John Rainford

World War I – separating fact from fiction

Lines of grey muttering faces, masked with fear,
They leave their trenches, going over the top,
While time ticks blank and busy on their wrists,
And hope, with furtive eyes and grasping fists,
Flounders in mud. O Jesus, make it stop!
— Siegfried Sassoon.

Implausible as it might seem, it was the violent protest of a group of Bosnian high school students that sparked World War I.

Google, Rio, BHP, Apple: Tax the 'selfish corporate rabble'

The head of the Business Council of Australia (BCA), Catherine Livingstone, has called for a national “conversation” about what the federal government and the business community euphemistically call “economic reform”.

Ever in thrall to trickle-down economics, they manage to talk in “doublespeak”, a close relative of the doublethink that George Orwell wrote about in his novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.

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Qantas attacks the right to strike

In December last year, minister for employment Eric Abetz and Treasurer Joe Hockey announced the terms of reference for an inquiry into Australia’s workplace relations framework by the Productivity Commission that was established by John Howard’s Coalition government in 1998.

In a paper released in January, the Productivity Commission indicated that what was up for grabs were the minimum wage, penalty rates, unfair dismissal laws and the role of unions in collective bargaining.

Annette Schneider willing to pay price for stopping coal trains

Why would a 54 year-old woman make a decision to lock herself onto the train tracks of the world’s biggest coal port?

Annette Schneider, an artist and farmer from Monaro in NSW, explained to Green Left Weekly that her action on March 31 was a direct result of her fear of catastrophic climate change.

Guardian starts 'Keep it in the Ground' campaign

The Guardian newspaper was first published in Manchester in 1821. It is generally regarded as a centre-left paper that employs some very fine journalists.

Its online edition is one of the most widely read in the world and its combined print and online editions reach some 9 million readers. The paper’s environmental coverage is provided by a team of seven environmental writers and each month four million visitors go to the Guardian for its environmental coverage.

Greens benefit from anti-gas campaign in NSW elections

It was always a big ask for the NSW Labor Party to follow their counterparts in Victoria and Queensland and win the election on March 29.

The corruption scandals involving former Labor ministers was a big handicap for the ALP at the previous election in 2011. As a result, Labor lost 32 lower house seats and the Coalition won 34 seats. The ALP was reduced to a rump of just 20 lower house members — the worst result for the party in more than 100 years.

NSW taxpayers funding James Hardie’s asbestos debts

Mesothelioma is a particularly virulent form of lung cancer. From the date of diagnosis the average life expectancy of a person with the disease is just 155 days.

There is only one way a person can contact mesothelioma: by exposure to the fine particles of asbestos dust that cannot be seen by the naked eye.

The latent period from exposure to diagnosis can be many decades. So the first battle for sufferers seeking compensation was overcoming the legal hurdle in Commonwealth and state jurisdictions known as the statute of limitations.

The economy bubbling along?

When neoliberal economics was being established as a hegemonic position in Australia in the late 1980s, 1.2 million workers were employed in the manufacturing industry — 15% of the workforce.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (ABS) latest employment analysis shows that 25,000 jobs were lost in manufacturing last year, bringing the total employed down to 920,000 — 7.8% of the workforce.

It is a trend that will only continue with the winding-down of the vehicle production industry and its related vehicle components sector.

The corporate culture of the University of Wollongong

The motto of the University of Wollongong (UOW) promises “Personalised Experiences: World Class Results”. It would do well to tell the public which persons in the institution availed themselves of the experience of authorising political donations of $26,175 in the last four years, and what world class results they expected.

The signature on contribution donations in 2009 was the university’s director of government relations, Canio Fierravanti, brother of Liberal Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells.

Coincidentally, 82% of the donations since late-2010 have gone to the Liberal Party.

Reports show damn lies and statistics

This month two reports were released in Canberra.

The first was an important analysis of economic data, the 2014 national accounts issued by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

What Australia’s national accounts show is an economy in deep trouble. As David Harvey reminds us, to function satisfactorily it is necessary for capitalist economies to achieve a minimum 3% compound growth forever.

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