Duroyan Fertl

The River: A Journey through the Murray-Darling Basin
By Chris Hammer
Melbourne University Publishing 2009, $34.99 pb

Canberra journalist Chris Hammer has spent over a decade reporting on the crisis facing the Murray-Darling river system, and the communities that rely on it for their livelihoods.

To write The River, however, Hammer actually travelled from tail to tip of the river system — from Cunnamulla to Dubbo and Echuca, from Bourke to Menindee and the Murray Mouth — and witnessed first-hand a river system in terminal decline.

Coasting on the back of environmental protests and a hemorrhaging two-party system, the German Greens have sent shock waves through German politics, surging into the position of main opposition party for the first time.

The Greens, who were part of a coalition government with the Social Democratic Party (SPD) from 1998-2005 at the expense of many of the party’s principles, are benefiting from the unraveling of Germany’s traditional two-party system.

In the aftermath of a failed coup attempt on September 30, left-wing Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa has vowed to deepen his “citizen’s revolution” in the small Andean country.

After the coup attempt by sections of the police and armed forces failed amid pro-government protests, Correa’s approval rate has surged to 75% in some polls.

In response, Correa, said his government had not done enough to implement its pro-people program and would radicalise its project to build a “socialism of the 21st century”.

The attempted coup d’etat in Ecuador on September 30 against the left-wing government of Rafael Correa was defeated by loyal troops and the mass mobilisation of Correa’s supporters. The event underscores the turbulent history of the small Andean nation.

It also exposes some of the weaknesses of Ecuador’s revolutionary movement, which is part of a broader Latin American movement against US domination and for regional unity and social justice.

On September 30, Ecuador descended into chaos as a protest by sections of the police force and army turned into a potentially bloody coup against left-wing President Rafael Correa.

At about 8am, sections of the Ecuadorian Armed Forces and the national police went on strike, occupying police stations and barracks in the capital Quito, in Guayaquil and in at least four other cities. They set up road blocks with burning tyres, cutting off access to the capital.

On September 10, the players of the Serie A — Italy's top football league — declared they would strike on September 25 and 26.

AC Milan defender Massimo Oddo, speaking on behalf of the Italian Players' Association (AIC) and the captains of all 20 Serie A clubs, made the declaration as a dispute over the renewal of the collective agreement for the game's top players intensifies.

Serie A is trying to replace the old collective contract — which ran out on June 30 — with one that strips players’ rights in order to maximise profits for football clubs and their owners.

More than 400 people marched on August 14 in protest against plans to demolish residences in the heritage-listed Pines Estate Heritage Conservation Area in the inner-west suburb of Newtown.

RailCorp is considering a proposal to compulsorily takeover and demolish all the houses on Newtown’s Leamington Avenue, and others on Holdsworth and Pine Streets, to build a railway tunnel.

On August 3, the Ecuadorian government signed a landmark deal to prevent drilling for oil in the ecologically unique Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputini areas of the Yasuni National Park (Yasuni-ITT).

The agreement, signed by the government of left-wing President Rafael Correa and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), guarantees that the estimated 900 million barrels of oil that lie beneath the pristine Amazonian region will remain untouched, as will the forest above.

Germany’s Federal Administrative Court ruled on July 21 that the Verfassungsschutz — Germany’s domestic spy agency — had a right to spy on the left-wing party Die Linke.

Bodo Ramelow, Die Linke’s leader in the eastern state of Thuringia and others were appealing against the agency spying on them. The justification for the spying are claims Die Linke contained “anti-constitutional” elements because of its origins in the former East German state.

The German parliament met on June 30 to elect the country’s largely symbolic president. What should have been a fairly straightforward affair, however, turned into a political embarrassment for Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The new election was made necessary by the resignation of Horst Koehler on May 31, after a public outcry over his comments suggesting German military involvement in Afghanistan was commercially motivated.

Koehler’s resignation came as Merkel’s governing right-wing coalition was struggling in opinion polls.

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