Friday, 30 October 2009
Staff at the award-winning West Highland Free Press have taken the publication over from five shareholders who had owned it.
The weekly was founded in 1972 as a left-wing newspaper to campaign for the Gaelic language and against absentee landlords.
Among its founding shareholders was Brian Wilson, a former Labour government minister.
The newspaper will now be managed by a trust centred around the staff.
Mr Wilson said the Free Press was in good shape.
The paper's Gaelic slogan on its masthead - An Tir, an Canan 'sna Daoine - translates as the land, the language, the people and was borrowed from the Highland Land League.
In the late 19th Century the league campaigned on behalf of crofters.
Media consultant and former editor of the Herald, Charles McGhee, said the Free Press has always been different from other local papers which were struggling to keep readers and raise revenue from advertising.
He said: "There is generally a depression across the whole industry.
"There are one or two bright spots and one of these is the West Highland Free Press. Its circulation over the last six months is only down by about 2%, which in a declining market is a good performance."
Mr McGhee added: "Part of the reason for that is that the West Highland Free press is one of the few newspapers in Scotland that is still independently owned, it's still very much rooted in its community and services that community really well."
This week on Done By Law we take a look at the recent decision by Yarra Council to place a ban on public drinking. Local Law 8, was passed at a heated Council meeting last week and will give police the power to pour out opened drinks and issue on the spot fines of $100. We’re joined by Councillor Steve Jolly, the only member of Council to oppose the ban, and Belinda Lo from Fitzroy Legal Service.
Saturday, 24 October 2009
The NSW Environmental Defender’s Office (EDO) and community democracy activists celebrated a second victory in a month on October 19, when the State Government withdrew its approval for the Huntlee New Town Project in the Lower Hunter.
The development, near Branxton in the Lower Hunter, was to build 7,200 houses, and was the subject of a controversial 7,000 hectare land-swap with developers Huntlee Holdings, similar to the failed development at nearby Catherine Hill Bay and Gwandalan.
Last month, the Land and Environment court kyboshed those two developments, declaring the approval “biased”, and described the actions of then-Planning Minister Frank Sartor as amounting to a “land bribe”.
The Minister had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the developers well before applications had been lodged for development approval in exchange for conservation land being handed over to the government.
EDO solicitor Melissa Jolley, who represented residents opposed to the Branxton project – organised as Sweetwater Action Group – described the land-swaps in both cases as “virtually identical”.
As in Gwandaland, an MOU was signed between the Minister and the Branxton developers, swapping development approval for land of environmental significance. On October 19, however, the Planning Minister, Kristina Keneally, withdrew both the approval and the rezoning for the land, before the court had a chance to overturn approval.
The Minister also admitted that granting the approval – made under the controversial and undemocratic Part 3A of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act, which bypasses local councils – was unlawful.
The decision has virtually put an end to direct ministerial approval of any other major developments in the Lower Hunter, but it doesn’t put an end to the government’s plans to house more than 160,000 more people in the region over the next two decades under the Lower Hunter Regional Strategy.
In fact, the $1.8 billion Branxton development, as well as numerous others at Catherine Hill Bay and close by, could still go ahead despite recent events, as they will be referred by the Minister to an independent committee, handpicked by the government.
The development approvals throughout the Hunter also carries the stench of political corruption. Both Hardie Holdings – which part-owns Huntlee – and Catherine Hill Bay developers Rose Group donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the NSW ALP in the lead up to the 2007 election, and shady Labor identity Graham Richardson has been retained as a lobbyist for Hardie.
Greens Councillor for Cessnock, James Ryan, has called for a new Lower Hunter Regional Strategy to be drafted, free from MOUs “infected” with developer donations.
A wave of deep moral revulsion swept through anyone in this country with social conscience when Labor PM Kevin Rudd uttered that ugly sentence: “This government makes no apology for a hard-line approach to people smuggling and border security.”
We are back to Tampa. An “Indonesian solution” is being prepared to replace the “Pacific solution”, as a Labor government leads both major parties in competitive mining of still deep-seated racism and xenophobia. Shame, Labor Shame.
These politician are total hypocrites. They parade as champions of human rights as the guardians of civilised values but when a small boatload of poor and persecuted refugees approach Australian waters that posture thrown out of the window.
These people are fleeing war and devastation that Western governments and corporations have supported or even caused. And they are driven, by the hundreds of millions, across many borders. In a single day more refugees cross into the territory of some of the world's poorest countries than all those desperate people who have ever hazarded a small boat journey into Australia. Imagine the outrage of these “civilised” Australian politicians if the nations bordering the world's war zones were to turn refugees away at gunpoint. But that's what the Australian navy is being forced to do by a Labor government.
So much hope, by so many people, was placed in the Rudd Labor government that it would turn its back on the ugly politics of the Howard era. Any moral credit earned by the much-celebrated apology to the Stolen Generation of Aborigines has well and truly been canceled with Rudd's recent “no apology”.
Green Left Weekly voices the outrage of those who really stand for justice and truth. This voice sorely needs to be as loud and clear as possible at times like this. Green Left Weekly is building the movements that will one day allow us to break the two parties of the right monopoly in this country. But we can only do this with your help, including your financial help.
