Issue 901

News

EMERGENCY OCCUPY SYDNEY PROTEST AT THE SUPREME COURT Defend our right to protest! The NSW police are taking Occupy Sydney organisers to the Supreme Court on November 4 to try to ban our planned march through the Sydney CBD.
The next “Freedom Wave” to Gaza is on its way. Sydney based youth worker Michael Coleman joins delegates from several countries on the Canadian boat Tahrir as it sets sail for Gaza.
The statement below has been officially endorsed by the general assemblies of Occupy Brisbane, Occupy Melbourne and Occupy Sydney. Read more coverage on the Occupy movement here. * * *
The second Sunday forum of the Free University of Occupied Brisbane discussed “creative forms of protest” on October 30 in Post Office Square. Phil Monsour from Justice for Palestine talked about the boycott divestment and sanctions campaign against apartheid Israel.
Despite the police brutality faced by Occupy Melbourne protesters just over a week before during their eviction from City Square, Occupy Melbourne returned to the streets on October 29. About 500 occupiers assembled at the State Library with the same anti-corporate message and a louder voice. After the meeting at the State Library, there was a march to Treasury Gardens where the general assembly (GA) was held. During the march, the numbers swelled to 1000 or more.
Occupy Perth released the statement below on October 28. * * * Perth activists are currently occupying Forrest Place in the centre of the CBD. The 100 protesters who have committed to staying the night are calling for an end to corporate greed and for the rise of a real and transparent democracy. The police have informed the group that so long as they do not erect any other permanent structures they will not be moved on.
About 1000 people took part in a march on the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Perth on October 28. The peaceful march and rally involved people from many different movements and causes who united under the banner: “Justice and climate action, not racism and war.
NSW secondary and primary public school teachers will stop work for two hours on November 2 to consider any salary offer from the state government. Should no fair and reasonable offer be made, the meetings will consider taking a 24-hour strike at the end of November. The NSW Teachers Federation (NSWTF) is demanding Barry O’Farrell’s government begin good faith negotiations immediately. The federation has proposed an offer, but the Liberal state government has failed to respond or begin negotiations for a new salaries award.
A powerful art exhibition took place in Brisbane over October 15-23, commemorating the 10th anniversary of the SIEV-X tragedy on October 19, 2001, in which 353 asylum seekers, including 146 children, drowned when their fishing boat sank between Indonesia and Australia. The exhibition featured the works of Melbourne-based artist Kate Durham, under the title, "SIEV-X — and some were saved". It included a supporting exhibition of paintings by artists from refugee communities who came to Australia by boat, titled “Floating”.
In the wake of acts of self-harm and protests by detained refugees, people in Darwin gathered to show their support for a more humane refugee solution. Twenty people rallied outside the offices of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) on October 26 to call for and end to mandatory detention and oppose the proposed new detention centre at Wickham Point.
Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) members in the Australian Taxation Office have voted to reject management's latest proposed enterprise agreement. As a result, the CPSU has launched a campaign for a "no" vote in the all-staff ballot to take place over November 9-15. Management is still offering a pay rise of only 9% over three years. The CPSU has produced posters highlighting the discrepancy between this 3% a year offer to workers and the 58% rise that Tax Commissioner Michael D'Ascenzo has sought from the Remuneration Tribunal.
The Araluen Spirit crew took strong action on Thursday 27 October in defence of Australian shipping jobs. At the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) National Council on 27 October, the Council resolved the following in support of the Araluen Spirit crew: National Council Resolution on Araluen Spirit Stoppage
The Caroona Coal Action Group released the statement below on October 27. * * * Landowners from communities across the Liverpool Plains have been forced to take direct action against the mining giant Santos to stop it pushing ahead with ‘pilot production’ of coal seam gas (CSG) before the potential risks to the region’s iconic water systems are known.
About 40 people gathered on the outskirts of Villawood detention centre for a nighttime vigil on October 26 to commemorate the death of a Tamil refugee detainee who had taken his own life that morning. The gathering included refugee activists, members of the Tamil community and friends of Daya Jayasakara, or “Shooty”, as he was known. Shooty had been in detention for two years after arriving in Australia by boat seeking asylum. He had been granted refugee status several months earlier and was waiting for ASIO security clearance.
Teachers say the Barry O’Farrell Coalition state government has divulged its plans to cut TAFE wages and conditions and then likely privatise it by splitting TAFE teachers away from the collective bargaining power of their primary and secondary teacher colleagues. Education minister Adrian Piccoli introduced changes to the TAFE commission act into the NSW parliament on October 11 without notice or consultation with the New South Wales Teachers Federation (NSWTF).
A groundswell of support for the campaign against a proposed open cut coalmine is taking place in Victoria’s Bacchus Marsh area and beyond. This growing support for the No New Coal in Bacchus Marsh campaign was on display at a recent public meeting in the town, where a lawyer from the Environment Defenders Office spoke to a packed hall on the legal implications of mining and what can be done to stop the present exploratory drilling and proposed mine.
Occupy Sydney activists organised a protest outside the Qantas shareholders conference on October 28 at the University of New South Wales in support of Qantas workers struggling for decent wages and job security. Peter Somerville, the general manager of the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association, which is embroiled in a battle with Qantas management over job outsourcing and a new enterprise agreement, had addressed Occupy Sydney’s rally in Martin Place on October 22.

