Issue 954

Australia

The Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation released this statement on February 13.

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On February 12, Federal Court Justice Neil McKerracher handed down a decision that validated the vote of the Yindjibarndi people to authorise a new and unified applicant group of 12 Yindjibarndi men and women to run the Yindjibarndi #1 claim — this includes the area of vacant crown land where [Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest’s] Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) is developing the Solomon Hub and “Firetail” mine.

16.10.1946 – 02.02.2013

My memories of Bill Gluyas are mostly from Union Solidarity picket lines. It did not matter how early a picket line started or how far away it was, Bill was always there.

What many people who supported those picket lines didn’t know is that Bill funded much of the Union Solidarity infrastructure — the picket line BBQ and the PA system. Bill didn’t like the limelight and didn’t want thanks. He just wanted to know that he was helping workers fight for their rights.

Protesters gathered in Redfern on February 14, to mark the ninth anniversary of the death of the 17-year-old Aboriginal youth TJ Hickey and repeat the call for an inquest into his death.

In 2005, police pursued Hickey causing him be thrown off his bike and land on a spiked fence.

Around 200 people turned out for the February 13 protest in Casula to tell Barry O’Farrell to "lock the state" on coal seam gas companies. The protest was initiated by Socialist Alliance and Greens activists in Western Sydney.

The breadth of growing anger against the CSG industry was on display through the number of groups that supported and spoke at the rally. This included representatives from the Scenic Hills Association, SOS Rivers, NSW Greens MLC Jeremy Buckingham as well as Stop CSG groups from St Peters, Ingleburn, Blacktown, Blue Mountains and Illawarra,

In mid 2012 the Australian government deported Sri Lankan asylum seeker Dayan Anthony back to Colombo despite the wider community, lawyers and refugee advocates mounting a compelling case to show that his claims of torture in Sri Lanka were justified. Anthony became the first Tamil deported back to Sri Lanka where it is claimed he now lives in fear and under virtual house arrest.

Film by Yask Desai, submitted to Green Left TV.

A picket line that lasted for two weeks at the site of a water treatment plant in Werribee has been disbanded. The Age reported that the protesters left the site on February 14 after “police and the water authority warned them they were trespassing”.

The picketers — established by unemployed tradespeople — were protesting the employment practices of Tedra Australia and its associated subcontractors.

More than 500 unionists, mainly Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) and Builders Labourers Federation (BLF) members, rallied outside the Brisbane Magistrates Court on February 11 in support of long-term union and community activist, Bob Carnegie.
 

About 400 people rallied outside NT parliament on February 12, the first sitting day for 2013, to protest the Country Liberal Party's (CLP) service cuts, job losses and price hikes.
 
The CLP came to power in August, promising to decrease the deficit but pledging  "Your job is safe" to concerned public servants. By December, when the government's mini-budget was released, that promise was broken and it was revealed that 600 jobs would be scrapped.
 

Several hundred people attended a night of solidarity with Cuba at the Uruguayan Club in western Sydney on February 9.

The event, organised by the Committee in Solidarity with Cuba, Western Sydney, raised funds to help pay for repairs to the widespread damage caused to homes and infrastructure by cyclone Sandy last year. It featured entertainment by a variety of cultural groups from the Latin American community.

About 80 residents held a rally outside Coburg Town Hall before a meeting of Moreland City Council on February 13.  They then went into the Council meeting and raised their concerns during question time.

The rally was organised by Save Coburg, a residents group recently formed in response to the proposed new Coburg Structure Plan.  This plan includes 10-storey buildings alongside existing homes. 

The Knitting Nannas Against Gas staged an anti-coal seam gas (CSG) protest outside the office of Lismore MP Thomas George on February 13. The protest was held to coincide with a stop-CSG action in Casula, Sydney, outside the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce, which hosted a luncheon with NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell.

The Knitting Nannas Against Gas, who have been actively supporting the blockade to stop CSG mining at Doubtful Creek, sent this message to be read out at the Casula action.

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World

February 23 marks the 1000th day in which alleged WikiLeaks whistleblower, 24-year-old US Army intelligence officer Bradley Manning, has been jailed by US authorities without trial.

A pre-trial hearing in January in the case of Manning, concluded that his defence would be restricted to arguing motive during his trial, scheduled for June 3.

Manning has been accused of leaking thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks, which revealed a wide range of US war crimes, as well as evidence of corruption and lying by a range of governments.

The Sri Lankan army has demolished hundreds of houses inside its “high security zone” (HSZ) at Valikaamam on the Jaffna peninsula in the north of Sri Lanka, a February 11 Tamilnet report said.

The houses belonged to Tamils who had been driven from their homes 20 years ago when the HSZ was established.

In occupied Tibet, the once-isolated “Land of Snow” that has been converted into a hell on Earth for its indigenous inhabitants, the oppressed are literally setting themselves alight in protest against Chinese policies.

At least six Tibetans have self-immolated since the start of the year, bringing the total number of such incidents to 100. The first reported case occurred in February 2009, but all other reported burnings have taken place since March 2011.

At least 82 of the cases have been fatal. Survivors are subjected to harsh punitive measures by Chinese authorities.

