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As the last appeal hearing on Julian Assange's extradition to Sweden began in London, a group of supporters in Sydney begin a vigil at the Sydney Town Hall. Speakers at the vigil included pro-WikiLeaks activist Jann Dark and NSW Greens MLC John Kaye.
The Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney released the statement below on January 31. * * * The Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney (STICS) has declared support for the Aboriginal rights protests in Canberra on January 26 targeting Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard. STICS says that the Northern Territory intervention has turned the clock back more than 40 years in Aboriginal affairs, erasing many of the gains made through the struggles of the original Tent Embassy.
Community workers have today been handed long awaited pay rises in a historic decision by Fair Work Australia in the equal pay case. The case was lodged by the Australian Services Union on March 11, 2010, to address the gender-based undervaluation of the community services sector and deliver long overdue pay increases. Australian Services Union (ASU) Victorian and Tasmanian Assistant Branch Secretary Lisa Darmanin said this was a day community workers around Australia would never forget.
Friends of the Tamar Valley released the statement below on February 1. * * * Friends of the Tamar Valley (FTV) today condemned the announcement that a 10-bank syndicate -- which includes the ANZ Bank -- has granted an extension to the loan agreement for Tasmanian logging company Gunns Ltd. Gunns was due to either re-pay, or re-finance $340 million of debt by January 31. The company’s total debt was estimated to be $698 million at the end of June last year.
Occupy Sydney occupied the head office of Westpac in Sydney on January 30 to protest against the axing of 188 jobs. The people whose jobs are being axed will have to train their overseas replacements, who will be paid far less. Meanwhile, Westpacs CEO Gail Kelly was paid $9.5 million in 2011 and Westpac made $6.9 billion.
These days when an online conversation turns to international affairs, even here in Australia, it’s not long before the Ron Paul supporters arrive. Not since the height of Obamania have so many Australians been so enthusiastic about a  US politician. But what makes the passion about Paul even more remarkable is that he’s a Republican — and many of his local fans identify as progressives.
When US forces crossed into Pakistan from Afghanistan and killed 24 Pakistani border guards on November 26, it further strained Pakistan-US relations, already complicated by the fact the Pakistani elite, in particular the military, maintains close links to both the US and the Taliban. This collaboration with both sides of the Afghan war has continued despite the November 26 incident being far from unique. Both the Taliban and the US-led forces routinely kill Pakistani civilians, as well as soldiers and police.
The Darwin Asylum Seeker Support and Advocacy Network (DASSAN) released the statement below on January 30. *** Serco’s application in current court proceedings for a Suppression Order preventing the publication of its Use of Force Manual is scandalous, says Darwin Asylum Seeker Support and Advocacy Network (DASSAN) spokesperson Fernanda Dahlstrom. The document sets out how much force Serco staff can use against those detained in the nations privatised immigration detention centres, the circumstances that Serco staff can use force and when the use of force is unlawful.
The article below is a joint statement released by left parties from Pakistan and Afghanistan, who took part in a conference in Lahore over December 21-22. It is reprinted from Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal. * * * The progressive and democratic forces of Pakistan and Afghanistan met in Lahore for two days in the first ever joint conference.
Refugee rights activists scaled the fence of the Leonora detention centre on the night of January 28 to communicate with refugees inside and protest against the mandatory detention of asylum seekers.

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