Category Archives: Features & Analysis

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ISIS in Gaza

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Publishers Note: WBT reposts this article by Sarah Helms from New York Review of Books | January 14, 2016. It analyses from a western perspective the effect of Israel’s bombardment of Gaza and how post-Oslo* children in Gaza are recruited … Continue reading

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Angela Davis on Feminism and Prison Abolition

Download program audio (mp3, 48.21 Mbytes) Angela Davis, a radical feminist and a leading advocate for prison abolition, works at the intersection of many issues. In a talk she gave at the University of Chicago, Davis brought up race, institutional … Continue reading

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Who will bring the good news after the sale of Australia Post?

I SPRANG to the stirrup, and Joris, and he; I galloped, Dirck galloped, we galloped all three; ‘Good speed!’ cried the watch, as the gate-bolts undrew; ‘Speed!’ echoed the wall to us galloping through; Behind shut the postern, the lights … Continue reading

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Saving old growth forests in Tasmania

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Excerpts from ‘Explorers of Western Tasmania‘ by C.J. Binks In April 1825, Edward Curr (a former settlor) had by this time accepted temporary appointment as secretary of the new company (VDL Pty Ltd). Bathurst (head of colonial office) agree with … Continue reading

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Question of Law YES, Politics NO

[Many years ago, under the Bjeleke-Petersen street march ban, Frank Brennan wrote a book, Too much Order, Too little Law; Andrew Boe takes up the theme again, liberal ideas don’t change much]. AN­DREW BOE An­drew Boe, a Queens­land bar­ris­ter, has … Continue reading

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Refugees shot trying to leave

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WILL THIS BE AUSTRALIA NEXT WEEK? Two Palestinian refugees killed in emigration attempt from Egypt Two Syrian-Palestinian refugees killed attempting illegal passage from Alexandria to Europe Zeinab El Gundy, Wednesday 18 Sep 2013 Two Palestinian refugees, formerly detained at El-Gomrok … Continue reading

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Rain of fire: US attempt to destablise Middle East

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“I dream of snakes … I kill one and a yet bigger one appears …” – Cuban troubadour, Silvio Rodriguez I refer to the NYT article With the World Watching, Syria Amassed Nerve Gas which does not give any detail … Continue reading

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Striking it Richer

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The Evolution of Top Incomes in the United States (Updated with 2012 preliminary estimates) Emmanuel Saez, UC Berkeley• September 3, 2013 The recent dramatic rise in income inequality in the United States is well documented. But we know less about … Continue reading

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Productivity of what and for whom?

by Humphrey McQueen Musical chairs among the parliamentary cretins brought no change to the gabble around ‘productivity’. As Rudd’s Education Minister, Gillard had spelt out that her policy even for pre-schoolers was to drive up productivity. Abbott is going to … Continue reading

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‘Qld Commission of Audit — not the full report’

[Editor’s Note: The Campbell Newman government appointed Peter Costello, former federal treasurer, to prepare the Qld Commission of Audit QCA report. An executive summary of this report was published on 28 Feb 2013. WBT publishes Qld Commission of Audit — … Continue reading

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Back to the Future – The Shape of Things to Come – The Queensland Labour Movement Under Conservative Governments – Then and Now!

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BLHA Symposium: Call for Papers and Participants BLHA is planning an October symposium which will deal with the Queensland labour movement’s activism, challenges and selected disputes under conservative governments. We are calling for papers which deal with the broader topic … Continue reading

Driven by competition with China, US escalates military presence in Australia

by Alison Thorne

U.S. President Obama and Australian Prime Minister Gillard shake hands and cement an alliance to boost the U.S. military presence in Asia. Plans include a new military base in Darwin, and joint military exercises in Australian waters. Photo: HWT Image Library

Last November, U.S. President Barack Obama visited Australia to promote U.S. plans for a heightened presence in the region. In the northern city of Darwin, he teamed up with Prime Minister Julia Gillard to unveil details of the deal. Starting this year, the U.S. will station troops in northern Australia with numbers rising to 2,500 by 2016. More U.S. military ships and submarines will visit Australian ports, and more U.S.-Australian joint military exercises will take place off its shores. This is a major escalation of the 60-year-old ANZUS treaty — the military alliance between Australia, New Zealand and the U.S. It will transform Darwin into a major staging base for U.S intervention in Asia and the Pacific.

Obama made clear that undercutting China’s growing influence is of vital importance to the U.S. While the U.S. economy sputters, China’s economy booms, growing 10 percent a year. In her recent essay, “America’s Pacific Century,” U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asserts that the future of politics will be decided in Asia, and that the U.S. “will be right at the centre of the action.” And she tells her critics, who want U.S. troops brought home, that the U.S. “cannot afford to do so.”

Controlling the seas. A key U.S. strategic goal is to dominate the critical sea-lanes between the Indian and Pacific Oceans, through which a large portion of world trade passes. This includes the majority of China’s exports and imports, and the Middle Eastern oil supplies that are so essential to the functioning of its economy.