$8678 came in to the Green Left Weekly Fighting fund since the last issue, bringing the total raised so far this year to $187,490 which is 75% of our $250,000 target for this year. We need to raise just over $60,000 over the remaining months to get there. If you can help us get there please do.
A big thank you to all the supporters who have sent in donations (regular or occasional). You are responsible for 54% of the total raised so far this year. The rest was raised through fund-raising events organised by our supporters. Please keep supporting those events. Chances are there is one taking place near you in the next two weeks
Friday, 23 October 2009
Sylvia Hale (NSW Greens MP)
Natalie Falvey (United Services Union)
Bob and Betty Con Walker
(Authors of Privatisation—sell off or sell out?)
3pm Saturday 31 October
Tom Mann Theatre, Chalmers St, City
(walking distance from central station)
Contact Colin Drane 0419 698 396 or email@example.com
Last year, public pressure helped to stop the sell-off of the power industry in NSW. However, now the NSW government has recommenced privatising state services and infrastructure.
Recently, it gave the contract to manage Parklea prison to the GEO corporation, which formerly operated John Howard’s notorious refugee detention centres.
Now, the electricity industry and Sydney Ferries are facing privatisation.
This meeting will establish the benefits of public ownership and discuss what communities can do to oppose privatisation.Organised by Power to the People Sydney
Gooden concluded: "The Australian Council of Trade Unions must stand up against the inhumanity of the politicians. Geelong Trades Hall Council will be doing all
Comment: Tim Gooden (0438 088 112)
Book now! GLW fundraising feast with
6.30pm, Saturday October 31
@ the Great Hall Addison Rd Community Centre
142 Addison Rd, Marrickville
Catch 428 Bus from Central. $35/$20 ($50 solidarity)
Changing the world is never so much fun as when you do it with Rod Quantock. Supremely talented Melbourne comedian Rod Quantock will perform his hilarious new show "Bugger the Polar Bears, This is serious" at the Great Hall in the Addison Rd Community Centre Marrickville on Saturday 31st October as a fundraiser for Green Left Weekly, Australia's leading alternative newspaper that campaigns for real action to combat climate change. (Forgotten to renew or buy your subcription? You can call for free at 1800 634 206, or visit https://www. greenleft. org.au/subscribe .php)
Comic genius Rod Quantock is a performer with integrity who is not afraid to speak out. Bugger the Polar Bears takes us on a complete history of the universe.
"If climate change doesn't scare you shitless," he says, "then you just don't get the science." Explaining the science in his idiosyncratic way,Rod says everything you want to say, everything you want to scream. This show is more than just catharsis for greenies - much more!
Tickets are $35.00 or $20.00 concession, include a delicious meal and desert and can be booked by calling 02 9690 1977 or 0439 694 505 (booking is recommended) or simply come along on 31st October.
The man who is known as a Melbourne institution in comedy, will be in Sydney for one night only. He was the recipient of an Australia Council Theatre Board Fellowship in 2006 and was awarded the 2005 Adelaide Justice Coalition Romero Community Award for his contribution to Australian social justice.
We promise you will laugh! All welcome.
Call Green Left Weekly for bookings 9690 1977 or 0439 694 505
For a review for Rod Quantock's latest show http://www.greenlef t.org.au/ 2009/803/ 41308
Can't make it? Donations small or large to help Green Left Weekly keep coming out can be made at https://www. greenleft. org.au/donate. php
23rd OCTOBER 2009
LEGENDARY ABORIGINAL ACTOR AND CULTURAL LEADER DENIED ACCESS THE UK
Aboriginal elder and film, television and theatre icon, Jack Charles is a national treasure.
Since founding the first Aboriginal theatre company in the 1970’s, Jack has performed with Australia’s most renowned actors (Geoffrey Rush, David Gulpilil, Bill Hunter) and directors in feature films (The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, Bedevil and Blackfellas) TV series and hundreds of plays.
The feature documentary Bastardy charts Jack Charles’ amazing life story as he has also overcome the adversity of heroin addiction and a life in and out of jail. At age 66, Jack is now a Koori community leader and a tireless believer in grass roots reconciliation.
Jack was recently invited to speak before a series of screenings of Bastardy at the Sheffield International Documentary Festival - one of the most prestigious documentary festivals in the world.
On the 22nd of October Jack was denied entry to the United Kingdom because of his previous criminal record.
Jack was meant to depart for the UK on the 1st of November and friends and supporters of Jack are now desperately seeking anyone who can leverage intervention on a federal government level (The Hon Peter Garrett AM MP Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts) to give Jack this incredibly important cultural opportunity to speak at this international forum.
Amiel Courtin-Wilson (the director of of Bastardy) at
By Eva Golinger
In an interview last October 9th on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, the renowned and award-winning documentarian, Michael Moore lied vulgarly about his encounter with Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez during the Venice Film Festival this past September. In the interview, Moore responds to Kimmel’s request for an explanation of a photo of Moore with President Hugo Chávez. Apparently embarrased about the encounter with one of Latin America’s most prominent and influential heads of state, Moore proceed to completely make up a fairy-tale, attempting to pass it off as reality.
