Issue 938

News

The National Welfare Rights Network released the statement below on October 9. * * * The Social Security Legislation Amendment (Fair Incentives to Work) Bill 2012 passed the Senate today saving the government $728 million over four years and cutting between $65 and $115 per week from 100,000 single parents.
About 40 activists from the Refugee Action Collective Victoria and other refugee rights groups protested outside the Melbourne offices of Thai Airways on September 14. Thai Airways were used in the July 25 deportation of a Tamil refugee back to Sri Lanka. He underwent a 16-hour interrogation on arrival, after which he told a press conference that he withdrew his past allegations of torture at the hands of the Sri Lankan regime.
More than 1000 members of the United Firefighters Union (UFU), along with supporters from other unions, marched to the Victorian parliament house on September 13 to protest against funding cuts to the Metropolitan Fire Brigade and the Country Fire Authority. UFU members marched in their uniforms, despite attempts by management to intimidate them not to do so. Leaked Treasury documents obtained by the union show that the Metropolitan Fire Brigade will lose $25 million and the Country Fire Authority $41 million in the first year of the cuts.
Its website says UniLife is the University of South Australia's (UniSA) “democratic organisation run by students”. But new changes to UniLife’s rules mean student members are no longer entitled to know what their representatives do. This is the result of sweeping amendments to the UniLife constitution passed by student referendum on September 3. UniLife said the changes were designed to allow it to “operate in compliance with relevant Commonwealth legislation”.
Billionaire mining giants slash jobs Despite making profits of $20 billion combined in the past year, mining giants BHP Billiton and Xstrata announced on September 10 they would axe 900 jobs. BHP Billiton, which announced an annual $14.8 billion profit last month, will scrap 300 jobs when it closes its 33-year-old Gregory mine in Queensland next month.
Refugee advocates rallied in Sydney and Melbourne in a snap response to the first group of 40 refugees flown to Nauru to be held indefinitely on September 14. Protesters in Sydney rallied outside the department of immigration offices and heard Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) Sydney branch secretary Paul McAleer pledge to “stand side by side in solidarity” with refugees.
Stop CSG Illawarra is preparing for another mass, community action on October 21. They plan to form a human sign at Bulli Showground that says “Protect H2O, Stop CSG”. The sign is part of Lock The Gate's national week of action.
The Communist Party of Australia's (CPA) Tony Oldfield was elected to Auburn Council in the NSW local government elections on September 8. He became the fourth socialist to be elected as a local councillor around the country. The others are Sam Wainwright (Socialist Alliance, Fremantle Council) and Steve Jolly and Anthony Main (Socialist Party, Yarra City Council, Victoria).
A day after the Queensland Liberal National Party (LNP)’s slash-and-burn budget was handed down, huge union rallies — the biggest since the campaign against the Howard government’s Work Choices laws — took place on September 12. Ten thousand workers marched on parliament house in Brisbane, and marches and rallies were also held in several regional centres, such as Townsville, Cairns, Mackay, Rockhampton, Bundaberg, the Sunshine Coast, Toowoomba and the Gold Coast.
The Indigenous Social Justice Association released the statement below on September 14. *** Several sovereign Aboriginal nations are considering giving Julian Assange refuge and sanctuary in their nations. It was argued that as Julian is an Australian citizen he should be allowed to seek sanctuary in one of the sovereign Aboriginal nations in the lands known as Australia.
