Issue 1207

Australia

Several hundred people from the Yuin nation and their supporters gathered next to the fishing trawler wharf for Survival Day on January 26 and listened to poetry, rock bands and several solo musicians including a didgeridoo player.

Organiser Rodney Kelly told Green Left Weekly he wanted to bring the NSW South Coast Aboriginal and the wider community together to promote the South Coast Aboriginal community, its history and what it means to be Aboriginal in the region.

It has been revealed that corporate mining giant BHP Billiton used a simple accounting trick to avoid paying iron ore royalties to the Western Australian government for over a decade. Last year, BHP took in a profit of $9.5 in iron ore from WA.

Staff at the Rorkes pub in Darwin walked off the job on January 22 after refusing to follow the owner’s orders to ban Aboriginal patrons from the premises.

Crane operator and trade union delegate Howard Byrnes is back working at Botany Cranes, in Sydney's eastern suburbs, after a swift campaign by unionists and supporters got him reinstated.

Supporters of Venezuela’s pro-poor Bolivarian Revolution rallied outside the United States Consulate in Martin Place, in Sydney’s CBD, on January 23 to demand no US intervention in Venezuela.

Hundreds of people gathered in a silent vigil on the steps of Victoria's Parliament House on January 18 in response to the brutal murder of Aya Maasarwe, a 21-year-old Palestinian international student who was killed on January 16.

World

The statement below was released by 15 left groups from the Asia-Pacific region on January 25. To add your organisation’s name, email int.psm@gmail.com.

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We, the undersigned organisations, strongly condemn the Donald Trump administration for its support for an on-going coup attempt in Venezuela.

The 45th Friday of the Great March of Return took place on February 1. Each Friday since March 30 last year, Gazans have defied Israeli snipers — who have shot unarmed protesters, journalists and medics — to demand their right to return to their now Israeli-occupied lands.

The United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OCHA-OPT) said there have been more than 26,000 Palestinian injuries since the Great March began. Israeli injuries stand at 23.

The world’s biggest producer of iron ore, Vale, has again distanced itself from an ecological and workplace disaster of its own making, writes Pip Hinman.

Protests are continuing throughout Iran by teachers, nurses, labourers, retirees, oil industry workers, bazaar traders and shopkeepers, truck drivers, farmers, the unemployed, students, and other sectors, writes Minna Langeberg.

The current wave of protests continue those from December, which were brutally suppressed by the regime. They signal the deep crisis of legitimacy of the regime, as expressed by one of the most enduring slogans that emerged, “Fundamentalists, reformists, the game is over”.

In a strikingly different stance to leaders of the Australian Labor Party, which has backed the Coalition government’s support for the illegitimate coup “government” in Venezuela, several leading members of Britain’s Labour Party have rejected the US attempt at regime change in the oil-rich South American nation.

In an interview with Fox News, United States National Security Advisor John Bolton admitted the US government was backing an illegal coup in Venezuela in order to control the South American nation’s sizeable oil reserves.

“It will make a big difference to the United States economically if we could have American oil companies invest in and produce the oil capabilities in Venezuela,” Bolton told Fox News on January 28.

Australian solidarity activists are calling on Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government to demand the United States lift its sanctions on Venezuela and rule out any military intervention in the South American country.

Federico Fuentes, co-author of Latin America's Turbulent Transitions and co-convenor of the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network, said: “It is well known that Venezuela is passing through the worst economic crisis in its history.

On February 15, 2003, in the face of the looming US-led war against Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, the Spanish state saw the biggest demonstrations in its history. Part of an immense worldwide anti-war outpouring, about 4 million people turned out.

Leaders of the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) were among those at the head of these oceanic demonstrations, which directly targeted the conservative Spanish People’s Party (PP) government of then-prime minister José María Aznar.

On January 25, Benny Wenda, chairperson of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), handed a petition signed by 1.8 million West Papuans to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet. The petition called for the United Nations to “put West Papua back on the Decolonisation Committee agenda and ensure our right to self‐determination denied to us in 1969 is respected by holding an Internationally Supervised Vote”.

The petition handover was facilitated by the government of the South Pacific island state of Vanuatu.

The dice have been thrown and the game is on in Venezuela. This week has seen the country enter into new uncertain and dangerous terrain, although with some predictable elements. We have witnessed different variables develop, and now wait for new elements that may catalyse or justify an outcome.

Below are three statements from the Socialist Alliance (Australia), the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) and the Philippines-Venezuela Solidarity (Phil-Ven-Sol).

