Issue 833

News

Outraged by the six Aboriginal deaths in custody this year, the Indigenous Social Justice Association (ISJA) organised a public meeting at the Redfern Community Centre on April 9 to tell the stories and call for justice.
The Socialist Alliance in New South Wales has added two migrant activists to its list of candidates for the upcoming federal election.
When word started spreading that the far right wanted to relive the 2005 racist Cronulla riot organised an April 9 “mass rally against migrants and Islam” in Melbourne, anti-racist groups started organising a counter rally, to show that migrants were welcome and racism was not.
The following article is based on a statement that appeared on www.vkr1976.com.au.
Barkly Shire dumped 3000 litres of raw sewage at the local tip at the Northern Territory Aboriginal Ampilatwatja township on April 6. The township is a “prescribed community” under the Northern Territory Intervention.
Ferne Edwards, a PhD student at the Australian National University who researches sustainable food movements, cities and climate change, was so inspired by the social changes in Venezuela when she visited there as part of a food sovereignty tour in 2009 that she decided to organise an opportunity for other Australians to visit and see it for themselves.
Three Tamil men in Victoria have been given suspended sentences after pleading guilty to charges of providing money or resources to a group on the United Nations list of proscribed “terrorist” organisations.

Analysis

Australian PM Kevin Rudd’s appointment of Tony Burke as population minister continues the Australian tradition of playing political football with immigration. His appointment came after Treasury estimates predicted that Australia’s population will grow from 22 million to 36 million by 2050.
The federal Labor government announced a moratorium on processing claims for asylum for people coming from Sri Lanka or Afghanistan on April 9.
Albert Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. It has taken capitalism about 250 years to generate enough waste and pollution to press dangerously against nature’s limits. With such a damning record, there should be no grounds to expect a different outcome in the future.
“How long must we stay like this, don’t they realise our hardship?”, a Tamil detainee in the Christmas Island detention centre asked when he called Green Left Weekly on April 8.
On Saturday April 3, a fully laden bulk carrier ran aground on Douglas Shoal off Rockhampton, Queensland, producing an oil spill threatening the Great Barrier Reef. The Shen Neng 1, carrying about 65,000 tonnes of coal to China, leaked about two tonnes of oil onto the reef before being contained.
The following is abridged from an April 7 press release on behalf of Alyawarr walk-off spokesperson Richard Downs and senior Pitjantjatjara elder Murray George.
The NSW Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages has refused to change a transsexual man’s documents unless he undergoes life-threatening surgery.
Professional engineers at Qantas, members of the Association of Professional Engineers, Scientists and Managers, Australia (APESMA), remain locked in combat with the airline after almost a year of negotiations over a new work agreement.
The current federal inquiry into the over-representation of Indigenous youth and young people in the criminal justice system, which began in late March, has brought attention to issues surrounding incarceration in Australian jails and detention centres.
On March 10, 2009, three days after Mardi Gras, 34-year-old Veronica Baxter was arrested by Redfern police. She was charged with six counts of supplying a prohibited drug and held on remand at the all-male NSW Silverwater Metropolitan Reception and Remand Centre.
Australian climate activists will join thousands of other people at the World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Cochabamba, Bolivia over April 19-22.

World

Soldiers armed with live and rubber bullets attacked the peaceful pro-democracy Red Shirt protests in the centre of Bangkok on April 10. At least 12 people, including a Japanese Reuters reporter, have been shot dead.
The following was released on April 10 by the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM), Working People's Association (PRP) of Indonesia, People’s Democratic Party (PRD) of Indonesia, Turn Left Thailand, Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM) of the Philippines, Socialist Alliance of Australia
Hunger strikes and suicides justified by strong moral, ideological, patriotic or religious beliefs usually touch people’s conscience.
When the US and its allies invaded Afghanistan in 2001, they brought a president with them — Hamid Karzai. Unlike some powerful (and brutal) warlords in his government, Karzai has no private army. But like the warlords, he is loathed by the people. Even in the capital, Kabul, Karzai cannot venture out without a large contingent of US bodyguards. Soldiers from the US/NATO occupation force guard his palace.
Although final figures will not be known until April 24, the results of Bolivia’s April 4 regional elections have ratified the continued advance of the “democratic and cultural revolution” led by the country’s first indigenous President Evo Morales.
It was not a chemical plant, nor a nuclear facility, nor a manufacturer of weapons of mass destruction. But almost all the rubble of the entirely destroyed factory was covered in white, with white chunks everywhere.
Once again the Thai non-government organisations have sided with the military-installed royalist government against the demands of hundreds of thousands of pro-democracy “Red Shirts”.
Plans for a US$6 billion food estate in the Merauke region of West Papua has been attacked by farmer and environmental organisations as a land grab that would destroy 2 million hectares of virgin forest.
Here is news of the Third World War. The United States has invaded Africa. US troops have entered Somalia, extending their war front from Afghanistan and Pakistan to Yemen and now the Horn of Africa.
At the failed December United Nations climate summit in Copenhagen, the issue of population control was put on the agenda by the delegation from China.
Internet giant Google Inc. has cut off Cuban writer and essayist Henry Ubieta’s access to his “La Isla Desconocida” (“The unknown Island”) blog, hosted on Blogger, and blocked his access to his gmail account.
In December, a delegation of British MPs visiting Colombia reported that a mass grave had been discovered in La Macarena, a small town in the Meta region, 250 kilometres south of Bogota.
April 16 will be the seventh anniversary of the Venezuelan government’s health care program, Mission Barrio Adentro, which has used Cuban doctors to bring free health care to millions of the poor.
Burma Campaign Australia said on March 30 that Burma political prisoner Aung San Suu Kyi’s political party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), will not register in the forthcoming national election in Burma.
Ignatius Mahendra Kusumawardhana is the international relations officer for Indonesia’s Working People’s Association (PRP). In 2003, Mahendra was imprisoned for two years for “insulting the government” of then-president Megawati Sukarnoputri. In recent months, the PRP has initiated a number of joint statements from left groups across the Asia-Pacific region on common struggles.
That the contents of a previously suppressed Pentagon video has come as a nasty shock to so many, highlights the noxious disinformation fog in which Western citizens are cocooned.

