Issue 1209

Australia

Aboriginal children are currently being removed at five times the rate they were in 1997, the year when the Bringing Them Home report was brought down by the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families.

School students went on strike outside Labor leader Bill Shorten’s Melbourne office on February 8.

Refugee rights activists protested outside Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s Cronulla office on February 9.

TJ Hickey’s mother Gail Hickey led a march through Redfern to NSW parliament on the 15th anniversary of TJ’s death on February 14.

Palestine solidarity activists protested outside Eurovision’s Australia Decides event on the Gold Coast on February 11.

Free West Papua campaigners rallied in several cities on February 12.

About 500 protesters rallied outside federal parliament on February 12 under the slogan "Stop Adani - Climate action now!" 

The NSW Land and Environment Court’s decision to refuse the Rocky Hill coalmine near Gloucester on February 8 is ground breaking. For the first time in legal history, the impact of a new coalmine on climate change was a determining factor in refusing consent.

The School Strike 4 Climate organisers are keen to involve unions and other community and faith-based organisations in their struggle for action on climate change. Below is a model motion to help you get organised.

School students are calling on universities, unions, faith groups and others to join their next strike for climate on March 15.

Transport Workers Union (TWU) members employed by bus company Transdev WA organised a 4-hour stoppage on February 7 as part of their campaign for parity in wages and conditions with other drivers.

The stoppage, which affected routes through Rockingham, Mandurah, Fremantle and Joondalup, was the latest action in the union’s long-running industrial campaign that began in January last year. Talks between the Western Australian TWU leadership and the French multinational transport company broke down last October.

World

In the US, the young new socialist Congressperson Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has made a splash by setting out concrete plans for a “Green New Deal” to transition away from fossil fuels to a 100% renewable, zero-emissions economy within 10 years.

In Sudan, a multifaceted civil opposition is posing a serious threat to the continued existence of Bashir’s dictatorial regime after weeks of protests, writes Mohammed Elnaiem.

Since its outset, the Donald Trump administration has ratcheted up pressure on Venezuela and radicalised its positions, writes Steve Ellner.

Chaos reigned in Haiti for a seventh straight day on February 13, as people continue to rise up against President Jovenel Moïse over his corruption, arrogance, false promises and straight-faced lies. But the crisis will not be solved by Moïse’s departure, which appears imminent, writes Kim Ives.

The Trump administration’s now completely overt effort to overthrow Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro had a very successful public relations effort this week, as major Western media outlets uniformly echoed its simplistic, pre-packaged claim that the Venezuelan government was heartlessly withholding foreign aid:

The cameras are focused on the border between Venezuela and Colombia. Everything has been prepared to present it as a door about to give in. It is just a matter of waiting for the right day, according to some presidents and news headlines.

The narrative of “imminence” has been key since Venezuelan opposition politician Juan Guaidó proclaimed himself president last month: the imminent fall of President Nicolás Maduro, imminent transition government and imminent resolution of all of Venezuela’s problems.

Analysis

John Passant takes a look at franking credits and explains what all the fuss is about.

After five years and $13 billion of public money spent on the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, there is less water in the river than ever before — and more in the private water storages of a handful of National Party donors, writes Elena Garcia.

Children are off Nauru, Hakeem is back in Australia and parliament has passed the medical evacuation bill. For what feels like the first time in forever, the refugee rights movement is making gains, writes Zebedee Parkes.

February 4 marked the 80th anniversary of the little-known 1939 Cummeragunja Walk-Off, when 200 Yorta Yorta people left the Cummera mission in southern New South Wales in protest against their mistreatment by mission bosses and the theft of their land.

Dr Wayne Atkinson, an elder of the Yorta Yorta nations of the Murray-Goulburn region, was one of a number of people who addressed a gathering of the strikers’ descendents at Barmah on the banks of the Murray River in Victoria.

Last year, shortly after we participated in a protest against the Australian government’s cruel refugee policy, we were snatched off the street by police and taken to Newtown Police Station. Once inside we were separated and strip searched. We were not charged with any offence. What happened to us happens to marginalised people all the time and it needs to stop.

As some of the rich and powerful gathered in Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum last month, Oxfam International issued a report revealing that the combined fortunes of the world’s billionaires rose by 12% last year as the poorest half of humanity saw their wealth decline by 11%.

Culture

Roma
Written & directed by Alfonso Cuaron
Starring Yalitza Aparicio & Marina de Tavira
In cinemas now

Roma is the latest film by Mexican director Alfonso Cuaron, who came to international prominence with his 2001 film Y Tu Mama Tambien.

This allowed him to break into the world of bigger budget, English-language films, directing Children of Men (2006) and Gravity (2013) which won seven Academy Awards including best director.

Surveillance Valley: The Secret Military History of the Internet
By Yasha Levine
Icon Books, £14.99

As accusations continue to swirl through social media around foreign meddling in Britain’s Brexit referendum and the last US election, Yasha Levine’s Surveillance Valley is a timely intervention in revealing how undermining democracy has always been the modus operandi of the internet since its inception.