Issue 973

News

A sign reading “Moreland City Council welcomes refugees and asylum seekers” has been erected outside the council's office in the Melbourne suburb of Coburg, on July 4. The motion to install the sign was moved by Socialist Alliance councillor Sue Bolton, and passed council vote on May 8. The council also committed support to the World Refugee Day rally in Melbourne, which called for an end to mandatory detention and deportations, and the closure of Nauru and Manus Island detention camps.
This statement was released by Gomeroi traditional owners of north-west NSW on July 8. *** More than 50 Gomeroi traditional owners, senior elders, elders, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal community members and families have formed a picket line at Whitehaven Coal near Gunnedah in north-west NSW [on July 9] amid a stopwork action in protest against the Maules Creek coalmine and the incomplete and disrespectful cultural heritage process.
Aboriginal traditional owners and the Protect Arnhem Land community campaign, based in the town of Maningrida, Northern Territory, are seeking the assistance of environment groups and Indigenous networks in Sydney to help raise awareness of the threat to Arnhem Land from oil and gas exploration. Five traditional owners are travelling from Maningrida to Sydney in mid-July and are holding a public protest in Martin Place outside the offices of exploration company Paltar Petroleum.
Environment Victoria released this statement on July 13. *** Environment Victoria has described news that the owners of Yallourn power station are seeking payment for closure as a desperate measure that is unlikely to succeed.
More than 100 people attended a lively forum at Glebe Town Hall on July 9 on the topic of "Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in the Constitution." The forum was organised by RECOGNISE and the Glebe NAIDOC Committee, as part of the National Aboriginal and Islander Day of Commemoration (NAIDOC) Week celebrations.
The Victorian government's Fire Services Levy was introduced on July 1. It replaces the original levy, which was deducted from insurance premiums, and now collects funds from all property holders along with council rates. The original levy was introduced in 2009 to pay for implementing the recommendations of the 2009 Bushfires Royal Commission.
More than 200 pensioners rallied on the steps of Victoria’s parliament house on July 10. The rally was called by the Fair Go for Pensioners Coalition, which has a list of demands on the state and federal governments. Their demands on the federal government include a pension rise from 27.7% of average weekly earnings to 35%; improved healthcare measures, including medical, dental, optical, hearing, pharmaceutical and culturally appropriate services; and more funding for aged care services.
John Shipton, a founder of one Australia's newest political parties, the WikiLeaks Party, will be the keynote speaker at Green Left Weekly's annual dinner in Sydney on July 27. Pip Hinman, a spokesperson for Green Left Weekly, said: "As the world watches to see if Edward Snowden manages to leave Moscow's airport to claim asylum in Venezuela, or another Latin American country, it is clear that there is widespread alarm at the news he's broken about the extent of the US spying ability.
The Refugee Action Coalition released this statement on July 9 in response to immigration minister Tony Burke's announcement that he would delay processing of asylum seekers who don't have their “documents”. *** Refugee groups have accused the Immigration Minister, Tony Burke, of playing politics with asylum seeker policy. Ian Rintoul, from the Refugee Action Coalition said: “Tony Burke is singing the same misleading song as the Liberals. He needs to drop the ‘me too’ rhetoric if he wants to be taken seriously.

