Issue 974

Australia

Salvation Army staff members released this statement on July 23.

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In light of the recent events that have taken place in Nauru, a collection of former and current Salvation Army staff who have spent the last 10 months working with asylum seekers at the regional processing centres in Nauru and Manus Island would like to make a public statement.

Thousands gathered around Australia with less than 24 hours’ notice to protest against Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s newly announced policy of denying asylum in Australia to all refugees arriving by boat.

About 700 people gathered in Sydney on July 20. Protesters sat down in the middle of George St in the CBD, blocking a big city intersection while several speeches were made. Photos by Peter Boyle.

For the third time since the Victorian government sold off the Yallourn power station in 1996, Yallourn power workers have been locked out of their workplace. In 2000, the workers were locked out for seven weeks.

Yallourn power station’s owner, Energy Australia, locked out all 75 shift operators at midday on June 21 after the workers began industrial action by limiting power output.
They are not being paid and are not accruing any leave or service. Even operators who were on holidays or sick leave have had their pay stopped. The company has locked the workers out indefinitely.

Protesters are facing legal threats over their fight to protect the Dandenong Ranges from the yellow fluorescent arches of McDonald's franchises.

In a proposal first rejected by the local council last year, McDonald’s was later given approval by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) to build a restaurant opposite the local primary school in the small town of Tecoma. VCAT made the decision despite strong opposition from local residents, including a petition with 2000 signatures.

Forest protesters disrupted work in the southern Tasmanian town of Esperance on July 16, disrupting operations of Malaysian logging company Ta Ann.

The Huon Valley Environment Centre (HVEC) said 40 people occupied the logging area and one person held a tree sit, which was attached to the logging machines.

HVEC spokesperson Jenny Weber said: “Controversially Ta Ann continues to receive timber from old growth ecosystems, and this logging area is forest that was promised protection, and now tragically the ancient eucalyptus regnans and wildlife habitat is being lost.

Scarlet Alliance released this statement on July 19

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Recent murders and violent attacks on sex workers have sparked an unprecedented wave of international action calling for an end to discrimination and criminalisation of sex workers.

Scarlet Alliance, an Australian sex-worker association, along with our members and allies in Australia, joined the international protests in memoriam of sex workers Jasmine in Sweden and Dora in Turkey, murdered within one day of each other.

"We don't want oil or gas mining in our country,” Aboriginal traditional owner Eddie Mason, based in Maningrida, a community in eastern Arnhem Land, told a rally in Sydney on July 19. “We are protecting our land and sea rights."

About 100 people rallied with visiting Arnhem Land residents outside the offices of US-based oil exploration company Paltar Petroleum.

"We are saying no to Paltar,” Mason said. “We don't want exploration destroying our land and waters. You are welcome to visit our country, but don't destroy it.

The National Tertiary Education Union released this statement on July 16.

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The release of Universities Australia’s report, University student finances in 2012, on July 15 clearly shows that students need much more support while they are studying at university, Jeannie Rea National President of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) said today.

“It’s a national disgrace that almost one in five university students reports going without food and ends up graduating with an average debt of almost $38,000,” Rea said.

This statement was released on July 19 by the Protect Arnhem Land community group, based in Maningrida, Northern Territory; The Wilderness Society; the Environment Centre NT; and the Australian Marine Conservation Society.

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Arnhem Land traditional owners have forced US oil and gas company Paltar to meet with them by travelling to the firm’s Australian headquarters in Sydney.

Paltar had steadfastly refused to talk to the traditional owners about its near-shore drilling plans that threaten their food, water and culture.

Telstra has been sharing its customer’s data information with the FBI and US Department of Justice for at least a decade, the Crikey website revealed on July 12.

The Victorian government has escalated its plans to build an unpopular, costly and environmentally damaging East-West road tunnel.

The Age reported on July 15 that "about 250 residents have received a letter advising the east-west link road tunnel is likely to be constructed near their properties, triggering concern that many homes will be compulsorily acquired.

“The state government last week sent the letter to residents in Collingwood, Fitzroy and Clifton Hill on or near Alexandra Parade and whose homes could stand in the way of the multibillion-dollar tollway.

Kevin Rudd's astounding announcement that all boat arrivals "from now on" would never be resettled in Australia, and subject to a jerry-rigged offshore dumping deal with the Papua New Guinea government has shocked many.

Every asylum seeker that arrives by boat for at least the next 12 months would be sent to Papua New Guinea, with no cap on the number. In exchange, Australia would pump money into PNG's government for apparent health and education reforms.

World

In the small hours of July 6, just after midnight, a train hauling 73 cars of petroleum products derailed and exploded in the centre of the town of Lac Megantic, Quebec.

A large number of the rail cars caught fire and exploded in huge fireballs. The centre of the town was razed and the rail cars were still burning 36 hours later.

Big Oil is fracking California, and it does not want anyone to interfere with the damage it does to the environment.

