Issue 961

News

Global military spending rose to US $1.74 trillion in 2011. The Australian government spends $25 billion a year — or $68 million per day — on defence spending. This is a travesty when 125,000 Australians are homeless every night and budget cuts are being made to higher education. Demonstrations were held on April 15 in cities around Australia and in over 100 centres world wide to mark a global day of action on military spending. This coincides with the publication by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute of world military expenditures for the past year.
Perth protest by sole parents and supporters against the cuts to parenting payment in which 84000 sole parents have been forced onto Newstart at a rate more than $130 per week below the poverty line! Speakers included: Rachel Siewert, Mary O'Brien and Sam Wainwright and others.
Rallies were held around the country on April 13 to protest the federal government's cuts to single parent benefits which will force families deeper into poverty. In the western Sydney suburb of Penrith, 30 people gathered to hear from speakers which included single parents, Penrith city councillor Michelle Tormey and founder of ChilOut, Dianne Hiles, who campaigns to get refugee children and families out of detention. Photos: Tessa Barrett
The SEARCH foundation held a conference called “Secure Jobs in a Green Future: Australian Left Renewal Conference”, on April 6-7. It featured international guest Costas Isychos, a member of the Greek left party SYRIZA and head of the party’s external and defence policy.
The Broome community and environmentalists around Australia are celebrating an important victory. Oil and gas producer Woodside Petroleum said it would not go ahead with a gas hub at James Price Point in the Kimberley. Long-time Broome resident Nik Weavers told Green Left Weekly: “We've got rid of the one big thing we set out to do, which was to stop the project, so I feel really excited about that.” Weavers, a member of the Broome No Gas group, said: “I feel really warmed that so many other people have gathered [in Broome] and are feeling really good.”
The Victorian government has taken retribution against public housing tenants and their supporters who successfully fought off the privatisation of their open space at two of Melbourne’s public housing towers — Richmond estate and Atherton Gardens estate. Socialist Party Yarra councillor Stephen Jolly doorknocked and organised meetings of tenants and their supporters in a successful campaign. The doorknocking was critical to inform tenants of the state government’s plans.
The Australian Greens have called on the federal government to end fossil fuel subsidies for big mining companies. The Greens say costings by the Parliamentary Budget Office show that Labor’s spending on fossil fuel subsidies for mining companies will cost the public more than $13 billion over the next four years. Included in these subsidies are diesel fuel tax rebates, accelerated depreciation on assets and accelerated depreciation on exploration.
The Coal Terminal Action Group released this statement on April 10. *** Community groups in the Hunter Valley have responded with relief and celebration to the announcement of a two-year delay to Newcastle’s proposed fourth coal terminal (T4). “There will be celebration and relief today in suburbs including Mayfield, Tighes Hill and Carrington where residents already live with particle pollution well above the national standard,” said Coal Terminal Action Group spokesperson Annika Dean.
Australian Students for Justice in Palestine at the University of Sydney released the statement below on April 12, after the Student Representative Council voted to support an academic boycott of Israel. *** The Student Representative Council (SRC) at the University of Sydney passed a motion this week endorsing Associate Professor Jake Lynch’s academic boycott of Israel.
Compulsory income management of disadvantaged welfare recipients was slammed by speakers at a forum at the Bankstown Arts Centre on April 11. The forum, organised by the Say No to Government Income Management: Not in Bankstown, Not Anywhere campaign coalition, attracted about 40 people to hear representatives from unions and Aboriginal, migrant and youth groups call for a campaign to stop the extension of income management from July 1 this year.

