Issue 892

News

Max Brenner Chocolate in Newtown, Sydney was targeted on August 20 by pro-Palestinian protesters (see video below) in support of the global boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel. The large Israeli company that owns the Max Brenner Chocolate chain has been targetted by the non-violent BDS campaign against Israeli apartheid because it sponsors an Israeli army unit notorious for its repression of Palestinians.
About 100 supporters rallied in persistent rain at Sylvia Creek, in the Toolangi State Forest north-east of Melbourne, to protest logging operations by Vic Forests. The supporters joined locals and forest campaigners who have been blockading the 19-hectare “Gunbarrel” coupe for five weeks.
The people of Koonawarra, Berkeley, Warrawong and Port Kembla are being neglected while redevelopments such as the Blue Mile (a foreshore development around Wollongong harbour) and $14 million Wollongong mall makeover soak up limited funds, say Community Voice Ward 3 candidates for council elections Adrianne Talbot-Thomson and Ken Davis. “Council’s city-centric approach needs to be replaced with a more geographically equitable distribution of resources, services and projects,” said Talbot-Thomson.
Angeline Loh, who works with the Malaysian human rights groups ALIRAN, will join close to a dozen international guest speakers at the World at a Crossroads, Climate Change Social Change Conference, which will be held at the University of Melbourne over September 30 to October 3.
After a screening of Gasland on August 10 attracted 60 people to Armidale’s Progressive Cinema, more than 30 people stayed after the film to discuss what to do locally. Carmel Flint, from the Northern Inland Council for the Environment, alerted those present to plans for coal seam gas mining in the Pilliga forest south of Narrabri and new coalmines endangering native forests. The meeting decided to form a local action group to stop coal and coal seam gas mining on agricultural land, as well as in native forests.
Quarantine staff at Australia's international airports walked off the job for four hours on August 19. The action was part of a campaign by Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) members working in the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) to win a better enterprise agreement. The strike caused some delays at the airports, and affected cargo inspections, the release of imported goods and the x-ray screening of international mail.
Close to 1000 people turned out on August 14 for a rally to “Save the Kimberley”. Musicians entertained the crowd in between speakers from environment groups and Indigenous communities. The protest was called by local group Country Calling in support of the campaign to prevent a natural gas processing facility being built at James Price Point, called Walmadan by the Indigenous people of the area. The point is on the Dampier Peninsula near Broome, Western Australia, in the famous Kimberley wilderness region.
Dart Energy company executives, accompanied by their minders, were roasted at a 200-strong Town Hall community meeting on August 16 in the inner city suburb of St Peters. Dart is the coal seam gas company with a licence to explore for coal seam gas under the whole of the Sydney basin. Dart CEO Robbert de Weijer unsuccessfully tried to allay community fears about a number of issues. He argued it was “unlikely” drilling would even happen in St Peters and that the company doesn’t use the controversial fracking (hydraulic fracturing) process or BTEX chemicals (Benzine and similar toxins).
A Rohingyan Burmese asylum seeker faced Darwin Magistrates court on August 15, charged with assaulting a Serco employee at the Nothern Immigration Detention Centre (NIDC) early on August 12. Serco is the private prison corporation that runs Australia’s immigration jails. The refugee was involved, with two others, in a two-hour peaceful protest earlier that night. He has been in detention for 21 months. The immigration department has granted him refugee status, but for more than a year he has been waiting for an ASIO security clearance.
A group of about 50 protesters chanted “No coal seam gas! No fracking way!” outside the Queensland Gas Conference at the Brisbane Convention Centre on August 17. The rally, which coincided with “People's Day” at the Ekka (the Brisbane Exhibition Show Day), was organised by the Stop CSG Brisbane Committee. It indicated the strong public opposition to the threat the expanding coal seam gas industry poses to land, water and the environment.
In an exciting development in the South Australian climate action scene, a range of groups have united to campaign for Australia’s first concentrated solar thermal power plants in Port Augusta, about four hours north of Adelaide. The Adelaide Moving Planet Organising Collective includes representatives from the Australian Youth Climate Coalition, the Conservation Council of South Australia, the Climate Emergency Network of South Australia, the Young Greens, the Socialist Alliance and Resistance.
Putty valley residents organising against coal seam gas mining in their community, about 150 kilometres northwest of Sydney, released the statement below on August 15. It first appeared on the Putty Gasbag blog. * * * About 50 people were at a protest against coal seam gas on a private property on Putty Road on Sunday August 14. The ABC chopper landed in the paddock to the cheers of the placard-waving crowd.
Video footage and photos of the unfurling of the giant "Enough Is Enough: Stop Coal & Gas Expansion" banner by two activists who abseiled down the front of the hotel where mining company executives were meeting to plan the wholesale exploitation of NSW even at the cost of communities and the environment. This was the highlight of a protest organised by Lock The Gate, an alliance of urban and rural groups opposing coal seam gas mining.
A new picket line was set up on August 10 to defend Melbourne’s only Indigenous school, Ballerrt Mooroop College (BMC) in Glenroy. The day before, electricity was cut to the school gym and the locks were changed as the education department announced that the school gym/community hall (which is a traditional gathering place), the spirit tree and the ceremonial grounds would be demolished to make way for the Glenroy Specialist School (GSS) to come on the site, leaving the BMC with only a few classrooms.
The Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney released the statement below on August 15. * * * The Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney (STICS) has welcomed the release last week of The Land Holds Us, a report by Amnesty International. The report recommends the provision of government support and services for all Aboriginal Homelands and documents gross neglect and under-funding.

