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Toxic sites in Australia are not well known or well managed. One such site is the old Nufarm chemical factory site in Melbourne’s northern suburb, Fawkner.

The factory operated from 1957 to 1974, making a wide range of noxious chemicals including dioxins; DDT; toluline-based emulsifiable concentrate; phenoxyacetic acid herbicide; 2,4-D; 2,4,5-T; esters; dichlorophenol and trichlorophenol and arsenic-based sheep dip.  

The federal Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham will release a report on May 8 commissioned by the government that will allegedly indicate that universities receive adequate funding for most courses and that their revenues are growing faster than their costs.

This report will be used to justify a proposed $2.8 billion funding cut that will raise the costs of course fees and mean that students will need to repay their HECS debts sooner.

"To our friends in Latin America and the world, we say: 'The Cuban Revolution will win!'" German Hermin Ferras Alvarez, director of the Asia-Oceania region of the International Relations Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba, told a public meeting on May 3. The meeting of about 100 people was hosted by the Maritime Union of Australia and sponsored by the Australia Cuba Friendship Society (ACFS).

"Thank you all for your solidarity with Cuba," he said. "It is a source of inspiration to us to receive solidarity from this far-away part of the world.

Italian Democratic Party (PD) members re-elected former prime minister Matteo Renzi as party secretary with 70% of the votes in primaries on April 30. Renzi’s re-election carries important significance for both Italy and Europe.

A community assembly of more than 100 people marched onto the roadway outside Patrick Terminals terminal at Port Botany on May 4 and occupied the road for three hours, halting port operations for an entire shift.

The protesters were supporting of waterside workers at Patricks who are standing up to the company's attempts to de-unionise a section of the terminal.

Australia’s refugee policy over the past 25 years has resulted in a detention process best described as “Hell on Earth”.

Mandatory detention was first introduced in May 1992 by the Labor government with the support of the opposition and has been marked with increasing human rights abuses including deliberate medical negligence, sexual assault by guards, self-immolation and murder.

It suffocates people’s hope, as many people have been in detention for more than four years with no certainty of ever being released.

“We have just received urgent news from West Papua that 200 people have been arrested and 26 tortured by Indonesian police, two days before Indonesia hosts the World Press Freedom Day in Jakarta,” the Free West Papua Campaign said on May 1.

Members of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) and students held a protest outside Sydney University's Student Centre on May 3. 

The demonstration was held in the context of the current round of enterprise bargaining (EB), in which union members are campaigning for improved job security and better conditions for permanent and casual staff. Perhaps nowhere in the university are these issues more serious than in the Student Centre. 

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro officially called for a national Constituent Assembly to be convened during a May Day march in Caracas on May 1. The call is a bid to bring an end to the political crisis between the national government and the opposition-held parliament.

Speaking to the hundreds of thousands of government supporters who took to the streets for International Workers’ Day, Maduro said he would invoke article 347 of the constitution to trigger the assembly, which will be responsible for re-drafting the 1999 Constitution. 

I’m not one of nature’s optimists at the best of times, and a rash of media headlines predicting a doomsday scenario for Labour on June 8 aren’t exactly good for the spirits. But how far are their gloomy predictions born out by the facts of the May 4 local election results| — in which the governing Tories won 38% (up eight points from last year's vote) and Labour just 27% (down 4 points)?

Staff at the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and Brisbane Times started an “unprecedented” week-long strike on May 3, and staff at the Newcastle Herald and Perth website WA Today stopped work overnight, following Fairfax Media's announcement that it will cut 125 editorial jobs —a quarter of its journalists.