Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Age: It is time for Australia to set the refugees free

The Age Editorial December 28, 2015

Not since the Second World War has there been displacement of people on the scale that occurred in 2015; nor it seems, since that dark nadir of the 20th century, has there been such ugly division over how millions of people fleeing war and persecution might be helped.

They sailed in tiny rubber boats or wooden fishing vessels. They tramped through fields and along railway tracks, with children slung over their shoulders and old people leaning on canes. Some nations built wire fences and walls to keep them out. Some deployed armed forces, water cannon and dogs to deter them at border crossings.

Terrorism and civil wars have destabilised the governments of their nations, and always the wickedness of persecution rolls on. But instead of demonstrating compassion and care for the disadvantaged and dispossessed, political opportunists and fear-mongers have fomented wicked cynicism, racism and malice.

In Australia, our government continues to use the most despicable tactics to deter asylum seekers. For the past two years, this nation has turned back boats at sea, directing them to other countries. It has detained asylum seekers on naval vessels and handed them back to nations that persecute them for fleeing. Have we shown these people that this is a nation governed by wise and kindly people, or by political grandstanders pursuing their own interests?

The Age believes strongly, and we will say this until the policy ends, that the strategy of turning back boats carrying asylum seekers is ignoble. It demonstrates a paucity of imagination. It has been ruthlessly executed, without proper regard for the asylum claims of those people intercepted. And it has brought this nation into disrepute around the world.

The asylum seekers who arrive here have not broken the law. We will say it again: they are not "illegals". They have used the avenues allowed to anyone under international law – under the United Nations covenants to which Australia subscribes – to seek refuge from all forms of persecution.

It is time to call an amnesty, to end the imprisonment of people who came here seeking help and a better life. It is time to recognise that jailing people in detention facilities for years on end, denying them hope or any alternative, and treating them without compassion, is the most inhumane thing that we could do – short of shipping them back to the situation that they fear in their own countries.

No good can possibly be served by detaining people a day longer in camps in Third World nations. No good is served by denying refugees who are living in Australia the right to work. No good comes from demonising refugees, by ostracising them from the mainstream community.

Good will come by dissolving the oppressive, offshore prisons, by allowing the 827 people who have been detained for more than a year (436 for more than two years) to be let free and to be given a chance to make their way in this country.

The policy of locking up those who did arrive on Australian shores before late 2013, and detaining them on Nauru or Manus Island – where their options, if resettled, are extremely limited – defies common sense. It is costly, and it is a corruption of our vows to pursue humanitarian principles.

We call on the Turnbull government to allow all asylum seekers who are found to be refugees to join our community, on Australian soil. Give them the freedom to be productive members of our democracy, and show the world that we are made stronger by doing so, that we are a compassionate and free people, a resolute and confident nation that properly respects the full range of human rights.

Read more:

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

UK: National Health Service Singers – Defending 68 Years of Free Healthcare

Published on 15 Dec 2015
Please show you #LoveYourNHS by downloading the single NOW!!
http://www.nhsno1.com/download #NHS4XmasNo1 

Monday, December 14, 2015

GetUp – It's people vs big polluters

After 20 years of fraught negotiations, people like you around the world pushed our leaders to work together to tackle global warming. 

It's a phenomenal outcome. This is our chance to celebrate, reflect and ready ourselves for the real work to come.

It's a big step in the right direction. The world agreed to limit global warming to 2 degrees. And more importantly try for 1.5 degrees. It's bolder than almost anyone predicted.

On its own, it won't be enough. Australia's current policies won't get us anywhere near these targets. In fact, if every country sticks with their current domestic policies, we'll end up at somewhere between 3-4 degrees warming. An unmitigated disaster.

Forces are already at work to undermine the progress we've made. Without missing a beat, sceptics in the Liberal and National Parties are already doing everything they can to undermine the deal -- and they have the Murdoch press cheer squad on their side.

But worse still -- Environment Minister Greg Hunt and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop are using this historic agreement to back in the biggest polluters.

It's clear -- conservatives will do anything they can to undermine the Paris Climate Agreement -- and it's our job to stop them. 

We are at our most powerful during an election year, and one could be only months away. 

Can you volunteer to help change this election?

Friday, December 04, 2015

UK: Oldham – Labour Sweeps To Victory

Labour has comfortably won its first parliamentary byelection since Jeremy Corbyn became leader, storming ahead of Ukip by more than 10,000 votes in Oldham West and Royton in Greater Manchester.

Jim McMahon, the 35-year-old leader of Oldham council, will swap the town hall for Westminster after persuading 17,209 people to vote for him. Turnout was 40.26%, down from 59.6% at the general election in May, but not an embarrassment on a very rainy Thursday in December. McMahon increased Labour’s share of the vote to 62.27%, up 7.49%.

Live Corbyn: Jim McMahon's Oldham win is a 'vote of confidence' in Labour – live
Rolling coverage of reaction to Labour’s Jim McMahon winning the Oldham West and Royton byelection, with Jeremy Corbyn planning a visit to celebrate his victory

Ukip’s John Bickley, a Cheshire-based businessman, was runner-up, on 6,487. It was his fourth second place in Greater Manchester in less than two years, having lost out to Labour in byelections in Wythenshawe and Sale East in February 2014 and Heywood and Middleton in October 2015, failing again there in May’s general election.

The Conservatives were third on 2,596. The Liberal Democrats 1,024, the Greens 249.

In a statement McMahon said: “I am delighted to have been elected tonight. Michael Meacher was a close friend of mine and he was admired by people across the country as someone who worked tirelessly for the causes he believed in. I will do my best to live up to those high standards.

“My sole focus has always been on what is best for Oldham, I want to make our town a better place for my sons to grow up in and make it somewhere they can be proud of, my priority will always be Oldham.

“We also need to remember what is currently at stake under this Tory government. While everyone is looking the other way they are quietly pushing through cuts that will change the face of towns like Oldham.

“The sooner we kick the Tories out and get a Labour government back in the better for all of us. The hard work starts now.”

Widely expected to try to be the first elected mayor of Greater Manchester when elections take place in 2017, he surprised many by running in the byelection instead. “I’ve never been tempted to run for parliament before,” he said. “But it’s Oldham and I couldn’t not. There is so much I can do for this town in Westminster.”

