Issue 951

Australia

The Broome Community No Gas Campaign released this statement on January 15.

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Traditional custodians have responded to revelations that state minister Peter Collier has authorised Woodside to destroy sacred sites on the Kimberley coast, north of Broome, as part of its exploration and assessment work at the controversial James Price Point gas hub site.

Spokesperson and Goolarabooloo law boss Phillip Roe says he and senior law boss Joseph Roe had not been given prior notice of the decision and had learnt about it via the media.

The second day of the trial of Perth protester Kamala Emanuel ended on January 24 with no verdict from the magistrate.

Emanuel was charged with failing to comply with a police officer's direction to leave a legal, peaceful rally last April.

Twenty people protested outside the court in support of the right to protest without police interference.

Over 150 people attended a public rally to demand a memorial and park to commemorate two Aboriginal freedom fighters, Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner, on January 20 in Melbourne.

Tunnerminnerwait and Maulboyheenner were the first two men executed in Melbourne on January 20, 1842.

The rally was addressed by various activists, including anarchist Joseph Toscano and Socialist Alliance member Davie Thompson.

Toscano said the two men were among 16 Tasmanian Aborigines brought to Melbourne in 1839 to be “civilised.”

More than 60 people attended a meeting on January 24 to discuss the Coburg Structure Plan.  This plan, put forward by the Moreland City Council, will allow the construction of 10-storey buildings adjacent to existing homes in Coburg, an inner-northern Melbourne suburb.

The meeting was called by newly elected Socialist Alliance councillor Sue Bolton, whose electorate includes Coburg. Bolton told the meeting that most residents she had spoken to did not know about the plan.

Prominent Tasmanian Aboriginal lawyer Michael Mansell has renewed calls for Aboriginal Australians to take to the streets in light of Canada's growing Idle No More movement.

The campaign has had thousands of First Nations people march through major cities of Canada following their government's introduction of contentious legislation impacting Native Treaty rights.

Mansell says it's time for people in Australia to take "more direct action" on Indigenous issues.

Members of dozens of local Aboriginal Land Councils protested outside the office of the NSW Land Council on January 25. The peak body of Aboriginal affairs has been criticised for applying for exploration permits for uranium and coal seam gas in areas throughout NSW.

Chairperson of the Illawarra Local Aboriginal Land Council, Roy “Dootch” Kennedy, told Green Left Weekly they were protesting because of serious concerns about the effects of mining and the lack of consultation about the decision.

Leichhardt Friends of Hebron released this statement on January 10.

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Since 2009, Leichhardt Friends of Hebron has been helping provide pre-school education facilities in some of the most disadvantaged communities in Palestine.

In Palestine, the path to education is not easy and straightforward. Children must pass through Israel’s military checkpoints, deal with soldiers and the fear of attack from residents of Israel’s illegal settlements.

A group of women asylum seekers share their reasons for seeking protection from Australia and their dismay and despair at being transferred to Manus Island. Their letters are reprinted below unedited.

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Letter 1

I am a 33 years old Iranian woman and I have a son, nine years old. We had to leave Iran because of the personal hardship that I experienced there.

World

Michael Coleman is an Australian activist in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle who took part in the second “freedom flotilla” in 2011 that sought to break Israel's blockade of Gaza. After Israel attacked the boat he was on, which was carrying humanitarian aid, Coleman was held for a week in an Israeli jail and deported.

There are awards for everyone. There are the Logies, the Commies, the Tonys, the Theas, the Millies ("They cried with pride") and now the Shammies.

The Shammies celebrate the finest sham media. "Competition for the 2013 Gold Shammy," said the panel of judges, "has been cutthroat." The Shammies are not for the tabloid lower orders. Rupert Murdoch has been honoured enough. Shammies distinguish respectable journalism that guards the limits of what the best and brightest like to call the "national conversation".

About 7000 people joined the “International Meeting with Social Movements” festival in Barcelona on December 9, which features Bolivia's left-wing President President Evo Morales, the Andean nation;'s first ever indigenous president.

The event was largely attended by the Bolivian diaspora, many of whom travelled hours from Madrid and Valencia. However, flags of Catalonia, Palestine and Argentina reflected a broad internationalist gathering.

The Israeli right-wing may not have lived up to expectations, but the real losers of Israel's national elections on January 22 were the Palestinian people.

Though they lost ground to more “centrist” parties such as Yesh Atid and Labor, the right-wing Likud-Beitenu alliance remains the largest bloc in the assembly.

Although he will remain prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu will probably have to compromise with moderates to form a coalition.

