Interview: Trade Secrets
Industrial: It’s About Overtime, Stupid
Unions: Full Steam Ahead
Bad Boss: The BBQ Battle Axe
Economics: Different Dimensions of Debt
History: Raking the Coals
History Special: Wherever the Necessity Exists
History Special: Learning from the Past
History Special: A 'Cosy Relationship'
Politics: Regime Change for Saddam
International: World War
Corporate: Industrious Thinking
Review: Jack High
Culture: Duffy’s Song
Satire: A Nation of Sooks
Poetry: Mr Flexibility
The Locker Room
Month In Review
Lessons from History
State Based Organising
Gino on the Gong
Month In Review
First off, the Bush Republicans storm through the US mid-term elections, sweeping opponents before them in a manner not seen since Ike slippered Democrat butt all those decades ago. But that's where any similarities with the father of "Modern Republicanism" who, after-all, maintained the essence of Democrat Fair Deal and New Deal programs, would appear to end.
Consider this - the Bush Republicans now control all three branches of executive power - the presidency, House and the Senate, there are no constitutional barriers left between the Hard Right and complete power.
Watch out women, unions, environmentalists, the poor and the disadvantaged. Watch out Saddam and Fidel, George is coming after youse and he's armed with more than a mandate.
Wade v Roe, the decision under which American women won the right to abortions, is under immediate threat. So too, are a raft of equal opportunity statutes. Bush's Right has the numbers to jam the judiciary with fellow travellers.
Economically, corporations and millionaires will benefit massive tax cuts, while beneficiaries do a starve as social security is further privatised. Environmental protection will be rolled back as regulations to curb corporate greed are quietly rolled away.
Most worryingly, for those outside US borders, the world will be further reshaped in the image of its most powerful nation. Israel right or wrong, missile defence and grossly iniquitious "free trade" will be pushed at the expense of any anything that might deliver a meaningful say to the global village's less affluent citizens.
Bush's record speaks for itself. His oft-stated determination to achieve "regime change" in Baghdad and recent endorsement of state-sponsored assasinations on foreign soil are particularly worrying. They kick desert sand in the face of a world looking for more constructive ways of settling international differences.
The President insists on his country's "right" to peddle and use nuclear, biological and chemcial weapons whilst threatening others with annihalation for possession. He breaks disarmament treaties, rejects UN calls for a World Court, ignores global anti-pollution controls and insists the US military will never be subject to war crimes tribunals.
And his people have backed him in ... or have they?
So meaningless have US elections become that less than 40 percent of eligible voters bothered to cast ballots, leaving high office to characters who could garner less than 20 percent of popular support. Georgia's governorship, for God's sake, fell to a bible basher who campaigned on continued glorification of the Confederate war in support of slavery, not to mention questioning the "patriotism" of a Democrat who lost three limbs in the Vietnam War.
On issues such as these, ultra-conservative, Ralph Reed, became the first Republican Governor of Georgia in more than 120 years.
In short, a conservative leader uses a time of national crisis to lap opponents mired in a policy-free zone. Ring any bells?
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Which brings us to those who met behind coils of wire and police protection at Homebush Bay, Sydney, as legions of the wild and woolly tried to draw attention to what they were really about.
As the free trade-fair trade debate rages, one thing is for sure and certain - as long as the rich and powerful refuse to share the driver's seat, the majority of the earth's population will continue to be stiffed.
Free Trade might well assist Third World development but, at the moment, it is nothing more than a theoretical concept.
Remember this sham kicked off with economic policemen forcing developing countries to privatise utilities for the benefit of outfits like Texas-based Enron, and the pressure is now on their service sectors, on behalf of all the usual suspects with their Los Angeles, Houston, New York, Paris, London, Berlin, Zurich and Amsterdam postcodes.
At Doha, last year, the wealthy west did something of a mea culpa, agreeing free trade should cut both ways. It even went so far as to nod in the direction of appalling public health across much of the globe, while not quite conceding that the right to life of millions of Asians, Africans and South Americans should equal the "property rights" of its patent-holding drug companies.
But, whoa, trade ministers had barely checked out of their Doha digs when reality returned. George Bush introduced his subsidy-laden farm bill and increased protections for American steel; the EEC reaffirmed its common agricultural policy; and drug company lobbyists went into overdrive.
In reality, it seems, the only countries forced to comply are those whose economies are already being strangled by international monetarists.
Cop this - according to the economics editor of Britain's Guardian newspaper, staggering $7 billion a year subsidies to the US cotton industry have just about knocked the socks off desperate West African economies. The world cotton price has plummeted by a quarter, leaving the likes of Burkina Faso and Mali losing more from that one US trade policy than they receive in aid and debt relief combined.
Stark realities like this threaten the western "free trade" agenda and that's why trade ministers gathered in Sydney.
The one thing abundandtly clear about the operation of "free trade" is that it has bugger all to do with building strong, thrusting economies in the developing world. Just sit back for a moment and consider the development lessons of our current titans - Japan, the US, South Korea and Germany, even the sound second tier that might include the likes of Australia, Canada, Switzerland and France.
To a nation their successes owe more to interventionist governments than throwing doors open to all comers.
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Last, and very possibly least, we get to our head of state and those who may succeed her.
We didn't really need further evidence that the Queen of Hearts turned her latter years into a shagathon, or that the House of Charles shook to humpage, forced and voluntary, beneath the royal portrait, to know this mob was dysfunctional in the extreme.
What about the pompous Earl's refusal to let his sister share digs when her relationship with the afore-mentioned Charles lost its bounce? We're not talking moving into one of the spare rooms here, but a different house on the family estate. Many commoners may feel like returning the letters of siblings unopened but, according to the butler, the Spencers actually did it!
Really, who cares what the butler saw? A more important issue is the role of the Queen and the fact that an expensive legal prosecution came tumbling down because, as the matriach of this bunch of relentlessly horny bludgers, she is above the law and intends to stay that way.
It goes to the core issue on which royalty must stand or fall - acceptance that they are born to rule because they emerge from an inherently superior gene pool.
Where is the hard-hearted Flynt when his masters cry out for defence? Aussies interested in meaningful media ownership rules have been asking the same question for years?
The King may have left the building but those of us still in occupation are waiting for a bloody answer.
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