Issue 928

News

Another boat, believed to be carrying up to 180 asylum seekers, made a distress call to Australian authorities at about 4.30am (AEST) time this morning. The call said the boat was about 50 nautical miles south of Indonesia and heading to Christmas Island, and its engine had failed and that it was taking on water. ABC Online said the HMAS Wollongong was searching for the boat, but it had not been found.
After Julian Assange sought asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London a rally was held in his home town Melbourne on July 1. Adam Bandt, the Deputy Leader of the Australian Greens and member of parliament spells out the Greens' perspective.

After Julian Assange sought asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London a rally was held in his home town Melbourne on July 1. Civil Rights Lawyer Lizzie O'Shea gives her perspective.

Watch the video above to find out the shocking truth about how two pro-Palestine Christmas Carol singers escaped justice. Full report here. More Green Left TV here.
More than 300 supporters of Julian Assange gathered at the State Library in Melbourne on July 1 to call for the Australian government to act to bring Assange home. Speakers included Federal MP for Melbourne Adam Bandt, Wikileaks co-founder Daniel Matthews and singer Natalie Pa'apa.
A June 27 speakout in the Bourke Street Mall called for the freeing of political prisoners in Pakistan and condemned the Pakistani state’s use of the Western-sponsored “war on terror” as a pretext for cracking down on community activists and trade unionists. The speakout was use to collect signatures names on an international open letter.
“Whether I look at manufacturing, or I look at the climate emergency, it’s our generations, the ones alive now, that have a responsibility," said Dave Kerin, a founder of the Earthworker Cooperative, explaining the driving force behind the group’s key project. Kerin spoke in a new video about an upcoming tour of workplaces to promote Earthworker’s plan to set up Eureka’s Future workers cooperatives.
A community protest of up to 30 people was held outside a global shale industry conference in Perth on June 28. Campaign group No Fracking WAy organised the protest. The two-day conference on global shale gas development put on by the Electric Utility Consultants, Inc (EUCI) at the Seasons of Perth Hotel, 37 Pier St, Perth. The protesters held up banners, sang anti-fracking songs and heard from several speakers about the problems with the shale gas industry, which is expanding rapidly in Western Australia.
The prosecution of two activists dubbed the “Christmas Carol Criminals” collapsed when a Perth magistrate dismissed all charges on June 29. Alex Bainbridge and Miranda Wood from the group Friends of Palestine WA (FOPWA) had been charged with trespassing during a December protest outside Israeli cosmetics company Seacret. Seacret benefits from the illegal occupation of Palestine by stealing minerals and resources from the Dead Sea to use in its products.
The newly opened Yongah Hill detention centre in remote Western Australia is “probably one of the most secure facilities in the entire network,” immigration media manager Sandi Logan said on June 25. The new detention centre is about 90 kilometres north-east of Perth, about five kilometres outside the rural town of Northam. The $125 million centre was a disused army barracks and will house up to 600 male asylum seekers. It is now fitted with electric fences, “scale-proof” walls, cameras and bars on most windows, said an AAP reporter who visited the site.
June 29 was dubbed "Black Friday" for Queensland public servants as up to 3000 temporary and contract workers faced the sack from the Liberal-National Party government. Contracts for many staff in "non-frontline" jobs expired and will not be renewed under a job freeze ordered by Premier Campbell Newman, the June 29 Courier-Mail said. Newman has also appointed a razor gang, following the interim report of the Costello Commission of Audit into state debt, to find more cuts, including jobs of permanent staff.
The Sydney Socialist Alliance released the statement below on June 29. * * * A team of three experienced Socialist Alliance activists will stand in Marrickville Council’s north ward at the upcoming elections. Socialist Alliance, which is contesting the elections on a platform of Power to the People, is a social justice and ecological party. “Councils should be extensions of the community”, said lead candidate Pip Hinman.
