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As the 2013 federal budget looms, both the Labor government and the Opposition insist on the need to cut social spending. All the talk is about bringing the budget back into surplus as soon as possible and the cuts, they argue, will be needed to end the federal deficit. Ministers in Julia Gillard’s government have warned of a huge shortfall in government revenue, estimated at $7.5 billion by treasurer Wayne Swan and $17 billion by finance minister Penny Wong.
Seventeen kilometres by ferry from Perth is Western Australia's "premier tourist destination". This is Rottnest Island, whose scabrous wild beauty and isolation evoked for me Robben Island in South Africa. Empires are never short of devil's islands; what makes Rottnest different, indeed what makes Australia different, is a silence and denial on an epic scale.
No Local: Why Small-Scale Alternatives Won’t Change the World Greg Sharzer Zero Books, 2012 Against a backdrop of global climate disasters, financial panics, and inequality, localism — the creation of small-scale local systems of production and distribution — seems to make sense. Start small and stay close to home. Forge community ties, grow your own food locally, and create alternatives that can eventually replace the current system of global capitalism with a sane, sustainable way of life.

Liberal Premier Colin Barnett has proposed reforms to license and register some forms of sex work. And again people are referring to the bill as “legalisation” and “partial decriminalisation” when it is not. It’s deeply concerning when big party politicians and mainstream journalists do not understand the proposed sex-work laws, and describe them as the opposite of what they are. Most Western Australians seem unaware that Barnett’s proposed bill is unnecessary, perpetuates stigma towards sex workers and will result in worse working conditions.

Before a May 7 visit to US Congress by South Korean President Park Geun-hye, the Workers Solidarity Student Group — the student section of socialist group Workers Solidarity All Together — issued this statement about the threat to war on the Korean peninsula. It was translated by Chris Kim and is abridged from US Socialist Worker. * * * Amid the continuing rise of military tensions on the Korean peninsula, South Korea's new president, Park Geun-hye, will make her first visit to the US since her inauguration in late February for a US-South Korean summit.

The United Nations General Assembly met after World War II in 1948 and committed to 30 articles on human rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) has been signed by most nations and serves in many cases as a legally binding document on human rights. Article 25 in the UDHR says: “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing, and medical care.”

The online Sydney Morning Herald published an of possible federal budget expenditures and cuts. You can click on an icon for several costed items listed as "Cuts to programs" or "Raise taxes or end concessions". As you click on a cut or revenue measure the budget balance shifts.

University students across Australia will take to the streets on May 14 to protest the federal Labor government’s $2.8 billion cuts to higher education. The call by the National Union of Students (NUS) for a “student strike against education cuts” has not only received support from students, but also the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU), which covers university staff. On a number of campuses, NTEU members have been resisting cuts that university administrations claim are necessary due to lack of government funding.

Finally, we have a reason to get excited about elections. Yes, billionaire mining magnate Clive Palmer has formed a political party and is determined to become Australia’s next prime minister. For the first time in god knows how long, we have a real alternative to the tweedledum-tweedledee politics of the big parties. Palmer's bid for PM poses a crucial question: why shouldn’t those who own this country, run it too?
The impact of austerity has thrown politics in Britain into turmoil. Both parties of the ruling coalition government — the Conservative Party (Tories) and the Liberal Democrats — lost heavily in municipal elections in England on May 2 to the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP). The UKIP is a right-wing, populist, anti-immigration party that is pulling all the main parties to the right. Labour’s performance was better but poor, since its answer to austerity is its own brand of austerity and it has pandered to anti-immigrant sentiment.
With photos by Lee Yu Kyung in Kuala Lumpur Up to 120,000 people packed and overflowed a large stadium in Malaysia's capital Kuala Lumpur on May 8 to protest the fraudulent re-election of the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) government on May 5. The crowd defied a police threat to arrest all who attended the opposition-called rally. The police did not dare confront the huge crowd but, since the rally, the police have called in 28 rally speakers for questioning.
The mass, democratic uprising that broke out in Syria in 2011 against the regime of Bashar Al-Assad has increasingly turned into a prolonged civil war, with violence worsening and accusations of war crimes levelled against the regime and sections of the armed opposition. The situation has been worsened by the intervention of Western-allies in the region, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, selectively arming Islamic fundamentalist sectors of the anti-Assad forces.
“Last month’s announcements by NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell and federal energy minister Tony Burke on coal seam gas mining far from guarantee the health of western Sydney’s water”, said local anti-CSG campaigner, Fred Fuentes. “Since those announcements, ‘No CSG Blacktown’ has been told that under licence 463, which is held by Macquarie Energy and covers Eastern Creek, right next to the Parramatta LGA, drilling is definitely to go ahead.”

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