Issue 946

News

About 300 people rallied in Melbourne to stop Israel's bombing of Gaza on November 17. This week Israel launched a wide-scale attack on the densely-populated Palestinian Gaza Strip. Moreland Councillour Sue Bolton said "There have been three reactions to the bombing of Gaza: the first is by the Australian Government and corporate media, is victim blaming. Where the victim is blamed by the perpetrator. "It is shameful when the victim is blamed.
Pro-choice activist will be rallying outside the East Melbourne fertility control clinic on November 24, under the slogan “Our Clinic, Our Bodies, Our Choice”. The rally is organised by Melbourne Feminist Action (MFA), an exciting new women’s rights collective. MFA was initiated by Jacinda Woodhead and Stephanie Convery who work for literary journal Overland. They were motivated by what seems to be a growing and renewed public interest in women’s rights in Melbourne.

In Australia activists will be organising emergency solidarity events with Gaza in coming days and weeks: Adelaide: Rally & March to end the War on Gaza! Friday 23rd November, 5pm, outside Myer Centre, Rundle Mall. Brisbane: Take Action for Gaza, Friday 23 November, 5pm King George Square Canberra Rally against Israel's attacks on Gaza Sat Nov 24, 12 noon, Israeli embassy, Turrana St, Yarralumla. Contact defendgaza.canberra@gmail.com. Hobart

The Iranian asylum seeker who has maintained a 36-day hunger strike was admitted to hospital last night after he began excreting blood, the Refugee Action Coalition said. Ian Rintoul from RAC said: “The Minister says he opened Nauru because he was concerned about the loss of life at sea. He literally holds the power of life or death of at least one asylum seeker on Nauru. Is he going to turn a blind eye to one life that he could save?”
The NSW Aboriginal Land Council has expressed its deepest sympathies to the Coe family, following the passing of prominent Aboriginal activist Isabel Coe over the weekend. Aunty Isabel was born in Cowra. A stalwart of the Aboriginal rights struggle, and a leading figure in the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, she was also the lead litigant in Isabel Coe v the Commonwealth, an unsuccessful but important legal challenge which sought to assert the sovereignty of the Wiradjuri nation.
More than 150 people protested at Parramatta town hall on November 15, calling for a boycott of Max Brenner chocolate shops and an end to Israel's recent attacks on Gaza. The rally was part of the worldwide campaign for boycott, divestments and sanctions (BDS) against Israel. Max Brenner's parent company, the Israeli Strauss Group, donates care packages of chocolates to Israeli commandos of the Golani and Givati brigades. 
A one month occupation has ended, but community commitment to resist the building of a McDonald's restaurant in Tecoma remains strong. Residents of the town in the foothills of the Dandenong Ranges have fought against McDonald's for several years, but activity has intensified after the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) approved the outlet against the wishes of locals and council.
On November 16, members of the Kurdish community took to Melbourne’s streets in solidarity with Kurdish political prisoners in Turkish jails and in support of the demands of the hunger strike by more than 700 prisoners. There are almost 10,000 Kurdish political prisoners in Turkey. The demonstrators marched to Trades Hall, where Kurdish community members began a three-day solidarity fast.
The Nature Conservation Council of NSW released the statement below on November 14. * * * Revelations about the high levels of methane leakage from the Tara Estate coal seam gasfield in Queensland cast serious doubts on claims the industry’s greenhouse impact is relatively benign, according to the Nature Conservation Council of NSW.
Adelaide's annual Green Left Weekly dinner fundraiser on November 10 brought together supporters from unions, social justice groups and the activist community, raising more than $1000 for the paper. This year, Sue Bull from the Geelong branch of Socialist Alliance delivered an impassioned keynote speech on the rising electoral support for socialists nationwide. Assistant Secretary of Australian Services Union (SA/NT) Joseph Scales also addressed the event, praising GLW for its support of workers' struggles.
The High Court of Malaysia lifted a two-month suspension on November 8 of a temporary operating licence granted to the Australian company Lynas Corporation to operate a controversial rare earths refinery near the city of Kuantan in Malaysia. Angry residents and environmental activists now plan to bring their objection to Australia when Lynas holds its shareholders' annual general meeting at the luxury Sofitel Hotel in Sydney on November 20. Eighteen activists will travel to Sydney to take part in the protest and speak to concerned Australians, politicians and the media.
The Adelaide Pride march snaked its way through the Adelaide CBD on November 10, bringing traffic to a standstill with blasting music, dancing and some wild outfits. The annual march celebrates the opening night of the Feast festival but, according to some attendees, it is also an opportunity for self-expression. “It allows us to be us. [We] don’t have to hide who we are,” marcher Sasha Delight told Green Left Weekly. First-time marcher Chloe Bleakley said: “Seeing everyone in the same place reminds us we're not alone.”