On Monday 7 January, Foreign Minister Bob Carr announced that Australia has been chosen to head the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) sanctions committees on Iran, and on the Taliban al-Qaeda. The committees are tasked with monitoring the implementation of UNSC sanctions and recommending further measures.

Two student leaders from Jaffna University who were detained under Sri Lanka's draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act were released on January 22.

Jaffna University Student Union president V. Bavanandan and Science Faculty student activist Shamugam Solomon were taken into custody with two other students on November 29 and 30.

An estimated 115,000 people marched in Bilbao, in the Basque Country in the north of the Spanish state, on January 12, undeterred by pouring rain and near-freezing conditions. Protesters demanded the repatriation to the Basque Country of hundreds of Basque political prisoners held by the Spanish state.

About 150,000 people converged on Merdeka Stadium, Kuala Lumpur, for an opposition-called People's Uprising rally (Himpunan Kebangkitan Rakyat) on January 12.

This huge but peaceful mobilisation was an implicit warning to the Barisan Nasional (BN) government not to “steal” the coming general elections through the intimidation, corruption, electoral registration fraud and gerrymanders that have been used to hang on to power since formal independence from British colonial rule in 1957.

Venezuela's Vice-President Nicolas Maduro and government ministers marched with up to one million people on January 23 to defend the Bolivarian revolution, which has signficantly reduced poverty and promoted new forms of participatory democracy, on the country's Democracy Day.

The right-wing opposition march turned out to be a small rally. Further, sectors of the far right have called on the armed forces to resist what they referred to as the “invasion” of “Castro-communism” in Venezuela.

Indian socialist feminist Kavita Krishnan spoke to Green Left TV's Pip Hinman about the new movement against gender violence in India. Kavita is Secretary of the All India Progressive Women's Association (AIPWA) and has been a leading activists in the campaign that has swept India (and beyond) since the brutal gang rape of a woman student in Delhi in a public bus. The woman, badly injured in the attack, died two weeks later despite being flown to Singapore for treatment. Her male companion, who was also severely assaulted, survived. Six suspects are being tried.

France, the former slave power of west Africa, has poured into Mali with a vengeance in a military attack launched on January 11.

French warplanes are bombing towns and cities across the vast swath of northern Mali, a territory measuring some one thousand kilometres from south to north and east to west. French soldiers in armoured columns have launched a ground offensive, beginning with towns in the south of the northern territory, some 300 kilometres north and east of the Malian capital of Bamako.

Analysis

As often happens at this time of year, in the lead-up to January 26, commentators and activists raised the suggestion that Australia’s national day be moved to a different date.

Writing in the January 21 Sydney Morning Herald, Aboriginal MLA in the ACT legislative assembly Chris Bourke said: “Which nation celebrates its national day on the date it was invaded by a foreign power? … The answer, of course, is Australia.”

I left the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) in July last year after working there for 22 years. I was given a redundancy package.

My job had not been abolished, but a clause in the ATO enterprise agreement says: “An employee whose services can no longer be effectively used in their current job because of changes in technology or work methods or changes in the nature, extent of organisation of the ATO [can be given a package].” This is popularly called the “not coping with change” clause.

The ninth National Conference of the Socialist Alliance was held in Geelong over January 18-20. More than 150 people took part in the conference, including Hashim bin Rashid representing the newly formed united party of the left in Pakistan, the Awami Workers Party.

Rashid attended the conference as a special guest, and gave presentations on racism, refugees and the war on terror, as well as the continuing struggles of the poor, the dispossessed and oppressed communities in Pakistan today.

The Only Democracy In the Middle East (TM) held elections on January 22, which is what all good democracies do — even if not all those actually governed by the Israeli Knesset got to vote.

Those in Gaza, which depends on the Israeli government elected in the poll to decide such things as which basic goods are let in to the besieged territory and whether or not they will be bombed on any given day, didn't get to cast a ballot. But in the West Bank, you'll be pleased to hear it is more mixed.

Earthworker is a new manufacturing cooperative that aims to build renewable energy products in Australia. It is worker-owned and controlled, and committed to supporting local jobs at the same time as providing a way to reduce carbon emissions.

Beginning with solar hot water systems, the aim is to eventually expand to include a full range of green technologies.

The NSW Barry O’Farrell government has been criticised for having close links to mining companies after it made two controversial decisions in December last year.

The Coalition government announced it would appoint a former mining company executive to the board of the Sydney Catchment Authority (SCA) and confirmed it would axe funding to the Environmental Defenders Office (EDO).

