Issue 891

Australia

Protesters rallied across Australia on August 13 in support of equal marriage rights. In Sydney, protesters gathered at Town Hall. Below, is footage of the speech by Jade Wren Still Fierce, a group that campaigns for the rights of intersex, sex and/or gender diverse (ISGD) people, to the rally.

Below: Photos by Peter Boyle of the march that followed the Sydney rally.

Up to 400 people gathered in Queens Park here on August 13, as part of a national day of action for equal marriage rights.

The rally and march that followed were called for the seventh anniversary of the former Howard government's 2004 ban on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and intersex (LGBTI) people's legal right to marry.

August 12, 2011: For the last five days, Feli McHughes, Joel McHughes and Gregory Coffey from the Ngemba Billabong Restoration Project in Brewarrina, NSW, have been trying to hand over a $260,000 cheque to the head of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs.

On August 7, 50 sex and gender diverse and transgender people gathered in Petersham in Sydney’s inner west at a “Save the Drop-In” BBQ. The event was in response to the Gender Centre — the only community service provider for transgender people in Sydney — closed a cornerstone of its service: the weekly “Drop-In” service.

The drop-in attracted about 40 people each week. It was held in the evening and food was provided. The service accounted for 28% of the Gender Centre’s client contacts, according to the Centre’s 2010 annual report.

“Looking at racism and denial in Australia — do we have zero tolerance, or is it zero acknowledgement of racism?”

Race Discrimination Commissioner Graeme Innes asked this question in an August 9 address to the National Press Club in Canberra.

Police snatched four Palestine solidarity activists from their houses in the early hours of August 9. Arrested for allegedly breaching their bail conditions by attending a protest against Israeli apartheid outside a Max Brenner shop on July 29, the activists had to pay outrageously high bail sureties to be released.

Five activists from Anti-Nuclear NT (ANNT) gathered outside the offices of Energy Resources Australia (ERA) on August 9. They were congratulating the company on its decision to abandon plans to use acid heap leeching at its Ranger uranium mine in Kakadu national park.

Acid heap leeching uses thousands of tonnes of highly toxic acid to release uranium oxide from the soil. It would have sent hundreds of acid-filled trucks along the Northern Territory’s Stuart Highway each day.

The dilemma facing journalists in Australia today was addressed by Philip Castle, a veteran journalist for more than 30 years and Griffith University academic, at a public forum sponsored by Green Left Weekly at the Brisbane Activist Centre on August 9.

The forum, titled “Murdoch vs Assange: Media corruption versus the truth”, also heard from Jim McIlroy, a long-time correspondent for GLW.

On Hiroshima Day, on August 6, two events were held in Wollongong to remember the terrible events of 1945.

About 30 peace activists gathered around the Peace Plaque in the city mall to remember the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

This year, 30 people shared a one-minute silence at 8:15am, the time the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.

The organising collective for December’s “1Love: equality, marriage, freedom” conference in Sydney released the statement below on August 11.

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The first national conference to discuss the future and direction of the marriage equality campaign has been announced.

The grassroots campaign for marriage rights has been a great success to date — we have won civil unions in the ACT, three registration schemes and recognition of international same-sex marriages in Tasmania.

Friends of the Earth (FoE) has claimed a victory after company Mecrus Resources Pty Ltd removed coal and coal seam gas from its application for a resource exploration licence in Victoria.

FoE raised the alarm on August 5 about the company's application with the Department of Primary Industries to explore for a range of resources in south-western Victoria, including mineral sands, brown and black coal, coal bed methane (aka coal seam gas), gold, silver, platinum and other minerals.

By August 8, the company had removed coal and coal seam gas from the application.

Residents from the Putty Valley, 150 kilometres northwest of Sydney, are outraged at the news that coal seam gas drilling will begin in their rural community on August 15.

An August 10 statement on the Putty Gasbag website said residents heard about the drilling start date only after a local resident called mining company Dart Energy about a different matter.

Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) staff took industrial action for two hours from 3pm on August 11 over stalled enterprise agreement negotiations.

Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) members in DAFF walked off the job at about 40 sites across Australia for two hours in protest at the lack of progress with their pay claim.

The stoppage affected quarantine inspections at airports, meat inspections at abattoirs and other DAFF services.

The action followed a series of one-hour national stoppages the previous week.

Australian group Students for Palestine released the statement below on August 9.

