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Showing posts from July, 2013

Big Oil: Billions in profits as the planet warms

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Oil drilling, refining and sales of petrol and diesel is big business around the world. Including in New Zealand where big oil makes big profits.

Some examples of the corporate profit being made out of New Zealand by big oil includes,
During the 2011-2012 financial year Shell made profits from its Taranaki oil and gas drilling of $162 million.During the 2011-2012 financial year NZ Oil and Gas made $19.9 million profit from its stake in Taranaki's offshore oil and gas fields. During the 2012 financial year Austrian oil giant OMV made $179.3 million profit from its share in  Taranaki's offshore oil and gas fields.Todd Energy with stakes in many offshore oil and gas fields made $330 million profit in 2010.During the 2012 financial year the New Zealand Refining Company made a $32.7 million profit from the refining of oil into petrol and diesel at the Marsden Point refinery. NZRC is majority owned by the five big petrol companies in NZ - Exxon Mobil, BP, Chevron, AEL, GMI.During th…

Union rallies against the Nats

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Spearheaded by the EPMU the trade union movement is coming together for three big rallies at the end of August in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch against the National government's attacks on workers' rights.

All socialists should be working to get the maximum turn out to these rallies from their fellow union members. Massive turnouts around the country will give the trade union movement the confidence to take the fight to those employers who will seek to use the laws to cut workers' rights such as the Ports of Auckland.

These stop work meetings will complement the round of protest meetings the New Zealand Nurses' Organisation is holding up and down the country and will draw in thousands of workers into the fight against the Nats.

For many young workers this will be their first experience of working-class, political action and its important we all work to make it as big and militant as possible.
The new law changes will mean:
Employers won't have to negotiate …

Know Drones

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On the recent anti-GCSB march, Kim Dotcom highlighted the role NZ plays in supporting America's illegal drone strikes and collateral murder of civilians.

 "The GCSB is a subsidiary of the NSA. It is spying for the Americans, to feed information for the war on terror so the illegal drone strikes can kill those people from above. Four hundred innocent civilians have died since that campaign started, including one hundred children in clear breach of international law. And we as New Zealanders are participating in that crime." - Kim Dotcom 
Watch Dotcom's speech.

Brazilian activist - "Young people have the mindset for change"

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The recent uprising in Brazil triggered solidarity protests around the world by Brazilian expat communities. One of the organisers of Auckland's 1000-strong march down Queen Street was Milton Menezes. He was interviewed by Nico for SocialistAotearoa.org
Firstly can you tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Milton Menezes. I'm a digital artist creating images and videos in NZ for advertising mainly. I'm a photoshop specialist and post production artist. I studied fine arts and worked in advertising agencies as an art director. I did years of professional football and theater acting, but that's was only some big hobbies of mine. I always had pursuit to align body and soul which I think is the way to go through a well balanced life. Can you tell us what's going on in Brazil right now, and why are so many people in the streets.

Basically everything in Brazil seems wrong. There's people in NZ complaining about corruption. But there are statistics putting NZ on …

Anonymous takes down 13 National Party websites

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Thirteen National Party websites including JohnKey.co.nz have been taken offline by internet hacktivists Anonymous NZ.



Dirty Wars - The world is a battlefield

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Investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill's film Dirty Warsis an extraordinary and emotional journey behind the scenes of the US empire's war on terror.

The film's subject - the secret US wars against Al-Qaeda - draws Scahill across the world. The film spans special forces operations in Afghanistan, drones strikes in Yemen, US-backed mercenaries in Somalia, press conferences at the White House, Senate intelligence committee hearings, and interviews with former military and intelligence operators.

