Issue 948

News

Refugee activists in Melbourne organised a candle lit vigil on November 30 to condemn the federal government's racist policies against refugees. Mohammed Bakhtiari, a former detainee on Nauru, said: "We need to demonstrate to people that we have rights too". Photos by Ali Bakhtiarvandi:
BRISBANE Emergency rally to save Omid — Friday, December 7, 5.30pm. CHANGE OF LOCATION — King George Square, city. Click here for more details. No to offshore processing! — Saturday, December 8, 1pm. 100 Sugarmill Rd, Pinkenba, Brisbane Immigration Transit Accommodation. Organised by the Refugee Action Collective QLD. ADELAIDE
West Papuans and their supporters rallied in Melbourne on December 1. They raised the Morning Star flag, a symbol of independence, and demanded self-determination and an end to Indonesian occupation of West Papua. The rally was part of an international day of action. The speakers addressed the brutal human rights violations committed by the Indonesian army and urged the Gillard government to break with over 40 years of successive Australian governments' support for the Indonesian occupation.
ACT Friends of Wikileaks released this statement on December 1. *** ACT Friends of Wikileaks held a candlelight vigil outside Parliament House on November 29 to show the government that there are many Australians who want them to act to protect Julian Assange’s human rights, and who are appalled at the government’s lack of action in the face of extraordinary and unprecedented abuse of the rights of one of its citizens. Many people from around the country and overseas sent messages of support and messages to the government, including a number of prominent people.
Queensland Uncut held a “people’s parliament” in Brisbane to coincide with the last sitting day of parliament on November 29. The rally heard from speakers representing unions, the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, Equal Love, the Queensland Working Women's Service and Sisters Inside. The groups oppose the cuts the Liberal National Party (LNP) government is making to the community and public sector. Many community services have been downsized or shut down because of funding cuts.
Two spectacular banner drops on Sydney's Darling Harbour Convention Centre exposed some of the "dirty deeds" of the world's biggest mining company, BHP Billiton. Environmentalists and Aboriginal rights supporters rallied outside the company’s annual general meeting on November 29 to highlight the billions of dollars profit BHP makes annually from the dirty energy sector, inclduing uranium, coal, oil and coal seam gas.
An important trial concerning the right to protest was adjourned on November 28 after it went longer than the single day scheduled for the hearing. Perth activist Kamala Emanuel was charged with refusing to obey a police direction to leave a legal and peaceful protest against gas "fracking" in April.
Anti-uranium activists staged an action at the Perth headquarters of mining company Toro to coincide with its November 28 annual general meeting in Adelaide. The company is trying to build WA's first uranium mine (Wiluna) against the wishes of the majority of West Australians. Activists gave the company a practical demonstration about how hard it is to clean up after a nuclear accident by attempting to clean up yellow cake in the company office.
Over 200 people attended a memorial for Rex Munn, the “singing socialist” and Labour movement legend, at the Waterside Workers' Hall in Port Adelaide on November 28.   Rex, who died a week earlier aged 84, worked as a wharfie in Port Adelaide for 36 years before retiring in 1987. He described the work as “dirty, dusty and dangerous”.  
Some environmentalists have justified their support for the forest peace deal — passed by Tasmania’s Legislative Assembly on November 23 — on the grounds of not letting “perfect” become the “enemy of good”. But a closer look at the details of the deal, which will allow the logging of native forests for another generation, makes clear it cannot even be called “good”.
The Wilderness Society Newcastle released the statement below on November 28. *** Concerned residents packed Newcastle City Chambers [on November 27] and faced a heavy police presence at a meeting where coal seam gas drillers Dart Energy presented their case to Newcastle City Council. "Tonight’s Newcastle Council meeting saw a shaky performance by coal seam gas drillers Dart Energy, under the pressure of local community members who filled the council chambers to show their concern," said Naomi Hogan of the Wilderness Society Newcastle.
Campaign group Illawarra Residents for Responsible Mining (IRRM) have been told to pay $40,000 before its case challenging the expansion of a coalmine can be heard in the Land and Environment Court. Coalmining company Gujarat is seeking approval to expand its coal mine in the residential area of Russell Vale, a suburb of Wollongong. The expansion will mean the company will mine seven times more coal a year compared to current levels, increasing the output to 3 million tonnes a year.
The rank and file “Clean Sweep” ticket won all contested positions of the Victorian Health Services Union (HSU) No 3 branch in elections held on November 26. The HSU's No 3 branch covers 36 professions; from physiotherapists, radiographers, anesthetic technicians to occupational therapists, social workers, and medical illustrators. The No 3 branch is the smallest of the three HSU branches with a membership of about 3500.
This statement was released by the Sydney Uni Anti-Racism Collective on November 29. *** At 12:30pm today a dozen student refugee activists occupied Immigration Minister Chris Bowen's electoral office demanding that he act now to save the life of Omid Sorousheh, the Iranian hunger striker on Nauru now on his 49th day of hunger strike.
Local campaign group Illawarra Residents for Responsible Mining (IRRM) have been told to pay $40,000 before their case challenging the expansion of a coal mine will be heard in the Land and Environment Court. Coal-mining company Gujarat are seeking approval to expand their coal mine in the residential area of Russell Vale, a suburb of Wollongong. The expansion will mean the company will mine seven times more coal a year compared to current levels, increasing the output to 3 million tonnes a year.

