Issue 968

News

Documentary about the national refugee rights convergence to the Yongah Hill detention centre near Northam in April 2013. Features interviews with Jay Fletcher, Liz Walsh, Ben Solah, Mark Goudkamp and others. See also Green Left's live blog from the convergence with photos, videos and other reports.
This statement was released by the West Papua Freedom Flotilla on June 1. *** A historical ceremony was held outside the Victorian Trades Hall on June 1 for the issuing of “Original Nations” passports and West Papuan visas in conjunction with the Freedom Flotilla from Lake Eyre to West Papua. In solidarity with the passport ceremony in Melbourne, a peaceful rally was also held in Manokwari, West Papua.
Hundreds of members of the Turkish community rallied in central Sydney on June 1 to protest the Turkish government's crackdown on peaceful protesters in Istanbul over recent days. Demonstrators in Turkey are determined to save a park in Taksim Square, Istanbul's equivalent of Cairo's Tahrir Square, which has been marked for demolition in order to build a new a shopping mall complex. See also: Turkey: Huge protest wave marks turning point in struggle
Members of the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees union (SDA) rallied outside its Brisbane offices on May 30. The rally was in response to SDA Brisbane branch secretary Chris Ketter sacking organiser Allan Swetman, the day before Swetman was set to challenge for the secretary position. Swetman had questioned the fact Brisbane SDA organisers had attended lectures held by religious organisations against same-sex marriage and abortion rights, and alleged the union is supporting these lectures.
The statement below was released by Melbourne’s 3CR Community Radio on May 1. *** In this federal election year, 3CR Community Radio is asking its listeners and supporters of independent media to make a political donation by giving money to the station during our annual Radiothon. As the two big political parties slug it out in Canberra, the choice is clear — vote for 3CR’s progressive, alternative coverage of social, cultural and political issues.
The deal between Labor and the Liberal-Nationals to add another $2 million to their election campaign funds — at the people's expense — before the September election was an extension of a “deeply undemocratic major party scam to further entrench their parliamentary domination”, said Peter Boyle, Socialist Alliance candidate for Sydney. “This comes on top of the $45 million in electoral funding these three parties received, between them, for the 2010 election,” said Boyle.
Perth activist Kamala Emanuel won a resounding victory on May 28 in an important court case addressing the right to protest. Emanuel was charged with failing to comply with a police move-on notice that was issued during a protest rally against fracking in April last year. Emanuel did not dispute that she refused to comply with the move-on order but argued in court that the move-on notice was invalid.
Thousands of people rallied in cities across Australia on May 25 to protest genetically modified organisms (GMO) developed by Monsanto and being used in food products worldwide. This was part of the March Again Monsanto global day of action that saw demonstrations take place in more than 40 countries around the world. In Australia, these rallies were significantly larger than previous rallies on the issue of GMO. More than 1000 people rallied in Melbourne and a crowd of 500 rallied in Sydney’s Hyde Park.
This video records the reaction by activists Alex Bainbridge and Kamala Emanuel after a significant court victory on 28 May 2013.
The federal Labor government released its “National Food Plan” on May 25. Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig said the plan is “about putting our Aussie mark on food and making sure that we all get a benefit out of it”. Research group Beyond Zero Emissions released the statement below on May 28 in response to the plan. *** This week’s National Food Plan ignores the serious threat to agriculture posed by climate change. Yet research shows that an expanded Carbon Farming Initiative could have major benefits in combating climate change.