Thursday, December 03, 2015

The Age Wednesday 10 January 1855 – Eureka Massacre

The Age Wednesday 10 January 1855 p. 5.

To the Editor of the Age.

Sir,—The late tragedy of blood at Ballarat has created a terrible sensation throughout the Australian colonies. I am not going beyond the truth in saying that in general there is but one feeling regarding the chief perpetrators of the deed, and that is of hatred and execration. The insult offered to the people of these colonies shall never be forgotten nor washed out, from their memories, and but for their strong love of peace and order, a most dire revenge would have been taken.

A more flagrant wrong, a more violent exercise of unlimited and irresponsible authority, a more daring piece of base injustice and absolute tyranny could not have been perpetrated than the recent whole- sale military and police butchery of the industrious citizens of Ballarat. Three years of misrule on the part of our rulers passed over without one act of violence by the people; again and again were strong incentives to a breach of the peace furnished them, but with a dignified forbearance and respect for authority and law worthy of them as good citizens, they replied to these, repeated acts, of provocative violence committed against their social, and personal liberties with a silence and sacrifice and good conduct which failed not to command respect in the breast of every honorable man.

Hundreds of miners on the various gold-fields, have been dragged from their work all over the diggings by the officers of the law to prison—because they have become debtors to the State—respectable men have been treated, over and over again in a manner disgraceful to any civilized Government. Our gold-fields' law administration has been the scene of the grossest corruption, the most wanton cruelty, often characterized by a malignity of purpose not to be misunderstood, a bold display of power unchecked, and of the most exasperating and insulting nature.

The victims have been made to tremble, and turn pale in the presence of their merciless judges, not a word allowed to be uttered in self-defence—even a look was sufficient to condtmn them, and send them to prison to be fed on bread and water with hard labor for a certain number of days, and if they dared to complain or make a noise; the gag was put in their mouths to stifle their cries. Men have looked on and wondered if they were in Russia, or within the regions of Satanic influence, or thougt it was all a dream—a fantasy. Scarcely a day has passed during the whole history of the Victorian gold-fields administration, but what could tell a tale of sorrow to many a digger's family.

Scores of industrious peaceable citizens have been treated as aliens and criminals, their feelings outraged—their religion cast in their faces—the place of their birth made a condem- nation against them. Vandemonian constables have been called in, and sworn to their identity as felons, where proof to the contrary existed. In fact, Mr Editor, it is impossible to give a true picture, the pen fails to do it, suffice it to say, that the residents on the Gold-fields have, for three long years submitted to a continual vio- lence scarcely credible by those, who are strangers to our circumstances and peculiar laws, and altogether foreign to the common usages of civilized society.

It is not to be wondered at that the boiler should , at length burst—that an explosion should take place. Amongst our mining popu- lation are high minded, intelligent; reflecting men, from all parts of the world. Many of these have had to submit to insult and degrada- tion—the victims of arbitrary power. As a natural consequence, their proud spirits, which were untainted with crime or dishonor, have been aroused into activity. The sleeping, but not dead, spirit of universal liberty, firmly im- planted by divine power in the soul of every man, has been awakened, and, therefore, the late agitations and the yet coming powerful organization of the oppress- ed and down-trodden people of the gold fields have sprung into living action—have become a startling and ominous reality—a problem which will exhaust the faculties and resources of our imbecile and blood-stained Government.

Sir Charles Hotham, with the advice of his Executive, has by his ill-judged and violent acts roused a spirit of open antagonism, to the present admininistration which I am pretty certain is not yet ended. Blood has been shed ; a number of Australians have been killed for defending a new faith, (politically speaking it is so). Repeated, incessant, imprudent acts of hostility on the part of the Government have driven them to adopt new ideas, and to give their, lives with enthusiasm on behalf of their new-born political creed.

The Eureka massacre will be handed down from father to son. This birth in blood of a new nation will hot, cannot die. Australia must pass through the fiery ordeal. Australia must have martyrs, but her progress onwards is certain. Those who have stained their souls with the blood of her sons will yet live to see my words a reality. The spirit of the age proclaims it, thousands of hearts throughout the boundaries of'Australia feel it, mourn it, and believe it, and all the power of thanes and despots shall not be able to stem the torrent of progress to such a consummation.

There, over those pallid bodies on which is stamped the finger of death, has the eternal vow been taken, neither persecutions nor revilings shall frighten or deter the followers of this new faith from going forward. The spirits of these dead men are with us ; it was beside their graves that the immortal vow was registered, and it will be from the monument to be erected over their sleeping bodies, that the great flag of human freedom shall float triumphantly over the ramparts of fallen despotism. Speak living history of the world ! Shall it not be so !

Mr. Editor, I have written this letter to assist the Commission of Enquiry in coming to a proper verdict. That body must have been well aware that so far as individual cases of complaint against officials were concerned, they would not get one half of the evidence. Man revolts against playing the part of an informer, but it was not because they could not have done so, but merely from an aversion to be informers. I have therefore written this letter to give publicity and expression to the system under which we have labored, so that all might rightly understand our position. I appeal to the people of the gold fields if I have not spoken the truth, and by their decision I will abide.

                                       I remain, Sir, yours most respectfully,
                                                                             AN AUSTRALIAN.
              Bendigo, 8th Jan., 1855.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Geelong Advertiser–The Eureka Massacre

Geelong Advertiser and Intelligencer Wednesday 6 December 1854 p. 4.
[From a Correspondent.] 

To the Editor of the Geelong Advertiser and Intelligencer. 

I will not tell you of the occurrences from Thursday last, further than informing you that ------ was shot at for attempting from the troopers, two carbines were discharged at him, one bullet grazed his hand, and injured his fingers, the other struck him somewhere in the body, when -------- jumped in the air, uttered a shriek and fell, scrambled up again, and disappeared amongst the tents. I see in the paper this circumstance alluded to, and it is quite correct. Friday you know all about, I will pass that over, and give you a faint outline of what passed under my own eves. 