Analysis

The Sydney Support Assange and WikiLeaks Coalition (SAWC) interviewed former Australian attorney-general, Kep Enderby QC, about Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. Enderby first contacted SAWC to offer his support for our campaign last year. In July, he wrote a statement read out at a rally for Assange and WikiLeaks in Sydney. Enderby became involved in civil liberties and human rights activism while working as a lawyer in London in the 1950s. He championed the cause of African-American singer and radical, Paul Robeson, who was being denied his passport by the US government. 
After a successful crowd-funding campaign that raised the funds for a manufacturing licence, Earthworker Cooperative Australia and Eureka’s Future Workers Cooperative will install their first solar hot water unit in Melbourne on April 15. A fully equipped worker-owned factory is still a way off, but project coordinator and Socialist Alliance member Dave Kerin says it is now one step closer.
At first, a bridging visa seems like a new life. A brief glimpse of freedom is felt by many asylum seekers who, after years in detention, see an opportunity to live freely in Australia. The temporary, selective visa gets asylum seekers six weeks’ accommodation and financial support of $219 a week — a figure that is 89% of the Newstart allowance. But after six weeks — a nanosecond in Australia's cumbersome and bureaucratic refugee processing system — asylum seekers are expected to go out on their own, find somewhere to live, and somehow survive on a few hundred dollars a week.
In my work as a service provider for women experiencing domestic violence, I see every day the devastating consequences for women and children of living in a society based on gender inequality. Violence against women is everywhere, but most of it still occurs in the domestic sphere by people known or related to the abused woman. Most rapes are also committed by people known to the women, and the full extent of rape within relationships is still unknown because it is generally not reported.
The Tasmanian Labor-Greens government and Housing Tasmania has faced criticism over its proposal to evict public housing tenants who earn above a certain income. Originally, Consumer Affairs minister Nick McKim wanted the cap to be fixed at $66,000 a year. But a lobby campaign by the Tenants Union forced the government to remove the set limit and make it flexible instead. The ABC said Housing Minister Cassy O'Connor said income limits would be decided by “regulation” and Housing Tasmania.
Those who live in Australia are used to hearing about how lucky they are. The idea that Australians just don’t realise their luck has become popular in the lead up to the next federal election by some who feel that it would be crazy to vote out the federal Labor government.
When Opposition leader Tony Abbott spoke at the 70th anniversary dinner of the Institute of Public Affairs on April 5, he knew he was among friends. The IPA is a right-wing think-tank that promotes conservative politics in Australia. Other guests invited to the dinner were mining billionaire Gina Rinehart, conservative columnist Andrew Bolt and Rupert Murdoch, whose father Keith helped found the Institute in 1943.
A strong gust of wind in Melbourne’s CBD caused a brick wall to collapse onto passing pedestrians, killing three people, on March 28. The wall fronted the site of the former Carlton United Brewery on Swanston Street, which has been under redevelopment by the Grocon company for the past seven years. Grocon is a household name, but for all the wrong reasons. Thousands of construction workers protested against the company at another Grocon site on Lonsdale Street, just up the road from the collapsed wall, in September last year.