Analysis

On a two-state versus one-state solution for Palestine On "rockets from Gaza" "Things are getting worse in Gaza" (due to the Israeli siege)
Current political campaigns by Queensland trade unions in defence of public sector jobs, to maintain public assets or for education reform would be ruled out under a new industrial relations bill proposed by the Liberal-National government. Should the bill pass, unions would be required to conduct a ballot of members before spending more than $10,000 on any activity that is for a political purpose. The union also has to pay for the costs of conducting the ballot.
This issue introduces a few changes that have been made to the look of Green Left Weekly. The front cover logo has been updated and the layout inside has been refreshed. This is a change we’ve been working on since last year based on feedback about how to improve the paper. For 22 years, GLW has remained independent from corporate interests and this has allowed us to expose the lies and distortions of those in power.
Aid organisation Oxfam International said this year that the annual income of the world’s richest 100 people would be enough to end extreme poverty four times over. It said the richest 100’s net income — rather than wealth, which is much higher — was about $240 billion last year. Oxfam went on to make some modest demands:
The new changes to NSW planning laws proposed by the Barry O'Farrell Liberal government involve "the most significant backward step in public participation and environment protection in more than a generation. They are significantly worse than Part 3A," James Ryan from the Nature Conservation Council told a public forum of about 60 people at Redfern Town Hall on May 27. Part 3A was the infamous law under which the previous Labor state government could override community and environmental concerns in making planning decisions in the interests of big developers.
The NSW Liberal government passed a bill on May 30 that severely cuts compensation to victims of crime, domestic violence and abuse. Under the old law, the 1996 Victims Support Rehabilitation Act, the maximum compensation to victims had been up to $50,000. The new Victims Rights and Support Bill has cut the maximum amount of compensation to $15,000 and only for victims who are financial dependents of murder victims.
As asylum seekers face years of detention in the Nauru and Manus Island detention camps, where not a single claim has been assessed, the Australian government refuses to answer to scrutiny or calls for human rights oversight. The ABC’s Four Corners and SBS’s Dateline have now tried to investigate the conditions inside each “regional processing centre”. The camps are believed to be abysmal, inadequate and places of widespread physical and psychological breakdown among detainees.
There is a rising tide of worrying economic news in this country and it highlights once more the need to cut back on unnecessary spending, like allowing single mothers to eat.
It seems the one thing all Australians can agree on is that they hate Tom Waterhouse. It is not much of a surprise, since anyone watching any sporting event is bombarded with ads for his sports betting business prominently featuring his smiling face.

This is an edited version of the Socialist Alliance’s agriculture policy adopted in May. The full version can be read at socialist-alliance.org. *** There are approximately 134,000 farm businesses in Australia, 99% of which are family owned and operated, and as of 2010-11 they employ only 307,000 people to manage 417.3 million hectares of land, including the 46.3% of Australia that is marginal land. Any sustainable and justice-oriented agricultural practice needs to place Aboriginal self-determination, empowerment and participation as its framework.

Liah Lazarou, 28, is standing as a youth candidate for the Socialist Alliance in the South Australian seat of Adelaide, currently held by Labor MP Kate Ellis. She was interviewed by Resistance member Liam Conlon about why she is standing in the election and what she is trying to achieve. How did you get involved in political activism? I grew up in a very working class background and was raised by a single father. He took me to my first rally, which was against Pauline Hanson in 1996. I was eleven years old.
Coalmining company Coalpac Pty Ltd lodged a development proposal with the NSW government in July 2011 to expand its open-cut and high-wall coalmines in central western NSW. The sites are in a proposed extension to the Gardens of Stone National Park and surround the small town of Cullen Bullen. Coalpac’s “consolidation project” involves expanding its Invincible and Cullen Valley coalmines, and building a new quarry in the Ben Bullen State Forest near Lithgow.
Australian Workers Union (AWU) leader Paul Howes has taken the offensive to bolster what he sees as a faltering unconventional gas industry. He wants the industry to step up its campaign to stop the federal Coalition and the NSW Labor opposition from “buying the arguments” of an “extremist fringe” on coal seam gas (CSG).
It is time for us to rise up and reclaim our power. As citizens of the world, as people of this planet. If we want a fair, just, harmonious, equitable, peaceful world, we need to create it. We need to take action. Show our politicians we care about our planet and the destruction being wreaked on it by unaccountable, tax-avoiding, profit-driven corporations who are polluting and poisoning the planet for profit. If we analyse the genetically modified (GM) industry's “humanitarian” claims, we see they are nonsense. They trot out the line that GM food will solve the world's hunger.