During Saturday, there was a great deal of gloom, among the most orderly, who, complained much at the parade of soldiery, and the same cause excited a great deal of exaspiration in the minds of more enthu- siastic persons, who declared that all parties ought to show themselves, and declare whe- ther they were for, or against the diggers. 

Then came a notice from the Camp, that all lights were to be extinguished after eight o'clock, within half a mile from the Camp. At this time it was reported that there two thousand organised men at the Eureka barricade. I was sitting in my tent, and several neighbours dropped in to talk over affairs, and we sat down to tea, when a musket was heard to go off and the bullet whizzed closed by us, I douced the light, and we crept out on our hands and knees, and looked about Between the Camp and the Barricade there was a fire we had not seen before, and occsionlly lights appeared to be hoisted, like signals, which attracted the attention of a good many, some of whom said that they new other lights like return signals. It grew late, I and R------ lay down in our clothes, according to our practice for a week past, and warn out with perpetual alarms, excitement and fatigue, fall fast asleep. 

I didn't wake up till 6 o'clock on Sunday morning. The first thing that I saw was a number of diggers enclosed in a sort of hollow square, many of them were wounded, the blood dripping from them as they walked, some were walking lame, pricked on by the bayonets of the sol- diers bringing up the rear. The soldiers were much excited, and the troopers madly so, flourishing their swords and shouting out, " We have waked up Joe ! and others replied, "and sent Joe to sleep again." The diggers standard was carried by in triumph to the Camp, waved about in the air, then pitched from one to another, thrown down, and trampled on. 

The scene was awful—two and threes gathered together, and all felt stupified—I went with R-----to the barricade, the tents all around were in a blaze; I was about to go inside when a cry was raised that the troopers were coming again. They did come with carts to take away the bodies—I counted fifteen dead, one of them was C------ , a fine well educated man, and a great favorite; I recognised two others, but the spectacle was so ghastly that I felt a loathing at the remembrance. They all lay in a small space with their faces upwards, looking like lead ; several of them were still heaving, and at every rise of their breasts, the blood spouted out of their wounds, or just bubbled out and trickled away. One man, a stout chested fine fellow, apparently about forty years old lay with a pike beside him, he had three contusions in the head, three strokes across the brow, a bayonet wound in the throat under the ear, and other wounds in the body—I counted fifteen wounds in that single carcase. Some were bringing handkerchiefs, others bed furniture, and matting to cover up the faces of the dead. 

O ! God, Sir, it was a sight for a sabbath morn that I humbly implore Heaven may never be seen again.—Poor women crying for absent husbands, and children frightened into quietness. I, Sir, wright disinterestedly, but I hope my feelings rose from a true principle, and when I looked at that scene, my soul revolted at such means being so cruelly used by a Government to sustain the law. A little terrier sat on the breast of the man I spoke of and kept up a continuous howl, it was removed but always returned again to the same spot, and when his master's body was huddled with the other corpses into the cart, the little dog jumped in after him, and lying again on his dead master's breast began howling again. ------ was dead there also, and ------- , who escaped said that he was shot in the side by a trooper, when he offered his sword, as he was lying on the ground wounded, he expired directly ; another was lying dead just inside the barricade where he seemed to have crawled. Some of the bodies may have been removed I counted fifteen. 

A poor woman and her children were standing outside a tent, she said that the troopers had surrounded the tent and pierced it with their swords. She, her husband, and children were ordered out by the troopers, and were inspected in their night clothes outside, whilst the troopers searched the tent. Mr Haslam was roused from sleep by a volley of bullets fired through his tent, he rushed out, and was shot down by a trooper, and handcuffed. He lay there for two hours bleeding from a wound in his breast until his friends sent for a blacksmith who forced off the handcuffs with a hammer and cold chisel. 

When I last heard of Mr. Haslam a surgeon was attending him, and probing for the ball. R----- from Canada escaped the carnage, but is dead since from the wounds. R------ has affected his escape. V------- is reported to be amongst the wounded. One man by the road was seen yesterday trailing along, he said he could not last much longer, and his brother was shot alongside of him. All I spoke to, were of one opinion, that it was a cowardly massacre. 

There were only about a hundred and seventy diggers, and they were opposed to nearly six hundred military. I hope all is over, but fear not, for amongst many, the feeling is not of intimidation, but a cry cry for vengeance, and an opportunity to meet the soldiers with equal numbers. There is an awful list of casualties yet to come in, and when uncertainty is made certain, and relatives and friends know the worst, there will be gaps that cannot be filled up. I have little knowledge of the gold fields but I fear that the massacre at Eureka is only a skirmish. 

I bid farewell to the Gold Fields, and if what I have seen is a specimen of the government of Victoria the sooner I am out of it the better for myself and family. Sir, I am horrified at what I witnessed, and I did not see the worst of it. I could not breathe the blood tainted air of the diggings, and I have left them for ever. You may rely upon this simple statement, and submit it if you approve of it to your readers.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Sydney Climate Change Rally – 29 November 2015

Turnbull Puzzlement ...

Sydney Tongan Community
Bogans Against Climate Change

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Yanis Varoufakis on economics of war, terror and refugees

Yanis Varoufakis on economics of war, terror and refugees

CPSU: Biggest Climate March The World Has Ever Seen

The last weekend of November will see the biggest climate march the world has ever seen.

In towns and cities across the globe, citizens will gather on the eve of the world leaders meeting in Paris for the United Nations climate summit, to demand real action on climate change.

