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With the support of all of the political parties in Dublin's parliament (the Dail), a May 22 referendum on same-sex marriage could bring official state recognition for Ireland’s gay community and their relationships for the first time. Homosexuality in Ireland was decriminalised in 1993. The referendum could mark a further break from a culture which has for decades forced LGBTI members to live covertly or suppress their identity entirely. The referendum has been opposed by most, though not all, of Ireland’s clergy. Polls have shown strong opposition among Ireland’s oldest age groups.
Chile has been hit by another round of protests by student groups demanding substantial reforms to the country’s education system. Two student activists were killed in Chile on May 14 amid nationwide protests. The two students were shot in the city of Valparaiso, near the Plaza Victoria, at the end of a huge rally. Local media said both students were gunned down by a Valparaiso store owner as they attempted to hang a banner over his shop.
It is a point of honour for the Venezuelan government that despite the sharp plunge in oil prices and acute shortages of goods, President Nicolas Maduro has ruled out austerity measures. In a recent TV interview with former vice president Jose Vicente Rangel, Venezuelan Central Bank president Nelson Merentes explained why, saying: “Do you remember what happened on February 27, 1989?”
Mexican gov't blocks investigation over missing students Demonstrators demanding justice in the case of the 43 disappeared Ayotzinapa students. Photo: Clayton Conn/TeleSUR. The lawyer representing the parents and relatives of 43 missing Ayotzinapa students criticised the Mexican government on May 14 for stopping a meeting between experts from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and army officials.
A special May Day conference was convened on May 1 and 2 by the five trade unions affiliated to the Right2Water campaign, which is leading the huge struggle against water charges in Ireland. The conference discussed a set of core principles that will underpin a “Platform for Renewal”, with the aim to unite left and progressive forces before the next general election.
In the United States Senate, Republicans eventually reached a deal on May 13 with a group of Senate Democrats over a bill that Democrats had unanimously rejected a day earlier, that day. It grants special “fast-track” powers to President Barack Obama to negotiate key free trade agreements.
The United States was criticised for its human rights standards on May 12 after the country's compliance with international human rights standards were assessed by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHCR). The UN criticised the US for police violence, racial discrimination, torture, use of the death penalty, and Guantanamo Bay prison, among other issues.
Protest at Kentex factory, Valenzuela City, Metro Manila, May 15. Photo: Partido Lakas ng Masa/Facebook. Revelations have continued emerging over safety and labour abuses at the Philippines factory where 72 people died in a fire on May 13.
Photo: TeleSUR/Rael Mora. A three-day general strike against the Tia Maria mining project of transnational Southern Copper Corporation in the southern region of Arequipa in Peru was launched on May 12.
“Greece avoided another financial crisis by paying about €500 million in wages to public sector workers, but suffered another downgrade of its credit rating,” The Guardian on May 16. The payment came with Greece's SYRIZA-led government, that is seeking to break with austerity, locked in difficult talks with its creditors. Greece is seeking to release €7.2 billion in bailout funds to avoid a default and exit from the eurozone.

Britain's May 7 elections revealed the deep divides emerging in British society and offered the promise of a constitutional crisis and social struggles to come. Most commentators had expected the result to be a hung parliament; polls had consistently shown the Conservative (Tory) and Labour parties to be neck and neck. In Scotland, the polls pointed to a wipe-out of the previously dominant Labour Party, with the Scottish National Party (SNP) poised to make sweeping gains on a platform of opposing austerity and Trident nuclear weapons.

I have never really thought about the impact free education has had on me. Where would my life be if I had to pay to get an education? I am from Denmark. I would certainly not be here in Australia; I might not even have gone to high school.
On May 14 a group of 10 asylum seekers and their families challenging the legality of the government’s policy of offshore detention. The Human Rights Law Centre is running the case on behalf of the asylum seekers. The Centre’s Director of Legal Advocacy Daniel Webb, who is part of the legal team representing the families, said the group has been temporarily returned to Australia but are facing imminent removal back to Nauru.
BLUE MOUNTAINS Come to a forum, Refugees: Let’s Do Better on Sunday May 24 at 2pm. Speakers: Dorothy Hoddinott, Principal Holroyd High School; Two young refugees; Lee Rhiannon, Greens Senator; Phil Glendenning, Refugee Council of Australia. Wentworth Falls School of Arts, Great Western Highway, Wentworth Falls. Entry: $15/$10 concession. Get tickets . . Organised by the Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group. MELBOURNE
LONG-THOUGHT EXTINCT FROG REDISCOVERED The , with its distinctive orange markings on its hind legs, has not been seen or heard in the East Gippsland forest for more than 20 years and was thought to be extinct. But on April 12, Wildlife Unlimited’s Rena Gaborov was doing a spotlight survey for yellow-bellied gliders and greater gliders when she heard the frog’s distinctive call.
Following a recent meeting of federal and state ministers with the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Christiana Figures, the federal government announced that it will publish by mid-year the emissions target it will take to the Paris Climate Summit in November. However, even if all the world's governments agree to limit future emissions to what would cause the global average surface temperature to rise by no more than 2°C from before industrialisation, it will not be enough to avoid catastrophic climate change.

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