With a straight face, Moore stated he met President Chávez at 2 o’clock in the morning, after he and his wife had settled into bed in their Venice hotel room and heard a scandalous noise coming from the floor above. Moore states that he called down to the reception to find out “what the hell was going on”. “It’s the president of Venezuela”, the hotel clerk allegedly told Moore. Well, Michael couldn’t believe it, so despite his wife telling him “don’t go”, Moore set out, determined to find out if the true source of the scandal was really the Venezuelan president, the polemic Hugo Chávez.
Incrediously, Moore says he went upstairs and knocked right on Chávez’s door and a large man answered, who Moore claims was the president’s “bodyguard”. Chávez was right behind him and caught a glimpse of Moore and yelled out “Michael Moore, come on in!”. Anyone who has ever traveled or been close to President Chávez knows very well that it is absolutely impossible to just “go knock on his door”. Presidential security lines the hallways, elevators and all entrance points. Take it from someone who knows first hand. Moore’s story is complete and utter fiction. Also the man Moore identified in the interview as Chávez’s “bodyguard” is actually Foreign Minister Nicolás Maduro, but hey, all latinos look alike!
The tale continues. Moore says he entered the room and a “bottle and a half of tequila later”, he was writing Chávez’s speeches! Of course, Michael, all of us Latin Americans drink tequila! Man, he couldn’t even get his alcohol right in his fairy tale! Tequila is Mexican, Michael. Venezuela makes rum. Get it straight. And anyway, President Chávez does not drink at all and is well known for his anti-alcohol position. But in Moore’s story, latinos are all a bunch of partiers! No work, just party, drinks and fun at 2am!
Moore is exceptionally full of himself towards the end of the interview with Jimmy Kimmel. He says Chávez asked him for advice about his upcoming United Nations speech. Moore sternly told the South American president to “say sorry for calling Bush the devil, “el diablo”” during his last UN intervention. And to say this time around it’s all about the “hope”! Way to defend Bush, Michael! Wait, didn’t you write, direct and film Farhenheit 9/11? Right, but when someone “non-US” tells it like it is, you get way patriotic. I get it.
The interview ended with Michael fully praising himself for yet another one of President Chávez’s brilliant United Nations’ speeches. “When I heard the first few lines of his speech”, says Moore, “it was exactly what I had written for him!” Michael, Michael. Don’t you know that Chávez doesn’t use a teleprompter? Where we come from, speeches are made from the heart and soul, and not written by an elite team of 20 writers and then read from transparent screens. And Michael, do you really think that flattering yourself at this point, after you have lied so tremendously, is appropriate? Arrogantly, Moore joked that Chávez should give him a “year of free gasoline” for writing his speech. At least he didn’t say bananas.
Michael Moore has been known for his documentary work; filming and telling “facts”. But on this ocassion, Moore has turned into the worst of yellow journalists, a liar and story-teller on the big screen. Despite the fact that Moore insisted
”no cameras” document his meeting with President Chávez in Venice, the official Venezuelan presidential press snapped a few photos, and there were many witnesses. The photographs evidence a Michael Moore and a President Chávez serenly sitting in two chairs talking. No tequila, no parties, no scandals, just a normal meeting between a head of state and an invited guest. In fact, the real meeting lasted three hours, without tequila.
Michael Moore prohibited cameras in the meeting because, per his own words, it wasn’t “convenient” for him to been seen with Chávez. Despite the fact that every presidential meeting has been documented by the official press, this time, they defered to Moore with respect. He was, after all, an admired figure by millions of Venezuela. But, the presidential press was able to capture a few photos of the encounter. These photos now are the key evidence to expose Michael Moore’s vulgar lies about his meeting with President Chávez.
Moore’s comentaries about President Chávez asking him to “help” write his United Nations speech demonstrate Moore’s extreme ego. President Chávez is one of the most brilliant speakers in the world, with an immense capacity to bring together a variety of ideas while being coherent. Of course, Chávez nourishes his speeches and talks with ideas, experiencies and the writings of many, but for those of us who spend almost every day listening and watching President Chávez, we know that nobody writes his speeches, not even him! He speaks from his heart, and not from a teleprompter!
Moore’s declarations against President Chávez are offensive and insulting and a clear sign of his hipocresy and lack of ethic. How many times has we heard President Chávez acclaim Moore’s books and documentaries? And most recently, Chávez announced that Moore’s latest documentary, “Capitalism, a love story”, would premiere here in Venezuela.
Moore’s response to this admiration, acclaim and support is to lie and ridicule President Chávez and the people of Venezuela, and to attempt, lamely, to justify his meeting with Chávez. Because in the end, this whole ridiculous tale told by Moore about his “meeting” with President Chávez is an attempt to avoid admitting before the US media that he met for three hours with the South American “dictator”. And he probably learned a lot, and liked it!
Michael Moore is a most unfortunate coward.
(See the videoclip here:)
Sunday, 18 October 2009
Friday, 16 October 2009
GOVERNMENT STANCE ON ASYLUM SEEKERS IS UNSUSTAINABLE
JULIA GILLARD BRINGS SHAMEFUL REMINDER OF TAMPA
“Julia Gillard’s claim that the Sri Lankan Tamils taken to Indonesia are Indonesia’s responsibility is a shameful reprise of the Tampa incident in 2001,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.
