(en) Anarchist Age Weekly Review

Philip McCrory (philmcc@melbpc.org.au)
Mon, 30 Jun 1997 19:45:32 +1030


A AA AAAA The A-Infos News Service AA AA AA AA INFOSINFOSINFOS http://www.tao.ca/ainfos/ AAAA AAAA AAAAA AAAAA

Number 255 23rd- 29th June, 1997 STAMPEDING THE PUNTERS!! You begin to wonder what type of society we live in when the Federal Health Minister can publicly say that his grandmother has been given an extra five years of life because she is privately insured. In the same breath Michael Woolridge also states that unfortunately some Australians die while awaiting surgery at public hospitals. He then shrugs his shoulders and says "that's the way it is." So it looks like if you don't have private health insurance you run the risk of dying while you wait for a public hospital bed. Considering that over 65% of Australians don't have private health insurance as far as the Health Minister is concerned, it's all right that some of these people die while waiting for a public hospital bed. "That's the way it is". What type of man is happy about heading a health service that can't or won't provide treatment to people who need it. It looks like the current Health Minister is happy to run down the public health sector while supporting the private health sector. Whose going to put their faith in the public health sector when the Health Minister claims his own grandmother had an extra five years of life because she had private health insurance. This man should step down today, not tomorrow. If he can't guarantee that people in this country will not be left to die because they don't have private health insurance, he should resign and let somebody else with more of a commitment to the public health sector run the system. What's even more pathetic and disgusting about Dr. Woolridge's claims, is the lack of media response to his outrageous statements. Either the Minister is telling us the truth and if he is, it's a tragic state of affairs, or he's trying to stampede people into taking out private health insurance. Either way, he is not accepting responsibility for what's going on in his department. He should resign NOW. PIGS CAUGHT WITH SNOUTS IN THE TROUGH! You've got to hand it to the Victorian State government. When some of their foremost luminaries, including the Premier himself Jeffrey (scud) Kennett were questioned about the $275,000 that was spent over four days to entertain the corporate giants that were flown in and wined and dined at taxpayers expense, we were told, well that's the only way to influence these corporate Gods. If you don't ply them with milk and honey (mind you $275,000 only covered the cost of the food and drinks at the government pavilion at the Grand Prix) and give them the best (I wonder how much money was spent on these so-called luminaries), they are not going to invest in Victoria. Looking through the Grand Prix's guest list you'd be hard pressed to find one parasite that was going to invest a dollar, let alone millions of dollars in this state. Mind you this is just the tip of the iceberg, how much taxpayers money has been given away to oil the palms of these maggots. If the money spent on food and wine is an indication it's obvious tens of millions of dollars has been pocketed by these leeches. CROCODILE TEARS FOR HONG KONG As the transfer of Hong Kong to China looms large, the corporate media is trying to present the handover as a failure for democracy. Anybody who has even the most rudimentary understanding of Hong Kong history would know that the people of Hong Kong were not given a democratically elected legislature by their British masters till 1994. Considering that at that stage the British had ruled Hong Kong for 137 years, you'd think they would have made the effort to introduce a little bit of representative democracy into Hong Kong long before then. The Western media is not concerned about possible human rights violations in Hong Kong. It's not concerned about the demise of the elected legislature. What they are really concerned about is whether the Chinese authorities will allow the corporate world to make money hand over fist. Whether the Chinese authorities abolish the legislature or curtail human rights is not the main game. The main game is profit. If profits soar under the Communists the corporate world will quickly forget about democracy and human rights. THE TALE OF TWO CONVENTIONS Fascinating wasn't it. The G7 + 1 conference held in Denver Colorado on the weekend. Here we had the leaders of the world's major economy's, the United States, Germany, France, Japan, Italy, Canada, Britain and one hanger on (Russia) sitting down to discuss a long list of issues. So what did these representatives of the world's major economy's, Clinton, Kohl, Chirac, Hashimoto, Prodi, Chretien, Blair and the hanger on Yeltsin decide. Well it looks like these prime examples of economic success (their words not ours) agreed with Bill Clinton that the Denver Summit of eight would not set firm deadlines to reduce greenhouse emissions by 15% by the year 2010. News that will surely tickle the fancy of our own John Howard. A man who has made a habit of dragging his feet where greenhouse emissions are concerned. One week earlier another corner of the United States, Konan, Hawaii, participants in the Pacific Rim Indigenous Treaty Conference, adopted a vision statement by consensus which stated that "the vision and mission of the Treaty of Indigenous People's International is to work together to protect the inherent rights of signatory indigenous people's related to self-determination, cultural and economic well being, and environmental protection". Terry Williams Commissioner for the North West Indian Fisheries Commission stated "This agreement in part leads to ensuring the continued utilisation of our resources through sustained