Alameda Park is Mexico City's languid space for lovers and open-air ballroom dancers: the gents in two-tone shoes, the ladies in finery and heels. The cobbled paths undulate from the great earthquake of 1985. You imagine the fairground sinking into the cobwebs of cracks, its Edwardian organ playing forlornly. Two small churches nearby totter precariously: the surreal is Mexico's facade.
Egyptians went to the polls on November 28 in the first round of parliamentary elections since dictator Hosni Mubarak was overthrown in February. Large numbers of people turned out to vote despite calls from some revolutionary groups for a boycott of a process seen as a means to legitimise the rule of the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF). The elections were held amid ongoing protests against the military regime by thousands of pro-democracy activists in Tahrir Square in Cairo and elsewhere across the country.
Cricket is on the verge of a corruption-induced implosion, yet you wouldn’t know in Australia. As far as Australian cricket administrators are concerned, it is the end of the world as they know it and they feel fine. Despite more and more revelations coming out about corruption in cricket, it was still shocking for many to hear former Indian batsman Vinod Kambli claim that something was “amiss” in the semi-final of the 1996 World Cup.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s imminent $90,000 pay rise is more than twice the estimated median wage of all Australian full-time or part-time employees, aged 15 years or over. More than half of all Australian workers have a yearly pay packet smaller than the PM’s expected pay rise. The $40,000 pay rise expected for backbenchers will also be more than the total wage of many Australian workers.
Victorian nurses have decided to take their claims directly to the community, after negotiations with the Baillieu Victorian government over their enterprise bargaining agreement broke down yet again. Australian Nursing Federation (ANF) Victorian branch secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick told a mass meeting on December 2: “The government negotiators staged a ‘breakdown’ in negotiations last night to bait nurses and midwives into taking further industrial action that would pull the last forced arbitration trigger.
The phrase “organise, don’t agonise” has become a bumper sticker, a popular slogan in the feminist movement, the title of many speeches, conferences and newsletters. African-American civil rights activist Florence Rae Kennedy coined the term. Gloria Steinem quoted her in Ms magazine in 1973. Since then, this powerful slogan has circumnavigated the world many times — used by many activists and movements. It has lasted because the slogan reasonates strongly with the condition of the oppressed, exploited and persecuted.
The Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) has condemned the federal government's planned increase in the “efficiency dividend” imposed on the Australian Public Service. “Efficiency dividend” is a euphemism for funding cut. In the 2012-13 financial year the “dividend” will be 4%, based on the assumption the public service will increase its efficiency by 4% during the year. Such cuts have been continuing for many years. In 2011-2012 the “efficiency dividend” is 1.5%.
Occupy began as a movement against the effects and causes of the global economic crisis and against the austerity measures pushed by governments for the benefit of the 1%. In Australia, many people were inspired by Occupy Wall Street in New York and the global movement it had sparked. When an international call for action on October 15 came out, we responded, and began our own occupations here.
For years the Ageing, Disability and Home Care department (ADHC) has run a “Don’t DIS My Ability” campaign to celebrate International Day of Persons with Disabilities. In partnership with Accessible Arts, an arts program has been designed to supposedly boost and foster arts and disability practice in New South Wales. These initiatives coincide with talk at the national level about social inclusion policies targeting those classed as disadvantaged in the workforce. The federal government appears to be setting ambitious goals for greater participation and integration into the workforce.
Most environmentalists would agree consumerism and consumer culture put too heavy a burden on the planet. Consumer spending is central to the economy, which is why economists and governments also pay it close attention. But most mainstream economists say endless economic growth, which implies limitless consumption, is both possible and desirable. This ignores how it helps fuel our ecological problems. Today, most things sold on the market are made to be thrown out and replaced. A big part of economic activity is made up of selling products “designed for the dump”.