World

A second storage pool was leaking highly radioactive water at the crisis-stricken Fukushima Dai-chi nuclear plant on April 7, operator Tepco said. About 120 tonnes of radioactive water breached the inner lining of one underground storage pool on April 5, with concerns that some may have leaked into the soil. Tepco is moving the remaining 13,000 tonnes of water in that tank to other pools, but said the April 7 leak was not large enough to warrant doing the same.
With a vote of 71-21, the Uruguayan House of Representatives approved same-sex marriage on April 10. With the Senate’s approval and the president’s promise to sign it, Uruguay became the 12th country to legalise same-sex marriage. Seven days later, on April 17, New Zealand became the 13th when its parliament voted 77-44 to legalise same-sex marriage.
The article below is abridged from the statement released by South Africa's National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa to mark the 20th anniversary of the assassination of Chris Hani. When Hani was gunned down by a wihte supremacist on April 10, 1993, he was a leader of the South African Communist Party (SACP) and the African National Congress (ANC).Aged 50 when he was killed, Hani was a veteran of the anti-apartheid struggle. He joined the ANC Youth League aged 15 and became a leader of the ANC's armed wing.
The United Nations warned on April 10 that austerity measures in richer, developed countries were hitting children hard. Most European governments have turned to austerity measures to cover their bankers' gambling losses. Social and economic policy research head UN children's agency Unicef Chris de Neubourg, said that they must reflect on how their cuts are affecting children. Instead of sparing today's children a future burden they are, in many cases, “presenting the bill to the children now,” risking "”letting them pay both now and in the future,” he told reporters in Geneva.
Margaret Thatcher is dead. Her policies as prime minister ruined the lives of millions of people. Now, her political heirs are trying to extend the damage she did in ways she only dreamed of. The political task is to ensure they fail. We need to make sure Thatcher’s legacy dies with her. Those who will mourn the death of Thatcher include the bankers and get-rich-quick speculators in the City. She pioneered the neoliberal casino capitalism that enriched them. So will Rupert Murdoch's newspapers, which have done so much to champion her rotten values.
The state assembly of the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu has passed a resolution calling for a United Nations-supervised referendum on independence for the Tamils of Sri Lanka. This follows a month-long wave of mass actions throughout Tamil Nadu, initiated by students but drawing in broader sections of the population. The Tamil Nadu protesters want the Indian government to raise a similar resolution at the United Nations. The students are planning to launch a civil disobedience campaign if the Indian government does not act on their demands.
The report below is reprinted from Tar Sands Blockade on the oil giant Exxon-Mobil's recent oil spill in Mayflower, Arkansas. The spill of tar sands bitumen has led to the evacuation of dozens of homes in this small community just north of the state capital of Little Rock. Visit the site for up-to-date reports on the spill. * * * As spill estimates are being revised to near 300,000 gallons, we have been hearing very disturbing reports about Exxon’s continued focus on PR damage control rather than actual damage control.
On the third anniversary of the release of the Collateral Murder video by WikiLeaks -- which exposed horrific war crimes by US forces in Iraq -- Icelandic MP and WikiLeaks contributor Birgitta Jonsdottir visited the US. Jonsdottir addressed a forum at Judson Memorial Church in New York City on April 5.
Three-and-a-half months ago, the walls upstairs at the Church of the Prophecy in Far Rockaway, a low-income coastal neighborhood of New York City, were covered with maps of where help was most needed. The church was a hub for the Occupy Sandy relief effort after Hurricane Sandy hit last October, established by Occupy Wall Street activists to help communities rebuild.
The admission on April 2 by former French Socialist Party (PS) government budget minister Jerome Cahuzac that he did have a Swiss bank account for tax evasion purposes has set off a storm of disgust and fury in France. The already unloved government of prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has been shaken to its core. President Francois Hollande’s popularity has sunk faster and lower than that of any president in the history of France’s Fifth Republic. It is not hard to see why. Here was the minister entrusted with the fight against tax fraud found out to be a lying tax cheat.
The room erupted into cheers when the election results were announced. For hours, the city of Merida's most ardent supporters of socialist presidential candidate Nicolas Maduro had gathered in the local offices of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV). However, after a few moments, the closeness of the numbers sank in. At the time of writing, the National Electoral Council (CNE) had announced that with 99% of votes counted, the PSUV's Maduro won with 50.6%. His closest rival, Henrique Capriles, received 49.1%; giving Maduro a slim 1.5% victory.
Nicolas Maduro, the candidate for the Unitede Socialist Party of Venezuela, has won the Venezuelan presidential election with 50.66 percent of the vote against 49.07 percent for opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski. Maduro gave a victory speech immediately after, while Capriles initially refused to recognize the results. The “first bulletin” results were announced by the president of the National Electoral Council (CNE), Tibisay Lucena, at around 11:20 p.m. Venezuelan time, with 99.12 percent of the votes totaled, enough to give Maduro an irreversible victory.
In the week leading up to Venezuela’s April 14 presidential elections, whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks published a classified cable indicating that US-based aid organisations were working to overthrow the government and defend US corporate interests in the Andean country.
With the death of another “controversial” world leader, what the media should have done was go back to their editorials that threw around terms like “authoritarian” and “tyrant”, and were filled with tales of a legacy of economic destruction and class hatred and support for dictators, and just used a simple find/replace to remove “Hugo Chavez” and insert “Margaret Thatcher”.
Costas Isychos, is the defence and foreign policy spokesperson of the broad left SYRIZA party in Greece. This is an edited version of comments he made at a forum in Melbourne on April 8. *** I want to give you some idea of what has been happening in Greece since the world economic crisis started in 2008. This is a nightmare that started for humanity when the true identity of the banking and financial system appeared to the world.
In a move that shows how little has changed since Ernesto “Che” Guevara famously observed the maltreatment of Chile’s copper miners by foreign capitalists in The Motorcycle Diaries, more than 500 mineworkers have been summarily sacked by the Anglo-Australian mining giant BHP Billiton. Their offence was to participate in strike action for improved pay and conditions at Escondida, an open-cut mine located in the arid Antofagasta region of northern Chile.
Chile may have dispensed with military dictatorship, but agitating for workers’ rights can still get you assassinated. Juan Pablo Jimenez, 35, was the president of the union representing workers at Azeta, one of Chile’s largest electrical engineering companies. On February 21, he was found dead in a pool of blood at his workplace, minutes after finishing a shift, a bullet lodged in his cranium. The initial police report said it was a “bala loca” that killed Jimenez — a random stray bullet that supposedly made its way into Jimenez’s enclosed workshop.
Never have I witnessed a gap between the mainstream media and public opinion quite like the first 24 hours since the death of Margaret Thatcher. While both the press and President Barack Obama were uttering tearful remembrances, thousands took to the streets of the UK and beyond to celebrate. Immediately, there were strong condemnations of what were called "death parties," described as "tasteless", "horrible," and "beneath all human decency""
When a political leader dies, it becomes compulsory to lie about their record. While much of Britain openly rejoiced at the death of Margaret Thatcher, the media snapped into reverential mode, giving over hours of airtime and several thousand miles of column inches to representatives of the ruling class to solemnly recite myths about her achievements. This wouldn’t matter so much if, like Thatcher, these myths were dead. But they are still shaping our policies. No ‘economic miracle’

