Issue 944

News

Organisers of the Groundswell Gloucester conference released the statement below on October 29. * * * More than 100 delegates from coal and coal seam gas (CSG) affected communities across NSW have called “Groundswell Gloucester”, the inaugural NSW Coal and CSG Community Conference, a resounding success. Delegates represented groups from as far afield as the Northern Rivers, the Liverpool Plains, the Hunter Valley, metropolitan Sydney and the NSW Southern Highlands.
Refugee Action Collective Victoria organised a protest outside Maribrynong Detention Centre on October 31. This action was part of the successful campaign to stop the deportation of a Tamil refugee back to Sri Lanka where he would have been at serious risk of harm.
Asylum seekers imprisoned on Nauru released the statement below on November 5. The asylum seekers are currently on hunger strike, demanding that the Australian government process their claims for refugee status. * * * Today, dated 5/11/2012, we all asylum seekers in Nauru Hell are on hunger strikes. Today is our 5th day of hunger strike, and this is very clear from our hunger strike that in which conditions we are.
The petition below was released by Trisha Morton Thomas, a family member of Kwementyaye Briscoe, on November 5. Click here to sign the petition on change.org. * * * Mr Briscoe was taken into Police custody against his will, purportedly for his own protection, yet died directly as a result of a shocking indifference on the part of NT Police officers to his wellbeing.
The statement below was released on November 5 by community groups that took part in a protest outside the NSW government’s Community Cabinet meeting in Tamworth. * * * Residents of north-west NSW have united in numbers outside the NSW Community Cabinet being held in Tamworth to expose the Barry O'Farrell government’s broken promises on protecting farmland, water catchments and sensitive environments from coal and gas mining.
The Melbourne media have ignored the raised vote for socialists in the October 27 local government elections. The Socialist Party’s sitting councillor Steve Jolly increased his vote from 29.2% in 2008 to 34.24% in the inner-city City of Yarra council. In other wards of Yarra Council, the Socialist Party increased its vote but did not retain its other sitting councilor, Anthony Main. Since Jolly was elected, his vote has continued to rise. This is because he and the Socialist Party have used the council position to build campaigns in the local area.
The refugees now holding an indefinite hunger strike in the Nauru detention camp released the statement below on November 2, updating the situation and explaining that several have been taken to the medical room and some have lost conciousness. The first refugees began refusing food on the morning of November 1, and others quickly joined. *** Date:02/11/2012 Time:11:00 pm Fifteen Asylum seekers became unconscious on second day of Hunger Strike in Nauru Hell. Till 7 asylum seekers have been become unconscious and taken to the medical rooms.
If a casual observer glanced at the results for the mayoral elections in Geelong, they could be forgiven for thinking that they were a victory for apolitical and conservative politics. The winner, Keith Fagg, comes from a local business family whose name is as close as you could get to landed gentry in Geelong. The next highest pollster’s claim to fame was that she, Stephanie Asher, had worked for BHP Billiton. All of this in a working class town.
