Issue 957

News

The Refugee Action Coalition released the statement below on March 13. The day before, ABC Online said five asylum seekers had escaped the centre, but were returned quickly. *** The Nauru Director of the Department of Immigration has told a meeting of asylum seekers in the Nauru detention camp that their refugee assessments will begin “in about 10 days” [on March 18]. The initial refugee assessments are expected to be finalised in about six months.
Hundreds of students and staff joined the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) picket lines at the Sydney University on March 7. Members of the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU), the Finance Sector Union, the Maritime Union of Australia, and the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union supported and attended the picket. The picket was followed by a 300-strong rally. The NTEU has voted to stop work again for 48 hours if management does not cooperate during bargaining. Green Left Weekly’s Rachel Evans spoke to several participants. ***

Analysis

We have known for some time that the death of Venezuela's socialist President Hugo Chavez was probably coming soon. But that did not make it any easier for many of us when it came. Cynics, and worse, have started to pour scorn on the mass grief in Venezuela and around the world. Chavez wasn't just a leader of a revolution in a faraway Latin American country. He was a hero and champion of people all around the world precisely because he broke so radically from the ugly mould of most 21st century politicians.
We all know that the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) is busy at the moment. One or two troubling matters that go to planning applications in the coal mining industry. ICAC was set up in 1989 by former Liberal Premier, Nick Greiner. Ironically enough, Greiner was referred to ICAC in 1992 and found to have corruptly offered former Liberal turned Independent, Terry Metherell, a public service position, as a director of the Environmental Protection Authority.
This is an excerpt from a talk Green Left Weekly journalist Ewan Saunders gave at a Walkey Media Talk called "Trust me, I'm a journalist" on February 27 in Brisbane. *** In answer to the question have journalists lost the public trust, it depends on what media you’re talking about. I don’t think it’s the right question to be asking because the way the mainstream media develops and its trajectory is not changing.

World

Hugo Chavez cut a wide swath on the international scene, more than that of any other leader in the recent history of Latin America, putting forth a vision of a world based on equitable relations among nations and peoples. His rise to hemispheric prominence began at the third Summit of the Americas in April 2001 in Quebec, Canada when the newly inaugurated George W. Bush attempted to ram through the Free Trade Area of the Americas that was to extend from the Arctic Circle to Tierra del Fuego in South America.
When Hugo Chávez triumphed in the 1998 presidential elections, the neoliberal capitalist model was already floundering. The choice then was whether to re-establish the neoliberal capitalist model -- clearly with some changes including greater concern for social issues, but still motivated by the same logic of profit seeking -- or to go ahead and try to build another model. I believe that Chávez's chief legacy is having chosen the latter alternative. To name that alternative, he also chose to reclaim the word socialism, despite the negative baggage that the word had acquired.
The dominant media narrative about the two-day all-India strike, called by trade unions for February 20 and 21, was one of “hooliganism” by workers and inconvenience caused to the “public”. As usual, the main demands of the striking workers found little space in the media's discussion of the strike. The working class — usually invisible, both at the workplace and where they live — attained visibility on TV screens only as a “mob”. Workers, whose labour is, after all, the source of all production, are seen and shown as a source of wanton and mindless destruction.
When Association pour une Solidarité Syndicale Étudiante (ASSÉ) announced that it would be breaking ranks with its more moderate colleagues in the student federations and boycotting the new government's education summit, it was clear that they were taking a huge risk. When they called a mass demonstration for the last day of the education summit and publicly announced that it would be the largest demonstration since the end of last year's unlimited general strike, and that they expected in the neighborhood of 10,000 students to show up, they were doubling down with reckless abandon.
On Tuesday 5 March, at the age of 58, Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez lost his almost two-year battle with cancer and passed away. Within seconds of the news being announced, the wheels of the global media bandwagon went into overdrive, with largely unsurprising results, in both the US and British media. At the most distasteful end of the spectrum was the headline in the New York Post, the paper with the 7th highest circulation in the US, that read ‘Off Hugo! Venezuela bully Chavez is dead’.
The stock market has surged past its former high recorded in October 2007, before the financial crash and Great Recession. “With the Dow Jones Industrial average [at] a record high,” writes a columnist in a front page article in the New York Times, “the split between American workers and the companies that employ them is widening and could worsen in the next few months as federal budget cuts take hold”. “That gulf helps explain why stock markets are thriving even as the economy is barely growing and unemployment remains stubbornly high.
US Senator says drones killed 4700 “A high-ranking US senator has estimated America's use of drone strikes has killed about 4,700 people, including civilians. “Republican Lindsey Graham is the first US government official to offer an estimate on the total number of fatalities in America's secretive drone war. “'Sometimes you hit innocent people, and I hate that, but we're at war ...' Mr Graham told the Easley Rotary Club ...” “The strikes have been condemned by rights groups as extrajudicial assassinations.”
When Venezuelans return to the polls in new presidential elections on April 14, analysts are predicting a decisive win for Nicolas Maduro, the candidate of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV). In December, the late president Hugo Chavez urged his supporters to back Maduro as PSUV candidate should Chavez’s worsening health prevent him from fulfilling his presidential term. Under the Venezuelan constitution, new elections must be held within 30 days of the resignation or death of the president.