Currently, China spends more on domestic security to suppress dissent than on defence. It is now shifting resources from its army to create a naval presence. But the U.S., relative to the size of its economy, still spends twice as much as China on weapons and troops.

Even with China responding to U.S. manoeuvres, the U.S. far outpaces China in military might. It has 737 military bases with a presence on every continent. China has no foreign bases. The U.S. has 11 nuclear-armed aircraft carriers, carrying 85 aircraft each. The Chinese are still planning the launch of their first aircraft carrier.

Hypocrisy all around. While the U.S. shifts its military might to dominate China and the Pacific region, it is also lecturing China about what the U.S. expects. Ideological sabre rattling was a prominent feature of Obama’s visit to Australia, including criticism of China’s disregard for human rights. But while China’s record is lousy, Obama’s posturing rings hollow given his country’s own reputation. Mass incarceration, use of the death penalty, and images of cops beating Occupiers and dismantling their encampments are a few examples of how the U.S. needs to clean up its own act.

Before flying to northern Australia, Obama addressed the Federal Parliament in Canberra. The last visit by a U.S. President in 2003 resulted in Greens politicians being removed for interjecting anti-war sentiments while George Bush spoke. In contrast, Obama received rapturous responses from all sides. His accolades were thoroughly undeserved because the purpose of both speeches was identical: to tell the Australian parliament that the U.S. ruling class expects its deputy sheriff in the Pacific to provide uncritical support for shifting U.S. military priorities, from the Middle East to Asia.

Capitalism divided. Most mainstream analysts emphasise the Australian government’s unconditional support for the U.S. alliance, which they see as a means for advancing Australian corporate and strategic interests.

However, the situation is more complex. Since Britain’s decline as an imperial power at the end of World War II, Australia has allied with the U.S. But Australia has developed its own distinct imperialist interests in the Pacific too.

The interests of the varied branches of capital are not monolithic. Some sectors of the Australian economy rely heavily on the sales of goods and services to China. These include mining, agriculture, education and tourism. China buys 70 percent of Australia’s wool. Australian bosses also rely heavily on China to fill skill gaps through migration.

Australia is now in a predicament where China is its major trading partner, and the U.S. is its major strategic military ally. This is creating a tension, where the economic and strategic interests of Australian capitalism are pulling in different directions.

There’s an uneasy concern among some layers of the ruling class that profits may be at risk if friction between the U.S. and China heats up.

Revitalize the anti-war movement! While the capitalists’ loyalties are divided, the common interests of the working class are not. War moves and imperial rivalry in the Pacific is real bad news. Working and poor people foot the bill for spiralling military expenditures through higher taxes and cuts to essential services. Australian public service jobs are being slashed under the so-called “efficiency dividend,” while $62 million gets spent every single day on the military.

Turning Australia’s north into a giant military base will also be a disaster for the people who live there. Almost one-third of the population is Indigenous. The threat posed to the health of Aboriginal communities — with their deep connection to the land — by the use of cluster bombs and depleted uranium, is stark.

Militarisation of this territory also threatens to lead to increased violence against women. The U.S. military has an appalling record on this score. In Japan, feminists have identified more than 50,000 crimes against women on Okinawa, the site of a large U.S. military base.

To nip this impending disaster in the bud, Australia needs a re-energised anti-war movement that will challenge interventions at the behest of the U.S. and those initiated by Australian capital.

What should such a movement be raising at this time? For starters:

• No new bases and close existing U.S. military bases! No Darwin troop deployment.

• End joint military exercises with U.S. forces. End the military alliance with the U.S.

• Withdraw all Australian troops from Afghanistan, East Timor, Solomon Islands and other imperialist deployments!

Melbourne FSP: Solidarity Salon, 580 Sydney Rd., Brunswick, VIC 3056. Tel 03-9388-0062. Email freedom.socialist.party@ozemail.com.au.

Reposted with permission from  Driven by competition with China, US escalates military presence in Australia | www.socialism.com.

DATELINE AUSTRALIA
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Battles for the Coral Sea

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Reprinted from Chapter 17  from ‘Japan to the Rescue, Australian Security around the Indonesian Archipelago during the American Century’ Heinemann, 1991, pp. 285-94. by Humphrey McQueen [Editor’s note: My partner’s uncle Ellis, not long deceased, told us that he (as … Continue reading

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Is it better to run or to stay?

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“I’m sure the murderer of Lorenzo Manfredini is one of the immigrants….All you have to do is take a walk in the afternoon in the gardens in Piazza Vittorio to see that the overwhelming majority of the people are foreigners; some come from Morocco, some from Romania, China, India, Poland, Senegal, Albania. Living with them is impossible. ” Continue reading

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Campbell Newman and Bligh – a ‘quinella’ of losers

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“In the courtroom of honor, the judge pounded his gavel To show that all’s equal and that the courts are on the level And that the strings in the books ain’t pulled and persuaded And that even the nobles get … Continue reading

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Qaddafi in Defeat

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The reality is we are all one humanity.  Barbarity or military society is not confined to low society or to tribal life. People of modern states may like to view indigenous peoples as backward. This is not true. No matter what society, whether it be economically developed or undeveloped, all are capable of repression, but only the most highly developed are capable of imperial blunders. The Romans did so when they laid waste to Carthage. The US likewise when they destroyed Iraq. Continue reading

Immigration Minister Ignores Suicide Attempt and Geneva Appeal to Halt Deportation of Chinese Family

Despite a communication from the Geneva-based Special Rapporteur on Torture with the UN High Commission on Human Rights to the Department of Foreign Affairs, requesting a halt to any removal of the L family, the Minister for Immigration has refused to intervene to stop the deportation of the family to China.

