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The Spanish congress met in Madrid on April 8 to hear a petition from the parliament of Catalonia: that the power to hold a non-binding referendum on its political future be granted to Catalonia under Section 150 of the Spanish constitution.
More than 400 people turned out in Geelong on April 5 to demand that the government be more humane to refugees and asylum seekers. The Combined Refugee Action Group (CRAG) organised the rally, and called on the government to: immediately end offshore processing and mandatory detention, re-install family reunion for refugees, and to end the indefinite detention of refugees with negative ASIO status.
The former Labor government tried and failed with its ill-conceived "people swap" deal with Malaysia in 2011. Now, the Tony Abbott government has said it may try a resettlement deal with the even poorer nation of Cambodia. After talks with foreign minister Julie Bishop in February, her counterpart, Hor Namhong, said Cambodia was considering an offer to resettle refugees from Australia. Immigration minister Scott Morrison visited Cambodia again this month, to discuss "regional cooperation to deal with asylum seeker movement".
The Tony Abbott government has moved to crush the right of free speech for federal public servants. In new guidelines issued by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) on social media policy, employees are threatened with harsh discipline if they are "critical or highly critical of the department, the minister or the prime minister" on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Flickr, blogs or elsewhere.
Two hundred people attended a public meeting at the University of Sydney on April 7 to support the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel. Guest speaker Professor Jake Lynch is facing legal action from an Israeli law centre, the Shurat HaDin, for his refusal to cooperate with Israeli academics in honour of the academic boycott called by Palestinians.
The Western Australia senate election re-run has resulted in a big drop in support for the major parties and significant swings to the Greens and the Palmer United Party (PUP). Greens, PUP and Labor have won one seat each while the Liberals have won two seats. The final seat will be decided by preferences and is expected to go to either Liberal or Labor.
About 500 workers took to the streets of Geelong on April 7 demanding support for manufacturing jobs. Many workers were from Ford and Alcoa, which have recently announced closures. Workers from other related industries also attended along with firefighters, nurses and teachers showing solidarity on the march. Not all workers and unions were from blue-collar backgrounds. Clerical workers, technical staff and support services are also affected by the closures.
An important legal action by traditional owners opposed to the Muckaty nuclear waste dump proposal will be the basis of a Federal Court trial in June. Natalie Wasley, spokesperson for the Beyond Nuclear Initiative, spoke to Green Left Weekly about the legal action, and the fight to keep Australia radioactive waste-dump free. How is the court case to keep Muckaty radioactive-free proceeding?
The preparations for the federal budget, due to be handed down by Treasurer Joe Hockey on May 13, began on October 22 last year. This is the date on which Hockey announced a National Commission of Audit. The commission is chaired by Tony Shepherd, who just happens to be the President of the Business Council of Australia, the organisation representing Australia’s 100 largest companies. Shepherd’s appointment amounts to an invitation to big business to tell the government how it wants the economy to function in its favour during the Coalition’s term of office.
The Venezuelan people have marked the 12th anniversary of the right-wing military coup on April 11, 2002, that briefly ousted former President Hugo Chavez. In an historically unprecedented event, the coup was overturned within 48 hours by a mass uprising of the people and soldiers loyal to the Bolivarian revolution. This year’s anniversary occurs in the context of one of the most intense right-wing destabilisation campaigns since the dramatic days of 2002.
The Friends of the Earth “Radioactive Exposure Tour” is taking place from April 12 to 27. Forty people will travel from Melbourne and Adelaide through to Alice Springs and Tennant Creek. The tour will take people to the heart of the Australian nuclear industry, exposing the realities of “radioactive racism” and the environmental impacts of uranium mining.
Most people have heard of the rant by Australia's richest billionaire, Gina Rinehart, against welfare and the “entitlement mentality” of Australians — and . But have you heard about the US$694 million ($740 million) soft loan from US taxpayers?
Italy’s new centre-left Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has proclaimed his intention to end corruption and economic woe. But there are doubts as to whether his government's actions will benefit the country's working people. At 39, Renzi, a member of Italy’s Democratic Party, is the youngest PM in Italy's history. His youth and optimistic rhetoric have earned him the title of “Italy’s Obama”.
Thousands of teachers, civil servants and other workers marched through Casablanca on April 6 to protest against the Moroccan government's austerity plans, the the next day. During the march, police on motorcycles swooped down and arrested several pro-democracy activists. Officers claimed they were using the rally to denounce the monarchy.

ANZAC Day, we’re told, is Australia's "”. But beyond the glib cliches about how the ill-fated Anzac “campaign” at Gallipoli Cove in 1915 “shaped Australia's identity”, there is little political and historical reflection on what happened and why.

The Royal Commission into the use of union funds began on April 9. The commission is not an attempt to stamp out corrupt union practices, but a serious political attack on unions by the Tony Abbott government. It is designed to weaken the union movement and break militant union activity. Comments made by Coalition ministers before the public hearings have started sets up a presumption of guilt in order to prejudice the public mind.

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