Issue 910

News

Climate action group No Planet B released the statement below on February 15. * * * Two people and a banner are suspended from the side of Black Mountain Tower in Canberra as part of a global day of action for Tasmania’s native forests threatened by logging giant Ta Ann.
The statement below was released by the Refugee Action Collective Victoria on February 14. *** As tensions once again rise at MITA (Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation) in Broadmeadows, an Iranian man, aged 28, stitched his lips up this morning (Monday) as a sign of desperation. He has been detained for 11 months.
Hundreds marched in Redfern on February 14 to commemorate the killing of T J Hickey during a police pursuit eight years ago and to protest all Aboriginal deaths in custody. There have been more than 400 Aboriginal deaths in custody since 1980 . That's one death in custody a month, or more than 13 deaths a year. Less than a third of the 339 recommendations handed down in 1991 by the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody have been implemented.
The Support Assange and WikiLeaks coalition released the statement below on February 14. * * * Linda Pearson, spokesperson for the Support Assange & WikiLeaks Coalition, announced today that Jennifer Robinson, Julian Assange’s principal lawyer, will attend a public forum at 6pm on Friday, 17 February at the University of Technology, Sydney.
Mike Crook, Socialist Alliance candidate for the seat of Sandgate in the March 24 Queensland state elections, released the statement below on February 10. *** The Socialist Alliance pledges its full support to the Queensland mining unionists engaged in industrial battle with Australia's biggest corporation, BHP Billiton. The company is now in line to make a full-year profit almost equal to that of the four big Australian banks combined.
Queensland coalminers will strike for a week from February 15 to step up the longstanding dispute with BHP Billiton over safety, wages and conditions. The company's seven coal mines in Queensland will be closed down after 15 months of negotiations broke down between the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union (CFMEU) and management. The BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) operates the mines. It is likely to lose up to 1 million tonnes in forgone or deferred production. The value of the coal production lost will total $200-300 million.
More than 500 people attended a dinner of the Australian Tamil Congress (ATC) on February 4. The ATC, formed in 2009, campaigns for the rights of Tamil people in Sri Lanka, who have been subject to discrimination, oppression and massacres at the hands of successive racist Sri Lankan governments since the independence of Sri Lanka in 1948.
The Darwin Asylum Seeker Support and Advocacy Network released the statement below on January 27. *** The Darwin Asylum Seeker Support and Advocacy Network (DASSAN) yesterday referred the names of 27 Vietnamese unaccompanied minors who are being detained at the Darwin Airport Lodge (DAL) to the Northern Territory Child Protection Services. Northern Territory law obliges people to alert the child protection services if they believe that a child has or is likely to suffer harm or exploitation. Harm is defined in the relevant legislation to include psychological or emotional harm.
A study of national hospital audit figures found Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who suffer a stroke had threefold odds of dying or becoming dependent as a result of lower post-stroke care. The study, conducted for the National Stroke Foundation, said: “Australian Indigenous patients with stroke received a reduced quality of care in hospitals and experienced worse outcomes than non-Indigenous patients.”
http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=109615" allowFullScreen="true" flashvars="offsite=true&lang=en-us&page_sh
About 40 people crowded into the Brisbane Activist Centre on February 7 for a Green Left Weekly public forum titled “The truth about the Aboriginal Tent Embassy”, presented by prominent Murri leader and Socialist Alliance Aboriginal affairs spokesperson Sam Watson. Watson was an activist at the Tent Embassy in Canberra in 1972, and attended the Embassy 40th anniversary commemoration over January 26-28.
“We can’t eat money, we need to save our future food,” seventh generation farmer Tim Duddy told a packed forum on February 6. Organised by the Sydney Food Fairness Alliance, the forum examined the impacts of coal and coal seam gas (CSG) activity on farming regions that make up Australia’s food bowl.
Inequalities are not only unjust: they literally make us sick. This was the conclusion reached by the sizeable turnout at Left Unity’s January 31 forum: “Inequality, Health, And Wellbeing: Why Inequality Is Bad For Us.” Much of Adelaide’s progressive community came together — Resistance and the Socialist Alliance, the Communist Party of Australia, the Adelaide Anti-Capitalist Forum, Occupy Adelaide, anarchists, and current and former members of the Greens — to hear why inequality has increased dramatically throughout the world over the past few decades.
The government has admitted that it is using both the Australian Federal Police and a private intelligence consultancy to monitor coal seam gas (CSG) protesters, say the Greens.
The WA state government finally rejected Vasse Coal’s proposal for a coal mine in Margaret River on February 7. The mine would have been built 15 kilometres from the town centre, directly beneath the river. Margaret River residents came out in force to oppose the proposal, as it posed a direct threat to water supply, biodiversity and air quality. Margaret River’s two main industries, agriculture and tourism, depend on the environmental health of the region.
Melbourne-based activist collective Quit Coal released the statement below on its website on February 6. * * * One Quit Coal activist has been released pending summons for “interfering with a motor vehicle” today after stopping drilling in Bacchus Marsh. Paul Connor locked himself to the top of Mantle Mining’s 8.5 metre-tall drill rig while hanging a banner that read “No New Coal Bacchus Marsh”.

