Daily Archives: July 31, 2010

Predictions on Parliamentary Politics

Sancho Panzas and Don Quixotes
And, alas, some Lots from Sodom
Are sampling the deadly juice.
Aphrodites rise from the foam,
Helens shimmer in the mirrors,
And the time of madness nears
— Anna Akhmatova

Socialists should not get too caught up in parliamentary politics. There is no real change coming from parliament. However once in a while, the madness surfaces to reveal that truth is stranger than fiction.

Having said that, I made a written prediction on New Year’s eve 2009 which reads:

  1. There will be a double dip recession in 2010 (meaning the second dip of the 2008 recession)
  2. The Rudd government will not have access to funds to spend their way out of it.

Obama will emulate Jimmy Carter, Anna Bligh will emulate Paul Keating and Kevin Rudd will emulate John Gorton.

That is they will all become ‘oncers’.

[‘oncer’ = only serves one term as Prime Minister or President]

Part of this prediction came true when Rudd was deposed by Gillard, he has become a ‘oncer’. Part of this was his own stupidity, Rudd launched a mining tax without mobilising support in his political base in the Labor Party. It was a top down decision without building a case for the benefits that would accrue to workers if the government had more money to spend on infrastructure.

Such is the stagnation in global capital, Gillard has lacked the money to buy a second term in the way the Howard did while he was in government.

My prediction was a lucky one. No one was seriously thinking on New Year’s eve that Rudd would be deposed and that his government would be on the verge of defeat in the 2010 election. But accuracy in prediction is not the real point — it is a frivolous excercise at best — for example Gillard may still win thus making my prediction less precise. No one can forsee the future, but to understand why things occur can often give us insight into the world around us and enable a reasoned response to events as they occur.

Interets rates
I think that we misunderstood the reason for the defeat of the Howard government. It was down to interest rates. The government could not contain them, it hurt people with mortgages and so they voted for Rudd. Remember Howard lost his own seat of Bennelong, such was the concern even in the wealthier electorates. Certainly workers were worried about their loss of rights and conditions under WorkChoices but that was a pull factor organised by their unions, the push factor was that people’s mortgages were costing them and reducing their expected standard of living.


Rivers of bile in Griffith

There were rivers of bile in Stanley Street, Woolloongabba last night. We have received this report from ‘4PR – Voice of the people’ who were on the spot to cover the madness.
You may have not heard yet, but most of Brisbane’s TV media is assembled outside the Mater Private Hospital (in the electorate of Griffith) ready and waiting to report just how much bile Kevin Rudd’s gall bladder holds.

Surgeons have a big task in front of them tonight to remove what much be one of the largest gall bladders in political history, that of Kevin Rudd. Retired surgeon, Dr Eric Saint has informed our news room that usually key hole surgery would be used in gall bladder removal but in a case like this it would be more like open cut mining so large is the organ shown on the ultra sound.

One thing seems certain — Kevin Rudd won’t be giving out leaks of the type he gave the Laurie Oaks (Channel Nine) this week on Julia Gillard’s remarks to cabinet on Parental leave:

“This parental leave is going to cost us how much? Can we afford it? And how about this pension increase. How much will that set us back? I’m simply looking at it from all angles. I mean how much does a pensioner really need to live? Besides they all vote Liberal, don’t they? “

Workers Media (4PR) was on hand to ask the important questions along with the rest of the media scrum: ‘how much bile is there left in Rudd’s gall bladder?’

Over the years, we had been mildly sceptical of all the stories of abuse and harassment dealt out by Rudd to public servants, airline staff, night club security — even since he was Wayne Goss’s right hand man here in Qld. But the proof is in the Mater Private surgical ward tonight.

It is only recently we have realised what a nasty piece of work the ex-PM is personally as well as politically. But these days, aren’t all the people at the top in companies, parliament, church and public service all evil nasty people.

Alas, so bad is traffic outside the Mater Private hospital on Stanley St Woolloongabba that the 4PR mobile van was soon forced to drive on.

We hope that when Kevin Rudd gets out and back on the campaign trail (minus the bile) he will do something about the traffic congestion outside his electorate’s biggest private hospital. His slogan does say ‘Standing up for the south side’ after all.

One postscript just to hand.

