Issue 930

News

Distraught family members of the Tamil asylum seeker known as “Mr X” who was deported to Sri Lanka on July 25 have not been able to locate their relative. More than 14 hours after landing at Colombo airport, the Tamil man had not come out of the airport. There are reports in the Sri Lankan media that the man has been detained by the Sri Lankan intelligence unit. While Mr X’s family was waiting for him to emerge from the airport, the Australian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka arrived at the airport and sought the man’s release. Even the High Commissioner was unsuccessful.
Two hundred people rallied in Melbourne on July 18 to protest against plans to sell public housing to private owners and call for an increase in public housing. Greens MP Adam Bandt told the rally: “The state government will soon decide on the future of Melbourne’s public housing. We don’t know exactly what they have planned, but they want to increase rents and make access short term for people using it.” In Melbourne, about 7000 people are living on the streets. There are now 3000 people on the public housing waiting list.

A popular uprising against the brutal tyranny of the Omar al-Bashir regime is sweeping Sudan. It began with protest led by women students at Khartoum University but has spread throughout the country. Sudanese refugee communities around the world have started holding actions in solidarity with the uprising and on July 20 was the Sydney community's turn. It will be only the first of many more actions, they vowed. Video by Peter Boyle for GLTV.
A popular uprising against the brutal tyranny of the Omar al-Bashir regime is sweeping Sudan. It began with protest led by women students at Khartoum University but has spread throughout the country, a protester, Zaidah, told Green Left Weekly. Sudanese refugee communities around the world have started holding actions in solidarity with the uprising and on July 20 was the Sydney community's turn. It will be only the first of many more actions, the protesters vowed.
Anti-uranium protesters' peaceful message of "uranium is just not cricket" was clearly too frightening for South Australian police who mobilised on horses and attacked the protest. Thirteen activists were arrested in the music festival at Roxby Downs Olympic Dam mine. Photos here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zebparkes/sets/72157630616608436/ More on Lizards Revenge here: http://lizardsrevenge.net/ Film by Zeb Parkes for Green Left TV.
About 400 people rallied at Sydney Town Hall on July 16 to show their support for WikiLeaks and Julian Assange. The protesters held a vibrant march through the city streets. Speakers at the rally included Kellie Tranter, lawyer and human rights activist, Paul McAleer, MUA Sydney branch secretary, Richard Neville, founder of Oz Magazine, Irene Doutney, Greens Councillor for the City of Sydney, Fred Fuentes, Latin American Social Forum, Jake Lynch, Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies and Gail Malone and Anne Picot from the Support Assange and WikiLeaks Coalition.
Striking Coles warehouse workers in Somerton, Melbourne, held a community rally at their picket line on July 15.
Protesters at the Lizard's Revenge anti-nuclear protest camp near Roxby Downs, South Australia, marched to what they dubbed the "gates of hell" — the entrance to BHP’s giant Olympic Dam mine — on July 15.
Around 50 shopping centre cleaners and their supporters rallied on July 13, outside the Westfield Head Office in Market Street here to demand a better deal on pay and conditions. The protesters chanted, "Hey Westfield, listen up! The cleaners are standing up!" and, "What do we want? Clean Start! When do we want it? Now!" They were also protesting an assault on a union organiser at an earlier protest outside the building the previous day.
The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) in NSW has fined a coal seam gas (CSG) company $3000 after it twice polluted a creek in the Pilliga forest near Narrabri in NSW by discharging contaminated water. Explaining the fines, the EPA said it “issued two penalty notices with fines of $1500 each to Eastern Star Gas for discharging polluted water containing high levels of salt into Bohena Creek in March and November 2010”.
Susan Price, trade unionist and Socialist Alliance national co-convener, speaking at a solidarity protest with striking Toll Holdings workers at the Coles warehouse in Somerset, Victoria. The action outside Coles in Sydney CBD on July 13 was initiated by Socialist Alternative.
