Issue 983

Australia

The third Swan Island Peace Convergence was held in Queenscliff, Victoria from September 22 to 26. About 50 peace activists from around the country converged in Queenscliff with the aim to blockade the top secret Swan Island Military Base.

The military base on Swan Island is used as a training facility for SAS troops, a special operations force of the Australian army. This includes troops involved in counter-terrorism operations in Afghanistan.

It is also a communications centre for the Australian Secret Intelligence Service.

"We are at a critical point in human history," prominent Canadian environmentalist David Suzuki told an audience of about 500 people at a public forum at Sydney University, on September 25.

"What we do or do not do in the next period will determine the future of the human species and the planet,” he said.

The meeting, called "The challenge of the 21st century: Setting the real bottom line”, was sponsored by the Sydney Environment Institute, University of Sydney. It was part of a series of talks and media appearances by Suzuki on his Australian visit.

NSW parliament narrowly voted down a September 17 motion to discipline Liberal MLC Peter Phelps over comments he made in parliament defending General Augusto Pinochet’s violent military coup against Chile’s president Salvador Allende in 1973.

Members of the Chilean community have vowed to continue the campaign to hold Phelps to account for his outrageous comments.

On September 11, 40 years to the day of the coup, Phelps praised Pinochet as “a reluctant hero, a morally courageous man” and said he supported a military coup that deposed a democratically elected government.

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The West Papua Freedom Flotilla released this statement on September 25.

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Six West Papuans have fled across the border to Australia after being hunted by Indonesian authorities for taking part in a ceremonial handover of sacred water and ashes from Australian Aboriginal elders. They have been detained by Australian immigration after reaching Boigu Island in Australia on September 24.

Refuge groups are concerned for the welfare and security of seven West Papuan asylum seekers flown overnight from Horn Island to Port Moresby.

The seven who arrived in Boigu Island in the Torres Starit on September 25 are fleeing Indonesian military and police.

One West Papuan accused of promoting West Papuan independence and involvement in an independence ceremony on September 12 has been arrested by Indonesia police, while others are being hunted.

As a huge fan, I'm really disappointed to hear that, despite looking at the situation closely, Amanda Palmer has decided to cross the picket line of the Palestinian call for a cultural boycott of Israel and organise a gig in Tel Aviv.

I had the honour for the first time of rocking out with Palmer live for myself earlier this month.

The infamous front page of Rupert Murdoch's Daily Telegraph on August 5, screaming “KICK THIS MOB OUT” in reference to Kevin Rudd's Labor government, reminded many of the role the media play in politics.

World

The “peace process” between Israel and the Palestinians that began with the signing of accords in Oslo, Norway, 20 years ago last month was widely celebrated at the time as an important step toward establishing a “viable Palestinian state”.

But in the two decades since, the Palestinian economy has been further decimated. Israel has expanded its Jewish-only settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza has been subjected to a suffocating siege and regular military strikes.

In short, conditions for Palestinians have worsened, and Israel's colonial domination has been enhanced.

This month's battles over the budget and the Tea Party Republicans' fanaticism about the health care law obscure the two parties' common commitment to austerity, the US Socialist Worker said in an October 1 editorial. It is posted below.

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The federal government officially went into shutdown mode at midnight on October 1 --in another spectacular display of dysfunction in the highest offices of the "world's greatest democracy".

More workers will die for World Cup than players will play

“'More workers will die building World Cup infrastructure than players will take to the field,' predicts Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation [on the 2022 World Cup in Qatar]. Even if the teams in Qatar use all their substitutes, she is likely to be right.

An international solidarity campaign has been launched after United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki Moon derecognised unions representing the groups's 65,000 workers.

Unions have been seeking greater protection for members undertaking increasingly dangerous missions. Most are united in the Co-ordinating Committee for Staff Unions and Associations (CCISUA).

CCISUA says that in the last 10 years there have been 555 attacks on UN staff and more than 200 deaths. The unions have been seeking improved health and safety protection and a reduction in the use of private security contractors.

A group of West Papuan asylum seekers arrived in Australia on September 24, defying the Australian government and potentially raising already high tensions between Australia and Indonesia over asylum seekers.

The group of West Papuans includes six adults and a child. It has been reported the group had some connection to the West Papua Freedom flotilla, in which supporters of freedom for West Papua tried to sail to the Indonesian-occupied territory. The flotilla sparked by Indonesian authorities on its West Papuan organisers.

