Issue 1205

Australia

Indian mining giant Adani has announced that it is ready to self-fund a scaled-down coalmine and rail project in Queensland’s Galilee Basin. The company said that construction on the mine would begin next year.

The Western Australian Labor government announced it is opening up 5.2 million hectares — an area roughly the size of 75% of Tasmania — to potential fracking operations on November 27.

The NSW Coalition government's privatisation of the Northern Beaches Hospital on the city's upper North Shore has created a crisis situation with the cancellation of elective surgery and doctors threatening to strike over staff shortages and lack of vital medical supplies.

Another stolen generation looks certain to be created in New South Wales after the state Coalition government passed an adoption law that makes it easier for foster parents to adopt a child who they have had under care for less than two years.

The Northern Territory Labor government was swept into power in 2016 promising a moratorium on horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. However, with the lifting of the moratorium in April, the NT government is now moving to open up 51% of the Territory to the risky and highly controversial practice.

Inaction on global warming is heating not only the planet, but also the mood of residents who visited Labor MPs offices in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.

Hundreds of primary and secondary students went on strike and protested at Parliament House on November 28 calling for serious action on climate change. This was followed by thousands of students taking to the streets of about 30 cities and towns across Australia as part of the Student Strike 4 Climate Action on November 30.

Mary Merkenich together with colleagues from Highvale Secondary College at the Teachers for Refugees protest in Melbourne on November 20.

Teachers, education support staff and even some principals walked off government and private schools across Victoria and assembled at the State Library on November 20, in support of refugees currently being detained on Manus Island and Nauru. A similar protest was held in Brisbane that same day.

World

When it comes to the infrastructure of genocide, you could illustrate it using almost any photo of a school, house, shop or village in the West Bank. You could bookmark a Google maps page of a particular West Bank town — then look again in three or six months time and note the destruction wrought.

This is one way of keeping track of the demolitions of Palestinian homes and Israel’s attempts to impose an “Israeli only” identity on the landscape.

A new map developed at the University of Cincinnati illustrates one motivating force behind migrant caravans leaving Guatemala and Honduras to reach the United States.

UC geography professor Tomasz Stepinski has turned high-resolution satellite images from the European Space Agency into one of the most detailed looks so far at how people are reshaping the planet.

Stepinski said: “Right now there are caravans of people walking to the United States. Many of them are coming from Guatemala.”

Organised under the banners of All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) and All India Agricultural Workers’ Union (AIAWU) of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), thousands of farmers began marching from Singur towards Kolkata, the capital city of West Bengal, on November 27.

The march culminated in front of Governor Raj Bhavan’s house the next day to demand cultivable lands be returned to the farmers.

Looking at elections in the United States, deeper trends in the population can be difficult to discern as the choices are between two capitalist parties that are both staunch defenders of capitalist rule and US imperialism.

There are no mass workers’ parties of any stripe. If there were, we may be in a better position to understand the relation of class forces.

The recent death of 24-year-old Mapuche activist Camilo Catrillanca, who was gunned down in a police raid, has sparked wide condemnation and protests throughout Chile, writes Rodrigo Acuña.

In 2008, the prestigious Council on Foreign Relations published a report titled US-Latin America Relations: A New Direction for a New Reality. Timed to influence the foreign policy agenda of the next US administration, the report asserted: “the era of the US as the dominant influence in Latin America is over.”

Then, at the Summit of the Americas the next year, then-president Barack Obama promised Latin American leaders a “new era” of “equal partnership” and “mutual respect”.

Much of central Santiago de Chile has been brought to a standstill by protests against the police killing of 24-year-old indigenous Mapuche activist Camilo Catrillanca on November 14. Catrillanca joins Matiás Catrileo, Jaime Mendoza Collio, Alex Lemún, José Huenante and Rodrigo Melinaeo, all young Mapuche men who have been killed by Chilean police or disappeared while in police custody in recent years.

The Italian government is facing a very delicate situation, with its two major measures in the process of being ratified by the parliament, writes Daniele Fulvi.

Both the far-right League and the populist 5 Star Movement (M5S) that make up the coalition government know their credibility depends on the approval of economic measures that will provide for the citizenship income (the key point of M5S’s agenda) and the security decree (strongly advocated by the League’s leader Matteo Salvini).

In recent weeks, a new protest movement called the “yellow jackets” took to the streets of France. They are protesting the rise of petrol prices, issued by President Emmanuel Macron in order to cut CO2 emissions.

