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Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez took a giant symbolic leap in the direction of Latin American independence on July 6 when Venezuela and Ecuador conducted the first bilateral trade deal between two countries using a new trading currency, the Sucre, instead of the US dollar. The Unitary System of Regional Compensation (Sucre) is the currency the adopted last year by the Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas (ALBA) regional bloc to allow member states to trade without using the US dollar.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said on July 2 that intelligence services at the Caracas airport have arrested a man wanted in connection with terrorist activities in Cuba from the 1970s. The Venezuelan government said El Salvadorean Francisco Antonio Chavez Abarca tried to enter Venezuela on July 1 on a false Guatemalan passport. Interpol alerted Venezuelan authorities to his identity and requested his arrest. On July 7, Venezuela extradited Chavez Abarca to Cuba to face charges for bombings on the island.
Pro-choice group Children by Choice has written to Queensland Premier Anna Bligh and two senior state ministers calling for a legislative review of the state's abortion laws, a move supported by the Queensland Council for Civil Liberties (QCCL), said the July 7 Courier-Mail. However, Children by Choice spokesperson Cait Calcutt said all three leaders had replied that the government would not act, saying any change would be up to a private member's bill.
The German parliament met on June 30 to elect the country’s largely symbolic president. What should have been a fairly straightforward affair, however, turned into a political embarrassment for Chancellor Angela Merkel. The new election was made necessary by the resignation of Horst Koehler on May 31, after a public outcry over his comments suggesting German military involvement in Afghanistan was commercially motivated. Koehler’s resignation came as Merkel’s governing right-wing coalition was struggling in opinion polls.
The proposal for a visit to the 26 Irish counties that make up the southern state by the British head of state, Queen Elizabeth II, has drawn condemnation from Irish republicans. Irish Taoiseach (head of government) Brian Cowan announced in June plans for a royal visit, believed to be for sometime in 2011. It would be the first visit by the British head of state to the southern Irish state since it was founded in 1921.
Aboriginal academic and activist Sharon Firebrace is the Victorian Socialist Alliance Senate candidate in the federal election. Firebrace founded the Aboriginal Genocide Centre. Repealing the NT intervention and standing up for refugee rights are key parts of her election policy. Below, she responds to Labor Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s announcement on refugees. ***
The following is a letter by the Stop the War Coalition Sydney to Prime Minister Julia Gillard * * * We are concerned with the growing threat of a new United States-Israel strike against the people of Iran and are writing to ask you to distance your government from any measure that could lead to an attack on Iran. The media is currently filled with reports of an alleged nuclear threat posed by Iran and the assumed need for the US, or Israel, to take military action.
On June 19, six executives — the entire board of Australian mining corporation Sundance Resources — were killed in a plane crash in the Republic of the Congo. Australian politicians and the corporate media emphasised the tragedy of their untimely deaths, showering praise on the deceased.
Australian Manufacturing Workers Union organiser Colin Muir, Australian Workers Union organiser Sam Woods, and Electrical Trades Union organiser Gerry Glover joined union members at a barbecue in front of British Aerospace Engineering (BAE) on July 8. More than 290 union members voted to continue an indefinite ban on overtime and working rostered days off, and for 24-hour stoppages on Fridays. Only essential, high-voltage switch work will be carried out.
Acting against our alleged “ambush marketing” and “incitement”, the South African Police Service, newly augmented with 40,000 additional cadre for the World Cup, detained several of us in Durban on July 3. We were exercising freedom of expression at our favorite local venue — the South Beach Fan Fest. Wearing hidden microphones to tape discussions with police leadership, what we learned was chilling.
Threats of a military attack against Iran by the US and Israel have increased after new sanctions were imposed by the United Nations Security Council on June 9, under pressure from Washington. On July 1, US President Barack Obama signed legislation passed by Congress in June that imposed new US unilateral sanctions targeting foreign companies that sell petroleum products, such as gasoline and diesel, to Iran. This would include producers, insurers and those involved in transportation.
Unions NSW has called a mass rally and march in Sydney at noon on July 20 in support of South Australian construction worker Ark Tribe, who faces court in Adelaide that day. Tribe faces jail for refusing to be interrogated by the Australian Building and Construction Commission, the special police force set up to break the power of the building unions. The set up by the former Coalition federal government and continues under Labor.