Analysis

The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) released this statement on November 27. *** "The WA branch of the Maritime Union of Australia is proud to declare its support for the proposed Fremantle Community Wind Farm," said MUA Assistant Branch Secretary Will Tracey. He said the union and its members had given the matter careful consideration. "The proposal was discussed by the executive and then presented to port workers themselves to consider. Motions of support for the proposal were unanimously endorsed at all meetings of workers from QUBE, Patricks, Ativo and Fremantle Ports."
The Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney released this statement on November 26. *** The Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney (STICS) will hold a major forum on the NT intervention to mark Human Rights Day on December 6. The meeting will also mark 20 years since Paul Keating gave his famous "Redfern Speech" which recognised the destructive impact of colonisation on Aboriginal people.
It's just about impossible to watch a commercial TV channel anywhere in Australia without being assaulted by slick mining company ads telling us how good they supposedly are for the community. Incredible amounts of money are being spent on these brainwashing campaigns. One set of these advertisements more specifically targets communities that are resisting the onslaught of the coal seam gas (CSG) miners, particularly in precious water catchment areas and prime food producing regions. These ads are often more targeted in their messaging, but they have been caught out lying.
It is a common refrain, repeated in Facebook memes and exploited in any number of corporate ads: “Be yourself! Celebrate who you are!” Which is all well and good, but what if you are a bastard? For instance, I don't actually think Alan Joyce should keep on “being himself”. The union-bashing Qantas CEO, who last year locked out his entire workforce, just can't seem to control his anti-worker impulses — announcing in recent weeks that 400 more engineering jobs would be slashed.
A recent speech by a leading member of the US International Socialist Organisation, Sharon Smith, represents an important contribution the discussions of socialists and activists on women’s liberation. The struggle for socialism is a unifying struggle that encompasses many other movements to end all forms of oppression and exploitation. All progressive struggles are the business of socialists and socialist parties. At the same time, all struggles are strengthened by Marxist-educated, highly conscious activists.
Federal independent MPs, Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott, have put pressure on the Julia Gillard's government to raise the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and to slash so called “middle class welfare” entitlements.
An article published by Socialist Alternative titled “Jill Meagher, Reclaim the Night and the political right” on November 22 said: “The horrible rape and murder of Brunswick woman Jill Meagher has been successfully used by the media and authorities to promote a right wing political agenda.
Australia’s decision on November 29 to break its support for US and Israel and abstain on the vote to allow Palestine observer status at the United Nations represents a win for pro-Palestine forces. Of the 193 nations in the UN General Assembly, 138 voted in favour, nine against and 41 abstentions for the resolution to change Palestine from an observer “entity” to observer “state”. The Palestinian Authority (PA) — led by Mahmoud Abbas — submitted a proposal for UN observer status last year, after it appeared the Security Council would veto a bid to become a full member state.
The mining industry in Australia has boomed from about 4% of GDP in 2004 to about 9% today. Mining exports in the year to March last year were worth $155 billion, or 53% of Australia's total exports. Mining profits in 2009-10 amounted to $51 billion, and the estimated pre-tax profits over the next 10 years will be about $600 billion.  But who is the wealth benefiting and what are the costs of mining? And who makes the decisions about if, where and under what conditions mining takes place, and how the wealth is distributed?
Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon spoke in parliament on November 27 to mark the the Tamil day, “Maaveerar Naal”, and detail the ongoing struggles of Tamil people to achieve justice and equality. Her full speech is published. ***   November 27 marks a very important and hauntingly sad day for Tamils all around the world including in Sri Lanka.   In Tamil the day is known as “Maaveerar Naal”.  Veerar means "warrior" or "hero". Maa means "great". Naal means "day".  
Hunger-striking refugee 35-year-old Omid Sorousheh's desperate plea to be recognised as a refugee in Australia has been treated with contempt by immigration minister Chris Bowen, despite clear indications that he was close to death. Omid has been on a hunger strike for 50 days on November 30. That day it was reported he had been finally airlifted from Nauru and returned to Australia.
Green Left Weekly has been flooded with pleas for help and support from several men on hunger strike in the Nauru detention camp. The two letters below are from 35-year-old Iranian Omid Sorousheh, who has been refusing food the longest, and Amin, who was on his fifth day of hunger strike on November 26.   Both men say they will refuse medical treatment until Australia accepts they have a right to asylum.   ***   Dying asylum seeker sends plea to world  
Green Left Weekly spoke to Evan McHugh, the co-organiser of the first Equal Love rally in the Albury-Wodonga area that took place on November 17. Why did you organise this protest?

