Issue 932

News

Aboriginalpassportceremony.org released the statement below on August 6. * * * A “Welcome to Aboriginal Land Passport Ceremony” will take place on September 15 at the Redfern Community Centre on the traditional lands of the Gadigal people. More than 200 people, including newly arrived asylum seekers, will receive an Aboriginal passport. The passports will be issued by Robbie Thorpe of the Treaty Republic and Ray Jackson, President of the Indigenous Social Justice Association.
The campaign for marriage equality in Australia has been waged for almost a decade. That federal parliament, despite repeated polls showing support for equal marriage rights regardless of sexuality, has failed to legislate for marriage equality has caused widespread anger. A sign of the growing momentum for marriage equality came with the announcement at the Tasmanian state Labor conference on August 4 that the Labor-led Tasmanian government would aim to pass legislation this year to legalise same-sex marriage in the state, should federal parliament fail to do so.
Queensland’s Liberal National Party government axed 2000 state transport jobs and more than 300 QBuild jobs on July 31, in another day of mass sackings in the state. Premier Campbell Newman boasted that 4400 full-time positions have been cut out of the 6000 jobs lost so far. Up to 20,000 public servants are in the firing line. The latest cuts amount to 1 in 5 transport workers, with Labor transport spokesperson Jackie Trad warning such cuts would “bring the public transport network in Brisbane and in every region to its knees”.
Student activists at La Trobe University have begun a campaign against a proposal to slash funding to the Humanities and Social Sciences faculty. About 150 students and staff protested at the university’s Bundoora campus in Melbourne’s northern suburbs on July 31. Students marched to the administration building where security guards wrestled with a protester and locked the students out. Undeterred, students marched to the office of Humanities and Social Science dean Tim Murray where they were also locked out but occupied the corridor outside the office.
The University of Sydney Student Representative Council (SRC) has condemned university management’s plans to “dismantle” the Koori Centre, which has supported Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students at the university since 1989. The Koori Centre also coordinates the teaching of Indigenous Studies. The university says the Koori Centre’s functions will be incorporated into a broader “Centre for Cultural Competencies”. Management has assured staff no jobs will be lost in the process, but many students and staff feel that have been inadequately consulted about the changes.
Workers on Bovis Lend Lease building sites across the country have won site allowances and improved pay and conditions. Union and community action forced the company to complete negotiations on a new enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA) with unions on July 31. Strikes and protest action across 22 Lend Lease sites were launched on July 25, after the company failed to reach agreement with unions on conditions including restored site allowances, improved job security, improved pay and conditions for subcontractors, and union right of entry.
This winter, I experienced the hospitality of Jarrod McKenna, Teresa Lee and their son Tyson. They’re a family of peace activists, who ruggedly live out communal economics and radical permaculture in Peace Tree Community in Perth. They opened their home to me so that I could take a week out to write in peace.
More than 500 people attended a public meeting at the Bulli Masonic Hall in the northern suburbs of Wollongong on July 29 to save the Bulli Hospital Emergency Department (ED). A PA had to be set up outside the packed hall so hundreds of people gathered outside could listen in. Residents are opposed to the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District's (ISLHD) proposal to downgrade the ED to an “urgent care centre”.
More than 100 students, teachers and union activists heard speakers slam private-sector training at a August 2 protest against TAFE cuts at RMIT’s city campus. Steve Roach from the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union’s Health and Safety Unit said he was concerned that the decline of TAFE — and the subsequent privatisation of building industry training — would lead to unsafe working conditions. He said: “We find dodgy tickets of competency floating around our industry ... where all [the students] did was give somebody $140 and they come back in with a card the next day.”
Students, teachers and union activists protested against the Victorian governments' cuts to TAFE at Melbourne's RMIT campus on August 2. The rally was jointly organised by the National Tertiary Education Union Victorian Division and the Australian Education Union (AEU). Film by Squirrel Main, sqmain.blogspot.com.au
Quit Coal released the statement below on July 27. * * * It can be easy to despair when you are campaigning so hard on an issue for so long. Sometimes you can feel like the government just isn’t listening to you and that all your efforts are a bit pointless … but not today. We have been campaigning for over a year against the proposal by company HRL to build a dirty brown coal power station in Victoria.
On July 25, Tamil refugee Dayan Anthony (formerly known as "Mr X" in Australia in an attempt to protect his identity from Sri Lankan authorities), was deported from Melbourne. Australian authorities handed him over to the Sri Lankan intelligence forces - who had held Mr Anthony in custody for years, and had tortured him.
This month, the Australian Friends of Palestine Association (AFOPA) will mark 100 weeks of protest against the sale of cosmetics containing minerals extracted from the Dead Sea — in Palestinian territory under Israeli military occupation — by Seacret. Seacret says on its website: “We believe everything we do must embody honesty and reflect purity.” Its products are made with “the ancient, and some say mystical, salts and minerals found only in one place on earth, the Dead Sea”.