World

The Obama administration appears to be getting closer and closer to approving the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline. The pipeline aims to transport tar sands oil from Alberta Canada to the United States.
Lynne Stewart, a movement attorney who was jailed for the “crime” of being the defense lawyer for alleged terrorist Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, is dying in prison of stage-four cancer. Her family and supporters, including Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu, are asking that she be granted compassionate release so she can live out her final days outside prison walls. The warden of Stewart's prison has approved her compassionate release, however the Department of Prisons has so far refused to grant it.
Venezuela and Bolivia have agreed to raise cooperation to a “higher level” following Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro’s visit to Bolivia on May 25. During bilateral meetings held in Cochabamba, Maduro and Bolivian President Evo Morales signed key accords in food production, industrial development and communications. “It’s necessary to place the strategic map of bilateral cooperation at a higher level, including a more organised one,” said Maduro.
In May 13 mid-term elections for both houses of Congress, and provincial and municipal-level local governments, the control of electoral politics in the Philippines by a small number of powerful, nepotistic families became a big issue. It was the left-wing Party of the Labouring Masses (PLM) that put the question of political dynasties onto the agenda. However, not all the PLM’s impact on the election translated into votes and, due to fraud, not all the votes the PLM received in the ballot box translated to votes in the official tally.
Turkey’s government, facing a continuing wave of public protest, which began when the authorities brutally repressed a May Day rally at Taksim Square, must end the confrontation with its own people, and release detained trade unionists, the International Trade Union Confederation and its Global Unions partners said.
This article was first published on June 1 at defnesumanblogs.com. For things to help, please see Amnesty International’s Call for Urgent Help and LabourStart's appeal in support of Turkey's trade unions. * * *
Artists, students, intellectuals and citizens of New York City, together with supporters of Occupy Wall Street, came together on June 1 in Zuccotti Park to show solidarity their friends, brothers and sisters who are occupying Gezi Park in Istanbul. Since May 27, citizens of Istanbul from all backgrounds have been staging a peaceful resistance in Gezi Park, the city's largest public park, protecting it and its trees from a large gentrification project to transform a public park into a shopping center.
WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange released the statement below on June 3 in support of whistleblower Bradley Manning. Manning is facign the first day of his trial in the United States for leaking documents exposing serious war crimes to WikiLeaks. * * * As I type these lines, on June 3, 2013, Private First Class Bradley Edward Manning is being tried in a sequestered room at Fort Meade, Maryland, for the alleged crime of telling the truth. The court martial of the most prominent political prisoner in modern US history has now, finally, begun.
Marie Mason is a 52-year-old mother of two children, a long-time activist in environmental and labour movements, an artist, gardener, musician, writer, poet, an Earth First! organiser, a volunteer for a free healthcare collective, a worker for numerous charities and a political prisoner in the United States. In 1999 and 2000, several acts of property damage and arson claimed by the Earth Liberation Front were carried out by Mason and her then-husband, Frank Ambrose. No one was injured in any of these protest actions.
After a big win in the Supreme Court on May 13, biotech firm Monsanto Company has more or less solidified its control of the United States' food supply. Monsanto’s patented genetically modified (GM) seeds comprise about 90% of the US seed market, driving conventional seeds to near extinction. Now, the company has set its sights on the rest of the world.
Martin Corey is a 63-year-old man jailed in the six counties of Ireland's north still claimed by Britain. He has been held for three years without trial. On April 16, 2010, Corey’s house in Lurgan was visited by members of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and Corey was arrested. When he asked what the charges were, Corey was told that the police officers “did not know”. All they were told was to arrest Corey.
Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams accused the British government on May 24 of breaching commitments given during peace talks over a decade ago. Adams' comments came after the arrest of leading Donegal Sinn Fein member John Downey. The 61-year-old was brought before Westminster Magistrates Court to face charges over a 1982 IRA attack in London’s Hyde Park in which four soldiers were killed. Adams said an agreement forged with the British government at the 2001 Weston Park talks about republicans still pursued over outstanding prosecutions had been breached.
When the humble “Occupy Gezi” (Occupy Promenade Park) protest in Istanbul’s Taksim Square was brutally attacked by police on May 31, protests spread like wildfire throughout other cities and the Turkish left was in the thick of it. In the early days of the protest, Sirri Sureyya Onder -- national MP for the umbrella organistion of the Turkish-Kurdish left, the Peoples’ Democratic Congress (HDK) -- lay his body, with others, in front of bulldozers to stop them destroying the park’s 70 year old trees.
Irish Republican political activist Marian Price was released from jail on May 30 after more than two years of internment without trial, rish Republican News said. The decision to release Price was taken by the parole commissioners. Price was jailed in the otherwise all-male Maghaberry Prison in the six counties of Ireland's north still claimed by Britain. She was moved to the hospital wing of Hydebank prison in February last year.
Mass rallies protesting the "robbery" of the May 5 Malaysian general election have continued for weeks despite government threats and the arrests of six prominent opposition activists on "sedition" charges. The fact that the corruptly entrenched Barisan Nasional coalition "won" 60% of the parliamentary seats with just 47% of the official vote and the many reports of blatant vote-buying and cheating, has created an ongoing legitimacy crisis.
The dust in Iraq rolls down the long roads that are the desert's fingers. It gets in your eyes and nose and throat; it swirls in markets and school playgrounds, consuming children kicking a ball; and it carries, according to Dr. Jawad Al-Ali, “the seeds of our death”. An internationally respected cancer specialist at the Sadr Teaching Hospital in Basra, Dr Ali told me that in 1999, and today his warning is irrefutable.
Human rights and other social activists in Cambodia are shocked at the unprovoked use of three water cannon against a peaceful protest in the capital Phnom Penh by a group (mainly women) from a community evicted from their homes around Boeung Kak Lake. Three protesters were injured.