Cheryl Kernot, former Australian Democrat turned ALP cabinet minister has emerged from retirement to run for the Senate in NSW. Cheryl was quoted saying her objective is to return some respect to the institution of parliament.

Sorry Cheryl, you’re on a hiding to nothing there, given the current focus of parliamentary politics.

This is 4PR – the voice of the people, on the roadside near the Mater Private hospital, wishing there was a political organisation built on collective good rather than on ego and bile.

Worth Voting for:
Sam Watson (Socialist Alliance) in the Senate (Qld)
Hamish Chitts (Revolutionary Socialist Party) for Griffith
Andrew Bartlett (Greens) for Brisbane

and any other socialist candidate on the ballot paper.

Ian Curr
August 2010

PS

If there are none (or even if there are) a ‘No to Privatisation’ discretely written on the side might make the job of AEC workers a little less boring when they do the counting on election night

Public Meeting: Who Rules Australia?

Despite the widespread celebration of our first female prime minister, the treatment of Rudd was reminiscent of that inflicted on another Labor leader Gough Whitlam.

Gough was sacked by the Governor General for trying “to buy back the farm”.

PUBLIC MEETING

Saturday 7th August, 5-9 pm  Gold Coin admittance.

Kurilpa Hall, West End.

Brisbanel Bulletin pdf

Contact: cpabris@live.com.au

Empire monster mess in Central Asia and the Middle East

Washington’s Wars and Occupations:
Month in Review #63
July 30, 2010
By Francesca Fiorentini, War Times/Tiempo de Guerras

ISRAEL: THE DIPLOMACY OF FORGIVING AND FORGETTING

The outrageous attack on the flotilla carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza in May seemed to shift a few pebbles beneath Washingtons Israeli policy. It ruffled the feathers of many who are afraid Israel has become a liability for the U.S. and called into question blanket support for its every land-grab and military adventure. Among Israeli politicians and Israels many cheerleaders within the U.S., there is growing worry that Israels next military outburst could lead to serious consequences. As the New York Times pet pundit Thomas Friedman put it in a recent op-ed, Israel must buy its next [military] timeout with diplomacy or it could be forced to kill even more civilians. This way of treating Israel as a forever justified victim with anger management problems is replicated in Washington.

At the White House meeting between Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu early this month, there was no mention of the flotilla or Israels defiance of Washingtons demand for a moratorium on settlement-building. Instead, it was all smiles and warm handshakes along with a White House endorsement of Israel being exempted from what is required of all other countries when it comes to nuclear weapons possession. Conversation focused on re-starting peace negotiations, a pitiful process on an ever-uneven playing field: the State of Israel with a nuclear arsenal estimated at 200-300 warheads vs. Palestinian population fragmented by occupation. That same week the Israeli human rights organization BTselem released a new study showing that there are currently Israeli settlements on 43% of the West Bank.

Numerous commentators attributed Obamas royal treatment of Netanyahu to Democratic worries about the 2010 mid-term elections and maintaining the favor of the pro-Israel lobby and vote. But as proves the recently released video from 2001 of Netanyahu bragging about manipulating and ultimately scuttling the Oslo Accords–politically out-maneuvering the so-called pro-Palestinian Clinton administration–Israel is also quite adept at playing U.S. politics. What Netanyahu said then summed up the Israeli rights attitude about its relationship with the U.S.:

America is a thing you can move very easily, he said, move it in the right direction. They wont get their way.

But Israels attack on the Gaza aid flotilla and the spike in media coverage about the real impact of the Gaza siege has opened the door to changes in U.S. public opinion. Palestine solidarity activists within the U.S. will need to harness the energy of this moment in their favor and hammer away at the point that the main obstacles to peace are Israeli policies of settlement expansion, collective punishment and occupation.

This weeks declaration by British Prime Minister David Cameron – a conservative! – that the attack on the Gaza flotilla was completely unacceptable and that Gaza is a prison camp is the kind of statement that can provide a lever for getting our viewpoint into the mainstream. The Presbyterian Church USAs vote this month to support a proposal that calls for an end to U.S. aid to Israel as long as settlements expand is also a heartening and important step in broadening the justice movement for Palestine.