Public housing campaign group Hands Off Glebe released the statement below on June 29. * * * “New planning laws proposed by NSW Planning Minister Brad Hazzard mean more public tenants will be socially cleansed toSydney’s outskirts and developers will have a free go at turning our city into concrete canyons,” Denis Doherty said.  
About 200 people met on June 28 on the steps of Parliament House in Victoria to oppose new coal projects in the state. Speakers spoke out against expanding the brown coal export industry, which would triple Victoria's contribution to greenhouse gas pollution. The star of the event was “billionaire” Twiggy Palmcock, representing “the forgotten voices of mining magnates”. He said all coal is good coal, and offered to dig coal mines in a bowl shape for the “Greenie farmers from Bacchus Marsh”.
On June 27, tens of thousands of teachers took strike action against moves by Barry O'Farrell's NSW Government to attack public education and outsource 'responsibilities' to principals. The government's plan is to force 'local schools' to do the dirty work of making cutbacks - including casualising the workforce (it will be cheaper), cutting special needs staff (can't afford them), and more.
The Steve Irwin Reserve on far north Queensland’s rugged Cape York faces the threat of mining, under new moves to water down the previous Bligh Labor government’s Wild Rivers law. Liberal National Party state environment minister Andrew Powell released a paper on June 27 for a new management plan, which is expected to replace Wild Rivers laws on at least four far-north wilderness rivers.
Opponent's of Victoria's coal industry took their message to the steps of the state Parliament House on June 28. Speakers at the rally said they opposed the state's new coal projects, including a brown coal export industry, which would triple Victoria's contribution to greenhouse gas pollution. The protest was organised by Quit Coal.
Stop CSG campaigners in the Illawarra are celebrating the NSW government’s confirmation that coal seam gas drilling cannot take place in the Illawarra at this time. Stop CSG Illawarra spokesperson Jess Moore told WIN TV News on June 25: “This is huge news and shows the power the Illawarra community has to affect change.”
The Queensland Council of Unions released the statement below on June 28. * * * Aboriginal elders Paul and Arthur Ah Wang still want justice for their stolen wages. Tomorrow, they will join other Indigenous leaders and Townsville Branch President of the Queensland Council of Unions (QCU) Les Moffitt for a meeting with Member for Townsville John Hathaway to continue their fight for what they are owed. “We’ve sought this meeting with the new Member for Townsville to bring these Indigenous elders before him to share their side of the story,” Mr Moffitt said.
Ivanhoe sacks workers despite ‘mining boom’ Gold and copper mining company Ivanhoe has said it will axe 50 jobs, or about 20% of its 280 workers. The move dents the mining industry's loud claims about its benefit to the Australian economy and jobs.
About 100 people attended a midday protest on June 28 to oppose the export of coal from Victoria. The protest was organised by Quit Coal. Speakers denounced the horrendous damage Victoria's brown coal exports will do to the local environment and the global climate. After the rally, a section of the crowd marched to the offices of Exergen — the company that plans to export coal from Victoria. The activists occupied the CEO's office to protest the company's refusal to meet with local residents.
More than 1000 striking teachers had to watch proceedings outside as teachers packed out Sydney Town Hall (capacity 2000) for a mass stop-work meeting called to discuss the fightback against the NSW government's latest attacks on public education. Those who could not fit in the lower and upper levels of the Town Hall took part in the meeting via video-link from Town Hall Square. Mass meetings were held in 29 other regional centres. They voted to continue the campaign with possible further strikes and mass demonstrations.
Beyond Zero Emissions released the statement below on June 26. * * * As part of the Clean Energy Future package, the Gillard government agreed to have the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) model what an Australian 100% renewable energy scenario for 2030 and 2050 would look like. Beyond Zero Emissions produced its plan for 100% renewable energy by 2020 two years ago in 2010, relying heavily on volunteer researchers.

