Australian senator joins neo-nazi anti-African rally


This 2 May 2018 Australian TV video says about itself:

The foreign fighters in Ukraine who Australia’s laws won’t stop [because the Ukrainian far-right paramilitarists are sanctioned by the Ukrainian government]

When Australian former (?) Neo-Nazi and registered gun owner Ethan Tilling flew into Brisbane this year, he was returning under the radar of Australian authorities with newfound combat experience from a brutal and forgotten war. Read more here.

By Patrick O’Connor in Australia:

Australian senator participates in neo-Nazi rally

7 January 2019

After heavy promotion in the media, a neo-Nazi rally in Melbourne on Saturday gathered fewer than 150 fascists at St Kilda beach and failed in its aim of fomenting a pogrom against young people of African background. The most politically significant aspect of the rally was the presence of federal Senator Fraser Anning who openly solidarised himself with the white supremacist racism of the neo-Nazis.

The rally was organised amid an ongoing, racist campaign by the media and political establishment over so-called “African gangs” in Melbourne. Whether an incident of theft and assault is reported as news or not now depends on the colour of the alleged perpetrator’s skin. If black, then the spectre of “African gangs” is immediately invoked. The press previously promoted the threat purportedly posed by the so-called “Apex gang”, even after the police admitted no such group existed. In the last month, a new alleged gang, comprising children aged between 14 and 17 and labelled “Blood Drill Killers”, has led to further lurid headlines.

Several openly fascist groups, led by the United Patriots Front, sought to capitalise on the media-stoked xenophobia by organising an event to “take back” St Kilda beach. United Patriots Front leader Blair Cottrell, a convicted criminal and admirer of Adolph Hitler, organised the provocation in a Melbourne suburb that has a large Jewish population. Just days earlier, neo-Nazis stuck swastikas on a nearby aged-care home. Fascist supporters openly discussed in online forums their hope to recreate the violence seen in Cronulla, Sydney in 2005, when Muslim beach-goers were attacked by a racist mob incited and encouraged by media shock jocks.

Senator Fraser Anning promoted the rally last week through several racist posts on Twitter. The day before the event, he posted a digitally altered image featuring black men with knives alongside a burning Australian flag, with a statement labelling “black Africans” as “grubs” who “hunt in packs like stalking jackals.”

Anning appeared alongside Cottrell during the rally. Several of those in attendance were recorded giving the fascist salute, while one appeared wearing an SS helmet.

A massive deployment of police was ordered by the Victorian Labor Party government to prevent a confrontation between the neo-Nazis and a far larger counter-demonstration organised by anti-racist groups.

Anning later denied that the event was a “racist rally” and falsely declared that the only Nazi salutes were given by the counter-protestors. The Queensland senator described the fascists as “decent Australian people”. Anning also defended claiming parliamentary subsidies for his return business class flight from Brisbane to Melbourne to attend the rally, declaring it was “official business”.

Anning was elected to parliament in 2016 as a member of the extreme-right One Nation Party, only to subsequently defect to the Katter Australia Party. He now sits as an independent, following the furore over his parliamentary maiden speech last August, in which he called for a return to a “White Australia” immigration policy. Combining ferocious anti-communism with anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim demagogy, Anning demanded a “final solution to the immigration problem.”

Anning’s attendance at the rally has provoked an outpouring of utterly hypocritical criticism in the media and by mainstream political figures. The chief responsibility for Anning’s presence in the parliament, and the emergence of fascist groupings like the United Patriots Front, lies with the entire Australian political establishment. For decades, successive Liberal-National Coalition and Labor governments have stoked paranoia over refugees attempting to enter the country. Since 2001 and the launch of the “war on terror”, the Muslim community has been vilified and persecuted as potential terrorists to justify Australian involvement in the invasions and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, and the US-led intervention in Syria.

Since 2016, under conditions in which Australia is fully aligned with the US military build-up in Asia and preparations for war with China, a new campaign has developed alleging that Australians of Chinese background are potentially a dangerous fifth column for the Chinese regime.

In every instance, the scapegoating is intended to divert mounting social tensions into reactionary nationalist channels and protect the interests of the corporate elite. Amid a worsening economic and political crisis, its purpose is to promote division and backwardness and cut across the development of unified working-class resistance to deepening social inequality and hardship.

Twelve months ago, in an open pitch to a narrow extreme right wing constituency, then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull denounced “African gang crime,” alleging that it was responsible for “growing lawlessness” in Victoria. Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton followed with the claim that people in Melbourne were “scared” to go out to dinner because of “these gangs”. The federal Labor opposition joined in by criticising the government for not handing over more money to the Australian Federal Police.

The state Victorian Labor government of Premier Daniel Andrews responded by boasting of its “law and order” credentials, including locking up children in adult high security prisons, increasing mandatory jail terms for various offences, and increasing police spending by an unprecedented $2 billion, expanding the number of officers by 20 percent.

The entire media, from the Murdoch press to the state-owned Australian Broadcasting Corporation, has given prominent coverage to so-called African crime on the one hand, and has increasingly promoted various right wing and openly fascist formations on the other.

In January last year, Channel 7 News featured a segment describing Blair Cottrell and other fascists as “patriots”, and promoting their attempt to create violent vigilante groups as “a kind of neighbourhood watch.” The ABC reported a December 28 provocation staged on St Kilda beach by fascist Neil Erikson—who aggressively video-recorded a group of black youth peacefully playing soccer—as a “clash” between “activists” and “youths of African appearance.”

The Australian ruling class, steeped in colonial genocide and white nationalism, has a long record of promoting racist divide-and-rule policies. However, the emergence and promotion of neo-Nazi tendencies now reflects international processes.

