Issue 939

News

With little fanfare or media attention, the small island nation of Cuba has been running an Aboriginal literacy program in the town of Wilcanni, in central new South Wales. Already, 16 local Aboriginal residents aged between 25 and 53 have learned to read and write through the program.
Allegations raised by former Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks that he was drugged as a form of torture by US staff have been substantiated by documents uncovered in recent legal action in the US. Detainees were allegedly drugged by US military personnel before interrogation sessions and before they had their charges read to them.
“TAFE cuts are Baillieu's form of class war,” Colin Long told an angry crowd on September 20. “Baillieu started the war, but we will finish it.” The Victorian National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) secretary was speaking to 2000 Victorian TAFE teachers, students and supporters at a rally in Melbourne.
The Socialist Alliance Victoria released the statement below on September 19. * * * Socialist Alliance is standing Sue Bolton as its candidate for the October local elections in the north-east ward of the City of Moreland on a platform of “community need, not developer greed”. Sue Bolton is the state convener of Socialist Alliance. She was has been involved in the Northern Communities and Union Solidarity Group, the campaign to save Ballerrt Mooroop College, the Aboriginal school in Glenroy and the campaign in support of refugees and asylum seekers.
Water workers to strike Workers at Sydney Water, angered by the axing of more than 300 jobs as well as the undermining of conditions, have voted for rolling strikes into next year. More than 1000 workers took part in a four hour walkout on September 20, rallying at Parramatta Stadium. They voted to begin the strikes from next month.
On September 16, 100 people began a 300-kilometre journey, walking from Port Augusta to Adelaide to highlight the importance of building a solar thermal plant at Port Augusta and to call for state and federal government support for the project.
Repower Port Augusta, the historic campaign to have the South Australian town host Australia’s first solar-thermal power station, is gathering momentum, with formal endorsements from several health and union organisations. The campaign has generated widespread public interest. In Port Augusta itself, a community vote in July resulted in one-third of residents voting for solar over gas. The result was 4053 votes to 43, a remarkable turnout for the voluntary exercise.
A crowded forum of 200 people organised by the Stockton Community Action Group learned about the serious risks posed by a proposed ammonium nitrate storage facility at nearby Kooragang Island on September 19. The new facility is proposed by Incitic Pivot and would add 21,500 tonnes of ammonium nitrate to the 9000 tonnes already stored there by rival company Orica.
The Palestine Action Group Sydney released the statement below on September 20. * * * One hundred and fifty supporters of Palestine staged a rally in Parramatta in support of the global campaign of boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israeli apartheid today. The protest was timed to also commemorate the massacres at the Sabra and Shatila Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon 30 years ago.
On September 17, NT Coroner Greg Cavanagh handed down his damning findings regarding the death in custody of Kwementyaye Briscoe in the Alice Springs watch house in January. Briscoe, a young Aboriginal man, had committed no crime, but was taken into so-called protective custody for being excessively drunk. He was found dead in his cell before the night was through. He was found to have consumed most of a bottle of rum in the police van, which he obtained from another prisoner. He was dragged through the watch house and shoved down against a bench, where he hit his head and arm.
Community Action Against Homophobia released the statement below on September 19. * * * Community Action Against Homophobia (CAAH) express disgust at today's rejection of equal marriage rights by Australian parliament. Only 42 MPs supported the private members bill put forward by Labor backbencher Stephen Jones, while 98 MPs voted against.
A colourful group of environmental activists gathered on the steps of Australian mining giant Lynas Corporation’s head office on September 20 to protest the company’s move to build a rare earth mineral refinery in Malaysia. Thousands of Malaysians have joined protests against the Malaysian government and Lynas for their lack of transparency in not disclosing plans to deal with radioactive toxic waste produced by the Lynas Advanced Minerals Plant, near the town of Kuantan.
More than 2000 people rallied in Melbourne on September 20 to protect the public TAFE system, which is facing budget cuts of over $200 million by the state government.
Stop CSG Sydney Water Catchment released the statement below on September 18. * * * The residents of Nattai, a township that overlooks Lake Burragorang — the source of fresh drinking water for residents of the city of Sydney and the lower Blue Mountains — have overwhelmingly supported a declaration that Nattai and Sydney Water Catchment be CSG Mining Free. The local community will be celebrating this event during the National Week of Action at Lake Burragorang Lookout in Nattai on Sunday October 14 from 11.00am to 1pm.
The Geelong Socialist Alliance released the statement below on September 18. * * * The Socialist Alliance has announced today that they will endorse 55-year-old health and safety teacher, Sue Bull, as its candidate for Mayor in the Greater Geelong City Council elections, which take place on October 27. Bull said: “I’ve decided to run because I can’t see that there are any candidates campaigning against corporate greed and putting the community and the environment first.