Ray Jackson, President of the Indigenous Social Justice Association, speaks about on deaths in custody, shackling and tasers. Filmed by Peter Boyle for Green Left TV at a protest in Sydney on July 27 to mark the death in custody of Peter Clarke in the Northern Territory.
The Darwin Asylum Seeker Support and Advocacy Network released the statement below on July 31. * * * The Darwin Asylum Seeker Support and Advocacy Network (DASSAN) has called for an overhaul of the Department of Immigration’s character test procedures for refugees following the appearance today of a refugee at the Darwin Magistrates Court on minor property damage charges.

Analysis

Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal supporters sent Olympic boxer Damien Hooper a message of support and solidarity for his action in wearing an Aboriginal flag T-shirt at the Olympics. While Hooper was sanctioned by the International Olympics Committee, there was a huge outpouring of support for his Aboriginal pride stance, particularly in an ever more corporatised Olympics shrouded by entities such as Dow Chemicals, BP and Macdonalds. Filmed by Green Left TV.
The Olympics are a sporting and social phenomenon without parallel. The Opening Ceremony of the 2008 Olympics was watched by close to 1 billion people. Viewers for individual events can be remarkable. The website Sporting Intelligence said 184 million people watched a live women’s volleyball match between China and Cuba at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. A further 450 million people watched part of it.
University of California professor Richard Muller publicly reversed his climate scepticism when he released the results of a climate study on July 29. The report showed that climate change was occurring and caused by burning fossil fuels. His organisation, Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST), concluded that the Earth has warmed 1.5 degrees celsius over the past 250 years. “I was not expecting this,” Muller said. “But as a scientist, I feel it is my duty to let the evidence change my mind.”
A whopping 22 million passengers went through Sydney Domestic Airport last year – close to the total population of Australia. Almost 8 million of those were heading to Victoria, and close to 4.5 million to Brisbane. Just over 2 million were off to the Gold Coast, and just under that figure to WA. In the debate over the environmental and human impact of a second airport in NSW and the push to expand Mascot, it is important to weigh these facts.
Ray Jackson, president of the Indigenous Social Justice Association, spoke to Green Left TV’s Peter Boyle at a protest against deaths in custody in Sydney on July 27. He spoke about Tasers, shackling and the death of Aboriginal man Mr Clarke in Alice Springs. Watch the GLTV video of the interview, a transcribed extract of which is below, here. ***
As semester two begins at the University of Sydney, it’s worth reflecting on what student activists have learned so far in our campaigns this year. We've learned that our university is being managed in line with the profits-first agenda of the 1% that run the government and the economy. We've learned that under Vice-Chancellor Michael Spence, corporate research partners and “good economic management” take priority over students, staff and society.
If the official government line is to be believed, Australia is only a minor player when it comes to our greenhouse gas emissions. In this view, Australia is powerless to bring about international action to cut emissions. Indeed, any such efforts are only likely to amount to economic self-sabotage. From Laggard to Leader, the new report from research group Beyond Zero Emissions, demolishes these arguments. Far from being an inconsequential emitter, Australia’s carbon footprint is immense.
In the space of a decade, Australia’s mining sector has come to dominate the country’s economic life. In June, Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens said mining investment is tipped to “be about as large as business investment in the rest of the private economy combined” by mid 2014.
Deported Tamil Dayan Anthony's recanted claims of torture at a Sri Lankan press conference, the day after his July 25 deportation, did not assuage the fears of Australian refugee advocates that Tamils face severe danger if returned.
Despite some complications, oil giant Shell is confident it will get to work drilling for oil in the Arctic this year. This just goes to show how things usually have a way of working out. Here we were worrying peak oil was just about upon us. But thanks to global warming caused by burning oil, the Arctic ice melt opens up more and more oil for the oil giants to burn.
The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) could have been a flagship policy that restored dignity to people with disabilities. Instead, ALP timidity and Coalition intransigence have left Australia with a woefully inadequate policy.

