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Government-sanctioned mass killings in Gambella in Ethiopia by South Sudanese forces, which decimated the Anuak Tribe in January last year, is a clear example of the second wave of atrocities of the maleficient rulers towards the forgotten people of the African Horn.

Refugee Art Project is a not-for-profit community art organisation that holds art workshops for asylum seekers and refugees — both within the Villawood detention centre and in its studio in north Parramatta. Eila Vinwynn spoke to Safdar Ahmed, who founded the group about its work and aims.

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The Case Against Fragrance
Kate Grenville
Text Publishing, 2017
198 pages

The fragrance industry really gets up Kate Grenville’s nose. 

The Australian novelist has gradually worked out that artificially-scented consumer products, from high-end perfume to toilet cleaner, were the cause of her debilitating headaches and wooziness.

On the evening of May 22, more than 300 residents packed out Balmain Town Hall for a public meeting on the NSW Liberal government's proposed Western Harbour Tunnel toll road. This proposed 6km tunnel will connect to the fiercely contested WestConnex tunnel interchange in Rozelle going under the Balmain peninsula, then under Sydney Harbour before connecting to the Warringah Freeway.

The meeting was called by NSW Greens Balmain MP Jamie Parker who condemned the project as "yet another polluting, destructive, private tollway."

Bus drivers across Sydney implemented a "fare-free day" on June 1 as part of their campaign of industrial action against the NSW government's plan to privatise buses in the inner west. Drivers from 12 depots around the city turned off their Opal Card machines and wore plain clothes to draw the attention of passengers to the threat to public bus services.

This statement was posted on the National Tertiary Education Union website on May 30. The author, Adam Frogley is NTEU National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Coordinator and a Taungurung man from the Kulin Nations.

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In the face of ongoing attempts to violently depose the elected government of President Nicolas Maduro, the Socialist Alliance reaffirms its support and solidarity with the Venezuelan people, their government and the Bolivarian revolution.

Contrary to claims by the corporate media and right-wing governments in the region, Venezuela is not witnessing a peaceful protest movement for democracy but rather its opposite: a counter-revolutionary wave of violence that seeks to provoke greater bloodshed, and potentially, an international intervention.

In a recent public discussion, campaigners against WestConnex — the huge motorway and tunnel project in Sydney — were challenged to sum up their case against WestConnex in three sentences. “Start with what the proponents of WestConnex say will be the benefit of the project then say what is wrong with it.”

There were half a dozen seasoned anti-WestConnex activists in the room and each came back with much more than three sentences.

Big steps campaign to escalate

United Voice, the union covering early childhood educators, announced on May 27 the result of a ballot of more than 3000 educators on whether to escalate their equal pay campaign.

The union said 95% of educators voted to take action on equal pay with sector-wide walk-offs later this year.

The move follows similar action on International Women's Day, when about 1000 workers walked off the job across Australia.

The Victorian Labor government has announced its plans for restructuring Victoria's fire services.

Currently, the Metropolitan Fire Brigade covers only part of the Melbourne metropolitan area, while the Country Fire Authority (CFA) covers not only rural areas but also regional cities and many of Melbourne's suburbs.

The proposed law would create a new body, Fire Rescue Victoria (FRV), which would cover the whole Melbourne metropolitan area and regional cities.

The Fair Go For Pensioners coalition organised a rally on May 24 in response to the federal budget’s significant new restrictions for those on Centrelink payments, including older Australians.

Their main concerns are with the change to the pensioner assets test, attacks on Medicare, the threat to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, and a reduction on the right to overseas travel. The rally also addressed issues faced by the unemployed on Newstart, those on disability support and single parents.

Rosie Scott, the well-known writer and human rights supporter, died on May 4, after a long battle with cancer. Born in Wellington, New Zealand, in 1948, she was the author of seven books of fiction, beginning with the collection of poetry, Flesh and Blood, in 1984.

In 1988, she published her first novel, Glory Days, which depicted the lives of Auckland social fringe-dwellers. The last of her seven works was Faith Singer, published in 2003, which explored the tumultuous world of the people who dwelt in Sydney's Kings Cross.

Unionists held a protest in favour of penalty rates on May 27 outside the Liberal member for Corangamite Sarah Henderson’s Geelong office. Adele Welsh, a social worker and member of the Australian Services Union and Geelong Trades Hall Executive, gave this speech at the protest.

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Residents across south-west Western Australia reacted angrily to a state government admission that unconventional gas exploration and mining could still go ahead despite an election promise to ban fracking in the state.

What seemed at first to be a depressing and predictable British election, with the hard right Tories under Prime Minister Theresa May set for a larger majority, has become a fascinating election contest.

Labour’s support has surged to the point where something unthinkable just weeks ago — a Jeremy Corbyn prime ministership — is now at least an outside chance.

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