In the first eight days of October, 30 coalition troops and close to 300 Iraqi civilians and security forces were killed. Iraq has become such a shameful example of Western arrogance that such figures barely warrant a mention on our television screens or in newspapers.

Pope Benedict XVI is reported to be on the verge of authorising the return of the Latin Tridentine mass. This would open the way for some of the most extreme clerical reactionaries and anti-Semites to rejoin the Catholic Church.

Australia has the most concentrated media ownership in the Western world. Nonetheless, the new media bill passed by the Senate on October 12 will further relax ownership regulation and allow the media barons to operate in two out of three media sectors — print, radio and television.

The federal government last week pushed through its new cross-media ownership laws, ensuring greater concentration of media ownership and a loss of diversity in Australia’s media. The following article by Christian Downie, published on Online Opinion (<>) provides some background to the debate over the media laws.

The last issue of Green Left Weekly published the story of gay asylum seeker Mohatar Hussein. Hussein fled homophobic persecution in Bangladesh to seek refugee status in Australia, only to be locked up in Villawood detention centre for the last two years. The Refugee Review Tribunal twice knocked back Hussein’s applications, despite having ample evidence that he had suffered persecution as an openly gay man.

Debts owed by students for university fees are growing by about $2 billion a year, according to the federal education department. Reporting the finding, the September 13 Melbourne Age observed that if the debt rise “continues at this rate, the amount owed will double in six years, from $10.2 billion in 2003-04 to more than $20 billion by 2009-10".

A group of Aboriginal leaders supported by the West Australian Social Justice Network has initiated a campaign in the wake of what “appears to be an orchestrated attack by the federal government and sections of the media on Aboriginal culture” and leaders.

The Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network national consultation decided to support the relaunch of an Australian campaign in support of the “Cuban Five” - five Cubans convicted in the United States in 2001 on charges ranging from conspiracy to commit murder to endangering the security of the US. The Cuban Five are being held in maximum security prisons across the US.

The rising tide of enthusiasm for Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution is reaching Australia. This was seen at the Fourth National Latin American Solidarity Conference held in Sydney on September 29, the biggest such solidarity gathering in over a decade.

Academics may be given limited access to books banned under anti-terrorism laws, federal attorney-general Philip Ruddock said on October 2. His comments came after University of Melbourne vice-chancellor Glyn Davis wrote to Ruddock seeking clarification on the laws.


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