Analysis

Christine Assange discusses WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, her time in Ecuador, the nature of the United States, the Australian government's lack of support for the rights of her son, the mainstream media, the need for alternatives and more. Christine Assange was in discussion with Green Left Weekly's Simon Butler, in front of 300 people at the November 10 solidarity dinner for GLW. Film by Green Left TV - watch it, share it, film it, support it.
“In a war between the civilised man and the savage, support the civilised man.” So declared billboards on New York’s subways paid for by the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) early in August. But, let’s face it, in these days of horrific mass slaughter, it can be difficult to determine who is who. So the AFDI ads spell it out: “Support Israel! Defeat Jihad!”
A community protest and picket has been set up for a second time outside the Little Creatures Brewing factory under construction in Geelong. The picket began on October 22 but was lifted after 7 days so that negotiations could take place. The talks broke down and the picket has been reimposed since November 14. Up to 50 Geelong workers have protested every weekday about the use of “sham contracting”.
This statement was released by Socialist Alliance on November 16. Click here for details of protest rallies against Israel's war across Australia *** “Civilians were the overwhelming majority of the more than 1400 people Israel killed in it’s 2009 assault on Gaza. Today, Israel is beginning another assault. A quarter of the Palestinians killed so far are children, including babies,” Sue Bolton, newly elected Socialist Alliance member of the Moreland City Council said.
The Julia Gillard government has committed Australia to closer war ties with the US, more US bases and billions for US defence contracts at the annual AUSMIN talks in Perth on November 16. The Gillard government is well aware of the huge public opposition to the US-led wars in Iraq and now Afghanistan. It knows that a majority is critical of Canberra’s unquestioning policy of “all-the-way-with-Obama’s next wars”.
In last month’s Victorian local council elections, the Socialist Alliance’s Sue Bolton was elected to Moreland City Council in Melbourne’s north. Green Left Weekly’sSusan Price asked Bolton about her immediate plans for the council and what sets her apart from other councillors. * * * We are going to organise a meeting in Moreland of members of Socialist Alliance, plus other people who supported the campaign or support the victory that we’ve had, to work out a plan of action.
A global survey of 27 of the most important cities in the world has ranked Sydney as fourth-worst for public transport. Sydneysiders also pay more for public transport than anywhere else. The study was carried out by PricewaterhouseCoopers. If this was not bad enough, the situation is set to worsen. The November 16 Sydney Morning Herald said a high-level RailCorp document outlined another 690 jobs to be cut in the train sector.
“You know how they say Lee Rhiannon is a watermelon,” newly elected Greens councillor Michelle Tormey tells Green Left Weekly, “I could probably relate to being a bit of a watermelon myself.” “I don’t think capitalism is good and I probably lean more towards socialism. I believe that, at the very least, key public services like water, electricity, health care, dental care, are things that everyone should have access to. “That’s what I think and I don’t care if anyone judges me on that.”
Reporting on the release of the mid-year budget update in the Canberra Times on October 22, Peter Martin wrote that “Tax collections from both wages and the GST are running ahead of projections. Dramatically lower company tax collections account for most of the $21 billion write-down.” Included in that $21 billion is a revenue downgrade of $4.3 billion dollars over four years in resource rent tax from petroleum and mineral extraction from a projected $13.4 billion.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced a federal royal commission into child abuse in Australian institutions on November 12. The announcement came after growing scandals about paedophilia within the Catholic Church had reached the point where it was politically untenable for the government to continue with inaction.
“The time has come for judgment to begin in the house of the Lord,” said the Apostle Peter to the early Christian Church (1 Peter 4:17). Very different issues were being faced then, but not too different. The church was facing intense public scrutiny and Peter said that the suffering would be a cleansing experience. Those who were guilty (murderers, thieves and criminals, v. 15) would be exposed for what they are, and the innocent (v. 16) would be vindicated.
This article is republished from The Conversation. * * *

Burn it all. That is the plan in Australia’s new Energy White Paper.

Released yesterday by Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson, it talks about responding to climate change while planning the opposite.