Adelaide's first Australia Israel Cultural Exchange (AICE) Israeli Film Festival (IFF) has been picketed by boycott, divestment and sanction (BDS) campaign activists. Over September 5-9, more than a dozen activists took part in the pickets, organised by the Australian Friends of Palestine Association (AFOPA). AFOPA's Margaret Cassar told Green Left Weekly: “AFOPA held three protests outside the Palace Eastend Cinema to educate the public and Palace-Nova management about the cultural boycott against Israel.”
More than 600 unionists and supporters rallied in Cairns’ City Place as part of the statewide day of action against the Campbell Newman government’s budget cuts on September 12. Larger groups of teachers, United Voice members, Ergon electricians, state public servants in purple Together Union T-shirts, and others, flanked contingents of ambulance officers and firefighters in uniform. The mood was sombre and intense, with people standing still and listening more quietly than usual to the speakers.
Stop CSG Illawarra released the statement below on September 12. * * * Along with yesterday’s release of the NSW Strategic Regional Land Use Policy, came the offer to renew 22 coal seam gas (CSG) exploration licences in NSW, including four in the Illawarra. These licences cover more than five million hectares in NSW. A new CSG production licence was also granted in Casino, and the freeze on fracking was lifted.
About 20 refugee supporters gathered outside the immigration department's office in Darwin on September 12 to protest against the federal Labor government’s plan to send asylum seekers to Nauru. The protest, organised by the Darwin Asylum Seeker Support and Advocacy Network (DASSAN), had an added urgency as immigration minister Chris Bowen announced on September 10 people would be transferred at the end of the week.
The Darwin Asylum Seeker Support and Advocacy Network (DASSAN) released the statement below on September 11. * * * The Darwin Asylum Seeker Support and Advocacy Network (DASSAN) has condemned Minister Chris Bowen’s announcement that asylum seekers will be moved to Nauru from the end of this week.
The Lock the Gate Alliance released the statement below on September 12. * * * The Barry O'Farrell government yesterday opened the floodgates to coal seam gas mining in NSW with Minister for Resources Chris Hartcher moving to renew 22 coal seam gas exploration licences including many of the most controversial and hotly contested titles in NSW.
The newly formed Rainbow Youth Collective was officially launched in Adelaide at a social gathering at the activist centre on September 7. The event also marked Wear It Purple Day — a national youth day against homophobia. About 50 young people from a variety of backgrounds attended throughout the evening. The launch provided an excellent opportunity for networking between people involved in different queer groups in Adelaide with a rich variety of interests, contacts and specialty areas.
The Lock the Gate Alliance released the statement below on September 11. * * * The Lock the Gate Alliance reacted to today’s announcement of the NSW government’s Strategic Regional Land Use Policy by saying that gates across the state would remain locked to coal and coal seam gas mining.
Stop CSG Illawarra released the statement below on September 11. * * * The NSW government today released its Strategic Regional Land Use Policy; plans the public was told would protect land and water. Stop CSG Illawarra has described the plans released today as a disaster and a broken election promise; and one that fails to protect drinking water catchments.