One can't help but think Scahill himself, looks like a bit of a badass journo, as the beautifully shot film follows him into the badlands of Afghanistan, the hospitals of Mogadishu and tea houses of Aden. There he is strapping on a bulletproof vest and accompanied by a ute full of armed Somali's rolling in Mogadishu. There he is holding hands with a tribal leader in Yemen at the site of a cruise missile attack. There he is in Brooklyn buying yogurt and pinning stuff on his …

X-Factor highlights unemployment in NZ

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On Monday night Jackie Thomas, a 22-year-old unemployed woman from Greymouth beat out Whenua Patuwai, an 18-year-old Maori lad from Gisborne to be crowned New Zealand's first X-Factor champion

The winners, both with Maori descent and both unemployed highlight the growing youth unemployment problem in Aotearoa - 30% of young people are now unemployed in this country.

The X-Factor has showcased the talent of young New Zealanders and burst apart the right-wing myth that unemployed young people in this country lack energy, passion and drive.
It's no surprise that Thomas won - she had won the popular vote in 7 of 10 rounds and when she was thrown off the show by the judges a massive social media rebellion and a threatened wildcat strike by judge Daniel Bedingfield forced the show to bring her back.
And when Greymouth Mayor Tony Kokshoorn appeared on the show to wish Thomas luck, he alluded to the Pike River tragedy and the tough economic times the area is facing, in a touching mee…

We Steal Secrets - A timely call to arms

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Alex Gibney’s recent documentary We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks, currently playing at the New Zealand International Film Festival, is one of the most relevant documentaries of the year. The film is essentially a split narrative combining the tragic tale of Bradley Manning, with the hubris laden tale of Julian Assange as his own ego became intertwined with the powerful organisation that he was the self appointed face of.

Whilst the Manning story has been covered in multiple ways before, the Assange tale is what is really interesting about this documentary. What the film does very well is cut away the blowhard rhetoric surround Assange to present an even handed introduction to both him and the Wikileaks organisation before showing the problems as they became interchangeable with each other in the public’s perception. Assange is discussed by people that worked with him closely and by a series of academics, who paint an intimate portrait of a free information radical, drive…

Omar - A tale of resistance

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Omar is a gripping and thrilling tale of resistance that explores the motives and lives behind the Palestinian fight against Israeli occupation of their homeland. Shot in the West Bank, the film follows Omar as he trains to fight in the coming uprising, not for religious glorification but because his people are oppressed and humiliated daily in their own lands.

We're introduced to Omar as he waits for the traffic to clear so he can climb a knotted rope that provides access over the separation wall. A steep climb, he dodges bullets as he is spotted at the top sliding down and making his escape through narrow twisting alleys. This is not the last time Omar will be running for his life through narrow passages, as meetings are interrupted by Israeli agents or ambushes carefully planned are thwarted.



The characters portrayed in this film speak to a youth spent trying to build a life and a future in difficult circumstances. So often we hear about attacks by Palestinians on Israeli sett…

Chomsky - Zizek fight

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Superfund profits from the torture of Palestinian children

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According to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign,
Today, Israel has outsourced security for prisons where Palestinians are held to G4S. Along with the Israeli Prison Service, G4S is responsible for the harsh conditions the prisoners faced during the historic 2012 hunger strikes that thousands of Palestinians participated in, including two hunger strikers that neared death in protest of their arbitrary detention, Khader Adnan and Hana Al-Shalabi.   G4S is also complicit in Israel’s detention of nearly one-third of the Palestinian Legislative Council since 2006, and for dozens of human rights defenders being arrested every year for participating in popular resistance.

MANA Movement rising in the polls

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MANA polled 1.5% in the last Roy Morgan poll, its best ever result in that poll. And John Minto polled 6.7% in a recent Horizon Poll on the Auckland mayoral candidates.
The results come just weeks after MANA candidate Te Hamua Nikora came second with 25% of the vote in the Ikaroa-Rawhiti by-election. Nikora's result was more than double MANA's Ikaroa-Rawhiti vote in the 2011 election.
Taken together this data shows that MANA's popularity is rising across the motu. At the same time a weak and divided Labour Party continues to be overshadowed by rumours of coups and the Greens are tracking ever upward at Labour's expense. 
MANA's rising support shows the importance of a radical left alternative in Aotearoa. The next few months will be crucial. All MANA supporters in Auckland need to get stuck into supporting the Minto for Mayor campaign. If Minto's support can go from 6.7% to over 10% then MANA will enter 2014 with the momentum to get three or four new MPs for t…

