Issue 950

News

About 80 people rallied outside the Woodside office in Broome on January 15 to protest the decision by Indigenous affairs minister Peter Collier to allow drilling in the dunes as part work for an LNG processing site. Protesters say this will disturb Aboriginal sacred sites in the area. Photos by Zeb Parkes.
The Wilderness Society released this statement on January 15. *** The Broome community is outraged at the Minister’s decision announced today to give WA Aboriginal Heritage Act Section 18 clearance to allow Woodside to drill in the dunes west of Manari Road as part of their investigation work for an LNG processing site.

The Ninth National Conference of the Socialist Alliance will be held in Geelong (Victoria), from January 18-20, 2013. It is open to all Socialist Alliance members and invited guests.

Protesters targeted the offices of federal minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs Jenny Macklin on January 11. They were angry about federal Labor’s cut to sole-parent incomes and refusal to raise the Newstart Allowance. Sole parent Rose Ljubicic initiated the protest. She organised another protest on December 24 last year, sparked by receiving a government letter telling sole parents to cut up their pension cards on December 31. Macklin told journalists on January 1 that she could live on the Newstart Allowance.
At a meeting on December 19, Liverpool City Council resolved to oppose the proposed Stage 3 Northern Expansion of the Camden Gas Project (CGP). The council also resolved to make a submission to the NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure (DP&I) outlining its reasons for opposing the project. The proposed Stage 3 expansion of the of the CGP consists of the development of 11 more drill sites, each with up to six well heads, in an area running from Blairmont in the south to Denham Court in the north, in south west Sydney.
A blockade by activists opposed to the production of coal seam gas (CSG) at Glenugie, near Grafton in northern NSW, has shown determined opposition to drilling in the area since the blockade started eight weeks ago. CSG Free Northern Rivers, a community group based in the Clarence Valley, has campaigned to keep the Northern Rivers region free of coal seam gas through protests and non-violent direct action. The blockade began on November 20. Fifty activists blocked the gates to a farming property that was due to host drilling operations by gas company Metgasco.
A Tamil refugee living in Australia on a bridging visa died in a Fremantle hospital on January 5 from suicide. He had a wife and young daughter still in Sri Lanka, and was waiting for an outcome on his refugee status. It was his second suicide attempt. Refugee advocates in Perth said he had been tortured in Sri Lanka and his mental health deteriorated while in detention on Christmas Island and in the remote north Queensland Scherger base — where he first attempted suicide.
Campers at the Glenugie blockade, south-east of Grafton in NSW, were woken at dawn on January 7 to news that the police was on its way to escort a coal seam gas (CSG) drill rig to the drill site. Metgasco want to drill in the beautiful Coldstream Wetlands at Glenugie in the Clarence Valley. Many nearby land holders have Lock the Gate triangles up on their fences and the community has overwhelmingly opposed Metgasco's attempt to begin drilling.
The Australian Socialist Alliance released this statement on January 4. *** The Socialist Alliance stands in solidarity with the growing movement in India fighting violence against women. Progressive forces in that country have braved police brutality and repression, mobilising massive turnouts at protests against gender violence. The wave of protests was sparked by the horrific rape on December 15, and the consequent death, of a 23-year-old woman in Delhi.
This statement was released by the NSW Fire Brigade Employees Union. * * * The NSW O’Farrell Government’s June Budget imposed across-the-board cuts to the public sector wages bill by 1.2%, with Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) being hit with a larger cut amounting to 1.75% – higher even than many clerical agencies.