“The longer this episode goes on the more the Rudd’s policies mirror those of the Howard government. The Rudd government is letting the Liberals set the political agenda. It does no credit to a government that promised to establish a humane refugee policy in place of the divisive policies of the Howard era.
“It is an unseemly and unnecessary political fiasco. What’s more, it is a stance that is unsustainable,” said Rintoul
“Indonesia does not have the resources to deal with asylum seekers. The Rudd government has spent hundreds of millions of dollar to buy Indonesia’s silence, but that can’t last. In the end, just like those detained on Nauru, the world community will judge that the Sri Lankans and other asylum seekers in Indonesia are Australia’s responsibility.
“It is a dilemma and political crisis of the Rudd government’s own making. Rather than bluster about people smugglers and border protection, Kevin Rudd should face up to the fact that asylum seekers are a fact of life. They are not illegal immigrants. There is no flood. Just as the Fraser government took responsibility for Vietnamese refugees, surely it is not beyond the Rudd government to provide similar leadership.
In 2001, the Australian government called for international assistance for an asylum seeker boat in distress. After the Norwegian flagged vessel MV Tampa answered the distress call the then Howard government promptly tried to coerced the Captain, Arne Rinnan, to transport his cargo of asylum seekers to Indonesia. The Indonesian government, understandably, refused. The asylum seekers were eventually dumped on Nauru - so began the so-called Pacific Solution.
“What is not admitted by the Howard government, or stated clearly by the Rudd government, is that the Pacific solution collapsed because of opposition from the Nauru government in spite of million dollar bribes. More particularly it collapsed because no third countries, like Canada or New Zealand, were about to take asylum seekers who were clearly Australia’s responsibility.
“Kevin Rudd’s ‘Indonesian/Indian Ocean solution’ will also collapse under the weight of its own contradictions. But further damage will be inflicted on asylum seekers and the social fabric of Australia if the government does nothing to take a lead to stem the anti-refugee histrionics. Indonesia should let itself be blackmailed,” said Ian Rintoul.
“The Refugee Action Coalition is calling on the government to recognize its responsibilities and bring the Tamil asylum seekers to Australia.”
For further information contact Refugee Action Coalition, Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713
Thursday, 15 October 2009
Well it’s that time of the year again, when the world stops and waits with bated breath to discover who a committee of Norwegian people have decided to honour with the Nobel Peace Prize.
This year, they made a seemingly brave choice.
The distinguished committee has gone for a literary reference — a somewhat unsubtle acknowlegement of the works of George Orwell.
As the panel on literature is left in the safe hands of the Swedes, we can only assume this sideways foray into the field is a swipe at the Norwegians hated Scandinavian rivals — who never saw fit to give Orwell his due in his day.
Of course, the Norwegians fail to realise the Swedes were talkin' Orwell before the author was even born.
War is peace, indeed. It has been the case from the beginning.
The Nobel Peace Prize, after all, is named after Alfred Nobel, the renowned 19th century Swedish arms manufacturer.
In fact, the Norwegians themselves have been making the ironic point for years — without anyone appearing to have gotten the reference. So they keep atryin’.
In 1919, the “peace prize” was won by then-US president Woodrow Wilson — whose thoroughly Orwellian commitment to peace involved him taking a reluctant USA into the pointless, mass slaughter of World War One just two years earlier.
1973 was the year for possibly the greatest acknowledgment to Orwell's celebrated concept of “double-speak” — in which a totalitarian regime insists, in his nightmare novel 1984, that “War is Peace”.
The winner that year was Henry Kissinger.
Then-US secretary of state, Kissinger was one of the truly great war criminals of the 20th Century — a century that featured so many top mass murdering names.
Among his many unpeaceful acts, Kissinger was an architect of the Vietnam War (and the bombing of Cambodia, which helped pave the way for the Khmer Rouge to seize power).
And Kissinger famously helped organise the 1973 Chilean military coup that brought the dictator Pinochet to power.
Kissinger uttered the immortal line about the elected left-wing government he helped bury under the corpses of tens of thousands: “I don't see why we need to stand by and allow a country to go communist because of the irresponsibility of its own people.
“The issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide for themselves.”
Never, I have always believed with good reason drawn from personal experience, trust a Chilean.
In that, I am entirely with the former US secretary of state, as well as the Bolivians.
But should legitimate mistrust ever be allowed to degenerate into barbaric and unseemly mass slaughter?
I fear I must draw a line.
Kissinger, of course, also gave Indonesian dictator Suharto the green light to invade to invade East Timor in 1975.
Before Indonesian occupation, supported and armed by the West, finally left in 1999, around one third of the population had died.
Suharto had come to power in October 1965 in a military coup coordinated with the US embassy. (That old joke — “Why has there never been a military coup in the US? Because Washington has no US embassy.”)
In the aftermath of the coup, one of the 20th century’s great mass murders occurred. As many as half a million members of the Indonesian Communist Party, suspected members, suspected sympathisers, and general leftists and suspected leftists, were butchered.
The Australian PM of the day, Harold Holt, said with glee about Indonesia in a speech to a dinner party in New York, as the bodies were still being buried: “With 500,000 to 1 million Communist sympathisers knocked off, I think it safe to assume a reorientation has taken place.”