No justice for Trayvon Martin in America

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We should be getting used to the Onion reporting news articles concerning the USA more accurately than most media organisations. But somehow it still just doesn’t feel right, and it is still a depressing and angering state of affairs that it is a satirical joke publication that has managed to distil the outrage this week more clearly and accurately than most mainstream media organisations, and most media commentators. If you haven’t read this article I suggest you check it. Essentially it nails the issue on the head – yes George Zimmerman was not guilty of a crime under Florida law. Yes, there was reasonable doubt, and yes the prosecution were not able to make the conviction they should have been able to. But come the fuck on!

This line of reasoning that everything is okay because Zimmerman didn’t break Florida law is a red herring, and an offensive, vile, racist red herring at that. The problem isn’t whether or not George Zimmerman was found innocent or not. There is no disp…

Surveillance power and the war on terror

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Since 2004 United States imperialism has been stretched beyond breaking point as the besieged empire attempts to maintain its control over Iraqi oil fields and over the Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline route.

Across the Middle East and Central Asia and indeed the world, US imperial forces are fighting a series of endless wars against a spectrum of armed rebels, which in countries such as Yemen and Iraq has fractured into murderous civil wars.

The US continues through its Israeli proxy to threaten Iran with military action in response to Iran's nuclear programme.

Part of this war involves the electronic surveillance and tracking of trans-national terrorist organisations such as al-Qaeda, their supporters and sympathisers. Since at least 2004 the SIS has monitored these individuals and it his highly likely that it is the communications of these individuals that are of interest to the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) and its partners in the Five Eyes spy ring.

The GCSB Bil…

NZFF - Six films for socialists

A (Brief) People's History of New Zealand

Banks: The four Australian-owned banks in NZ

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New Zealand’s retail banking system is dominated by four Australian owned banks,which between 2004 and 2011 sucked $28.5 billion in profits out of New Zealand.

These profits are made out of the savings, investments and mortgages of New Zealanders. This profit could have been used to fund New Zealand’s health care system for two full years.

Four Australian-owned banks dominate New Zealand’s retail market – ANZ National, BNZ, Westpac and ASB. These four banks make super-profits – Collectively they made $14.42 billion between 2008-2011, a $340 million increase from $14.08b between 2004-2008. In the first half of the 2013 financial year they made cash profits of $1.8 billion. Australia’s banks are the world’s most profitable banks – The Bank for International Settlements has ranked Australia’s big four banks (ANZ, Commonwealth (owns ASB), Westpac and National Australia Bank (owns BNZ)) most profitable in the developed world, three years in a row. Unfair fees – The Fair Play on Fees campai…

Supermarkets: Super profits and hidden costs

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Supermarket corporations continue to make extremely high profits through exorbitant mark ups on the price of food, especially fresh fruit and vegetables. At the same time international charities are stepping in to feed children in schools around the country.

Supermarkets make extremely high profits for their owners - Foodstuffs South Island, a co-operative of 582 supermarket owners in one year (2012-2013) distributed $237.4 million in profits to the supermarket owners. An average yearly profit for each supermarket owner of $407,000. Two corporations control the market - Accounting for ninety-five percent of the grocery market are two corporations - Progressive Enterprises and Foodstuffs. Fruit and vegetable prices are too high - An organic vegetable grower told Campbell Live in February 2013 he sold a 1.5kg bag of potatoes to his supplier for $1.50, these were then sold in an Auckland supermarket for $7.99. Beetroot sold for $1.50 was resold at $9.50. In 2010 a Green Party survey of…

Making sense of The Pakeha Party

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In just a day of publicity the Pakeha Party has achieved over 42,000 likes on Facebook giving it a greater social media reach than the combined forces of all other New Zealand political parties.
Left-wing political commentators have been quick to heap scorn on the Pakeha Party and its followers.