Analysis

For nine long years Gail Hickey and her family have indefatigably campaigned for justice over the death of their son, TJ Hickey, an Aboriginal man who was 17 years old. He died as a consequence of a pursuit by Redfern police that ended with his death the following day. For nine long years Gail, the family and their supporters have been telling and re-telling the history. His bike was rammed by a police car, he was thrown in the air with great force, and landed on a spiked fence line with great force.
Australia became one of the first countries in the world to introduce a single mothers’ benefit in 1973. This was extended to single fathers in 1977. The single mothers’ benefit was an important reform, helping many women escape from difficult or violent relationships and reducing poverty among children.
While Australia and Sri Lanka battled it out at the Sydney Cricket Ground early this month, a Sri Lankan Tamil asylum seeker on a bridging visa living in Hamilton Hill, a victim of torture, died in Fremantle Hospital after attempting suicide last Thursday. The tragic event played out as momentum grows for a boycott of Sri Lankan cricket, lead by former cricket writer for The Age Trevor Grant.
Hashim bin Rashid, 25, the general secretary of the Lahore branch of the Awami Workers Party — recently formed out of the merger of three left parties in Pakistan — will be the international guest speaker at the Socialist Alliance ninth national conference to be held in Geelong Trades Hall, over January 18-20. He replaces Alia Amirali who was not given a visa by Australian authorities in time to travel to the conference.
In Port Pirie, an industrial centre 220 kilometres north of Adelaide in South Australia, more than half of two-year-olds suffer from lead poisoning at a level consistent with later behavioural problems and loss of learning ability. The problem is more than twice as bad as anywhere else in Australia, including such lead-polluted cities as Mt Isa and Broken Hill.
It is nearly that time again, the time to celebrate all that is great about this nation on the date that commemorates its founding by Europeans who discovered what they considered an empty continent. We have made a lot of progress since then. For instance in 1967 we agreed in a landmark national vote that Aboriginal people were people, and not fauna.
As this century progresses, the record high temperatures experienced across Australia in the past few months will no longer be dangerous departures from the norm, but a regular feature of Australian summers. This is one of the conclusions reached in a draft of the fifth assessment report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which was leaked and published online last month.
A “dome of heat” has settled over Australia, causing a heatwave in every state and territory and widespread bushfires. Tasmania has been the worst hit with 150 homes damaged or destroyed.
The Socialist Alliance released this statement in solidarity with the international movement against violence against women on January 4. *** The Socialist Alliance stands in solidarity with the growing movement in India fighting violence against women. Progressive forces in that country have braved police brutality and repression, mobilising massive turnouts at protests against gender violence. The wave of protests was sparked by the horrific rape on December 15, and the consequent death, of a 23-year-old woman in Delhi.
Photos taken by refugees of their living conditions in the Australian detention camp on Manus Island have led to a new round of “systematic assault on asylum seekers’ basic rights”, according to Refugee Action Coalition spokesperson Nick Riemer.
Recent moves by the Greens leadership to moderate some of their policies have opened up an important debate within the party regarding its future. Below is one contribution to the debate from a group of Greens members which points to "a worrying trend" emerging from within the Greens leadership. They argue “now is the time for members and sympathisers to confront these issues head on". ***

World

As Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence entered her fourth week on a hunger strike outside the Canadian parliament in late December, thousands of protesters in Los Angeles, London, Minneapolis and New York City voiced their support. Spence and the protesters of the Idle No More Movement are drawing attention to deplorable conditions in Native communities and recently passed legislation C-45, which sidesteps most Canadian environmental laws.
United States: More Republicans believe in demonic possession than climate change “Starting with the number of people who believe in climate change, we can note that Canadians are pretty on-the-ball when it comes to this: 98% of them accept the overwhelming evidence. The percentage of Americans who do is 70, while only 48% of Republicans attach any weight to the problem. On the other hand, Republicans accept demonic possession at a rate of 68%. Apparently evidence means nothing to some people.” — AddictingInfo.org, December 22
Plastic bullets were fired and water cannons were used as rioting erupted again in Belfast on January 12 at loyalist flag protests, Irish Republican News said that day. Belfast has been hit by violent protests and riots in the aftermath of a decision by Belfast City Council to restrict the flying of the Union Jack at Belfast City Hall to 17 days a year.
The statement was released the Kurdish Association of Australia on January 11 condemning the assassination of three Kurdish activists in Paris. The Kurdish people have long struggled for self-determination in Turkey, and other states that claim parts of historic Kurdistan. Turkey has responded to the Kurdish struggle with brutal repression and moves to wipe out the Kurdish identity. * * * On the 9th of January, 2013 three Kurdish women activists ― including a co-founder of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) ― were shot dead in the Kurdish Institute of Paris.
In an effort to assert control over national resources Bolivia has nationalized two Spanish electricity distribution companies. The measure, on the eve of a new year, comes as an example of initiatives to secure the interests of people. Reuters reported on December 29 that the nationalisation that day of two electricity distribution companies owned by Spanish utility Iberdrola were “the latest move by leftist President Evo Morales to assert control over the country's resources”.
A horrifying 12-minute video of young men in Steubenville, Ohio, joking about the brutal, extended gang rape of a 16-year-old girl last August became international news after it was posted on the Internet on January 2 by the hacker group Anonymous --along with a stream of Twitter and Facebook posts, and photos of the unconscious victim being dragged by her wrists and ankles.
A social and political rights movement of indigenous people is rising across Canada and making international headlines. Protests by the “Idle No More” movement began last month and continue to grow. The movement has rallied daily across the country in shopping malls, at US border crossings and on major railway lines. Three days ago, it compelled Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to climb down from his refusal to meet with indigenous leaders to discuss their very deep concerns.
The latest United Nations figures put the death toll from the conflict in Syria a third higher than previous estimates by the UN and anti-government activists. “We can assume that more than 60,000 people have been killed by the beginning of 2013,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said in a January 2 statement. “The number of casualties is much higher than we expected, and is truly shocking.” The UN has compiled a list of 59,648 named individuals reported killed between March 15, 2011, and November 30, 2012.
The January 1 deadline for the so-called fiscal cliff has come and gone without resolving anything. In a last minute agreement, taxes were raised a little bit on the wealthiest, with rates going back to what they were under the Clinton administration in the 1990s. But nothing was done to close the “loopholes” through which the rich evade taxes, and indeed, some new loopholes were created.
Venezuela's US-funded opposition and the international corporate media has used President Hugo Chavez's serious health issues to run a campaign against the Venezuelan government. In particular, the opposition has claimed that the failure of Chavez, who is recovering from surgery in Cuba, to be sworn-in by the National Assembly by the originally scheduled date of January 10 means he is no longer president. Chavez was re-elected president for a six year term in October with more than 55% of the vote.
Tens of thousands of supporters gathered in Caracas today for a huge rally in support of Venezuela's ill President Hugo Chavez. The gathering was in response to the controversy surrounding his absence on January 10, the date set for his inauguration day after he was re-elected for a new six-year term in October.
The statement below was released n December 24, condemning the culture of impunity for rape as well as opposing the death penalty for perpetrators as a solution. It is reprinted from KAFILA.org. See also the article by Kavita Krishnan (a signatory to this statement) on the explosion of protests defending 'a women's right to freedom without fear'. * * *
In the midst of the unspeakable horror of a rape and attempted murder in Delhi [since the article was written, the victim has died in hospital] is a spark of hope that we nurture, cradling it with our hands lest it be snuffed out, helping the spark to grow into a steadier flame – and then spread into a forest fire. A young woman, a 23-year-old student of physiotherapy, boarded a bus in Delhi with a male friend. They were alone on the bus but for a group of men, who began taunting the woman for being out at night with a man.

