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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.
There is a tense stand-off right now between Greece's government and the so-called troika — the European Commission, the European Central Bank (ECB), and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). ECB President Mario Draghi recently went so far as to deny that his institution was trying to blackmail Greece's left-wing anti-austerity government. But blackmail is actually an understatement. It has become increasingly clear that the troika is trying to harm the Greek economy in order to raise pressure on the new Greek government to agree to its demands.
Israeli group Physicians for Human Rights has released two reports documenting the deterioration of Palestinian health under occupation. Divide and Conquer documents the deterioration of Palestinian health in the West Bank and Gaza as the direct consequence of ongoing Israeli military occupation.
French politics further confirmed its rightward trajectory after the second round of departmental elections on March 29. There are 101 departments and 4108 councillor positions across the country. Departments are in charge of local roads, school buildings and buses, welfare allowances and various other local issues. But the elections also represent a barometer of the political situation in the country. The governing nominally centre-left Socialist Party (PS) suffered a humiliating defeat against a right-wing united front headed by the centre-right Union for a Popular Movement (UMP).
Hundreds of protesters took to the streets of Indiana state capital Indianapolis on April 4 to demand legal protection against workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation. “No hate in our state,” read placards carried by protesters. They marched through the city just days after state legislators revised a controversial religious freedom law that failed to provide protection against discrimination.
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.”
A picture of Saeed Hanssanloo

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.

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.
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.
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.
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.