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The Victorian Police and courts went to outrageous lengths to criminalise solidarity activism with Palestine on August 9. For the crime of attending a peaceful demonstration against Max Brenner chocolate store and its support for apartheid, four activists were snatched from their homes in the early hours of the day, locked in a holding cell, and made to pay a combined total of $16,000 in surety to be allowed to leave.

Kevin Bracken, the Victorian secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia, made this statement below in a personal capacity in response to the arrest of four Palestine solidarity activists on August 9.

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The heavy handed approach taken at the direction of the Victorian government to protesters condemning the Israeli oppression of the Palestinian people should be of concern to the community.

The rolling out of arcane legislation to stifle any criticism of the state of Israel is an attack on our right to free speech.

The Geelong and Region Trades and Labour Council released the statement below on August 10.

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“Supporters of free speech and our right to protest must condemn today’s early morning arrests of Palestine solidarity activists,” said Tim Gooden, secretary of Geelong Trades Hall.

See also:
Green Left rejects attempt to silence Palestine supporters
Baillieu tries to silence protest in Victoria

Green Left Weekly rejects the attempt by the Victorian government to criminalise supporters of Palestinian rights, Green Left coeditor Stuart Munckton said.

Melbourne palestine solidarity activists released the statement below on August 9.

See also:
Green left rejects attempts to silence Palestine supporters

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Pro-Palestine activists arrested in dawn raids
Police demand activists be held in custody for weeks

Raids carried out at dawn this morning by police have seen several pro-Palestine activists arrested, in the most severe crackdown on civil liberties in decades.

The Ward 1 campaign website of Community Voice, a ticket of community activists that will stand in the September 3 Wollongong City Council elections, released the statement below on August 9.

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Founding members of Stop Coal Seam Gas Illawarra, Jess Moore and Chris Williams, are standing with Community Voice as Ward 1 candidates in the forthcoming Wollongong City Council elections.

The statement published below was released on August 9 by Samah Sabawi on behalf of the Australians for Palestine steering committee.

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It has come to our attention that the Victorian Consumer Affairs Minister Michael O'Brien has singled out our organisation as well as a few others for investigation by the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) for an alleged suspicion that we may have been involved in ‘secondary boycotts’ against Israeli-owned businesses in Australia.

World

As I write these words, out-of-control hordes are swarming throughout downtown Manhattan.

Their disregard for human decency, for the sanctity of people’s homes, jobs, property and health is beyond anything seen since the Dark Ages.

These men and women, almost all of them white and disturbingly antiseptic for people living in a filthy and crowded city, are dressed in bizarre outfits.

Talking about the Supreme Court, how about a little history.

On June 15, 2009 the United States Supreme Court announced its decision to reject the request for a revision of the Cuban Five case.

The Cuban Five are Gerardo Hernandez, Antonio Guerrero, Ramon Labanino, Fernando Gonzalez, and Rene Gonzalez The five Cuban men jailed in the US for their role in collecting information on behalf of the Cuban government on potential terrorist acts by violent anti-Cuban groups in Miami.

US President Barack Obama's war on whistleblowers has suffered several setbacks.

Two high-profile prosecutions against whistleblowers failed and the mistreatment of alleged WikiLeaks source, military analyst Bradley Manning, has been confirmed.

The cases show a pattern of vindictive harassment against anyone involved in leaking information the US government deems “secret”.

These cases are part of a broader attack on the public's right to know what governments do behind closed doors.

Botswana has become the latest country to follow the Western powers in recognising the Benghazi-based Transitional National Council (TNC), set up by rebel forces opposed to Muammar Gaddafi's dictatorship, as the legitimate government of Libya, Mmegi said on August 12.

Meanwhile, the August 12 British Telegraph reported that Gaddafi’s regime in Tripoli was threatened by splits.

The family of Mark Duggan, shot dead by police in Tottenham on August 4 have called for a second postmortem to be carried out into the cause of his death.

Mark Duggan was shot dead by armed police in Ferry Lane, Tottenham Hale, on the evening of August 4 after the minicab in which he was travelling was stopped in a pre-planned operation.

The first postmortem suggested he had been shot twice, once in the arm and once in the chest.

Luz Smedbron ― a disabled mother of three originally from Ecuador ― and about a dozen housing rights advocates, stood together on Smedbrons' porch in Addison, Illinois on July 29.

With protest signs in hand, they chanted: "The people united, will never be defeated!"

DuPage County sheriffs moved in, but protesters stood their ground.

As news cameras arrived on the scene, the officers slunk back to their patrol cars, looking confused and embarrassed. They radioed for reinforcements.

