Issue 1208

News

ParentsNext is a new Department of Human Services (DHS) program that was rolled out nationally last July for about 75,000 sole parents who are receiving Parenting Payment.

The program is compulsory for all single parents whose youngest child has turned five, unless they are living in a regional town with no employment opportunities.

The campaign to stop the refoulment of refugee Hakeem al-Araibi from Thailand to Bahrain is growing, with many football authorities taking a stand.

A bucket of dead fish was emptied outside NSW minister for regional water Niall Blair’s office on February 7 as part of a protest to demand swift action on the water crisis affecting regional communities. The protest was organised by Fighting In Resistance Equally (FIRE).

Analysis

Adani has once again missed its own deadline for starting construction at its Carmichael coalmine in the Galilee Basin, but the coalmining giant is ramping up its propaganda war and intimidation of activists.

Adani is continuing to run advertisements and opinion pieces in newspapers, along with paying for huge billboards in Brisbane, all talking up the supposed jobs that the proposed mine will create.

Corporate media outlets in Australia and internationally are overwhelmingly campaigning in support of the United States’ regime change push in Venezuela. This is another reason to support Green Left Weekly.

I am employed as a disability support worker by a council and, since the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), I will soon lose my job. This is my story.

After the successful School Strike 4 Climate Action last November 30, where more than 15,000 students walked out of school, organisers have called another strike for March 15 as part of a Global Day of Action — and they are asking others to join in.

In 1996, when I was working in Nicaragua, I attended a conference in El Salvador and met a charismatic former army officer from Venezuela called Hugo Chávez. He explained how he was building an alliance between patriotic military officers and working people and that they were seeking to win the next elections and use the country’s oil wealth to improve the quality of life for the poor.

The Australian Labor Party leadership has failed its first foreign policy test in 2019 by falling in behind the Coalition government's support for the Donald Trump administration’s recognition of Juan Guaidó as un-elected “interim President” of Venezuela, in violation of international law.

The inability of the Liberal Party to find candidates for Hunter seats for the March New South Wales state election suggests that even its party faithful recognise that Gladys Berejiklian’s Coalition government is headed for electoral defeat and, probably, a total wipe-out in the Hunter.

On February 14, the family and supporters of TJ Hickey will meet at the park they have named after the young Kamilaroi man, 15 years after he was murdered by the NSW police.

In the banking royal commission’s final report, Commissioner Kenneth Hayne made 76 recommendations for reforms to the sector, but stopped short of calling for charges to be laid against bank executives and board members, or any radical shake-up of the industry.

This has led some, such as financial commentator Michael Pascoe writing in the February 5 New Daily, to proclaim: “And the winner is ... the big banks!” His words were promptly reinforced by the fact that bank shares skyrocketed the day after the report was released.

After Commissioner Kenneth Hayne released the banking royal commission’s interim report in September, many of the headlines and takeaway quotes focused on its claim that banks “put profits before people”.

 “Why did it happen?” the report asked. “Too often the answer seems to be greed — the pursuit of short term profit at the expense of basic standards of honesty. How else is charging continuing advice fees to the dead to be explained?...

World

Last week, the US formally adopted sanctions on Venezuelan national oil company PDVSA, as well as on CITGO, its US-based distribution arm, as part of its press for regime change in Caracas. National Security Advisor John Bolton estimated the actions would affect some $7 billion in assets and would block $11 billion in revenue to the Venezuelan government over the next year.

British musician and activist Roger Waters has called on people to act against the ongoing United States coup against the elected Venezuelan government. Waters specifically urged people to join the February 4 “emergency demonstration” in front of the US Mission to the United Nations (USUN) located in New York City.

After six days of strikes and mass mobilisations in the streets, Los Angeles teachers, joined on the picket lines and demonstrations by parents and students, won an important victory, Barry Sheppard writes from San Francisco, as they  held the line against further privatisation of the public schools.

Hundreds of Palestinians took to the streets of besieged Gaza on January 29 to show their support of the democratically-elected government of Venezuela and it’s legitimate leader, President Nicolas Maduro.

Below is a  February 4 letter signed by 39 members of the European Parliament. It comes from three different political groups in the European Parliament and condemns EU support for the attempted coup in Venezuela.

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Letter in defence of a political dialogue in Venezuela, guaranteeing that Latin America and the Caribbean remains a zone of peace.

A tailings dam owned by Brazilian iron ore producer Vale burst in Brumadinho in the state of Minas Gerais on January 25. This is the second of its tailings dams to burst in several years. Hundreds died and the devastation to local residents, water resources and biodiversity was immense.

Leyla Guven, a member of Turkey’s parliament for the left-wing, Kurdish-led People’s Democratic party (HDP), launched an indefinite hunger strike on November 7 from Amed Prison, where she was held jailed by Turkey’s regime. Her demand is for an end to the isolation of jailed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan.

Jailed by Turkey since 1999, Ocalan is the recognised leader of the Kurdish liberation movement. Since 2011, his lawyers have been unable to met with him.

On February 12, the trial of 12 Catalan politicians and social movement leaders involved in the October 1, 2017 independence referendum is set to begin in the Spanish Supreme Court.

The leaders face sanctions as harsh as 25 year’s jail for their alleged offences — rebellion, sedition and embezzlement of public funds.

Hundreds have mobilised to attend pickets and mass meetings in defence of Venezuela’s sovereignty and to demand an end to the British and US governments interference during a time of difficulty in Venezuela. Starting with a picket at the Prime Minister’s Office and continuing with two mass meetings of the progressive left, anti-war, student and labour movement, a week of protests ended with a picket of the BBC headquarters and a further action planned against the Bank of England who have illegally seized US$1.2 billion of Venezuela’s gold.

Two competing marches took over the streets of Caracas on February 2 — in support and against elected President Nicolas Maduro. The foreign media focused on the opposition march exclusive, despite accounts that the pro-government march was clearly larger.

Much media fanfare has been made about US President Donald Trump pledge to deliver US$20 millions worth of humanitarian aid, in the form of food and medicine, into Venezuela via its borders with Colombia and Brazil. But in all media coverage, almost nothing has been said of the impact that the devastating and illegal US sanctions have had on the Venezuelan people, or that the latest round, including the impact that the seizure of Venezuela’s oil assets in the US will have.

Culture

Vice
Written and directed by Adam McKay
Starring Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Steve Carell
In cinemas now

Vice is a worthily acerbic assault on the life and times of former US vice-president Dick Cheney, writes Alan Frank.

Given the all-too-frequent off-the-wall activities of the current haystack-haired White House occupant, writer-director Adam McKay deserves praise for lifting the spirits somewhat with this cruelly satirical portrait of former US vice-president Dick Cheney.

Against Charity
By Daniel Raventos & Julie Wark
AK Press, 2018
294 pages, $16.95

One often hears that we should “give to charity”. Is this a good idea? Daniel Raventos and Julie Wark wrote their view in Against Charity. Admittedly, the title is a give-away.

Charities aren’t new, but in modern capitalist societies, many states have legislated to regulate charities. In this way, “the crumbs from the rich man’s table can safely be given to the poor”.

Climate and Capitalism editor Ian Angus takes a look at five new releases for an ecosocialist bookshelf. Inclusion doesn’t necessarily imply agreement with a book’s contents.

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End Of The Megafauna: The Fate of the World’s Hugest, Fiercest and Strangest Animals
Written by Ross DE MacPhee & illustrated by Peter Schouten
WW Norton, 2019