Issue 889


John Bellamy Foster, the keynote speaker at the upcoming "World At A Crossroads" Climate Change Social Change conference - to be held in Melbourne University and Victoria Trades Hall on September 30-October 3, 2011 - is the co-author (with Fred Magdoff) of a newly published book entitled What every environmentalist needs to know about capitalism.
A protest for refugee rights outside the offices of security company Serco, in Coronation Drive, on July 29 called for the end of mandatory detention of asylum seekers and criticised Serco’s management of Australia’s detention centres. More than 40 people attended the protest, which was organised by the Brisbane Refugee Action Collective (RAC).
An enthusiastic group of community campaigners was chosen to run for the September 3 council elections in Wollongong. About 100 people attended the preselection meeting for Community Voice at Thirroul Community Centre on July 24. CV was formed about a month ago. The process was simple, democratic and transparent — values at the core of CV’s platform. Part of the reason for the formation of CV was to bring a community focus to council, standing against the entrenched corruption of local politics that culminated in the sacking of Wollongong council in 2008.
Sydney Stop The War Coalition held a street-theatre protest in Darling Harbour on July 29 outside a $1000-a-head speaking engagement for former British PM and war criminal Tony Blair. The protesters held a mock trial of Blair, who was charged, tried and convicted of making fraudulent excuses for the invasion of Iraq, the murder of a million Iraqi people, profiting from the proceeds of crime and other crimes against humanity.
Members of forest conservation group Code Green held a direct action protest at a woodchip mill at Bell Bay in northern Tasmania on July 29. The protest temporarily shut down the mill, which is owned by logging company Artec. One protester chained herself to a truck loaded with native, old growth logs. Code Green said the action was meant to highlight “the continued destruction of Tasmania’s natural environment, and the government’s unwillingness to create real peace in the forest”.
Ballots on motions authorising industrial action have taken place among members of the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) in three government departments. In the Department of Immigration and Citizenship and the Customs Service, more than 80% of voters supported industrial action. However, the number of people that voted in each case fell slightly short of the 50% required for “protected industrial action” under federal industrial laws.
To mark the 28th anniversary of the 1983 Black July massacre of ethnic Tamils in Sri Lanka, Australian Tamils held a solidarity rally in Melbourne on July 23. More than 200 Australians assembled at Federation Square to condemn the human rights violations taking place in Sri Lanka and to raise a voice for an international investigation into war crimes by the Sri Lankan government.
WikiLeaks editor in chief Julian Assange delivered a video address to a forum at the Splendour in the Grass music festival on July 29. The transcript and video of his speech appears below. * * * When I was 12, my family and I lived in Bryon Bay. Some days I would try to climb up to the lighthouse. Earth would overhang the seacliffs and sometimes a pebble would shift or a gull would cry and I would wonder if I was standing on the overhang. Later I would look back and see that, in fact, there had been nothing between me and the waters below. released the statement below on July 28. * * * Graeme Dunstan (68), the convener of Peace Convergence 2011, will be in Rockhampton Magistrates Court on July 29. He will be facing charges arising from his role in assisting Bryan Law in his “ploughsharing” of a brand new $36 million Australian Army Tiger helicopter at Rockhampton airbase on July 21. The charges, include two counts of willful damage — one of unauthorised entry, and one of possession of tainted property, namely a digital camera.
Five members of the Monash Refugee Action Collective gained access to the roof of the campus centre at the university’s Clayton campus on July 27, as part of a protest against the Gillard government’s treatment of asylum seekers. The students hung several banners over the side of the building, including statements of their support for asylum seekers, their stance against mandatory detention and the “Malaysian solution”. The activists were joined by supporters on the ground who handed out leaflets and made speeches to other students.
UPDATE July 28 — Indymedia, via the Melbourne Refugee Action Collective, reports the asylum seekers' rooftop protest at the Darwin's Northern Immigration Detention Centre was stopped by force at 4.30pm on July 27. The collective said it, "condemns the use of force to end a legitimate protest for human rights and demands that no charges be laid on the refugees, and that it does not negatively affect their visa claims."