Analysis

After the riots in Britain, magistrates were advised to “disregard normal sentencing” when examining the cases of people involved. The result of this is a rapid rate of convictions and a complete lack of proportion between the crimes committed and the sentences delivered.
You’ll never guess which political party sat and watched while the Aboriginal incarceration rate sky-rocketed. We heard it on the radio. And we saw it on the television. Report after report, and promises delivered by talking politicians. But while this was occurring, Aboriginal people wallowed inside this nation’s jails and detention centres, their futures cast by a system that jails them at staggeringly disproportionate rates. It’s a problem that cripples our families, and our communities, and is as complex as it is troubling.
Magdalena Sitorus, head of Friends of Indonesian Children and Women, and solicitor Edwina Lloyd spoke at a forum on people smuggling on August 15, hosted by Indonesian Solidarity at Amnesty International’s Sydney offices. Sitorus provided background on the status of children in Indonesian law. That day Lloyd had represented an Indonesian boy imprisoned on a charge of people smuggling, at his first age determination hearing at Bankstown Court. So many people are facing people smuggling charges in Indonesia that Monday is known as “people smuggling day”, she said.
In the US earlier this year, there were 351 anti-abortion bills making their way through state legislative bodies. In 2010, 174 anti-abortion bills were filed in state legislatures.
As far as I can figure out, watching the recent reports of stock markets making their bid for this year’s World Yo-Yo Championships, it works like this: if a bunch of rich bastards with too much money think shares will go up, they will go up; if the rich bastards think they will go down, they will go down. And, among other things, this is how they determine whether we can afford to retire. The Sydney Morning Herald said on August 7 that stock market plunges had wiped $30 billion from Australian superannuation funds over the past six weeks.
Federal Labor MP Anna Burke captured the Gillard government’s increasingly right-wing refugee policy when she said plans to reopen the Manus Island detention centre in Papua New Guinea would be “going back to something we said we wouldn’t do, which is the Pacific solution”. Burke told ABC news on August 15 she had raised concerns in caucus about an overseas detention centre as well as the “Malaysia solution”, which faces a legal challenge in the High Court and could also be subject to a parliamentary inquiry.
The following message was received by Indymedia from within Curtin Detention Centre with a request that it posted on the site. Please circulate this cry for help and solidarity amongst your networks. * * *
Australian Marriage Equality released the statement below on August 16. * * * Christian leaders join campaign for equality. A national opinion poll has found a majority of Australian Christians believe same-sex couples should be allowed to marry and several mainstream Christian ministers have spoken out in favour of the reform.
Fourteen Australian-based Palestine solidarity groups released the statement below on August 13. * * * We the undersigned call on the Victorian Consumer Affairs Minister Michael O'Brien to withdraw allegations he made singling out several pro-Palestine advocacy groups* calling for them to be investigated by the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) for an alleged suspicion that they may be involved in “secondary boycotts” against Israeli-owned businesses in Australia. See also:

World

There will be no tears for the end of the Gaddafi regime, if that is indeed what we are watching. The Gaddafi regime was a brutal dictatorship and it deserved to be overthrown just as much as that of Ben Ali’s in Tunisia or Mubarak’s in Egypt. But, unlike the defeat of Ben Ali or Mubarak, the end of the Gaddafi has not been brought about mainly by a popular revolutionary rising. It has been brought about by a military victory in a civil war in which the rebel side has become largely dependent on western military fire power.
The eastern African nation of Somalia is the site of an unfolding humanitarian nightmare ― a massive famine that has cost tens of thousands of Somali lives in the past few months, the United Nations says. More than 3 million people are affected right now and more than 10 million at risk across the Horn of Africa. The BBC said on August 6 that roughly 640,000 children are acutely malnourished in Somalia, and 3.2 million people need immediate life-saving assistance.
A leaked report from the notorious Indonesian special forces unit Kopassus detailing information about the West Papuan independence movement has drawn attention to Indonesia's brutal occupation of the region. The report is titled “Anatomy of Papuan Separatists” and is believed to have been written in 2009. It profiles opponents of Indonesian rule, including political activists and guerilla fighters. It also listed foreign politicians and journalists who supported Papuan liberation.
In a move that will provide important savings for low-income families, the Venezuelan government unveiled a plan on August 15 to distribute 12 million new textbooks to primary school students around the country in the coming scholastic year. Education minister Maryann Hanson said: “The objective of this program is to ensure that those with less economic resources can count on having textbooks in order to guarantee education as an inalienable human right.” The new textbooks represent an investment of more than US$45 million.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said that his government would nationalise the exploration and exploitation of gold and related activities, AVN said on August 17. Chavez said: "I will soon propose an enabling law so as to begin taking control of the gold area and I expect you to support me, because anarchy rules in this zone, there are mafias, smuggling. "This is a great wealth, one of the world’s largest. There is plenty of gold, precious stones, diamonds, bauxite and iron in Guyana.
Egyptian scholar and researcher Samir Amin spoke with Hassane Zerrouky on the Arab revolts that have broken out this year, for L'Humanite. The interview was translated by Yoshie Furuhashi for www.mrzine.org . Abridged version appears below. What's happening in the Arab world six months after the fall of dictator Ben Ali in Tunisia?
On August 19, a Taliban suicide squad attacked the Kabul offices of the British Council, a government-funded institution that “promotes educational and cultural relations” between Britain and other countries. The August 20 Guardian said at least 12 people were killed, including a New Zealand SAS soldier and three “security contractors” working for multinational security outfit G4S. The company was contracted to guard the offices. Six G4S employees were wounded, including three Nepalese, veterans of the British Army’s Gurkha regiments.
United States officials led a far-reaching international campaign aimed at keeping former Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide exiled in South Africa, secret US State Department cables show. Aristide, who won the 2000 presidential elections, was rendered a virtual prisoner for the past seven years. Aristide was overthrown in a bloody February 2004 coup supported by Washington and fomented by right-wing paramilitary forces and the Haitian elite.
On August 18, as I woke up to the news of an attack that took place in Israel's southernmost city of Eilat in which seven Israelis died, the first thing that came to my mind was: “Who the hell did  it?” As my brother excitedly narrated to me the details of the oddly mysterious incident, I was foolish enough to wish the assailants weren’t from Gaza. I naively said to my brother: “Let’s hope they don’t turn out to be Gazans.”
On a warm spring day, strolling in south London, I heard demanding voices behind me. A police van disgorged a posse of six or more, who waved me aside. They surrounded a young black man who, like me, was ambling along. They appropriated him; they rifled his pockets, looked in his shoes, inspected his teeth. Their thuggery affirmed, they let him go with the barked warning there would be a next time. See also: After the riots, poor repressed, criminalised
People who love to scream about stern discipline are having a fantastic time in post-riot Britain. My favourite was a man on a Radio 5 phone-in, who ended his rant by yelling: “I TELL you how little discipline there is. My son gets homework and he’s allowed to do it ON HIS COMPUTER. “We need to GET BACK to PENCIL and PAPER!” And you felt that if you suggested “What about pen and paper?”, he’d shriek “NO! NOT PEN, YOU BLOODY LIBERAL. PENCIL! They have to SHARPEN pencils, it teaches them DISCIPLINE!”
Chile is becoming a part of the global movement of youth that is transforming the world bit by bit. Weeks of demonstrations and strikes by Chilean students came to a head on August 9, as an estimated 100,000 people poured into the streets of Santiago. Joined by professors and educators, they demanded a free education for all from primary school to university. Police fired tear gas canisters into the crowds and 273 people were arrested.
Living in north London, I often travel via the interchange in Tottenham. Walking between stations I found myself on Ferry Lane Bridge on the evening of August 14, the spot where Mark Duggan was shot by police on August 4. It was the police response to community protests on August 6 demanding answers to Duggan's shootings that sparked days of rioting. The memorial is unmissable. Tens of bunches of flowers and a great many cards, messages and personal items strewn across the bridge.
As I walked out of the tercera comiseria (police station based in the centre of Santiago) on August 4, it hit me what had transpired on this incredible day. All I could hear were the sounds of the cacerolazo, people beating pots and pans in protest, every street corner occupied by protesters who had erected barricades and lit bonfires. The echo of an updated song from the time of the Pinochet dictatorship sounding through the streets.