US Hands off Venezuela!

By Socialist Alliance National Executive

January 24, 2019 — The Socialist Alliance strongly condemns the actions of the United States President Donald Trump in backing an attempted coup against the democratically elected government of Venezuela.

Have those who state that Nicolás Maduro is a dictator, a usurper, and that the 2019-2025 presidential period lacks legitimacy, asked themselves why he is illegitimate? Or do they just repeat what they hear?

Update: Since this interveiw was published by Democracy Now!. President Trump has recognized Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó as interim president, calling democratically elected President Maduro “illegitimate.” In response, Venezuela has cut diplomatic ties with the U.S., giving diplomats 72 hours to leave the country.

Analysis

It is not unusual to hear someone blame the crisis in affordable housing and healthcare or the very expensive tertiary education system on Baby Boomers, the generation born between 1946-64. Gayle Burmeister and Mary Merkenich take aim at this mistaken argument.

Celebrating January 26 is a state-sanctioned exercise that rubs salt into the wounds of Indigenous Australia. It proclaims, “You lost, we won. Know your place.”

But the desire for an honest conversation about modern Australia's origins in the violent and ongoing dispossession of Indigenous people is not going away.

Across the country Invasion Day marches were both bigger than ever, and took place in many more places. More local governments have dropped their January 26 activities and finally the ABC allowed Triple J to shift its Hottest 100.

Australia’s super-rich keep getting richer.

A new report from Oxfam has found that the top 1% of the country’s plutocrats now own more wealth than the bottom 70%.

There has also been a record rise in the number of billionaires — from 33 to 43 — with their combined wealth now at almost $160 billion last year.

Politicians and bureaucrats have launched endless inquiries in an effort to appear to be dealing with the water crisis in New South Wales. Yet these same bureaucrats have been very slow to implement any of the recommended reforms and few steps have been taken to deal with the mismanagement, water theft and corruption that led to this crisis, writes Elena Garcia.

During 2018, a number of hate preachers had uninterrupted access to Australian media outlets to spread their messages of hate and intolerance far and wide. These preachers were able to do so because of the active complicity of sections of the political and media establishment, writes Rupen Savoulian.

If you want to celebrate January 26 by all means do: just be clear that you are celebrating those with so much wealth power that they will never need, nor want to, invite you to feast with them.

The hysterical backlash from the right against Proctor & Gamble’s latest advertisement for Gillette razors, which urges men to be “The best they can be”, has been nothing short of comical. But there is a serious side, writes Pip Hinman.

A collective of alt-right and neo-Nazi groups organised what they called a “political meeting” at St Kilda beach on January 5. It came a week after the neo-Nazi Neil Erikson led a group of acolytes down to the same beach to harass and film African Australians in an attempt to incite violence.

Culture

The Peter Norman Story
Written by Andrew Webster & Matt Norman
Macmillan, 2018
$34.99

When Footballers Were Skint: A Journey in Search of the Soul of Football
Jon Henderson
Biteback Publishing, 2018
308 pages

Bill Leivers, who played for Manchester City from 1953-1964, wryly recalls to the British journalist Jon Henderson in When Footballers Were Skint about how the football club owner once rewarded the players on the train home from a successful away game, not with a fistful of sterling for a few drinks all round, but with a packet of Polo Mints.

Climate and Capitalism editor Ian Angus takes a look at five new books for an ecosocialists’ bookshelf. Inclusion does not necessarily imply endorsement or agreement with a book’s contents.

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Dust Bowls Of Empire: Imperialism, Environmental Politics, & the Injustice of ‘Green’ Capitalism

By Hannah Holleman
Yale University Press, 2018

Political album sleeves from January 2019

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

Implied Consent 
February 2, 10, 14, Perth Fringe Festival
The Actor’s Hub, 129 Kensington St, East Perth
An Evening with… 
February 3, 8, 16, Perth Fringe Festival
The Actor’s Hub, 129 Kensington St, East Perth

Radical Gamilaraay rapper Provocalz has released a new EP, just in time for Invasion Day, January 26. Green Left Weekly’s Mat Ward, who made the music for it, asked him a few questions about it.

Modern Imperialism, Monopoly Finance Capital and Marx’s Law of Value
By Samir Amin
Monthly Review Press, 2018

One of the most obvious and abhorrent features of the global economy is the stark division of the world into a wealthy “North” and a poor “South”. Egyptian-born economist Samir Amin, who passed away in August, often referred to this divide as one of “centre” and “periphery”.