The debate over genetically modified (GM) food has flared up again recently, after Greenpeace destroyed an experimental CSIRO wheat crop in Canberra on July 14.   The Australian Federal Police is now investigating Greenpeace over the incident, which CSIRO scientists claim has set their research back by up to a year.   Greenpeace argued the crop posed a threat to the environment and human health. Plans are underway for human trials of the GM wheat before tests are conducted on animals.  
The shift to the right of the Labor Party has increasingly created a sense that there is little difference between the two major parties. Both are willing to implement the neoliberal policies pushed by corporate interests and differ only on the details. On many issues, the shift to the right does not reflect public opinion. This is the context for the growth of support for the Australian Greens in recent years. The Greens, with nine senators, now hold the balance of power in the Senate as well as one lower house seat.
In 9/11 and numerous other works, veteran MIT linguistics professor and libertarian socialist author/activist Noam Chomsky has argued the United States is “a leading terrorist state.” According to the author of a recent diatribe in Australia’s Monthly magazine, these “views on American foreign policy” are “myopic” and “conspiratorial” and make Chomsky an unsuitable recipient of the 2011 Sydney Peace Prize.
Accused Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik praised four Australian conservative leaders in his 1500-page manifesto, reported on July 26. “In a manifesto posted online under the Anglicised pseudonym Andrew Berwick, the killer quoted [former prime minister John] Howard, former treasurer Peter Costello, Catholic Cardinal George Pell and conservative writer and historian Keith Windschuttle,” the ABC said.
About 80 people gathered on July 28 at the Holiday Inn on Darwin’s Esplanade for one of the federal government’s Stronger Futures “consultations”. One woman said: “It’s a bit late, mate.”
Of the 19 protesters arrested at a Palestine solidarity protest outside Israeli-owned store Max Brenner in Melbourne on July 1, 13 were issued with bail conditions preventing them from entering the QV shopping centre or Melbourne Central shopping centres in Melbourne. The Melbourne Central shopping centre has a major city train station on its bottom floor. The protest was part of the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against the apartheid state of Israel. It is modelled on the campaign to boycott South Africa in the 1970s and ’80s.
Scenes were reported of people burying themselves in shallow graves in the Christmas Island detention centre on July 24, as refugees across the country continued defiant protests despite harsh crackdowns. Hunger strikes and ongoing protests also took place in the Northern Immigration Detention Centre in Darwin and the Scherger military base detention centre in far-north Queensland. At Christmas Island, after riot police assaulted refugees with tear gas and “bean bag” shootings, they raided rooms and rounded up supposed “ringleaders”.
The ABC’s Four Corners on July 25 showcased the national debate around wind farms’ alleged negative health effects. It patiently allowed the anti-wind power Waubra Foundation to walk the audience through their case that wind farms are a health hazard. Many people I have met are curious to know if there is any truth to the allegations.
NSW groups opposed to the rollout of coal seam gas mining in the state have said new rules for the industry fall far short of what is needed to protect water reserves, farmland and communities from toxic contamination. The changes, announced on July 21, put a moratorium on fracking until the end of the year and ban the use of evaporation ponds to dispose of toxic wastewater from the coal seam gas mining process.
Green Left Weekly recently spoke to Gleny Rae, who took part in the SBS documentary Go Back To Where You Came From, which retraced the journeys of some asylum seekers to their country of origin. Rae said she had realistic expectations of what she would see, but still found the experience a “reality check” that was moving and confronting.
The Australia-Malaysia refugee “swap” deal, signed in Kuala Lumpur on July 25, further persecutes people who have escaped conflict and terror and have an international right to seek asylum in Australia. The Australian government said the plan was intended to attack the “people smugglers’ business model”. But, in reality, it is a high-priced human trafficking deal between two governments known for discriminating against refugees.
Supporters of former Guantanamo Bay prisoner David Hicks have slammed the July 21 announcement that Australian government lawyers will try to prosecute Hicks under the Proceeds of Crime Act.