Analysis

On October 18, about 200 students held a “Save Political Economy” demonstration at the University of Sydney, organised by the Political Economy Students Society (EcopSoc). The university administration is considering abolishing political economy as a separate department. The department was established in the 1970s after a big campaign of protests and occupations by students and staff who wanted economics courses that taught a wide range of theories — not just the right-wing orthodoxy.
The decision by Qantas management to ground the airline's fleet and look out its workforce has caused uproar around the country. However, the mainstream media have overwhelmingly focused on the position and arguments publicly put by Qantas CEO Alan Joyce.
Some conservative commentators have declared the global Occupy movement to be “socialist”. Right-wing activist and musician Ted Nugent said in the Washington Times on October 14: “Occupy Wall Street is nothing more than anti-American socialism on parade... “These useful idiots are clamoring for social justice, as if they don’t have enough of that already.”
Prime Minister Julia Gillard met Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa on October 26 to discuss allegations of human rights abuses. The meeting took place just hours after a young Tamil refugee killed himself inside Sydney’s Villawood Immigration Detention Centre.
See all of Green Left's extensive Occupy coverage here I joined Resistance just over a month ago and when I heard Sydney would join the Occupy Together movement, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. From my understanding, Australia wasn’t experiencing even comparable economic conditions to the United States and while I certainly believed our system needs fundamental change I was a little sceptical about the effectiveness of these Occupy movements to say the least.
Jess Moore from Stop CSG Illawarra addressed Occupy Sydney at Martin Place on October 22. Moore, who is also a member of the Socialist Alliance, was awared the NSW Nature Conservation Council's Rising Star award for "the most outstanding environmental effort of an individual under 30". Her speech appears below. * * * To increase the wealth of the already astoundingly wealthy, the tiny few, the planet that sustains all life is being destroyed. As the world’s leading climatologist James Hansen said, this is our last chance to save humanity.
Warren Smith, assistant secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia, addressed Occupy Sydney at Martin Place on October 22. His speech appears below. * * * Some people have been asking why the Maritime Union of Australia is here today, why we’ve been here since day one, why we have given the support and solidarity that we have, and will continue to give, to this wonderful movement right around Australia and right around the world.
Renowned political theorist and writer Noam Chomsky spoke to Occupy Boston on October 22. Below is an abridged transcript of his comments. See all of Green Left's extensive Occupy coverage here * * * It’s pretty hard to give a talk for the Howard Zinn memorial lecture at an Occupy meeting. There are mixed feelings that necessarily go along with it. First of all regret that Howard is not here to take part in, and invigorate in his inimitable way, something that would have been the dream of his life.
See all of Green Left's extensive Occupy coverage here The global Occupy movement has inspired huge numbers of Australians who have grown chronically disengaged with the political game-playing of the two big parties and an economic system that puts profit before people and the planet.
Australian police in two cities now have decided to follow in the footsteps of their counterparts in the US and Europe and forcibly break up peaceful Occupy protests. But rather than deter this broad non-partisan movement of the 99%, it is helping it grow and re-occupy.
Annie Leonard is the creator of the Story of Stuff project, a series of animated films that discuss our pressing social, environmental and economic concerns and the effort to build a more sustainable and just world. Her films include the Story of Stuff (see below), the Story of Electronics and the Story of Cosmetics among others. Her new film, The Story of Broke: Why there is still plenty of money to build a better future, will be released on November 8. Check out the teaser below.

