Issue 933

News

At least eight same-sex couples said “I do” in a mass illegal wedding ceremony on the steps of Melbourne's Old Treasury Building on August 11. More than 3000 people attended Equal Love's annual mass protest in the Melbourne CBD. The protest, which began with a rally at the State Library, was part of a series of actions held in cities across Australia. It has been an annual event since the former John Howard government changed the Marriage Act to say that marriage is an institution between a man and a woman.
About 1000 people rallied in Sydney on August 11 as part of a national day of action for equal marriage rights. The rallies took place on the eighth anniversary of the former Howard government's decision to ban lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex people from marrying.
National round up from the August 11 equal marriage demonstrations marking the 8th anniversary of the Liberal-Labor ban on same-sex marriage. Footage includes Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Hobart, Brisbane and Adelaide rallies, and features Greens MP Adam Bandt (Melbourne rally) , prominent gay rights campaigner Rodney Croomb (Hobart rally), SYdney MUA secretary Paul McAleer (Sydney rally) plus more.
Protesters gathered in Perth on August 11 as part of a national day of protest that called on the Australian government to reject the FV Margiris, one of the world's biggest fishing trawlers, from fishing in Australian waters. For more details visit http://stopthetrawler.net/ Footage by Zebedee Parkes
Rally in Melbourne to stop Black deaths in custody in Australia. Interview with political activist Viv Moore. Filmed by Katrina Channels for Green Left TV.
Refugee rights supporters gathered in Melbourne on August 12 in a protest organised by the Refugee Action Collective (Victoria) to demand no offshore processing of refugees.
The Socialist Alliance NSW released the statement below on August 13. * * * “Building larger and larger carparks next to railway stations is not the solution to congestion,” says John Coleman, the lead Socialist Alliance candidate for the Woodville ward in the Parramatta local election. “Public transport needs to be planned and maintained to provide a complete alternative to cars — not to encourage even more cars onto the road.” Coleman is a CityRail worker, a public transport activist and a long-time resident of Granville.
Armidale Action on Coal Seam Gas released the statement below on August 13. * * * Armidale Action on Coal Seam Gas has raised questions about the so-called energy forum being held in Armidale this week, saying the invitation-only event smacks of a coal seam gas promotional event that is ignoring other energy options and riding roughshod over the interests of local farmers.
About 2500 people rallied in Melbourne for equal marriage rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex people on August 11. A mass illegal wedding was held in defiance of the federal marriage ban.
About 200 past and present students, teachers, local residents and local traders rallied to save Swinburne University of Technology’s Prahran TAFE campus on August 5. The event was organised by the National Tertiary Education Union and former staff and students. Former Swinburne executive director of educational development Judy Bissland has worked at the campus for 30 years. “I am still involved with campus through working with disengaged youth,” she told the crowd. “Funding cuts to TAFE and the vocational sector [are] disastrous. We need to take action to stop cuts or modify cuts.”
FWA rules Qantas can outsource jobs Fair Work Australia (FWA) rewarded Qantas CEO Alan Joyce for his October grounding of the airline's fleet and lockout of the workforce, announcing on August 8 that it would place no restrictions on it outsourcing jobs. Joyce responded by announcing on the same day that the airline will axe 2800 jobs — or more than 10% of its workforce — during its “transformation plan”.
Cuba solidarity activists, members of Australia’s Latin American community and leftists from around the country will take part in a two-day conference in Sydney to pay homage to Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro. Video messages of support for Fidel from renowned leftist personalities will be screened alongside a full agenda of talks focused on Castro’s ideas, thoughts and legacy for the 21st century.
More than 30,000 Victorian teachers and 40,000 Queensland teachers are set to strike in September and October, in defence of teacher pay and conditions under threat from conservative state governments.
Tasmanian logging company Gunns now doubts its $3 billion pulp mill, planned for the Tamar Valley, will ever be built. The company told the Australian Securities Exchange on August 6 that its debts were somewhere between $50 million and $150 million. It said the steep decline in the price of woodchips and the high Australian dollar were to blame for its financial woes. Gunns said this meant the “board has been unable to reach a view” that the pulp mill project could go ahead.
The Beyond Nuclear Initiative released the statement below on August 7. *** Calling for tender to design a remote radioactive waste facility while the only proposed site is under federal court challenge is putting the radioactive cart before the horse, the Beyond Nuclear Initiative (BNI) has said today.
The Sea Shepherd boat the Steve Irwin docked in Broome on August 6 to join community protests against the $30 billion gas hub proposed for James Price Point, in Western Australia’s Kimberley region. Sea Shepherd, a marine conservation organisation, said it undertook the trip “to highlight the significance of the James Price Point marine environment as a habitat and feeding ground for humpback whales, dolphins and turtles”.
The Congolese Community of Australia held a rally on August 10 calling for an end to violence in the Congo. It focused on recent violence in eastern region led by the M23 Rebellion. Patrice Neyembo, president of the Congolese Community of Australia, said: “The M23 Rebellion is not really a rebellion, it is an invasion by the Rwandan government with the backing of Western allies. The aim is to take the land and legalise the exploitation of minerals in the so-called ‘neutral’ area.”
The Socialist Alliance NSW released the statement below on August 9. * * * The Socialist Alliance (SA) has announced its candidates for the Woodville ward of Parramatta City Council, citing public transport, better community services and opposition to racism as its three key campaign issues. Under the banners "Community need, not developer greed" and "For a Community Council" SA will stand local community activists John Coleman, Kerryn Williams and Ross Geary.