Analysis

As soon as news filtered through that a “Muslim riot” was taking place in Sydney on September 15, it was clear a racist backlash was going to occur. It was also clear on what grounds the backlash would take place.
Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi resigned from his position as Tony Abbott's shadow parliamentary secretary after widespread outrage about his reactionary and bizarre speech on the equal marriage bill which was debated (and defeated 42 votes to 98) in parliament on September 18.
“In any war between the civilised man and the savage, support the civilised man. Support Israel, defeat Jihad.”
In Port Augusta, two ageing coal-fired power stations are scheduled to retire. We have a choice: either replace them with gas-fired power stations or take the opportunity to switch to renewable energy. Research by Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE) shows that six solar thermal power towers and 90 wind turbines could be built in Port Augusta to generate the same amount of electricity as the current coal stations. Here are five reasons why solar is better than the gas alternative. 1. Jobs
In response to wide-ranging criticisms of, and growing opposition to, proposed data retention and increased surveillance powers for Australian spy agencies, Attorney-General Nicola Roxon has gone on the offensive.
As we walk into a cafe in the Sydney suburb of Newington, a young Afghan barista greets Communist Party of Australia (CPA) activist Tony Oldfield by name and asks how the recent local Auburn council elections went. After talking for a few minutes about which councillors were re-elected and which were not, the young man asks: “And how about you Tony?” Only then does Tony point out that he too was elected. In doing so, Oldfield became one of only four socialist local councillors in Australia.
Compulsory income management has been sharply criticised as unhelpful and demeaning for welfare recipients. But should we oppose all forms of compulsory income management? Or should we make an exception for what is known as child protection income management? For much of the community and welfare sector this is an awkward dilemma. It is especially awkward for those campaigning against “trials” of the controversial policy. The “trials” are taking place in Bankstown in New South Wales, Logan and Rockhampton in Queensland, Playford in South Australia and Shepparton in Victoria.
The Socialist Alliance released the statement below on September 21. * * * Politicians and the mainstream media have whipped up the ongoing racist hysteria against Muslims and refugees after clashes provoked by police heavy-handedness towards a small Muslim protest in Sydney on September 15.
If there is one thing melting away faster than the Arctic ice cap it’s the credibility of the global carbon trading system set up under the Kyoto treaty to address climate change. A United Nations sponsored panel said in a September 10 report that “global carbon markets ... are collapsing with potentially devastating consequences”.
The Standing Committee on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs tabled its much-anticipated inquiry into language learning on Aboriginal communities on September 17, titled Our Land Our Languages.
Independent newspaper Green Left Weekly today slammed attempts by Liberal Senator Brett Mason in the Senate to inflame anti-Islam sentiment and intimidate a media outlet that opposes this.
An Islamophobic YouTube video called “Innocence of Muslims” has been blamed for sparking protests across the world, although the real causes are surely deeper. On September 15, a protest by Muslims in Sydney’s CBD was met with police repression. Since then, there has been widespread mainstream and social media condemnation of the protest, which has been dubbed the “Sydney Riots”.
Celebrated Israeli historian, Ilan Pappe whose landmark publication, "The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine" documented the planned removal of 700,000 Palestinians from their lands in 1948, has written a new book "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.