THE FRANKEN-STATE OF IRAQ

“I had desired it with an ardour that far exceeded moderation; but now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart. –Dr. Victor Frankenstein

Upon realizing he had created what he considered a monster, the infamous Dr. Frankenstein was horrified and abandoned the creature to fend for itself. Kind of like the U.S. and the U.S. media when looking (or not looking) at Iraq. Political stalemate, continued violence, and a gaping lack of infrastructure describe the nation many in Washington have the nerve to refer to as a democracy, while a Senator John McCain can say with a straight face that it is the welcome fruit of U.S. victory!

Since parliamentary elections nearly five months ago, politicians have been unable to form a government. Power is largely suspended between Ayad Allawi and Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, essentially seen as expats out touch with the average Iraqi. The standstill reveals among other things that Iraqis are wholly disenchanted with the current politicians, who have not been able to keep them safe, give them jobs, nor provide basic infrastructure. In the lead-up to the parliamentary elections, 57% of Iraqis in Baghdad said they felt conditions for peace in the country had worsened. Since the elections, the country has seen a spike in bombings and targeted killings of politicians, police, and members of The Awakening, a Sunni militia paid directly by the U.S.

Iraqi police and military reports show that just from July 1 to 18, 189 Iraqis (including women and children) had died in various attacks, with close to another 700 wounded. A plan for parliament should come with broader national reconciliation if Iraqis are to ever go a week without violent loss of life. The U.S. – which was happy to fund and utilize ethnic conflict as part of its defeat the insurgency campaign from 2004-2008 – now issues patronizing calls to Iraqis to get it together. Iraqs failure to form a government will ultimately be blamed on Iraqis themselves, seen through a twisted and racist lens about Arabs and their endless sectarianism, as if the U.S. invasion and occupation were not at the heart of todays problems.

Add to this the lack of basic services like roads, water, and electricity. This month riots broke out across the country demanding more than the few hours of electricity Iraqis receive per day. Back in 2008, Siemens and General Electric signed a $7-8 billion-dollar agreement with the Iraqi government to upgrade the countrys power grid. Iraqis have yet to see the fruits of that contract. Earlier this month, the Times reported that U.S.-led projects have either been scaled back or abandoned altogether, like a $102 million sewage system in Fallujah waiting to be completed after six years of work.

But Washington says not our problem like the mad scientist deserting his creation. The U.S. wants it both ways: preserve influence (in part by renegotiating an agreement so U.S. troops can stay indefinitely), but take no responsibility for the destruction and displacement (several million refugees) that the U.S. war caused. Iraq is rarely on the front pages now, but the antiwar movement must fight to make sure Washington does not slink away from responsibility to help heal the country it ravaged.

NATION-BULLDOZING IN AFGHANISTAN

With the pace of U.S. deaths in 2010 double that of 2009 and one incident after another of NATO troops killing Afghan soldiers and civilians, it is clear that there is a more chaos than order to the U.S. nation-building in Afghanistan. And if any more evidence of the wars senselessness was needed, WikiLeaks just supplied it with 90,000 damning documents straight from the source. Written by soldiers and intelligence officers, the documents confirm what the antiwar movement has argued for years: this war is horrific, mismanaged, and futile. The documents also add new details and expose the cover-ups and under-reporting of civilian deaths that have become common military practice. For Phyllis Bennis assessment of the significance of the WikiLeaks revelations, go to:
http://www.yesmagazine.org/peace-justice/pentagon-papers-2.0-afghanistan

The most significant short-term reaction to the leaked documents is likely to be in European countries whose populations are massively opposed to the war. It was no accident that WikiLeaks sent the documents to Germany’s Der Spiegel and The Guardian UK in addition to the New York Times. And no accident that those papers coverage stressed revelations about Afghan civilian casualties rather than the main thing emphasized by the Times – the role of Pakistans intelligence agencies in assisting the Taliban (and implicitly the need for Washington to get its ally into line.)

An antiwar surge in U.S. public opinion may take longer. But the WikiLeaks documents stand as a semi-official validation of previous criticisms of the counterinsurgency strategy adopted by the Obama administration. WikiLeaks provides important back-up, for instance, to the memo from U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry that was leaked back in January. Eikenberry warned that an increase in troops will increase Afghan dependency… and will deepen the military involvement in a mission that most agree cannot be won solely by military means. He expressed concerns that the longer-term goal of a secure and sovereign Afghan nation will be undermined, and went on to say that President Hamid Karzai is not an adequate strategic partner who seems to shun responsibility for any sovereign burden and who would be glad to see the U.S. dig in deeper into the country. He pointed to the rampant corruption (including Karzais fraudulent re-election), and the lack of a political ruling class that can provide a national identity.