The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal last month approved a deeply unpopular McDonald's restaurant in Tecoma in Melbourne's Dandenong ranges.  Since the approval the local community has organised to reclaim space and created a garden, maintained an around-the-clock protest vigil at the proposed site and gathered thousands of signatures on petitions against the proposal. Below is a statement from Murrundindi, Headman of Melbourne’s Wurundjeri nation against the development. ***
Vodafone Australia said on October 29 it would cut 500 jobs – 10% of its workforce – by the end of November. Vodafone Australia CEO Bill Morrow said the cuts will make the company "leaner" in an attempt to turn around its performance. Vodafone had a $131 million loss during the first half of this year.
Aboriginal students and their supporters rallied at the University of Sydney on October 31 to demand university management commit to maintaining the Koori Centre. The Koori Centre provides a supportive place for Aboriginal students to work and study together. Students organised the protest in response to information that the centre was slated for closure. The protesters marched from the Fischer library to the university administration building, where they handed over petitions calling for management to stop attacking the centre.
About 60 stevedores and supporters gathered outside the headquarters of Shipping Australia in South Bank, Melbourne, on October 30 to demand that employers agree to introduce a national safety code in the industry. Last month, 56-year-old Newcastle stevedore Greg Fitzgibbon was killed at work when he was crushed by a 20-tonne pallet. The day after this tragic death, the big stevedoring companies, led by employer organisation Shipping Australia, moved to block the introduction of a national code of safety on the waterfront.
More than 50 people came out to Brisbane’s Executive Building on the morning of October 29 in a fiery protest against Premier Campbell Newman’s recent decision to allow uranium mining in Queensland. Under the banner of Queensland Nuclear Free Alliance, the protest called for a complete ban on uranium mining in the state.
About 350 women took to the streets of Adelaide on October 26 as part of a Reclaim the Night protest. No march was held last year, so it was inspiring to see women of all ages marching through the central business and nightclub districts of Adelaide chanting, “whatever we wear, wherever we go — yes means yes, no means no”, and “women united will never be defeated”. The event was a women’s only space. Male supporters were encouraged to show support from the footpath along the march route.
Students from the Koori Centre released the statement below on October 29. * * * Join us in saving the Koori Centre. The Koori Centre puts their collective view. The Koori Centre is a space in the University of Sydney on the ground floor of the Old Teachers' College that allows Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to gather in a community environment to study together.
An Iranian man became the fourth asylum seeker to attempt suicide in Australia’s detention camp on Nauru on October 24. He was cut down from hanging himself by guards and other refugees. Other acts of self-harm have also broken out on the island. On October 25, one detainee told Green Left Weekly that another man who injured himself with a razor did not get any medical care. The wave of self-harm and hunger strikes has hit the detention camp after only a month of the Labor government’s return to a “Pacific solution” for refugees.

