This is what things have come to.

The Greatest Democracy In the World™ is subjecting its people, and the world, to an election campaign to determine who gets to order new crimes against humanity, in which one candidate is a far-right, racist, woman-hating, tax-avoiding failed property mogul, reality TV star and serial sex offender, and the other is, by all available evidence, a robot built by Goldman Sachs.

The systematic police repression of African Americans that Black Lives Matter (BLM) has exposed has prompted Black athletes to express their solidarity. The latest has been the silent protests at sporting events initiated by Colin Kaepernick, quarterback for NFL team, the San Francisco 49ers.

His protest is simple. He kneels when the national anthem is played before games. In spite of attacks against him, other professional athletes have emulated his protest. Perhaps most significant has been the many high school players across the country who have joined in.

Riot police cracked down and fired tear gas on thousands of protesters in central Rio de Janeiro on October 17 as marches flooded the streets to reject unelected President Michel Temer’s proposed 20-year freeze on public spending, which critics say will spell disaster in the cash-strapped country.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced his proposal for the country’s federal budget for 2017 on October 14 — indicating that a staggering 73.6% would be dedicated toward social investment. It comes in a context of an economic crisis, including shortages of some goods.

In the days leading up to the announcement, the governing Untied Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) held street assemblies with thousands of Venezuelans to discuss and debate the proposed budget.

“In a democracy like ours, the budget is debated by the people,” Maduro said on October 12.

The images and accounts of Haiti’s devastation following Hurricane Matthew’s passage on October 4 are gut-wrenching. The death toll is in the hundreds and continues to rise. Entire villages in the country's southwest were obliterated. The response of a Haitian government, left besieged and without resources by decades of foreign plunder, is anaemic. The victims’ anguished appeals for help are heart-rending. The United Nations now says 1.4 million people are in need of assistance, urgent and immediate for half of them.

The federal government's much-vaunted parliamentary inquiry into the banking system was correctly called "a farce" by Labor MP Pat Conroy on October 4, the first day of a three-day hearing in Canberra. Conroy said: "I have two days of questions here" but no time to ask them.

The inquiry was an attempt by the government to deflect growing calls for a royal commission into the banking system.

Attendees at a conference of Momentum, a group of grassroots supporters of Jeremy Corbyn, in Liverpool to coincide with Labours' national conference.

It wasn’t a surprise, but that didn’t make it any less historic.

In a new leadership election for the leader of the Britsh labour Party sparked by a right-wing, corporate media back assault on incumbent Jeremy Corbyn, the socialist leader was re-elected with an even larger majoroty of almost 62% of the vote. Corbyn stunned the political world when he won Labour's leadership in September last year with a "from nowhere win" on the back of anti-austerity politics.

I was dismayed to discover that Australia’s Minister for Social Services is turning to New Zealand for inspiration in his latest approach to welfare.

On September 20 Christian Porter announced the ‘Australian Priority Investment Approach’. This draws on work New Zealand’s right-wing National government has done since 2011 on using actuarial estimates of fiscal liability to underpin an extensive program of punitive and pauperising reforms.

On September 20, days after the passage of the “omnibus” legislation that enabled the implementation of the federal budget, Minister for Social Services Christian Porter released the Baseline Valuation Report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), as part of the federal government’s “Priority Investment Approach”.

In what amounted to a financial audit of the welfare system, the report focused on the costs to the welfare system over a prolonged period of three categories of recipients: young carers, young parents and students.


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