The CPSU has endorsed these rallies and will march with our members in cities across Australia.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Joe Hill Centenary – Rebel Girl

Lil Rev and Bucky Halker – Joe Hill Roadshow

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Poetical Essay on The Existing State of Things by Percy Bysshe Shelley – 1811

Percy Bysshe Shelley
DESTRUCTION marks thee! o’er the blood-stain’d heath
Is faintly borne the stifled wail of death;
Millions to fight compell’d, to fight or die
In mangled heaps on War's red altar lie.
The sternly wise, the mildly good, have sped
To the unfruitful mansions of the dead.
Whilst fell Ambition o’er the wasted plain
Triumphant guides his car—the ensanguin’d rein
Glory directs; fierce brooding o’er the scene,
With hatred glance, with dire unbending mien,
Fell Despotism sits by the red glare
Of Discord’s torch, kindling the flames of war.
For thee then does the Muse her sweetest lay
Pour ’mid the shrieks of war, ’mid dire dismay;
For thee does Fame’s obstrep’rous clarion rise,
Does Praise’s voice raise meanness to the skies.
Are we then sunk so deep in darkest gloom,
That selfish pride can virtue’s garb assume?
Does real greatness in false splendour live?
When narrow views the futile mind deceive,
When thirst of wealth, or frantic rage for fame,
Lights for awhile self-interest’s little flame,
When legal murders swell the lists of pride;
When glory’s views the titled idiot guide,
Then will oppression’s iron influence show
The great man’s comfort as the poor man’s woe.
Is’t not enough that splendour’s useless glare,
Real grandeur’s bane, must mock the poor man’s stare;
Is’t not enough that luxury’s varied power
Must cheat the rich parader’s irksome hour,
While what they want not, what they yet retain,
Adds tenfold grief, more anguished throbs of pain
To each unnumbered, unrecorded woe,
Which bids the bitterest tear of want to flow;
But that the comfort, which despotic sway
Has yet allowed, stern War must tear away.
    Ye cold advisers of yet colder kings,
To whose fell breast no passion virtue brings,
Who scheme, regardless of the poor man’s pang,
Who coolly sharpen misery’s sharpest fang,
Yourselves secure. Your’s is the power to breathe
O’er all the world the infectious blast of death,
To snatch at fame, to reap red murder’s spoil,
Receive the injured with a courtier’s smile,
Make a tired nation bless the oppressor’s name,
And for injustice snatch the meed of fame.
Were fetters made for anguish, for despair?
Must starving wretches torment, misery bear?
Who, mad with grief, have snatched from grandeur’s store,
What grandeur’s hand had snatched from them before.
Yet shall the vices of the great pass on,
Vices as glaring as the noon-day sun,
Shall rank corruption pass unheeded by,
Shall flattery’s voice ascend the wearied sky;
And shall no patriot tear the veil away
Which hides these vices from the face of day?
Is public virtue dead?—is courage gone?
Bows its fair form at fell oppression’s throne?
Yes! it’s torn away—the crimes appear,
Expiring Freedom asks a parting tear,
A powerful hand unrolls the guilt-stain’d veil,
A powerful voice floats on the tainted gale,
Rising corruption’s error from beneath,
A shape of glory checks the course of death;
It spreads its shield o’er freedom’s prostrate form,
Its glance disperses envy’s gathering storm;
No trophied bust need tell thy sainted name,
No herald blazon to the world thy fame,
Nor scrolls essay an endless meed to give;
In grateful memory still thy deeds must live.
No sculptured marble shall be raised to thee,
The hearts of England will thy memoirs be.
To thee the Muse attunes no venal lyre,
No thirsts of gold the vocal lays inspire;
No interests plead, no fiery passions swell;
Whilst to thy praise she wakes her feeble shell,
She need not speak it, for the pen of fame
On every heart has written BURDETT’S name;
For thou art he, who dared in tumult’s hour,
Dauntless thy tide of eloquence to pour;
Who, fearless, stemmed stern Despotism’s source,
Who traced Oppression to its foulest course;
Who bade Ambition tremble on its throne—
How could I virtue name, how yet pass on
Thy name!—though fruitless thy divine essay,
Though vain thy war against fell power’s array,
Thou taintless emanation from the sky!
Thou purest spark of fires which never die!
    Yet let me pause, yet turn aside to weep
Where virtue, genius, wit, with Franklin sleep;
To bend in mute affliction o’er the grave
Where lies the great, the virtuous, and the brave;
Still let us hope in Heaven (for Heaven there is)
That sainted spirit tastes ethereal bliss,
That sainted spirit the reward receives,
Which endless goodness to its votary gives.
Thine be the meed to purest virtue due—
Alas! the prospect closes to the view.
Visions of horror croud upon my sight,
They shed around their forms substantial night.
Oppressors’ venal minions! hence, avaunt!
Think not the soul of Patriotism to daunt;
Though hot with gore from India’s wasted plains,
Some Chief, in triumph, guides the tightened reins;
Though disembodied from this mortal coil,
Pitt lends to each smooth rogue a courtier’s smile;
Yet does not that severer frown withhold,
Which, though impervious to the power of gold,
Could daunt the injured wretch, could turn the poor
Unheard, unnoticed, from the statesman’s door
This is the spirit which can reckless tell
The fatal trump of useless war to swell;
Can bid Fame’s loudest voice awake his praise,
Can boldly snatch the honorary bays.
Gifts to reward a ruthless, murderous deed,
A crime for which some poorer rogue must bleed.
Is this then justice?—stretch thy powerful arm,
Patriot, dissolve the frigorific charm,
Awake thy loudest thunder, dash the brand
Of stern Oppression from the Tyrant’s hand;
Let reason mount the Despot’s mouldering throne,
And bid an injured nation cease to moan.
Why then, since justice petty crimes can thrall,
Should not its power extend to each, to all?
If he who murders one to death is due,
Should not the great destroyer perish too?
The wretch beneath whose influence millions bleed?
And yet encomium is the villain’s meed.
His crime the smooth-tongued flatterers conquest name,
Loud in his praises swell the notes of Fame.
Oblivion marks the murdering poor man’s tomb,
Brood o’er his memory contempt and gloom;
His crimes are blazoned in deformed array,
His virtues sink, they fade for aye away.
Snatch then the sword from nerveless virtue’s hand,
Boldly grasp native jurisdiction’s brand;
For justice, poisoned at its source, must yield
The power to each its shivered sword to wield,
To dash oppression from the throne of vice,
To nip the buds of slavery as they rise.
Does jurisprudence slighter crimes restrain,
And seek their vices to controul in vain?
Kings are but men, if thirst of meanest sway
Has not that title even snatched away.—
    The fainting Indian, on his native plains,
Writhes to superior power’s unnumbered pains;
The Asian, in the blushing face of day,
His wife, his child, sees sternly torn away;
Yet dares not to revenge, while war’s dread roar
Floats, in long echoing, on the blood-stain’d shore.
In Europe too wild ruin rushes fast:
See! like a meteor on the midnight blast,
Or evil spirit brooding over gore,
Napoleon calm can war, can misery pour.
May curses blast thee; and in thee the breed
Which forces, which compels, a world to bleed;
May that destruction, which ’tis thine to spread,
Descend with ten-fold fury on thy head.
Oh! may the death, which marks thy fell career,
In thine own heart’s blood bathe the empoisoned spear;
May long remorse protract thy latest groan,
Then shall Oppression tremble on its throne.
Yet this alone were vain; Freedom requires
A torch more bright to light its fading fires;
Man must assert his native rights, must say
We take from Monarchs’ hand the granted sway;
Oppressive law no more shall power retain,
Peace, love, and concord, once shall rule again,
And heal the anguish of a suffering world;
Then, then shall things, which now confusedly hurled,
Seem Chaos, be resolved to order’s sway,
And errors night be turned to virtue’s day.—