World

Israeli has launched a series of air strikes on the Gaza Strip since October 29. ABC.net.au reported on November 2 that Israel was preparing its military for a ground assault on the besieged territory — home to about 1.5 million Palestinians. At least 11 Palestinians have been killed, ABC.net.au said. Officials on both sides said at least seven members of Palestinian group Islamic Jihad (JI) had been killed,
A victory was achieved by the anti-memorandum, anti-government movement on October 28. It was commemoration day of the resistance to the German occupation of Greece, which started in 1940. Across the whole country, the traditional student and military march was turned into an event of protest against the new occupation of Greece being enforced by the “troika” of the International Monetary Fund, the European Central and and the European Union. See also Greek people resist new troika attacks
The October 23 declaration of Libya’s “liberation” by the National Transitional Council (NTC), the de-facto government since taking Tripoli from former dictator Muammar Gaddafi on August 21, was a showcase victory for the West’s vision of how the Arab democratic awakening should progress. An uprising began in Libya on February 17 — part of the popular rebellion that has broken out against dictatorial regimes across the Arab world. The Gaddafi regime's brutal repression — carried out with Western-supplied weapons — meant the rising turned into a civil war.
The article below is an abridged US Socialist Worker editorial in response to United States President Barack Obama's October 21 announcement that all US soldiers would be withdrawn from Iraq by the end of the year. * * * More than a million Iraqis dead. Nearly 5000 US military personnel killed, and about 32,000 more maimed, physically and psychologically. About US$4 trillion spent on war ― money that could have paid for schools, health care and programs to create jobs.
Serious flooding in Thailand has affected millions of people. Houses, property and infrastructure have been seriously damaged. Factories and workplaces have been closed and hundreds of thousands of people have become temporarily unemployed. Agricultural land has been flooded, leading to further loss of incomes. Millions of people who are living modest lives will have their incomes and savings drastically lowered and the economy will be dragged down. The waters are predicted to remain high for at least a month.
The Philippines, one of the poorest Asian nations with a huge foreign debt ― caused by successive corrupt governments ― remains a place of simmering class tension. In the past six weeks, there have been mobilisations around a range of issues. On October 11, there was a national day of action against rising energy costs. There were protests right across the archiapelago. Residents turned off their power for half-an-hour and created a “noise barrage” with whistles and horns.
In September, Green Left Weekly spoke to Mamdouh Habashi and Dr Muhammad Hesham, members of the Egyptian Socialist Party (ESP), about developments in Egypt since the popular uprising overthrew dictator Hosni Mubarak on February 11. The ESP is one of several new parties formed since Mubarak's ouster. A longer version of this interview can be found at ThawraEyewitness.blogspot.com. * * * What is the role of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF, who has been in power since Mubarak's ousting)?
The Party of Wall Street has ruled unchallenged in the United States for far too long. It has totally dominated the policies of presidents over at least four decades (if not longer). It has legally corrupted Congress via the craven dependency of politicians in both parties upon its money and upon access to the mainstream media it controls.
A 50% cut of part of Greece’s debt was decided on by a summit of European leaders on October 26. The deal will entail long-term austerity measures being enforced on the Greek people. Representatives of the “troika” (the European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund — IMF) will be permanently placed in all Greek ministries to supervise how things are run. If they manage to impose it on Greece, this new form of occupation will likely spread to other countries. See also
Amid the worldwide media coverage of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi’s death, a historic development in another conflict went largely unnoticed. After more than 40 years of a military campaign against the Spanish state, the Basque armed group ETA announced a permanent end to its use of violence in the struggle for an independent and socialist Basque state. This follows previous announcements from the group, declaring a desire to pursue independence for the Basque Country through peaceful measures.
The whistleblowing website WikiLeaks sits on the precipice. With it sits freedom of expression and freedom of the press — two fundamental human rights encapsulated in the charter of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. WikiLeaks is under a series of attacks and could be forced to close some time next year if it is unable to break a United States-backed financial blockade, editor-in-chief Julian Assange said on October 24.
Thousands of palm oil workers in the Puerto Wilches district, Colombia, were on general strike on October 27. The workers were defending collective bargaining and opposing the spread of casualisation and precarious work on palm oil farms. In early August, a major company, Palmas Oleaginosas Bucarelia, refused to enter into meaningful negotiations with the agricultural workers’ union Sintrainagro for the renewal of the collective agreement. Bucarelia instead proposed to cut benefits, restrict union activity on the farm and increase precarious work through more use of outsourced labour.
Support for the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement that has swept more than 100 cities in the United States is rising among current and former members of the US military. The support from former and current soldiers for the Occupy movement against corporate greed was brought into the spotlight when Iraq War veteran Scott Olsen suffered a fractured skull after being shot in the head by a tear gas canister fired by Oakland police on October 25.
In what conservative columnists are describing as a martyrdom for Christian lefties, the iconic “jeans and T-shirt” canon chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral in London, Reverend Rev Dr Giles Fraser, has resigned in protest as the cathedral moves to evict Occupy London from its steps. Fraser, a lecturer in philosophy at Wadham College, Oxford, has written for a number of radical newspapers including the Socialist Worker. Fraser advocates for marriage equality and understands the Christian message to mean solidarity with the oppressed.