Coles warehouse workers met two days into an indefinite strike on July 12 and voted unanimously to reject the latest offer from their direct employer Toll Logistics. Hundreds had gathered on a picket line to prevent trucks entering the site. Striking workers outside the warehouse, which owner Coles outsources to Toll, told Green Left Weekly that the offer wasn’t really “new”, but was only tweaked slightly from the old offer.
Activistrights.org.au was developed by the Fitzroy Legal Service as a resource for activists. Ela Orgu, the Community Development Officer at Fitzroy Legal Service said the “website aims to provide legal information for activists. It provides legal context, lots of legal information and also places to go to for support depending on what is happening and a range of case studies as well. “Activism is crucial in society. It’s an important way to keep leaders and systems and organisations in check.
About 300 people rallied for equal marriage rights outside today's Liberal National Party Queensland state conference in Brisbane July 14. Protesters waved banners and signs opposing the recently elected Campbell Newman government's recent attacks on lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGTBI) people’s rights.
One hundred people joined a Maritime Union of Australia (MUA)-initiated protest against the proposed Muckaty nuclear waste dump on July 12 at Stokes Hill Wharf. MUA NT branch manager Thomas Mayor said wharfies would stand in solidarity with traditional owners who opposed the dump. The protest was held at Stokes Hill Wharf because waste would likely be shipped through the port if the waste dump goes ahead. Mayor said that the waste presented an unacceptable risk.
NSW cuts risk kids, roads, fires NSW unions say plans to axe 1000 Department of Family and Community Services (DOCS) jobs will put children at risk. Treasury documents show more than 80% of the job cuts will be permanent employees.
MELBOURNE — Supporters of the Coles warehouse workers on strike for equal pay across the company's sites held a protest at Coles' Footscray outlet on July 14. They called on shoppers to boycott Coles until it met the workers' demands
The Environmental Defender’s Office NSW has advised community group Illawarra Residents for Responsible Mining Inc in a court case that will test the legality of mining company Gujarat NRE’s decision to start longwall mining in its Russell Vale colliery earlier this year.
The campaign for Port Augusta to become the site of Australia’s first solar thermal power plant has escalated. Port Augusta residents will be asked to vote on the plan. Newly-formed community group “Repower Port Augusta” will host a week-long community vote, which they say will show the overwhelming support that exists for a solar thermal future for the town. Port Augusta residents have long-suffered serious health impacts from the town’s two coal-powered plants, which supply 30% of South Australia’s electricity.
About 50 shopping centre cleaners and their supporters rallied on July 13 outside the Westfield head office in Market Street to demand a better deal on pay and conditions. The protesters chanted, “Hey Westfield, listen up! The cleaners are standing up!” and, “What do we want? Clean Start! When do we want it? Now!” They were also protesting an assault on a union organiser at a protest outside the building the previous day.
The indefinite strike by Coles warehouse workers in Somerton, Melbourne, began with a few hundred people on the picket lines from 6am on July 10. At the time of writing, no trucks have been allowed in or out of the site. Coles outsources the operation of the warehouse to Toll Logistics. Coles and Toll had expected industrial action, but they hadn’t expected that the workers would vote for an indefinite strike.
The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) forced the ABC to retract a story about a recently changed “individual allowance program” for detained refugees to buy canteen items and phone cards to call home. But evidence has emerged that the ABC report was correct. In Darwin, the system has changed from allocating 50 points a week to each detainee, to requiring half those points to be earned by taking part in daily activities, English classes and exercise.
This video shows the reasons for and some of the actions in Perth's largely successful campaign for free speech. See more videos by Green Left TV.
The ObserverTree.org released the statement below on July 10. * * * Today, Miranda Gibson breaks the Australian record for the longest tree sit. Miranda has remained at the top of a tree, 60 meters above the ground for 209 days, in protest of the ongoing logging of Tasmania’s high conservation value forests.