Culture

A son has just been born to me but I am in Afghanistan, when I was born my father fought the Viet-Cong in Vietnam.   My grandpa blazed Kokoda’s trail and stalled the ruthless Japanese, his father fell in World War I; a martyr in the Pyrenees.   His father fought the Afrikaans, I think in 1899, his father stopped the Chinese throngs from claiming gold in Daylesford’s mines.   We first came to Van Diemen’s Land way back in 1834, our forebear stole a block of cheese and thus was shipped to southern shores.   I’ll teach my son to hate them all:
With much fanfare, the AFL Peace Team (an Australian rules football team made up of Palestinian and Israeli players) has once again come to Australia to compete in the AFL International Cup running from August 12 to 27. Indeed, what can be more appealing for those of us who are passionate about peace in Israel-Palestine than to welcome this team of Palestinian and Israeli youth who have learned to play and interact not as enemies but as teammates?
Curator Vikki Riley opened Footprints of my Heart ― an exhibition of artwork by 20 refugees in the Darwin region ― on August 11. The exhibition ran at the Darwin Supreme Court from August 11 to 19. Many of the artists were still in detention, at the Northern Immigration Detention Centre, the Airport Lodge or the Asti Hotel under guard. Some of the artists were regarded as “high risk” by immigration authorities and were accompanied to the opening by three security guards each.
Disconnect: The Truth About Mobile-Phone Radiation, What the Industry Has Done to Hide It & How to Protect Your Family By Devra Davis Scribe, 2010 274 pages, $27.95 (pb) Meet SAM ― Standard Anthropomorphic Man. SAM is a big man and also the silent type who spends little time using his first-generation mobile phone held a safety-conscious half an inch from the ear. Safety standards for mobile phones have been based on SAM’s low exposure to mobile phone radio frequency radiation.

Fighting Fund

Most of us protesters were across the road from the Sofitel Wentworth luxury hotel in the heart of Sydney’s business district where the $900-a-head NSW Mineral Exploration and Investment Conference was underway on August 18. But a handful got into the conference hall and were able to hold up signs protesting coal seam gas mining. Two protesters also abseiled down the front of the hotel and, to a roaring cheer from the demonstrators, unfurled a giant banner that read: “Enough is enough/stop coal & gas expansion”.

Letters

Depression article ‘dangerous’ Although I would agree that “depression is a complex illness and capitalism is making its prevalence far worse”, the suggestion in GLW #888 that the core of these psychosocially manifest conditions is not biological and appropriately treated with medication is downright dangerous given that the suffering involved is so great that it drives many to suicide. If you want to be Marxist, demonstrate a little historical materialism please. Dr David Faber, Adelaide, SA