategy aimed at shoring up support in rural communities that have traditionally voted overwhelmingly for both ex-president Hugo Chavez and Maduro.

The countryside represents a critical constituency for the government in the upcoming May 20 election.

Whether “free or imprisoned,” Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva “will be elected president” of Brazil following October's general election, said former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, speaking during a visit to Buenos Aires, Argentina, on May 1.

Dilma said the recent attacks on Lula and the Workers’ Party are all part of a “lawfare” against the left in the country. 

After a journey of more than a month, more than 150 members of Viacrucis Migrante — known as the Central American Migrant Caravan — arrived at the United States border on April 29. They were met with a hostile response.

Fifty Palestinians have been killed in Gaza’s eastern perimeter since March 30, five of them children and two journalists, writes Maureen Clare Murphy. The vast majority were participating in the Great March of Return protests, during which no Israelis have been killed or injured.

“Israel is carrying out a murderous assault against protesting Palestinians, with its armed forces killing and maiming demonstrators who pose no imminent threat to them,” Amnesty International said on April 27 as thousands of Palestinians taking part in Great March of Return rallies in Gaza faced Israeli bullets for the fifth week in a row.

Over those weeks, Amnesty said, “the Israeli military has killed 35 Palestinians and injured more than 5500 others — some with what appear to be deliberately inflicted life-changing injuries”.

The United Nations said that nearly 4000 people have been driven out of their homes in Myanmar (also known as Burma) in April as the country’s north is gripped with violence.

The intra-Korea summit on April 27 may well be recorded as historic, writes Youngsu Won from Seoul, but questions remain about how stable any peace that emerges will be.

The Panmunjeom Declaration signed by Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in clearly signifies Korea’s transition to peaceful coexistence. This development is welcomed by all except for anti-communist hysterical lunatics, nationally and internationally.

Analysis

 

A meeting of state and federal government representatives on April 27 has set the goal of making all Australian packaging reusable, compostable or recyclable by 2025.

The recent pill testing trial at the Groovin’ the Moo music festival, demonstrated why pill testing is an effective harm minimisation activity but also why we need to end drug prohibition in Australia and to effectively regulate the quality and supply of drugs here.

On the steps of Victorian Trades Hall, on the morning of April 27, the deaths of 26 workers in Victoria over the past year were remembered in a moving service for International Workers’ Memorial Day.

The official statistics provided by WorkSafe do not take into account workers killed by occupational disease, in accidents in transit or people working on their own. Considering this, unions estimate that more than 200 workers were killed in Victoria over the past year in relation to their work.

The Health Services Union (HSU) expenses affair was a protracted political scandal that, 2006 to 2011, revealed the criminal activity of former HSU national secretary and former Labor politician Craig Thomson as well as former national president and former general secretary of HSU East Michael Williamson.

In 2008 Kathy Jackson succeeded Craig Thomson as general secretary of the HSU. Jackson’s role in the HSU scandal provides us with an intriguing case study on the relationship between politics and cognitive dissonance.

I awoke this morning to Radio National telling me that United States President Donald Trump could be in line for a Nobel Peace Prize.

What the … is black white? Had I awoken in a dystopian parallel universe?

Last week, the creep was bombing Syria. This week he’s the world’s greatest peacemaker and British bookies are slashing the odds on Trump and Kim Jong-un getting a Nobel Prize!

The November Victorian state election is fast approaching and candidates are being preselected by all of the main parties.

However, it is the formation of the Victorian Socialists, which consists of City of Yarra councillor Stephen Jolly, City of Moreland councillor Sue Bolton and lawyer Colleen Bolger — an unlikely alliance of the Socialist Alliance and Socialist Alternative — to contest the Northern Metropolitan Region in the Victorian Legislative Council that has aroused some serious attention from the left. 

 

How did Murray Goulburn, once Australia’s biggest milk processor and a successful dairy cooperative since 1950, end up sold to its international competitor, Canadian dairy giant Saputo? In the first of this multi-part series, Elena Garcia provides some answers.

After nearly 70 years as a cooperative that was wholly owned by the farmers who supply the milk, on April 5 Victorian dairy farmers voted to sell Murray Goulburn, once Australia’s biggest dairy processing business, to foreign owners.

Culture

Reconstructing Karl Polanyi: Excavation & Critique
By Gareth Dale
Pluto, 2016
246 pp., $33.88

As a well-known British socialist activist and an academic political economist, Gareth Dale is thus ideally placed to write about Karl Polanyi, writes Derek Wall.

Polanyi was a leading 20th century critic of the free market economics that crystallised into the neoliberal system that is now threatening our planet.

In the Fade
Director Fatih Akin
Starring Diane Kruger, Denis Moschitto & Johannes Krisch
Released in 2017
www.inthefadefilm.com

Between 2000 and 2011, Nazi terrorists murdered and bombed immigrants in Germany without the authorities even noticing. The police were convinced it was just rival ethnic gangs quarrelling.

This film is based on that period, though not drawn from a particular event. 

Heather Rogers has written a brilliant book about a very relevant topic given the current crisis in Australia over recycling.

(To the tune of Teddy Bears' Picnic)

If you go up to the Senate today
You’ll surely feel no surprise
If you go up to the Senate today
You’ll scarcely need a disguise

For every tycoon who ever there was
Is rejoicing there for certain becos
Today’s the day they’re getting their tax cut….

A party day for millionaires
They’re having a lovely time today,
It hardly took them unawares
It’s been planned since election day.