It is a truly severe tragedy that Holt disappeared while swimming a little over a year later.
This most unfortunate circumstance no doubt is the sole reason Holt was not, justly, awarded Australia’s first and only Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of his humanitarian spirit.
I still, to this day, do not see why the Norwegians could not have granted it to him posthumously.
And here we are in 2009, and the Norwegians are as canny and sharp as ever.
In keeping with an understanding of peace that only a prize named after a man whose fortune was made selling things that explode in order to rip human flesh apart could uphold, this year’s prize has been won by the leader of the nation with the largest stockpile of weapons of mass destruction.
A leader of a nation actively using the weapons on civilians in three countries, while happily supplying them for a profit for active use in a number of others.
Yes, US President Barack Obama is the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize winner.
Some cynics and/or communist agents (just because the Berlin Wall fell 20 years ago doesn't mean the Laos People's Democratic Republic does not have its agents working to undermine the Free World) suggest there is something odd in this choice.
It is true that in Obama, the hopes of millions of ordinary people desperate for change and an end to his predecessor’s policies of war are embodied.
It is also true that this is a peace prize handed to a man not just overseeing, but escalating an actual war.
It is a bold choice. Even when they handed Kissinger his award, it was for the Paris peace accords that recognised that, more or less, the US had lost the Vietnam War.
Kissinger was at least being rewarded for losing a war.
Obama, on the other hand, is yet to even be defeated. And, by the looks of Afghanistan, it isn't as if the Norwegians would have had to wait that long.
There is not much peaceful about Afghanistan. The 2009 Nobel Peace Prize winner has sent more US troops that his predecessor.
There is increasingly little peaceful about Pakistan either, to which Obama, in a stroke of military genius akin to Kissinger’s brainwave that the way to win Vietnam was to invade Cambodia, has decided to extend the Afghan war.
It makes perfect sense. The Afghan war is being lost, the solution is to start more war next door in a nation more populous.
I try this technique all the time. Horribly drunk after far too many beers, I solve the problem by following each further beer with whiskey chasers.
The results for me are about the same as for the US Empire — pain, tears and stained carpets.
It may well be true, as Spinoza said, that peace is more than the absence of war.
But it is usually considered that an absence of war is, at the very least, a precondition for peace.
Life is more than breathing oxygen, but try it without the fucking stuff and sees how you go.
Drunkeness is more than one beer too, but you can’t reach the nirvana state with only iced water.
The US-led occupation forces was, presumably, working for peace when the US Airforce, as it has repeatedly throughout the war now in its ninth year, bombed a gathering of civilians killing more than 100 in September. And in May. And this month.
Such stories actually occur week in and week out.
No doubt Obama is working for peace when pilotless drones, controlled from a bunker thousands of kilometres way, bomb a Pakistani village that the Taliban have long fled.
No doubt the Obama administration is also working for peace in Honduras. Certainly no one can doubt that, in endless state department press releases, the administration is claiming it is.
In Honduras, the elected president Manuel Zelaya annoyed the hell out of US corporations by raising the minimum wage by 60%.
Not long after, he was kidnapped in his pyjamas, bundled into a place and exiled to Costa Rica.
This act being carried out by a military in which every officer is trained by the US School of the Americas.
The head of the military (and coup) is so keen he graduated from the SOA twice.
Zelaya was flown out of the country from the US military base in Tegucigalpaa.
Despite a public response of, “Hey! Guys! C’mon that’s not nice”, the US continues to train Honduran military officers.
And, claims by state department press releases notwithstanding, has still not cut off the large majority of its aid to the regime.
The military Obama refuses to cut ties with is right now killing and torturing unarmed civilians demanding the president they elected be returned.
In case Latin America didn't get the hint, straight after the coup occurred, it was announced that there would be five new US military bases in Colombia.
Colombia is the third largest recipient of US military aid, which it uses to further world peace by killing civilians pretending they are guerrillas.
It also is home to the highest rate of assassination of trade unionists each year of any other nation. In fact, some 60% of the world total occurs in Colombia.
Of course, the biggest recipient of US military aid is Israel, of which Obama is such an outspoken supporter.
Standard rhetoric about the need for a peace deal, contained in the same state department press releases circulated for the last 15 years, notwithstanding, this continues under Obama without any risk.
Enabling, of course, Israel to commit crimes against humanity.
Whatever the intention of those inscrutable Scandinavians, it does appear that, to win a Nobel Peace Prize, no actual talent in the field of peace is required. The very opposite seems rewarded.
Not unlike the Grammys really.
And, if we look it at it, we must admit: the Obama administration’s contribution to world peace is not really all that different to multi-Grammy winner Mariah Carey’s contribution to music.
Their effects on their respective fields are, in fact, strikingly similar.
And I do find listening to Mariah Carey enables me to feel, in a small way, something of what it must be like to be a prisoner held indefinitely without charge in the US-run Bagrahm prison in Afghanistan.
Those lucky enough to have trialled the services available to a prisoner in both Bagrahm and Guantanamo say they prefer Guantanamo.
Obama made the high-profile pledge to close Guantanamo. Bagrahm, continues unhindered in its torture policy.
And Orwell is at last rewarded with a belated Nobel Prize.