Fascist movements in Europe and other regions have emerged due to high-level sponsorship from within the state apparatus. In Germany, for example, the neo-Nazis in the Alternative fur Deutschland (AfD) were designated the official opposition party in the Reichstag despite winning just 12 percent of the vote. The German fascists also benefitted from support from the media, academia, and within the security apparatus, including the secret service. In Italy, the ultra-right Lega party has been brought directly into the government.

The small attendance at Saturday’s racist rally in Melbourne—despite the wide media coverage beforehand—underscores the absence of a mass constituency in Australia for fascism. The involvement of Senator Fraser Anning, however, must be taken by the working class as a serious warning. Extreme right-wing forces now enjoy open support from within the federal parliament. There is no reason to doubt that, just as in Europe, they have sympathisers within the state apparatus, including the military, the police and intelligence apparatus.

The New Year statement published by the WSWS on January 3, “The Strategy of International Class Struggle and the Political Fight Against Capitalist Reaction in 2019”, explained: “Fascism is not yet, as it was in the 1930s, a mass movement. But to ignore the growing danger would be politically irresponsible. With the support of sections of the ruling class and the state, right-wing movements have been able to exploit demagogically the frustration and anger felt by the broad mass of the population.”

The statement continued: “In this situation, the fight against the resurgence of extreme right-wing and fascistic movements is an urgent political task. All historical experience—and, in particular, the events of the 1930s—demonstrates that the fight against fascism can be developed only on the basis of the independent mobilisation of the working class against capitalism.”

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Dutch government deports refugee to Bahraini jail


This November 2015 Human Rights Watch video says about itself:

No End to Torture in Bahrain

Bahraini security forces are torturing detainees during interrogation. Institutions set up after 2011 to receive and investigate complaints lack independence and transparency. Human Rights Watch has concluded that security forces have continued the same abuses the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) documented in its November 2011 report. The commission was established after the fierce repression of pro-democracy demonstrators in February and March of that year. Bahraini authorities have failed to implement effectively the commission’s recommendations relating to torture, Human Rights Watch found.

The dictatorship in Sudan kills its own people. The dictatorship in Sudan helps the Saudi crown prince and United States President Trump in their bloody war on the people of Yemen.

The dictatorship in Sudan helped the NATO war on Libya. The dictatorship in Sudan helps the European Union to stop refugees.

As long as the Sudanese dictatorship continues to do that, they will be in the good books of NATO countries’ governments.

They are also in the good books of governments which are not NATO members themselves, but allies of NATO members. Like they are in the good books of the United Arab Emirates absolute monarchy, another government joining the Saudi and Sudanese dictatorships in waging war on Yemen.

Sudanese dictator Bashir also has a good relationship to the absolute monarchy Bahrain. The king of Bahrain has sent his torturing sons to wage war on the people of Bahrain. The Bahraini regime harshly punishes subjects who want peace in Yemen.

Being in NATO governments’ good books means for Bashir that NATO country Belgium deports Sudanese refugees to his torture jails. And that NATO country the Netherlands deports Sudanese refugees to his torture jails.

The royal dictatorship in Bahrain is likewise an ally of NATO governments. Meaning that the Dutch government deports Bahraini refugees to Bahraini torture jails.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

“Asylum seeker deported by the Netherlands jailed in Bahrain”

An asylum seeker from Bahrain who was deported by the Netherlands was arrested immediately after arriving in the Arab country last October. Amnesty International and [pro refugee organisation] Vluchtelingenwerk Nederland report this. According to the organizations, Ali Mohammed al-Showaikh has been imprisoned ever since and there are strong indications that he has been tortured.

Amnesty and Vluchtelingenwerk also write in a letter that the man does not have confidential access to a lawyer and has signed a confession under pressure. The organizations call on the Netherlands to address the Bahraini government and to investigate the deportation of Showaikh.

Ali Mohammed al-Showaikh fled from Bahrain to the Netherlands in 2017 for fear of persecution. His brother had already fled the country because of his political activities. According to Amnesty, Bahrain has in the past more often pressured, abused or arrested family members of dissidents. Since 2016, the human rights situation has deteriorated seriously and more than 150 critics or their family members have been subjected to severe repression, writes Amnesty.

IND investigation

According to the human rights organizations, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND) could have known that activists and their family members are at risk, but the asylum application of Showaikh was nevertheless rejected. The organizations state that they are concerned about the thoroughness of the IND procedures.

They call on the Netherlands for the time being to stop deporting anyone to Bahrain and to conduct an independent investigation. It must also be checked whether the Netherlands has violated the non-refoulement principle. That is the ban on expulsion to a country where a refugee is at risk or may be prosecuted.

A protest in favour of Hakeem Al-Araibi outside the Thai Consulate in Melbourne, Australia on December 4 2018

By Sue Bolton, Melbourne, Australia, December 21, 2018:

#SaveHakeem – Stop deportation of Bahraini refugee

Bahraini refugee Hakeem Al-Araibi has been held in detention in Thailand since November 27, facing the terrifying prospect of deportation to the country where he was tortured.

Al-Araibi fled to Australia in 2014 and was accepted as a refugee. In November, he travelled on UN travel documents to Thailand for a short holiday with his wife. When he arrived at Bangkok airport, Al-Araibi was arrested under an Interpoll “Red Notice” (an international arrest warrant) issued by the Bahrain government.

Interpol is not meant to issue red notices for refugees, so this red notice should never have been issued for Al-Araibi. The Interpol system of red notices has been widely discredited, because countries with terrible human rights records use them against political dissidents.