Culture

Yabun Festival Featuring Dizzy Doolan Saturday January 26, Sydney When rapper Dizzy Doolan is asked whether her song "Women's Business" is inspired by the Aboriginal concept of secret women's business, she replies simply: "I was inspired to write 'Women's Business' purely because I was sick of seeing men disrespect women. I wanted to inspire women to be strong and to have a voice and be heard."
A selection of this week's celebrity news... Elton John Welcomes Second Child With David Furnish—Check Out Their Baby Boy's Name http://eonli.ne/13BvH4k Edward Furlong Charged With Misdemeanor Battery for Allegedly Shoving Girlfriend http://eonli.ne/13Bbw6O Prince Harry beats George Clooney as Most Eligible Bachelor. http://eonli.ne/W4qoFn Victor Garber Confirms He's Gay, Living With Longtime Partner Rainer Andreesen http://eonli.ne/W8WhfI Rihanna Goes Topless for Complex Cover, Defends Chris Brown Collaboration http://eonli.ne/13zNuJt
Left-wing singer-songwriter Rory McLeod is on a tour of Australia. As usual, the veteran English-born folk singer’s performances are not to be missed. His six-week tour began at the Woodford Folk Festival, which he described as more diverse than other folk festivals he's been to. “You can be crossing 50 or 60 borders in a day [at Woodford]”, he told Green Left Weekly, referring to the wide variety of music styles presented. From there, he will pass through all states and many towns — large and small.
Sydney-based Kinetic Energy Theatre Company's team of six actors performed their show about the Australian 1965 “freedom ride” at Sydney University on December 14. The performance was part of a conference organised by the Aboriginal Studies Association and attended by teachers and Aboriginal counsellors from all over NSW.
A selection of this week's celebrity news... Kyle XY's Matt Dallas comes out and announces he's engaged. http://eonli.ne/XfcVeU NBC Bosses Admit to Talking Donald Trump Out of Presidential Race. http://eonli.ne/Ux6Z3U Charlie Sheen Kisses Porn Star Gal-Pal Georgia Jones in Mexico. http://eonli.ne/UpPdiV Princess Diana Picture Decreed "Not to Be Published" Surfaces, Isn't Very Scandalous At All. http://eonli.ne/WsNCUj Gérard Depardieu Granted Russian Citizenship by Vladimir Putin Following French Tax Row. http://eonli.ne/UgyWwN
Is there any reason for a revolutionary to watch a fantasy movie like The Hobbit? Activists and radicals, perhaps more than anyone, must live in the real world. Uninterested in escaping from the struggles of life, a radical mind sees real social situations brimming with injustice to be fought and wants to do something about it. Perhaps this is why there are not too many fantasy writers among the literary heroes of the radical left. We tend to favour poignant and sensual descriptions of real world conditions.