The mother,  who attempted suicide in the early hours of this morning is presently scheduled for removal later today, but the father, Mr H L and his son, D, were removed on the schedule flight from Sydney at 10.50am.

Refugee advocates are calling on the Immigration Minister, Chris Bowen, to act urgently to prevent the deportation of Mrs L and to take measures to ensure the safety of Mr L and his 17 year old son D.

Overnight, eight hundred signatures were collected on a petition supporting the family.

On humanitarian grounds alone the Minister should have stopped the deportations this morning. It is a disgrace that the Minister would proceed with the removal of this family given the doubts that they will be safe in China and the mental distress they are experiencing.

It is inconceivable that Mrs L is in any state to handle her deportation to China. The supposedly family friendly Minister has separated this vulnerable family to intimidate them even further, said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

Late yesterday afternoon, the Ministerial Intervention Unit rejected new information to the Minister documenting the danger that faces the underground Christian family if they are returned.

Included in that new information was a copy of a Chinese government summons for the father, Mr H L to appear in court.

Mr Liu brother who recently returned to China, was detained and questioned by Chinese authorities, who believed he was Mr H L.

Mr Liu’s 24 year old first son, resident in China was only recently released after seven months in a re-education camp for holding an unlawful assembly of an underground Christian group.

It is obvious that the family is under surveillance by authorities and that the man is wanted in China. This should rule out any question that the family can be safely sent back to China, said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

Australia has an obligation under the Refugee Convention and the Convention on Torture and not to refoule (return) an asylum seeker to danger.

We are urging the Minister to act immediately. The human rights abuses by the Chinese government are well-documented. The Minister should stop playing with asylum seekers lives, said Ian Rintoul.

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713

The Nightmare – The Iraq Invasion’s Atrocities, Unearthing the Unthinkable

Felicity Arbuthnot’s article, ‘The Nightmare: The Iraq Invasion’s Atrocities, Unearthing the Unthinkable’, refers to ‘this first documentable U.S., U.K., genocide of the 21st century’.

This statement is incomplete, it leaves out Australia and other ‘coalition-of-the-willing’ member states who participated in ‘Operation Iraqi Freedom’ between 2003 and 2010.

Australian troops also committed acts of terror and of murder in Iraq.

Two weeks ago, I visited survivors of an Iraqi family who were shot on the streets of Baghdad by two drunken Australian soldiers.

Mother and son have horrible injuries to their faces. The father is traumatised, his life a painful agony.

He complains of his mind being ‘busy all the time, day and night’.

And Western commentators talk of 9/11.

Only now, after 7 years of murder and terror, do we see on Australian TV acts committed by American and British soldiers.

But the ABC’s 4 Corners program ‘Secret Iraq – Insurgency’ broadcast last night (on 11/10/2010) still leaves out acts of terror like this committed by Australian soldiers sent there by the Australian government. Both Coalition and Labor are aware of these war crimes. They even glorify the job done by ‘our diggers’.

Why?

One of the soldiers who shot this family without reason is based at Enoggera Army barracks in Brisbane, Australia.

As you know, the truth is individual soldiers from our country, our town were involved in murderous deeds in Iraq.

Let the record be truthful.

The family told me that they had been interviewed by Channel 7 about their being shot while parked in their family car in Baghdad.

The oldest girl in the family, still at school and who did most of the translating from Arabic to English told me that ‘the family realises now that it (speaking to the media) doesn’t work’. Why can’t people learn from this girl, from her experience?

The girl said that she wore a scarf to school here in Brisbane until her friend who also wore a scarf was abused by fellow students.

Her father counselled her that it might be best to stop wearing the scarf. She said that after two years at school she knows her father’s advice was right.

‘Australians are racist’ said her younger brother with one eye that cannot look straight because of a bullet wound inflicted by the drunken soldier who is now based at Enoggera army barracks.

And what of the politicians who compete to have ‘photo ops’ in the war zone?

What of the pollsters who say that Tony Abbott was hurt in the polls because he did not accept Julia Gillard’s invitation to accompany her to Afghanistan?

Who are the criminals and who are the innocent?

As one Iraqi said on the ABC’s Four Corners program: ‘the occupation has nothing to do with Saddam Hussein, it is about oil’.