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Dismissal – 11 November 1975 – Audio Recordings

Shelley – Poetical Essay on the Existing State of Things – 1811

An incendiary lost poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley, in which the young poet attacks the “cold advisers of yet colder kings” who “coolly sharpen misery’s sharpest fang … regardless of the poor man’s pang”, was made public for the first time in more than 200 years on Tuesday. It was only attributed to him 50 years after his death and was later rediscovered in a private collection in 2006. It has been bought by Oxford University for an undisclosed sum.

The 20-page pamphlet, which is the only copy known to survive, will also be available online.
Shelley wrote the work during 1810 and 1811, while studying for his first year at the university.
It addresses issues such as the abuse of the press, dysfunctional political institutions, and the global impact of war.

Printed by a stationers on Oxford High Street, it also contains a 10-page poem of 172 lines written under the alias of a "gentleman of the University of Oxford".

Shelley was just 18 and in his first year at Oxford University when he wrote his Poetical Essay on the Existing State of Things. The 172-line poem, accompanied by an essay and Shelley’s notes, was written in support of the Irish journalist Peter Finnerty, who had been jailed for libelling the Anglo-Irish politician Viscount Castlereagh.

Printed in 1811 by a stationers on Oxford High Street, under the alias of “a gentleman of the University of Oxford”, it was only attributed to Shelley 50 years after his death, when copies were already said to be impossible to find. The work was considered lost until it was rediscovered in a private collection in 2006, and has only been viewed by a handful of scholars since.

Now the 20-page printed pamphlet – the only known copy of the text in existence – has been acquired by the Bodleian Library. The library has digitised the text to make it available to the general public for the first time. It will display the physical copy, which is the 12 millionth book to join its collections, until December.

The themes Shelley addresses, said Oxford as it made its announcement, “remain as relevant today as they were 200 years ago”. Michael Rossington, professor of Romantic literature at the University of Newcastle, said it was a “tremendously exciting” moment, with the poem revealing Shelley’s “early interest in the big issues of his day and his belief that poetry can be used to alter public opinion and effect change”.

“This substantial poem has been known about for years, but as far as we know it hasn’t been read by any Shelley biographers or scholars since it was composed, and people are intrigued to find out exactly what it’s about,” said Rossington.

In the poem, Shelley calls for “a total reform in the licentiousness, luxury, depravity, prejudice, which involve society”.

A fiery denunciation of war and oppression, the abuse of press and dysfunctional political institutions, his poem goes even further, asking if “rank corruption” shall “pass unheeded by”, mourning how “Millions to fight compell’d, to fight or die / In mangled heaps on War’s red altar lie”. He also fulminates against the “cold advisers of yet colder kings … who scheme, regardless of the poor man’s pang, / Who coolly sharpen misery’s sharpest fang, / Yourselves secure.”

The poet and former children’s laureate Michael Rosen, who has agitated for the poem to be made public since it was rediscovered in 2006, said that at times in the poem Shelley strays close to sedition, despite the young writer’s assertion at the start that the poem is not “subversive of the existing interests of Government”.

“It was dangerous of Shelley to write that ‘Man must assert his native rights, must say / we take from Monarchs’ hand the granted sway’”, said Rosen.

“The poem has great topicality for now with its mention of ministers supporting war and foreign oppression … Edward Said was at pains to point out that he couldn’t find any objection to colonialism and imperialism in English literature. Here it is. Shelley spends a good few lines on pointing out the oppression of British imperialism in India,” said Rosen, highlighting how Shelley writes that “The fainting Indian, on his native plains, / Writhes to superior power’s unnumbered pains.”

“Even as Lynton Crosby comes up with yet another phrase to sustain this government in power (‘we must live within our means’), this poem appears. Wonderful reminder that ’twas ever thus,” said the poet.

Rosen pointed out that the poem also sees Shelley write of government advisers, “To whose fell breast no passion virtue brings”, who have the power to “breathe / O’er all the world the infectious blast of death”, and to “Make a tired nation bless the oppressor’s name”.

Rosen said the poem was full of “portable triggers, lines of political outrage for people to catch and hold”. He added: “Political writing is often like that, but in times of oppression and struggle, this is no bad thing: a portable phrase to carry with us may help us.”

Shelley’s poem begins:

DESTRUCTION marks thee! o’er the blood-stain’d heath
Is faintly borne the stifled wail of death;
Millions to fight compell’d, to fight or die
In mangled heaps on War's red altar lie.
The sternly wise, the mildly good, have sped
To the unfruitful mansions of the dead.
Whilst fell Ambition o’er the wasted plain
Triumphant guides his car—the ensanguin’d rein
Glory directs; fierce brooding o’er the scene,
With hatred glance, with dire unbending mien,
Fell Despotism sits by the red glare
Of Discord’s torch, kindling the flames of war.
For thee then does the Muse her sweetest lay
Pour ’mid the shrieks of war, ’mid dire dismay;
For thee does Fame’s obstrep’rous clarion rise,
Does Praise’s voice raise meanness to the skies.
Are we then sunk so deep in darkest gloom,
That selfish pride can virtue’s garb assume?
Does real greatness in false splendour live?
When narrow views the futile mind deceive,
When thirst of wealth, or frantic rage for fame,
Lights for awhile self-interest’s little flame,
When legal murders swell the lists of pride;
When glory’s views the titled idiot guide,
Then will oppression’s iron influence show
The great man’s comfort as the poor man’s woe.
Is’t not enough that splendour’s useless glare,
Real grandeur’s bane, must mock the poor man’s stare;
Is’t not enough that luxury’s varied power
Must cheat the rich parader’s irksome hour,
While what they want not, what they yet retain,
Adds tenfold grief, more anguished throbs of pain
To each unnumbered, unrecorded woe,
Which bids the bitterest tear of want to flow;
But that the comfort, which despotic sway
Has yet allowed, stern War must tear away.

