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More than 100,000 people have been displaced and countless numbers killed in the north Sudanese government’s latest offensive in the region bordering south Sudan. South Sudan is set to formalise its secession on July 9 after a near-unanimous vote for independence in the January referendum.
Over three nights last week, hundreds of thousands of people watched something very rare: a Reality TV show that actually showed some reality. Australia’s public SBS television station showed a special three-episode program called Go Back To Where You Came From about the experience of six Australians (with widely varying views about refugees and asylum seekers) as they are sent on a 25-day trip to trace, in reverse, the routes that refugees have taken to reach Australia.
How is the government getting away with this idea that a public-sector pension is a “luxury”? Is it something that suave bachelors show off, saying: “Once I’ve taken you for a spin in my Aston Martin, how about I show you the mid-range forecast for my teacher’s pension over a bottle of Veuve Cliquot.” A pension is a necessity, so you might as well say we simply can’t go on enjoying the luxury of a sewerage system, given that the amount of waste we’re flushing is 35% higher than in 1996, so from 2015 we’ve got to throw it out the window otherwise we’ll end up like Greece.
US man robs store to get health care in prison “A North Carolina man robbed a local store for a dollar just so he could get health care in prison, he said. “James Verone, 59, handed the teller a note demanding $1 and claimed he had a gun … He then walked away and sat down, waiting for police.   “[He said:] 'I wanted to make it known that this wasn't for monetary reasons, but for medical reasons.'  
The Refugee Art Project’s Fear+Hope exhibition’s opened at Sydney’s Mori Gallery on June 20, during International Refugee Week. The exhibition showcased 20 refugee artists from Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Iraq, and Iran, the Kurdish regions of the Middle East, Pakistan, Nigeria and Indonesia. All of the artists produced their art locked up in Australia’s detention centres. Only three of the artists were released to be at their exhibition opening.
The public wants meaningful action to address climate change. The 2010 annual Lowy poll found that 86% of Australians support climate action. Forty-six percent said they supported strong action and a further 40% supported gradual steps. Moreover, a 2011 poll by the 100% Renewable Energy Campaign asked 14,000 people their views on renewable energy and the government’s responsibility. It found 91% of respondents think the government should increase action to roll out renewable energy and that 86% think the government needs a plan to get to 100% renewables.
About 150 protesters rallied at a mining expo in Toowoomba on June 22 to protest the expansion of coal and coal seam gas mining in the Darling Downs region. They confronted state mining minister Stirling Hinchliffe to demand that other areas in Queensland should be exempted from coal seam gas mining — similar to the recent rejection of a mining permit in Toowoomba, the June 23 Brisbane Courier Mail said.
More than 1,000 people gathered on June 19 to protest mandatory detention and the Gillard government’s highly contentious asylum seeker swap deal with Malaysia –– under which Australia would exchange 4,000 processed and confirmed refugees from Malaysia for 800 unconfirmed asylum seekers from Australia. The crowd gathered at the Royal Exhibition Buildings in Carlton Gardens to hear speakers before marching to join the Emerge Festival at Fitzroy Town Hall. Speakers included Greens MP Adam Bandt, Julian Burnside QC, and several refugees.
Feeling the heat from opposition leader Tony Abbott’s scare campaign against the government’s planned carbon price, PM Julia Gillard told ABC radio’s AM on June 24 that she “never meant to mislead anybody during the last election campaign about carbon pricing”. This was a reference to her promise — made days before the 2010 election — that a Labor government would not set up a carbon tax.
On June 22, the federal government announced a six-week consulting period before creating new laws to continue the Northern Territory intervention. Prime Minister Julia Gillard “left no doubt that abolishing the intervention was not on the agenda”, said the June 23 Australian. The statement below, titled Rebuilding From the Ground Up — an Alternative to the Northern Territory Intervention, was officially launched at the Prescribed Area People’s Alliance conference in Darwin on June 21. * * * The NT intervention has been a disaster for Aboriginal communities.
Victorian premier Ted Baillieu.

For something as simple as stubbing your toe and saying “Oh, fuck” in public, the Victorian police will now be able to fine you $238.90 for swearing or using offensive language. Does this mean that an entertainer or musician can also be fined for swearing or using offensive behaviour in their act or song? The anti-swearing legislation doesn’t define what a “swear word” actually is. This gives the police extraordinary power to use these laws in discriminatory ways.

Australian Taxation Office staff will vote on management's proposed enterprise agreement between June 27 and June 30. The Community and Public Sector Union and the Australian Services Union have balloted their tax office members. In each case, the vast majority has voted to reject management's offer. The two unions have agreed on a joint campaign to reject management's draft agreement. They have produced joint posters and leaflets pointing out that management's pay offer of 9% over three years is likely to be less than the rise in the cost of living over that period.