Interpol realised that Al-Araibi was a refugee on December 3 and withdrew the notice. Al-Araibi should have been released on December 11, but the Thai authorities decided to extend his detention for 60 more days to prepare for his extradition to Bahrain.

The international outcry over the detention and possible deportation of Al-Araibi has drawn attention to the discredited system of Red Notices, the threat to refugees, and the role of the Australian government in the whole affair.

The Australian government initially told the Thai authorities they had no responsibility for Al-Araibi because he was not an Australian citizen. The Australian officials should have said the Australian government had a responsibility to defend Al-Araibi because he had been granted refugee status due to political persecution. That might have resolved the situation.

Instead, the Australian government has been shamed by the international outcry into taking a stronger position in support of Al-Araibi. The Bahraini diaspora, the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have all campaigned strongly for the release of Al-Araibi and for him to have the right to return to Australia.

Since then, the football community has joined the campaign. Al-Araibi played soccer for the Bahrain national team and in Australia he plays for the Pascoe Vale Football Club. Former Socceroo and current SBS commentator Craig Foster has been outspoken in calling for Al-Araibi to be returned to Australia. Other senior soccer players to speak out in support of Al-Araibi are former Socceroo Craig Moore and ex-captain Paul Wade. FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) and the Football Federation Australia (FFA) are also supporting the campaign.

However, the Asian Football Confederation president, Bahraini royal Sheik Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, has been silent. Craig Foster has called on him to support Al-Araibi or resign.

The international pressure and local community pressure has forced the Australian government to reveal its own shady role in the detention of Al-Araibi.

A statement from the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that the detention of Al-Araibi had been carried out in response to the red notice alert received from the Interpol National Central Bureau of Australia as well as the formal request from the Bahraini government for Al-Araibi’s extradition.

The question that needs to be asked is on whose authority did the Australian Interpol office issue a red alert, especially when this is in breach of Interpol’s protocols that such notices cannot be used against refugees? Secondly, why didn’t the Australian authorities intervene immediately after Al-Araibi’s arrest to tell the Thai authorities that Al-Araibi is a refugee?

Al-Araibi’s lawyers have lodged a request for ministerial intervention to grant citizenship to Al-Araibi.

Fatima Yazbek of the Gulf Institute for Democracy and Human Rights called on the Australian government, especially the Minister of Home Affairs Peter Dutton, to grant Al-Araibi Australian citizenship to save him from the imminent danger he will face if deported to Bahrain.

Yazbec said: “Bahraini prisons lack the minimum standards of prisoners’ rights, and the political prisoners are suffering from miserable conditions and lack of basic rights.

“The repression against the opponents of the Gulf States, especially following the murder of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the death penalties issued against Saudi human rights activists, gives an indication of what is awaiting Hakeem Al-Araibi in the Bahraini prisons.

“We call on all the sports and football community to demand granting Hakeem the Australian citizenship”, she added.

Al-Ariabi has good reason to be terrified at the prospect of being sent to Bahrain. He was arrested and tortured by the Bahraini authorities, allegedly due to the political activities of his brother. After Al-Araibi fled the country, the Bahraini authorities sentenced him for vandalising a police station. Al-Araibi was known to be playing football at the time the authorities claim he was vandalising the police station.

According to Human Rights Watch, Bahrain’s human rights situation continued to worsen in 2017: “Authorities shut down the country’s only independent newspaper and the leading secular-left opposition political society. The country’s preeminent human rights defender remained in prison on speech charges. The government, ending a de facto moratorium on use of the death penalty, executed three people in January following unfair trials, despite their alleging that they had been tortured and their confessions coerced.”

Australian cardinal ‘guilty of child abuse’, media censored


This July 2016 video says about itself:

Les Tyack says he saw a naked George Pell expose himself to three young boys in the Torquay surf club changerooms in the late 1980s. Police are investigating multiple child abuse allegations levelled directly against Australia’s most senior Catholic cleric, Cardinal George Pell, the ABC’s 7.30 program has revealed.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Media in Australia can not report anything about ‘the country’s biggest story’

Cardinal Pell, the third man of the Vatican, is thought to have been found guilty in Australia of abusing two altar boys. We do not know whether that is true, because Australian media are being censored about the trial.

“Everything about this trial, including the charges, is kept secret”, says correspondent Robert Portier in the NOS Radio 1 news. “This is due to a publication ban that the judge imposed on Australian media.”

“There are two cases against Pell, both about abuse of children, and the judge does not want the two different juries to be influenced by publicity from the other one”, says Portier. This case was about the abuse of two altar boys. He is said to have forced them into oral sex in the back of a cathedral.

‘Biggest story’

“You can imagine that Australian media are not happy with the publication ban. “It’s the nation’s biggest story”, a frustrated Daily Telegraph shouted on its front page”, says Portier. The Herald Sun also revolted and made three-quarters of its front page black with the word “censored” above it.

Many Australians are therefore dependent on social media because of the ban on publication. “It is of course a bit of a weird discussion, because in 2018 you can get that news in all possible ways.” News media outside of Australia are not covered by the ban and they publish sparingly about the case. “In Australia, the cardinal was trending on all social media, so Australians really know something about it”, says Portier.

The case is followed closely because Pell has such a high position in the Catholic Church. “He was archbishop in Melbourne and is a cardinal, he can not go any higher

except by becoming pope

and he actually belonged to the top three in the Catholic Church”, says Paul van Geest, professor of church history. “He was a kind of Minister of Economic Affairs in the reforms in Vatican City and was therefore very visible.”

