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This month's battles over the budget and the Tea Party Republicans' fanaticism about the health care law obscure the two parties' common commitment to austerity, the US Socialist Worker said in an October 1 editorial. It is posted below. * * * The federal government officially went into shutdown mode at midnight on October 1 --in another spectacular display of dysfunction in the highest offices of the "world's greatest democracy".
The death of a young man from a suspected drug overdose at a dance music festival in Sydney on September 14 showed not just how inadequate prohibition is at dealing with drugs, but how it also unnecessarily risks lives. Defqon.1 is an annual music festival featuring hardstyle electronic dance music. It takes place in the Netherlands and Australia at different times each year. Each festival has its own anthem or theme song; the anthem for this year's Australian festival was “Scrap the System”.
The secret Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is about to become even more secret, perhaps seen as a necessity in light of plans to make it easier for tobacco companies to sue while making health care more difficult to obtain.
About 350 paramedics surrounded Victorian Health Minister David Davis's Melbourne office on August 12 to protest in support of their year-long campaign for better wages. Victoria has Australia's most highly trained and lowest paid paramedics. Supporters came from as far away as Gippsland and Shepparton. “Ambulance Victoria is in serious trouble unless they can become competitive with other states,” said Ambulance Employees Australia organiser Danny Hill.
Uruguay took a major step on July 31 towards becoming the first country in the world to put its government at the centre of a legal marijuana industry. President Jose Mujica's Broad Front coalition narrowly squeezed the measure through the lower house of Congress after 13 hours of debate, with all 50 government deputies overriding the 46 opposition MPs present. The measure will now go to the senate, where it is expected to pass.
Stop CSG Illawarra released this statement on August 2. *** The NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer, Professor Mary O'Kane, released the initial report from her review into coal seam gas (CSG) on July 31. The findings — particularly the contaminants involved and risks to water resources — confirm risks that community members have been talking about for years. However, the recommendations from the review are framed by the terms of reference, and focus on how to develop the industry, not if or under what conditions development is safe.
Mass stopwork meetings of NSW Nurses and Midwives Association (NSWNMA) members on July 24 resolved that: "Public health system nurses and midwives will escalate their community and workplace campaign to convince the NSW government that the nursing hours/ratios system should be extended to more clinical areas, and improved to guarantee the same minimum levels in all hospitals in NSW.
Anyone with even superficial experience with how aged people are treated would be disgusted and outraged by the standards of most nursing homes, a result of neoliberal policies in Australia. An investigation by ABC TV’s Lateline on July 15 found many elderly people living in aged care facilities are grossly neglected. Advocacy groups have called it “a national human rights emergency”. The issue typically gets mentioned in the media only when a spectacle is involved, like a fire in a nursing home that costs lives.
Kuwaiti-born doctor Ghaleb Jaber is prepared to follow in the footsteps of overseas-trained doctors (OTDs) who went on hunger strike in 1997 in Sydney and Melbourne to fight for their rights. Jaber set up the Overseas Trained Doctors Network of Victoria five years ago. This network is organising a conference on July 26 to raise the issues facing overseas-trained doctors in the lead up to the federal election. “We want them to listen to us this time,” Jaber told Green Left Weekly.
The statement below was released by the Socialist Party of Malayaia (PSM) on July 10. * * * The PSM is deeply concerned about the ongoing Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) free trade agreement. The 18th round is to commence in Kota Kinabalu in east Malaysia from July 15 until July 25.

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