Community Action Against Homophobia (CAAH) has responded to the homophobic bullying of queer youth at Parramatta’s Rediscover the River festival on January 17.

During the festival, Twenty10, an organisation that provides counseling for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) youth, were asked to remove an “offensive” banner.

The banner read: “Support service for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, same-sex attracted and gender diverse young people, their families and community. ‘A place to be me, with the support I need.’”

Anti-coal activist Jonathan Moylan hit the headlines after he distributed a fake media release in the name of ANZ bank on January 7. It claimed that the bank was withdrawing a $1.2 billion loan that would finance the proposed Maules Creek coalmine owned by Whitehaven Coal, due to its corporate responsibility policy.

It read: “We want our customers to be assured that we will not be investing in coal projects that cause significant dislocation of farmers, unacceptable damage to the environment, or social conflict.”

Green Left Weekly's Patrick Harrison spoke to Sahema Saweri, president, and Shoaib Doostizadah, public officer, of the Australian Hazara Students Group, at the January 15 vigil in Melbourne for the victims of the Quetta bomb blasts.

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Can you tell me what these vigils have been about?

Cuts to the Victorian health budget are having a significant impact on Victorian hospitals.

More than 300 beds have been closed, elective surgeries have been delayed, and jobs are being lost as hospitals attempt to implement a funding cut of $107 million by June this year.

Tamil refugee Ranjini and her two sons made headlines last May when they were taken without warning to Sydney's Villawood detention centre and locked up after Ranjini was labelled an ASIO “security risk”.

The very next day, 33-year-old Ranjini learned she was pregnant.

She gave birth to Paartheepan (Paari) on January 15. The newborn boy has the right to live outside detention with his father, Ganesh, who married Ranjini a year before she was detained and lives nearby in Sydney.

Culture

Idle No More (Invasion Day) The Mixtape
Featuring K-Otic 1, Darah, Felon, Mr Forge, Toombs, Provocalz, Teila, Unda Dwella, Lorna Munro, Kaiyu, Boe Knows, Big Luke, Dubbzone
www.datpiff.com

Fifty years ago, on February 13, 1963, the publication of US writer and activist Betty Friedan’s book The Feminine Mystique sparked a new awakening in the thinking of women across North America.

Friedan denounced the repression women suffered in the aftermath of World War II, when they were forced out of wartime jobs and convinced to accept the role of keepers of the home.

Profiteers of the market launched an unrelenting but subtle propaganda campaign to venerate women as wife and mother. This role, Friedan said, was the “feminine mystique”.

This World Is Dead
Blockheads
January 2013
www.blockheads-grindcore.fr

French grindcore band Blockheads have hammered out a solid reputation in the European extreme music scene over the past two decades. Their lyrics spit bile against corruption, colonialism, the corporate media, inequality, pollution, pro-lifers and much more. Mat Ward spoke to bassist and vocalist Erik about their new album, This World Is Dead, and the political situation in France.

Eureka: An Unfinished Revolution
Peter FitzSimons
William Heinsmann Press, 2012

“And so I call you, all my fellow diggers, irrespective of nationality, religion, and colour, to salute the ‘Southern Cross’ as the refuge of all the oppressed from all countries on Earth.” So said Raffaello Carboni at the Eureka Stockade, Bakery Hill, on November 29 in 1854.

With these words, Carboni and the diggers on the Victorian goldfields raised the Eureka flag and launched their rebellion against the unjust licence fees imposed on miners by the Victorian government.

A selection of this week's celebrity news...

Beyoncé's Super Bowl Halftime Show: How She's Prepping and What She's Getting Paid http://eonli.ne/14t3Xj0

Justin Bieber Boob-Gate: He Didn't Grab a Female Fan's Breast, Says Rep http://eonli.ne/14sYqc7

Prince Harry Talks Naked Vegas Scandal, Army Life in Just-Aired Frontline Afghanistan Documentary http://eonli.ne/XercrE

Lady Gaga Stripped of 156 Million YouTube Views http://eonli.ne/Xeo5jg

Sarah Palin on Fox News Exit: I'm "Broadening Our Audience" http://eonli.ne/XefCg2

Unhitched: The Trial of Christopher Hitchens
By Richard Seymour
Verso Books, 2012
134 pages
Read an excerpt

First impressions do matter. In the case of Christopher Hitchens, my first impression of him was that of a witty tool for the George W Bush administration’s wars.

Fighting Fund

The 2013 Green Left Weekly Fighting Fund was launched on January 19. To keep the project afloat, we again set the target of an ambitious $250,000. Last year we fell short, but still raised an impressive $209,000 for this vital, independent media project.