Culture

Ordinary Courage: My Journey to Baghdad as a Human Shield By Donna Mulhearn Pier 9, 2010 254 pages, $32.95 (pb) STRONG>Anne Frank Remembered: The Story of the Woman who Helped to Hide the Frank Family By Miep Gies & Alison Leslie Gold Pocket Books, 2009 302 pages, $24.99 (pb)
Indigenous and trade union activist Chicka “The Fox” Dixon (1928-2010), was farewelled by more than 1000 people in a state funeral in Sydney Town Hall on March 31.
Disgraced ex-rugby league player turned celebrity Matthew Johns made his return to TV on March 25, with the “family-friendly” Matty Johns Show being hailed a “success” by reviewers.
This Is What We Said: Australian Aboriginal People Give Their Views on the Northern Territory Intervention. Compiled & published by ‘concerned Australians’ 71 pages, hard cover with Aboriginal cover design, $15
Right-wing Republicans won an important battle in the “history wars” on March 12 when the Texas Board of Education approved a new social studies curriculum.

General

A tidal wave of wealth

"Australia's top executives have seen their collective wealth swell by almost three-quarters — or about $15 billion — over the past year, easily outstripping gains by ordinary investors.

"The total wealth of Australia's top 200 business chieftains ballooned to $35 billion in 2010, up from $20.3 billion in 2009, according to the BRW 2010 Executive Rich List ...

"The combined wealth of Australian executives was 72 per cent higher than last year ..."

— March 24 Sydney Morning Herald.

Coal threatens Queensland

It is not a good look for Queensland internationally and here at home with the Chinese coal ship having run aground on the Great Barrier Reef, leaking oil and about to break up.

The massive mines of the Hancock and Waratah coal companies, together with the coal mines of the Bowen Basin coming through with the Northern Missing Link, mean that upwards of 230 million tonnes per annum of coal will be going through the nationally wetlands of Caley Valley and exported through the newly constructed port at Abbot Point.

The following open letter was sent to Dr Michael Spence, the vice-chancellor of Sydney university, by renowned journalist and film-maker John Pilger. The letter, one of many sent to Spence by activists and academics, is in response to a decision by the university to ban two left-wing activists from being on campus (see GLW#831). * * * Dear Dr Spence, I have a number of reasons to feel affection for Sydney University: my mother's distinction there, and the 2009 Sydney Peace Prize, which was presented to me at the University by a University Foundation.
A recent investigation has found that nearly 55% of stories in the mainstream media are driven by public relations, or corporate spin. Spinning the Media was a joint investigation by Crikey.com and the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism, headed by Wendy Bacon, based at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS).

Resistance!

On March 18, the federal government managed to pass its new youth allowance scheme through the Senate. The government’s main aim was to tighten eligibility requirements for students getting youth allowance, so that young people now have to work an average of 30 hours a week for 18 months before qualifying for the benefit.
Resistance’s Zane Alcorn spoke to Matthew Wright, a climate and energy campaigner from Beyond Zero Emissions. Wright is speaking at the Resistance 2010: the World can’t Wait! national conference, which will be held in Wollongong from April 24-26.

 

In August 1970, Resistance held its first national conference at the University of New South Wales. Bringing together young people from across Australia, the conference passed resolutions against the Vietnam War, in support of the rights of minority groups around the world and in support of the women's liberation movement. In the 40 years since, Resistance has been part of social movements that have had many victories.