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Bylong Valley, near Mudgee in NSW, is a tranquil and secluded village. It is listed by the National Trust as a Landscape Conservation Area because of its stunning beauty and abundant prime agricultural land. But its tranquillity is under threat.

In his first hours of freedom after 36 years behind bars in US prison, Puerto Rican independence leader Oscar Lopez Rivera vowed on May 17 to continue to fight for freedom and independence while expressing solidarity with progressive movements across the Americas.

“During the years I was jailed I always thought I would return home,” Lopez said during a press conference, thanking all the progressive organisations and world leaders who supported him and worked for his release over the years.

The Victorian Labor government is considering a restructure of Victoria's fire services, according to a report in the May 9 Herald Sun.

Victoria has two fire services — the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) and the Country Fire Authority (CFA). The boundaries between the zones covered by these two bodies have not been changed for many years. With the expansion of Melbourne, many outer suburbs are covered by the CFA. So too are large towns such as Ballarat and Bendigo.

Twenty years after the original Bringing Them Home report was released, Aboriginal children are still being taken from their parents — in greater numbers than before.

Commenting on the impact of Bringing Them Home — which documented evidence about the Stolen Generations of Aboriginal children — Murri elder Sam Watson told Green Left that “it is beyond dispute that Aboriginal children were removed in significant numbers”.

“Every single [Aboriginal] family was affected,” Watson said and this “dated back to the first years of European invasion”.

Four hundred people gathered at the summit of Mt Donna Buang in the Yarra Ranges National Park on May 13 to create a human sign spelling out support for a new Great Forest National Park in the Central Highlands and Gippsland.

Called The Great Forest Picnic, the human sign was 60 metres long, 50 metres wide and spelled out the words “We ♥ parks”.

In recent weeks, there have been some worrying developments in the Italian political scene. Extremist, anti-refugee and xenophobic ideas are increasingly gaining ground.

In a growing climate of uncertainty and social instability, all major political forces seem to be riding the wave of discontent to raise their electoral profiles, rather than trying to calm things down.

Artist and activist Benny Zable has been wearing a mask at protests throughout Australia for more than 30 years.

His distinctive skull-like gas mask and painted death-bringer costume, atop large black radioactive drums has become an icon of peace, anti-nuclear and environmental movements throughout the country. He is a performance artist who uses his art form to depict a chilling prophesy of nuclear and environmental catastrophe.

A report on the impact of youth programs in remote central Australia found that, with enough effort, they provided significant support to children, their families and communities, as well as the broader health, education and justice systems.

They also actively reduced rates of crime and drug and alcohol abuse among young people.

The report, released on May 16, examined three youth programs in Utopia, Hermannsburg, and Yuendumu.

For millennia, women have had to contend with the ideology that because of their biology, women’s second class status is part of some “natural order”. This has been perpetuated by the state, the church, the family, and reflected in laws and through education.

But this is bullshit. Throughout many millennia of human history, women occupied a status at least equal to men’s. The problem is that you won’t hear about this reality in school, you won’t see it reflected in the media or in film.

Students at RMIT marched through Melbourne on May 12 as part of a global push for fossil fuel divestment.

After making noise throughout the university they ended their march with a game of hopscotch outside the university management offices to show university management how they can make the leap to divestment.

Thanks to three years of pressure from students and staff, RMIT has introduced new investment principles which put it in the right position to divest.

While this is an important step for the university it still has to make the leap and actually divest.

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