lifestyle and culture". Maybe just maybe if the G7 + 1 crowd had attended the Pacific Rim Indigenous People's Treaty Conference or even been briefed about the outcome of the Kona meeting, they would have approached the question of greenhouse emissions in a different way. When you sit down and think about it the G7 + 1 mob aren't even interested in modifying their economy's current directions to help future generations. It's pathetic, really pathetic to see such powerful people have such a limited vision. If they listened to the Kona participants things may have been different. ANARCHISTS BLOODY McDONALD Two anarchist activists, Helen Steel and David Morris have bloodied McDonalds nose. In 1986 Helen Steel and David Morris were involved with London Greenpeace an anarchist environmental group that put out a leaflet that accused McDonalds of helping to cause third world starvation, pursuing work practices that helped to destroy the worlds rainforests, decreased wages, poisoned its customers, directed its advertising at children and was involved in the cruel treatment of animals that were slaughtered to provide meat for McDonalds. Over the next few years, the McDonald Corporation poured millions of dollars into a campaign to find out who was distributing these leaflets. After a number of bizarre attempts to infiltrate London Greenpeace's open meetings, detectives hired by McDonalds (at one meeting there were 3 activists and 7 McDonalds detectives) were able to identify five activists who were distributing the offending leaflet. In an attempt to intimidate protesters McDonalds decided to sue the five and issued writs in September 1990. It told them that if they apologised in the court McDonalds would drop its court action. Imagine their surprise when two of the activists Helen Steel a gardener and David Morris a postman refused to apologise and stood their ground. On the 28th June 1994 the McLibel case began in the English High Court. On one side you had Helen Steel and David Morris two anarchists who represented themselves. On the other side you had McDonalds, one of the worlds largest corporations. As Helen and Dave were penniless the High Court refused to hear the case unless McDonalds was willing to bear the court costs for themselves and Helen and Dave. The case revolved around the content of the pamphlet. "What's wrong with McDonalds? Everything they don't want you to know". After a 314 day legal case that took three years to hear and that cost McDonalds twenty five million dollars in legal costs alone, Judge Rodger Bell delivered his findings last Friday. He found that the allegations in the pamphlet that McDonalds was responsible for starvation in the third world, for destroying rainforests and for promoting an unhealthy diet were libellous and awarded McDonalds 60,000 in damages a pyrrhic victory if ever there was one. Judge Bell found that McDonalds was culpable in the cruel treatment of some pigs and chickens, that it's advertising material targeted children to pester their parents to take them to McDonalds. That it paid its British workers low wages and that it treated vulnerable young workers unfairly, not a ringing endorsement for McDonalds. In order to cut its losses and to minimise further bad publicity McDonalds has said it will not pursue Helen Steel and David Morris for damages. Interestingly the Judge refused to place an injunction on the leaflet, this means that unless McDonalds takes every person who distributes the leaflets to a civil court (highly unlikely), the "what's wrong with McDonalds leaflet" will continue to circulate freely in Britain and across the globe. Reviewing the judgement it's obvious that the High Court found against McDonalds whenever a specific allegation was made. Unfortunately Helen and Dave were not able to present enough material to nail McDonalds on the general allegations. Considering that McDonalds is only one of a number of corporations whose behaviour helps to destroy scarce rainforests and promotes third world poverty, it would be difficult for the British High Court to find in Dave's and Helen's favour. Although McDonalds may have won part of the legal case, it's the real loser in this contest. Its practices have been put on trial and have been found to be wanting. The court case has spawned the McLibel book (more to come) an internet site (McSpotlight) with over twelve million hits and the McLibel television mini series. Through their courageous stand Helen and David have made it difficult if not impossible for the corporate world to try to intimidate political and social action by issuing civil court writs. They may be able to intimidate those that have property to lose but they will never intimidate those who have nothing to lose and everything to gain. ANARCHIST QUESTION AND ANSWER Q. What type of energy sources would be used in an anarchist society? A. An anarchist society will not be burdened by the self-centred and outmoded thinking that determines what type of energy sources are used in a capitalist society. All capitalist societies need to generate profits. Such societies tend to develop highly centralised energy sources that can be controlled by corporate structures. These corporations have no responsibility to society or even their consumers. Their sole responsibility is to their shareholders. Shareholders are only interested in one outcome, escalating profits. An anarchist society is based on creating structures that satisfy human needs. The economic imperatives that drive today's energy giants, would not drive energy production in an anarchist community. As peoples livelihoods are not tied to a particular system of energy production steps could be taken to decentralise energy production, develop new forms of renewable energy sources and solutions could be sought for the current unacceptable