Analysis

Controversy is swirling around David Marr's Quarterly Essay article, which details Tony Abbott's time as a right-wing student activist on Sydney University. It describes Abbott as having been a violent, misogynist, homophobic thug who once punched a wall to intimidate a female opponent. Abbott's response has been to categorically deny he ever hit a wall. Sure, he may promote vicious anti-gay and anti-women policies, but Abbott wants to make it clear he has never engaged in wall bashing.
I was attending a small but engaging rally against internet spying on September 15, organised by the Pirate Party and others at Hyde Park North, when seven police cars and four-wheel-drives drove into the park and about 20 police officers got out. Protesting members of the Muslim community shouting “Allahu Akbar!”, marched into the park and police told us to hurry and pack up. More police ran, in phalanx formation towards the Muslim rally.
You don't have to be a clairvoyant to see what is to come in the aftermath of the so-called “Sydney riots” that occurred on September 15. Media will show images of “Violent religious fundamentalist thugs” taking over streets. “Shocking images” of protesters holding up placards with slogans like “Behead all those who insult the Prophet”.
Sinn Fein TD (member of the Irish parliament) Pearse Doherty speaking to about 100 people in Perth on September 8 about the brutal austerity, to fund huge bank bailouts, in Ireland. This is destroying the lives of working people and driving 76,000 people to emigrate every year.
Indoor and outdoor sex work is currently decriminalised in New South Wales. This may soon change with the proposed introduction of a brothel licensing scheme. The licensing scheme will take brothel regulation out of the hands of local councils and will give police powers to regulate brothels.
Forty Tamil asylum seekers were flown to Nauru overnight on September 13, marking the beginning of Labor’s “Pacific solution” and a return to offshore processing. The group on Christmas Island were reported to have been under guard of federal police and did not resist. An earlier High Court decision on September 7 rejected the right of asylum seekers to appeal against pending deportations. The court ruling also makes possible further forced returns of refugees to danger.
The results September 8 NSW local government elections have not been finalised yet, but results showed a 7% swing to the Liberals across the state. Many more Liberal councillors will take office than were elected in 2008. The ALP suffered a statewide 6% swing against it and the Greens vote dropped 1%. The Liberals picked up the most positions in former ALP strongholds in Sydney's west.
“RIP to the 2976 American people that lost their lives on 9/11 and RIP to the 48,644 Afghan and 1,690,903 Iraqi people that paid the ultimate price for a crime they did not commit. And the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who experience this everyday. Your 9/11 is their 24/7.” The above quote that flashed across the social media last week captured a reflection of many people about the terrible collective punishment still inflicted on innocent people right across the Middle East and beyond for the September 11, 2001, terror attacks in the US.
Pointing to swings of 10-20% in parts of western Sydney to Liberal candidates standing in the September 8 local council elections, media commentators are claiming traditional working class areas have deserted Labor and rejected the Greens, instead choosing to shift rightwards. The Sydney Morning Herald headlined its September 10 edition: “Change in the air as Libs take over Labor strongholds.”
Compulsory income management must be opposed: this was the consensus from a lively August 29 community meeting hosted by the Socialist Alliance in Playford, northern Adelaide, where income management is being “trialled” for some welfare recipients. This meeting included activists, locals, and representatives from community and welfare groups. People placed on income management have 50% to 70% of their payments put on a “Basics Card”, which can be used can be used to buy government-approved “essential” items.
The article below first appeared at The Conversation on September 11. Claire Parfitt is a research student at the University of Sydney. She is affiliated with the Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance and is a coordinator of the People's Food Plan project. ***
The Australian government has bowed to public pressure and banned the supertrawler from operating in Australian waters for two years. During this time more scientific research will be completed into the effects the supertrawler would have on local fish stocks. The supertrawler, known as the Margiris before changing its name to the Abel Tasman, is the world's second-largest trawler and would have been the largest ship ever to fish in Australian waters. The 142-metre-long ship had a quota of 18,000 tonnes, which it would have caught with its 300-metre-long net.
The Coalition New South Wales government released its Strategic Regional Land Use Policy on September 11. The public was told the policy would protect land and water from the impacts of mining and coal seam gas (CSG) development. Instead it is a policy to develop CSG and mineral mining in the state — despite well-evidenced risks and enormous community opposition — and breaks a slew of promises made to the people of NSW.
Australian lawyer and human rights activist Kellie Tranter spoke at a September 12 forum at NSW parliament house titled "Assange, WikiLeaks & the Law in a Post 9/11 World". The forum was hosted by Greens MLC David Shoebridge with the Support Assange and WikiLeaks Coalition and the Sydney Stop the War Coalition.
Australian lawyer and human rights activist Kellie Tranter gave the speech below at a September 12 forum at NSW parliament house titled "Assange, WikiLeaks & the Law in a Post 9/11 World". The forum was hosted by Greens MLC David Shoebridge with the Support Assange and WikiLeaks Coalition and the Sydney Stop the War Coalition. * * *
The Socialist Alliance released the statement below on September 10. * * * The Socialist Alliance condemns the Australian government’s ongoing support for Indonesian security forces, particularly the Detachment 88 “counter-terrorism” unit implicated in human rights abuses in the occupied nation of West Papua and elsewhere in Indonesia.
Everywhere you look these days, things are turning green. In Chiapas, Mexico, indigenous farmers are being paid to protect the last vast stretch of rainforest in Mesoamerica. In the Brazilian Amazon, peasant families are given a monthly “green basket” of basic food staples to allow them to get by without cutting down trees. In Kenya, small farmers who plant climate-hardy trees and protect green zones are promised payment for their part in the fight to reduce global warming.