Culture

A selection of this week's celebrity news... Fall Out Boy To Donate Ticket Sales To Boston Bombing Victims http://bit.ly/13cfSQj Angela Betzien talks about her play on how communities are hit by mining http://bit.ly/ZoW4cp Musicians Send Their Love To Boston In Wake Of Marathon Bombing http://bit.ly/Yr22Gv BBC Refuses To Play 'Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead' In Countdown http://bit.ly/115BCdN Justin Bieber Hopes Anne Frank Would Have Been A "Belieber" http://bit.ly/10VUoFu
Iain Banks is an acclaimed Scottish author, who has written successful straight fiction as well science fiction (as Iain M. Banks). His science fiction series “The Culture” deals with a post-scarcity, egalitarian and classless society. Tragically, the 59-year-old author recently announced that he has terminal cancer.
British groups have for three months been pressing Shakespeare's Globe Theatre to withdraw its festival invitation to Israel's National Theatre, Habima, in response to the Palestinian call to boycott Israeli cultural institutions, Mondweiss.net said on March 29.
The Bryte Side Of Life Bryte Too Solid / MGM April 5, 2013 www.brytemc.com Bryte's new album, The Bryte Side Of Life, may urge his listeners to think positive, but it's not all sweetness and light. The Aboriginal rapper has lost none of the political bite that snarled from his award-winning first album, Full Stop, four years ago. The Perth-based performing poet kicks off his latest long-player with "World On Strike", a rallying call for global industrial action.
English Premier League team Sunderland FC has sparked outrage by appointing Paolo Di Canio, who has publicly identified as a fascist, as its coach. The local Durham Miners' Association, with longstanding links to the club, has condemned the move.
“We’re from the streets of western Sydney,” chanted thousands of Western Sydney Wanderers' supporters as they marched onto Newcastle’s Hunter Stadium on March 29. About 8000 Wanderer fans had travelled to watch their soccer team beat the Newcastle Jets 3-0 to secure top place on the ladder and win the A-League Premier’s Plate.

Fighting Fund

Rupert Murdoch's recent speech to the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) was so full of bizarre contradictions it could easily pass as satire. He spoke proudly of the IPA's founders — his father among them — who came together in 1943 “concerned about the drift to socialism”. He went on to say with a straight face: “What they wanted was simple: an Australia where men and women would rise in society not because they were born into privilege — but because they earned it with their hard work, their thrift, and their enterprise.”

Resistance!

University of Queensland (UQ) Executive Dean of Arts Fred D’Agostino said last month the gender studies major would be cut from the Bachelor of Arts program. No student commencing next year would have the option of majoring in this area. Gender studies has a 41-year history at the university. The program was won in the early 1970s by the powerful feminist movement of the time. It was the first of its kind in Australia and one of the first in the world.