economy

Ecuadorean indigenous groups’ years-long court battle to force oil giant Chevron to pay US$9.5 billion in damages for the environmental disaster known as the “Amazon Chernobyl” began a new phase on September 12 — this time in Canada.

Plaintiffs from Ecuador have been trying for years to collect damages it won in its 2011 lawsuit against Chevron in a court in Ecuador, where the multinational oil giant no longer has assets that can be seized.


Solidarity from Syria with striking RMT train guards.

Britain’s National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport workers (RMT) has been organising Britain’s rail workers to fight for their rights with a series of industrial actions. No strangers to international solidarity, the RMT also recently passed a motion supporting the 55 sacked Carlton & United Breweries workers in Melbourne.


Palestinian workers queue to cross the Apartheid Wall in Bethlehem.

With Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu set to become the first Israeli prime minister to visit Australia next year, the Australian government will likely seek to deepen economic ties with the self-proclaimed “only democracy in the Middle East”.

It is also likely, if not certain, that Israel’s ongoing strangling of Palestine — economic as well as political and military — will not be mentioned.

Are small-scale nuclear power reactors the key to dealing with the high cost of electricity in South Australia? Someone in the policy apparatus of Labor Premier Jay Weatherill seems to think so.

Adelaide’s Channel 7 splashed the story across its news reports on September 7: the nuclear power option was being officially explored!

“A top-level report clearly indicates small-scale reactors have been on the short-term radar,” the channel stated.


Protest against austerity. Lisbon, 2013.

A month ago, on August 8, it became official — the high school governors agreed that the headmaster had acted correctly in not caning the two miscreant schoolboys.

On being sworn into power on January 15, 2007, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa said: “Latin America is not living through an era of change, it is living through a genuine change of eras.”

His enthusiasm was shared by many, and with good reason: after years of intense social struggles against right-wing neoliberal governments, new left forces were winning elections across the region.


Caracas, September 7.

Thousands of Venezuelans took to the streets of Caracas and other major cities across the country on September 7, calling for peace in their country and rejecting right-wing opposition plans to destabilise the government of President Nicolas Maduro.

The march was called by the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) and joined by civil society groups and grassroots movements.

Parliament resumed on August 30 and the government's agenda was simple: delay marriage equality; justify the double dissolution; and argue the case for a renewed assault on living standards — I mean: “budget repair”.

The “budget repair” project was contained in a centrepiece “omnibus” bill that combines 24 measures from this year's budget that have not yet passed the Senate. It is an attack on students, welfare recipients, ordinary workers and the environment.

The responsibility of governments to help with the costs of child-rearing has been a part of Australian social policy since the early 1920s, when the first widows’ pension (1926) and child endowment (1927) schemes were introduced.

Australia has recognised this principle since the Harvester judgment of 1907, which raised the issue of how much income was appropriate for a family with child-rearing responsibilities. For most of the 20th century, this was recognised in taxation policy, as well as in income support policies.

Last month I read an article that first appeared in the Huffington Post titled "X Marks the Spot Where Inequality Took Root: Dig Here".

It explains how real wages in the US shadowed growth in productivity in the years after World War II. But in the mid-1970s wages growth completely stalled.

If wages had continued to shadow productivity growth they would now be double what they are today. This explains a lot about contemporary US society: all the gains of increased productivity have been absorbed by the rich.

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