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While there are treatments to slow the progression of AIDS, adding decades to sufferers’ lives, access to them is a case study in the vast gap between rich and poor nations. Few deny that HIV/AIDS is a massive health crisis. What is now clear is that it is also a social one, exacerbated by the contradictions of a world dominated by the wealthy minority of First World countries.

Students across NSW are getting organised for a “Stop Bush! Stop Howard!” student conference on June 1 aimed at building the protests when the US president comes to Sydney for APEC in September.

HOBART — Thirty people greeted foreign minister Alexander Downer on May 11 with chants and fliers critiquing Australia foreign policy in Iraq. The lecture hosted by the University of Tasmania was about “diplomacy”. The demonstration was organised by the Hobart Peace Coalition and protesters explained that war is not diplomacy and that the occupation of Iraq must end.

On May 5, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its final working group report, the third in a series, as a part of its Fourth Assessment Report (AR4), aimed at evaluating global warming. The IPCC published its first assessment report in 1990, a supplementary report in 1992, a second assessment report in 1995, and a third in 2001.

Well-known left-wing academic Dr Gary MacLennan and his Queensland University of Technology colleague John Hookham are facing possible suspension or dismissal without pay on charges of “straight misconduct” over their public criticism of a PhD project approved of by the QUT ethics committee.

Labour Party Pakistan (LPP) general secretary Farooq Tariq was released from detention in the early hours of May 7. Tariq and more than 1000 others were rounded up the previous Friday in a failed attempt by the government of General Pervez Musharraf to weaken a mass reception for a visit by suspended Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry to Lahore. Chaudhry was suspended for being too independent of the Mushurraf regime and too respectful of the rule of law.

“Anyone who says this camp is being built for refugees is talking nonsense”, union activist and former leader of the 1985 SEQEB dispute Bernie Neville told a Socialist Alliance meeting of around 25 people on May 9. Neville recently returned from working on the construction of the secret new detention centre on Christmas Island, dubbed “Australia’s Guantanamo Bay”.

The second round of East Timor’s presidential elections, held on May 9, resulted in the victory of Prime Minister Jose Ramos Horta. Ramos Horta, running as an independent, had won 73% of the vote with 90% of ballots counted. He won a majority in 10 out of 13 districts. However, Fretilin, the party of defeated candidate Francisco Guterres Lu’Olo, has alleged Australian interference in the elections, including the intimidation of two campaign rallies in the final week of the campaign by Australian troops from the “International Stabilisation Force” (ISF).

The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) will be holding a trivia competition at 7pm on June 1 at its Lidcombe offices (12 Railway Street) to raise funds in support of sacked union delegate Barry Hemsworth.

It’s like having one of those nightmares that seems to grow more horrible as it drags on. We’ve been looking forward to the next federal election for a chance to get rid of John Howard, but with each day federal Labor leader Kevin Rudd sounds more and more like Howard.

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