Analysis

Hundreds of people braved heavy rain in Melbourne on July 1 to attend a rally to defend WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The rally was organised by the WikiLeaks Australian Citizens Alliance.
The Western Suburbs Alliance (WSA) released the statement below on June 29. * * * WSA has been formed by members of community groups and individuals in Claremont, Cottesloe, Mosman Park, Peppermint Grove, Nedlands and Subiaco concerned about the growing wave of fear, anger and alienation across the western suburbs resulting from the erosion of our democratic rights and the threats to our communities and built and natural environment by the Barnett Government.
There is something symbolic about the way media commentators have turned on WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Here is a man heading an organisation that has exposed a whole array of serious war crimes committed by the most powerful nation on Earth and, for his troubles, confronts the real threat of extradition to the US via Sweden, where he could face a Supreme Court indictment and potential jail, torture or even the death penalty.
So now we have a carbon price in Australia. The sky hasn’t fallen in but neither are we getting anywhere near doing what needs to be done to respond to the climate change crisis. Australia currently gets its energy in this mix: • Fossil fuels: 95%, comprising coal: 39%, gas: 22%, petroleum: 35% • Renewables: a miserable 5%. According to the Labor government's own projections, with the carbon price, by 2035 Australia's energy mix will be: • Fossil fuels: 91%, comprising less coal at 21%, more gas at 35%, petroleum: 36% • Renewables: rising slightly to 9%.
Australia’s parliament voted to set up the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) on June 26. The law was backed by Labor and Greens MPs. Mainstream environment groups have welcomed the initiative, saying the CEFC will make $10 billion available to fund clean energy. With the dire warnings from climate scientists about the need to cut carbon emissions quickly, such a big investment in clean energy sounds like a good thing. But there is a catch: most of the money won’t be spent on clean energy at all.
The problem of homelessness, high rentals and unlicensed boarding houses in Sydney’s inner west — often though of as one of the wealthier areas of Sydney — is growing, said Paul Adabie, acting director of the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre (NNC). Adabie told Green Left Weekly these acute housing problems faced by the most disadvantaged and vulnerable.
Having taken her share in Fairfax Media to nearly 20%, Gina Rinehart has demanded a greater say in the workings of Fairfax, including editorial matters at its major papers The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax’s board has so far rejected Rinehart’s manoeuvres, saying she must first commit to signing the “Fairfax Media Charter of Editorial Independence”, which is based on the “fundamental and longstanding principle of editorial independence”.
Many have taken mining boss Gina Rinehart's bid to take up a seat on Fairfax's board of directors by buying up almost 20% of the media company's shares as a threat to its “independence” and “quality journalism”. But many opponents of Rinehart's bid are glossing over Fairfax's ugly record. A Rinehart-controlled media would do much damage to the possibility of informed public discussions in Australia.
July 1 is the new financial year and the start of many new government policies. This year, the carbon and mining taxes, and expansion of income management, or welfare quarantining, to five new locations.    People receiving Centrelink payments and living in Playford in South Australia, Logan and Rockhampton in Queensland, Greater Shepparton in Victoria, and Bankstown in NSW may be subject to the new system.   The carbon and mining taxes have generated hysterical debate, but the extension of income management has been noticeably underreported.  
The Transform Drug Policy Foundation recently informed me of Count the Costs: 50 years of the war on drugs, a new online research tool developed to educate people on the need for drug law reform.
Not long after Melbourne’s recent earthquake a few wags leapt on Twitter to blame Australia’s carbon price for causing it. Greens Senator Richard Di Natale made the same joke in parliament a few days later.
Since the deaths of asylum seekers when two boats headed to Australia capsized, parliament has been locked in a debate about how to “save lives”. But the “debate” is framed in such a way to ensure that more lives will be lost and more refugees victimised. ALP and Coalition MPs are pushing a policy of refugee “deterrence” designed to simply move refugees somewhere else. On June 22, a boat carrying about 200 refugees capsized on its way to Christmas Island. Another vessel capsized on June 28. So far, reports say at least 91 refugees have drowned and others are still missing.
Billionaire mine-owner Clive Palmer has applied for one of his Queensland companies, the Yabulu nickel refinery, to be allowed to dump millions of litres of toxic water into the Great Barrier Reef.
The Refugee Action Collective Victoria released the statement below on June 27. * * * The Refugee Action Collective condemns the Gillard Labor government’s support for the bill moved by Rob Oakeshott that passed through the lower house [on] June 27. RAC condemns the opportunism of both sides of parliament, seeking to gain politically out of two boat disasters in the last week. Offshore processing does not protect lives, but seeks to deter asylum seekers from fleeing to save them.
Local parents have successfully spearheaded a Fremantle community campaign to save a service called “Buster the Fun Bus”. Buster is a van staffed by two community workers from the City of Fremantle. It makes stops at various parks in the Fremantle and Melville area, setting out activity tables and toys for children to enjoy outside. The focus of the service is community building. It brings parents together and gives them relaxed access to community workers.
The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre released the statement below on June 28. * * * They say a day is a long time in politics. The past week has been a lifetime. The asylum seeker debate has taken a hard shift to the right — the conversation has changed from onshore versus offshore processing to which location to process offshore and how to stop the boats.
The Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney released the statement below on June 28. * * * The Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney (STICS) is calling for charges to be laid against police in the Terrance Briscoe death is custody case, supporting calls from the family. Family spokesperson Patricia Morton-Thomas says that family are confused by the double standard of the legal system. That Police are able to break the law, even captured on CCTV footage, and are still not charged for their offences.
NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell has reneged on a pre-election promise to refuse access for hunters to NSW national parks, a move that will put parks users in danger and potentially set back feral animal eradication programs. The Coalition government is pushing through changes to the NSW electricity sector, seeking to privatise state-owned generators. Without the numbers to push the privatisation bill through the upper house, O’Farrell back-flipped and supported a bill by the Shooters and Fishers Party.
The National Welfare Rights Network released the statement below on June 26. * * * The National Welfare Rights Network welcomes today’s news that the Senate has voted to support an Australian Green’s initiated inquiry into the adequacy of Newstart Allowance and related payments for young people and students.
The Yolngu Nations Assembly and the Alyawaar Nation released the statement below on June 27. * * * Should this Stronger Futures legislation pass through the Senate and become law, it will be a day of mourning for all Aboriginal peoples. This legislation will be the cause of great suffering in our hearts. For those of us living in the Northern Territory the anguish of the past five years of Intervention has been almost unbearable. Many have simply given up hope. We have been burying people who can no longer live with the pain and despair.
The Socialist Alliance NSW released the statement below on June 27. * * * The NSW Teachers Federation is taking action today against the sackings announced on 30 May.
The Darwin Asylum Seeker Support and Advocacy Network released the statement below on June 25. * * * A Vietnamese asylum seeker has written an open letter to the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship to mark her and her friends’ 400th day in detention. The woman is part of a group of more than 40 Vietnamese asylum seekers, about 20 of whom are children, who have been detained since their arrival in Australia in March 2011. The youngest of the group is now seven years old, having spent two birthdays locked up in detention.