World

Celebrated Israeli historian, Ilan Pappe who wrote "The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine" that documented the 1948 removal of 700,000 Palestinians from their lands, has now written about "The Forgotten Palestinians". In the book, and at this September 16 community meeting at Sydney University, Pappe reveals the situation for the Palestinians who still live within Israel's borders.
“My plan is to demolish the ultra-right so that a true opposition arises, because I am ready to work with them,” Venezuelan socialist President Hugo Chavez told a mass rally of supporters of his re-election campaign in the Caracas neighbourhood of Charallave on September 9.
Exit polls have shown the Dutch Socialist Party will get 15 seats after the September 12 elections, the same number it had before. When two weeks ago, with polls showing the SP stood to win about 35 seats, even The Economist felt the need to raise the alarm over SP-leader Emile Roemer's “far-left party”. With this fresh in the memory, that's a deep disappointment for Dutch leftists. But it shouldn't come as much of a surprise.
The statement below was released by the Dutch Socialist Party on September 12. * * * A combative Emile Roemer addressed hundreds of Socialist Party members in the Paard van Troje (Trojan Horse) venue in The Hague. The SP held on to its 15 seats, despite a fiercely fought two-horse race between the PvdA (Labour Party) and the VVD (centre-right liberals). “Yes,” said Roemer, “I am extremely proud of this party and of the million people who voted for us.
Angered by the non-stop, one-sided propaganda on CNN and BBC World, usually a prelude to NATO bombing campaigns (including the six-month onslaught on Libya, the casualties of which are still hidden from the public) or direct occupations, I was asked to explain my views on RTV. I did so, denouncing the promotion of the Syrian National Council by Western media networks and pointing out that some of the armed-struggle opposition were perfectly capable of carrying out their own massacres and blaming them on the regime.
Pressure is mounting for police officers involved in the Hillsborough disaster to face prosecution. In 1989, 96 football fans were killed in a human crush in a game between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield. The calls for prosecution follow the publication of a damning report by the Hillsborough Independent Panel that exposed the extent of the cover-up by South Yorkshire Police, which attempted to shift the blame onto the 96 innocent victims.
Protests by Muslims have spread around the world against the anti-Islamic propaganda film Innocence of Muslims. In response to violent attacks on US embassies in Libya and Yemen, that killed for Americans including the ambassador, US President Barack Obama informed US Congress on September 14 that he had deployed US soldiers “equipped for combat” to the two Arab nations.
“Why do they hate us?” That was the question asked by many baffled Americans after the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington. Eleven years later, Americans are asking the question again after the US ambassador, another US diplomat, two US marines and 10 Libyan guards were killed in attacks on the US consulate in Benghazi. The hate film, Innocence of Muslims, was virtually unheard of until its producers dubbed its most offensive scenes into Egyptian vernacular Arabic and promoted it in the Middle East on social media.
US: One in five kids live in poverty "New figures have been released by the US census bureau revealing a yearly decline in median household income for Americans, growing inequality and more than one in five children under 18 years old living in poverty.   "In a survey of data for 2011, the census discovered that real median household income in the US had dipped by 1.5% from its level in 2010 to sit at $50,054 a year. The fall is the second consecutive annual decline ...  
The governments of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain have gone to great lengths to control information about the ongoing uprisings in their countries. This is part of their efforts to crush the democracy movements that have sought to overthrow the ruling monarchies. The protests are part of the Arab Spring uprisings that began in Tunisia in late 2010 and spread across the Middle East and north Africa.
After melting past the previous record minimum in late August, Arctic sea ice cap has continued its rapid decline. By September 5, the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC) said the ice cap had fallen below 4 million square kilometres ― “a 45% reduction in the area of the Arctic covered by sea ice” since the 1980s and ’90s. This year’s melt “didn’t just touch the record, it really drove right through it”, the NSIDC’s Ted Scambos told US National Public Radio on September 12.
For the Financial Post, the recent actions of the Bolivian government in nationalising a Canadian mine confirmed the country’s status as an “outlaw nation”, according to an August 3 article. But for less biased observers, the reality was a little different. Responding to pressure from local indigenous communities the Bolivian government confirmed on August 2 that it would expropriate the operations of a Canadian-owned mining project.
“One of the things you learn as an anthropologist, you don’t come in and change the culture,” Dartmouth College president Jim Yong Kim told wealthy alumni when contemplating the institution’s notorious hazing practices, prior to US President Barack Obama’s request in February that he move to the World Bank. Kim’s Harvard doctorate and medical degree, his founding of the heroic NGO Partners in Health and his directorship of the World Health Organization’s AIDS division make him the best-educated, most humane World Bank president yet.
On the Catalan National Day, September 11, Spanish politics suffered a huge shock: up to 2 million people ― more than a quarter of the population of Catalonia ― marched through the streets of Barcelona shouting one word, “independencia”. It was a moment when countless Catalans (those from the four provinces that make up Catalonia in Spain's north-east) discovered that others felt the way they did ― it is time to drop Spain for a state of our own.

Culture

"Professor" Andy Smokescreen answers every question you wanted to ask about Muslim protests.
Tamil Nation in Sri Lanka By Ron Ridenour New Century Book House Chennai, India Available in Australia via www.resistancebooks.com Ron Ridenour's Tamil nation in Sri Lanka is a history of the struggle of Tamils on the island of Sri Lanka for self-determination. Ridenour explains the reasons why many Tamils took up arms to fight for an independent Tamil state. He shows the history of racism in Sri Lanka and the violent repression carried out by successive governments against peaceful Tamil protests.
SNSD/Girls’ Generation, 2NE1, 4Minute, Shinee, BigBang — just a few South Korean band names with global hip cachet to burn. Their cult-like following has led some forecasters to predict that the centres of cultural power may well be shifting eastward, challenging the traditional dominance of US-based music companies.