Analysis

Nationwide, more than 105,000 people were homeless on any given night in 2006. About 36,000 were under 25, and 22,000 of these were teenagers. Middle-aged women and their children have also increasingly filled out the statistics, due to their lower incomes and the lack of support services for victims of domestic violence.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s “expert panel” on refugee policy will hand over its findings on how to “stop the boats” and end the parliamentary “deadlock” over offshore processing when parliament begins sitting again next week. After an asylum boat tragedy that killed 90 people in June, the three-member panel, headed by former defence chief Angus Houston, was tasked to report on the “best way forward for Australia to prevent asylum seekers risking their lives” considering “Australia’s right to maintain its borders”.
The story behind the corporation that owns the Beverley uranium mine in north-east South Australia is scarcely believable. Heathgate Resources — a 100%-owned subsidiary of General Atomics (GA) — owns and operates Beverley and has a stake in the adjacent Beverley Four Mile mine. Over the years, GA CEO Neal Blue has had commercial interests in oil, Predator drones, uranium mining, nuclear reactors, cocoa, bananas and real estate.
Daniel Fejo is a candidate for the First Nations Political Party running for the seat of Blaine in the August 25 Northern Territory elections. Fejo is a Larrakeyah man and a home and community care worker in the Bagot community. Fejo spoke to Green Left Weekly’s Peter Robson. * * * What does the First Nations Political Party say about the proposed nuclear waste dump in the NT?
The Victorian state government has begun a neoliberal experiment with the Victorian public as its guinea pigs. After the Jeff Kennett-led Coalition state government in the 1990s privatised electricity, gas, public transport, roads, prisons, prisoner transport and much else, one of the few things left to be privatised is vocational education. Job losses of 2000 permanent workers have been reported. However, adding all sessional teachers who won't have their contracts renewed, the number who will lose their job tallies to about 10,000, the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) says.
Queensland Liberal National Party (LNP) Premier Campbell Newman said Queensland voters were “thankful” for his government's savage cuts to jobs and public spending. This, presumably, is in much the same way you'd be thankful if you had crossed a mafia don and he only broke your legs.
The following open letter has been sent to every Greens MP in the country on August 10. Click here to sign the petition in support of the letter. *** The Greens have since their foundation been a party that supports justice and the rule of law. It is a party committed, at its very core, to universal human rights and international law. The official policy for Israel/Palestine is to:
Robert Magid, owner and publisher of the Australian Jewish News, published an opinion piece about refugees and asylum-seekers on August 3. He described “illegal immigration” as “a criminal enterprise” and said he “doubt[ed] there is a single boat person” that seeks asylum in Australia who flees “certain death”.
Opposition leader Tony Abbott says he wants to open a “new debate about freedom of speech”. But Abbott is most interested in defending “free speech” for Australia’s rich and powerful at the expense of oppressed and marginalised groups.
Beyond Zero Emissions released the statement below on August 8. * * * If Julia Gillard wants to support households against price-gouging by electricity companies, she should look closer at renewable energy and energy efficiency, says think-tank Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE). Electricity retailers accused of over-investing in grid infrastructure (like poles and wires) would lose their justification if peak energy use spikes were reduced.
More than 50% of counties in the United States are now officially designated “disaster” zones. The reason given in 90% of cases is due to the continent-wide drought that has been devastating crop production. Forty eight percent of the US corn crop is rated as “poor to very poor”, along with 37% of soy. Seventy three percent of cattle acreage is suffering drought, along with 66% of land given to the production of hay.