Culture

For a lighthearted look at some of the difficulties and frustrations with the democratic process of the Occupy movement, have a look at The Meeting: A Democratic Satire, by Kahtia Lontis. It is described as "a short satirical fiction piece based on the painful process of grassroots democracy". It is something anyone who has taken part in the movement could identify with.
Inside Al-Qaeda and the TalibanM By Syed Saleem Shahzad Pluto Press, 2011 260 pp., $39.95 Deadly Waters, The Hidden World of Somalia’s Pirates By Jan Bahadur Scribe, 2011 300 pp., $29.95 The Interrogator, A CIA Agent’s True Story By Glenn Carle Sribe, 2011 321 pp., $32.95 The Wizard of Lies, Bernie Madoff & the Death of Trust By Diana B. Henriques Scribe, 2011 419 pp., $35.00
Inside Pine Gap: The Spy Who Came in from the Desert By David Rosenberg Hardie Grant Books, 2011 216 pages, $35 (pb) David Rosenberg found 1960s television show Mission Impossible “irresistible” with its patriotic tales of high-tech US government spies thwarting the “bad guys”. After an 18-year career as a US National Security Agency (NSA) electronic signals analyst at the CIA’s Pine Gap spy base in Australia’s remote interior, Rosenberg’s book, Inside Pine Gap, makes it clear that he has yet to grow up.
Bad as Me Tom Waits ANTI- Records www.tomwaits.com Listen to the album here Tom Waits, the 61-year-old veteran musical maverick, released his first album of entirely new music in seven years on October 25. The 17th studio album by famously rough-voiced California-based singer, who was inducted into the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame by Neil Young this year, continues his obsession with telling tales from the wrong side of the tracks.

Editorial

See also: Unions respond to lock out: 'This is blackmail' Occupy Sydney supports Qantas workers Unions stand up to Qantas management All of Green Left's extensive Occupy coverage “I don't understand what the Occupy protests are all about,” is one common complaint in response to the global movement against corporate power.

Fighting Fund

The ABC’s Q & A program on October 24 was the first to discuss the Occupy movement sweeping the world. Reportedly there are now occupations in 2200 cities. It revealed why the politicians that represent the richest 1% have no credibility any more.

Letters

Justice for West Papua I write to express my deep distress at the recent brutal attacks and killings by the Indonesian military in West Papua. While the Australian government and people should strive for good relations with Indonesia, this should not at the expense of Australia covering up, excusing, condoning or abetting human rights violations and repression in West Papua. The Indonesian army has a long, sordid history of abuses and other appalling actions in East Timor and elsewhere and is still pursuing these same brutal, oppressive policies in West Papua.