According to the professor, Pell has been accused of sexual abuse since the 1990s, even before he was a bishop. “And when the abuse within the Catholic Church became notorious his name was always mentioned, yet he was spared because he was so high in the Catholic Church.”

The cardinal has always strongly denied the accusations. On 19 January he will hear what his punishment is.

From the Daily Telegraph (the British paper, not the Australian one), 12 December 2018:

Pope removes two cardinals linked to sex abuse allegations from his inner circle

By Josephine McKenna, Rome

Two leading cardinals allegedly linked to sexual abuse have been dismissed from Pope Francis’ inner circle.

Australian Cardinal George Pell and Chilean Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz have been removed from the so-called C9 Council of Cardinals, an advisory body set up by Francis, the Vatican said on Wednesday.

Cardinal Pell, appointed head of the Vatican’s economic secretariat by the pope in 2014, has taken a leave of absence to fight allegations of historic sexual misconduct in Australia.

He is still officially in charge of Vatican finances, a position considered one of the most powerful in the Catholic hierarchy.

Francisco Errazuriz Ossa has been accused of covering up allegations against abusive priests in Chile. …

The Catholic Church has been hit by a series of child abuse scandals in recent years in countries including the US, Ireland, Chile and [Iceland], with widespread allegations of cover-ups against clergy, including the pope himself.

Mr Errazuriz … was archbishop of Santiago from 1998-2010.

He has come under fire in recent months amid claims that he hid the crimes of Chile’s allegedly abusive priests including Fernando Karadima, who has been accused of a string of child sex offenses going back to 1984.

[Rupert Murdoch‘s] News Corp’s Miranda Devine says police are ‘hunting Catholics’ after George Pell charges. Columnist launches attack on Victorian police chief as force insists investigation of cardinal followed usual procedure for allegations of historical sex offences: here.

Big Australian pro-climate protests


Part of the Sydney, Australia pro-climate rally

From the World Socialist Web Site in Australia:

Australia: Thousands protest climate change and new Adani coal mine

By our reporters

10 December 2018

Thousands of people, including hundreds of high school and university students, took part in protests across Australia last Saturday, in opposition to ongoing environmental destruction, including the creation of a new coal mine in central Queensland by global mining company Adani.

The rally in Melbourne was attended by more than 5,000 people, while around 1,500 took part in Sydney. Smaller protests were held in the Queensland cities of Brisbane and Cairns. They took place a week after 15,000 high school students participated in a “climate strike”, in the largest demonstrations by secondary pupils since 2003 protests against the US invasion of Iraq.

Saturday’s rallies were held in the wake of Adani’s announcement that it would press ahead with the development of the widely-opposed Carmichael mine. The facility will be self-funded by the company and will produce 10–15 million tonnes of coal a year, at an annual cost of $2 billion.

Scientists have warned that in addition to increasing carbon emissions, the mine could negatively impact local species, central Queensland’s climate, water supplies and the Great Barrier Reef.

Many of the students and youth at the rallies expressed their anger over the refusal of governments to take any action to resolve climate change. The growing sentiment is part of a broader politicisation of young people, which includes hostility to militarism and war, the erosion of democratic rights and a deepening social crisis.

The organisers, however, including the Australian Youth Climate Coalition and Tipping Point, sought to keep the protest narrowly focused on the issue of Adani’s new mine.

Speakers in Sydney and Melbourne presented environmental destruction, including the Carmichael mine, as a result of the right-wing ideology of the Liberal-National Coalition, which is in federal office. …

Protesters in Melbourne

Members of the Socialist Equality Party distributed a statement entitled “To stem climate change, capitalism must be ended.” They called for a turn to the working class, and explained that climate change could only be halted through the reorganisation of the world economy to meet social need, not private profit.

WSWS reporters spoke to some of those in attendance.

In Melbourne, Jacob, a university student, said: “I don’t think coal has a place in society. It’s not in my interest. It’s being mined because there is money in it. There is nothing in politics that I agree with.

“The vote of people of wealth is worth more than most people. If you are a media mogul you can support political parties. Rupert Murdoch has 70 percent of the media under his thumb. The Murdoch vote is worth far more. That is how power works in so-called democracies. I think the drive for profit is the most destructive factor in the environment.”

Eleanor (right), with university classmates

Eleanor commented: “We came today because we’re Master of Environment students at Melbourne University and we’ve been taught about the risks of climate change and the importance of stopping this mine.

“The government needs to take action. It can’t just be left to us to keep protesting. It’s been going on long enough. People have been coming out but the government is not listening. The government’s not listening to the science. They’re not listening to the experts. They’re not listening to the people.”

In Sydney, James, a year-nine high school student, said: “I went to the student strike. It feels good to do something for once. The issue of climate change is about our future. I’m sick of it being this spectre looming over us all, with nothing being done to address it.

“There are entrenched interests. I don’t know if there is direct bribery and corruption going on, but there are clearly questionable things taking place with politicians retiring and ending up on the boards of coal companies. It’s the nature of the political class. I think it is capitalism that means climate change is not being fixed and emissions keep going up.”

Layla

Layla, who has just finished high school, said: “I’ve come to the protest because I think it’s important to take initiative for a planet that we’re caretaking for future generations. We have a duty to protect it for people who are going to come after us.

“Members of parliament are avoiding taking responsibility for the impact of their own policies, which can be directly correlated with climate change. It’s completely irresponsible and it’s being driven by greed. Many of the impacts of climate change can be linked to those structures that support capitalism, and drive its goals and aims.