The full work can downloaded HERE

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Climate Change Victory – Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline Rejected

We just made history together. 4 years to the day after we surrounded the White House, President Obama has rejected the Presidential Permit for the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline!

This is huge.

A head of state has never rejected a major fossil fuel project because of its climate impacts before. The President's decision sets the standard for what climate action looks like: standing up to the fossil fuel industry, and keeping fossil fuels in the ground.

Make no mistake: this victory belongs to us, the movement. President Obama's courage today is a reflection of the courage shown by thousands of people who have sat in, marched and organized (and opened a lot of emails) against this pipeline.

This fight started with First Nations in Canada where the tar sands are extracted, and spread to farmers, ranchers and tribal nations along the pipeline route. Since then, people from all walks of life have joined hands against Keystone, and the 830,000 barrels per day of destructive tar sands oil it would have carried through the country to be burned.

Together, we have shown what it takes to win: a determined, principled, unrelenting grassroots movement that takes to the streets whenever necessary, and isn't afraid to put our bodies on the line.

Politicians in Washington DC didn’t make this happen. Our movement did. We want to thank everyone who has been a part of this campaign -- from calling Congress to getting arrested on the White House fence.

Powered by our organizing, the tide is turning against the fossil fuel industry -- every major new project they propose is being met by organized opposition on the ground, and politicians are lining up to stand behind our movement and say that we must keep the vast majority of fossil fuels underground.

Resistance is growing because the fossil fuel industry is more reckless than ever: from Texas where the Southern leg of Keystone XL pumps toxic tar sands, to Alberta where Big Oil foolishly plans to expand its mines, to California where they want to frack during a historic drought, to the enormous coal pits of Australia and Appalachia.

We have more tools than ever to work with. A strong fossil fuel resistance is already taking shape across the globe. Since we began fighting Keystone XL, the movement for divestment from fossil fuels has grown into a global powerhouse able to move tens of billions of dollars and undercut the social license of the fossil fuel industry. Fracking bans have stopped drilling in towns, counties and now whole states across the country. Communities are seizing their energy futures by demanding 100% renewable power in record numbers.

And when world leaders meet in Paris later this year, they’ll do so knowing what our movement can do, and what climate action really looks like: keeping fossil fuels in the ground.

Today we can approach all of our work with new eyes. We know that we can fight, and we can win.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Murrumu Walubara Yidindji renounces citizenship to reclaim Australia

November 2, 2015

Murrumu Walubara Yidindji is the foreign minister of Yidindji sovereign nation, an Indigenous tribal group that has renounced ties with Australia.

A small Aboriginal tribal group that has established its own government and renounced legal ties with Australia aims to make history by entering into the first Indigenous treaty with the Commonwealth.

The Sovereign Yidindji Government, whose lands stretch south of Port Douglas, through Cairns, inland across the Atherton Tablelands and 80km out to sea, says it wants to help Australia overcome the legal conundrum of operating on Yidindji territory without consent.

"The Commonwealth of Australia does not have consent or a treaty to enter Yidindji territory."

Murrumu Walubara Yidindji, the foreign affairs minister, said his government was similar to the Vatican City State – with its own laws, language and institutions.

To the Yidindji people, Australia is a "foreign entity".

"The Commonwealth of Australia does not have consent or a treaty to enter Yidindji territory, so we had to show the leadership to create our own institutions of government," Murrumu told Fairfax Media on a visit to Sydney.

"It doesn't have any validity in law."

Formerly a journalist known as Jeremy Geia, Murrumu has renounced his Australian citizenship, relinquished his passport and bank accounts, and eschews Australian currency.

"Australia, we can see the injury you've got," he said.

"We can cure it and we're not going to send you a bill for it. It's a hearts and minds game and all we're saying is we have our own jurisdiction."

On Sunday, he sent his condolences as Yidindji foreign affairs minister to the people of Russia after an horrific plane crash in which all 224 passengers on board perished.

Read more:

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Sydney: Joe Hill Centennial Concert, Saturday 21 November 2015

Working-class hero, Joe Hill, died 100 years ago and there will be a concert to celebrate his life, music and legacy at the Teachers Federation Auditorium, 37 Reservoir Street, Surry Hills on Saturday 21st November from 7.30pm.

Joe Hill was a Union organiser and songwriter for the IWW (Industrial Workers of the World) aka the Wobblies. Hill was framed for murder in the state of Utah – the authorities weren’t able to prove their allegations but his political activism was enough to convict him – and he was shot 19th November 1915 at the age of 36 to become the man who never died. His spirit lives on in songs like Casey Jones, The Preacher and the Slave, songs still sung at Union rallies; and many will never forget Paul Robeson singing the tribute to Hill ‘I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night’ during the construction of the Sydney Opera House in 1960.

The performers on Saturday 21st November are George Mann (USA) who has been part of the Joe Hill 100 Roadshow in America over the last few months and is giving a brief tour of eastern Australia; Maurie Mulheron, renowned for his infectious interpretation of Pete Seeger songs; The Sydney Trade Union Choir; Margaret and Bob Fagan; and a surprise guest or two. Come along prepared to sing your hearts out.

Tickets are available online for $20/$15 at www.stickytickets.com  Any proceeds go to APHEDA – Union Aid Abroad. The venue is a five minute walk from Central Station. Enquiries: margaretwalters2@gmail.com or phone 0427 958 788.  The concert is a joint initiative of the NSW Teachers Federation and the Folk Federation of NSW.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Peter Neilson – 27 October – 15 November – Australian Galleries

27 October – 15 November – Australian Galleries

35 Derby St
VIC 3066
T +61 [0] 3 9417 4303

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Monday, October 12, 2015

Monday, September 21, 2015

Cuba: Pope Francis celebrates Mass in Havana

Standing in the symbolic heart of political Cuba, Pope Francis on Sunday began his first full day in the island nation with an outdoor Mass at Revolution Plaza attended by President Raúl Castro and other leaders, and later met with the country’s former leader, Fidel Castro.

