Issue 979

News

Seven Iranian families — comprising 14 adults and 12 children — were sent to Nauru’s detention camp on August 21. Immigration minister Tony Burke said the children were aged between five and 15. He said more families would be sent to the island and “before long” unaccompanied minors would also face possible removal from Australia to Nauru. The Refugee Action Coalition released the statement below on August 21. *** The Refugee Action Coalition has condemned the Labor government’s transfer of asylum seeker families to Nauru.
The US army whistleblower formerly known as Bradley Manning has been sentenced to 35 years in prison for releasing thousands of classified military documents to WikiLeaks. In a statement after the sentencing, Manning announced her decision to transition to life as a woman and requested to be called Chelsea. The Sydney Support Assange and WikiLeaks Coalition released this statement on August 22. ***
About 50 people rallied outside minister for climate change Mark Butler's office in Adelaide on August 24 to make climate an election issue. Organised by the Climate Emergency Action Network (CLEAN), the rally called on the government to: build solar thermal in Port Augusta; end all fossil fuel subsidies; increase the Renewable Energy Target to 100%; put electricity supply under community control; and refit the SA car industry to build solar thermal components and public transport infrastructure.
The Victorian Blind Workers Union and United Voice Queensland have stepped up the fight to save the jobs of 73 vision-impaired workers. The workers are due to be sacked within three months by Vision Australia Enterprises in Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales. Not-for-profit organisation Vision Australia plans to cease its supported employment program due to financial problems.
The Australian Council of Trade Unions emailed 90,000 union members on August 21, urging them to “go hard against Abbott” in the last two-and-a-half weeks of the election campaign. They will have to in South Australia if the Newspoll released on the same day is accurate. A breakdown of voting intentions by state showed a 7.2 percentage point swing against Labor in South Australia compared with the 2010 election result.
About 500 people rallied at City Square against coal seam gas (CSG) extraction in Seaspray on August 17. Many at the rally were cattle farmers in the Gippsland area. Protesters expressed concern that CSG mining would destroy farmland, contaminate water, threaten the health of their rural community and create seismic activity. Some farmers expressed their dilemma over whether to stay and fight the CSG companies, or sell their properties before CSG becomes established in the area.
The Freedom Flotilla to West Papua departed on August 17, a week after the arrival of its supporters who had travelled in a land convoy from Lake Eyre. Aboriginal elders, West Papuan refugees, filmmakers, musicians and artists will sail the flotilla’s two boats to West Papuan waters, via Cooktown, Thursday Island and Daru, in Papua New Guinea.
Hundreds of people campaigning against coal seam gas (CSG) mining delivered a petition, signed by more than 13,000 people, to NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell on August 21. The NSW-wide petition, initiated by Stop CSG Illawarra, calls on the government to: "Ban all coal seam gas prospecting and mining in New South Wales drinking water catchment areas". Stop CSG Illawarra spokesperson Jess Moore said at the rally: "We want the land in NSW that supplies our drinking water protected.

Analysis

At every election since its founding in 2001, the Socialist Alliance has decided preferences on a principled basis, by giving preferences to other parties based on how closely their policies and actions align with its own. This federal election, the Socialist Alliance is running two candidates in the NSW Senate and six candidates in lower house seats around the country. In the NSW Senate, the Socialist Alliance has preferenced Ron Poulsen of the Communist League second, followed by candidates from the Greens and then the WikiLeaks Party and other small progressive parties.
The Socialist Alliance Senate candidates for New South Wales, Jim McIlroy and Reg Dare, spoke to Green Left Weekly about two of the party’s key platforms in this year’s federal election. McIlroy, 67, is a retired public servant and 15-year workplace delegate for the Community and Public Sector Union. He radicalised during the 1960s anti-Vietnam War campaign, and has been involved in the socialist movement for more than 40 years.
It is 95% certain that human activity is causing climate change, a new report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says. The final report has not been released, but a leaked copy of the draft has revealed a stark image of the destructive impact climate change will cause in our lifetimes. -----
You may have heard of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and US army private Chelsea (formerly known as Bradley) Manning, who both leaked large amounts of secret US government information, and wondered what all the fuss was about. Well, not much, if you ask Australian attorney-general Mark Dreyfus.
Margarita Windisch is the Socialist Alliance candidate for the Victorian seat of Wills. This is an edited version of a speech she gave to a rally for equal marriage rights in Melbourne on August 17. *** Oscar Wilde once said that disobedience and rebellion are the original virtues of humanity. It is through disobedience and rebellion that we have achieved real progress. This protest today is an important demonstration of rebellion against an unjust law.
The WikiLeaks Party has come under fire for its Western Australia and New South Wales preference allocations for the federal elections, which put right-wing and racist groups ahead of Greens and socialist candidates. WikiLeaks Party senate candidate for Western Australia, Gerry Georgatos, has defended a decision to preference two National Party candidates ahead of Greens Senator Scott Ludlam. Of all Australian parliamentarians, Ludlam has been the most outspoken in defence of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange.