Culture

A selection of the past fortnight's politically-relevant entertainment news... Hugh Jackman, Tom Cruise and More Celebs Attend Walmart's Shareholder Meeting in Arkansas http://eonli.ne/1a21O0j Jewish Poet Kevin Coval says recent events in Palestine make it impossible to talk about anything else. http://bit.ly/12gyTEd Bollywood Actress Suicide: Indian Police Arrest Boyfriend in Jiah Khan's Death http://eonli.ne/1bs1ENC
Visions in Black and White - Images from Indigenous Australia Redfern Community Centre, Sydney Until June 24, 2013. www.headon.com.au "Ngurragah," says Barbara McGrady, and smiles. The word, pronounced "nuh-ruh-gah", is one of her favourite utterances. But this committed activist and community photographer won't be using it to describe her latest exhibition, being held as part of Head On, the second largest photography festival in the world.
Twenty years ago, Aboriginal Australian Football League player Nicky Winmar famously responded to racist taunting by Collingwood fans by pulling up his jumper and defiantly pointing at his black skin. “Heartbroken” Aboriginal Sydney Swans star Adam Goodes created another iconic image when he was snapped — shocked and furious — pointing at a Collingwood fan. Goodes was responding to a 13-year-old girl abusing him as an “ape”. It was only one of two examples of racial abuse directed at Aboriginal Swans players by Collingwood fans during the game that came to light.
Northern Ireland: The Reluctant Peace Feargal Cochrane Yale University Press, 2013 368 pp, $38.00 Reginald Maudling, the Tory Home Secretary who oversaw the 1972 Bloody Sunday massacre in Northern Ireland, perfectly expressed the British ruling class’s blend of condescension and indifference towards Ireland when he blurted out to his staff: “For God’s sake bring me a large Scotch — what a bloody awful country.” As his policies created mayhem on the streets of Ulster, he coined the cute phrase “acceptable level of violence” to describe what was going on.
Drone Warfare: Killing By Remote Control Medea Benjamin Verso, 2013 246 pages, $24.95(pb) “Never before in the history of warfare,” boasted the Wall Street Journal, “have we been able to distinguish as well between combatants and civilians as we can with drones”. The Obama administration has helped in this claim, writes Medea Benjamin in her book on the “unmanned aerial vehicle”, by conveniently defining every military-age male in a drone strike zone as a “combatant”.