World

A major theme of this year’s US presidential election campaign was the threat to world peace allegedly posed by Iran’s nuclear program. Democrat President Barack Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney competed to take the hardest line. Obama boasted of organising the “strongest coalition and the strongest sanctions against Iran in history” and promised to “take all options necessary” to force Iran to abandon its nuclear program.
A group of 57 refugees, mainly from Africa and the Middle East, have pushed the plight of the more than 100,000 asylum seekers in Germany into the national spotlight. In September, they rejected regulations that constrain their movement and began a long march to the German capital, Berlin. They came from as far as Wuerzburg, a Bavarian town in Germany’s south. Some of them completed the 600 kilometre journey on foot over 29 days. Arriving in early October, the refugees and scores more German supporters established a tent city in the Berlin suburb of Kreuzberg.
Despite securing a comfortable victory in October's presidential elections, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) is set for a harder struggle in crucial regional elections on December 16. However, even opposition polls show PSUV is likely to keepcontrol of most governorships. The issue is whether the opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) can win or hold key seats, or the PSUV can build on the momentum from the presidential vote and important social gains.
A United Nations review into its handling of the Sri Lankan government's war against Tamils in 2009 has revealed the UN deliberately ignored Sri Lanka's huge-scale human rights violations. Up to 50,000 Tamils were killed by Sri Lankan military forces in the final stage of the conflict between the Sri Lankan government and armed Tamil independence groups, the most prominent of which was the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). After the defeat of the LTTE in May 2009, about 300,000 Tamils were forced into prison camps, where mass executions, torture and rape allegedly took place.
Clandestine in Chile: The Adventures of Miguel Littin By Gabriel Garcia Marquez New York Review Books, 2012 116 pages, $19.95 (pb) “The most hated man in my life,” declared the casual-dressed, bearded, non-conformist Chilean film director, Miguel Littin, was the balding, near-sighted, clean-shaven, Uruguayan business tycoon who accompanied Littin’s every step on his secret return to the Chile of military dictator, Augusto Pinochet, in 1985.
Ecudor says Assange has chronic lung condition Ecuador's ambassador to Britain, Ana Alba, told Ecuadorian TV that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has a chronic lung condition after spending months in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, ABC.net.au reported on November 30.
A 1500-strong march wound its way through Manila to mark Bonifacio Day on November 30. The day marks the birthday of 19th century Filipino independence leader Andres Bonifacio, known as “the Great Plebian” due to his humble origins and support for the poor. Bonifacio died at the hands of pro-elite rivals in the independence movement. The march was organised by the BMP trade union confederation, the Party of the Labouring Masses (PLM), the peasants’ and rural workers’ organisation AMA, the KPML organisation of the urban poor and the SANLAKAS democratic front.
Anger has erupted on Egypt's streets and lead to a new occupation of Cairo's iconic Tahrir square — the centre of mass protests that brought down dictator Hosni Mubarak last year. Just days after being lauded by many for his role in brokering a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi issued a series of constitutional decrees that provoked the protests. There were also large protests on December 1 in defence of Morsi and his decrees.
To believe the capitalist media, there is a specter haunting the US — the danger that we are about to fall over a fiscal cliff come January 1. This is presented as if it were a natural phenomenon, a physical cliff the nation is hurtling toward — something must be done before we go over and crash on the rocks below! President Barack Obama, the Democrats and Republicans in Congress must come to a compromise to avoid the impending catastrophe, we are repeatedly told.
For Walmart, this Black Friday--which actually started with store openings at 8 pm on Thanksgiving, disrupting family celebrations --meant not just the kickoff of its lucrative Christmas buying season, but the first truly national challenge to shake its once rock-solid control over its 1.3 million “associates. Rallies by its workers and their supporters took place at an estimated 1,000 of its stores across the nation.
Israel's brutal eight-day assault on Gaza, which killed dozens of Palestinian children, was formally ended with an Egyptian-negotiated ceasefire between Israel and Hamas on November 21. It caused fresh carnage in the besieged Gaza Strip, which is regularly bombed by Israel and has not recovered from Israel's 22-day offensive in 2008-09 that killed about 1400 people. Rockets fired from Gaza in response to Israeli attacks killed five Israelis.