Eikenberrys observations earned him a New York Times editorial suggesting that the White House fire him as part of a wider housecleaning after giving Gen. Stanley McChrystal the boot. The Times described Eikenberry as having a lack of enthusiasm for the counterinsurgency strategy.

But the main point is that the counter-insurgency strategy – which war reporter Ann Jones describes as a process by which soldiers kill civilians and then apologize over tea – deserves no enthusiastic support. It is a rolling set of war crimes and needs to be abandoned, period.

AFGHANS WANT THE U.S. OUT

Instead of winning hearts and minds, the U.S. has turned more Afghans toward the Taliban. As former U.S. State Department official in Afghanistan Matthew Hoh who resigned in 2009 told Democracy Now!, the Taliban is a very large organization thats not monolithic but composed of separate groups that have joined together, basically to repel foreign occupation…and resist a central government that is very corrupt. He clarifies that Afghans joining the Taliban dont do so out of kinship with Al Qaeda or because theyre terrorists, but because they do not want to be occupied.

The results of a recent poll by the International Council on Security and Development in Afghanistan are therefore both staggering and unsurprising. They show:

*75% of Afghans believe foreigners disrespect their religions and traditions.

*74% believe that working with foreign forces is wrong

*55% believe that foreign troops are in Afghanistan for their own benefit, to destroy or occupy the country, or to destroy Islam.

This evidence – which cries as loud as World Cup vuvuzelas – has fallen upon deaf ears. The Obama administration and others seem to have put their faith in General David Petraeus, the last sailor deranged enough to swear he can conquer the stormy waves of Afghanistan by brute force. In his latest move of insanity, Petraeus decided to go forward with a NATO plan to arm Afghan villagers to fight the Taliban. This despite protests from Karzai himself against a tactic that has a history of failure – creating anti-government militias and building dependence on fighting as employment. These are not the sustainable jobs Afghans sorely need, no more than Karzai is a democratically-elected president.

One year from now, the 100,000 US troops will supposedly begin to leave Afghanistan. But the White House itself admits the date will be almost assuredly be pushed back. Even one more year – one more day – in Afghanistan mean more lives lost and a society further divided and uprooted. Withdrawal cannot wait. Commitment to total U.S./NATO withdrawal has always been the pre-condition to peace in Afghanistan, key to national reconciliation backed by a regional agreement, and a pledge by Washington to finance rebuilding the infrastructure of a country battered by decades of war.

__,_._,___

Labor 4A Just Palestine weekly report beginning 26 July – including another village demolished

Dear all

Including CFMEU (C&G) QLD 2010 convention motion passed (see attached)

Regards

David Forde

Labor 4A Just Palestine

Weekly update for week beginning 26/07/10

This week’s articles

· UN Protection of Civilians Weekly Report | 21 July – 27 July

· LA Times – Israel razes homes in Bedouin village

· Arab News – Editorial: ‘A prison camp’

· Guardian – Israel’s harassment of citizens could ignite uprising, warns Arab politician

· Mondoweiss – Israeli BDS bill would turn opponents of the regime into enemies of the state

· Ma’an – Oxfam calls for compensation from Israel

· Ma’an – Abbas: Israel renewing cycle of violence

· Christian Science Monitor – Ten years after Camp David, Israel has made peace even harder

· Australian – New settlements to build tension

· Haaretz – Do you still have hope after the IDF killed your daughters and niece in Gaza?