World

The Socialist Alliance released the statement below on August 28. * * * The Socialist Alliance condemns the threatened US-led Western military assault on Syria. We call on the Australian government to reject this latest imperial aggression, to extract itself from its military alliance with the US and end its involvement in all aggressive multinational military operations.
A few years ago, in the run up to the 2009 climate negotiations at Copenhagen, the fossil fuel industry seemed on the defensive, with pressure to cut carbon emissions mounting. With energy prices rising and doubts raised about the industry’s ability to increase oil production, it seemed like a dinosaur struggling to survive. Today that same industry is on the offensive. Far from facing constraints, is actively driving a huge expansion of fossil fuel extraction into new areas of the globe. From denial to an 'engineering problem'
Campaigners vowed today to challenge the use of “extreme” pressure-point tactics to break the anti-fracking blockade tagretted operations of energy giant Cuadrilla in Balcombe, Morning Star said on August 22. Sussex Police used the “mandibular angle” technique to drag people away from a peaceful sit-in on the road to the site on August 19, the article said. The martial arts-style move involves applying force to a pressure point just behind the ear and delivers excruciating pain but no lasting injury.
On November 18, 2001, Laura Bush gave her first radio address urging worldwide condemnation of the treatment of women in Afghanistan. She stated that the “fight against terrorism is also a fight for the rights and dignity of women”. The plight of women and children in Afghanistan, the then-US First Lady said, was “a matter of deliberate human cruelty, carried out by those who seek to intimidate and control”.
The removal of the Mohamad Morsi government by Egypt's military on July 3 and subsequent bloody repression against Muslim Brotherhood supporters had caused debate on the international left on how to understand the events and what attitude to take to the anti-Morsi protests, the July 3 coup and protests against the military regime. The contribution below is from John Riddell, a Toronto-based activist and historian of the socialist movement.
In a move aimed at demobilising and splitting the opposition, the leaders of Tunisia's governing party, Ennahda, reached out to Beji Caid Essebsi, leader of the secular ex-regime party Nidaa Tounes. It was part of a bid to resolve the political crisis that has crippled the north African nation for weeks.
The Australian government has made it clear that it will not offer consular help to activists on the West Papua Freedom Flotilla if they are arrested by Papua New Guinea NG or Indonesian authorities. The flotilla is expected to enter Indonesian territory early next month. Carrying West Papuan and Australian Aboriginal activists, its aim is to raise awareness about the occupation of West Papua by Indonesia.
The Army private and WikiLeaks whistleblower formerly known as Bradley Manning announced, in a statement via lawyer David Coombs, the decision to transition to life as a woman and a request to be referred to as Chelsea and with female pronouns. Visit here for more information on Manning's case. * * * The Next Stage of My Life
Chelsea Manning, a private in the US Army who worked as an intelligence specialist, was sentenced on August 21 to 35 years in jail for leaking hundreds of thousands of ecret cables to WikiLeaks. Formerly known as “Bradley”, Manning announced via her lawyer on August 22 that she would undergo hormone treatment to transition to a woman and was now known as Chelsea. Australian attorney-general Mark Dreyfus has claimed that Manning, and NSA whisteblower Edward Snowden, should not be considered whistleblowers as they supposedly did not reveal any government wrongdoing.
“We of course recognise that this is it — make or break time for us to make the long overdue change occur now and are thus in it for the long haul,” said Todd Ashker, a representative of hunger strikers in the Californian prison system, who has been on hunger strike for 44 days. “The sacrifice is minor compared to what we've endured for 30 years.”
The following is a transcript of the statement made by United States Private Chelsea (formerly "Bradley") Manning as read by David Coombs at a press conference on August 21 after Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks that exposed serioous war crimes. (Born -- and tried -- as "Bradley", Manning has announced she wishes to be known as Chelsea and plans to undergo hormone therapy. "I am Chelsea Manning, I am a female," Manning said in a statement released by her lawyer David Coombs.
The Palestinian prisoners holding Jordanian citizenship have suspended their hunger strike following concessions from the Israeli prison authorities to allow them regular family visits from their family members in Jordan. This was reported in a press conference held in Amman by family members of the prisoners on August 11. The five Jordanian hunger strikers are Abdullah Barghouthi, Mohammad Rimawi, Muneer Mar'i, Hamza Othman al-Dabbas and Alaa Hammad. They had been striking since May 2 for 100 days.
Workers in fast food companies such as McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, KFC and others took to the streets in mobilisations at the end of July in seven cities. They highlighted miserable wages and working conditions, and demanding the right to form unions in the virtually non-union sector. The actions took place in New York, Chicago, St Louis, Detroit, Milwaukee, Kansas City and Flint, Michigan. It is likely that these actions will spread in the coming weeks.
Detroit public-sector workers, pensioners and residents filed objections on August 19 against the city council's request for bankruptcy protection. They want federal judge Steven Rhodes to block the bankruptcy request by unelected emergency manager Kevyn Orr. Individual creditors began filing objections in person and by early evening more than 100 had been filed, including by the city's biggest union AFSCME, several smaller city unions and pension schemes.
“There will never be strikes in my company,” Foxconn CEO Guo Taiming once proclaimed. But just last month, 1800 workers struck at two Foxconn factories in China — following the example of other Foxconn workers in Taiyuan and Chengdu last year. Foxconn produces cell phones and other products for Apple and others, and owns property worth US$6 billion. It has 1.2 million workers and is the largest sweatshop of ill repute in China.
South Korea: Hyundai workers strike About 46,000 Hyundai workers will launched a four-hour strike over two days in order to press the South Korean car-maker for higher wages and benefits, union officials said on August 20. Spokesperson Kwon Oh Il said that talks had made little progress, Morning Star reported that day. The union has demanded increased wages and benefits during three months of annual negotiations.