You who live safe
In your warm houses,
You who find warm food
And friendly faces when you return home.
Consider if this is a man
Who works in mud,
Who knows no peace,
Who fights for a crust of bread,
Who dies by a yes or a no.
Consider if this is a woman
Without hair, without name,
Without the strength to remember,
Empty are her eyes, cold her womb,
Like a frog in winter.
Never forget that this has happened.
Remember these words.
Engrave them in your hearts,
When at home or in the street,
When lying down, when getting up.
Repeat them to your children.
Or may your houses be destroyed,
May illness strike you down,
May your offspring turn their faces from you.

— Primo Levi

Ian Curr
October 2010

Reference

Support Iraqi family shot by Australian soldier!

**********************

‘The Nightmare: The Iraq Invasion’s Atrocities, Unearthing the Unthinkable’ by Felicity Arbuthnot
Global Research, October 9, 2010

“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” François-Marie Arouet -“Voltaire” (1694-1778.)

I have a deeply held belief that the duty of a commentator is, to the best of one’s ability, to record, to shine light in often dark places, to act as a voice for those whose own voice, fears, plights might not be heard or known. To write about the emotions one sometimes feels when doing it, is an anathema and anyway a redundancy. The purpose is to attempt to draw attention to wrongs, not to whinge about the effects they can have – and any way, a private life should be just that. If politicians wish to strip themselves of their dignity and allude to everything from their sex life, to using private grief to gain sympathy votes, those with a shred of self-respect do not wish to emulate them. Here, I am breaking my taboo, for a reason.

Over the last several weeks I have again researched in depth, invasion’s atrocities in Iraq, unearthing the unthinkable, switching off emotion and reading of terror, torture, monstrous wickednesses, word after sickening word. Then, Fallujah revisited (1) with document after document revealing the depth of the darkest depravities towards others, which can be plumbed, by “some mother’s son” – or daughter. Indeed, some child’s father or mother, able to shoot the children, toddlers, babies of others, in cold blood, drive over them in tanks, leaving the pathetic remains to be eaten by stray dogs.

Photographs viewed have included many which even hardened investigators have deemed: “too disturbing to view.” This is not a view I hold. If family members who have survived, emergency workers (when not incinerated by U.S., troops themselves) medical staff, if not shot, imprisoned, tortured, or tied up with a bag over their head) can view, identify, bury with love and respect – or in the case of medical staff, carefully photograph, and note time, location of finding, then number, wrap and retain for a period, before burial, hoping a relative will claim the charred, mutilated, or worse, remains. It is a duty for those with any “voice”, from countries responsible for this first documentable U.S., U.K., genocide of the 21st century, to draw attention to it, in the memory of and in tribute to, the voiceless, nameless, uncounted victims, in the hope that eventually, legal recourse might result.

In fact it was compassion which over came all – bodies and faces burned near beyond recognition, or the eviscerated, the all with the eyes, often, still staring out in a desperate silent plea for help, combined with utter bewilderment. “We have the scumbags on the run”, wrote a marine on his website. “We lit them up”, wrote another, as many took photographs of these lost souls – and sent them to porn sites in exchange for free viewing. And between the U.S., occupiers (now, surreally, re-branded “advisors” – same car, new paint) and what Hussein al-Alak of the Iraq Solidarity Campaign has called: ” the U.S., imposed Vichy government, with their foreign passports ..”, who will fight for justice for the Iraqis?

And, as since 1991, this is also a war against the unborn, new born and under fives. After the bodies and the rubble, the gore, blood and limbs, there are the deformities. The fledgling life, born without eyes, brain, with one cyclops eye, with no head, with two heads, with no limbs, or fingers – or too many. A biblical land turned to genetic and ecological Armageddon, for current and future generations, till the end of time. “Mission accomplished”, said George W. Bush, in his ridiculous little flying suit, on the USS Abraham Lincoln on 1st May 2003. “Let freedom reign”, he scribbled, after the first, corrupt, murderous, corpse-littered “elections”. Result: “Let genocide commence.”

The U.S., appointed “Viceroy” in Iraq, J. Paul Bremer, dressed for the part, Hollywood style, in ridiculous desert, or army boots, depending on your perception, arrived shortly after the invasion, seemingly believing in population reduction. Reportedly asking what the population of Iraq was, he was told, about twenty five million. His response was allegedly : “Too many, try five.” But then, he had been Kissinger Associates’ man.

As I read, I listened to the great and the good in various world legal bodies discuss whether the Congo and Rwanda should be “classed” as genocide. In July 2004, as U.S., troops were training for the Fallujah massacre, the coming November, the U.S., House of Representatives passed a unanimous resolution calling the tragedy of Darfur: “Genocide.” They asked the administration to consider “Multilateral or even Unilateral” action, to end this genocide. Reluctance to take proactive steps to prevent further loss of human life was “criminal”, they opined.

Seemingly genocides these days are only committed by Africans or Eastern Europeans, not those great bastions of democracy, U.S., U.K., and the “only democracy in the Middle East”, ally Israel. The Israeli Defence Force, trained U.S., troops for the two week November 2004, Fallujah pogrom. (2) “If it moves, shoot it”, was the order of the day. As two world wars, as Korea, Vietnam, the face of liberation never changes.