· Haaretz – UN rights body names team to probe Gaza flotilla raid

· Christian Science Monitor – Why a young Israeli woman spies on Israeli settlements in West Bank

· All the latest from the Palestinian News agency Ma’an

UN Protection of Civilians Weekly Report | 14 July – 20 July

Four Palestinians killed and 17 others injured throughout the oPt. In the West Bank, demolitions continue; 17 structures in Area C and five others in East Jerusalem targeted. Israeli settler violence escalates. In the Gaza Strip, Tunnel situation remains dangerous. Crossings; imports continue to increase however impact remains limited. Industrial fuel and cooking gas imports decline; electricity shortages continue. To read both reports click on: Protection of Civilians Weekly Report

LA Times – Israel razes homes in Bedouin village

For the sixth time in a decade, farmer Ismail Mohamed Salem watched Israeli bulldozers raze his home in this disputed Bedouin village. Hours later, he sat next to the rubble and vowed to rebuild — yet again. To read the article click on: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/middleeast/la-fg-israel-bedouins-2…

Arab News – Editorial: ‘A prison camp’

The new British Premier David Cameron appears unafraid to speak his mind. Visiting his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara on Tuesday, he described Gaza as “a prison camp” and urged the illegal Israeli blockade be lifted. To read the article click on: http://arabnews.com/opinion/editorial/article91933.ece

Guardian – Israel’s harassment of citizens could ignite uprising, warns Arab politician

Israel could ignite a third intifada if it continues to push its 1.2 million Arab citizens into a corner, claims Haneen Zoabi, the Arab member of the Knesset vilified for joining the Gaza aid flotilla. To read the article click on:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jul/25/israel-arab-citizens-knesset-zoabi

Mondoweiss – Israeli BDS bill would turn opponents of the regime into enemies of the state

For many years now, Israel has boasted about being “the only democracy in the Middle East.” It has never been a democracy: it has systematically discriminated against its non-Jewish citizens. To read the article click on:.

http://mondoweiss.net/2010/07/israeli-bds-bill-would-turn-opponents-of-the-regime-into-enemies-of-the-state.html

Ma’an – Oxfam calls for compensation from Israel

The international aid agency Oxfam demanded Monday that Israel compensate Palestinians in a northern Jordan Valley village after soldiers destroyed at least $29,000 of aid when soldiers demolished 79 structures in the village. To read the article click on: http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=302109

Ma’an – Abbas: Israel renewing cycle of violence

President Abbas said Sunday that Israel’s continued settlement building on what would become a future Palestinian state was impeding a two-state solution and renewing the cycle of violence. To read the article click on:

http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=302336

Christian Science Monitor – Ten years after Camp David, Israel has made peace even harder

In an interview earlier this year with The Jerusalem Post, one of the Jewish settlers in Sheikh Jarrah, an area in Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem where Palestinians are being evicted from their homes, explained that he had no “personal problems” with “the Arabs” – but insisted that “they have to admit who the landlord is here.” To read the article click on: http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/Opinion/2010/0726/Ten-years-after-Camp-David…

Australian – New settlements to build tension

ISRAEL has given the strongest indication yet that it will resume building in Jewish settlements when the current 10-month freeze expires in September, setting the scene for renewed tensions with the US and the EU. To read the aticle click on: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/new-settlements-to-build-tension/story-e6frg6so-1225897733919

Haaretz – Do you still have hope after the IDF killed your daughters and niece in Gaza?

TORONTO – Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish speaks frankly to Israelis and Palestinians, in synagogues, mosques and cultural centers, in this city, where he now resides. On January 16, 2009 three of his daughters, Bessan (20 ), Mayar (15 ) and Aya (13 ), and his niece, Noor (17 ) were killed by an Israel Defense Forces shell fired directly into their bedroom. To read the article click on: http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/features/dr-izzeldin-abuelaish-do-you-still…

Haaretz – UN rights body names team to probe Gaza flotilla raid

The United Nations Human Rights Council appointed a team of international experts on Friday to investigate Israel’s raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla and called on all parties to cooperate. To read the article click on: http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/un-rights-body-names-team-to-probe-gaza-flotilla-raid-1.303683

Christian Science Monitor – Why a young Israeli woman spies on Israeli settlements in West Bank

If Palestinians ever achieve the viable state to which they aspire, they will have a determined young Israeli activist to thank for its territory not being entirely swallowed by Israeli settlements. To read the article click on: http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2010/0728/Why-a-young-Israeli-woman-s…

Palestinian News agency Ma’an

For all the latest from Ma’an News click on:http://www.maannews.net/eng/Default.aspx

CFMEU (C&G) QLD 2010 Convention motion Palestine Israel.pdf