World

Arriving in a village in southern Vietnam, I caught sight of two children who bore witness to the longest war of the 20th century. Their terrible deformities were familiar. All along the Mekong river, where the forests were petrified and silent, small human mutations lived as best they could. Today, at the Tu Du paediatrics hospital in Saigon, a former operating theatre is known as the "collection room" and, unofficially, as the "room of horrors". It has shelves of large bottles containing grotesque foetuses.
The recent coup against Paraguay’s democratically elected president is not only a blow to democracy, but an attack against the working and poor population that supported President Fernando Lugo. The Paraguayan poor see Lugo as abulwark against the wealthy elite who have dominated the country for decades. The United States mainstream media and politicians are not calling the events in Paraguay a coup, since the president is being “legally impeached” by the elite-dominated Paraguayan Congress.
Venezuela suspended oil shipments and withdrew its ambassador from Paraguay as part of a regional wave of condemnation against the ouster of leftist Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo on June 22. “We are absolutely not going to support this state coup, not directly, neither indirectly,” Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said on June 24.
Facts are stubborn things. It is now clear even to German Federal Bank board members that the brutal austerity applied to the eurozone “periphery” ― Greece, Portugal, Spain, Ireland and Italy ― is not just bleeding these economies white, but starting to hurt the Eurozone “core” and world economy. As a result, the investors, the nurturing of whose fragile confidence has been the whole justification for austerity, feel like investing even less. “This time Europe really is on the brink,” said economists Nouriel Roubini and Niall Ferguson in a June 12 Der Spiegel commentary.
If you talk to the people in-the-know at the United Nations and other related agencies, they will tell you that our system of governance is not working well enough to solve the crises the world is facing. I guess this explains why the final lead document “The Future We Want” from the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development held in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil from June 13-22, was described by Yolanda Kakabadse, International Director of WWF, as “a weak text without bones and without soul.”
Sudanese President Omer Al Bashir has described anti-government protesters as foreign agents, agitators and “bubbles”. Yet unrest may boil over as it continues to spread and protesters vow they won’t stop until the regime falls. The movement against the government was boosted on June 29 with large protests in Khartoum and its twin city Omdurman as well as at least a dozen cities outside the capital for the “day of elbow-licking”.
The Indonesian government has engaged in a spin campaign over the recent wave of mysterious shootings in Indonesian-occupied West Papua in an attempt to derail the struggle for independence. With no evidence, Indonesian police have blamed the shootings on the Free Papua Movement (OPM) and its armed wing, the National Liberation Army. Several Papuan independence activists were killed, along with others wounded or killed since the attacks began in late May.
The United States Supreme Court has upheld the core provision of Arizona’s vicious anti-immigrant law. The part of the law upheld requires police to determine the immigration status of anyone they stop, for whatever reason, if they “suspect” they are undocumented. Arizona Governor Jan Brewster claims the law would not result in racial profiling. But she is lying through her teeth. Everyone knows that in Arizona, the only grounds for “suspicion” is having brown skin. No white person will be “suspected” of not having papers.
The letter published below was circulated by the United States-based Just Foreign Policy. It was signed by more than 100 prominent people, mostly from the US. Signatories include film directors Michal Moore and Oliver Stone, authors Noam Chomsky and Naomi Wolf, journalists Glenn Greenwald and Chris Hedges, and Vietnam War-era whistleblower Daniel Elsberg. See here for the full list.
A new report funded and supported by the British government accuses Israel of violating international law with its treatment of Palestinian child detainees, Electronic Intifada said on June 28. It was was launched in London by a high-profile group of human rights lawyers on June 26.
The student movement in Quebec is facing a crucial summer of discussion and organising. Law 78, which suspended classes at strike-bound institutions in May, directs their resumption in mid-August. The government of Liberal Party Premier Jean Charest is preparing a judicial and police assault against striking students and their associations. It aims to force open school doors and see its proposed 82% university tuition fee hike over seven years prevail.
Despite escalating rhetoric and sectarian violence, it seems for the time being NATO is not planning a direct military assault against Syria along the lines of its attack on Libya last year. If NATO had been looking for a pretext for such an assault, the June 22 shooting down by Syrian forces of a air force F4 phantom jet belonging to NATO member Turkey provided one ― notwithstanding evidence the plane was shot down in Syrian airspace.
“Under Raul Castro, Cuba has begun the journey towards capitalism. But it will take a decade and a big political battle to complete, writes Michael Reid”. So began the lead article of the London Economist magazine’s March 24 special issue on Cuba, under the heading “Revolution in retreat”. It is a familiar refrain, but how much truth is there to it? Unfortunately for the credibility of The Economist, authoritative mouthpiece of the Anglo-imperialist ruling class, it’s a dog’s breakfast of factual errors, illogical arguments and wishful thinking.

