About 100 people attended a public meeting jointly organised by Socialist Alliance and Socialist Alternative in Sydney on June 25. The meeting discussed how a united left would be in a stronger position to campaign against a conservative Coalition government. Speakers from both organisations, Pip Hinman and Dianne Fields, raised ideas about how a possible united socialist party could organise.
Many protests took place last week. There were protests against government inaction on the climate emergency, against the mass sackings by a bank making record profits and a sad vigil for a 26-year-old Hazara man who died in an Australian immigration detention centre. More protests were also planned for refugee rights, Aboriginal rights and in solidarity with the new people's power movement in Turkey united around the defence of Gezi Park. This is not unusual in Sydney these days. There is a lot to protest about today but most of these campaigns are quite small.
Stop Income Management in Playford released this open letter on June 17. *** We the undersigned call for the suspension of the federal government’s compulsory income management, expanded to Playford and four other sites as part of programs that began in July last year. We believe compulsory income management is humiliating, unfair, and unlikely to improve quality of life for recipients or their children. We note the lack of solid evidence that this policy achieves its goals, and fear this approach will be counterproductive.
The Refugee Action Coalition released this statement on June 21. *** Asylum seekers are angry and upset at the death of an Afghan asylum seeker in the Villawood detention centre on June 20. According to witnesses inside the detention centre, Serco guards left the man, named Ali, on the ground for almost an hour before calling an ambulance. He was taken from the centre around 7.30pm and died later that night.
Prominent human rights advocate, Julian Burnside, QC, was scathing in his assessment of both the major parties and mainstream media’s approach to asylum seekers in a public address at the invitation of the Townsville branch of Amnesty International on Jun 14. Burnside told the audience that “both parties are trading in human misery in order to win or retain power” and mainstream media have to stop spreading the message that asylum seekers are illegal.
About 40 people gathered in Raintree Park, Darwin, to mark World Refugee Day on June 20. Larrikiah woman June Mills opened the gathering with a rendition of Arafura Pearl, and an explanation of the Aboriginal practice of welcoming strangers to their land. Other speaker included Greens councillor Robin Knox, Tamil-Australian lawyer Kajaliny Ranjithkuma and Reverend Basil Schild. A minute’s silence was held for the 62-year-old refugee from Afghanistan who was found dead at Darwin’s Wickham Point detention centre on June 15.
About 400 people filled the Fitzroy Town Hall for the launch of the “trains not toll roads” campaign on June 13. The Yarra City Council organised the launch to advocate for a rail line from the CBD to Doncaster Hill, as well as to oppose the state government’s proposed East-West road link.
Hundreds of people turned out in Perth, Australia on June 23 to support the Brazilian protests.
Maritime Union of Australia national secretary Paddy Crumlin released the following statement on the one-year anniversary of Julian Assange entering the Ecuadorean embassy in London on June 19, 2012, to seek political asylum. *** Throughout the MUA’s long history, our union has been at the forefront of a global human rights movement seeking justice and transparency. We continue that long tradition today as we mark the one-year anniversary of Julian Assange entering the Ecuadorean embassy in London.
About 90 people attended the launch of a new book by Labor for Refugees titled Alternatives to offshore processing on June 17.
About 120 landowners from NSW and Queensland staged a sit-in at Parliament House in Canberra on June 20 to protest the federal government approval process for mining projects. It follows the Liberal and Labor parties voting down legal changes to give farmers the right to say “no” to mining on their land, despite a new opinion poll that shows 86% of people support giving landowners the right to refuse access to miners.
Taxi drivers at Melbourne airport have started a hunger strike in protest at changes that will see their pay cut by up to 40%. The Australian said on June 11 that drivers rallied against "a new fares system implemented at the airport earlier this year, which sometimes sees them wait two hours for a fare of less than $10." Previously drivers could skip the general queue after returning to the airport after a short fare, but this queue has now been axed. As drivers are paid based on fares collected, rather than a fixed wage, this amounts to a pay cut for drivers.
This is a speech by Peter Boyle, the Socialist Alliance candidate for the seat of Sydney, at a picket outside an ANZ bank in Sydney on June 21. *** We called this demonstration following news of more job cuts by the ANZ bank despite its recent rise in profits. In April this year, ANZ announced a record half-year profit of $3.18 billion. This is 10% up on last year. ANZ is reaping massive profits at the expense of its workers. And to add insult to injury, ANZ boss Mike Smith has become the highest paid corporate CEO in Australia — his pay packet was $10.1 million last year.