World

There are reports dozens of police have gathered outside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, in the early hours of August 16, and there are reports some police have been seen entering the building. It is feared a raid to kidnap WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange, who is inside the building seeking asylum from Ecuador. However, this would run the risk of an extreme diplomatic incident. * * * Brisbane: EMERGENCY RALLY TODAY August 16, 4pm. Vigil outside Department of Foreign Affairs in Ann St.
Shamikh Badra, youth leader of the Palestine People's Party, speaking at a forum in Perth. Badra is touring Australia thanks to socialist youth group Resistance. Film by Zeb Parkes for Green Left TV.
West Papuan independence leader Buchtar Tabuni has been put on trial as part of Indonesia's crackdown on the independence movement. Tabuni, a leader of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB), was arrested in June for allegedly organising “anarchic” protests calling on the government to properly investigate a wave of random shootings blamed on independence activists. The protests were peaceful until attacked by police and ended with several activists dead and others injured.
This isn’t an obituary. Every now and again those who hope and pray for his death spread yet another rumour, only to be disappointed by a photo or a commentary in that unmistakable style, confirming that Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro is very much alive and making the most of his twilight years. When the inevitable does happen, the world, admirers and detractors alike, will pause for reflection. The corporate media will saturate our inner recesses with words and images that convey, for the most part, how the 1% appraise his life and legacy. Just imagine the gloating on Fox News.
The 50-year rule of the Ba’ath Party in Syria looks to be effectively over. In the past month armed clashes have spread to the Syrian capital, Damascus, and the largest city, Aleppo. Armed opposition forces have taken control of several border points. On August 6, Prime Minister Riad Hijab defected to the opposition. The regime of Bashar al-Assad — who inherited the presidency in 2000 from his father, Hafez al-Assad, who seized power in a 1970 military coup — no longer controls the country.
'Palestinians must unite to tackle the occupation' Shamikh Badra is the youth and students coordinator for the Palestinian People Party (PPP) in the Palestinian Gaza Strip. The PPP is a left-wing, secular party that is part of the Palestinian liberation movement. Badra is on a tour of Australia to speak about the situation in Gaza and Palestine's struggle for justice. Green Left Weekly’s Patrick Harrison spoke to Badra. * * *
There have been outrageous abuses of power before and during the Olympic Games in London this year. These include a police attack on, and mass arrests during, a "critical mass" bike ride, the placing of missiles on civilian roofs despite protests by affected residents, and special “Olympic lanes” on roads whose use is limited those granted special permission by games organisers.
People and governments across Latin America are rising up against foreign mining companies in a wave of revolt generating alarm among investors and their political operatives in the imperialist governments. In Haiti, United States and Canadian gold mining companies are rubbing their hands over the riches that they believe await them. A recent study by Haiti Grassroots Watch estimates up to US$20 billion, at gold’s current price of $1600 an ounce, lies in the ground.
The list below was posted by independent journalist Juan Cole on his Informed Comment blog. * * * 1. White terrorists are called “gunmen”. What does that even mean? A person with a gun? Wouldn’t that be, like, everyone in the US? Other terrorists are called, like, “terrorists”. 2. White terrorists are “troubled loners”. Other terrorists are always suspected of being part of a global plot, even when they are obviously troubled loners.
Wade Michael Page, a Nazi white supremacist, entered a Sikh temple in a town near Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on August 5 and opened fire with a semi-automatic pistol, killing six and wounding three others. Page also shot a police officer who arrived on the scene, critically injuring him. After being wounded by another officer, Page killed himself. Page’s ex-girlfriend, who belonged to the same local Nazi group he did, was later arrested on a weapons charge, but has not been implicated in the attack on the Sikh temple. See also:

Culture

Secrecy: The Key to Independence Laura S. Abrantes & Beba Sequeira Asia Pacific Support Collective Timor-Leste, Dili 2012, 102 pp. This is a book you should turn to whenever you think activism is too hard. Twelve women from the remote areas of Timor-Leste (East Timor) tell how they fought for their nation's independence. In the 24-year war from 1975 to 1999, official estimates are that 18,600 people were killed by conflict and 84,200 died of hunger and disease.
People are raising their voices in Sydney over August 24-26 to raise awareness among activists of songs, old and new, that further movements for social change. There was a time when protest songs attracted positive media attention; now the media tends to complain about the lack of contemporary “protest” songs while they simultaneously ignore or rubbish them.
The ferries that ply the river west of Sydney Harbour bear the names of Australia's world champion sportswomen. They include the Olympic swimming gold-medalists Dawn Fraser and Shane Gould, and runners Betty Cuthbert and Marjorie Jackson.
Eskape Reality Eskatology July 25, 2012 Bandcamp What's in a name? Everything, for Aboriginal rapper Eskatology. His music has his name written all over it. Eskatology, also known as 26-year-old South Australian Jonathan Stier, first came across the term "eschatology" through studying religion. "Religion does play a part in my life, and I was doing a bit of religious studying and came across this word and it intrigued me," he tells Green Left Weekly.

Fighting Fund

NASA scientist James Hansen was in an August 3 blunt about the future Washington Post  article: “When I testified before the Senate in the hot summer of 1988, I warned of the kind of future that climate change would bring to us and our planet.

Resistance!

If your home was going to be demolished in 15 minutes, what would you save? Facing a life of poverty, would you salvage valuables? Or, would you retrieve sentimental items, knowing that every day your people lose pieces of their ancient history and culture? For Israeli “refusenik” Sahar Vardi, watching Palestinians being forced to make this decision at gunpoint just a few kilometres from her own home changed her life.