The New Zealand government is rushing through the sale of Meridian Energy for NZ$1 billion less than the $3.1 billion needed to reach its goal of raising at least $5 billion from asset sales.

It is moving ahead wit the sale widespread public opposition and criticism ranging from opposition parties to investment bankers.

Meridian Energy Limited, a state-owned electricity generator and retailer, is expected to divest 49% of its shares as part of a government privatisation program.

Washington’s refusal to allow Venezuela's President Nicolás Maduro to over-fly its colony of Puerto Rico on September 19 attracted little attention in the North American and European media.

But in Latin America this arrogant gesture drew immediate outrage. It recalled the July 2 denial by four European countries — France, Italy, Spain and Portugal — of landing and refuelling rights and passage through their airspace to Bolivia’s president Evo Morales while he was returning home from a trip to Moscow.

The logic of terrorism is violent political theatre ― the aim is not just to inflict harm but to be widely noticed inflicting harm.

From this perspective, the Somali militia al Shabaab’s September 21 seizure of the upmarket Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, and massacre of at least 61 hostages, was a successful act of terrorism.

But while al Shabaab successfully dominated world headlines with their brutal attack, the media has almost entirely ignored the context: the Western-backed occupation of Somalia by Kenya, Uganda and Burundi.

Bangladesh police have used batons, rubber bullets and tear gas in a bid to stop ongoing protests by garment workers demanding higher wages.

But the fifth day of protests in two industrial districts near the capital Dhaka, on September 25, forced the closure more than 100 factories for the day, police said.

Gazipur and Narayanganj house hundreds of factories that supply garment products to numerous global brands, including Wal-Mart and H&M.

After a three-day work stoppage in the wake of the protests, bosses tried to restart the factories today, but the efforts failed.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its first installment of its fifth assessment report (AR5) on climate change in Stockholm on September 27.

Around the world, environmental groups, experts and activists reacted to the findings. They highlighted the response the report should generate as the planet faces the “unprecedented” rate of global warming and the irrefutable consensus by the world's scientific community.

See also
IPCC report: 12 things everyone should know

During a visit to New York for the United Nations General Assembly, Ecuador’s foreign minister Ricardo Patino joined independent media outlet Democracy now! on September 23 to discuss his government’s involvement in two closely watched environmental legal battles.

Ecuador’s foreign ministry announced on September 20 that the US has seemingly denied visas to a delegation set to travel to the United Nations General Assembly in New York, RT.com said the next day. The Ecuadorians were planning to present their case in an ongoing dispute against Chevron-Texaco.

The ministry said the visas for the five Ecuadorian nationals were returned by the US Embassy in Quito “without any explanation”.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change just released its latest scientific report (alternative link) that looks at what the world’s top experts understand about climate change. The review takes years to complete, and will be used for years as a vital resource for climate science.

The Tamil National Alliance won an overwhelming majority in the Northern Provincial Council elections held on September 21. TNA leader C. V. Wigneswaran is expected to become chief minister of the Northern Province, a predominantly Tamil area in the north of the island of Sri Lanka.

The TNA, with 78% of the vote, won 30 of the 38 positions on the NPC. The United Peoples Freedom Alliance, the party of Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa, won seven positions, while the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress won one.

“Arthur's Day”, that ingenious marketing campaign thought up in 2009 to mark the 250th anniversary of the Guinness brewing company and to raise further sales of “the black stuff”, will be celebrated most of all by executives, sales teams and shareholders on September 26.

According to Diageo (the British-based conglomerate that now owns Guinness), on September 26 every year: “Guinness fans around the world will come together at a series of exciting musical events to raise a glass to Arthur Guinness and celebrate those who like him, make great things happen.”

The most important anniversary of the year was the 40th anniversary of September 11, 1973 — the crushing of the democratic government of Chile by General Augusto Pinochet and Henry Kissinger, then US secretary of state.

The National Security Archive in Washington has posted new documents that reveal much about Kissinger's role in an atrocity that cost thousands of lives.

In declassified tapes, Kissinger is heard planning with President Richard Nixon the overthrow of left-wing President Salvador Allende. They sound like Mafiosi thugs.

Analysis

Something is looming in the shadows that could help erode our basic rights and contaminate our food. The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) has the potential to become the biggest regional free-trade agreement in history, both in economic size and the ability to quietly add more countries in addition to those originally included.

As of 2011, 11 countries accounted for 30% of the world’s agricultural exports. Those countries are the US, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. Recently, Japan has joined the negotiations.