“Their tactics basically involve massive fire power … bringing in tanks and helicopters to fire on targets … demolishing buildings, establishing snipers on roofs, smashing holes in walls (and) shooting anything that moved.” This in addition to: ” … aerial bombardment and shell fire from large field guns.” The plight of Fallujah: “Was not fully understood in the West, save by some of the survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto … they were trapped (like) rabbits in a cornfield”, being circled to be mown down and dismembered by combine harvesters.(3)The photographs are testimony to the chilling description. The unsung heroes are those who determined to record them, so some time, some where, the crimes would be known and legal retribution sought. These terrible, pathetic images, are the silent testimony to the first known Western genocide of the 21st century. Sadly, it is a near certainty that Iraq and Afghanistan will, in time, produce proof of more.

On visits to Iraq during the embargo years, when there was the silent genocide over nearly thirteen years of the U.S.-U.K.,- driven U.N., embargo’s prohibition of all necessary to sustain the basics of life, with children dying of “embargo-related causes”, at an average of six thousand a month, witnessing the heartbreak, the bafflement at their plight, the terrible guilt was always leaving. One saw and shared to some extent, the unimaginable, being perpetrated in one’s name, then one left. Across the border, in Jordan, the lights were on, the towns bustled, clean water came out of the taps, and the illegal American and British bombs were not dropping. Yet so near, the children were dying, the people were dying, in the name of “We the people …”

Looking through the photographs, reading of the near incomprehensible depths of sadistic destruction of their fellow human beings, men and women in uniform can uniformly sink to, I could also escape at the end of the day. I could make a meal, go and listen to live jazz at a favorite jazz pub, or simply pour a glass of wine and listen to music, surrounded by numerous books, collected pictures and loved items, in a home I enjoy, before seeking the warmth of the duvet and a comfortable bed.

But if the conscious mind can switch off, clearly the sub-conscious does not. One night the nightmare, one was sure was not a nightmare, but reality, struck. In the surreal world of nightmares, I “woke”, to find myself saturated, blood pouring from under my arms. Wondering what was happening and what to do about it, I did, in nightmare-land, what I often do when working something out (though not usually at 3 a.m.,) and got the tools together and went out in to my garden. As ever, to trim and nurture plants, and bushes, mostly grown from tiny, often quarter inch cuttings, cosseted indoors, until clement weather, then planted outside, in sheltered warmth, and further fed and tended until suddenly seemingly overnight, a vibrant, colored addition, standing on its own roots, is ready to face all seasons. But my garden, with its protective hedges, (white flowers in summer, orange berries in winter and thorns to deter the trespasser …) had gone. There were just bulldozer tracks, deep, ruining, not a leaf, stem or bloom left – just a wasteland.

Then, in nightmare-world, in my nightclothes, blood covered, I realised I had no keys to get back in. What if anyone found me in this state? I turned to the front door to try and figure a plan – but the building had gone. I was alone, bloody, near undressed and all had vanished, turning back to other familiar buildings, suddenly there was nothing. Just ruin, rubble and wasteland, as far as the eye could see. My life, my books, my comfort zone, were no more. Just the bloodied clothes I stood in remained.

Like walking away, I, of course, woke up – soaked and shivering. To a hot bath, a washing machine and a warm airing cupboard full of clean bed linen – my garden still intact. The people of Iraq, with their destroyed homes and gardens, fruit groves, date palm groves, or their vibrant plantings on balconies or flat roofs; the Palestinians, suffering the same plight for sixty two interminable years, and the people of Afghanistan in their flattened compounds, destroyed with their scented groves and gardens of blossoms and apricots, live a nightmare from which they never awake.

I thought again of the Iraqi child, whose parents had a beautiful garden, who showed a friend and I her drawing book, before the invasion. One picture had an abundance of flowers, carefully colored, in numerous hues, on the side were American soldiers – shooting at the flowers. “Why are the soldiers shooting the flowers?” We asked. “Because Americans hate flowers”, she replied solemnly. It was a deeply saddening moment, that she represented so many children, who saw American as representing only wrath, fear and deprivation. She knew nothing of those Americans who had worked tirelessly to reverse the situation. If she has survived, she will be a young adult. She is unlikely to have changed her views.

In the U.K., Scottish parliamentarian, Dr Bill Wilson (4) is ploughing a determined path to bring Tony Blair to justice. In furtherance of this, he has now written to Scottish First Minister, Alex Salmond and Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Kenny MacAskill, calling for Scotland to adopt the recently agreed international definition of the crime of aggression into its legislature. His letter reads:
“The International Criminal Court’s Review Conference of the Rome Statute in Kampala (5) earlier this year adopted a resolution by which it amended the Statute so as to include a definition of the crime of aggression and the conditions under which the Court could exercise jurisdiction with respect to the crime. The actual exercise of jurisdiction is subject to a decision to be taken after 1 January 2017 by the same majority of States Parties as is required for the adoption of an amendment to the Statute. However, I believe that there is now no legal obstacle to individual countries adopting the new definition of the crime of aggression into their own legislatures. I hope you will agree with me that it would be to Scotland’s credit if we could be one of the first countries to do this, and it would be a fine legacy for the present Scottish Government to leave as it nears the end of its term.”
He commented that, further, since the The International Criminal Court has now agreed on a definition of the crime of aggression: “I believe that although the ICC itself cannot prosecute on the basis of this for the time being, there is no impediment to individual countries adopting the definition into their own legislatures immediately. If Scotland did so, it would be an excellent example to the rest of the world and would send the clear message that we respect international law here. It would also create a powerful incentive for present and future UK Governments to think carefully before embarking on warfare.