This years global uprisings remind us how infectious the revolutionary spirit can be. In recent weeks, a social movement within Israel has sprung to life in an almost spontaneous manner.

A small housing protest that started on July 14 has swept hundreds of thousands of people into protest across the country.

As in many other countries, people in Israel face rapidly rising living costs and the privatisation of public assets.

Israel once saw itself as a welfare state (though its policies have been designed to benefit mainly the Jewish population since its inception).

As part of the “Don’t Dance for Israeli Apartheid” campaign in Ireland ― organized by the Irish Palestine Solidarity Committee (IPSC) ― activists in Dublin are protesting Irish dance troupe Riverdance’s decision to perform in Israel in September, ElectronicIntifada.net said on August 11.

IPSC is organising a protest on August 18 outside the Gaiety Theater ― “the final action in our series of ongoing protests before Riverdance heads to perform for Israeli  Apartheid”.

Dear Mr & Mrs Cameron,

Why did you never take the time to teach your child basic morality?

“Mob rule”. “Wanton destruction”. “Mindless thuggery”. “Sheer criminality”.

Media, politicians and police always say the same thing about urban riots.

Riots can spin out of control and engulf ordinary people. But that does not alter the fact that they are rooted in social oppression.

Criminals may take advantage of riots, but they do not cause them.

The events in Tottenham, Hackney, Croydon, Birmingham, Manchester, and a dozen other urban areas are not some sinister eruption of an underclass of criminals equipped with BlackBerries moving from one hot-spot to another.

Martin Ferris, Sinn Fein TD (member of the Dublin-based parliament, the Dail) for Kerry, visited Australia at the end of July.

Ferris spoke to hundreds of people at public meetings in Perth, Sydney and Melbourne on the economic crisis in Ireland. He also spoke on the struggle to reunify the six counties in Ireland's north still controlled by Britain with the 26 counties that make up the southern state.

Why is it that the same areas always erupt first, whatever the cause?

Pure accident? Might it have something to do with race and class and institutionalised poverty and the sheer grimness of everyday life?

The coalition politicians (including new New Labour, who might well sign up to a national government if the recession continues apace) with their petrified ideologies can’t say that because all three parties are equally responsible for the crisis.

They made the mess.

See also:

Analysis

Electrical Trades Union members around the country are currently voting for national and state union officials. The ballot goes from August 8-29.

Nationally, a team of Howard Worthing, former assistant Victorian secretary, and Greg Wilton, former Western Australia organiser, are challenging incumbent national secretary Peter Tighe and Allen Hicks, for the positions of national secretary and assistant national secretary respectively. Allen Hicks is former Queensland assistant secretary.

Reconnect ETU is running a full ticket against the Victorian incumbent leadership.

More than 100 community supporters, environmentalists and trade unionists assembled on the steps of Trades Hall in Melbourne to launch the “100,000 Australians” campaign.

A project of the Earthworker co-operative, the campaign seeks to build a cooperatively-owned factory making solar hot water systems in Morwell, Victoria.

The project is hoping for 100,000 Australians to join the Earthworker Cooperative at $20 a member to raise the $2 million needed for the “Eureka’s Future” factory machinery, fit-out and finish.

Tracker magazine — Evidently there is progress in Northern Territory prescribed communities. The Prime Minister has visited and she says so. The mainstream media report so. Indeed what the Prime Minister says is remarkably similar to what Jenny Macklin has been saying for some time: there is progress.

When the right-wing press isn’t hacking the voicemail of murdered teenagers, much of its energy goes to denouncing “green extremists”. You know, the ones who’d destroy our economy just to claw back a few tonnes of greenhouse emissions.

So what would Rupert Murdoch, Andrew Bolt and their whole tribe prefer be done, in practice and in the near term, to stop global warming? Let’s be honest — nothing.

Cutting emissions, they implicitly argue, will inevitably cost more than if society lets carbon polluters get on with what they do best.

We all know there’s a big problem with the environment and it needs drastic action to fix it. So does a Marxist analysis of the problem bring anything new to the table?

Marxism redefines the terms of the mainstream environmental debate. Instead of seeing the problem as one of humans versus nature, the problem is framed as one where humans and nature are intrinsically linked and ecological crises arise in which the relationship between the two is thrown into imbalance.

About 200 people have arrived on boats to claim refugee protection in Australia since the Australian and Malaysian governments signed a deal to “swap” refugees on July 25. The countries agreed to exchange up to 800 refugees in Australia for 4000 refugees registered with the United Nations in Malaysia.