At Revolution Plaza, Francis arrived at about 8:30 a.m. in his familiar open-air popemobile, which moved through the crowd of thousands of people before delivering him to a covered stage for the service. Francis praised the vibrancy of the Cuban people and urged them to pursue a Christian model of selfless service.

“Whatever wishes to be great must serve others, not be served by others,” Francis said during his homily.

The scene blended faith, politics and revolution: Huge portraits of two revolutionary heroes, Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos, overlook the square, which also had large banners of Jesus and Mother Teresa. Francis was scheduled for a private meeting later in the day with President Castro. Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, president of Francis’ native Argentina, also was in attendance.

In such a political setting, Francis made his most directly political remarks not about Cuba but on the Colombia peace talks underway here in Havana. Francis urged negotiators for the Colombian government and the FARC rebels to find a solution and end the decades-old conflict in their country.

“We do not have the right to allow ourselves yet another failure on this path of peace and reconciliation,” Francis said at the end of the Mass.

Afterward, the pope went to the home of Fidel Castro for what was described as informal visit with the leader of Cuba’s 1959 revolution. A papal spokesman said that Francis gave Mr. Castro a copy of his encyclical on the environment, “Laudato Si,” and several books. The meeting lasted about 40 minutes.

Francis’s trip through Cuba offers a telling look at unique challenges, and influence, that the first Latin American pontiff has obtained in his native region. He is part rock star, part diplomat and part politician — even as his overriding priority is spiritual, and focused here on the Cuban church.

His outsized profile has also lifted expectations and pressures that he takes public positions on charged issues, like political and religious freedom. Cuban dissidents are pushing for the pope to meet them.

At the outdoor Mass, Francis cited the biblical story of the disciples quarreling over their importance — and Jesus’ rebuke of them — as an object lesson against “those who would be chosen for privileges, who would be above the common law, the general norm, in order to stand out in their quest for superiority over others.”

A spectrum of Cubans, from the devout to the secular, turned out to see the Mass, filling the entire plaza. Waves of people cheered and snapped photographs as he passed.

Greece: Dramatic Victory for Syriza

When the first exit polls flashed up on the big screen in the same marquee at 7pm local time on Sunday, there were as many reporters, photographers and cameramen as there were party supporters. But as the night wore on and what had long looked the most uncertain of outcomes was steadily transformed into a dramatic, even a remarkable triumph, the crowd multiplied.

By the time the centre-right New Democracy leader, Vangelis Meimarakis, conceded defeat and Syriza and its leader, the outgoing premier Alexis Tsipras, seemed on course to win almost as many seats as it had nine months ago, the cheering, chanting, flagwaving and foot-stamping throng was in electoral ecstasy.

“It’s a great, great night,” Anastasia Giamali, Syriza’s candidate in Athens’s second electoral district, shouted above the strains of the anti-fascist anthem Bella Ciao belting from a loudspeaker. “Syriza suffered a major setback, there’s no denying it.

“But the people have shown as much responsibility as we did. They saw that we had done our best, that we had tried to help those who we defend – the poor, the unemployed, the bankrupt. This is a massive endorsement for Alexis Tsipras. He has won hearts and he has won minds.”

As if to prove her point, the tent erupted when Tsipras put in a brief appearance later, bounding onto the stage to tell his voters they had won a “great victory”. He had a “crystal clear” four-year mandate to “rid Greece of its corrupt old system”, he said, but warned of hard work ahead: “We won’t recover from the struggle by magic.”

There is, certainly, a long and very painful road ahead: the new government is already committed, under the terms of the cash-for-reforms rescue package, to undertake a root-and-branch overhaul of the shattered Greek economy, accompanied by radical changes to the country’s health, welfare, pensions and tax systems.

But on Sunday night it was hard to duck the euphoria. Giamali gushed that the victory really belonged to Syriza’s youthful, 41-year-old leader: “He was the first Greek prime minister to at least try to negotiate with the creditors. He was the first to admit he made mistakes.

“Above all, he was the first to really tell the truth: to say: ‘This will hurt, but it is necessary and we’ll do everything in our power to soften the blow for the weakest in society – not the strongest – whom we defend.”

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Jeremy Corbyn – Stunning Victory

Election of backbench MP and anti-war campaigner means party now has one of the most leftwing, anti-establishment leaders in its history

Jeremy Corbyn has been elected leader of the Labour party in the UK in a stunning first-round victory that was bigger than the mandate for Tony Blair in 1994.

Corbyn won with nearly 59.5% of first-preference votes, beating rivals Andy Burnham, who trailed on 19%, and Yvette Cooper who received 17%. The “Blairite” candidate Liz Kendall came last on 4.5%.

Minutes after his victory, Corbyn said the message is that people are “fed up with the injustice and the inequality” of Britain.

“The media and many of us, simply didn’t understand the views of young people in our country. They were turned off by the way politics was being conducted. We have to and must change that. The fightback gathers speed and gathers pace,” he said.

The north London MP is one of the most unexpected winners of the party leadership in its history, after persuading Labour members and supporters that the party needed to draw a line under the New Labour era of Blair and Gordon Brown.

Having been catapulted from a little-known member of parliament to leader of the opposition, he will now set about apologising for the Iraq war and strongly opposing cuts to public services and welfare. He will start off on Saturday with a speech to a rally in London in support of refugees.

Addressing the party’s new members who helped propel him to victory, he said: “Welcome to our party, welcome to our movement. And I say to those returning to the party, who were in it before and felt disillusioned and went away: welcome back, welcome home.”

Corbyn also launched a forthright attack on the media, saying its behaviour had been at times “intrusive, abusive and simply wrong”.

“I say to journalists: attack public political figures. That is ok but please don’t attack people who didn’t ask to be put in the limelight. Leave them alone in all circumstances,” he said.