levels of environmental destruction. An anarchist society would be more interested, more willing and more capable of developing energy sources that would scale down current methods of energy production and develop methods of manufacturing energy that are safe and renewable. Today's energy giants have a vested interest in maintaining and expanding methods of energy production that are inefficient, unsafe and non renewable. An anarchist community would tend to shun methods of production that are harmful to the community and the environment. In the short term they would have to use current energy sources, but with time they could structure their energy, producing systems to use decentralised renewable sources of energy. They could simultaneously close down industries that are inefficient and environmentally harmful while creating renewable energy sources. Energy producing technologies that have been suppressed and have been deemed unprofitable could be developed to produce energy for an anarchist community. What technology is developed in a particular community is to a large part determined by that societies economic and political agenda. Renewable safe decentralised energy sources could and would be used in an anarchist society. ACTION BOX - KEEPING INFORMED There's nothing more important than "keeping informed". I never cease to be appalled by the level of ignorance in the community and among many radical activists. Although it's very tempting to pull the sheets over our heads and stay in bed, it's important to keep abreast of what's happening in the communities in which we live and the world around us. For far too long corporation, leaders and the State have made a habit of massaging the truth to suit their objectives. Although the news we see, hear and read is far from objective, if you spend ten to fifteen minutes a day glancing through a newspaper, surfing the net, listening to news headlines or watching the occasional news item you can learn to read between the lines and make sense of what's happening. Some people say, why bother? Why waste time trying to understand things that you'll never be able to change. Although as individuals and small groups we may find it difficult if not impossible to change what's happening around us and what's happening in the world, we will have absolutely no chance of changing things if we don't know what's happening. If you don't have the time or inclination to keep informed at least spend some time talking about what's going on with your friends, family or workmates. Not to do so is to leave you wide open to the Melrose Place and Neighbours syndrome. How many times have you listened to people debating the latest episode of their favourite soap? How many times have you heard people complain about what's happening around them, but in the same breath accept what's happening because "you can't fight city hall". To understand what's going on is to be forewarned about what may happen. If you have a enough warning you can do something to protect yourself or you can seize the moment and make gains that you normally wouldn't even dream about. To act in an information void is to invite disaster. To act with knowledge at your fingertips is the key to successful action. Try to make the effort to pull the sheets from over your head, look around you and gain the information you need to change your life. AUSTRALIAN ANARCHIST HISTORY FRANK FRANZ (TRESITON FRANZ) Born 8-1-1888 Wellington New South Wales Died 9.00am 20-12-1916 Executed Bathurst Goal New South Wales Frank Franz was a labourer and a member of the Tottenham branch of the I.W.W. (Industrial Workers of the World). He was married, had lived in Tottenham for over 12 years and had two small children, when he, Roland Nicholas Kennedy and his brother Michael Herbert Kennedy were on the 4th of October 1916, charged with the murder of Constable Duncan who had been shot dead on the 26th September 1916. Frank Franz turned King's evidence and claimed Roland and Michael Kennedy forced him to become involved in the murder. He claimed, although he was present when the constable was shot through the window of the Tottenham Police Station, he shot his gun at the window sash not at the Constable. The bullet that killed the Constable was a 32 calibre Winchester. Although Frank Franz had four rifles in his house, a 22 calibre, 32 calibre, 38 calibre and 44 calibre Winchester, only the 38 calibre rifle had been fired in the previous few weeks. Frank Franz may have turned King's evidence because the police offered to help him beat the charge of murder if he implicated the Kennedy's in the crime. Irrespective of why he turned King's evidence, he was found guilty of the murder of Constable Duncan and was executed with Roland Kennedy on the 24th December 1916, barely 3 months after Constable Duncan was killed. The charge of murder against Michael Kennedy was dismissed by the judge because of lack of evidence. Considering there was little, if any scientific evidence to link Franz with the murder of Constable Duncan and considering that people who turn King's evidence are normally not executed (why would an accused implicate other people in a murder, if they are going to be executed whether they help or don't help the police). It's strange, very strange that Frank Franz was executed for the murder of Constable Duncan. Frank Franz was executed as a consequence of the anti I.W.W. hysteria that accompanied the first Australian conscription referendum in December 1916. Frank Franz was also a victim of the anti German hysteria that was part of the Australian governments war policy in 1916. Unfortunately for Frank although he was born in New South Wales his father was German. BOOK REVIEW - METAL OF DISHONOUR Metal of Dishonour is a 240 page book published by the New York Action Centre. The book