“One of the reasons climate change is so concerning is because there are so many different expressions of it. There are these overarching impacts, including rapidly changing weather patterns, rising sea levels and the destruction of the Great Barrier Reef. It’s all encompassing and it’s terrifying.”

Patrick, a sound engineer and musician, stated: “I’m opposed to coal and rising carbon emissions. I’m particularly against the growth of fracking by companies such as Santos. They’re drilling into the Great Artesian Basin, and poisoning it, which is potentially terrible for all of the farmers who rely on that underground water.

Patrick

“There’s a real shortsightedness. A lot of politicians just don’t care. Look at Trump. The attitude is ‘we’re going to make money now’, and then they’ll be dead and gone when we feel the full impact of climate change. It’s a lack of care for anyone else.

“We all need to get on board with renewables, and stop these coal mines from going ahead. The methane from fracking needs to be stopped. But the question is whether we are ready to break down all of the existing institutions. I think we are pretty close.”

Patrick expressed interest in a poster advertising the SEP meeting in Sydney in defence of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange next Sunday.

“Governments are hiding what they did”, he said. “All of their war crimes and the corruption that has been going on. All Julian did was share the information. There’s no guilt there. The same with Chelsea Manning. She showed us what was happening. That’s not a crime. The people who carried out the illegal wars are the guilty ones.

Assange is being attacked to try to scare other journalists or people who are going to spill the truth of what is happening. We need to keep talking about Julian, and letting people know that we defend him.”

Journalist John Pilger organises film festival


This 29 November 2018 video from Australia says about itself:

Video featuring The Power of the Documentary on ABC News

Power of the Documentary is a film festival curated by John Pilger and in association with the Museum of Contemporary Art, featuring 26 different documentaries.

Video Credit: ABC News Weekend Breakfast, Journalist Miram Corowa.

By Richard Phillips in Australia:

“Well-paid journalists have become gormless cyphers of the propaganda of war

John Pilger discusses his “The Power of Documentary” film festival

3 December 2018

Veteran investigative journalist, documentary filmmaker and author, John Pilger, is currently hosting a special film festival in Australia. Entitled The Power of the Documentary: Breaking the Silence, the festival is on at Riverside Theatres in the western-Sydney suburb of Parramatta and at the Museum of Contemporary Art at Circular Quay in central Sydney. It will run until December 9.

Curated by Pilger, the festival is screening 26 films, including a number of his own documentaries, several significant works by Australian filmmakers and three foundational films from the US and Britain.

Pilger, who has made 62 documentaries since 1970, is one of a handful of journalists internationally who vigorously defends WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. On June 17, he addressed a rally in Sydney organised by the Socialist Equality Party (Australia) to demand Assange’s immediate release.

Some of the early Pilger films to be screened include: The Quiet Mutiny, his first documentary for British television; The Outsiders, which features interviews with war correspondents, such as Wilfred Burchett and Martha Gellhorn, and other individuals in 1983; and The Last Dream: Other People’s Wars (1988), about the history of Australian military involvement in British and American imperialist interventions.

Recent Pilger documentaries to be shown, some of which have been reviewed by the World Socialist Web Site, include Palestine is Still the Issue (2002), Breaking the Silence: Truth and Lies in the War on Terror (2003), The War You Don’t See (2010), Utopia (2013) and The Coming War on China (2016).

This 2009 video says about itself:

Salute (trailer)

One of 2008’s biggest documentary films is about to be unleashed onto screens Worldwide. SALUTE is a film by Matt Norman, the nephew of 200m Silver Medalist Peter Norman who was involved in one of the most powerful moments in Olympic history where Tommie Smith and John Carlos gave their Black Power Salute at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. Being released through Paramount Pictures and Transmission films in Australia on the 24th of July 2008, and then around the world shortly after Salute promises to be a wake up to what’s happening today especially with the 2008 Beijing Olympics just around the corner.

The Richard Phillips article continues:

Other important films to be shown are Curtis Levy’s The President vs David Hicks (2004) and Matt Norman’s Salute (2009), about track athlete Peter Norman and his victimisation by Australian authorities after he supported US athletes who gave a “black power” salute during the 1968 Olympics in Mexico.

Finally, “The Power of Documentary” festival includes three classic works: Edward R. Murrow’s Harvest of Shame (1960), an exposure of the slave-like working conditions of farm workers in the US; Peter Watkins’ long-banned War Game (1965), one of the first docudramas which recreates the horrific impact of a nuclear attack on Britain; and Peter Davis’s Hearts and Minds (1974), the first mainstream American documentary opposing the US intervention in Vietnam to secure a theatrical release. Full details of the festival program can be accessed here.

Pilger conducted the following email interview with the WSWS last week, just before the festival began.

Richard Phillips: Can you explain why you decided to organise this festival? What do you mean by “Breaking the Silence” in the title and why is this necessary?

John Pilger: By silence I mean the exclusion of ideas that might change the way we see our world, or help us make sense of it. There are 26 films and each one pushes back a screen of propaganda—not just the propaganda of governments but of a powerful groupthink of special interests designed to distract and intimidate us and which often takes its cue from social media and is the enemy of the arts and political freedom.

A documentary is not reality TV. Political documentary is not the consensual game played by politicians and journalists called “current affairs”. Great documentaries frighten the powerful, unnerve the compliant, expose the hypocritical. Great documentaries make us think, and think again, and speak out, and even take action…

Well-paid journalists have become gormless cyphers of the propaganda of war: lies known these days as fake news and spread by the intelligence agencies. Why do we allow governments, our governments, to commit great crimes, and why do so many of us remain silent?

