Issue 972

Australia

The Refugee Action Coalition released this statement on July 6.

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The pilot of an Etihad airliner at Sydney thwarted government attempts to deport an Egyptian asylum seeker on July 5, when the pilot asked for the protesting asylum seeker to be taken off the plane.

Urgent attempts are now being made to get a stay on his removal because of the military coup in Egypt, and the changed political situation there.

About 50 people attended a forum on the Labor government's oppressive "Pacific solution" refugee policy at the Teachers Federation building in Sydney on July 1.

Organised by the Refugee Action Coalition, the forum condemned "the logic of Labor's race to the bottom on refugee policy with [Liberal leader] Tony Abbott”.

“Under the government's 'no advantage' measures, hundreds of asylum seekers have been sent to Nauru and Manus Island as part of the revamped Pacific Solution," the meeting said.

No Maccas In Tecoma is a grassroots group campaigning to stop a McDonald’s store being built in the Dandenong Ranges. Hundreds of protesters have been holding a community picket line at the construction site since July 1. Four people are occupying the roof of the building in an attempt to delay construction.

They released this statement on July 4.

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The Building Industry Group meeting today convened by the Victorian Trades Hall Council (VTHC) resolved to support the rights of the Tecoma community to protest against what they believe is an inappropriate development.

“Australia is at a crossroads,” said Liam Flenady, Socialist Alliance candidate for Griffith on July 5.

“One path leads to more austerity, more oppression of minorities, more environmental destruction; the other leads to a just, equal and sustainable society. There is no middle path.

“We require a fundamental change to our economic and political system to build the future we need.”

Flenady has pledged to put a different kind of politics on the agenda in Griffith in the upcoming federal election, one that puts the needs of the 99% in front of the greed of the wealthy 1%.

Sydney City Council officers, with the support of police, moved to close down the Occupy Sydney camp in Martin Place on the night of July 4. This follows a resolution passed by the council to evict the camp recently.

Occupy Sydney participant Lance told Green Left Weekly that the council took away two truckloads of Occupy material that evening, most of which was to support the homeless community of the city, as well as political banners.

The Hazara community in Melbourne have been forced to hold another vigil after yet another bombing targeting the Hazara community in Quetta, Pakistan.

On June 30, a suicide bomber attacked a Hazara neighbourhood and killed more than 30 people, including children.

More than 1300 Hazaras have been killed in Pakistan over the past decade, with more than 4000 maimed, according to the Australian Hazara Students Group. Not a single perpetrator has been punished by the courts for these bombings which have become more frequent over the last three years.

Protestors called for more privacy protection at rallies held around Australia on July 6 in response to the revelations that US’s National Security Agency (NSA) has been spying on the communications of most internet users.

Sydney rally organiser Matt Watt from the Support Assange and WikiLeaks Coalition said: “We demand freedom for Edward Snowden, a courageous whistleblower who revealed the wrongdoings by the NSA.

The Electrical Trades Union released this statement on July 1

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Unions have criticised today’s announcement of the sale of power generator Eraring Energy as a “fire sale” that fails to realise the true value of the asset for NSW taxpayers.
Power industry unions said it was absurd to sell off the profit-making enterprise, which delivered almost $140 million in profits last year alone, for just $50 million.

One thousand firefighters from around Victoria descended on parliament house on July 1 to protest Premier Denis Napthine’s cuts to the fire services budget.

United Firefighters Union (UFU) state secretary Peter Marshall said that as of July 1, the Napthine government’s fire services levy collection will increase “from $322 million [in 2009] to $654 million [last year].

“The government is collecting more, but it is putting $157 million of the fire services levy in a bank account to help the government’s coffers”.

Stop CSG Illawarra released this statement on June 28.

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After three days of debate, the “water trigger” — an amendment to the Environment Protection Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 – passed the Senate on June 19.

Coal seam gas (CSG) projects that could affect water resources will now trigger federal approval. The trigger will bring CSG projects in for consideration; a good but very limited measure that does not match the hype.

World

More than two years ago, the Syrian people, inspired by the Arab Spring, began a democratic revolution against the viciously authoritarian Bashir al-Assad regime, a revolution that we enthusiastically supported from its beginning and continue to support.

For two long years now, we, like the rest of the world, have watched in horror as the Syrian government waged merciless war on its own people. Some of the revolutionaries argued that for strategic if not for pacifist reasons, the movement should have remained non-violent despite the mounting repression it faced.

A recent ruling by the United States Supreme Court represents a big step forward, while another represents a leap backward. Both passed by a five-to-four vote.