Analysis

Support Assange and WikiLeaks activist Cassie Findlay was the chairperson of a July 16 Sydney rally to defend WikiLeaks. Her opening remarks to the rally are below. * * * Thank you for joining us today to remind the Australian government who it is answerable to. Today we have had our Prime Minister Julia Gillard inside Town Hall addressing the NSW Labor Conference. Perhaps she spoke about Labor’s publicly stated values of “social justice, compassion and a fair go for Australians, at home and abroad” Unless, apparently, you are Julian Assange.
Support Assange and WikiLeaks Coalition activist Gail Malone gave the speech below at a July 16 rally in Sydney. * * * WikiLeaks is a gift to history. We now have, for the first time, the ability to write history not only through the eyes of the victors. WikiLeaks has become a leveler between people and government. They have ushered in an age where we, the people, have access to information once deemed for their eyes only.
Human rights lawyer and activist Kellie Tranter gave the speech below at a July 16 rally in Sydney organised by the Support Assange and WikiLeaks Coalition. * * * I’d like to thank those involved in coordinating today’s event, and for the invitation to speak.
Australian Greens leader Christine Milne and the party's MPs and Senators stood up to immense pressure from the big parties and the mainstream media to support some form of “offshore processing” of refugees (either in Malaysia, as the Gillard Labor government wants, or Nauru, as the Abbott Coalition opposition demands). The Greens stood firm against offshore processing and mandatory detention of refugees.
I have mixed feelings each time I see a “Close the Gap” bumper sticker. The number of Australians supporting the health equity campaign, expressing outrage on the appalling gap in life expectancy between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians — and demanding government action — is certainly heartening. The fact that the government appears committed to the same goals, through its similarly named "Closing the Gap" initiative feels like it should be cause for celebration.
Federal Labor’s hopes that its carbon price handouts would lift its primary vote have proven futile, and as Labor policy and rhetoric moves further to the right, a section of the party has begun a full-blown assault on its alliance with the Greens.
About 130 people helped officially launch Green Left TV at parties held in Sydney and Hobart on July 7. Together, the events raised close to $3000 for the new media project. In Sydney, 75 people attended a party and live filming of the Green Left Report at the Art Resistance studio in Marrickville’s Addison Road Community Centre. Guests included University of Sydney political economist Mike Karadjis, independent journalist and author Antony Loewenstein and comic Carlo Sands.
Amidst the ongoing discussion about Fairfax, Gina Rinehart and the “crisis of journalism”, the ABC celebrated its 80th anniversary on July 1. As Fairfax and News Limited cut newsrooms and erect paywalls the ABC is expanding its online and broadcast news presence.
After its successful participation in Freedom Flotilla Two and Freedom Waves last year, Free Gaza Australia (FGA) in cooperation with its international partners is launching a new initiative: Gaza’s Ark — Building Hope. Gaza’s Ark will challenge the illegal and inhumane Israeli blockade of Gaza that collectively punishes more than 1.5 million Palestinians. Gaza has “officially” been under an Israeli blockade since 2007, but the restriction on the movement of the population of Gaza began in 1991 when Gaza was first cut off from Israel and the West Bank.
A NSW police convoy consisting of 40 Public Order and Riot Squad officers entered Grafton on July 11. Its mission — to “quell” the peaceful community members of Grafton and the Clarence Valley who were trying to be heard. The citizens and the Public Sector Association (PSA) had been seeking consultation with the NSW government over a decision that directly impacted on their lives and businesses — the “downsizing” of Grafton Gaol. But the government arrogantly refused to hear.
Labor for Refugees sent the letter below to NSW Labor general secretary Sam Dastyari on July 11. * * * Sam Dastyari General Secretary NSW Labor sam@nswalp.com Dear General Secretary, At our Labor for Refugees meeting last night, members resolved unanimously, that I write to you re the issue of Greens preferences and send a copy of my letter to the Prime Minister and Minister for Immigration and Citizenship. The content of our letter follows: Labor for Refugees is disappointed with your attack on the Green’s position on refugees.
Guillaume Legault is a leading member of Quebec’s CLASSE — the Broad Coalition of the Association for Student Union Solidarity — a radical student organisation at the forefront of a months-long student strike against tuition fee hikes. Quebec’s student movement is still locked in struggle with the ruling Liberal government over the new fees. The government has responded with police repression and harassment of students. It also passed a new law that bans protests of more than 50 people unless police have given prior approval.
Lizard's Revenge is an anti-nuclear protest camp planned for mid-July outside BHP’s giant Olympic Dam mine — the world’s biggest uranium mine. The protest camp, near Roxby Downs in South Australia, will feature a music and arts festival alongside non-violent protests against the mine’s planned expansion.