Culture

A Rough Guide To The Dark Side Daniel Simpson Zero Books Release date: August 31 www.roughguidedarkside.com Most mainstream media journalists would kill to get one of their stories on the front page of The New York Times. But when that happened to the newspaper's Balkans correspondent in 2003, he was less than thrilled. Daniel Simpson had already resigned in disgust at the paper's support for starting wars, and was serving out his notice. He had reached what he calls "a mirrored ceiling" in his career.
Beyond Tribal Loyalties ― Personal Stories of Jewish Peace Activists Edited by Avigail Abarbanel Cambridge Scholars Publishing 2012. Jews who come out on the side of Palestinians generally do not face terrible physical punishment, nor are they usually thrown in jail. But they often face ostracism, and this is what makes this community-creating book ― a collection of “Personal Stories of Jewish Peace Activists” ― so valuable.
Fly & Be Damned: What Now For Aviation & Climate Change? By Peter Mcmanners Zed Books, 2012 182 pages, $26.95 (pb) In a future green world, will there be a place for aviation? In Fly And Be Damned, Peter McManners thinks there will be, but air transport will look quite different.
The tour has been called one of the most ambitious of all time. The show has been called one of the greatest. Since The Wall tour started in late 2010, Roger Waters has awed hundreds of thousands of people with this astounding and complex show. And he’s taking it to one of the sites of of intense social struggle in July ― Quebec, in support of the huge student struggle that has broken out there.
Black Sheep of The American Dream Death By Stereo Released April 24, 2012 Viking Funeral Records http://deathbystereo.com/ Californian hardcore punk band Death By Stereo have long been known for their politically charged lyrics, energising the scene with their debut If Looks Could Kill, I'd Watch You Die 13 years ago.

Resistance!

The world today is plagued by many crises. Economies are in recession. The world is wracked by war. And poverty is still rampant for the world's majority. Alongside all of this, our environment, and our climate, is increasingly under pressure, threatening all life on the planet. The climate crisis strikes at the very heart of our societies. We need to question the way we operate, the way we allocate and use our resources, and the way we develop infrastructure, so that we can create a more sustainable world.