“When you left I lost a part of me, it's still so hard to believe. Come back baby,
'cause we belong together”. This Grammy-winning song’s contribution to the field of music is similar to Barack Obama’s to world peace.
Tuesday, 13 October 2009
20-26 November 2009
A bus tour of NSW coal communities to support a just transition to a renewable energy future
www.transitiontour. wordpress. com
As the government attempts to look serious about cutting emissions a massive expansion of the coal industry is underway in NSW. In November, on the eve of the Copenhagen climate talks, the Just Transition Tour will take a busload of people through coal-affected communities around NSW.
We will see the impact of mining, learn about inspiring anti-coal campaigns and support a just transition to renewable energy that involves communities and guarantees jobs.
Over six days we will meet with workers in the coal industry, hold events with local anti-coal groups and camp at sites like the farmers' blockade against BHP on the Liverpool Plains. We will see mines and rivers affected by them, visit the sites of proposed power stations, take our message to Canberra and the state government and see leading renewable energy technology.
Friday 20th - Thursday 26th November. Visit www.transitiontour. wordpress. com to see the full program. There are options for people who aren't available for the full six days but would like to join in for part of the tour. The tour is starting in Newcastle but anyone and everyone is welcome!
Power to the People Media Statement
October 13, 2009
“The fight against the privatisation of New South Wales’ public assets and services is entering a new phase”, Colin Drane, the convener of the Sydney-based anti-privatisation coalition Power to the People, said today.
Drane was announcing a four-pronged spring offensive against the New South Wales government’s “fire-sale of community assets and services”:
1. An awareness campaign about the anti-union private prisons operation GEO (recently awarded the management of Parklea Prison). Drane called GEO “the James Hardie of prison corporations”;
2. An October 31 public meeting to mobilise community opinion against privatisation. “The meeting will boost support for struggles against privatisation, like the Maritime Union of Australia’s battle to keep Sydney Ferries in public hands.”
3. A November 14 rally outside the NSW Labor conference, in support of the rank-and-file ALP delegate and union opposition to privatisation.
4. An open letter to all members of parliament demanding that they clearly and openly state their position on the privatisation of public assets. The results will be made known in every NSW electorate.
Drane said: “The NSW government may think that it is finally winning the battle for the sell-off of the State’s assets because they got a deal with the Coalition over NSW Lotteries and have handed Parklea management over to GEO.
“They are sadly mistaken. The vast majority of the community still opposes handing over its services to private profiteers; the ALP rank-and-file membership oppose it as much as when they voted down the Iemma-Costa electricity sell-off; and significant sections of the NSW union movement and many Labor MPs remain opposed.”
“Drane, a community activist and assistant secretary of his local ALP branch, concluded: “Some in Sussex Street may have decided the ALP cannot afford another internal struggle over privatisation only 16 months from the next state election, but ALP members and unionists are in tune with community feeling. For them, stopping the vandalisation of public assets is the most important issue.
“The NSW Government should not forget they must face the electorate in March 2011. Power to the People – Sydney will do all it can to build community support against privatisation and raise public awareness about the need for better public services”
For further information: Colin Drane 0419 698 396
A wonderful vision of the future in Palestine - one single secular state, with christians, jews, muslims and druze, all living under the one big beer tent.
Remember: World Peace - brought to you during Wiezn by beer-lovers everywhere under the Bayerische Reinheitsgebot of 1516.
Friday, 9 October 2009
FMLN 29th Anniversary Celebration
6pm Saturday 10th October
12 Railway St Libcombe
0402 961 669 - 0430 739 597 - 0425 324 621
Ø Fecha: Sabado 10 de Octubre 2009
Ø Lugar: CFMEU Sindicato de la Construcción, Forestal y Minería
Ø Dirección: 12 Railway Street, Lidcombe, NSW 2141
Ø Hora: 6:00pm
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Tuesday, 6 October 2009
By Duroyan Fertl
October 5, 2009 – Germany’s ``centre-right’’ Chancellor Angela Merkel was returned to power in federal elections held on September 27, but with a record low voter turnout and an increased vote for the far-left party, Die Linke (The Left).
The election was a clear success for Merkel and her Christian Democratic Union (CDU). Her preferred coalition partner – the free-market fundamentalist Free Democratic Party (FDP) – increased its support by 4.8 per cent to an all-time high of 14.6 per cent, enough to form a CDU-FDP government. The FDP will now replace the CDU’s main rival – the ``centre-left’’ Social Democratic Party (SPD) – as coalition partner in the government of Europe’s largest economy.
At the same time, the SPD’s support collapsed by more than 6 million votes, dropping a massive11.2 per cent to only 23 per cent – its worst result since World War II. As one leading SPD member pointed out on election night, “We have been bombed back into the Weimar Republic”. SPD leader Walter Steinmeier described the result as “a bitter day” for German social democracy.
However, while the result has been widely characterised as a shift to the right, that view is not really borne out by the results. The total vote for the centre-right parties rose by only 3.4 per cent, while the vote for the neo-Nazi New Democratic Party (NPD) dropped to just over 1 per cent, while the total left vote dropped by only 5.4 per cent.
Voter turnout slumps
The election campaign was one of the dullest ever run, with the two major parties – CDU and SPD – being overly polite to each other, neither wanting to alienate voters or lose their chance of remaining in government.