Jesus Posada, the right-wing People’s Party (PP) speaker of the national Spanish Congress of Deputies, received a delegation on February 12 presenting a People’s Legislative Initiative (ILP). The initiative had the support of more than 1.4 million signatories, 900,000 more than required by law.

The assassination of left-wing leader Chokri Belaid has thrown the interim government of Tunisia, led by Islamist party Ennahda (the Renaissance), into a deep crisis. Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali has threatened to resign if his proposed "technocratic" solution can't be implemented.

The death of Belaid, a well-respected leader of the united left group Popular Front, led to widespread protests, including tens of thousands on the streets of Tunis for his memorial on February 8.

In a letter to the New York Times published on February 13, South African Nobel Peace Prize laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu challenged the hypocrisy of the US and its citizens for accepting a killer drone program when it pertains to foreign suspects while demanding judicial review when those targets are American citizens.

Last December, I stood with supporters of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange in the bitter cold outside the Ecuadorean embassy in London. Candles were lit; the faces were young and old and from all over the world.

They were there to demonstrate their human solidarity with someone whose guts they admired. They were in no doubt about the importance of what Assange had revealed and achieved, and the grave dangers he now faced. Absent entirely were the lies, spite, jealousy, opportunism and pathetic animus of a few who claim the right to guard the limits of informed public debate.

At first it appeared to be another too common American story. A worker with a grievance goes on a deadly shooting spree, targeting his bosses and coworkers.

It quickly turned out that the killer was a former officer of the Los Angeles Police Department, who vowed to shoot as many of his former officers as he can, as well as their family members.

The LAPD says the killer is Christopher Dorner, who shot and killed a young woman who was the daughter of a former police captain, as well as her fiance. He then ambushed a police car, killing one officer and wounding another.

Comedian and socialist Mark Steel addressed a protest against cuts and privitisation at Sussex University on February 12. Students at Sussex University have been occupying the university's conference centre since February 6 against the university's outsourcing of key services.

The British government's controversial back-to-work programmes lay in tatters after the Court of Appeal ruled their regulations unlawful on February 12.

Three judges unanimously ruled that the regulations which most of the schemes have been created must be quashed.

The ruling is a huge setback for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) whose flagship reforms have been beset with problems from the beginning, with campaigners and unions accusing ministers of effectively introducing forced labour.

Lionel Bopage, 68, was jailed twice and tortured for his roll as a former leader of a mass liberation movement in Sri Lanka in the 1970s and 1980s, called the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (People's Liberation Front). He rose to the position of general secretary of the JVP but resigned from the group in 1984 over a number of differences, including his principled support for the right of national self-determination for the Tamil people. He was eventually forced into political exile together with his wife, Chitra.

Analysis

“Enough is enough,” warned a full page ad taken out by the Mineral Council of Australia in the February 13 Australian, “in relation to the obsession with increasing taxes on mining in Australia."

It was like an exasperated parent pushed too far by a naughty child. “Enough! Go back to playing with your toys. What about the welfare recipients? You love kicking them! Go on, leave us adults alone!”

Mental illness will affect someone you know and love. Forty-five percent of Australians will experience a mental health problem and 20% of the population is affected each year in a serious way by conditions including anxiety disorders, depression, personality disorders, schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, to name just a few.

Many people with mental illnesses want to work and are able work. But the barriers to suitable employment are much higher than for most. This is why the Disability Employment Services exist for all people with disability, be they mental, physical or psychological.

Simon Butler was a 25-year-old activist who helped organise the mass mobilisations in Sydney in February and March 2003 against the invasion of Iraq. He was also a leader of the socialist youth group Resistance and the student anti-war movement Books Not Bombs, which Resistance initiated.

As one who took part in demonstrations against the war in Vietnam, I could hardly believe it when the US “war machine” resurrected itself and began its march on Iraq.

Appalled by what appeared to be happening, I was delighted to discover, following a rally in November 2002, that a local peace group had been created. I joined that group and began actively campaigning for peace which I continue to this day.

Figures released by the department of immigration showed the number of refugees held in Australian mainland detention peaked at 10,271 in November last year, the highest since mandatory detention began.

This included housing and alternative places of detention, but not the almost 400 men held on Nauru by that time.

Children made up 1221 of those held in detention as at December, another record high. The last time more than 1000 children were held in detention, the government was forced to allow more than half to be released.

The Gillard government’s mining tax has raised just $126 million in its first six months, a tiny amount compared to the $2 billion it was expected to generate.

Out of this only $88 million will actually benefit the federal budget, as companies who pay the mining tax pay less company tax.

To put this in context, the government recently cut $700 million from welfare that was paid to single parents.

This is an extract from a zine written by Resistance members. You can pick up a copy from a Resistance stall on campus during Orientation week.

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Like any other day, a female student is on her way to campus. As she rides her bike down the main road, a head pops out a moving car window and yells out to her: “Nice legs!” Later that day she receives a text from one of the men in her group assessment task who she barely knows: “Hey beautiful we should definitely have a beer sometime ;)”.

More than 30,000 Victorian teachers and education support (ES) staff walked off the job on February 14 in their campaign for better pay and conditions.