Analysis

Green Left TV brings you the words of a refugee, imprisoned by the Australian government on Nauru who is calling for freedom. He explains about the hunger strike on Nauru and the conditions that the refugees face. He also explains clearly that the Salvation Army restricted internet access to the refugees in response to their protest.
Feminists from various organisations and groups gathered outside NSW Parliament House on October 23 to protest the severe cuts the Barry O’Farrell government has proposed for several community organisations. Some of the centres and services that face an uncertain future include the Liverpool Women’s Resource Centre, which provides information and support to disadvantaged and abused women, and the Margaret Jurd Learning Centre, a non-government school that caters for children with disabilities.
Last week, Green Left’s fledgling video project, Green Left TV, was forced to take down a video about protests by asylum seekers jailed on Nauru by the Australian government, because it was threatened with imminent legal action. But we have persisted in getting out the desperate messages from these victims of a brutal and ultimately racist policy, as you can see in this week's issue and in a Green Left TV interview with a refugee from Nauru: “Nauru hunger striker calls for freedom.”
So if the government's bill excising the entire Australian mainland from the migration zone is passed in parliament, I guess we will all be unAustralian. That is one insult used by politicians to describe anything they don't like will now lose its force. Forget Aboriginal people protesting on Australia Day, logically there can surely be no more unAustralian act than legally declaring Australia unAustralia.
Socialist Alliance candidate Sue Bolton was elected to Moreland City Council in Melbourne’s northern suburbs in the October 27 elections. The election provided a shake-up with the ALP losing three councillors and its outright majority on council. The Greens retained two councillors although their vote dropped in all three wards. The Socialist Alliance gained its first councillor position in Victoria and a Liberal Party member was elected to Moreland Council for the first time. The Democratic Labor Party retained its councillor.
The two-year negotiations between loggers and environmentalists, which many hoped would end the conflict over Tasmania’s forests, collapsed on October 27. The Wilderness Society, a key negotiator in the talks, blamed the collapse on the Forest Industries Association of Tasmania (FIAT), which represents logging companies such as Malaysian logging firm Ta Ann and, previously, Gunns Ltd.
Since being elected to the Moreland council in Melbourne, I have been asked by several people whether I can make a difference since I will have only one vote on council. My reply is that socialists on local council or in federal or state parliaments can achieve change only if they use the position to build and support local community and broader campaigns for people’s rights. At the end of the day, an elected socialist won’t achieve much if they just rely on negotiations with other councillors or politicians.
The Sydney Stop the War Coalition released the statement below on November 2. *** Prime Minister Julia Gillard made her annual report on the war in Afghanistan to an almost empty Parliament House on October 31. After 11 years, she insists that the International Security Assistance Force counter-insurgency strategy against the Taliban is “working” and the Afghan National Army is on track to take over security in 2014 — when the Western forces “leave”.
“Now there’s two of us,” declared Alex Greenwich, after he won the NSW seat of Sydney in the October 27 by-election. Greenwich received just under 65% of the two-party preferred vote: a 12% swing to Clover Moore's independents. The by-election was held because of the NSW government’s “Get Clover Bill,” which banned MPs from sitting on local council. Sydney mayor Clover Moore then had to resign from her seat in state parliament. In his victory speech, Greenwich stood with Moore and spoke of how the attempt to rob Sydney of its independent voice had backfired on the government.
Sue Bolton, the newly elected socialist councillor in Moreland, is a feminist and socialist fighter. She's been a tireless campaigner for working people’s rights since the late 1970s, when she first joined the anti-uranium campaign in Toowoomba, Queensland.
Refugees on Nauru have staged several peaceful but desperate protests in recent weeks to call attention to their worsening conditions. Several refugees have attempted suicide. But allegations have surfaced that staff inside the centre have made attempts to obstruct and interrupt their bid to be heard by the Australian public. One asylum seeker held on Nauru told Green Left Weekly that Salvation Army staff stationed in the centre had torn down protest signs assembled by the detainees.