Analysis

Industry groups, building industry spokespeople and opposition politicians have made full use of the Senate inquiry into proposed laws to abolish the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC). They’ve claimed that the Gillard government’s proposed changes will turn the laws against construction workers into a “toothless tiger”.
Supporters of a proposed deal between Nyoongar people and the WA state government say that it has the potential to “close the gap” between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people. Yet opponents say the deal is no good. The state government has proposed a deal that would put $60 million a year for 10 years into a trust fund . After the 10 years, the government says this “future fund”, would be used to develop “economic opportunities” for Aboriginal people.
She’s proposed nuclear explosions for open-cut mining, funded tours by climate deniers and called for bringing in cheap migrant labour to work her mines. Now Australia’s richest person, Gina Rinehart, has bought the largest individual stake in Fairfax Media, which runs the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and the Australian Financial Review, plus various radio stations and regional papers.
Now that both Kim Kardashian and Katy Perry's marriages are over, and things seem quiet on the Brangelina front, the corporate media have been reduced to feverish speculation over another B-Grade celebrity circus: who will lead the seemingly doomed Labor government? Will the skittish Labor caucus, freaked by polling data, stick with Julia Gillard or execute a dramatic reverse coup and bring back Kevin Rudd? Or will it be Wayne Swan or maybe that Simon someone-or-other who looks kinda familiar?
The Australian government is pushing to deport the first Afghan asylum seeker since it signed a deal with the Afghanistan government in January last year to allow Afghan asylum seekers to be returned against their will. But a February 7 report by Fairfax journalist Rory Callinan revealed that a flagship $8 million resettlement project for deported asylum seekers — funded by Australia in a province outside Kabul — had fallen into chaotic disrepair.
The Socialist Alliance released the statement below on February 9. * * * Socialist Alliance supports, and expresses its full solidarity with, the Syrian people’s democratic uprising against the tyrant Bashar al-Assad. We also condemn the interference by Western imperialist powers and the threats of military intervention. Further, we call on the Australian government to extract itself from the US alliance and its involvement in aggressive multinational military operations.
When I recently spoke to Christine Assange, I realised how passionate she is about truth, justice and a fair go for all. Her son is the Robin Hood of our times, taking information from the rich and giving it to the poor (from the 1% to the 99%). Award-winning journalist and WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange has long been a member of the Australian journalist union, the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA).
News Limited’s flagship newspaper, The Australian, said in a September 2010 editorial that it wanted the Greens to be “destroyed”. The paper’s latest attacks on Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon, which include allegations she held secret meetings with a high-level KGB spy 40 years ago, confirm that its editorial bias hasn’t budged an inch.
Renewing Sydney’s train fleet is far too important a matter to be left to the “free” market. On February 6 the NSW government announced it was going to pay $175 million in 2018 to bail out the failed Reliance Rail syndicate that has been contracted to build and maintain the new Waratah commuter trains for Sydney’s CityRail network. It's another failed Public Private Partnership (PPP), meaning more public money is poured into the coffers of financiers and speculators.