“I think most Scots would not wish to see a repeat of the tragedy we have seen unfold in Iraq. This might be a way of preventing such misguided ventures in the future.” Dr Wilson, is adamant: Scotland is in a position to: “… lead ethically in adopting the crime of aggression definition”, and has legal advise which concurs. Dr Wilson plans to use Fallujah as an example of this aggression, but also points out there there are surely numerous others, undocumented, as yet.

As John Pilger reminds, Blair promised that the (illegal) invasion of Baghdad would be ” … without a bloodbath and that Iraqis in the end would be celebrating … In fact, the criminal conquest of Iraq smashed a society, killing up to a million people, driving four million from their homes, contaminating cities such as Fallujah with cancer-causing poisons and leaving a majority of young children malnourished in a country once described by Unicef as a ‘model.’ ” (New Statesman, 30th September, 2010.)

As Pakistan, Iran, Yemen, Somalia, now seem to be in would be imperial sights, a precedent which will flag a up a warning sign to leaders of ill intent, is surely needed. Dr Gideon Polya, who’s work on excess deaths from invasions since 1950, states, in Afghanistan: “The annual death rate is 7% for under-5 year old Occupied Afghan infants, as compared to 4% for Poles in Nazi-occupied Poland, and 5% for French Jews in Nazi-occupied France.”

The U.S., and U.K., whose leaders have trumpeted the dangers of the latest “new Hitler” in the countries they planned to decimate, have outdone the Nazis. Enough.

Notes

1. http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=212121
See also : www.billwilsonmsp.org
2. “War Crime or Just War”, Nicholas Wood, South Hill Press, 2005.
3. See 2.
4. See 1.
5.http://www2.icc-cpi.int/menus/icc/press%20and%20media/press%20releases/review%20conference%20of%20the%20rome%20statute%20concludes%20in%20kampala

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A Renewable Energy Target for Queensland — Towards a Sustainable Energy Future

imageSubmission to Queensland Government’s Environment and Resources Committee
Growing Queensland’s Renewable Energy Electricity Sector
Prepared by Trevor Berrill on behalf of Sustainable Energy Policy Queensland (SEPQ)
1 July, 2010

SEPQ welcomes and commends Queensland Government on current initiatives as outlined in the 2009 Renewable Energy Plan. This plan is in its infancy and has yet to be aligned with a renewable energy electricity generation target.

SEPQ recommends that the State Government sets a minimum target of 40 percent renewable energy electricity generation by 2020.

While this target would require strong supporting policy, it has been shown in countries such as Denmark, Germany, Spain, some States within the USA, and now China, that rapid deployment of renewable energy technologies is achievable due to the modular nature of the technologies and the ability to mass produce these technologies. When combined with equally strong energy efficiency policy and measures, net benefits to economies are achieved.
The minimum target of 40 percent is suggested based on an analysis and comparison of a series of existing national renewable energy and energy efficiency scenario studies and targets. These studies are outlined in more detail later in this paper. The most recent of these studies suggest that technically, Australia could build a reliable electrical system based on 100 percent renewable energy supply with an expenditure of 3 percent of GDP over 10 years. While this study may be correct, the political reality of delivering such a change to our electrical system would encounter enormous barriers. Some of these barriers are outlined in this submission.

The proposed minimum target, in combination with strong energy efficiency measures, would:
 Position Queensland and Australia as a leader, rather than a trailer, in the fight against climate change and set an example to other State and countries.
 Provide a large number of jobs across regional areas of Queensland.
 Provide stable and cheaper energy costs in the long run due to economies of scale and cost reductions in mass production and if external costs are fully internalised in the cost of energy from fossil fuel.
 Provide a renewable energy industry base whose knowledge, skills and technology could be exported to off-set coal royalties.

Queenslanders have been calling for our energy supply to come from renewable (and energy efficiency) for many years. Their uptake of solar photovoltaic (PV) and solar water heating systems on their homes in recent years is testament to this support.
We call on the Queensland Government to take this bold step in setting a 40 percent target, which will have the strong support of the majority of the people of Queensland.

Read full submission @ SEPQ Submission – RE Target for Qld

From where does change come?

“Sweet dreams and flying machines in pieces on the ground” — from ‘Fire and Rain’ by James Taylor.

We were reminded yesterday that the Australian people do not choose the Australian Prime Minister.

Kevin Rudd was elected as the member for Griffith by about 30 or 40 thousand people voting for him. The ALP won the 2007 election where Howard lost his own seat of Bennelong. It was the ALP parliamentary caucus that elected Kevin Rudd as leader of his party and then the Governor General (the Queens Representative) who made him Prime Minister. Similar machinations occur when the Liberal Party wins an election.