More than 2000 workers marched to the National Assembly in Caracas on July 26 in support of increased workers’ control. Handing over a document with more than 45,000 signatures, the workers demanded that the legislative body approve the Special Law for Socialist Worker Councils and begin an immediate discussion of a “new and revolutionary” Organic Work Law (LOT). Both demands were submitted under article 240 of the Venezuelan constitution, which allows the people the right to legislate.
Venezuelan foreign affairs minister Nicolas Maduro has criticised the US government for having an “absurd and extremist” policy with regards to Venezuela. Maduro made the comments after the publication of a report in late July that outlines the US government’s tactics for dealing with transnational criminal organisations. The document cites Venezuela as a country that promotes a “permissive environment for narco-trafficking and terrorist organisations”.
Recently released United States embassy cables from Bolivia have provided additional insight to the events leading up to the September 2008 coup attempt against the Andean country’s first indigenous president. On September 9, 2008, President Evo Morales expelled then-US ambassador Philip Goldberg as evidence emerged that Goldberg and embassy officials had been meeting with several key civilian and military figures involved in an unfolding coup plot.
United States diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks make it clearer than ever that foreign troops occupying Haiti for more than seven years, under the banner of the United Nations, have no legitimate reason to be there. They show that this a US occupation, as much as in Iraq or Afghanistan, and it is part of a decades-long US strategy to deny Haitians the right to democracy and self-determination.
United States: The nonsense battle over debt Dean Baker Policy debates in Washington are moving ever further from reality as a small elite moves to strip benefits that the vast majority need and support. The battle over raising the debt ceiling is playing a central role in this effort. The United States is running extraordinarily large budget deficits. The size of the annual deficit peaked at 10% of GDP in 2009, but it is still running at close to 9% of GDP this year.
How do YOU suggest we cut Britain's deficit then? You'll be asked this if you ever oppose a cost-cutting scheme, such as merging the sewerage system with the library service or something. So here's one answer, we could pay a bit less to ATOS, a private company that receives £100 million a year from the British government for assessing who should be cut off from disability benefit.
Papua New Guinea's National Court ruled in favour of the owners of the controversial Ramu nickel mine in Madang on July 26, allowing the dumping of millions of tonnes of mine waste into the sea. The dumping will devastate the Basamuk Bay area, putting the environment and people's lives at risk. It is a key area for biodiversity and is vital for the livelihood and food security of the local community.
The euro will survive for now — but only because working people in Greece and other European countries face greater suffering. That’s the not-so-hidden agenda behind the new US$227 billion bailout of Greece organised by the most powerful countries of the European Union, mainly France and Germany. The rescue comes little more than a year after a $155 billion rescue that was supposed to stop the debt crisis. See also: United States: the nonsense battle over debt
In recent weeks, something unprecedented has erupted in Israel. Protesting the high cost of living, especially of housing, predominantly young people have established protest camps. The campaign was sparked by a young single mother who, in desperation over her housing situation, pitched her tent outside the Knesset (Israeli parliament). Now the tent protests have spread like wildfire all over Israel.
The Tunisian Communist Workers’ Party (PCOT) held the first session of its first party congress as a legal organisation on July 22. The congress was held over July 22-24 in Tunis. It featured foreign delegates and guests from Europe, Latin America and the Arab world. Estimates of attendees ranged from 1700 to 2000 people. PCOT leader Hamma Hammami gave a speech in which he defended the party from accusations of involvement in violence.
The PSM 6 — six leading members of the Socialist Party of Malaysia — were released from prison on July 29 after a national and international campaign for their release. Malaysian authorities had held the six democracy activists — Choo Chon Kai, Sarat Babu, M Sarasvathy, M Sukumaran, A Letchumanan and parliamentarian Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj — since July 2. Malaysian police arrested the six in the lead up to a large July 9 protest organised by the “Bersih 2.0” democracy movement. Bersih 2.0 demanded the government commit to free and fair elections.
The Kasbah in Tunis was once again the scene of violent clashes between police and revolutionary youth after protests on July 15 to advance the revolution were broken up by force. The protests, dubbed “Kasbah 3”, were demanding the resignation of key ministers in the interim government and the sacking of those responsible for the killings of protesters during the January uprising against dictator Zine el Abidine Ben Ali. The protests also demanded the regime stick to October 23 as the date for constituent assembly elections.
The horrific July 22 terrorist massacre in Norway should be the cause for a lot of soul searching in the West. The massacre by Anders Behring Breivik at the youth camp of the Labour Party on the island of Utoya, and the bombing of government buildings in Oslo, were motivated by a fanatical belief that the Labour Party, the senior partner in a coalition government, was “betraying” Norway by being too soft on migrants and Muslims.
An estimated 76 people died in Norway at the hands of a far-right fanatic whose connections to the organized racists and Islamophobes extend to the anti-Muslim bigots in the US. Anders Behring Breivik is accused of setting a car bomb in downtown Oslo. At least seven people died in the blast in front of the oil ministry, but which also apparently targeted a 17-story office tower that contained the offices of Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, leader of the governing Labor Party.
Farooq Tariq, a spokesperson for the Labour Party Pakistan, released this article on July 24. It is reprinted from . See also: Right-wing attack in Norway * * * Three-two-year-old Norwegian, Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 92 on July 22 in Oslo has used similar techniques in bomb blast and shooting of the children from his most hatred enemy, the Muslim fundamentalist.