World

Hamza Kashgari, a Saudi Arabian newspaper columnist, was recently extradited from Malaysia to Saudi Arabia, where he had been arrested while trying to flee to New Zealand. An arrest warrant was issued in Saudi Arabia after Kashgari posted three twitter comments deemed to be insulting to the prophet Mohammed. Kashgari fled the country. The three mild posts included lines such as: "I have loved things about you and I have hated things about you and there is a lot I don't understand about you."
A Buddhist monk has set himself on fire in what is believed to have been a protest for Tibetan independence, the BBC said on February 9. The immolation follows a series of pro-independence protests in Sichuan, an ethnically Tibetan region of southwest China, which is outside of the Tibetan autonomous region. The incident was said to be the 20th self-immolation by Tibetan Buddhists since 2011.
The Occupy movement in the US may have disappeared from media headlines. But it has not disappeared from the streets of many US cities. However, dropping attendances and ongoing police repression have caused problems for the movement. Inspired by protests in the Arab world and Europe, the wave of occupations began in September last year. Thousands gathered in Zuccotti Park near Wall Street in New York to protest against the system that promotes inequality and undemocratic rule by the super-rich — the “1%”. Similar protest sites sprang up across the US and many other countries.
The article below has been translated by Federico Fuentes. It first appeared in the Latin America-wide magazine America XXI * * * “We support the right of self-determination of the habitants of the Falkland Islands [Malvinas]; what the Argentines having been saying recently is, in my opinion, much more similar to colonialism, because these people want to continue being British and the Argentines what them to do something different.”
Australian journalist Austin Mackell, United States student Derek Ludovici, translator Aliya Alwi and veteran union activist Kamal al-Fayyumi were detained by the police in Mahalla El-Kubra, Egypt on February 11 while trying to interview workers in the city. Sign a petition calling for their release here.
Greek unions launched a two-day general strike on February 10 against new extreme austerity measures the “troika” of the International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank and European Union is seeking to impose on the southern European nation. The deal will give Greece a new “bail-out” worth 130 billion euros (A$161 billion) in return for fresh spending cuts. Amid ongoing street protests and building occupations, the Greek cabinet approved the deal on February 10. Six cabinet members resigned in protest. Greek parliament was scheduled to vote on the deal on the evening of February 12.
Member countries of Latin America’s alternative integration bloc, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), met for its 11th summit in Caracas on February 4 and 5 to discuss advancing the organisation. ALBA is made up of the governments of Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Dominica, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Antigua and Barbuda. Formed in 2004, ALBA seeks to develop trade on the basis of solidarity and cooperation.
Ryan Mallett-Outtrim & Laura Gilbie The self-immolation of five activists in January briefly brought international attention to growing unrest in Morocco, evidenced by the mass demonstrations that began a year ago. It is in the capital, however, where political rallies have become something of a permanent fixture. Three times a week, the well-tended boulevards of the Moroccan capital are overrun with dissatisfied tertiary graduates, demanding jobs. The rallies can last for up to six hours.
In a fit of petulant anger, the US government lashed out on January 25 against the outcome of Nicaragua’s recent presidential election. The leftist Sandinista National Liberation Front's (FSLN) Daniel Ortega was easily re-elected president and the FSLN won a majority in the National Assembly.
Seven months after South Sudan declared independence from its northern neighbour, Khartoum continues to undermine the struggling new nation. On January 20, the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) government of South Sudan took the drastic measure of shutting down its entire oil production. Sudanese President Omer Al Bashir’s National Congress Party (NCP) regime had been demanding enormous fees for transporting South Sudan’s oil to Port Sudan in the north for export.
Germany’s domestic spy agency, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), has been exposed for spying on left-wing MPs. German magazine Der Spiegel said on January 23 that the BfV spied on MPs from Germany's biggest left-wing party, the socialist Die Linke ("The Left"). Der Spiegel said the intelligence agency had 27 of Die Linke's members in the Bundestag ― more than one third of its federal MPs ― and a further 11 members of state parliaments, under surveillance, costing 390,000 euros a year.
China’s transition to state-led capitalism over the past three decades has generated numerous social struggles against the state and capital. With China’s ascent in the capitalist world economy, the social struggles inside China not only have a significant domestic impact, but increasingly international ramifications. As China celebrates the Year of the Dragon, it is an opportune time to critically review the situation for social struggles and their prospects for the future. State and elite politics
Palestine prisoner's rights group Addameer released the statement below on February 9 on the condition of Palestinian prisoner Khader Adnan. At the time of the statement, Adnan was 54 days into a hunger strike and in a critical condition. Adnan is being held in “administrative detention” ― without charge or trial. The statement is abridged from Electronic Intifada.
A coup led by rebel soldiers and police officers overthrew Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed on February 7. Nasheed, a democracy activist and former political prisoner, was the Indian Ocean island nation's first democratically elected president. Maldives, made up of 26 atolls, is facing destruction due to climate change. Nasheed is an outspoken campaigner for climate justice on the international stage. The rebellion was fuelled after Nasheed ordered the arrest of a judge for blocking criminal charges against allies of former Maldives dictator Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.
“Overall, it is important for the Left to support the ongoing struggles in the revolutions [in the Arab world] as the contradictions of the new regimes continue to sharpen,” Adam Hanieh told Farooq Sulehria. Hanieh is a lecturer in Development Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. He is the author of Capitalism and Class in the Gulf Arab States and a member of the editorial board of the journal Historical Materialism.
“What the government does, the streets can undo” may seem like just a slogan, but weeks of anti-austerity protests have forced the resignation of Romania's prime minister Emil Boc. The protests began when a solidarity demonstration with deputy health minister Raed Arafat took a violent turn. Arafat had announced his resignation in opposition to a draft healthcare reform bill that partially privatised the healthcare system. Riot police used tear gas against protesters, who responded by throwing bricks and Molotov cocktails.