Government figures show that 65% of school staff took part in strike action and 300 schools did not have students. Meredith Peace, Australian Education Union (AEU) state president, also reported that more than 300 schools were brought to a standstill and that every school in the state had some form of disruption.

Britain’s House of Commons voted in favour of equal marriage rights on February 5. France’s lower house approved a bill for equal marriage rights on February 12.

If these bills make it the rest of the way through their respective parliaments, Britain and France will join the Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, Massachusetts, Spain, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, Argentina and Denmark in having equal marriage rights.

Northern Territory Chief Minister Terry Mills announced a deal on February 8 to secure power for the Nhulunbuy bauxite mine and alumina refinery. The deal was hailed as saving the community through protecting the industry that provides it with half its jobs.

But the decision has disastrous environmental impacts and shows the lack of choices available to remote communities under the logic of the mining market. To survive, communities are asked to provide public funds to private companies to perform environmentally damaging activity.

Federal environment minister Tony Burke has rejected National Heritage listing for the Tarkine wilderness.

On February 8, Burke announced 10 new mines proposed over the next five years for the Tarkine wilderness area. Nine of these 10 mines will be open cut leaving scars of devastation in an area of north-western Tasmania.

This was a speech given to a One Billion Rising event in Sydney on February 14.

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I'd like to welcome you all here tonight. I'm a Kairi and Badjula woman, so I can't do a welcome to country, but I can do an acknowledgement. So I'd like to acknowledge that this celebration is taking place on the stolen lands of the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation.

The Gadigal people were the first to endure the impact of invasion and as a result their communities were decimated. Invasion was a violent process, though history has tried to cleanse it was with the word colonisation.

Guess who thinks the Mineral Resource Rent Tax (MRRT) is working well?

Sorry, but there's no prize if you guessed right.

“The MRRT was designed as a tax on super profits on the mining industry and importantly the tax is actually operating as it was physically designed," mining giant Rio Tinto's new chief executive Sam Walsh told AAP.

Err, yes, very well designed — for some — by a Gillard government fresh from the ALP leadership coup, with more than a little help from the biggest mining companies.

Parliamentary leader of the far-right Dutch Freedom Party, Geert Wilders, is visiting Australia this week. He is speaking at public meetings in Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.

Wilders makes use of a tightly rehearsed script focusing on opposition to Islam which he describes as a "totalitarian ideology" to cover for his racist and fascist outlook.

As the fossil fuel lobby tells it, natural gas — in chemical terms, almost all methane — is clean and green. Burn it in a modern power plant, and per unit of electricity produced, only about half as much carbon dioxide is sent up the exhaust stack compared to good-quality coal.

That’s like saying you’re making progress if you get off heroin onto amphetamines. Natural gas is still a fossil fuel. Even if the sums worked the way the gas corporations suggest, a wholesale switch to gas would put off climate disaster only by a few decades.

Culture

Watch Me
Sam Khan
www.bsomebody.co.uk

At the age of 23, British Muslim rapper Sam Khan was the CEO of his own company, a clothing range, website and a record label called Be Somebody. Three years on, he has launched The B Somebody Project to raise funds for orphans in Gaza. The project follows in the fundraising footsteps of previous music he has done for Pakistani flood victims. Green Left's Mat Ward spoke to him.

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

Mug Shot of the Day: WCBS Anchor Rob Morrison Flashes Bloody Face After Domestic Violence Arrest http://eonli.ne/12KEkeB

Mindy McCready: Why the Late Singer Shot Her Dog http://eonli.ne/12KBhTy

Pamela Anderson Selling Malibu Home for $7.75 Million—Take a Look Inside! http://eonli.ne/12Kyiuh

Justin Bieber Murder Plot Details Emerge: Inmate Wanted Singer Castrated With Hedge Clippers and Suffocated http://eonli.ne/WOevF7

Searching for Sugarman
Directed by Malik Bendjelloul
Starring Rodriguez, Malik Bendjelloul
Music by Rodriguez
Now showing at selected cinemas

Director Mike Malik Bendjelloul’s film Searching for Sugarman, which has been nominated for best documentary film at this year’s Oscars and the British Film and Television Awards, traces the efforts of two South African fans to find out what happened to the mysterious Mexican-American folksinger known as Rodriguez.

According to a report by Europol, hundreds of football matches across Europe have been fixed by betting syndicates, which must surely leave all genuine supporters of the game delighted.

Because this is so much fairer than the current method of fixing matches, in which three clubs owned by trillionaires buy all the top players, making it impossible for anyone else to finish even close to them.

Bribing a referee and a goalkeeper is much more democratic, as it can be done for a few grand, a fraction of the sum Manchester City spent on buying the Premier League.

Verbal Reality Volume One
Provocalz
Native Sun / Hustle Hard, 2012
$15
www.provocalz.bigcartel.com

"Every time you see in the media someone's been killed by police it always just happens to be an Aboriginal," says radical rapper Provocalz.

It's 9.30 on a Saturday morning and the south-west Sydney spitter is telling Green Left why he made his hard-hitting horrorcore track, "Cop Shot".