Analysis

The Nyoongar Tent Embassy has rejected an updated offer by the state government to extinguish native title, reiterating that recognition of Aboriginal sovereignty is the goal of their campaign. The South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council (SWALSC) and the state government had negotiated a $1 billion package. Premier Colin Barnett upped the offer to a $1.3 billion package on July 5.
Newcastle resident, hip-hop performer and socialist activist Zane Alcorn is the Socialist Alliance candidate for the seat of Newcastle in the next federal election. Leela Ford spoke to Alcorn about the politics and messages he will bring to his campaign. *** How long have you been involved with the Socialist Alliance and activism in general?
All this outcry over Queensland Premier Campbell Newman's plan to award state politicians a 42% pay rise is a bit rough. The rises would result in MPs getting an extra $57,000 a year, ministers an extra $90,000, and Newman's pay would rise by $117,000 to $398,000 a year.
Vincent Emanuele, 29, fought in the Iraq war, was forced to kill people and suffers post-traumatic stress. Yet he remains a leading activist with the US Iraq Veterans Against the War. On tour through the eastern states of Australia, Emanuele told a Sydney public meeting jointly hosted by Stop the War Coalition, Marrickville Peace Group and StandFast, that the anti-war movement urgently needs to build resistance to the “insane system that leads to wars and drives ecological destruction”.
In a massive win for people power, the Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) disapproved a project for 16 coal seam gas (CSG) wells in the Illawarra in and around drinking water catchments for greater Sydney. Stop CSG Illawarra spokesperson Jess Moore said: “This is huge win for the campaign to stop CSG and protect our water. "It is the result of the extraordinary and tireless efforts of so many in the Illawarra community. It is the result of a powerful community campaign that has brought people together to stand up for what's right.”
— About 2600 young people were forced onto income management from July 1. — 50% of their payment is withheld and credited to a BasicsCard that can be used only at specific stores. — Income management affects people living in the NT, Bankstown in New South Wales; Logan and Rockhampton in Queensland; Playford in South Australia; and Shepparton in Victoria. *** Young people are being targeted under the federal government’s income management scheme.  
The United States Supreme Court ruled on June 13 that human genes cannot be patented. This surprise decision is a victory for women who need genetic testing to detect whether they carry a genetic mutation that increases the risk of developing breast and ovarian cancers. But the ruling has much broader implications. It puts in jeopardy thousands of patents already granted on human genes over the past 30 years.
I want to start by acknowledging that we’re meeting here today on stolen Aboriginal land, the land of the Jagera and Turrbal people, and that their sovereignty over this land was never ceded, and that it always was, and always will be Aboriginal land. We all know that Australia has experienced an unprecedented mining boom over the past decade. This boom is slowing now, but it is still producing huge wealth.  Over the last decade, profits of the mining companies have gone up by 400%. The big mining corporations now make almost a quarter of all profits in this country. 
The Socialist Alliance released this statement on July 12. *** The Socialist Alliance recognises and welcomes the June 30-July 3, 2013, popular mobilisations of the Egyptian people, led by youth, for democracy, human rights and social and economic justice that brought down the regime of President Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood.
Experts say a statewide ban on synthetic drugs could create a black market for the resale of the substances. New South Wales Fair Trading has failed to provide an industry buy-back scheme, or propose a means of safely and legally disposing of the products for the tobacconists, service stations and adult shops which stock the drugs. Last month the death of 17-year-old student Henry Kwan, who plunged from his parents' balcony in Kilarra in Sydney after taking a synthetic substitute for LSD which led him to believe he could fly, ignited fears over the safety of the substances.
Thirty people attended a public meeting on July 3 to discuss the issue of temporary migration. Organised by Australia Asia Worker Links (AAWL), the meeting was called in response to the debate around 457 visas, which allow employers to bring overseas workers to Australia on a temporary basis.
The refugee “debate” in Australian media and politics is rarely concerned about facts or evidence. Tony Abbott can call refugees “illegal” and be quoted uncritically in the news. Bob Carr can name himself a “humanitarian” in national media and keep a straight face. Headlines like “Swamped by boatpeople” are so common that the public eye just glazes over and accepts it as the truth.