But as part of a nationwide “Summer Heat” campaign of environmental activists pledging to take action against the fossil fuel industry, groups are organising a festival, march and nonviolent direct action at Chevron's oil refinery in Richmond, California, on August 3 to demand environmental justice. Those taking part include 350.org, Richmond community groups, the NoKXL Actions Council and other allies.

About 200 members of the Gabungan Bantah FTA (Anti-FTA Coalition) braved the morning heat to rally against the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) deal on July 16, claiming the controversial deal would lead to the colonisation of Malaysia.

The crowd, led by Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) president Mohd Nasir Hashim, gathered outside parliament while chanting slogans such as “America, go back, leave Malaysia”, and brandishing homemade placards that read “People before patents” and “Patients before profits”.

Amnesty says Manning ruling a 'travesty'

A decision by a US military judge not to drop the charge accusing Private Bradley Manning of “aiding the enemy” is a travesty of justice, Amnesty International said on July 18. If Manning, who leaked secret US cables to WikiLeaks, is found guilty of the charge, he faces a possible life sentence in military custody with no chance of parole.

“We are certain that we will prevail,” said a statement by the more than 30,000 Californian prisoners on a hunger strike, “the only questions being: How many will die starvation-related deaths before state officials sign the agreement? The world is watching!”

Roger Burbach, the co-author of Latin America's Turbulent Transitions: The Future of 21st Century Socialism, wrote this open letter to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden on July 15. It first appeared at www.futuresocialism.com -- where you can also order the book.

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When Ecuador granted asylum to Assange in mid-2012, Sydney Morning Herald’s Peter Hartcher accused Assange of “hypocrisy” for accepting asylum from President Rafael Correa, “one of the world’s leading oppressors of free speech”.

Annabel Crabb joined in, writing in the SMH: “A gazillion Assange Twitter fans [hailed] Ecuador and its president, Rafael Correa, as a hero of international free speech and human rights.

Pedro Filipe Soares is a Left Bloc MP in the Portuguese parliament. Soares attend the first congress of the Coalition of the Radical Left (Syriza) from July 10-14. Syriza, a coalition of left groups, decided to become a new political party after it came close to winning elections on an anti-austerity platform last year. The article was translated by Dick Nichols.

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The predominantly Catholic and nationalist community of Ardoyne in north Belfast has been subjected to a campaign of violence as part of the sectarian “marching season”.

In recent weeks, the six counties still claimed by Britain have been the scene of violence by “loyalists” — those who support ongoing British rule and the privileges given to the Protestant majority to ensure loyalty to British rule. The article below was published by Irish Republican News on July 19.

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When the “not guilty” verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman for murdering Trayvon Martin was announced late July 13, spontaneous demonstrations of protest were held in cities and towns across the country. Protests have continued in the days since.

The day after the verdict, thousands marched in New York. Here are some of the voices on that march:

Marlene Duperley said: “I have a son. It’s difficult because he sees it, and he’s already had dreams about it. And he’s already had dreams about the man following Trayvon.

The capacity of the Turkish revolutionary left to help lead a mass revolt has been tested during the past month of the Gezi protests.

They are now calling it “the Great June Resistance”. The left clearly feel lighter, refreshed. Their spirit is higher than it has been for decades. And most importantly, they have a direction to grasp. The path forward is clear.

A united people’s struggle for revolution has been the dream of Turkey's left for more than four decades. Finally they have experienced a real united mass peoples movement.

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.

He 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 -- by a jury without any Black person on it.

A man is sitting in a cell of the Soto del Real prison on the outskirts of Madrid, plotting the downfall of the People’s Party (PP) government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. He is blind with rage and determined to use everything he knows to annihilate Rajoy and his cabinet.

The man is not a left-wing activist. He is a former senator and national treasurer of the party whose leaders he now loathes. His name is Luis Barcenas, known in PP inner circles as “Luis the Arsehole”. He has accumulated up to €48 million in Swiss, Uruguayan and other bank accounts.

The statement below was released by the Socialist Party of Malayaia (PSM) on July 10.

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The PSM is deeply concerned about the ongoing Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) free trade agreement. The 18th round is to commence in Kota Kinabalu in east Malaysia from July 15 until July 25.

Analysis

“In God we trust, all others we monitor” — Interceptor Operators motto, NSA study, Deadly Transmissions, December 1970.

This chilling quote perfectly summarises the model from which the United States founded their Big Brother approach to intelligence, as more documents leaked by National Security Agency (NSA) contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden show Australia plays a crucial role in the United States global surveillance operations.

At time of writing, the new date for the federal election had not yet been set, but we already know who won: Pauline Fucking Hanson.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced a policy so driven by irrational racism that even Hanson could only have fantasised about it ever coming true: no asylum seekers who arrive by boat will ever be resettled in Australia, instead dumped in Papua New Guinea.

You know, some people knock Rudd's achievements, but he's just made Philip Ruddock look like a great humanitarian, and that takes real skill.

Read More:

The election of the United States’ first black president was one of those moments. Most of us remember where we were when we first heard about it.