The central European nation of Slovenia is being shaken by the first huge uprising since it became an independent country in 1991. The protests are directed against all political elites, austerity measures, and the capitalist system as a whole.

Culture

A selection of this week's celebrity news... Lady Gaga Recovers From Hip Surgery in Gold Wheelchair http://eonli.ne/X4Peop Fifty Shades of Grey Porn Film Lawsuit Settled http://eonli.ne/X4A0jr Giuliana Rancic Teams Up With Nonprofit Bright Pink for Fab-U-Wish™ Initiative to Help Women Battling Breast cancer http://eonli.ne/X4votx That Taylor Swift Fan Letter You Spent Hours Glitter-Gluing? Well, It Ended Up in the Trash! http://eonli.ne/12NcbV0 Rihanna gets naked for a good cause http://eonli.ne/15L034B
On February 3, Artists Against Apartheid Australia (AAPA) sent an email to the organisers of WOMADelaide 2013 with a request to reject funds it received from the Israeli embassy for the upcoming show of the Alaev Family. The call is part of the global boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign, initiated by a wide range of Palestinian groups. It targets Israel in a bid to force it to abandon its apartheid policies against Palestinians.
Global Capitalism & Climate Change By Hans Baer AltaMira Press, 2012 The science says it is now far beyond sensible doubt that we can’t keep dumping greenhouse gases into the sky without terrible results. These range from more extreme floods, droughts and storms, to the disappearance of the Arctic ice cap, dramatic cuts in food yields and the drying out of the Amazon rainforest. Despite this knowledge, the problem is being made worse. US oil production is booming again. World gas production is surging. World coal production is reaching new highs.
Overdress: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion By Elizabeth Cline Penguin, 2012, 244 pages $37.95 (hb) Every year, Americans buy 20 billion garments, mostly from mass market clothes-makers such as Gap, Tommy Hilfiger, Nike, Wal-Mart and Target. They then throw away 13 million tons of it says a reformed clothing-addict, Elizabeth Cline, in Overdressed. Charity shops can’t soak up the excess with less than 20% of thrift-shop clothing donations sold on. Most of the rest goes to landfill.

Editorial

The huge, genuine and spontaneous outpouring of grief that has enveloped Venezuela in the days since Hugo Chavez passed away on March 5 show that the late Venezuelan president was no ordinary politician. Hundreds of thousands of people flooded the streets to accompany Chavez's coffin on its way from the hospital where he died to the military academy where his body is currently lying in state, clad in the red that symbolises the Bolivarian revolution and chanting “the people united will never be defeated”.