The yellow jackets movement, seemingly spontaneously born on the internet, immediately spread on a national scale. It brought hundreds of thousands of people on the streets of Paris on November 24. The protesters are worried because rising petrol prices will directly affect their everyday life.

French police attacked demonstrators with tear gas and water cannons on November 24 as hundreds of thousands demanded President Emmanuel Macron resign over the rising cost of living.

The “yellow jacket” protests, named for the yellow high-vis jackets French motorists are obliged to have in their cars in case of breakdown, were sparked by rises in fuel duty that the government says is aimed at encouraging people to switch to electric cars.

Demonstrators built barricades in the streets and some ripped up paving stones and starting fires.

November 23 marked the 33rd day of the hunger strike led by Jorge Glas, the former vice-president of Ecuador. His health has deteriorated significantly after his transfer to the Latacunga maximum security prison.

Analysis

For a party only launched in May, Victorian Socialists achieved some exceptional results in the November 24 state elections.

Twelve months ago socialists from several different groups and backgrounds came together to see if they could get the first socialist elected to an Australian parliament in more 70 years.

While the final results of Victoria’s November 24 state elections are yet to be announced, Labor looks set to go from 47 to 52 seats in the state’s Legislative Assembly, after receiving a primary vote of 43%.

Humans experience the brutality of capitalism in wars, harsh working conditions and widespread poverty caused by a class-based society. Every minute a child dies a preventable death.

Capitalism has also been waging a war on animals.

As young people threw themselves into the Student Strike 4 Climate Action and made an impassioned plea to preserve life on Earth, one of Australia’s most polluting industries was working behind the scenes to have the federal government hide the truth of its carbon emissions.

"CBA: We put profit ahead of people", was the headline emblazoned on the front page of the November 20 Sydney Morning Herald. The paper was reporting on the first day of the final round of hearings of the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry, in which the CEOs of the Big Four banks were being grilled about the banking scandals that have outraged the Australian community over the past year.

The Retail and Fast Food Workers Union (RAFFWU) was formed in late 2016 as a response to growing dissatisfaction among retail workers with the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA). The Labor right-controlled SDA is notorious for negotiating enterprise bargaining agreements (EBAs) that contain below award wages and eroding the rights and conditions of workers. 

As recently as last year, the gig economy’s “independent contractor” business model seemed like an unstoppable force. It started with Uber, but soon spread to food delivery and before long was entering new sectors, such as freight, logistics and healthcare.

Culture

Sorry to Bother You
Written & directed by Boots Riley
In cinemas now

This review includes mild spoilers.

As an Australian living abroad, incidents of Australians being racist and/or misogynistisic that attract attention from international media outlets are frequently forwarded to me in anticipation of a seething refrain.

Climate and Capitalism editor Ian Angus offers up eight new books as recommended reading for ecosocialists. Inclusion does not imply agreement with a book’s contents.

***
1. The Biofuels Deception: Going Hungry on the Green Carbon Diet
By Okbazghi Yohannes
Monthly Review Press, 2018

Rock & Roll Harbour
Exhibition by The Shop Gallery
112 Glebe Point Road, Glebe
Thurs January 3 – Wed Jan 9

Peter Gow is the people’s artist.

His ouvre is driven by his down-to-earth, inner-city environment such as boathouses and the heritage-listed Sydney Harbour Bridge in various attitudes, all of which feature prominently in this exhibition.

Gow is a qualified electrician and builder as well, very handy for making the frames in his spare time that embrace his art.

Disaster Capitalism
Written by Antony Loewenstein 
Directed by Thor Neureiter
www.disastercapitalismfilm.com

Disaster Capitalism is a groundbreaking documentary film about Bougainville, Haiti and Afghanistan, revealing the dark underbelly of the global aid and investment industry. The film offers important insights into a secret multi-billion dollar world by investigating how aid money is actually spent — or misspent.

Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist
Directed by Lorna Tucker
In cinemas

In the 1970s, punks astounded Britain with their T-shirts worn inside out and torn clothes with safety pins.

Vivienne Westwood was the person responsible for most of that look. Not only did she tear clothing apart, she lived a similar life.

Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist is a raw, unpredictable and unapologetic documentary about the punk icon and fashion designer. 

Watching it was a whirlwind. At times I was smiling, others I felt frustration.

Here are the best new albums that related to this month's politics. (There are actually far more than 10 - count them). What albums would you suggest? Comment on TwitterFacebook, or email. This column is taking a break and will return at the end of January.