I happened to be on Palm Island, a small community off the coast of Townsville, now home to more than 3000 Aboriginal people from different corners of Queensland. "Palm" is a former black penal colony, and to get sent there you had to commit such heinous crimes as refusing to stop speaking your native tongue, or getting caught hanging around a white Queensland town.

It is now depressingly clear for all to see that whether Liberal or Labor win the coming Australian federal election, we are going to end up with a government that is more right-wing than the last.

How did it come to this? And how can we escape the political spiral to a moral abyss?

The politicians in the ALP and in the Liberal-Nationals who have shaped this latest reactionary turn in the spiral — most notably around attacks on refugee rights and climate change — cannot be let off the hook.

Kuwaiti-born doctor Ghaleb Jaber is prepared to follow in the footsteps of overseas-trained doctors (OTDs) who went on hunger strike in 1997 in Sydney and Melbourne to fight for their rights.

Jaber set up the Overseas Trained Doctors Network of Victoria five years ago. This network is organising a conference on July 26 to raise the issues facing overseas-trained doctors in the lead up to the federal election.

“We want them to listen to us this time,” Jaber told Green Left Weekly.

Former senator and Labor Party ALP national president Stephen Loosely observed that in the lead-up to the 2007 federal election the Howard government’s unfair work laws — known disingenuously as Work Choices — could not have withstood unionism’s industrial response had the previous Liberal prime minister Malcolm Fraser tried to introduce them.

But by 2006, an industrial campaign was beyond their capacity, a fact that was equally recognised by the unions.

In the two years preceding the 2007 election, the ACTU ran what was effectively an election campaign for Labor.

A Third World country suffering rising violence, rapes, political corruption and plagued by endemic diseases such as cholera and malaria will be the new dumping ground for Australia’s refugee arrivals.

Kevin Rudd’s July 19 announcement that Australia would immediately start sending all new boat arrivals to be detained, assessed and resettled by — or repatriated from — Papua New Guinea will lead to myriad human rights violations.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s astounding announcement that all asylum seeker boat arrivals “from now on” would never be resettled in Australia and subject to a rigged offshore dumping deal with the Papua New Guinea government has shocked many.

Immigration minister Tony Burke also confirmed the Manus Island detention camp would be expanded to hold up to 3000 detainees, and would be brought “back up to standard” to again house women and children.

Resistance!

The National Union of Students (NUS) education conference was held at the University of Adelaide from July 10-12.

This year’s conference occurred in the context of the most serious attack on university funding in many years. In April, the federal government announced it was cutting $2.8 billion from higher education.

Students responded to these proposed cuts by holding protests in cities across the country on May 14, the biggest student protests in years.

Culture

Bring The Sun Out EP
Impossible Odds
Classik Nawu
Coldwater Band
July 2013
www.impossibleoddsrecords.com

"Land rights is a load of crap," says Kaylah Truth. They are not the kind of words you'd expect to hear from a radical, politically-savvy Indigenous rapper. But Truth, of militant Murri hip-hop group Impossible Odds, says she has learnt from bitter experience to pursue sovereignty instead.

On the band's album, Against All Odds, she raps:

I no longer need my fists to fight
I just write whenever those emotions do arise

Sick Justice: Inside the American Gulag
By Ivan G Goldman
Potomac Books, 2013
256 pages, hardcover

Justice is criminally unjust in the United States. Its predatory bankers and warmongers rarely face charges, but the nation's prisons are packed with impoverished small-time crooks.

If the cells were a city, it would be the largest after New York, Los Angeles and Chicago: 2.3 million Americans live behind bars. One in every 100 adults is a convict, a rate that rivals North Korea.

Left-wing Welsh rockers The Manic Street preachers were the first British rock band to tour Cuba and have dedicated songs to radical miners union leader Arthur Scargill.

Now the Manics have filed a suit against the English Defence League — the well-organised fascist street gang known for organising large anti-Muslim marches — for using their song “If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next” to promote an upcoming demonstration in Birmingham.

Musical artist Stevie Wonder vowed to “never perform” in the state of Florida while the National Rifle Association-backed “stand your ground” law is in effect.

The 63-year-old singer said at a concert in Quebec City, Canada, on July 14 that until the law is abolished in Florida, he will “never” perform there again.

“Wherever I find that law exists, I will not perform in that state or in that part of the world,” Wonder said.



As if we needed proof that the acquittal of George Zimmerman was -- in the words of Jay Smooth -- going to create more George Zimmermans. A mere hour before that shameful verdict came down, the great Lester Chambers was assaulted, on stage, by a crazed attendee at the Hayward Russell City Blues Festival. What did she assault him for? Dedicating a song to Trayvon Martin.

In February last year, the stalking and murder of Trayvon Martin affected pro athletes — particularly African-American athletes — in a way that perhaps can be best described as intimate.

Players like Carmelo Anthony saw the case far more clearly than George Zimmerman’s prosecutor: it was a racist murder and Trayvon, condemned to death for Living While Black, could have been them or their children.