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Right-wing candidate Juan Manuel Santos won the second round of the Colombian presidential elections on June 20. This re-affirms Colombia’s position as the US’s chief proxy in the region, playing a similar role to that of Israel in the Middle East. Santos won 69% of the run-off election against Green Party presidential candidate and former Bogota mayor Antanas Mockus. However, IPS said on June 21 that, with just 45% of registered voters taking part in the poll, Santos won with a mere 30% of potential votes.
As climate change compels us to reduce carbon emissions, urban gardens that provide locally produced food are becoming an increasingly important model. The African Food Project is an urban, organic farm that grows traditional African vegetables for the African community around the outer western suburb of Blacktown.
The world’s worst ever oil spill is also the biggest methane leak in human history, US government scientists have said. The US Geological Survey’s “flow team” has estimated between 4.5 billion to 9 billion cubic feet of natural gas have escaped from BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig since it exploded in April, Associated Press said on June 19. John Kessler, an oceanographer at the Texas A&M University, told AP the leak was “the most vigorous methane eruption in modern human history”. Scientists think methane makes up 40% to 70% of what is spilling from the damaged BP rig.
The United States has renewed military aid to Honduras with a donation of 25 heavy trucks valued at US$812,000, Spanish website infodefensa.com said. On June 18, US ambassador Hugo Llorens also announced Washington would give Honduras $75 million through USAID for various development projects and $20 million as part of the Merida Program to enhance “security”.
Despite a promise before the last election, the Brumby state Labor government has introduced legislation to extend the urban growth boundary for Melbourne. Planning Amendment VC 67 expands Melbourne’s Urban Growth Boundary to accommodate the 284,000 houses the government expects will be needed if Melbourne’s population reaches 5 million before 2030. About 70 people from the Green Wedge Coalition, Protectors of Public Lands and Planning Backlash protested against these plans on June 22.
In July, Socialist Alliance election candidates will be taking a trip to the Northern Territory to personally witness conditions under the federal government's intervention into Aboriginal communities. SA youth candidates — and Resistance members — Jess Moore, Zane Alcorn and Ewan Saunders will join Indigenous activists, students, community groups and campaigners from across the country in Alice Springs for an important gathering of intervention-affected Aboriginal communities.
Australian Labor Party finance minister Lindsay Tanner announced on June 24 he would quit politics at the next election. His seat, the electorate of Melbourne, could become the first lower house seat one by the Greens in a federal election. Greens candidate for Melbourne Adam Bandt is running a serious campaign. The Greens say only one in 10 people who voted ALP last time need to change to the Greens for Bandt to win the seat. Bandt spoke to Green Left Weekly’s Ben Courtice about his campaign. ***
Organisers are expecting about 400 people to descend on Adelaide for the Students of Sustainability (SoS) conference over July 4 – 8. The conference is held annually for students and activists involved in environment and social justice movements. Over the four days, workshops will be held on topics as diverse as climate change, guerrilla gardening, Indigenous rights, campaigning for renewable energy on campus and many more. SoS gives participants the confidence, practical skills and motivation needed to campaign for a cleaner and healthier Earth.
Refugees and climate change Today (June 20) is World Refugee Day, observed each year as a way of raising awareness on the plight of refugees. Given the increasingly regressive policies being adopted by the federal government when it comes to asylum seekers, this day is needed more than ever.
The deaths of three Australian commandos in a helicopter crash on June 21 should bring home the message: it's time to leave Afghanistan. The deaths bring the total number of Australians killed in the occupation to 16. This, not to mention the countless thousands of Afghan deaths, should be enough reason to call an end to Australian participation in this war.
On June 20, a 100-strong rally against the Northern Territory Emergency Response (the “NT intervention”) was held, protesting its third anniversary. On June 21 the Senate passed legislation allowing one of the most oppressive aspects of the intervention — welfare quarantining — to be extended to all welfare recipients (Indigenous and non-Indigenous) in the NT, and then to targeted communities throughout Australia.
A major split over the US blockade of Cuba has emerged between domestic “dissidents” in Cuba and their former partners in Miami. The US corporate media is paying attention to what appears to be a new anti-Cuban strategy. A letter signed by 74 of the “dissidents” on the island calls for an end to Washington’s ban on US citizens travelling to Cuba. On the other hand, most of the Cuban-American members of Congress are fiercely defending the nearly 50-year-old economic blockade in all its forms. The “new contras” are now up against the old.
Michael Kumarasamy, one of the asylum seekers accused of being involved in a riot between Tamil and Afghan detainees at Christmas Island detention centre in November 2009, attended his trial on June 18 … about two hours late. Kumarasamy’s lawyer, Simon Freitag, had emailed Perth Immigration Detention Centre to ensure staff there knew when the case was on. When his client was late, he again rang Perth IDC.
On June 22, Queensland unions won a court victory with the ruling that Queensland Rail had broken the law by not consulting workers over privatisation plans. “Queensland Rail has been slapped with a $600,000 fine after it failed to consult its workers over plans to privatise part of the company”, the June 23 Courier-Mail reported. “A Federal Court ruling earlier this month found QR breached 20 of its enterprise bargaining agreements by not consulting workers about the planned sell-off before it was announced.”
Sydney-based fringe magazine Spunk has announced it plans to use its latest fundraiser event, Possessed, to raise awareness and support for the Boomalli Aboriginal Artists Cooperative, which is threatened with imminent eviction by the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts.
Queer rights groups are initiating a high school referendum against homophobia and for same-sex marriage rights over August 2-6. Planned to help build the August 14 National Day of Action for equal marriage rights, the referendum will be a chance for students to discuss homophobia and how to combat it in their school. There are high levels of homophobia and prejudice in high schools. In Australia, 68% of gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans and inter-sex (LGBTI) people experience homophobia in school.

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