These are questions for those of us privileged to be allowed into people’s lives and be their voice and seek their support. It is a question for filmmakers, journalists, artists, arts administrators, editors, publishers. We can no longer claim to be innocent bystanders. Our responsibility is urgent; as Tom Paine impatiently wrote: “The time is now.”

RP: You began making documentaries in 1970 with The Quiet Mutiny, about the Vietnam War. Can you speak about the filmmakers that influenced you in the early years and the most important thing you learnt in that formative period?

JP: My formative period as a documentary filmmaker was as a journalist. For me, the two crafts complement each other; the most expressive journalism is often cinematic. As a young war reporter in South East Asia, I was struck by the surreal spectacle of the American invasion and its atrocious consequences. The Quiet Mutiny is a factual, political film that uses irony and satire bordering on black farce, together with the music of the time, much of it political.

I was influenced by many I worked with; in the beginning by my producer Charles Denton, who encouraged me to depart from the formula of “current affairs”. When The Quiet Mutiny was broadcast, the then Director General of the Independent Television Authority in Britain (a pompous fellow Australian with a knighthood) called me “a dangerous subversive”. It was the highest honour I have received, and I am grateful to him.

This video says about itself:

“The Quiet Mutiny” in 1970 was the first of over 60 documentary films by Pilger. Filmed at Camp Snuffy, the film presented a character study of the common US soldier during the Vietnam War revealing the shifting morale and open rebellion of Western troops. Pilger described the film as “something of a scoop” – it was the first documentary to show the open rebellion within the drafted ranks of the US military that led to the withdrawal of the land army in 1973.

“When I flew to New York and showed it to Mike Wallace, the star reporter of CBS 60 Minutes, he agreed. “Real shame we can’t show it here”” Pilger said in an interview with the New Statesman.

The Richard Phillips article continues:

RP: Since then you’ve made scores of documentaries. These include exposing US war crimes in Vietnam, Iraq and many other countries, the danger of nuclear war, state brutality against the working class and the poor, ongoing oppression and social mistreatment of Aborigines.

Your second documentary was shot in West Yorkshire and was entitled Conversations with a Working Man and broadcast on British television. It’s difficult to imagine anything with a title like that being screened on the celebrity obsessed television networks today.

JP: I agree. But as with almost every film I have made, I had my struggles. The executive producer decreed that my use of “the people” was unacceptable because it was a “Marxist term”. He refused to allow me to use “working class”; if you listen carefully, you will hear me say “working heritage.” This nonsense made not a blind bit of difference; the viewers understood and a record audience watched the film.

RP: Why do you think there are so few of these sorts of exposures today? Is it because of financial and distribution problems, or a question of self-censorship and/or lack of political perspective?

JP: It is all those things. I would put lack of political perspective at the top, alongside an enthusiasm to join the system of elite power. Many on the BBC believe that once they join that institution they rise to a Nirvana of purest impartiality and objectivity when, in truth, they have become part of the most refined propaganda system on earth.

RP: The festival is showing Edward R. Murrow’s Harvest of Shame, Peter Watkins’ The War Game and Hearts and Minds by Peter Davis. Could you speak briefly about their importance?

JP: Each of these films is truth-telling in its highest form, especially The War Game. No film-maker has matched Peter Watkins’ astonishing achievement in recreating a town in England devastated by nuclear war. He did it all with official documents, which was why his film was banned by the BBC for 23 years.

Unknown to the British people, their governments were planning precisely that which Watkins reconstructed in The War Game. His film was profoundly threatening because it would possibly change the minds of millions of Britons towards Cold War policies, even war itself.

I’ve read the declassified documents of Harold Wilson’s cabinet secretary, Sir Burke Trend; the government was horrified by Watkins’ film because it was true. I admire him enormously for the same reasons I admire Julian Assange.

Harvest of Shame was a very different film, yet its bracing journalism was also committed to the truth. The regression today means none of these films would be made.

RP: You’ve also selected some films by Mark Davis, Curtis Levy and other Australian documentarians. Do you see any parallels between The President vs David Hicks, which follows the courageous fight waged by David’s father Terry to secure his son’s freedom from Guantanamo Bay prison and the situation facing Julian Assange?

JP: Yes, they are similar; Terry Hicks is a supporter of Julian. For their moral courage, both Terry and Julian are the best kind of Australians.

RP: You’ve coined the phrase “Vichy journalism” to describe journalists who have joined the campaign of slander, lies and frame-ups against Assange and WikiLeaks. Why has this occurred and what are the consequences for Assange and investigative journalism? What is the current situation facing Assange?

JP: Most “mainstream” journalism has been integrated into corporate and so-called national security systems that rule the West, especially in the United States and Britain. When I was working in what was known as “Fleet Street”, the press was conservative but there were spaces for different, dissenting work, and a certain range of views. This was even encouraged. Today the spaces have closed, and the best journalists write online, or in foreign publications, or in a new samizdat, or not at all.

WikiLeaks and Julian Assange are the counter to this oppression, and, of course, he is subjected to a smear campaign. The greater his impact and symbolism the more vicious the campaign against him.

The Guardian’s sordid role as a platform for the scuttlebutt of spooks is shocking. Those involved are no different, morally, from those who collaborated under the Vichy government in France during the Second World War.

Julian’s situation is serious. The person contracted to bring his food to the Ecuadorean embassy has been told she is no longer wanted. This does not mean he will go hungry, but it demonstrates the depth of his struggle. That said, he is a very strong character with an abiding moral purpose and a dark sense of humour. He needs, as Martha Gellhorn wrote about those who stand up to rapacious power, “the alliance of us all … the support of decency.”