One of the more disturbing images on federal election night was that of Coalition MP-elect Barnaby Joyce welcoming mining magnate Gina Rinehart as the special guest to his election party. Few things could reveal more clearly the strong connection between corporate power and government under Coalition rule.

It is worth noting some of the policies that Rinehart is promoting for the Northern Territory because, let’s face it, they are likely to happen.

One of her big ideas, which Kevin Rudd adopted before his election defeat, is the creation of a northern Australia tax haven.

A new investigation has shed light on Australia’s role in the overthrow of Chilean leftist president Salvador Allende and exposed the continued veil of secrecy surrounding the precise activities of Australian intelligence agents, 40 years on.

Allende was elected president in 1970, but was deposed on September 11, 1973 by a US-backed military coup that put General Augusto Pinochet in power. Pinochet remained in power for 17 years, presiding over a regime of terror that left thousands dead or disappeared.

Schools across Western Australia were shut down by a statewide stop-work on September 17, called to fight education funding cuts proposed by the state Liberal government.

About 500 education assistants are set to lose their jobs. A change in the school staffing formula also means that there will be 585 fewer teaching places next year, in comparison to what there would have been under the previous funding model. Program cutbacks on top of this mean that altogether there will be up to 1000 less teachers next year.

1. GM FOODS WON’T SOLVE THE FOOD CRISIS

A 2008 World Bank report concluded that increased biofuel production is the major cause of the rise in food prices. GM giant Monsanto has been at the heart of the lobbying for biofuels (crops grown for fuel rather than food) — while profiting enormously from the resulting food crisis and using it as a public relations opportunity to promote GM foods.

2. GM CROPS DO NOT INCREASE YIELD POTENTIAL

Forty-eight hours to send newly arrived refugees back the way they came and a plan to conceal when boats are “turned around” at sea, were among immigration minister Scott Morrison's statements at his first weekly briefing under “Operation Sovereign Borders” on September 23.

Tony Abbott’s government will be a dangerous time for women in Australia unless we can unite and struggle together to win a better future.

Abbott is known for his conservative views about women. His party is responsible for a range of policies and programs that have punished, isolated and oppressed women in Australia.

Alexa O'Brien has become known as a "one-woman court record system" for her extensive coverage of whistleblower Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning's trial. She has also covered the WikiLeaks release of US State Department Cables, the Guantanamo Files, the global "war on terror" and the Arab Spring.

This is an edited extract from a speech she gave to a public forum called “Defending Dissent: from Manning to Occupy” in Sydney on September 17. The full forum can be watched here.

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Culture

A Dose Of Reality
Eskatology
September 2013
Download free here
www.eskatology.com

On his latest EP, A Dose Of Reality, Adelaide-based emcee Eskatology raps about the refugees he works with.

"I've worked with many refugees in my job as a youth worker," says the rapper, who is giving the 10-track EP away as a free download.

Freeloading: How Our Insatiable Hunger For Free Content Starves Creativity
Chris Ruen
Scribe
2011, audiobook coming soon
www.chrisruen.com

Karl Marx: A Nineteenth Century Life
Jonathan Sperber
Liveright Publishing, 2013

In life, Karl Marx lived a tumultuous, revolutionary life. His death, too, has been less than tranquil.

Alive, he was the best hated man in Europe. For the ruling classes and police spies he personified the “spectre” that was haunting the continent, the demonic rise of workers’ revolution.

After his death he was bleached of his humanity, canonised by admirers and slandered by enemies. Both misrepresented him.

Groggy
Art exhibition by Todd Williams & Therese Ritchie
Northern Centre for Contemporary Art
Viney Lane, Darwin
Until October 12

“My name is Chips Mackinolty and I am an alcoholic …

“Everyone assumes that grog is an exclusively Aboriginal problem. That is simply not true. Around 50% of Aboriginal people don’t drink at all.

“If the Northern Territory were a nation, we would have the third-highest per capita consumption in the world, and that is not down to Aboriginal Territorians, but to non-Aboriginal people living here.”

Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

Britain: Left unity — 'a party to dream of'

English left-wing activist and author Mike Marqusee writes: “I’m one of the thousands who signed up to the Left Unity appeal issued by Ken Loach in March to discuss the formation of a new party of the left. I did so because I believe the continued absence of an effective left alternative to the Labour Party hampers our resistance to austerity, racism, war and environmental degradation.”

Venezuela: A day with Nicolas Maduro