World

"The situation is pretty grim," Reihana Mohideen told Green Left Weekly on August 8 from the frontline of devastating floods that have submerged half of Manila over the last few days. "It's still raining hard and hard to get around." "This is another painful reminder of the global climate change crisis and the pain is being felt most by the poor and most oppressed."
Premakumar Gunaratnam, an ethnic Tamil from Sri Lanka, who is an Australian citizen, returned to his home country in September 2011 to help organise the launch of a new left party, the Frontline Socialist Party (FLSP), a major breakaway from the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP, People’s Liberation Front). He had been a JVP activist for three decades and a member of its underground political bureau since 1994.
When Tamil asylum seeker Dayan Anthony was deported back to Sri Lanka by the Australian government last month, his immediate arrest and interrogation did little to allay fears he would not face harassment from authorities. His subsequent government-arranged press conference appeared to be staged for the benefit of the Sri Lankan and Australian governments.
Arriving in Caracas, Venezuela’s capital, the first thing you notice is the extensive swathes of mountainside covered with poorly built, crowded, ad-hoc homes ― known locally as the barrios. Caracas’s shanty-town barrios were built in response to the influx of migrants from the countryside during the 20th century. As Venezuela struck oil in the 1920s, it became easier and cheaper to use oil money to import foodstuffs. Many small farmers lost their livelihoods and poured into the capital in search of work.
In a speech marking the one month anniversary of the parliamentary coup that overthrow left-leaning Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo, the ousted leader said on July 22 that a motivating interest for the coup-plotters was a sought-after deal between Paraguay and Montreal-based mining company, Rio Tinto Alcan (RTA). “Those who pushed for the coup are those who want to solidify the negotiations with the multinational Rio Tinto Alcan, betraying the energetic sovereignty and interests of our country,” Lugo told supporters.
Thousands of peasant workers took to the streets of Caracas on July 26 to hand over a list of programmatic suggestions to the government and show their support for Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. More than 2000 peasant activists from across 18 of Venezuela’s states took part in the march, as well as other members of the national popular movement who attended in solidarity. See also: Venezuela: Food sovereignty starts to take root
Bolivian President Evo Morales applauded on July 10 the agreement struck with indigenous peoples from the mining town of Mallku Khota, in the north of Potosi, to nationalise a Canadian-owned mining company. Morales said the agreement ensures the state can continue recuperating natural resources to benefit the Bolivian people. The head of state met with leaders from the ayllus (indigenous communities) in this region that were demanding the concession granting to the Canadian company South American Silver (SAS) be annulled.
US Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney generated a backlash with his claims in Jerusalem that the vast (20:1) disparity in income between Israelis and Palestinians can be explained by a superior Jewish Israeli culture and “the hand of providence” ― rather than by the systematic depradations of Israeli occupation on the economy of Palestinians.
British Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne's desperate efforts to put an Olympic shine on Britain's economy are failing to get off the starting blocks. As they postured on the sidelines, the world saw the reality of an economy teetering on the brink of an unprecedented triple-dip recession. Asset management company Schroders chief economist Azad Zangana believes gross domestic product (GDP) will rise by 0.5% this quarter due to the Olympics.
The July 20 movie theatre massacre in Aurora, Colorado ― in which 12 people were killed and 58 wounded ― is reckoned by some sources to be the 36th mass shooting to have occurred in the US in the past three decades. On top of these crazed rampages, the annual attrition of gun-related deaths accounts for about 30,000 victims across the US. It would be bad enough if the seemingly unchallengeable dogma of the US Constitution's 2nd Amendment’s “right to bear arms” contributed to the deaths of only US citizens. Yet US “gun culture” is a lethal problem for the rest of the world as well.
Hundreds of armour-clad thugs from a private strikebreaking firm raided the site of a peaceful protest against a management-imposed lockout at the SJM car parts factory in Ansan, South Korea, on July 27. Thirty four workers were injured and many were taken to hospital for treatment of serious injuries. The private strikebreakers were fitted in full riot gear with helmets, shields, sharp iron parts and meter long clubs. They sprayed fire extinguishers to obscure the workers' vision as they went on a club-weilding rampage.
Security forces killed 12 anti-government protesters — mostly teenagers — and injured more than 80 on July 31 in Nyala, the capital of South Darfur. The protests, which began the previous day, were launched by hundreds of primary and secondary school students in opposition to price rises for basic goods. Numbers swelled as more and more people took to the streets to join the students, calling for the downfall of the regime.
On July evenings, most people in Toronto are just trying to find ways to escape the heat and humidity. On July 30, more 150 people filled the room for a meeting on Contested Futures: Tar Sands and Environmental Justice. Many had to sit on tables or stand to hear from two indigenous leaders of environmental justice actions in Ontario and two delegates to the People’s Summit Rio +20. The meeting was initiated by the Greater Toronto Workers Assembly (International Solidarity Committee) and Toronto Bolivia Solidarity; a further 20 groups endorsed and helped build the event.
Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Montreal on August 1. The protests came the day after the call for an election in the Quebec province by the Liberal Party government of Quebec Premier Jean Charest. Quebec has been rocked this year by a large student strike against a proposed tuition fee hike and huge street demonstrations. In response, the Liberal government introduced the draconian Law 78, which severely restricts the right to protest.
Police shot and killed a 25-year-old Latino man, Manuel Diaz, in Anaheim, California, in his front yard on July 21 Diaz was not armed. Within hours of the murder, hundreds of angry residents took to the streets in protest. The cops attacked the demonstrators with clubs, pepper spray and bean bag bullets. One protester was grabbed by a cop (who had his hand on his gun) for carrying a protest sign as he was walking toward the demonstration. He was charged with “jaywalking.”
Olympic organisers and their corporate sponsor Visa were still keeping mum on August 1 after yet another ironic twist to their “cashless Olympics”. Hungry spectators at Wembley to see Team GB women's victory over Brazil took to social networks on the night of July 31 to complain of a second breakdown in three days of payment systems at food counters “proud to only accept Visa” under the company's exclusive sponsorship deal.
In a victory for free speech, the Counter Olympics Network held a demonstration of 500 people on July 28 against the corporate takeover and militarisation of the Olympic Games. Under pressure from local campaigners, Tower Hamlets Council was forced to lift its ban on the arranged speakers for the demonstration. Speakers included MP John McDonnell, Ruth Tanner from War on Want, and Stop the Olympic Missiles campaigner and vice-chair of Stop the War Coalition, Chris Nineham.
British Olympics chiefs are reported by the media to be “furious” after Welsh and Scottish players with the “Team Great Britain” soccer squads did not sing “God Save the Queen” in official ceremonies before kick-off. Welsh players Craig Bellamy, Joe Allen, Neil Taylor and team captain Ryan Giggs all remained tight-lipped during the anthem ahead of the July 28 match with United Arab Emirates.