World

Over the weekend of July 14-15, communities in 30 locations around Malaysia participated in a National Day of Stop Lynas action against a rare earth refinery project being built in Malaysia by the Australian company Lynas. Simultaneous solidarity actions took place in Australia - in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Roxby Downs (at the "Lizard's Revenge" anti-nuclear music festival in the outback arid zone of South Australia).
Operation Miracle, a humanitarian social program created by the governments of Cuba and Venezuela, has made it possible to carry out over 1 million eye surgeries in the South American nation over the last eight years, the Cuban News Agency said. “We’re operating some 5000 patients a week, the same amount of patients who benefited annually in Venezuela before the beginning of the program,” said national coordinator Manuel Pacheco, cited by the Venezuelan News Agency. Operation Miracle began in July 2004, taking care of patients with few economic resources who had eye problems.
Mission Culture, a social program that aims to transform cultural education in Venezuela, celebrated its seventh anniversary on July 10, the state-run Venezuelan News Agency (AVN) said. The program was created on July 10, 2005, by the government of President Hugo Chavez. It has since trained more than 12,000 people in different areas of the arts to foster a renewal of popular creativity.
The article below is based on a talk given at a Socialist Alliance meeting on June 26 in Melbourne by Chris Slee, a member of the SA Melbourne branch. * * * The Socialist Alliance supports the right of the Tamil people to self-determination. A resolution adopted at an SA national conference reads: "Socialist Alliance recognises that Tamils are an oppressed nation within Sri Lanka, and supports their right to self-determination.
Since the outbreak of a new protest wave on June 16 that has spread across Sudan, the National Congress Party (NCP) regime has conducted mass arrests of thousands of activists in a desperate attempt to quell the revolt. Some of those arrested have been released, but many remain in detention without charge — often in unknown locations with no outside contact. Protests continue to be viciously attacked by the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS), police and what protesters call Rabata (“bandits” — government-armed militias).
Trouble flared across Ireland's north on the night of July 12 as sectarian Orange Order marchers insisted on marching through nationalist areas, the Morning Star said the next day. It said serious rioting followed a unionist (supporters of Northern Ireland's union with Britain) parade through the the largely Catholic and Irish nationalist working-class suburb of Ardoyne in north Belfast.
It has not even begun, but a world record has already been set for the London 2012 Olympic games. The games, which begin on July 27, are the most corporatised, militarised and draconian Olympics of all time. Every day there are fresh stories that reveal that, to British Prime Minister David Cameron, the Olympic spirit means giving corporations and governments free reign to do what they like.
The June 22 coup carried out against Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo was an important blow to progressive movements across Latin America. The struggle against the coup is far from over, but learning the lessons of the coup are important. This requires placing the coup in the context of the turbulent process of change occurring in Latin America See also Paraguay: US makes gains from coup against Lugo
Whether Paraguay's infamously right-wing local oligarchy and its parties that seized an opportunity to bring left-leaning President Fernando Lugo down by itself, or whether the push came from the United States government, is yet to be confirmed. The US was involved in the overthrow of many governments in Latin America in 20th century in a bid to sure up its domination of the region. See also Paraguay: Coup at heart of struggle over Latin America
French car-maker Peugeot-Citroen announced a drastic cost-cutting plan on July 12 to slash 8000 jobs in France and close a major factory in Aulnay-sous-Bois north of Paris. Hundreds of workers at the Aulnay plant walked off the job and staged a protest in front of the site, which is one of France's biggest car factories and a bastion of car workers' trade unions. "It's a show of disgust because Peugeot has played with us for a year, over a year now, saying that it's not certain, we're not going to close," said Khenniche of the SUD union, who has worked at the plant for 17 years.
A huge march by striking miners and their supporters on July 12 was attacked by riot police. Huge crowds of protesters, marching on the offices of the ministry of industry, came under attack from police firing rubber bullets. The ministry is a focus for protest because it is cutting subsidies to the mining industry by 63%. This will lead to thousands of miners losing their jobs. Unions estimate that as many as 30,000 jobs will be scrapped.
One aspect of the drive by the super rich to make working people bear the brunt of the new Depression is to attack the social wage. Part of this attack is the serious erosion of public education. This predates the crisis that began in 2007, but the recession that followed has been met with a sharp increase in such attacks. The failure of the federal government to adequately fund public education cascades down to the states and cities, who all cry there is not enough money, so cutbacks are necessary.
Quebec's long-running student strike is set to resume at the start of the new semester on August 17. Students from universities and colleges are seeking to force the government to stop its plan to raise fees. The student movement has turned politics in Quebec on its head, challenging not only the fee hike but the status quo of neoliberal politics. It has called into question the existence of fees and raised the idea of free education as a right.

Culture

From the red sands of Woomera and Alice Springs to Yeppoon in tropical Queensland, down to the urban cities and towns of the southern states, then back over to the precious West Australian coastline, 3CR’s national programs are currently being played on more than 50 of 150 community radio stations around the nation, with this number aiming to increase over the coming year. Across the station there are nine diverse programs, which are broadcast nationally on the Community Radio Network (CRN).
Congratulations on the launch of Green Left TV in Sydney on July 7. With the filming of the second Green Left Report in front of a live audience, it was a night to remember. Let’s hope that this is the start of something big. Community media needs our support to make it grow.
Waltzing at the Doomsday Ball: The Best of Joe Bageant By Joe Bageant Scribe Publications, 2011 $32.95, 298 pp. Joe Bageant was a feature on many United States left-wing websites, such as Counterpunch, over the years. His writing is witty, outrageous and with a penetratingly cynical view of working-class American life. Bageant, who died last year, came from a depressed, working-class community in Winchester, Virginia, and never lost his love/hate relationship with the people he knew so well there.
Rupert Murdoch: An Investigation Of Political Power By David McKnight Allen & Unwin, 2012 285 pages, $29.95 (pb) An adviser to the former New Labour government of Tony Blair in Britain called right-wing media tycoon Rupert Murdoch the “24th member of cabinet”. The advisor said no big decision inside No. 10 was ever made without “taking into account the likely reaction” of Murdoch.
Fraudcast News Patrick Chalmers Released February 2012 http://fraudcastnews.net/ Reading this former Reuters reporter's analysis of the news industry is like watching an episode of detective series Columbo unfold. Like the seemingly innocent inspector Columbo, Patrick Chalmers at first comes across as disconcertingly naive. But, just like the deceptive detective, his eye for detail and dedicated approach become clear only late in the storyline.