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For the better part of six years, Baba Jan, a founding member and activist of the left-wing Awami Workers Party (AWP) in the Pakistani-occupied disputed territory of Gilgit-Baltistan, has been behind bars on a life sentence for ‘terrorism’ charges. His crime? Demanding rights for Hunza’s poor and displaced.

The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) dropped its landmark case against the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) and seven crew members of the Tandara Spirit on May 15.

The case related to alleged breaches of the Fair Work Act when the MUA and the seafarers failed to comply with orders from the Fair Work Commission in late 2014.

MUA national secretary Paddy Crumlin said the FWO pulled its investigation after wasting the time and resources of the union and putting the workers through unacceptable stress and anxiety.

Veteran environmental campaigner and former Greens senator has previously pointed to Adani’s proposed Carmichael coal mine as the of environmental protest in Australia.

The Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) has called for jail terms for employers who deliberately underpay their staff.

TWU national secretary Tony Sheldon said this was “wage theft” and it was time to treat bosses with the same rules as employees.

The call follows a string of scandals at franchise operators 7-Eleven, Caltex, Domino’s Pizza and Pizza Hut, where employees have been underpaid by tens of millions of dollars. 7-Eleven has so far paid out $90 million for non-payment of wages while Caltex has set up a $20 million fund to repay their workers.

Ninety-five year old Bill Ryan was one of about 15 protesters from the Galilee Blockade group who tried to meet mining contractor Downer’s chief executive Grant Fenn on May 16. Their aim was to encourage Downer to pull out of the Adani coal mine.

Immigration officials told asylum seekers and refugees in Manus Island detention centre on May 15 that the centre will be closing, beginning on May 28 and completely shut down by October 31. This comes after a PNG supreme court last year ruled the detention centre was unconstitutional and must be closed.

The Australian government has refused to bring any refugees to Australia and is widely reported to be pressuring them to accept deportation with threats and bribes.

As violent anti-government protests continue in Venezuela, supporters of the right-wing opposition have begun targeting Venezuelan government officials and their families in Australia. The actions are part of a string of recent attacks abroad on government representatives by Venezuelan opponents of President Nicolas Maduro.

A recent essay by Australian philosopher Clive Hamilton The great climate silence: we are on the edge of the abyss but we ignore it was both moving and frustrating.

Moving because he’s right when he says: “…a calamity is unfolding, that the life systems of the Earth are being damaged in ways that threaten our survival.”

Runaway global warming threatens mass species extinction and the collapse of agriculture. It may bring with it the most traumatic and violent phase of human history. It’s truly scary stuff.

Newcastle Uni cuts ties with Broadspectrum

The University of Newcastle will cut its controversial $88 million contract with Broadspectrum, the company responsible for running Australia’s detention centres on Nauru and Manus Island.

A university spokesperson confirmed it had “reached agreement” with Broadspectrum to “progressively transition out of the current maintenance and facilities services contract before the end of the year”.

Just two weeks ago, four young Muslim women wearing hijabs were assaulted right in front of the University of Technology Sydney at about 1.30pm. They were punched, one after another, by a woman they had not spoken to or interacted with in any way.

One of the women, a young student at UTS, and a recent migrant, was punched in the face and fell to the ground bleeding. A staff member who witnessed the assaults rushed to her assistance and photographed the alleged assailant.

As expected, the major banks are preparing to launch a media war against the Turnbull government’s proposed $6.2 billion bank levy, as outlined in Treasurer Scott Morrison’s May 9 federal budget speech.

Australian Bankers’ Association head Anna Bligh was furious. She said a campaign was being considered, claiming the government was playing “fast and loose” with the nation’s financial system.

Australian anti-racist athlete Peter Norman, who was born in Coburg and later became a trainer and player for West Brunswick Football Club, is to be recognised by the Moreland Council.

Norman remains Australia’s fastest sprinter — his Australian 200-metre record from the 1968 Mexico City Olympics still stands.

However, Norman was not just an extraordinary athlete. He also took a stand against racism and for human rights. He was the third man in the iconic photo of the medal ceremony for the 200-metre race.

A maternity hospital in Venezuela's Miranda state was attacked on May 17 as the death count in ongoing violent anti-government protests rose to 53. 

The attack comes as violent opposition protests demanding early presidential elections enter their seventh week, with new deaths being reported as opposition supporters clash with authorities, attack public institutions and state security personnel, and blockade roads nationwide. 

On May 17, I received an email from Centrelink advising that I would no longer be eligible for the student start-up scholarship.

This means the $1035 payment that helped to pay for my textbooks, university car parking fees and other course materials will now only be available as a loan I will have to pay back on HECs.

Losing this start-up scholarship will hurt many students, with welfare payments hardly keeping up with the ever-increasing cost of living and rent.

Sydney bus drivers walked out on May 18 in a 24-hour strike against plans by the NSW Coalition government to privatise public bus services in the city’s inner-west.

The action, which defied the NSW Industrial Relations Commission (IRC), affected four bus depots: Leichhardt, Burwood, Kingsgrove and Tempe.

The recent federal budget announced a terrible new policy — drug testing 5000 new recipients of Youth Allowance or Newstart. The drugs tested for will be cannabis, methamphetamine and MDMA.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has defended the policy as "aimed at stabilising the lives of people with alcohol and drug abuse problems by encouraging them to participate in treatment as part of their Job Plan". At the same time, people with diagnosed substance abuse disorders have been excluded from disability benefits.

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