Culture

The Signal And The Noise Asian Dub Foundation Out now in Japan, rest of the world soon www.asiandubfoundation.com Legendary punk-dub-electronica group Asian Dub Foundation are celebrating their 20th year with the release of a typically topical new album, The Signal And The Noise. Green Left's Mat Ward spoke to founding member, guitarist and band leader Steve Chandra Savale, a one-man riff factory who always has his finger on the political pulse. ***
Elysium Written and directed by Neill Blomkamp Starring Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, Sharlto Copley, Alice Braga In cinemas now In the mid-22nd century, Earth has become a crowded, polluted, poverty-stricken slum. While the poor, mostly black and brown residents of Earth, struggle with dangerous working conditions, substandard public services and brutal robot police, the 1% have escaped to Elysium, a pristine floating space station orbiting Earth.
The Bracegirdle Incident: How an Australian Communist Ignited Ceylon’s Independence Struggle Alan Fewster Arcadia/Australian Scholarly Publishing, 2013 173 pages, $39.95 (pb) In 1937, Ceylon’s British Chief of Police reported that “it is clearly dangerous” to allow the Australian communist Mark Bracegirdle, to remain in the country “stirring up feelings against employers of labour and against the British Government”.
The Passion Of Bradley Manning: The Story Behind the WikiLeaks Whistleblower Chase Madar Verso, 2013 181 pages, $19.95 (pb) The issue in the trial of Bradley Manning, the source of tens of thousands of US military and state secrets leaked to WikiLeaks, is, in some eyes, simple. “He broke the law,” lectured United States President Barack Obama, conveniently overlooking, as Chase Madar comments in his book on Manning, the routine violation by the ruling elite of the principle that “rules are rules”.

Fighting Fund

Two of the most prominent Fairfax newspapers, the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age, have updated their mastheads to include the slogan “Independent. Always.” The slogan alone does not make it clear from who or what they are claiming independence. After all, billionaire Gina Rinehart, one of the world’s richest people, is the single biggest shareholder in the company. Fairfax does have what it calls a Charter of Editorial Independence that says: “Editors alone shall determine the daily editorial content of the newspapers.” The editors know not to step out of line.

Letters

I disagree with a few points in the article “Blind workers fight for jobs at Vision Australia”. There are lots of parts of welfare to work which are not great but there is a particular part which helps people with disabilities be able to compete on the labour market or become self employed more easily.

Resistance!

Brilliant poet Bertolt Brecht once said: “The worst illiterate is the political illiterate, he doesn't hear, doesn't speak, nor participates in political events. He doesn't know the cost of life; the price of the bean, of the fish, of the rent, of the shoes and of the medicine, all depends on political decisions. “The political illiterate is so stupid that he swells his chest saying he hates politics. The imbecile doesn't know that from his political ignorance is born the prostitute, the abandoned child and worst things of all, the bad politician."
Students across the country held protest rallies against the federal government’s proposed cuts to higher education on August 20. The cuts were announced by former prime minister Julia Gillard, but have been supported by PM Kevin Rudd, his new education minister Kim Carr and the Liberal opposition. With bipartisan support, these cuts will not be defeated without a fightback.