In a televised “debate”, Steinmeier and Merkel acted like old chums, and the unofficial slogan of the entire campaign became “Yes we gähn” (“Yes we yawn”). As Dietmar Bartsch, Die Linke’s general secretary, explained: "It was a very boring affair. None of them were any good. It was exactly what we had expected."
After 11 years in government, presiding over increasing cuts to social welfare and rising poverty and unemployment, the SPD lost the confidence of many of its traditional supporters, and was barely able to distinguish its own neoliberal policies from those of its main rival during the election campaign.
The SPD’s support was also impacted by its refusal to consider going into coalition with the far-left Die Linke, making a vote for an SPD government essentially a vote for the status quo, and another “grand coalition” with the CDU.
Some disaffected SPD supporters shifted their votes to Die Linke or to the Greens, but millions simply stayed home, enjoying a last warm weekend before winter. In fact, the voter turnout was the worst in 60 years, down to 70.8 per cent from 77.7 per cent four years ago, and most of those voters were once SPD voters.
While the CDU managed to retain government, it also suffered a drop in its vote, down by 1.4 per cent to 33.8 per cent, also a record low. And while the CDU-FDP coalition won a slender majority in the Bundestag – the German parliament’s lower house – various left-wing parties still have a majority in the upper house (the Bundesrat),which is made up of representatives from state governments.
The new CDU-FDP government is expected to introduce widespread cuts to social spending, especially under the influence of the FDP. Although the more conservative CDU will temper the FDP’s neoliberal urges, the new government has promised to introduce tax cuts of up to 20 per cent, reduce public spending, reverse the phase out of nuclear reactors, increase the pension age to 67 and continue Germany’s military involvement in the occupation Afghanistan.
The real success stories of the elections were the minor parties. The big winner was the right-wing FDP, whose increased vote makes them the third-biggest party in parliament. The Greens also entered double figures for the first time in a federal election, with 10.7 per cent, and increasing its presence from 51 to 68 seats.
The far-left Die Linke – the newest party in Germany’s political landscape – won 10.9 per cent of the vote, an increase of 3.2 per cent on 2005. It is the first time in German history that a party to the left of the SPD has scored more than 10 per cent in an election. Die Linke’s representation in the Bundestag has increased from 54 to 76 MPs, 40 of whom are women.
Die Linke was formed in 2007 when the Party of Democratic Socialism (the successor to the former ruling Socialist Unity Party of the German Democratic Republic – ``East Germany’’) merged with the Electoral Alternative for Social Justice and Jobs (WASG) – a group of disillusioned SPD members, trade unionists and socialists formed in 2005 to oppose the right-wing policies of the SPD-Green coalition federal government of the time.
Since then. Die Linke has continued to increase in popularity despite a media scare campaign about the threat of “communism”. Die Linke’s election platform of improved social justice and public welfare, the introduction of a minimum wage, higher taxes for the rich, relaxing harsh unemployment laws and cutting greenhouse gases emissions by 90% by 2050 have resonated with an electorate suffering the effects of the economic crisis.
Unemployment is already more than 8 per cent and will continue to rise as Germany’s export-dependent economy tries to ride out the crisis. Well over 10 per cent of Germany’s population already lives below the poverty line.
While more than 80 per cent of the population is opposed to the war in Afghanistan, Die Linke is the only party calling for the removal of German troops.
In two years, Die Linke has now won seats in 10 of Germany’s 12 state parliaments. In the western state of Saarland, an SPD heartland and home to Die Linke spokesperson Oskar Lafontaine, the Die Linke won more than 21.3 percent of the vote in state elections in September, placing it just behind the SPD. In Bremen, Die Linke scored more than 14 per cent, and even in the conservative state of Bavaria Die Linke’s support more than doubled, reaching 6.5 per cent.
In the states of the former German Democratic Republic, Die Linke fared even better, becoming the second-biggest party in the region after the CDU, and well ahead of the SPD. Die Linke won more than 25 per cent support in a majority of eastern electorates, and leading members Gregor Gysi and Petra Pau won their seats in Berlin with nearly 50 per cent of the vote.
In state elections held on the same day as the federal poll, Die Linke also entered parliament for the first time in Schleswig-Holstein – winning 6 per cent of the vote and five seats in the legislature – while in the eastern state of Brandenburg, it received 27.2 per cent, just behind the SPD on 33 per cent.
Can the SPD move left?
The SPD’s disastrous results, and the increased support for Die Linke, mean the SPD leadership is under significant pressure to move the party to the left and work with Die Linke, or risk losing more support. Adding to that pressure, a recent survey found that more than 50 per cent of Germans think that socialism is a good idea, but had been badly applied.
Die Linke co-leaders Oskar Lafontaine and Gregor Gysi have both called upon the SPD to “re-social-democratise” in order to build a strong left-wing alliance against the new government. According to Die Linke’s deputy leader – and ex-SPD member – Klaus Ernst, if the SPD does not change “the last one out can turn off the light”.