World

When a sufficient number of people adopt a particular idea, it becomes self-sustaining and self-promoting. Social theorists call this “critical mass.
Thousands of people marched to the offices of Ireland's prime minister on November 17 to support a woman's right to choose. The protest was sparked by the death of Savita Halappanavar in hospital, after staff refused to terminate her pregnancy even though her life was in danger. The article below first appeared on the Irish site Sráid Marx. * * *
A spectre is haunting Portugal ― the spectre of Greece and of SYRIZA, its radical-left party. All the powers of neoliberal Europe, led by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, have entered into an unholy alliance to exorcise this spectre. Accompanied by representatives of German big business, Merkel ran the gauntlet of protesters in Lisbon for six hours on November 12. She congratulated Portuguese Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho for his “courage” in applying austerity (a “success story”) and urged the country’s most unpopular political leader to stick to his guns.
The European Day of Action and Solidarity involved a 24-hour general strike in Portugal and Spain, partial strikes in Italy, Greece, Belgium, Cyprus and Malta, and protests in 16 other European countries on November 14. Despite the main action being confined to the Iberian peninsula, the day was a big success, with 40 union confederations and individual unions involved.
About 25,000 people squished themselves into the sports stadium of Chillogallo, the most populated area of Quito, to launch the candidates of President Rafael Correa’s Alianza PAIS (Country Alliance, or AP) on November 10. Elections are scheduled for next February for the presidency and National Assembly.
As in every vicious military offensive Israel carries out in Gaza, the dominant narrative is that it is a response to rocket fire from Gaza into southern Israel. This is how it’s being reported in the US, and this is how virtually every American understands it. And it is a lie.
British oil giant BP has signed a deal with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono for a $12 billion expansion of the Tangguh liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in occupied West Papua. The deal is typical of West Papua's exploitation at the hands of Indonesia and Western companies, who have pillaged the area's resources and abused its people for decades. Papuans have the lowest standard of living in Indonesia, despite the huge amount of wealth the area creates.
It is an extraordinary thing for thousands of ordinary people to mob an inauguration ceremony for a new governor of Jakarta. Yet this is exactly what happened on October 15, according to the progressive Indonesian publication Berdikari Online. It reported that thousands of people ― among them many from Jakarta's urban poor communities ― braved the scorching heat to welcome the incoming governor Joko Widodo (better known as Jokowi) and his deputy Basuki Tjahaja Purnama.
The outcome of the United States November 6 elections was the best possible one for the interests of the ruling class, even if some of them don’t understand this. The best candidate to defend their interests, Barack Obama, retained the presidency. The Democrats control the Senate, and the Republicans the House of Representatives. This is a quite pleasant configuration from their point of view. Before looking at why this is the case, I will look at other important results of the elections.
Israel has launched a fresh full-scale war on the besieged people of Gaza. The Palestine In My Eyes website is detailed the names and ages of those killed in Israel's latest bombardment. As of the morning of November 20, 108 Palestinians were listed as killed.
A general strike was launched across Europe on November 14 as millions are protesting spending cuts and tax hikes they say have deepened the region’s economic crisis. Spanish and Portuguese workers are coordinating their strike with work stoppages underway in Greece, Italy, France and Belgium.
At a press conference outside Shifa Hospital on November 14, Gaza's Minister of Health, Dr Mofad Al Makhalalaty, called on the international community to immediately intervene to prevent another catastrophe such as Operation Cast Lead.

Culture

Eklectic Methodz Jpoint Northern Orphanz Recordings www.northernorphanz.webs.com Rapper JPoint is building up a strong body of work - and not just in the music world. The Indigenous emcee runs his own record label, produces music for other artists and has a string of releases under his belt. But he is also competing above the belt - by entering his first body-building contest. For JPoint, it's been a transformation.
Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class By Owen Jones Verso updated 2012 300 pages, $15:00 “It's not the existence of classes that threatens the unity of the nation, but the existence of class feeling,” an official British Conservative Party document stated in 1976. Indeed, abolishing classes was the last thing on the mind of the Tories' new leader at the time, Margaret Thatcher. She merely wanted people to forget which class they belonged to, says Owen Jones in Chavs.
Soldaten, On Fighting, Killing & Dying: The Secret WWII Transcripts of German POWs By Sonke Neitzel & Harald Welzer Scribe Publications, 2012 448pp, $22.99 Our Harsh Logic, Israeli Soldiers Testimonies from the Occupies Territories, 2000-2010 Compiled by Breaking the Silence Scribe Publications, 2012 400pp, $22.99 There is unmitigated evil in both these books ― cruelty, violence, criminal’s countries. The fact that the awful truth comes out of the mouths of the perpetrators makes it all the more shocking.
Dredd/strong> Directed by Peter Travis Starring Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, Lena Headey & Wood Harris In cinemas now As far as action movies go, Dredd deserves to be praised as an enjoyable example of the genre. However, the only way progressive-minded people will be able to stomach it is to avoid thinking about the political implications of the world of Judge Dredd (played by Karl Urban).

Fighting Fund

“The explosion of the rig was a disaster that resulted from BP’s culture of privileging profit over prudence,” said US federal assistant attorney general Lanny A. Breuer at a recent press conference. He was announcing that the company had agreed to pay $4.5 billion to settle criminal charges from the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. BP also plead guilty to 11 counts of manslaughter and three other lesser charges.

Resistance!

The university semester is coming to an end, so now is a good time to take stock of developments in Queensland student politics. In recent months there has been a rise in political consciousness and activity on campuses. Most big universities have had students protesting against alleged corruption in the student union or university. Resistance members have been heavily involved in many of these campaigns. Queensland University of Technology (QUT), University of Queensland (UQ) and Griffith University are the three major campuses in south-east Queensland.
With the escalation of the war on Gaza in the past week, now is the time for the Greens to urgently reconsider backing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign (BDS). This campaign aims to bring international pressure on Israel until it stops human rights abuses against Palestinians. BDS has grown rapidly in Australia in recent years, though mainstream politics has barely noted its progress. Even the Greens, generally far more sympathetic to the suffering of the Palestinian people, have now completely abandoned BDS.