RP: Can you speak about your last documentary The Coming War on China and what prompted you to make it? What will be the consequences of such a war? Can you comment on Australia’s involvement in these preparations and the mounting anti-China hysteria in the Australian media?

JP: China is surrounded by more than 400 American military bases that reach from Australia, through the Pacific to Asia and across Eurasia. A State Department official described it as “actually a noose.” Low-draught US warships probe the waters of southern China and US drones overfly Chinese territory. This has been a fact, mostly unreported, for many years and was inverted during the Obama presidency to propaganda, the falsehood, that China was threatening the US, Asia, the Pacific.

As expected, Australian politicians, “experts” and journalists have echoed this. It has become a chorus. The Chinese—like the Russians—are becoming the enemy of Australia, which in reality has no enemies, apart from its own forces of institutionalised paranoia. I grew up during the first Cold War and it is all familiar: perhaps worse in its inventions and deceptions.

RP: Finally, what’s your advice to young people who want to become documentary filmmakers and investigative journalists today?

JP: My advice is always follow your star. By that I mean: never abandon your commitment and idealism and keep in mind that journalists and film-makers are truly credible as the agents of people, never of power.

Australian pro-climate striking students speak


This 29 November 2018 video from Australia says about itself:

Students strike [against] climate change, defying calls to stay in school | ABC News

Thousands of Australian students have defied calls by the Prime Minister to stay in school and instead marched on the nation’s capital cities, and some regional centres, demanding an end to political inertia on climate change. Read more here.

From the World Socialist Web Site in Australia:

Thousands of Australian high school students join climate change strike

By our correspondents

1 December 2018

Thousands of students walked out of high schools around Australia yesterday to voice their concern and anger over the worsening degradation of the global environment and oppose the refusal of governments to address climate change.

More than 5,000 students joined the Sydney protest, while an estimated 3,000 participated in Melbourne. Around 2,000 rallied in Newcastle, a working-class port city north of Sydney. Smaller events were held in other state capitals and dozens of regional centres. An estimated 15,000 students participated in what became a national strike.

The rallies were the largest involving secondary school students in many years. They expressed the developing politicisation of a generation that has grown up amid continuous war, growing inequality, worsening environmental destruction and a turn to authoritarianism, presided over by all the official parties …

Part of the rally in Melbourne

Socialist Equality Party (SEP) supporters distributed hundreds of copies of a statement by its youth wing, the International Youth and Students for Social Equality (IYSSE), titled: “To stem climate change, capitalism must be ended.”

A section of the protest in Sydney

Liberal-National Coalition government ministers vehemently denounced the protests, revealing the entire ruling establishment’s fear over the entrance of young people into political struggle.

Resources Minister Matt Canavan declared that students participating in the strike were learning only “how to join the dole [unemployment] queue.” They would end up “in a line asking for a handout, not actually taking charge of your life and getting a real job.” His remarks echoed Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s earlier condemnation of students for walking out of schools.

There is intense concern in ruling circles that, amid widespread hostility to the parliamentary set-up, any expression of social opposition among youth could spark a broader movement against capitalism.

Student speakers in Sydney and Melbourne reviewed many aspects of the environmental crisis, including climate change, the deterioration of the Great Barrier Reef, extended bushfire seasons and drought. They condemned plans by Adani, an energy multinational, to establish a large new coal mine in Queensland, with the state’s Labor government support.

WSWS correspondents interviewed a number of students, who spoke of wider concerns about the state of society and the future of human civilisation.

Melissa

Melissa, 17, explained: “I’ve come today because I care about humanity and I want to see it survive. Our generation is going to be around for a long time. But that’s only if we don’t destroy our planet. There’s no ‘Plan B’. there’s nowhere else humanity can go that will support life, so this is our only chance.

“I am in some ways a communist. The actions of governments are all based around profits and big corporations lobbying. That’s why our politicians aren’t going to change anything. The corporates and big business have a lot of money, so they’re the ones in power. It’s all of the parties, including Labor. No one who actually cares about the environment, or anything that isn’t about money, is in politics.

“I’m very strongly against nuclear weapons. I want to see them taken down as soon as possible. Because they are the number one way that humanity could be killed off right now.”

Xavier, 12, said: “I’m here because Scott Morrison is an idiot and we need to save the world for people in the future. Our generation is going to see the effects of climate change. If we don’t stop it now, we could all die when we’re 50 years old.

“The current system is corrupt and we need to fix it as soon as possible. I think everyone should get the same pay and everyone should be equal. Everyone should have a home, enough food and clean water. We’ve got to get rid of the situation where rich people get huge salaries. That’s the only way everyone can be equal.”

Sylvie and Xavier

Sylvie, 14, commented: “Climate change is largely ignored by the governments. We’re not doing enough to stop it. I think a lot of governments, including here, don’t even believe that climate change exists, even though the evidence has been put before them. But it’s also because they profit from coal, and they don’t want anything to stop that.”

Nikita

Nikita, 15, said: “I’ve always been really concerned about the environment and wanting us to transition to renewable energies. There are so many sources of renewable energy, but governments keep going back to coal. I think it probably is because of big business and profit.

“When we heard Scott Morrison denounce these protests, and tell kids that they needed to be involved in ‘less activism’, we really wanted to come along. I think we actually need more activism.

“It’s scary, there are so many major issues at the moment. It’s like the world is going to pieces and we don’t know what is going to happen in a few years. You have Trump threatening North Korea and other countries almost every day.”

Jareef

Jareef, 15, said: “I’m here because I’m sick of the government refusing to do anything about climate change. We are the future of humanity. Today’s politicians are not going to be around in 40 or 50 years to deal with it, but we are. That’s why change has to start now.