Australian foreign minister Bob Carr is nothing if not committed to humanitarian causes. And anyone supporting humanitarian causes cannot be anything but especially concerned about the situation facing the people of West Papua. And so it was that Carr bravely spoke out against the “cruel” forces oppressing the long-suffering Papuan people: the international solidarity movement with the Papuan people's struggle against Indonesian occupation and for self-determination.
The Socialist Alliance released this statement on June 20. *** The Socialist Alliance in Australia stands in warm solidarity with the Gezi resistance in Istanbul, throughout Turkey and around the world. We watched in horror as the peaceful occupation of Gezi Park was so savagely attacked by police early this month and in joy as ordinary people of all ages and backgrounds poured onto the streets to defend their precious green space and their democratic rights. We are with you in Gezi.
When I asked Margarita Windisch, the Socialist Alliance candidate for the seat of Wills, to explain why she became an activist, the answer was simple. She said, “Life is very political, like it or not. So it’s better to get into the fray and fight for what we want and what the planet needs than to leave it up to a small rich minority who will put their bank accounts before humanity. That’s what I decided to do anyway and have never looked back.”
Women are facing a global health epidemic according to the World Health Organization (WHO). A report by WHO released on June 20 has found one in three women worldwide has experienced physical or sexual violence. While acknowledging that violence against women is nothing new, the report says the situation is a “fundamental violation of women’s human rights”.
I want to talk about a campaign we should abandon. We should stop saying yes to a price on carbon. At the launch of last year’s Climate Summit, I argued that carbon pricing — the notion that we can best reduce pollution by extending private property rights to pollution — had a fatal flaw at its core. Prices can never reflect true ecological values because those values simply cannot be expressed in dollar terms.
US activist Ben Silverman recently wrote a short essay titled “What next for the US climate movement?”
Greg Barns from the WikiLeaks Party addresses the GetUp candidates forum in Perth on June 14.
This is an abridged transcript of an interview Linda Seaborn conducted with Dr Bob Boughton who helped initiate a Cuban supported literacy program in the NSW town of Wilcannia. Part two of this interview can be read here. *** Tell us about the Cuban “Yes, we can” literacy campaign model.
This June marks a four-year anniversary for my little family, made up of one parent and one little boy. I named him Ariel, which in Hebrew means “Lion of God”. I named him that because I knew our lives would be tough and he would need to be strong. When I found out I was pregnant in August 2008 I decided instantly that I would be a mother. In the next 24 hours the father informed me he did not wish to be a father and would have no involvement in the child’s life — and so began my new life as a single mother.
Democratic Left pulled its ministers out of Greece's ruling coalition cabinet on June 21 after talks to resume state television broadcasts collapsed. MPs from the party, which makes up the third part of the ruling coalition, were angered by the abrupt shutdown of broadcaster ERT on June 11 and met to decide whether to continue backing Prime Minister Antonis Samaras.
Brazil is in revolt. What started as a protest about a R$0.20 rise (about $0.10) in bus fares has turned into a mass nationwide movement against corruption, the rising cost of living, starved public services and money squandered on sporting mega-events. Events are moving fast with protests growing and spreading to new cities each day, and it is far from clear when or how it will end.
The protests and demonstrations over the announced closing of the whole Greek Public Television and Radio Network (ERT) by the Greek government on June 11, are not only about the proposed firing of 2650 workers, nor are they simply a protest about the severe blow to quality broadcasting and entertainment.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) recognised Venezuela on June 16 as one of 18 countries that had achieved exceptional progress toward reducing the prevalence of malnutrition. Measuring progress from 1990-1992 until 2010-2012, the FAO determined that 20 countries had cut the proportion of hungry people by half, satisfying the first of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDG) originally set for 2015.
Following the implementation of measures to tackle shortages in some basic food and household items, both private Venezuelan media and the government report that the level of shortages is now decreasing. Shortages hit their highest level in five years in April, provoking a flurry of international media criticism of the government and affecting the popularity of president Nicolas Maduro in the lead-up to the 14 April election.
In an atmosphere of festive social mobilisation, the National Assembly of Ecuador adopted the Organic Communications Law on June 14, mandated by the 2008 Constitution. It has taken more than four years for the law to come to light. The law is part of a new democratising trend with respect to communications that is taking shape across Latin America. The most significant antecedent for this is Argentina’s Audiovisual Media Law.
It took 76 years and one day since his abduction on the orders of Stalin during the Spanish Civil War (1936-39), but on June 17 all parties of the Catalan left came together in Barcelona to recognise the contribution to the Catalan and Spanish working people of revolutionary fighter Andreu Nin. At midnight on June 16, 1937, Nin, the general secretary of the Workers Party of Marxist Unification (POUM), was abducted by Stalinist agents outside the POUM’s headquarters.
