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The United States media remain enthralled by Congress’s partisan battles over the national debt ceiling, while the assault on public sector workers across the US intensifies.

On June 14, Wisconsin’s state supreme court overturned an earlier legal challenge to the state’s anti-union “budget-repair” bill. The bill will ban collective bargaining for most of the state’s public sector workers.

The bill sparked sustained mass protests in Wisconsin in February and March, including the occupation of the Capitol building in Madison.

WikiLeaks released the statement below on June 16 to mark six months since its editor-in-chief Julian Assange was placed under house arrest in Britain.

* * *

Today, June 16 2011, Julian Assange will have spent six months under house arrest. He has not been charged with a crime in any country. The conditions of his detention are excessive and dehumanising.

A Swedish prosecutor, Marianne Ny submitted a European Arrest Warrant for questioning in relation to a preliminary investigation regarding allegations of sexual misconduct in Sweden.

US: Activists arrested for feeding homeless

“Orlando [Florida] police arrested five more activists from behind a makeshift buffet table at  Lake Eola Park  on Wednesday evening, bringing to a dozen the number charged in the past week with violating city restrictions on feeding the homeless.

Tens of thousands of striking trade unionists and their allies flooded Syntagma Square outside parliament on June 15 to try to stop MPs from approving the latest bill imposing more cuts and privatisations, the MorningStarOnline.co.uk said the next day.

Prime Minister George Papandreou, seeking to defy the rising tide of protests, said he had initiated power-sharing talks in a bid to shore up his position. But the article said the talks quickly collapsed and two prominent MPs from Papandreou's PASOK party resigned.

An emergency phone tree on June 6 mobilised the extra support needed to stop workers coming on-site to begin demolishing part of Melbourne’s only Aboriginal school, Ballerrt Mooroop College (BMC).

The workers from the demolition company, ADCO ,decided, as long as there were people staffing the picket line, not to cross it. The Building Industry Group of unions, including the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union, the Electrical Trades Union, the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union and the Plumbers Union are considering banning work on the site.

Swiss women and a major Swiss union held a national day of action on June 14 for wage equality for women and for a minimum wage of US$4000 a month for all workers.

The minimum wage that the union and women are seeking would be the equivalent of $48,000 a year. The minimum wage is now $3000 a month, which was won in the 1980s.

Switzerland has one of the highest costs of living in the world.

Marcel Khalife, born in 1950 in Amchit, Lebanon, has injected new life into the music produced by the oud (the Arabic lute) ― helping revive an important part of Arabic culture.

Khalife studied the oud at the Beirut National Conservatory of Music and graduated in 1971.

From 1972 to 1975, Khalife taught at the Beirut National Conservatory of Music, public universities and local private music institutions. During that period, he toured the Middle East, North Africa, Europe and the United States giving solo performances on the oud.

“Power never gives up without a fight.” These words of United States civil rights leader Martin Luther King were quoted by US President Barack Obama in his May 19 policy speech on the Middle East.

The quote is certainly a true description of the response of the region's regimes to the Arab democratic upsurge. But Obama failed to mention that the biggest power in the Middle East is the US.

Rapper Ozi Batla has long been known for speaking out on social issues. His band The Herd are well known for tracks such as “77%” ― which features the line “77% of Aussies are racist”, in response to an opinion poll result on the treatment of refugees during the Howard years.

The Herd's “Burn Down the Parliament” caused controversy when it was coincidentally released the same week as the 2003 Canberra bush fires.

They’re a part of the human race
Searching for a safe place
To rise from their despair
To be part of the world that seems fair
Without wars
Famines
Or destruction
That stops all means of production
So they begin to flee
Unwilling to live amongst the debris
Where they lost friends
Without any warnings
Where they lost family
Indefinitely…
When they arrive
Freedom is limited in order to survive
Due to a lack of understanding
With the government demanding
Brief medical attention
A lack of food and mental exhaustion
A place we like to call mandatory detention

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