Culture

The left lost United States' writer Alexander Cockburn, one of its most powerful essayists and diarists, on July 21. He was an ironist who, unlike Christopher Hitchens, did not tend to confuse irony with supercilious chauvinism and leaden sarcasm (see The Long Short War for examples of these traits).
Cocaine, Death Squads & the War on Terror: US Imperialism & Class Struggle in Colombia By Oliver Villar & Drew Cottle Monthly Review Press, New York, 2011 Dedicated to “the workers and peasants of Colombia”, Cocaine, Death Squads and the War on Terror is a serious and rigorous study of Colombian society. For the authors, both lecturers in politics at Australian universities, the book represents a labour of love, condensing more than 10 years of research.
Why Are We The Good Guys? David Cromwell Zero Books Out September 28, 2012 www.zero-books.net As a child, David Cromwell got an invaluable insight into the way the corporate media skews the news. Scattered around his family's Scottish home were "mainstream" newspapers like the Daily Record and Glasgow Herald. But among them was also the non-corporate Daily Worker, later to become the Morning Star, which his father not only bought, but sold.
When you are in a hole, you stop digging. Even if this were not a cliche by now, it would still be common sense. Does this mean, then, that Russian President Vladimir Putin and the hierarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church lack basic reasoning skills? The decision to extend the stay in prison of three members of feminist punk band Pussy Riot certainly seems to prove so.

We kid you not

United States: Cops taser 12-year-old “A police officer tased a 12-year-old girl inside a Victoria's Secret [on] Wednesday afternoon at South County Center [in St Louis County, Missouri]. “Police say the officer came into the Victoria's Secret looking for the teenager's mom, who had warrants for her arrest. But it was the teen who got tased. “'This one goes in my chest. It was stuck in there so she had to keep on pulling trying to pull it out,' said Dejamon Baker, as she pointed to a small wound on her chest ...