Australia

Australia's leap into World War I

Hell-Bent: Australia’s Leap Into The Great War
Douglas Newton
Scribe, 2014
344 pages, $32.99 (pb)

Behind all the froth, then and now, about the noble cause of World War I — defence of freedom against German aggression — lay a far less exalted reality, writes retired University of Western Sydney historian Douglas Newton.

The war’s “grand plan” for Britain, candidly called “The Spoils” by the British Colonial Secretary, was to divvy the world up among the victors.

West Papua: New Indonesian gov't offers more suffering

Indonesia is supposed to have a new liberal leadership with the election of new president Jodo Widodo, the first president since the Suharto dictatorship was overthrown in 198 to be elected from outside the Javanese military/political elite.

But the Australian public, in the furore over the fate of two the Australians and others facing execution, are getting a glimpse of the stance of Widodo — and other influential Indonesian leaders — towards human rights, justice and compassion.

TPP would hurt public health in Australia

A report has found that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement would be likely to adversely affect the health of the Australian population.

The TPP is a free trade deal being negotiated by countries on the Pacific rim: the US, Australia, Singapore, New Zealand, Chile, Brunei, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Vietnam and Japan. These countries represent about 40% of global GDP.

What’s right with Bill Gammage’s book

I take issue with Ben Courtice’s and Emma Murphy’s criticism of my review of Bill Gammage’s book, The Biggest Estate on Earth: How Aborigines Made Australia in the January 28 Green Left Weekly.

I have two major arguments with their criticism. First, Gammage has made a major contribution to our understanding of how Aboriginal Australians cared for the land for more than 60,000 years right across the continent.

Public housing is a life and death issue in NSW elections

Public housing residents in Millers Point facing eviction orders are so distressed that one of them committed suicide this week, Save Millers Point campaigner Barney Gardner told a public housing protest outside NSW Parliament on March 10.

The protest united several campaigns against NSW government attempts to privatise public housing in Glebe, Millers Point and elsewhere in the state, to highlight public housing as an important election issue

There has been at least one other Millers Point resident who attempted suicide earlier, Gardner told Green Left Weekly.

Bombino brings banned music to Adelaide

The son of poor villagers in Niger, Bombino was set to come a long way to perform at WOMADelaide, the annual world music and dance festival held in Adelaide from March 6 to 9. His unique blend of desert blues and hardcore rock 'n' roll was sure to fire up this year’s main stage. Vanessa Powell spoke to the performer.

***

Bombino, can you tell me about the traditional music of Niger? Does your music incorporate traditional styles?

Bali duo fall victim to ‘war on drugs’

The impending execution in Indonesia of two Australian drug couriers — Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan – has focused Australian media attention on the horrors of capital punishment. Their lawyers, families and supporters, particularly artist Ben Quilty, have ensured that the two have been humanised.

Zombie economics alive and well and destroying our future

Zombie Economics: How Dead Ideas Still Walk Amongst Us
John Quiggin
Black Inc., 2012
265 pages, $26.95 (pb)

“Being already dead,” says John Quiggin of zombie ideas in economics, “they can absorb all kinds of damage and keep lumbering on.”

And so, despite severe reality checks such as the historical Great Depression and the more recent Global Financial Crisis (GFC), classical free market economics continues to lead its undead life in the neoliberal form Quiggin calls “market liberalism”.

Spinning terror to fuel racism

When 22-year-old Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein murdered two people in Copenhagen on February 15, and was killed in a shoot-out with police, the media and politicians across the world did not hesitate to declare that an act of terrorism had taken place.

US President Barack Obama immediately phoned Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt to offer condolences and invited Denmark to take part in a February 18 summit in Washington to counter violent extremism, Reuters reported on February 16.

Other Western leaders, including Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, responded similarly.

Four ways Australia is killing refugees

Eighty days on hunger strike has put an Iranian man who sought safety in Australia at death's door, as advocates around Australia fight for the immigration department to act to save his life.

“Martin” took the non-violent step to refuse to eat last November after the Australian government denied him refugee protection and redetained him in the remote Wickham Point Detention Centre. At least 15 other men in the same situation as Martin have also taken up a hunger strike.

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