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In early July, Venezuela’s Social Investigation Group XXI (GIS) released new comparative data on electoral fairness in the country compiled by the Canada-based Foundation for Democratic Advancement (FDA) which found Venezuela’s elections to be “exceptionally fair, and thereby highly democratic”.

Substantial changes proposed for East Timor’s Petroleum Fund law will expose the nation’s finances to high risk and open the door to corruption.

Just a few years ago the fund was widely praised as a model of prudential and sustainable management, and a means of possibly escaping the “resource curse” of waste and corruption.

That is all about to change.

East Timor's AMP government, led by Xanana Gusmao, has a bill before parliament that removes most of the prudential controls on the fund.

Violent attacks and rioting, orchestrated by terrorist Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), have targeted communities of the Catholic minority in Northern Ireland in recent weeks.

The largely working-class Catholic east Belfast suburb of Short Strand was attacked in riots organised by the UVF on June 20. Petrol bombs and rocks were thrown at homes and residents.

See also
Sinn Fein leader to speak in Australia

Pablo Solon completed his term as Ambassador for the Plurinational State of Bolivia to the United Nations on June 30.

As representative of a small and poor country, Solon has played a key role in perhaps the decisive political struggle of this century: the fight against climate change and the unjust economic system causing environmental and social crisis.

On behalf of the Bolivian government led by indigenous President Evo Morales, Solon has pushed for the UN to enshrine the right to water as a human right, and led efforts to implement a Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth.

A week after Malaysian authorities failed to stop people taking to the streets of the capital Kuala Lumpur on July 9 to demand free and fair elections, six activists from the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) remained detained without trial.

The detainees include federal member of parliament Dr Jeyakumar Deveraj, who has been hailed by a prominent local writer as “the Malaysian saint of the poor”.

In the predominantly Roman Catholic city of Manila, a small group of Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC) are preaching a message of inclusion and social justice that has angered the religious hierarchy.

Now, their practice of blessing same-sex marriages has resulted in leaders of the Catholic Church in Manila threatening legal action, and calling for MCC to be stripped of its right to solemnise marriage ceremonies.

On June 25, the MCC of Metro Baguio hosted a Holy Union of eight same sex couples at the Ayuyang Bar in Baguio City. 

US right-winger: Gay bullying 'healthy peer pressure'

“Anti-gay bullying is not bullying at all; in fact, it is 'peer pressure and is healthy.' That’s according to Rich Swier, an activist with the Tea Party Nation.

“Swier was responding to a report from a Florida group that showed that '77% of all bullying victims are picked on due to sexual orientation, gender identity, or the perception of either.' The report also pointed out that 'LGBT youth are up to five times more likely to commit suicide than their straight counterparts.'

Finding Santana
By Jill Jolliffe
Wakefield Press, 2010
177 pages, $24.95 (pb)

Jill Jolliffe's encounter with the Komodo Dragon, a carnivorous, aggressive, pre-historic lizard, was "hair-raising". But even more threatening were the murderous agents from the Indonesian secret police, with their de facto uniform of "cropped hair, trim moustache, Rolex watch and Ray-Ban sunglasses".

Oranges & Sunshine
Written by Rona Munro, directed by Jim Loach
Starring Emily Watson, Hugo Weaving & David Wenham
Showing now in selected cinemas

Oranges and Sunshine is a film adaptation of the book Empty Cradles, written by Margaret Humphries.

Humphries was a Nottingham part-time social worker (played by Emily Watson), who investigated the forced relocation of British children to Australia from British orphanages.

Face the Fire
Jimblah
Obese Records
Buy now on iTunes
www.myspace.com/jimblah01

If James Alberts, better known as Adelaide-based rapper Jimblah, hadn't discovered hip hop, he could well have ended up serving time in prison.

Instead, he now serves prisoners in prison, by teaching them.

"In my early teens, I just wanted a place to fit and I looked up to the older lads who were [committing crimes]," Alberts, a 27-year-old Larrakia man, tells Green Left Weekly.

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