First the good news. The Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that defined marriage as a right of only heterosexual couples. DOMA was passed by Congress and signed into law by Democratic President Bill Clinton in 1996.

With Venezuela’s inflation rate for May soaring to 6.1%, first quarter growth stagnating at 0.7%, and shortages afflicting a number of basic goods, speculation has been rife regarding the country’s economic future.

Critics from the right and left have argued these are all signs that Chavismo (the name given to the radical project for change spearheaded by former president Hugo Chavez) has reached its limits.

Kate Hudson is a veteran British left-wing activist and former chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. Hudson was a candidate for the left-wing Respect party in last year's Manchester municipal by-election, but stood down after Respect leader George Galloway made “unacceptable and unretracted statements about the nature of rape”.

Since then, Hudson has joined other left-wing activists, including film maker Ken Loach, in pushing the Left Unity initiative for anew left-wing party, which has received support from thousands of people across Britain.

The protests which began on June 30 ― and by July 3 had led to the overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi ― were reportedly the largest in Egyptian history.

With claims that between 10 and 20 million people took part, they were larger than the protests which led to the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak on February 11, 2011.

WL Central wrote on July 7:

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has now been offered asylum in three American countries: Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Venezuela. He has applied for asylum in six additional countries, according to WikiLeaks. And his chances for reaching a safe haven are growing further because of US interference in the process, according to Michael Bochenek, director of law and policy at Amnesty International.

The United States government hopes that negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will reach a final agreement this year. If completed, it will create the world’s largest “free trade agreement” — with serious consequences for the hundreds of millions of people living in the affected countries.

The 18th round of TPP negotiations will take place in Malaysia on July 15-25. This will be the first time Japan has taken part, joining the US, Australia, Singapore, New Zealand, Chile, Brunei, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru and Vietnam.

Imagine the aircraft of the president of France being forced down in Latin America on “suspicion” that it was carrying a political refugee to safety — and not just any refugee but someone who has provided the people of the world with proof of criminal activity on an epic scale.

The Bolivian presidential plane finally left Vienna Airport July 3, at  5.30am  (Bolivian time). This after a 14 hour period during which President Evo Morales was literally kidnapped and his plane interrupted in mid-flight without explanation, putting Bolivian president’s life in danger.

Four countries — France, Spain, Italy and Portugal — revoked flight permission while the plane was taking Morales and other officials home from an energy conference in Moscow.

Brazil's government must ally itself with the people or pay the price, said Joao Pedro Stedile, national coordination of the Movement of Landless Rural Workers (MST), a powerful social movement with deep roots in the South American nation that fights for land reform.

Pedro Stedile spoke to Brasil de FatoM amid the huge protest movement sweeping Brazilian cities, sparked by a rise in bus fares and fuelled by spending on big events such as 2014 World Cup while public services deteriorated.

The Conga gold and copper mining project is becoming one of Latin America’s most significant environmental battlefronts. It is pitting almost the entire population of the northern Cajamarca region of Peru against the invasive forces of the multinational mining industry and its governmental puppets in Lima.

In recent years, there have been many strikes and protests. This has led to hundreds of arrests, scores of injuries and several protester deaths.

Activists from across the Venezuelan labour movement met last weekend for the country’s first ever Workers’ Congress, where workers discussed workplace democracy and the construction of socialism.

The congress, billed “I Workers’ Congress: Balance and Challenges of Worker Control and Workers’ Councils for the Construction of Socialism”, was organised by the National Worker Control Movement and saw the participation of over fifty groups from factories across the country.

Jani Alam, a 25-year-old, is walking slow and painfully. Having slightly swollen feet, this “exercise” is the only treatment available from 60-year-old traditional doctor, Guramia Saiyid.

Both Alam and Saiyad are stateless refugees from the Rohingya ethnic minority from Arakan state in western Burma. They now live in Malaysia.

Saiyad has lived in the country for 11 years, while Alam has arrived four months ago.

“In the past months, dozens of refugees arrived almost every day,” said 41-year-old Jamar Udin, a neighbor and also a Rohingya.

Analysis

Only a month after Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett announced the government would push for the acquisition of James Price Point for future gas and petroleum projects, Shell Petroleum defended their proposal to build a $12 billion floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant off the Kimberley coast.

This follows Woodside Petroleum’s decision to abort plans to build a $40 billion onshore gas hub after concluding that it was not economically viable. Instead it will use Shell’s technology to develop its own offshore floating LNG plant.

After fleeing and risking everything to seek asylum under Australia's laws, Iranian refugees now face being singled out and persecuted once again. This time, by the Australian Labor government.