The immigration department has refused to look at the new arrivals’ claims for asylum, but is holding them in an isolated compound of the Christmas Island detention centre. A boat that arrived on August 11 carried more than 100 refugees, many of them children.

In 1998, the UN hosted a special session on illegal drugs which set out to implement law enforcement control strategies in the hope of creating a “drug free” world. Today, it is generally recognised that this policy has been an abject failure. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime stated in a 2011 report that the “overall number of drug users appears to have increased over the last decade from 180 to some 210 million people”.

Distinguished US activist, writer and former political prisoner Angela Davis addressed a public forum in Sydney on August 11 organised by the prisoner rights group Sisters Inside.

Davis was a keynote speaker at Sisters Inside's sixth International Conference on the criminalisation of women and imprisonment, held in Sydney over August 10 to 12.

Her speech at the August 11 public forum is below.

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Boycott Israel 19, August 11 - Israeli activists from the pro boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign in Israel issued the statement below on August 11 in support of Australian pro-Palestine activists in Melbourne who have faced arrests and intimidation from the Victorian government.

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Following anti-Democratic Arrests and Intimidation Attempts: Israeli Citizens in Solidarity with Australian BDS Activists!

The Socialist Alliance released the statement below on August 10.

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Our right to demonstrate in support Palestinian human rights must be protected.

Millions of people across the Middle East have been protesting for freedom of speech and freedom to protest, while in Victoria, the Ted Baillieu Coalition government is proceeding to criminalise political protest, particularly protest in support of Palestinian human rights.

See also:

Letters

Australia’s dirty future

Australian taxpayers, at their own expense, are receiving copies of the Labor government’s 20-page document entitled “Clean energy future, What a carbon price means to you”.

Unfortunately this scientifically-illiterate document contains a falsehood of commission or omission on nearly every page.

Resistance!

Resistance will host the Melbourne campaign launch for Wear It Purple on August 27.

Wear It Purple is an organisation which looks out for the interests of young people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI), and runs numerous campaigns around homophobic bullying, particularly in high schools.

Culture

Inspired by Brisbane flash mob actions in support of the “boycott, divestment and sanctions” campaign against Israel, I hunted for songs to adapt and use here in Newcastle.

I came across flash mobs action around Australia, France and the US. And then I came across a song, that rocked me way back to the early '80s. “The” song in the era of action against South Africa’s apartheid was “Free Nelson Mandela” by English ska band The Specials.

“Freedom for Palestine” by British-based collective Oneworld is the equivalent for our era of action against Israel’s apartheid practices.

The Bob Marley songbook is bursting with eloquent social protest, exposing the poverty, oppression and injustice endured by inhabitants of the “developing” world.

“Burning and Looting”, for example: “This morning I woke up in a curfew. O my God I was a prisoner too … Could not recognise the faces standing over me, they were all dressed in uniforms of brutality.”

Forming in New York City around 1990, The Casualties started out with an idea to return to the “Golden Age” of street punk, something they felt had been on sharp decline since the mid 1980s.

Having racked up eight full length albums, three EPs, three live albums and countless miles in the tour van, The Casualties continue to enjoy success more than 20 years after their inception.

The band is touring Australia in September. Green Left Weekly's Chris Peterson caught up with them for a bite-sized interview.

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Contested Territory
11- 28 August 2011
Curated by Luisa Velasco
At the Vanishing Point gallery,
565 King Street, Newtown, Sydney
www.atthevanishingpoint.com.au

Contested Territory explores ― through contemporary art ― narratives highlighting areas of dispute, particularly issues of land and human rights of the Israeli and Palestinian peoples in the Middle East.

At the same time, Contested Territory delves into the phenomenon of Islamophobia and our own historical and contemporary cultural disposition toward the fear of otherness.

Fighting Fund

The “free market” fanatics at the Productivity Commission have done their dirty job once again with their newly released Caring For Older Australians report. It would be more honestly titled Throw The Oldies To The Wolves because it follows vicious cuts to disabilities pensions.

We kid you not

British inequality growing

“A detailed and startling analysis of how unequal Britain has become offers a snapshot of an increasingly divided nation where the richest 10% of the population are more than 100 times as wealthy as the poorest 10% of society...

“The report, An Anatomy of Economic Inequality in the UK, scrutinises the degree to which the country has become more unequal over the past 30 years …