Coral Wynter

About 120 people attended the Pitt St Uniting Church on June 18 for the launch of Refugee Week, which was the themed “Freedom from Fear”.

Five women singers from Sierra Leone in traditional dress and headgear opened the event, which was hosted by the Refugee Council of Australia and NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors.

The chairperson, SBS Dateline’s Yalda Hakim, who is also a former refugee from Afghanistan, said she had just returned from Tunisia where 100,000 foreign workers are crossing the border to escape the fighting in Libya.

With a clearly nervous David Hicks in front of a packed audience of 1000 people at the Sydney Writers' Festival on May 22, his interviewer Donna Mulhearn did a great job in breaking the ice. “Is it true that Channel 7,” she said, as we were all waiting for the hard political question, “asked you to go on ‘Dancing with the Stars’?”

Apparently it is true.

New Coalition premier of NSW, Barry O'Farrell, may be rethinking his decision to slash the electricity power rebate to solar power customers after some of his own Liberal Party MPs vowed to vote against it.

About 1500 angry people rallied at the plaza of Sydney’s Customs House on May 18 to protest the slashing of the rebate from 60 cents a kilowatt hour to 40c. The rally had to be moved from an overflowing indoor location

On July 29, the leaders of the 12 countries belonging to the Union of the Southern Nations (Unasur) held an emergency meeting in Quito, Ecuador, to discuss the crisis between Venezuela and Colombia.

The Venezuelan National Assembly (NA) is considering a bill to decriminalise abortion, but only in restricted cases, the June 10 Ultimas Noticias reported.

It was one of the proposals of the committee for the rights of women in the NA. It is part of a raft of proposals to be considered in changes to a new penal code, to eliminate gender bias.

Sergio Arriasis is the head of the office of strategic development for Vision Venezuela Television (ViVe), a government-funded channel inaugurated in 2003. Arriasis is in charge of future planning and development of its communications. Coral Wynter, a Green Left Weekly journalist based in Caracas, spoke with Arriasis about the struggle to counter the private corporate media in Venezuela, and create a radical alternative.

How is ViVe different from other TV channels?

We have just finished a very successful May Day brigade to Venezuela, organised by the Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network (AVSN). The majority of the 14 participants were from Australia, with two Canadians and one from the US also taking part.

May Day was, of course, a highlight of the 10-day tour: more than 1 million marchers, all in red t-shirts. Brigadistas were greeted with cheers of welcome — we were easily identified by our Australian solidarity activists shirts and banner.

April 16 will be the seventh anniversary of the Venezuelan government’s health care program, Mission Barrio Adentro, which has used Cuban doctors to bring free health care to millions of the poor.

An arepa is a Venezuelan food staple. It is a round type of bread made from corn flour and water and slapped into shape with both hands. Venezuelans say they cannot live without eating an arepa each day.

Spanish judge Eloy Velasco accused the Venezuelan government of socialist President Hugo Chavez of supporting armed pro-self-determination Basque organisation ETA on March 8.

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