So why was Kevin Rudd, a former public servant in foreign affairs and in Qld government, sacked from the job of Prime Minister by his own party and replaced by Julia Gillard, a former industrial relations lawyer in the 1990s? Was it

A )  The Labor Government’s attempt to introduce a new Mining Tax?
B)   The failure of the house insulation scheme and the subsequent deaths of Australian Workers?
C )  The wastage of money in the building of school halls and libraries in the  ‘building education revolution’?
D )  The failure to introduce an Emissions Trading Scheme to slow down Climate Change?
E )  Increased interest rates on home mortgages that are sending working people into more and more debt so that the government can prop up the banking system?
F )  All of the above?

The Left has spent a lot of time and resources to change the ‘Kevin Rudd’ Labor Party on Palestine, on the environment, on the stolen generations, on union rights, on workers wages and conditions, on refugees  — but all this becomes a high risk strategy in the world of parliamentary politics. There is even doubt that the the elected parliamentarians are in control of the process of reform. For example, much of the tax review was left in the hands of Ken Henry and his bureaucrats.

‘Electorialist’ politics deliver dubious outcomes for those who wish to bring about fundamental change.

Perhaps it was the mining companies that got rid of a Prime Minister? Indigenous people know that the mining companies control their land. Home owners know that banks increase interest rates. And workers know that the means of production is in the hands of the bosses. Big corporations run the country

Only workers who produce the benefits we enjoy can change the world for the better. That is if you accept that society is run on class lines.

With this in mind it is workers we should be speaking and organising with.

The Labor government votes for laws that discriminate against workers. It set up the Australian Building and Construction Commission that ignores serious breaches of workplace safety (i.e. the faulty installation of insulation batts in homes) yet attempts to prosecute rank and file unionists for calling for a OH&S committee on a construction site at Flinders University in South Australia [the case of Ark Tribe].

ACTU Congress in Brisbane (2009)

The current Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, voted for these discriminatory laws that mean a worker can be jailed for refusing to dob in his union. So did Kevin Rudd [see Inside the ACTU].

A number of different responses by organised workers are possible:

1. Accept the IR legislation and the current system
This means seeking to reform the anti-union laws through parliament. This was tried with the Rudd government but failed. Now we are expected to accept Simon Crean as the replacement for Gillard. Crean is a former ACTU secretary who sold out the SEQEB workers in Qld by calling off a transport workers blockade against the Bjelke-Petersen government. Can we trust him during a recession not to use Industrial Relations laws against unionists like Ark Tribe?

2. Defy the laws in a piecemeal way

This is what the building unions have done with the Ark Tribe campaign. It has been effective in highlighting the nature of the ABCC but has resulted in activism confined to court wins (Noel Washington) with little change on the ground i.e. workers are still dying on construction and mining sites at the rate of one per week (says Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU)  federal secretary, Dave Noonan).

3. Defy the laws in a concerted campaign

This strategy presupposes the only weapon that workers have to stop the government and employers’ attacks is their unions’ industrial power. It recognises that union power based on collective bargaining is stronger than organisation based on enterprise bargaining. How to go about this is outlined in courses of action

Please incude comments below on how the organised Left should respond to these immediate challenges.

Ian Curr
June 2010

References

Inside the ACTU

After the Waterfront – the workers are quiet – courses of action

Gillard accused of soft line on Tel Aviv


Democracy — who writes the script?

“It is not enough that some succeed, others must fail” — Gore Vidal

While hunting down the facts behind loss of lives of refugees near the Cocos (Keeling) islands I was confronted by the question “Who is writing the script in the lead up to the 2010 federal election.

I had found that the Home Affairs Minister’s media spokesperson told The AUSTRALIAN more than she told me. This is what she told The AUSTRALIAN on 10 May:

“Australian authorities became aware of the vessel after a caller, claiming to be in London, rang the Customs and Border Protection Command hotline on April 30. A customs officer spoke to the boat’s passengers via a satellite phone and was told the vessel had run out of fuel”.

What Home Affairs Minister’s media spokesperson told me was that she had been talking with AMSA [Australian Maritime Safety Authority] and that I would have to ring them.

I asked her if she had any source documents. She was silent to that question.

I asked if she had a name on source documents. She said “no, I don’t have an officer’s name”. She said “I wouldn’t be able to provide you with the name of a person in AMSA who provided that information, anyway”. I aksed “Why not?”. She said: “We’re getting the information from AMSA and they have a system for co-ordinating search and rescue and they have done that”.

AMSA’s ‘system’ is silence.
I rang AMSA first and then wrote to them but received no answer to my questions.

The Home Affairs spokesperson also stated that she had been speaking to Customs and Border Protection and gave me a Sydney number.

The same spokesperson made no mention of having spoken to Defence. It was the Australian journo, Paul Maley, that was given the ‘exclusive’ as claimed by the Australian on 11 May. Maley got onto Defence. The Home Affairs spokesperson did not tell me that it was a Defence plane had spotted the body of ‘a motionless person’ on a ‘tyre tube’ more than a week ago.