Another pop-music cliche came tragically true this past weekend: “Amy Winehouse, dead at 27.” The same age as Joplin, Hendrix, Morrison and Cobain. Like all of these amazing artists she has gone way too young. Like all of them, she had reams of talent, skill, and most importantly, soul. She was lucky enough in her short time to really and seriously change the way many of us view music.
A Facebook page campaigning to bring radical US-based Afro-Peruvian hip hop artist Immortal Technique to Australia has been set a target by the man himself. Immortal Technique, real name Filipe Andres Coronel, posted on the wall of the page, We want Immortal Technique in Australia, that he would agree to tour if the page received 15,000 “likes”.
Mozart’s Sister Starring Marie Feret, directed by Rene Feret In cinemas now Everyone has heard of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who first achieved fame as a child prodigy composer ferried around the great courts of late feudal Europe by his domineering father on a never-ending tour. Little is known of his older sister, Maria Anna Walburga Ignatia, known by her nickname, Nannerl. She was at least his equal as a harpsichordist and piano player ― and possibly his equal on the violin and as a composer.
A Microsoft PR twitter account came under fire for cynically exploiting the death of British soul singer Amy Winehouse, said on July 25. The small PR account for Xbox tweeted: “Remember Amy Winehouse by downloading the ground-breaking ‘Back to Back’ album over at Zune ...” Zune is Microsoft's entertainment marketplace. said the tweet sparked a furore, with tweets in response such as “classy", "crass much?" and "Microsoft — failing at social media".

Fighting Fund

In the very early morning of August 3, about 180 workers and volunteers from the City of Sydney’s Homelessness Unit will do a count of the “rough sleepers” in the city. The previous count in February, when the weather was much warmer, found 363 people sleeping on Sydney’s streets. Last winter’s count was 289.


Homeless crisis deplorable I have been an active trade unionist for many years and that is why I realise your paper is the authentic voice of labour. It is distressing and deplorable that many thousands of people are homeless and exposed to the cold weather and rain. I am of the opinion that a sustained campaign should be launched to induce state governments to buy unoccupied units to provide accommodation to the homeless. It is a matter of urgency as we have two more months of winter ahead of us.


If you were sexually assaulted by a member of your school sporting team, would you want to cheer for them when they played? Would you expect your school to uphold your rights over those of your attacker? If the school failed to uphold your rights, would you then expect the courts to find in your favour if you sued? The answers to these questions should be obvious, but this is not an exercise in rhetorical questioning.