New Prime Minister Kevin Rudd labelled “a whole bunch of people” as “economic migrants” who “comport as refugees”. Foreign affairs minister Bob Carr said boat arrivals are “increasingly not people fleeing persecution” because they are from “majority religious and ethnic groups”.

A social crisis is developing throughout suburban Australia. Asylum seekers on short-term bridging visas are being dumped in the community without the right to work, study or receive adequate welfare.

Already traumatised by the situations they are fleeing, dangerous journeys and immigration detention, those on bridging visas face housing stress, food insecurity, alienation and boredom and a return to detention when their bridging visas expire. Processing of asylum claims is on hold and the threat of deportation is constant.

Fremantle city councillor and Socialist Alliance candidate for Fremantle, Sam Wainwright, spoke at a GetUp forum in Perth on June 14.

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Last week I passed a gathering outside a fundraiser for Julia Gillard at Victoria Hall in Fremantle. One of the chants initiated by the single parents action group was: “Pension cuts, no way. Make the mining bosses pay.”

After days of non-stop rain, blue sky peeked out for a moment in Sydney. My partner and I grabbed the lead and took our dog for a much-needed walk in the park. But we hadn't gone two blocks down the road when to our shock we saw the front door of a long-time resident of our street covered with foul anti-Semitic graffiti.

"Fuck Jews," it read, "Heil Hitler". It featured three Nazi swastikas.

We were standing there in shock — even more so when we saw other people walking past without as much as batting an eyelid.

Some environment NGOs have been quick to say that Australia’s carbon price has sharply cut carbon emissions in its first year. The claims not only contradict the evidence, but are positively deceptive: an exercise to cast a deeply flawed policy as a serious response to climate change.

Former US marine and anti-war activist Vincent Emanuele is making his second speaking tour of Australia during June and July. A member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, Emanuele is speaking to audiences about the US military machine.

At a meeting in Melbourne where Emanuele spoke on July 4, the film On the Bridge was also screened. The film is a series of interviews with Iraq war veterans opposed to the war, including Emanuele.

Shock facts on Aboriginal people and Australian prisons:

* The proportion of Indigenous prisoners has almost doubled in the 20 years since the Royal Commission.

* In 2011, Aboriginal people made up 2.5% of the Australian population. They accounted for 46.2% of all youth in juvenile custody and 26.1% of total adult prison population.

* In the NT, Aboriginal people made up 30.3% of the total population, 96.9% of the juvenile detention population and 82.3 % of the adult prison population.

The statement below was released by Socialist Alliance election candidate Margarita Windisch on July 5. Windisch is contesting the Victorian seat of Wills in the upcoming federal election.

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The Obama administration is now in overdrive trying to hunt down and extradite whistleblower Edward Snowden for revealing the extraordinary extent to which the United States’ PRISM spy program has carried out surveillance of citizens.

I was browsing the “Recognise” site recently – the hip, new rebranded “You Me Unity” organisation tasked with promoting constitutional recognition of First Nations Australians – when I came across this curious fact: “Research by Auspoll in late 2012 found strong Indigenous support for constitutional recognition.

“Three-quarters of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people surveyed were in favour of recognition, and only 8% opposed it. The same overwhelming majority felt recognition would help protect against a loss of culture for future generations.”

Resistance!

Reading the polls makes it clear that Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is a hit. Overnight, Rudd's return has turned the tables for Labor. From staring down electoral annihilation, Labor is now on par with Liberal leader Tony Abbott. The election is a contest once again.

“Kevin07” was a popular campaign that gained mainstream traction among Australia’s youth in the 2007 federal elections. Even though “Kevin13” lacks the same ring, his return has marked clear moves by Rudd to regain his attraction to young voters.

Culture

World War Z
Directed by Marc Foster
Starring Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, James Badge Dale & Matthew Fox
In Cinemas now

It’s movie time — winter is upon us, kids are home for two weeks and there’s a glut of new releases at the cinemas.

While providing the necessary action and suspense for my kids’ age group, the US$190 million production World War Z also glorifies US-style international relations in the fight against a futuristic global zombie takeover.

The Condition of the Working Class, A Documentary Film
By Mike Wayne & Deirdre O’Neill
Inside Film 2012
www.conditionoftheworkingclass.info

In the 1840s, when Frederick Engels went to Manchester to take up his duties of administering his father’s cotton milling enterprise, he discovered the dreadful conditions in which the city’s workers lived.

It's been almost ten years since she became a fixture on the indie music scene. Since then she's been nominated for Grammys and sold hundreds of thousands of records. But music journalists still have no idea how to treat M.I.A.

Le Sacre Du Travail
The Tangent
InsideOut Music
June 24, 2013
www.insideoutmusic.com