Instead Belinda Cole told me that the ‘spotting’ of objects (lifejackets and tyres) was ‘not a confirmed report’.

She told me the reason she associated 5 missing passengers with the ‘lifejackets’ and ‘tyre tubes’ was ‘the information that we had was that the ‘life jackets were associated with the people who went missing’. She had simply restated my original question in a different form. So much for transparency in government.

She also told me the Home Affairs Minister was trying to give as much information as possible.

A Home Affairs spokesperson gave more to Paul Maley of ‘The Australian’ than me — this despite my putting my questions in writing. But then Paul Maley has been writing these stories on Tamil refugees for a long time and he has News corp behind him. His paper claims the exclusive on this story. Maley’s article states:

The ship’s third officer, Smarven Demegillo, said the five men had fashioned a life raft from tyre inner tubes and taken to the water to try to find a passing ship to rescue their fellow passengers.

If you believe the precise information given by the Australian —

‘On Wednesday, Customs and Border Protection Command alerted the Australian Maritime Safety Authority that the boat, which Customs had been tracking, was missing’

— the five men have already seen Australian Defence force planes fly over. They had already been visited ‘by a Panamanian-flagged vessel’ which ‘provided food, fuel and water’.

So why would the five then leave a seaworthy vessel?

What was said to them over the satellite phone with the Australian authorities and why?

Has this story been written to a script? If so, Whose? What has been edited out?

Or does the Government budget matter more than five desperate lives lost at sea?

I have read the sixteen comments on ‘Perth Now’ that published the Australian article by Paul Maley— these commentators have no sympathy for the refugees, one, if believed, actually hoped they had been taken by sharks. The storm has been whipped up. Opponents of refugees have been let loose in cyberspace.

These people need to be challenged.

Rudd should open Australia to refugees as our international convenants say we will.

Sure the Labor government would take a lot of flack from racists.

But the alternative is worse — to live in a land with a system that rejects those whose lives have become so intolerable that they risk death at sea rather than stay in Sri Lanka.

But in a democracy who writes the script and for whom is it written? For refugees? For battlers who have just coped another interest rate hike on their mortgage?

As governments bail out big banks in another crisis;  refugees, be they fleeing for economic reasons or seeking escape from civil strife, drown at sea.

Ian Curr

May 2010

Aside

It is apparent that the authorities* knew that Snr Sgt Hurley killed Mulrunji. For if they did not know why did they withhold so much information that showed that Hurley is guilty. For example they witheld 66 audio tapes of interviews … Continue reading

Protected: Queensland 1977 — how we got here from there

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Forced Removal – how it was done

Back to the Future - Refugees on the Tampa (2001)

by Pamela Curr


FORCED REMOVAL– how it was done

-Lest we forget

“…it is not their violence, it is ours, which turns back on itself and rends them; and the first action of these oppressed creatures is to bury deep down that hidden anger which their and our moralities condemn and which is however only the last refuge of their humanity.”

—John Paul Sartre in the preface to
“The Wretched of the Earth”
by Frantz Fanon

In 2001 when the Australian ship Manoora sailed to Nauru with its cargo of asylum seekers, it was anticipated that the Iraqis on board would resist embarkation.

These people knew only too well that while they were on the ship, they were Australia’s responsibility. Once off the boat they had no idea what lay in store.

‘The Chili technique’ used on refugee childrens’ rice

The Australian Navy laced the food with chili and limited water for 3 days prior to arrival in Nauru.  Iraqi Mothers told me later that they begged the Navy to at least not put the chili through the childrens’ rice.  The Mothers told me that their children were so hungry that they cried as they tried to eat the rice through cracked lips. Continue reading

US, Israel and Australian Governments try to bury Goldstone Report on War Crimes in Gaza

by Ian Curr

Despite the best efforts of Western democracies the UN human rights council has supported the Goldstone Report on Gaza. The significance of the Goldstone report is that it  focussed on possible war crimes committed by the Israel Defence Force (IDF) when it invaded Gaza in January 2009.

Some of the findings were as follows:

  1. There were deliberate attacks against the civilian population in Gaza by the Israeli defence force
  2. Israel used white phosphorous, heavy metal weapons, and depleted uranium against the people of Gaza
  3. Israeli Defence forces made attacks on the foundations of civilian life in Gaza: destruction of industrial infrastructure, food production, water installations, sewage treatment and housing

Obama, where art thou?
Of course, both Israeli  and its main supplier of weapons (the US government) tried to delay any action on these findings.  We should question what effect this report will have on the ground while settlements continue to be built by Israel in the occupied territories and Palestinians remain imprisioned by the IDF in refugee camps in Gaza and elsewhere.

Even though so called democracies like Israel, Canada, and Australia did not have a vote on the human rights council they did their best to prevent any action being taken on the war crimes in Gaza by the UN or by the international court in the Hague. Continue reading

Aside

There is no excerpt because this is a protected post.