1048

The Portuguese tax-haven and tourist island of Madeira — a watering hole of Europe's super-rich — was the unlikely site of gains for the Left Bloc and the anti-corruption citizens’ movement Together for the People (JPP) in March 29 elections for the autonomous region’s legislative assembly. The JPP, whose lead candidate Elvio Sousa promised “a different way of doing politics … favouring the most victimised and the middle class”, won five seats (10.34%) in the 47-seat legislature.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, along with his Bolivian counterpart Evo Morales, received a petition with 10 million signatures against U.S. President Barack Obama's executive order labelling the country as a “security treat” on April 9. After the decree was issued, Maduro launched a campaign seeking 10 million signatures from Venezuelans demanding the decree be repealed, saying he would present them to the U.S. President Barack Obama at the April 10-11 Summit of the Americas in Panama.
US President Barack Obama admitted on April 9 that Venezuela “does not pose a threat” to the United States. “We do not believe that Venezuela poses a threat to the United States, nor does the United States threaten the Venezuelan government,” Obama said during an interview with EFE. Last month, Obama signed an executive order declaring Venezuela an “unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.”
Twenty-five-year-old Iranian asylum seeker Saeed Hanssanloo was reportedly improving with medical assistance after ending his hunger strike on April 7. Hanssanloo began refusing food more than 40 days previously when he learnt his asylum claim had been rejected. The Refugee Action Coalition released this statement on April 8. *** The Refugee Action Coalition has welcomed the news that Iranian hunger striker Saeed Hanssanloo has ended his hunger strike.
Moreland city council in Melbourne unanimously passed a motion opposing the closure of remote Aboriginal communities by the Western Australian government. The council will write to federal Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion, WA Premier Colin Barnett and local federal ministers and Victorian senators in protest. It will also send a letter of solidarity to the Aboriginal communities under threat of forced closure.
Within two months of the cliff-hanger election that resulted in the ALP forming a minority government, what seems like a re-run of the attempts to unseat the Julia Gillard government in Canberra is playing out in Queensland. Despite pressure from the Labor and Liberal parties to resign his seat, in a statement issued on April 8, the former ALP, now independent, MP for Cook, Billy Gordon confirmed that he will not resign from parliament but will continue to represent his constituents.
This statement was released by Billy Gordon on April 8. *** Last week I resigned from the Australian Labor Party. I will not resign from parliament. My decision is based on advice from the clerk of parliament, who gave detailed reasons why I did not have to resign over past events and allegations. I am also determined to honour my commitments to my constituents. During the election campaign I committed to tackling entrenched social and economic problems in Cook and helping communities seize economic development opportunities.
The far right Islamophobic “Reclaim Australia” movement burst onto the streets in what was the biggest racist mobilisation since the Cronulla riots, in 16 places across Australia on April 4. They were armed with swastika tattoos, Australian flags and a few simplistic slogans such as “No halal food”. They were also met by counter protesters who stood up to reject racism, chauvinism and bigotry.
New Greens MP Jenny Leong, who won the seat of Newtown in the March 28 NSW election, attributes the Greens’ high votes in several parts of NSW to its MPs standing up against corruption and over-development. The Greens' support for community-led campaigns — in particular opposition to coal seam gas and the WestConnex road project — also won them a bigger hearing.
About 150 people filled the St Kilda Town Hall on April 7 for a public meeting with visiting Israeli journalist, Amira Hass. Hass is a veteran Israeli columnist and reporter, lives in the West Bank among Palestinians and works for Israeli newspaper Haaretz. The Australian Jewish Democratic Society organised the forum.
This speech was given at the Refugee Action Collective protest in Melbourne on April 8. * * * We are here to protest against the indefinite detention of a group of refugees who are claimed by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) to be a security threat. These are people who have been officially recognised as refugees who were at serious risk of persecution in the countries they fled. Yet they are detained indefinitely because of negative ASIO assessments.
Former workers from the Nauru detention centre say the Australian government has “tolerated the physical and sexual assault of children, and the sexual harassment and assault of vulnerable women in the centre for more than 17 months”. Refugees who have been released from the detention centre to live in the community have also faced ongoing violence. A woman on April 8 after being sexually assaulted by men in a car.
At a G20 meeting last October, Rupert Murdoch surprised some with a speech that criticised world leaders for, as it was described in his Australian newspaper, “their policies [that] have caused a ‘massive shift’ in societies to benefit the super-rich with a legacy of social polarisation”. In particular, Murdoch criticised youth unemployment: “The unemployment rate for Americans under the age of 25 is 13%, which sounds awful until I remember that in the eurozone that number is 23%, and it is twice as high in places like Spain and Greece, and parts of France and Italy.
Warriors of Aboriginal Resistance (WAR) released this statement on April 8. * * * On Saturday, Reclaim Australia were held rallies across the country. These rallies promoted messages of racism, hatred and oppression. Participants were draped in the Australian flag, were covered in swastika tattoos and carried banners with dehumanising messages.
The Guardian newspaper was first published in Manchester in 1821. It is generally regarded as a centre-left paper that employs some very fine journalists. Its online edition is one of the most widely read in the world and its combined print and online editions reach some 9 million readers. The paper’s environmental coverage is provided by a team of seven environmental writers and each month four million visitors go to the Guardian for its environmental coverage.
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