week saw yet another cutback to passenger rail services with the
announcement that the Northerner, the night service between Auckland and
Wellington, would cease operation on the 12th of November. When one
considers this annoucement alongside specific clauses in the agreement the
Government signed with Toll in July 2004 it becomes obvious that the
Northerner will be first of many closures within the first three years of
this 'public private partnership'.
months of protracted negotiations, Toll Holdings and the Government
completed their agreement to transfer the track network to public ownership.
The deal concluded just before the deadline of June 30th, 2004. At two
minutes to midnight. If an agreement had not been reached by the deadline,
Toll was in for making a lot of money. By selling the track for the symbolic
sum of $1, Toll could claim a considerable book loss. If the deal had been
concluded a mere two minutes later Toll could have gained a significant tax
advantage, with estimates ranging from a benefit of $10m to $70m dollars,
depending on how long they dilly dallied. While Toll Holdings’ Managing
Director, Paul Little, claimed that Toll did not intend to take advantage of
this opportunity, it certainly did not stop Toll from using it as a threat
to bully the Government into a position friendly to the Australian owned
transnational corporation (TNC).
"Take it or leave it" was the
choice given to the cooks and stewards of the Cook Strait ferry Arahura. The
new transnational owners of the ferries, Toll Holdings, told the crew to
accept a big cut to pay and conditions or be made redundant. The
live-on-board positions were to be disestablished, with those made redundant
forced into reapplying for their jobs in competition with other Toll
employees and external recruits.
mid-November the US Department of Defence confirmed the existence of a
report highly critical of the administration's efforts in the war on
terror and in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. “Muslims do not
hate our freedom, but rather they hate our policies. The overwhelming
majority [of Muslims] voice their objections to what they see as one-sided
support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights, and the
long-standing, even increasing, support for what Muslims collectively see
as tyrannies, most notably Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan and the
Gulf states. Thus, when American public diplomacy talks about bringing
democracy to Islamic societies, this is seen as no more than self-serving
hypocrisy.” The report ‘Strategic Communication’ comes from
none other than a branch of the Pentagon itself, the Defence Science
Advisory Board (DSB).
Iraqis under military
occupation by a foreign power.Sunni
and Shia Muslims put aside their differences and turn memorial services into
political rallies, while religious leaders call on the people to throw off
the bonds of imperialism.The
arrest of several independence leaders leads to strikes and violent
posts are largely held by foreigners, creating a lot of Iraqi dissent.Nationalist political activity continues to rise, and insurgents are
active in Najaf and Karbala.Iraq
is in a state of anarchy.
The claims by the United States that it
is bringing democracy to Iraq simply do not measure up to the facts. Paul
Bremer, the US viceroy in Iraq, has imposed a free market economy, ordered
mass privatisation of Iraqi State assets and signed contracts with American
corporate interests, all before the Iraqi people could have their say in an
election. As such privatisation and foreign ownership is outlawed under the
Constitution and the laws of Iraq, this is a breach of the Hague Regulations
of 1907 that state that an occupying Power must respect "unless
absolutely prevented, the laws in force in the country".