grew out of an international meeting organised by the Depleted Uranium Education project that was held at the United Nations Church Centre in New York on September the 12th 1996. Over forty authors explore the deadly consequences of a whole new family of weapons - Depleted Uranium weapons. The Gulf War provided the perfect opportunity to test these new weapons in action. Over 940,000 30 millimetre uranium tipped bullets and more than 14,000 large calibre Depleted Uranium anti tank missiles were used during Operation Desert Storm/Desert Shield. Although the weapons were chillingly successful (Depleted Uranium hardens the bullets and missiles and allows them to penetrate armour that conventional bullets can't penetrate), the human costs will be felt for millions of years. The book makes the point over and over again that Depleted Uranium weapons are highly toxic radioactive weapons, as the missile or bullet pierces armour, over 80% of the bullet vaporises and becomes a fine radioactive vapour that settles over everything it has destroyed. Over 90,000 of the 697,000 United States personnel involved in the Gulf war have developed Gulf War Syndrome. Who knows or even cares how many Iraqi's have developed radiation problems and how many future generations will be saddled with genetic problems that are linked to the use of Depleted Uranium Weapons. METAL OF DISHONOUR attempts to lift the lid on the coverup that surrounds the development, use and consequences of Depleted Uranium Weapons - although the book is written by many different authors, it's easy to read and meets its goal of educating people about the dangers of Depleted Uranium Weapons. This book is not available from your friendly local book store, but can be obtained by writing to International Action Centre, PO Box 1819, Madison Sq. Sta. New York N.Y. 10159 USA. Or if you have a computer via email, e-mail: iacenter@iacenter.org, more information can be obtained on the WWW - http://iacenter.org/ PERSONAL OBSERVATIONS Another street!! Do you know how many streets there are in Melbourne? Thousands, tens of thousands maybe more. Sometimes I think I've seen them all!! There's nothing special about this street. Low set houses, set behind a clean bleak foot path, not even a leaf, let alone a tree in sight. Squat low set boxes with green manicured lawns, boxed in by low set brick fences seem to breed in this street. Who knows how many children have grown up and left these boxes? Who knows how many people have died in these squat squares? As if on some supernatural cue, two women appear on either end of the street. One is elderly, the other young, both battle the wind. One wears a bright red knitted jumper, black slacks, dark socks and slippers, her coiffured peroxided mane battling the wind. The other wears dark brown slacks, glasses, a K-Mart light blue parka, thick socks and plastic sandals, her close cropped short mousy hair laughs at the wind. As they approach each other, they stop smile and exchange a few words. They part, continuing their self-contained journeys, the wind continues to play with the older woman's peroxided locks. So what, two women exchanging a few words, nothing unusual about that. The older women has disappointment etched on her face. Just by watching her walk, you can tell she's lived a hard life, trying to conquer the obstacles that life had put in her path. She knows her street, she's lived there for decades. You see women like her in this countries older suburbs and towns, women who have buried their men, who now wait for their own funerals. The younger woman was cold, bitterly cold, I noticed she put on a pair of gloves after she spoke to the older woman. She had a wistful air about her, she was Chinese possibly Vietnamese. Watching these two women greet each other in one of Melbourne's forgotten suburban backwaters, rekindled my faith in the ability of Australians to bury the racists who are trying to drag us back to some mythical mono cultural wasteland. For every racist in our midst, there are hundreds possibly thousands of Australians who are willing to live and let live. In every corner of this continent, in every town, suburb and street there are people who are willing to overcome their cultural straight jackets and embrace new arrivals. STOP PRESS - POL POT Although the capture of Pol Pot has been hailed by many as the final nail in the Cambodian Civil War, the reality is that civil war is about to break out again in Cambodia. As Cambodia's two Prime Ministers, Prince Norodom Ranaridah (a member of Cambodia's Royal Family) and Mr. Hun Sen (a former Khmer Rouge guerilla who was pushed into prominence by the Vietnamese) struggle for supremacy, the battle hardened remnants of the Khmer Rouge are being eagerly courted by both sides to provide military backing for one or the other side. I doubt whether anybody outside the Khmer Rough and upper echelons of the Cambodian government will ever see Pol Pot alive. I expect he'll either escape to China or conveniently die in the next few days. Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge have remained a force in Cambodia for so long because of overt and covert Chinese and United States backing. When the Vietnamese invaded Cambodia in 1979 and routed the Khmer Rouge, they were given an extra lease of life by the United States and Thai government. Pol Pot was a guest of the Thai military authorities for many years. Pol Pot's appearance at an International War Crimes Tribunal would blow the lid of this sordid little affair. Pol Pot's demise changes very little in Cambodia. The cycle of death will continue as long as the inequalities that have been such a permanent feature of Cambodia's history continue. Joseph Toscano/Libertarian Workers for a Self-Managed Society.

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