Culture

Dirty Money: The True Cost of Australia’s Mineral Boom By Matthew Benns William Heinemann, 2011, 296 pages, $34.95 (pb) Australian mining companies hand over $10 million a year in political donations to state and federal political parties. They don’t expect to be bitten on the hand by those they are feeding, as the Rudd Labor government did with its proposed mining super profits tax. Time for the big stick of a fear-mongering $22 million campaign to remind the government who really rules in Australia.
Why Marx Was Right By Terry Eagleton Yale University Press, 2011 272 pp., $32.95 In August, the Wall Street Journal website ran a video of an interview with Nouriel Roubini as its top story under the headline, "Roubini: Marx was Right." Roubini is a mainstream economist who achieved fame by predicting the 2008 financial collapse, earning himself the nickname "Dr. Doom" among the Wall Street speculators.
Pride Of The Underdog Deeder Zaman Modulor, 2011 www.deederzaman.com When Deeder Zaman was at the height of his fame as the vocalist for British dance rock group Asian Dub Foundation (ADF), he hung up his mike to become a full-time activist. So why did he swap such a high-profile, influential position for low-profile work with the National Civil Rights Movement, the Campaign Against Racism and Fascism, the Miscarriages Of Justice Organisation and the Children with Aids Charity?
United States' singer/songwriter Cat Power (aka Chan Marshall) was encouraged by boycott activists to cancel her gig in Tel Aviv, scheduled for February 12. It looks like the pressure worked. On February 9, Cat Power announced her show had been cancelled, and tweeted: “Music is healing and it is not humane if all cannot have the choice, the right, to attend.”

Fighting Fund

By now we all know that the rich get richer under capitalism. But many are astounded at the incredible pace this takes place. Last week it was reported that Australian billionaire James Packer celebrated a 560% increase in his casino investment in Macau. Great reward for making totally unproductive, indeed socially and morally destructive, investments.

Resistance!

Liam Flenady is a Resistance member and Socialist Alliance candidate for the March 24 state election. He spoke with Green Left Weekly’s Patrick Harrison about his campaign priorities and issues facing young people today. *** Why are you running in the election? What does it mean to be a youth candidate? I want people to see that there is an alternative to [Premier Anna] Bligh and [opposition leader Campbell] Newman.

We kid you not

Murdoch likes compliant politics “Only met PMs when asked ... and NEVER asked for anything”. Rupert Murdoch on Twitter, reassuring us that Australia’s political leaders are so compliant, he hasn’t had to resort to hacking. ― February 5 Rinehart's bid to nuke Oz “It’s a pity it didn’t happen”. Gina Rinehart lamenting that her plan to use nuclear explosions in open cut mining never radiated. — Australian Story, May 1997 Banker greed “An opportunity for the customer to get ahead by paying more than they need to.”