World

The statement below was released by the Party of the Labouring Masses (PLM), a Filipino socialist group, on July 1. * * * The PLM condemns any moves to pave the way for the return of US military base facilities in the Philippines. This includes giving the US access to Philippine military bases and facilities at Clark and Subic, as Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin has admitted has occured.
In 2005, Israel withdrew its settlers from Gaza. The next year, democratic elections were won by Hamas. Since voting the “wrong way”, the Palestinian people in Gaza have been subjected to a siege by Israel. Gaza is blockaded by land, sea and air by the Israeli Defence Force. The International Red Cross and the United Nations have found the Israeli government's siege of Gaza to be illegal under international law.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has offered asylum to Edward Snowden, the courageous whistle-blower who has exposed the vast NSA spying on every US citizen who uses a phone or the Internet, as well as people throughout the world. Bolivian president Evo Morales and Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega followed suit. These three countries broke the diplomatic iron ring Washington sought to place around Snowden, who has been protected but in a sort of limbo in the transit area of Moscow’s international airport. Attack on Morales
The Socialism 2013 conference took place in Chicago from over 27-30, organised by the International Socialist Organization (ISO). The conference has been going for more than two decades, bringing together activists to exchange and debate ideas. A highlight was the session with investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald, who has been publishing the leaks of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. The feature talk was the first detailed speech Greenwald had given on his Earth-shaking work with Snowden ― who remains on the run from US authorities.
A new poll released on July 10 showed that US people hold a positive view of the actions of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, despite government and media demonisation, Glenn Greenwald said in The Guardian that day. A Quinnipiac poll found: “Fifty-five percent (55%) said Snowden was a whistle-blower in leaking details about top-secret US programs that collect telephone and Internet data ... thirty-four percent said he's a traitor.”
A Socialist Worker editorial, July 14. * * * George Zimmerman, the self-declared head of a neighbourhood watch in a gated Florida community who stalked, confronted and then killed African American teenager Trayvon Martin, walked out of a Sanford, Florida, courtroom on July 13 a free man. Zimmerman was acquitted of all charges in Martin's death in February last year -- both the initial indictment for second-degree murder and the prosecutors' "compromise" charge of manslaughter. See also:
Let it be noted that on this day, Saturday 13 July 2013, it was still deemed legal in the US to chase and then shoot dead an unarmed young black man on his way home from the store because you didn't like the look of him.
In a speech to the 19th International Symposium on Electronic Art held in Sydney in June, WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange discussed the impact of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden's revelations, the meaning of the wholesale US spying program Snowden revealed, and the policies of the WikiLeaks party. Below is an extract of the talk, a video and full transcript of Assange's speech can be found at Thing2Thing.com. * * *
The Egyptian army massacred 53 protesters who were calling for the release from detention and reinstatement of overthrown president Mohamed Morsi on July 8. The fall of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood-led government on July 3 was triggered by between 10 and 30 million Egyptians taking to the streets on June 30. This was the culmination of a protest movement that began in April in the face of repression from security forces and government supporters. See also:
In Green Left Weekly #972, Tony Iltis wrote on the huge protests against the Morsi government, the military intervention that removed it and the immediate aftermath. These events, hailed by many on the Egyptian left as a “second revolution”, have sparked widespread debate around the world. Below, Tim Dobson, presents a different view of the events ― one that argues it was an outright reactionary coup. You can also read Iltis's most recent piece.
Bulgarians voted for a new parliament on May 9, two months ahead of schedule. It came after mass protests against poverty and economic disadvantage forced the centre-right Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) government to resign. The elections, however, reflected a polarised political landscape and one devoid of left forces. GERB received most votes with 30.71% (97 seats). The second-largest party, the Bulgarian Socialist Party won 27.02% (84 seats). The 2005-09 BSP government was marked by neoliberal policies and corruption scandals.
Yet again, there are floods devastating the Himalayan region; yet again the same criminal negligence and apathy of the administrative machinery exacerbating the tragedy. The lack of proper disaster management infrastructure in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand, the delayed warnings, and the government’s refusal to act on the warnings from the Meteorological department in Delhi ― unfortunately, all of this is painfully familiar.

Culture

Project Republic: Plans & Arguments for a New Australia Edited by Benjamin T Jones & Mark Mckenna Black Inc, 2013 251 pages, $29.99 (pb) If the Australian Republican Movement (ARM) represents those who wish to make Australia a republic, yet the ARM sends congratulations to the Queen last year on her 60th year of rule from London, what hope is there for Australia becoming a royal-free zone? Not much, must be the conclusion, after reading the ARM’s call-to-republican-arms book, Project Republic.
One has to hark back to 1968 in Mexico City, when thousands of students and workers marched against the Olympics, to find a sports-related demonstration that compares to the size and militancy of the mass anti-World Cup/Olympic protests taking place in Brazil. As in Mexico City, thousands of people in Brazil took to the streets — and outside of stadiums hosting Confederations Cup matches — raising slogans that connect the spending and austerity that surround these mega-events to a much deeper rot in the nation’s democratic institutions.
Every Parent's Nightmare By Belinda Hawkins Allen & Unwin, 2013 www.everyparentsnightmare.com Jock Palfreeman, an Australian man sentenced to 20 years in jail in Bulgaria for murder in a deeply flawed trial, had his request to be transferred to an Australian jail turned down on July 10. Belinda Hawkins' book, Every Parent's Nightmare, brings to life the tragic story of Palfreeman, whose fearless commitment to human rights led to a 20-year sentence in Bulgaria.

Fighting Fund

“I have never believed in class warfare,’’ declared Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in his speech to the National Press Club in Canberra on July 11. Has St Kevin found the solution to the class divisions that have plagued human society for thousands of years? I say “St Kevin” because he appears to have produced a more spectacular miracle than any performed by Pope John Paul II, who the Vatican is about to make a saint.