World

The Papua New Guinean government has been forced to reconsider a deep-sea mining project off the PNG coast due to community concerns over environmental destruction. About 24,000 people signed a petition against the Solwara 1 project in the Bismark Sea. The petition was handed to mining minister Byron Chan on October 23, said AAP. The project is run by Canadian company Nautilus Minerals and will mine for mostly copper and gold 1.6 kilometres under the seabed.
Working people in Greece are facing increasingly attacks on their living standards and civil liberties. The radical left coalition SYRIZA came close to winning government in June elections on an anti-austerity program, but fascist forces are also growing out of the despair. Afrodity Giannakis, a member of the International Workers' Left (DEA), which is part of SYRIZA, spoke to Green Left Weekly's Stuart Munckton about the situation. * * *
Democracy Now! show on November 1 on inequality in New York and its impact in the current crisis, and also the struggle in Syria.
The Venezuelan government has begun to send shipments of over 646 tons of much needed humanitarian aid to Cuba and Haiti after both countries were hit by Hurricane Sandy. The aid includes mostly non-perishable food items and water, as well as machinery to help remove debris. The hurricane first struck the Caribbean last week before heading north to the US. So far, Haiti has been the worst hit by the disaster, counting a death toll of 54 people, followed by 11 in Cuba. (By November 4, the US death toll was well over 100 and growing.)
In a show of force, about 10,000 supporters of the Frente Guasu attended a rally addressed by the party’s leader, ex-president of Paraguay Fernando Lugo, in the regional city of Coronel Ovideo on October 25. Lugo was deposed in June in a parliamentary coup. Lugo's removal was organised by right-wing forces opposed to progressive changes that threatening to challenge the interests of the traditional oligarchy and US imperialism.
The people of the west African nation of Guinea suffer high rates of poverty and malnutrition. In some of Guinea’s regions, more than 40% of people are food insecure. Yet overseas investors have bought 100,000 hectares of land in Guinea to grow soy and corn for export and biofuel production. A further 1.5 million hectares of Guinea’s farmland will soon be up for sale.
Michael Lebowitz is a professor emeritus of economics at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver and an award-winning author. His most recent book is The Contradictions of “Real” Socialism. He was director of the Program in Transformative Practice and Human Development, Centro Internacional Miranda, in Caracas from 2006-2011.
This statement was released by WikiLeaks on October 25. * * * Starting on October 25, WikiLeaks begins releasing the ’Detainee Policies’: more than 100 classified or otherwise restricted files from the United States Department of Defense covering the rules and procedures for detainees in U.S. military custody.
On the morning of October 22, the day after parliamentary elections in the Basque and Galician autonomous communities of the Spanish state, the TV and radio political pundits were struggling to be wise. Their powers of analysis were not tested so much by the rise of EH Bildu, the Basque left-nationalist coalition — the polls had predicted its 25% vote. The disorienting new phenomenon was result for the Galician Left Alternative (AGE). Not predicted
Hurricane Sandy was the largest tropical storm to ever hit mainland United States. Its extent, power and the fact that it formed so late in the hurricane season so far north in the Atlantic ocean can only be understood in light of global warming caused by the burning of fossil fuels. For many years, scientists have been warning that the rise in water temperature in the oceans would create more powerful storms, and that is what happened in the case of Hurricane Sandy.
The devastating impact of Hurricane Sandy on impoverished Haiti has received far less attention than the havoc wrecked by the superstorm on the United States' east coast. This lack of coverage extend as far as US site WFSB.com reporting on October 30 on the "first Sandy-related death", days after as many of 65 people in the Caribbean (51 in Haiti) had been killed by the freak storm. Below, progressive alternative news outlet based in the US, Democracy Now!, looked at Sandy's impact on Haiti and the Caribbean in this October 29 report.
“If the study to which you apply yourself has a tendency to weaken your affections, and to destroy your taste for those simple pleasures in which no alloy can possibly mix, then that study is certainly unlawful, that is to say, not befitting the human mind. If this rule were always observed; if no man allowed any pursuit whatsoever to interfere with the tranquility of his domestic affections, Greece had not been enslaved; Caesar would have spared his country; America would have been discovered more gradually; and the empires of Mexico and Peru had not been destroyed.” -- Dr.

Culture

The Debut Recordings Volume 1 Native Ryme Native Ryme Entertainment Group November 2012 www.nativeryme.com When you're representing a culture that has lasted 60,000 years, it doesn't matter that your debut album has taken a mere 18. "We've always prided ourselves on coming from a culture that's been a song and dance culture for millennia, you know," says C-Roc, whose rap group, Native Ryme, are only just releasing an album a generation after he formed the band in 1994.
I spoke with the Coup’s Boots Riley at an auspicious time. Right before calling him, I’d returned from a downtown rally of thousands of striking Chicago teachers and their supporters. It was arguably the most significant American labor battle in thirty years, trading in the calcified, ineffective style of “union-management cooperation” for an old school, knock-down, drag-out, class struggle unionism that gets actual results.
Warhol to Picasso: Fourteen Modern Artists Art Gallery of Western Australia Until December 3 This exhibition brings together 120 of some of the 20th century’s most important art works that catalogue some critical attempts to break through the bourgeois encirclement of human existence and point towards liberation. Using Spanish artist Pablo Picasso and American Andy Warhol as the convenient gateposts, it allows us to read the rise and fall of the century’s revolutionary sentiment.

Resistance!

More than 100 students from the University of Tasmania attended a forum on October 16 to question university administrators over plans to restructure the Faculty of Arts. It was organised by students of the university in response to disquiet over potential changes to degree structures and curricula. This came just a week after the faculty dean, Professor Susan Dodds, announced that the existing 10 departments would be amalgamated into three bigger entities.