For much of the past two years, Israel stood sphinx-like on the sidelines of Syria’s civil war. Did it want Bashar al-Assad’s regime toppled? Did it favour military intervention to help opposition forces? And what did it think of the increasing visibility of Islamist groups in Syria? It was difficult to guess.
“In light of news that every day the entirety of telecom giant Verizon’s call system records are handed over to the NSA, news that Occupy Wall Street protest attendees’ cellphones were logged should hardly come as a shock,” said Salon.com on June 7. “It nonetheless bears noting that cellphone metadata of march and rally participants was likely specifically logged, as security expert Steven Ramdam recently noted. “This means that individuals were directly targeted for their engagement with First Amendment-protected activity.”
Minetu Larabas Sueidat is a young Saharawi woman living in refugee camps in Tinduf in the south-west of Algeria. Western Sahara, the land of the Saharawi people, has been occupied by Morocco since 1975. In 1991, the United Nations brokered ceasfire between Morocco and the pro-independence Polisario Front that supposed to include a referendum on self-determination, which has still not occurred.
Sireen Khudiri is a 24-year-old Palestinian teacher, human rights activist and political prisoner. She studied computer science at the Open University in Tubas, on the West Bank. Khudiri is an advocate of the rights of children in the Jordan Valley in the West Bank to have a decent education and has been active in non-violent campaigns against the abuses imposed by the Israeli occupation authorities. Khudiri also writes to publicise the struggle of the Palestinian people for their rights.
Edward Snowden said on June 17 that it was as a compliment to have former US vice President Dick Cheney call a “traitor” for leaking classified information from the National Security Agency. Sowden, who has been charged with espionage by US authorities, made the comment in a June 17 live web chat with investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald hosted by The Guardian.
In his 1928 book Propaganda, Edward Bernays wrote: “The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organised habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. “Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.” The American nephew of Sigmund Freud, Bernays invented the term “public relations” as a euphemism for state propaganda. He warned that an enduring threat to the invisible government was the truth-teller and an enlightened public.
Representatives of more than 30,000 groups held a historic Popular Assembly in Caracas on June 9 to reinvigorate the Great Patriotic Pole (GPP), which united the governing United Socialist Party of venezuela (PSUV) with pro-revolution political parties and socioal movement groups. The assembly was held to discuss the future of the revolutionary alliance, and specifically the question of unified candidates for the upcoming municipal elections in December.
I travelled to Brazil last September to investigate preparations for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics. It was painfully evident that the social disruption of hosting two mega-events in rapid succession would be profound. Everyone with whom I spoke in the community of social movements agreed that these sports extravaganzas were going to leave major collateral damage. Everyone agreed that the spending priorities for stadiums, security, and all attendant infrastructure were monstrous given the health and education needs of the Brazilian people.
Greens Senator Richard Di Natale questioned foreign minister Bob Carr on June 5 during a senate hearing on human rights abuses in West Papua.
The statement below was released by the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance on June 12 in solidarity with the more than 2600 workers at Greece's public broadcaster ERT who are fighting the governmkent's decision to close the station. Underneath it is a June 13 statement of support from the Andrew Dettmer, national president of the Australian Manufactoring Workers Union.
A selection of this week's politically-relevant entertainment news... Rapper LL Cool J explains his song 'Accidental Racist' with country music singer Brad Paisley. http://youtu.be/GG676KRXH9A + Full Song Lyrics http://tinyurl.com/c6hwtnw 2013 Cannes Film Festival Fake Gunman Sentenced to 18 Months in Jail for Firing Blanks http://eonli.ne/10QNl5U Domestic abuser and singer Chris Brown Accused of Assaulting Woman in Nightclub. http://eonli.ne/1cgkNT9
Garrumul: His Life & Music Robert Hillman 2013, $65 Dr M Yunupingu, former Yothu Yindi frontman and Gumatj clan member, passed away on June 2 at his home community of Yirrkala, in north-east Arnhem Land. It is often the case that we learn more about somebody’s life after they die. As it happened, the week Yunupingu died, I had bought a copy of a beautiful new biography of his nephew, Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu, known more commonly as Gurrumul.
Sheilas, Wogs & Poofters: An Incomplete Biography of Johnny Warren & Soccer in Australia Johnny Warren with Andy Harper & Josh Whittington Random House Australia, 2002 A late header from lanky striker Josh Kennedy ensured Australia beat Iraq 1-0 in their final qualifier match for the 2014 World Cup, guaranteeing the Socceroos a ticket to Brazil. Some 80,532 supporters filled a sold-out ANZ Stadium, the largest crowd for the national men's team in soccer (football to most of the world) since the 2005 qualifying match against Uruguay in the same venue.