In generous tributes to the other candidates, he applauded Burnham for his work on health, Kendall for her friendship during the campaign and Cooper for helping to shape the political narrative on Britain taking more refugees.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Indigenous rights organiser Kevin Cook 'opened the pathways' for all Australians

SMH August 19, 2015

Kevin "Cookie" Cook, a Wandandian and Yuin​ man, was born in Wollongong in September, 1939. After work in the steel mills, he headed to Sydney to work on the new high-rise city buildings. Cookie became a dogman, the dangerous job riding the loads up the towers. This was a dramatic time in the industry: the Builders Labourers' Federation had shifted to leadership by workers from the job sites, making uncompromising demands for safety and developing green bans to protect residents and the environment.

Cook brought his knowledge of Aboriginal and migrant communities together with these new BLF methods when he became the organiser for Aboriginal BLs on the Redfern Housing Company, and worked with the National Black Theatre in Redfern, before becoming involved in Tranby​ Aboriginal Adult Education Cooperative College in 1975. He believed cooperatives were useful for Aboriginal communities, but went further.

Cook had seen for himself in Wollongong how the education system was failing Aboriginal kids. With Tranby​ support, he spent six months at Coady Cooperative Institute in Canada, meeting activists from Africa and around the world, building international networks. He returned to become General Secretary of Tranby​ and built it into a centre for adult learning and cultural revival. Young Aboriginal men and women travelled from across the country to undertake courses in basic literacy, community studies, business training and preparation for tertiary education.

Cook used his many contacts and his enthusiasm to draw in young activists. One was Brian Doolan, a teacher working in the Wilcannia community who became Tranby's​ first Director of Studies. There were Indigenous educators like Terry Widders​ and Lynette Riley, unionists and academics. At first it was mostly unpaid until, after lots of submission writing, support flowed from the new Federal Aboriginal Education structures.

Cook was taking an active role in NSW political life, becoming involved in the Labor Party's Aboriginal Affairs Policy Committee, with Bob Bellear​, Rod Pickette​ and Meredith Burgmann​. At the same time, Kevin was building his Trade Union networks, setting up the Trade Union Committee on Aboriginal Rights (TUCAR) at Tranby​ to strengthen communication between unions and Indigenous organisations.

But Cook's priority was education in the community. Despite struggling with funding, Tranby​ started courses in communities – with many in the bush. The funding mainstays were unions like the MUA, individual donations and the backing of the Australian Council of Churches. Linked with the courses running at the college and those in communities, he built links with campaigners on issues such as Aboriginal Deaths in Custody and the Stolen Generations.

At the same time, Kevin developed Tranby​ as a base for bush people involved in the struggle for Land Rights in NSW. From 1979 to 1983, Kevin was chair of the first NSW Aboriginal Land Council, a community organisation which led campaigning for land rights. He travelled from one end of the state to another, getting to know and listen to communities and to bring their concerns to centre stage. The final NSW Bill in 1983 was a frustrating mix which recognised some rights but took away others. After much consultation, Cook decided to work with the new Land Rights Act as Chairperson of the Interim Land Council, set up to organise the policy's structures. He insisted that community voices should be heard, and encouraged many different strategies to achieve land rights – some within the Act like land claims and others outside it altogether, such as heritage protection.

Through this time, Tranby​ offered support for communities struggling with the new policy's demands by running new courses in rural areas to build skills in accounting, legal and management skills. National Land Rights laws were promised in the early 1980s and a unified national Aboriginal response was needed.

Pat Dodson has said of Kevin that he "opened the pathways" by which leaders from all states could feel safe and confident in their new relationships with those from other states. Cook built those national relationships which brought the Federation of Land Councils into being. This network built the foundation for the push into the international arena. In the mid 1980s, Cook and Aboriginal unionists used their ACTU standing to take the arguments for Indigenous rights into the International Labour Organisation, then revising Convention 107 on Indigenous people. As unionists, they demanded the ILO listen to Indigenous people in any vote on Indigenous labour conditions. Their arguments won: the ILO meetings were henceforth opened to hear Indigenous people speak on Convention 107.

His view was that these were issues of social justice.

"We needed to take it out of this narrow focus of 'these are issues for Aboriginal people and Aboriginal people need to be the ones that fight it'. These issues do restrict and oppress indigenous peoples. But we needed to involve a much larger portion of the community to achieve what needed to be achieved, because it was a thing for all of us. It wasn't just a thing for black fellas. It was for all Australians."

In the later 1980s, despite his worsening emphysema, Cook continued to nurture the innovative role of Tranby​ in education, national and international politics. As a national hub, Kevin enabled Tranby​ to be the base for the long march Bicentenary Celebrations in 1988. Over this same time, his support for international movements was extensive, building on the links he had made at Coady Institute, Tranby​ had visits from Hilda Lini​ and Barak Sope​ from Vanuatu; Herbert Chitepo​, the Zimbabwean leader; Oliver Tambo, Nelson Mandela's ANC comrade; and from Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

In the last years of his life, bed-bound and using an oxygen mask, Cook remained more active than most healthy people. Young Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal researchers would often drop in to visit him. And he stayed closely in touch by phone with activists from across the country.

Kevin Cook was an Aboriginal activist, a worker, a trade unionist, a leftie and an internationalist. All those things explain why he was admired, but not the mourning following his death. He thought that everyone had a value, and he worked on that principle. In an era when many of our leaders have egos that need their own postcode, Cook had no need for an ego to be stroked and did not have a grain of pretentiousness. He liked to assist, help, promote and encourage other people and never to take the limelight.

It was why people who might not work with each other elsewhere, would find they could come together within his framework and why, as Terry O'Shane joked, before people met him, "They thought he was 10 foot high and bullet-proof!" Cook was not someone who came to believe that everyone was equal. It'd just never occurred to him that it would be any other way.

Kevin Cook is survived by his brother Ronnie, sister Joy, cousin Kathy and by his children Suzie and Mereki and first wife, Margaret. In the early 1980s he entered a life-long partnership with Judy Chester, sharing her life and her children: Peter, Jody and Janette, and five grandchildren.

Paul Torzillo and Heather Goodall

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