“I’m Muslim and I’ve suffered from racism and discrimination. I’m really sick of it. I’m against the anti-immigrant measures that are being carried out by Trump and here. What they promote, that Muslims are all terrorists, isn’t true. We’re people and we should be seen that way.

“I’m against the war in Afghanistan and these other wars. They’re all about money. War is always about money.”

Matthew, a year 9 student, said: “I feel that if the world worked together and didn’t have feuding countries it would be brilliant for climate change and every other issue. The only thing that stands in opposition to that is nationalism and the idea that we have to be proud of the country we came from. That’s the obstacle to the world uniting under a one banner.

Matthew

“We have to bring democracy back. That will only happen with the revolution that we have with our generation and generations to come. We have to tell the government that this is our planet, not theirs. Capitalism is not working.”

In Melbourne, Eli, a year 11 student, explained: “I am here today because I have had enough of the inaction on climate change in this country. We are here to send a message to those in parliaments all across Australia, who have denounced this movement, and told us to get back in school and keep out of the adults’ business: no longer.

“No longer will we leave it to the politicians and the businesspeople to decide the fate of our planet and the environment that we will inherit from them. We are here to speak the truth to power. The truth that focusing on renewable energy, protecting natural ecosystems and acknowledging that climate change is a real and urgent threat, are the best ways to ensure a sustainable future for everyone.

“No longer will we accept that the responsibility for our future is placed in the hands of the few. Our voices will be heard today. When our leaders refuse to lead, we have to.”

Kieran

Kieran said the demonstrations were part of an international movement of students and young people. “It definitely needs to be international, because it’s all our world,” he said. “The sky is everyone’s. If one country produces something, it affects every other country in the world, so it is definitely not a national thing.”

SEP and IYSSE campaigners explained that climate change is one expression of a systemic crisis of global capitalism, which is also producing a growing danger of world war. They stressed the need for a turn to the working class, the revolutionary force in modern society. As the IYSSE statement emphasises, climate change can be resolved only through the socialist reorganisation of the global economy to meet social needs, not the profit interests of a tiny corporate elite.

The author also recommends:

New climate change report: Impact of global warming “already being felt”
[26 November 2018]

Australian lizards and parasites, new study


This 2017 video says about itself:

Australian Common Garden Skink or Pale-Flecked Garden Sunskink

From the University of Colorado at Boulder in the USA:

Forest fragmentation disrupts parasite infection in Australian lizards

November 29, 2018

In a study with implications for biodiversity and the spread of infectious diseases, CU Boulder ecologists have demonstrated that deforestation and habitat fragmentation can decrease transmission of a parasitic nematode in a particular species of Australian lizard, the pale-flecked garden sunskink.

The new experimental research, published today in the journal Ecology, found that specimens of the blue and brown-colored, index finger-length skinks who live in isolated forest plots were 75 percent less likely to be infected with parasitic worms than their counterparts living in untouched, continuous forests — an indication that the parasite’s life cycle had been disrupted.

A decrease in parasite prevalence isn’t necessarily good or bad for an ecosystem, the researchers said, but it can result in dramatic changes.

“Parasites are a massive unseen component of an ecosystem and there so many that we don’t see,” said Associate Professor Kendi Davies of CU Boulder’s Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EBIO). “Parasites regulate populations and influence multiple hosts. It’s largely unknown how these complex interdependencies respond to changes.”

Habitat fragmentation in the form of deforestation remains a major threat worldwide. Scientists estimate that nearly one-third of global forests have disappeared, leaving behind a patchwork of ecological “islands” that can threaten food chains and alter long-standing species interactions

“Fragmentation is a big deal because it leads to loss of biodiversity and ecosystem functions” said Julian Resasco, lead author of the study and a postdoctoral researcher in EBIO. “It can also change the way diseases spread, with the potential to impact human health.”

The new study was conducted at the long-running Wog Wog Habitat Fragmentation Experiment, a 33-year-old continuously-run experiment in the eucalyptus forests of New South Wales, Australia. The site allows researchers to compare uninterrupted forestland to forest fragments that have been isolated by clear-cutting and burning.

Resasco zeroed in on skinks after a chance observation. While examining the gut contents of many historical specimens preserved in a museum, he noticed that the commonly-found lizards had been infected with a particular parasitic nematode. After consulting with Australian colleagues, he learned that it was, in fact, a brand new species.

“I wanted to quantify infections by these nematodes to see if fragmentation had an effect on parasitism,” Resasco said.

The nematodes use a small amphipod crustacean species as an intermediate host, which is in turn eaten by the skink, resulting in infection. But forest fragmentation significantly reduces the moist leaf litter habitat that these amphipods require, depriving the skinks of a meal and the parasites of a transmission pathway.

The study found that among skinks living in continuous forest, 55 percent contained nematodes compared to just 11 percent of skinks living in the fragments.

“We see the consequences of messing with key players in the landscape,” said Resasco.

The next step, the researchers said, is to think in even longer timescales. Now more than thirty years in at Wog Wog, parts of the landscape there have gradually changed from clear-cut to pine plantation forest, which could prompt a rebound.

“Pine forests are a pretty desirable place for the amphipods to live,” said Matthew Bitters, a doctoral researcher in EBIO and a co-author of the study. “So if they do recover, will that mean a rise in skink infections again? Or has something else emerged to disrupt the transmission?”

“Fragmentation research has a long history of studying species interactions such as pollination, seed dispersal and predation,” said Resasco. “Parasitism has received less attention but such research is important for understanding how landscape changes affect biodiversity and disease transmission.”