Negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) were finally completed in Atlanta on October 5. Final agreement on the treaty had been delayed for years as negotiating countries tried to protect their own industries while trying to gain market access in others. The TPP was negotiated by countries on the Pacific Rim: the US, Australia, Singapore, New Zealand, Chile, Brunei, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Vietnam and Japan. These countries represent about 40% of global GDP.
Talks are continuing in the Fair Work Commission between the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) and Hutchison Ports over the sacking of 97 waterside workers on August 6. Meanwhile, community assemblies are being maintained outside the gates of Hutchison terminals at Port Botany and the Port of Brisbane. The company has said it is seeking a new enterprise agreement with the union, and has agreed to pay wages to the sacked workers until at least mid-November.
The WikiLeaks Files: The World According to the US Empire Verso, 2015 624 pages, hardback George Orwell said: “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” These are dark times, in which the propaganda of deceit touches all our lives. It is as if political reality has been privatised and illusion legitimised. The information age is a media age. We have politics by media; censorship by media; war by media; retribution by media; diversion by media — a surreal assembly line of clichés and false assumptions.
Evo Morales. Bolivia is calling for investigations into cables leaked by WikiLeaks that reveal the US had plans in 2008 to topple the left-wing government of President Evo Morales, including potentially backing his assassination. “This requires an in-depth investigation,” said Bolivia's minister of the presidency, Juan Ramon Quintana. “We need to do an investigation to subsequently take decisions with regard to the United States government.”
Moreland City Council voted unanimously to divest from fossil fuels on October 7. It is the first Australian council to do so. Socialist Alliance councillor Sue Bolton, who has been working with 350.org and Climate Action Moreland on the campaign, said it was a “tribute to their hard work over almost three years”. Greens councillors have also supported the campaign from the start. “Last night, we crossed the final hurdle and decided to divest. Without the grassroots campaign, councillors would never have done this,” Bolton said.
Russia followed the lead of Western powers on September 30 and began direct military intervention in Syria – using the same form (air strikes) and the same declared enemy, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Russia's campaign, aimed to shore up the beleaguered regime of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, will also target the al Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front and other armed groups fighting the dictatorship. Russia's entry into the fray has dramatically heightened tensions between Russia and the West and further complicated the already confused, multi-sided conflict in Syria.
This week Parramatta found itself the shocking scene of terror — the sort of thing you might expect in foreign nations, but which many Australians surely believed would never happen on our streets.
Books are lives compressed, humanity summarised into screaming or striking stories. One would think the book world would be a safe haven from inequality. But instead the traditional publishing industry — the big corporate publishers — is perpetuating prejudice and limiting ideas by elevating certain authors, characters, and thoughts above all others, with significant social consequences.
A group of 20 refugee supporters staged a sit-in at the Department of Immigration and Border Protection on October 7. They were protesting the ongoing rapes and assaults against refugees on Nauru. The protesters occupied the office for about 90 minutes before police arrived. According to one of the demonstrators, the activists entered the building at about 10.30am and started chanting. The staff closed the reception area and called security, who filmed the demonstrators and told them to leave. When the activists refused to leave, the police were called.
The New South Wales government is preparing a fire sale of state-owned properties around the Sydney Harbour foreshore, on the pretext of funding an upgrade of the Circular Quay ferry wharves. Premier Mike Baird announced on September 28 that government-owned hotels and office buildings would be sold to raise $200 million for the renovation project.
The abrupt arrival of this year's bush fire season should be taken as another warning of the urgency of tackling the climate change crisis. The El Nino phenomenon of severe droughts and flooding rains that will make this a more dangerous summer has been a part of longstanding weather patterns on the Australian continent. But research has shown that El Nino will double in frequency and severity as global warming increases.
About 50 people attended the Queensland Water Summit in Dalby on September 23. Despite its midweek timing, a wide range of people attended from across the state, including farmers threatened by increasingly severe drought and mining company pollution of their water sources, to community members, doctors and clergy from communities impacted by coal seam gas, underground coal gasification and coalmining. The summit was organised and funded by independent Senator Glenn Lazarus, who spoke briefly but mostly listened to the concerns raised by attendees.
A leaked management briefing from New South Wales government-owned electricity network business Ausgrid has revealed a plan to slash jobs, close local depots, axe apprenticeships, sell off state-of-the-art training facilities and outsource call centres all in the lead-up to the privatisation of the company. The state government is committed to selling off 50.4% of Ausgrid on a 99-year lease in 2016.
The 23rd Ernie awards for sexist behaviour were held late last month. The peak body for soccer, Football Federation Australia, took out the Gold Ernie for the gross pay gap between male and female soccer players. When the Socceroos won the Asian Cup each player was paid $103,148. In contrast, if the Matildas had won the World Cup, they would have been paid $5600 each. The Socceroos receive a $6000 base payment for every international game, while the Matildas get just $500.
A new terror campaign aimed at young people — particularly Muslims — was launched in Sydney’s western suburbs following the fatal shootings of two people outside Parramatta police station on October 2. The tragic shooting of police technician Curtis Cheng by 15-year-old Farhad Khalil Mohammad Jabar and his shooting by special forces police have allowed fear-mongering politicians a new round of Muslim bashing. This time it is being led by the so-called “Mr Nice Guy” — New South Wales Premier Mike Baird.