The World Bank delivered a brutal warning about the dangers of runaway climate change and called for rapid action to cut greenhouse gas emissions in a recent report. But don’t expect the bank to take its own advice.

Culture

A selection of this week's celebrity news... Country singer Trace Adkins in Hot Water For Confederate Flag Earpiece. http://bit.ly/115BnCt Tycoon Donald Trump says Chinese invented global warming to damage US business. http://on.fb.me/11xeFSY Randy Blythe, singer with anti-Iraq war band Lamb of God, indicted for manslaughter. http://eonli.ne/SIjxR9 Chris Brown Returns to Twitter, Posts Scantily Clad Photo of Rihanna on Instagram. http://eonli.ne/QYzg1J
I Believe In Revolution Darah Darah Music 2012 www.darahmusic.tumblr.com Darah says it was a fellow Aboriginal rapper who inspired him to take a more radical direction on his latest album, I Believe In Revolution. "This whole album was largely inspired by Big Luke’s album Message From A Black Man," the Victorian emcee tells Green Left. Just as Big Luke took a no-holds barred approach on that album, so Darah has come out with both guns blazing on his latest effort. But Big Luke is not just an inspiration to Darah.
The Marx Dictionary By Ian Fraser & Lawrence Wilde Continuum, 2011 223 pp., $39.99 “A is for Alienation, that made me the man that I am, and B's for the Boss who's a Bastard, a Bourgeois who don't give a damn.” So goes Scottish folk singer Alex Glasgow’s witty song, “The Socialist ABC”, which is a succinct introduction to Marxism. However, for a slightly more rounded alphabetical introduction this volume is very good. In it the authors manage to condense quite readable explanations of some of the Western intellectual tradition’s most challenging concepts.
Forever Kayemtee Impossible Odds Records 2012 www.impossibleoddsrecords.com Jimmy Barnes is probably the most heterosexual man in Australia - but he has now inspired probably the best homosexual rap tune to come out of the country. The Cold Chisel frontman is famous for allegedly bedding more than 1000 women early on in his career. But Indigenous femcee Kayemtee has taken his band's highest-charting song, "Forever Now", and given it a radical twist.

Resistance!

Around Australia, proponents of neoliberalism have led attacks on tertiary education an ideological onslaught against the idea of well-funded public education.   In July, Fred Hilmer, vice-chancellor of UNSW and chair of the Group of 8 Universities, a coalition of university managements, called for total fee deregulation and “cutting red tape”.