Martyn Bradbury pulls no punches in his description,
It’s a mumbo jumbo swamp of unenlightened inexperience mixed with garden variety bigotry and a sprinkling of ZB reactionary knee jerks. In the credit bubble so many Gen Y grew up in, political awareness was parked for a yearly playstation upgrade paid for on Mum and Dad’s bloated housing valuations. The lack of struggle creates a lack of critical awareness and if you want a voyage into the damned, just read the comments section on The Pakeha Party’s facebook page.   It’s a like a frontal lobotomy minus the charm. I think the technical term is a Troll feast, this site manages to make Whaleoil look like a reasonable, compassionate and informe…

The struggle against mining Coromandel

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This past weekend saw the re-emergence of direct action in the Coromandel. A group of activists from Coromandel Watchdog and their supporters hiked into the Parakiwai Valley behind Whangamata and shut down a Newmont Mining exploration drill for over 30hours. The drill has been operating 24hours a day in sensitive conservation land in the hope of locating rich sources of gold and other precious metals.
A large area of the Coromandel has been opened up for exploration under the National government’s attempts to create a lucrative extraction industry. But there has been little to no public consultation and many locals are unaware of what is being proposed in their backyards. Talk of keyhole mining and surgical extraction hide the realities of what will happen if new mining operations go ahead. The infrastructure needed to support such 'non-invasive' mining is massive. Roading and support services will have to be carved out of regenerating forests, where the topography makes acce…

Why we support Minto for Mayor

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Four Socialist Aotearoa activists explain why they are supporting the Minto for Mayor campaign.

I support the Minto for Mayor campaign because he has the conviction and the mana to make a positive change in this gridlocked, sprawling city we call Auckland. To counter Margaret Thatcher's famous words, Here is the alternative! - Nico
I support John because wherever working class people are who need help, he stands beside them. Whether it be with the wharfies, tenants facing eviction in Glen Innes or on the picket line, John walks the talk and we know which side he is on.- Alison
I support Minto for Mayor because he has a history of supporting human rights, and standing for people before profit. I know he will bring these values into his work as Auckland's Mayor. - Matt

I am voting for John because he has stood shoulder to shoulder with young McDonald's workers on the picket lines, fighting for secure hours and a living wage. Len Brown would not know a picket if it pied him in…

Four cities inspiring Minto's Auckland - Pictures

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On Sunday John Minto launched his campaign for the Auckland mayoralty naming his four key policies - free and frequent public transport, a living wage, building 20,000 council houses and "Robin Hood" rates.

Some may say that these policies are pipe dreams. But below are pictures of four cities inspiring Minto's Auckland, cities where Mana's policies are reality. 

Tallinn: Estonia's capital city, with a population of 425,000, is the largest city in Europe with free public transport. According to Tallinn's city government, after three months of the scheme, begun this year passenger numbers are up 10% and city car traffic has dropped by 15%.



Vienna: Chris Trotter is right to remind us of the magnificent achievements of a left-wing city government in Vienna between 1918 and 1934. During that time 60,000 council houses were built for working people. One of the most famous examples is Karl Marx-Hof, the longest residential building in the world which has 1382 apartme…

Alain Badiou: Friend or fad?

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One of the rising stars of the French philosophical left is Alain Badiou, the communist philosopher and professor of the European Graduate School, whose works have been incorporated into Auckland University's sociology courses for undergraduates and postgraduates, primarily by Associate Professor Campbell Jones, a leading figure in the campus left who was also a spokesperson for Occupy Auckland during the spring of 2011.

Yet for those left militants outside the sociology and politics departments of the academy, the work of Badiou, is almost unheard of. His concepts, his philosophy and his methods remain little understood despite one reviewers high praise, 'Badiou has a rare talent among philosophers for making accessible political interventions in wider society.' Therefore his growing popularity within academic and campus Marxist currents forces us to grapple with the question; is Alain Badiou a friend of the revolutionary socialist tradition or just the latest in a line …