World

As Venezuela's October 7 presidential elections approach, polls are showing a clear, large victory for President Hugo Chavez, with a 13%-28% lead. The socialist incumbent — who has survived a US coup and other attempts to overthrow his government — is campaigning on a detailed platform to deepen the social changes that are redistributing wealth and political power to the poor majority. His right-wing opponent, Henri Capriles Radonski, supports privatising state industry and cutting social spending.
With the launch of the Apple iPhone 5 drawing closer, hordes of people around the world scrabbled to their computers to place pre-orders. Hundreds lined up on the streets to be the first to get their hands on the most in-demand gadgetry. With the pre-order tally reaching more than 2 million within the first 24 hours, it is no surprise that the mineral mining market is booming. At the heart of the mobile phone production line lies the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC); a country that has played host to what is likely the world’s deadliest war since World War II.
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As the final weeks of the Venezuelan presidential election campaign unfold, an intense battle of ideas is under way. The poll on October 7 is looming as one of the most important elections in the country´s history.
Twenty-three years too late, the real truth is finally being told about the Hillsborough disaster of April 15, 1989, which killed 96 football fans and injured hundreds more. A new 354-page report, released by the Hillsborough Independent Panel after accessing more than 400,000 pages of secret documents, has implicated the police, media and British government in what has been described as “the biggest cover-up of British legal history”.
After five years of besieging Gaza, Israel announced on September 20 the first significant easing of its near-total export ban. The ban was imposed on the Palestinian territory in 2007 after Hamas won elections. This turnaround amounts to an admission that Israel’s blockade of Gaza is facing defeat, leaving Tel Aviv casting around for an alternative mechanism of control over the battered enclave. Khatib Mansour, director of the Israeli army’s Coordination and Liaison Administration for Gaza, said Israel would allow: * furniture and clothes to be exported from Gaza to the West Bank;
Chicago's teachers have successfully fought off an assault on their union, school children and public education launched by Democratic Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and even pushed him back in some respects. The strike and mass mobilisations of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) ended on September 19 when the teachers went back to work. The evening before, the elected House of Delegates, which represents teachers throughout the system, voted by 98% to end the strike.
The murder of 34 miners by the South African police, most of them shot in the back, puts paid to the illusion of post-apartheid democracy and illuminates the new worldwide apartheid of which South Africa is both a historic and contemporary model. In 1894, long before the infamous Afrikaans word foretold “separate development” for the majority people of South Africa, an Englishman, Cecil John Rhodes, oversaw the Glen Grey Act in what was then the Cape Colony.
Phew ... The US election is exactly the same as a night I had watching Crystal Palace play football. Palace were dreadful, but the opposition were even worse, a goal slid slowly between their goalkeeper’s legs into the net, and the man sitting behind me said to his mate, “This is marvellous. I’ve always said football’s much more entertaining when BOTH teams are shite.”
“Koran discovered with coffee cup stain on the front cover, US marines deployed to all Starbucks franchises.” The quip, retweeted by celebrity atheist Richard Dawkins, exemplifies the belligerent incomprehension with which so many, including self-proclaimed liberals, have responded to protests against the film The Innocence of Muslims. Rioting over a YouTube clip that offends the Muslim sky fairy? How tremendously foolish! How childish; how superstitious; how very, very silly!
It looks as if the Portuguese people have had enough of austerity. People came out in their droves on September 15 across the country under the slogan “Screw the troika, we want our lives!”. Close to a million people protested against the government and the troika of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), European Union and European Central Bank, which are pushing savage austerity.
The Occupy movement held rallies across the United States on September 17 to mark the first anniversary of the protests that attacked the corrupt and abusive rule by the richest 1%. With the protest camps having been broken up by police months ago, the movement has sought to find new ways to fight the gross social injustice that pervades US society. Wiki.Occupy.net listed actions in 28 US cities and in at least 10 other places around the world on September 17.

Culture

Phil Monsour sings a pro-Palestine version of "Which side are you on" at the Adelaide Seacret protest prior to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions national workshop weekend on September 21.
Toward the United Front, Proceedings of the Fourth Congress of the Communist International, 1922 Edited & translated by John Riddell, Brill, 2012, 1310 pp. Many leftists have spent dreary evenings meeting in draughty community halls where the reading of the minutes of previous gatherings seems to drag on interminably. Refreshingly, for a variety of reasons, this 1200-page compendium of 90-year-old proceedings makes for revitalising and pertinent reading.
The Statue Of Liberty: A Transatlantic Story By Edward Berenson Yale University Press, 2012, 229 pages , $35.95 (hb) “We are the keepers of the flame of liberty,” said then-US president Ronald Reagan, opening the centennial celebration in 1986 of the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbour. Reagan claimed the statue as an American beacon of freedom to the world. As Edward Berenson shows, however, the statue’s political virtue had been compromised long before Reagan’s neo-conservative hypocrisy.

Letters

Nakbah acknowledged An important judgement was delivered on May 15 by Justice Christine Adamson. The judge stated that the anniversary of the Nakbah (the catastrophe) could not be postponed for another day and compared it with other days that must be commemorated on the exact day when they occur. Until recent times, the Zionist falsification about what occurred in April 1948, following the massacre of Deir Yassin, was accepted by the ruling class and all their organs of propaganda and government. Ultimately the truth has emerged.