This may not be as easy as time seems, however, as many SPD members still hold a visceral hatred for Lafontaine. As former chairperson of the SPD and former federal finance minister, Lafontaine is considered to be a “traitor” to the SPD. Lafontaine resigned from the SPD in 2005 in protest against anti-social policies of SPD Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. He became a central leader of Die Linke, and an outspoken critic of both SPD policy and “finance capitalism” more generally.
So, while Die Linke has eclipsed the SPD in a number of state elections, and has indicated its willingness to enter coalitions with the SPD and the Greens to fight the looming attacks on public spending, in government as well as on the streets, it is unclear if the SPD will cooperate.
Only days after the federal election, the SPD in the eastern state of Thuringia refused to form a coalition with Die Linke – despite indicating it would do so during the election campaign. Although already in coalition with Die Linke in Berlin and Brandenburg, in Thuringia the SPD have chosen instead to work with the right-wing CDU.
There can be no guarantee, then, that the SPD will move quickly to the left or develop a coherent relationship with Die Linke, a situation which means that the social resistance to the new government’s spending cuts and reforms will be weakened.Despite its significant gains, Die Linke is faced with a new series of challenges. As the clearest opposition voice and defender of social programs and public welfare, Die Linke must now find a way to relate to the millions of disillusioned SPD voters, and to organise the strongest possible response to the economic crisis and the pro-business policies of a right-wing government.
Target ONE EARTH – Living Within Our Footprint and What we can Learn from Cuba
Robyn Francis reports on her visit to Cuba to experience 'first hand' the only nation on earth living within its ecological footprint. Cuba provides important food for thought for everyone enjoying 'western' affluence to meet the challenge of radical and rapid reduction of consumption and waste--as this is ultimately what drives climate change and resource depletion. Cuba's capacity to survive collapse gives hope and inspiration as we grapple with the need to embrace radical changes for the great transition to a low-consumption conserver society.
We can live better with less - Cuba shows us how...
Learning from Cuba's Footprint by Robyn Francis
The 2007 State of the Planet report from the World Wildlife Fund identified Cuba as the only nation on earth living within its ecological footprint and at the same time achieving a high standard in the United Nations Human Development Index. I was curious to see and experience ‘first hand’ a society living within its ecological footprint . Hence this presentation is titled Target One Earth – living within our footprint, what we can learn from Cuba.
What does an ecological footprint mean?
We are living well beyond our planetary means and facing planetary bankruptcy.
Read the rest of this article at the Djanbung Gardens website
Friday, 2 October 2009
It's not often the Wombats find ourselves wishing for more Peter Garrett (admittedly the old, "Save the planet and fight for justice" Garrett, not the new "Let's build uranum mines and wood-chip old growth forest" Hon. P. Garett MP), but today is unfortunately one of those days.
We have just sat through a truly cringe-worthy four minutes as our ears were offended by the latest vomitous concoction from the ever popular "Sir" Bob (I'm a miserable self-aggrandising tosser) Zenon Geldof and friends.
Sir Big Tossoff - well-meaning, we're sure - has teamed up with a plethora of nobodies, has-beens and neverwillbe's in ripping the soul out of one of the finest Midnight Oil songs - Beds Are Burning - a song about the colonisation, rapine and theft of Australia from its indigenous inhabitants, a theft and opporession that continues today.
Now, we admit that it's nominally for a good cause - fighting climate change. But the new version (which we refuse to embed here, or download, or ever listen to again) is insipid, bereft of meaningful content beyond bland references to climate change,
The main reason that Sir Tossof and his mediocre menangerie seem to have chosen the song is that it contains the words "45 degree", "desert", "earth" and "burning", and the phrase "the time has come".
We're not so much pissed off that Sir Tossoff has colluded with "artists" to produce a song about a meaningful topic (the unforgettable Live Aid attempt to connect christmas-time to starving millions in Africa springs to mind, as well as the artful "We are the (Western) World and we're not going to feed you"), but the least he could have done is write something new (although I understand that might be challenging for Bob, as it requires talent).
As it is, millions of people will now have a substandard piece of insipid filk in their head every time they hear the tune to "beds are burning", a circumstance that can only turn them off listening to the song (and probably off doing anything about climate change - after hearing it, I wanted to have a long hot shower to wash myself clean of the dreadful attempts at scantion and the frightful "harmonies" that pollute the new song).
The nett result? The new recording will objectively hamper the struggle for indigenous rights and the struggle against climate change. In the immortal words of Sir Tossoff - "let's cock it up together".
About the only positive that could come out of this wouldbe if the leaders of the world's countries promise to cut their emissions to safe levels on the strict condition that Geldof and his ninnies promise to never, ever, ever, try to "help" ever again...
And let's just be thankful that Bono isn't on the recording...
As Oasis guitarist Noel Gallagher said with regards to Geldof's most recent farce, Live 8, which served quite nicely to undermine the Make Poverty History protests during the G8 summit at Gleneagles, Scotland, in 2005:
"Correct me if I'm wrong, but are they hoping that one of these guys from the G8 is on a quick 15-minute break at Gleneagles and sees Annie Lennox singing "Sweet Dreams" and thinks, 'Fuck me, she might have a point there, you know?' And Keane doing "Somewhere Only We Know" and some Japanese businessman going, 'Aw, look at him… we should really fucking drop that debt, you know.' It's not going to happen, is it?"Word.