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Is Pine Gap for Arms Control or the US fighting machine?

This article is shared from John Menadue's website Pearl's and Irritations and published on 29 August 2019

by Brian Toohey

Labor governments surrendered Australian sovereignty in other ways by agreeing in 2008 to renew the lease on North West Cape without any conditions on how US nuclear attack submarines could use the base[i]. This could include undermining China’s ability to deter a nuclear war.[ii] Labor subsequently agreed to let the US install long-range ground sensors at NWC to help conduct space warfare against Russia and China in violation of Australia’s support for a treaty outlawing the militarisation of space.[iii] The public were not told about the significance of these developments, nor about similar changes at the Pine Gap satellite base near Alice Springs.

The US National Security Agency essentially runs Pine Gap’s role in intercepting a wide range of electronic signals providing real-time targeting information for battlefield use by US forces. It also helps detect data on heat emissions from missiles, jet engines and ground explosions that feed into military operations, including space warfare, regardless of whether Australia opposes a particular US war. [iv]

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Parent Category: Spirit Content

National Security and Press Freedoms in Australia

by Dr. Binoy Kampmark, July 19 2019

Australian society relishes secrecy and surveillance. Forget the laid-back, relaxed demeanour that remains the great fiction of a confected identity; like all such creations, the trace should not be mistaken as the tendency. The political culture of Australia remains shaped by penal paranoia and an indifference to transparency. The citizen is not to be trusted; rather, the subject is to be policed and regulated into apathetic submission. 

The statute books of the federal parliament are larded with provisions of secrecy that make doing credible journalism in the country nigh impossible. Journalists are left to their own devices, inventive as these might be, assisted by the odd prized leak. 

The Australian Federal Police raids executed last month on the home of a News Corp journalist and the Sydney headquarters of the ABC had, for the clandestine community operating in the capitals of Australia, a surprise. A usually divided fraternity came together in one voice, attempting to challenge the warrants and seek reform on matters related to press freedoms. 

Media organisations would like to see parliament perform its functions, namely in the field of passing legislation that would enhance Freedom of Information provisions, arm press outlets with the means to contest warrants aimed at journalists, furnish whistleblowers with credible protections, and tilt the balance away from the national security grand inquisitor that seems to prevail in Canberra. 

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Parent Category: Spirit Content

Injustice within the Law means Resistance is always our Duty

by Danny O'Reilly  (This article was originally published by Vanguard on January 10, 2019.)

We are told that the law is impartial. That all stand equally before it, and that it arbitrates fairly and with justice. But it doesn’t. Our lived experiences show us that’s a lie.

It was the French poet and writer Anatole France who wrote the well-known words, “In its majestic equality, the law forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets and steal loaves of bread.” There is a fundamental truth in this quote that demonstrates the real nature of the law as we know it. In a class society like capitalism, the law exists for the benefit of the rich and ruling class while it punishes the poor and working classes all the while holding high the banner of “equality”.

Arising from this contradiction between the self-avowed ‘equality’ and ‘impartiality’ of the law and the reality of the inherent inequality of a class society in which that law is applied, there exists a concept of ‘injustice within the law’.

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Parent Category: Spirit Content

West Papua’s road to 'independence', following the Timorese lead?

This article was originally published by the Pacific Media Centre on August 25, 2019

The groundswell of regional support continues to grow in the Pacific - and also globally - for West Papuan self-determination, writes David Robie. The latest repression only adds to this momentum.

Indonesia’s harsh policies towards West Papua ought to be scrapped. Whatever happened to the brief window of enlightenment ushered in by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo in 2015 with promises of a more “open door” policy towards foreign journalists and human rights groups?

They were supposed to be seeing for themselves the reality on the ground. But apart from a trickle of carefully managed visits by selected journalists after the grand announcement – including two multimedia crews from RNZ Pacific and Māori Television in 2015 – no change really happened.

And the serious media freedom and human rights violations remain rampant.

Even the Pacific Islands Forum countries are still awaiting their promised fact-finding mission.

Instead, Jakarta has launched in recent years a major diplomatic offensive in the region through aid and efforts to win Pacific “hearts and minds” as demonstrated by last month’s “Pacific” Expo hosted in Auckland’s Sky City.

The futility of Jakarta’s hard line approach has been exposed for the world to see this week with the masses of protests across the two easternmost Melanesian provinces of Papua and West Papua in response to a racist attack in Surabaya.

The more repressively Jakarta has acted towards Papuans, the more the resilience of a colonised people after five decades of repression has bounced back.

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Parent Category: Spirit Content

No Australian Involvement in US wars of Aggression! Time for Independence! 2019 IPAN National Conference in Darwin 2-4 August

The following is Spirit of Eureka's report back from the recently held 2019 Independent and Peaceful Australia Network (IPAN) National Conference in Darwin 2-4 August. Spirit of Eureka is a founding member and active part of IPAN.

A broad and united movement against war and for independence continues to grow in Australia as US imperialism increasingly tightens its grip over the two subservient major parliamentary parties, to enmesh Australia more deeply with US wars of aggression.

The 2019 IPAN Conference in Darwin 2-4 August, re-asserted calls for a peaceful and independent Australian foreign policy, the removal US military bases and troops and building peace and friendship with people and countries in our region.

The Conference was attended by 90 -100 representatives and individuals from 50 different affiliated organisations across Australia including peace and anti-war groups, the local Larrakia First People, community, faith and social justice organisations, representatives from unions (MUA, Australian Education Union, Retail and Fast Food Workers Union of Australia; CEPU; NTEU, CFMEU) and local migrant communities. Local Darwin anti-war activists and environmentalists were involved in organising and promoting the Conference.

The IPAN conference in Darwin helped to build support and solidarity amongst local people in an environment generally supportive of US troop placement there, and recognised by those locals attending.

Several international guest speakers from Asia-Pacific and Oceania participated, sharing experiences of their countries hosting US bases and struggles for independence from US and other big powers.

The Conference called for the removal of US bases and marines from Australia, an end to the US-Australia Alliance and an independent and peaceful foreign policy.

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Parent Category: Spirit Content