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Hungarian foreign minister Peter Szijjarto accused United Nations officials on September 19 of “spreading lies” with their criticism of Budapest’s anti-migration policies.

The comments came just days after new UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, and UN rights experts harshly criticised Hungary’s immigration policies.

Szijjarto told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva that “it was obvious” the UN officials were “biased pro-migration officials”.

Activists from the Movement Against the Occupation of the Timor Sea (MKOTT) delivered a 10-metre-long banner covered with the signatures of 1300 Timorese to the Australian embassy in Dili on September 16. The signatures were collected in protest at the Australian government's persecution of former spy Witness K and his lawyer Bernard Collaery, for allegedly blowing the whistle on the 2004 bugging of Timor-Leste Cabinet offices by the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS).

In recent days, Malaysia attained international notoriety for caning two women after their being convicted in a religious court of attempting to have sex in a car.

In striking contrast, on September 6, the Indian Supreme Court held that section 377 of their penal code, which criminalised consensual acts between adults of the same sex, was unconstitutional. That is a mature decision that gives 1.2 billion people in India the freedom to have consensual sex.

The Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC), several other trade unions and the Malaysian Socialist Party (PSM) have slammed as “humiliating” and “beggarly” the new Pakatan Harapan (Alliance of Hope) federal government’s announcement that it would increase the country's minimum wage by just RM50 (A$17) a month to RM1050 ($350) from next January.

Unions are considering calling a mass workers’ protest.

Pakatan Harapan had promised to raise the minimum wage to RM1500 within 100 days if it won the May 9 general election. 

Four months after the new Italian government was installed, the reactionary nature of the coalition between the populist Five Star Movement (M5S) and the far-right Lega (League) emerges more clearly each day, writes Daniele Fulvi.

Despite the fact that the League won only about 17% of the votes in the last elections (compared with 32% for the M5S), the interior minister and League leader Matteo Salvini is emerging as the undisputed head of the government. He is dictating the government agenda as he sees fit.

More than 1 million people marched in Barcelona on September 11 in support of Catalonia’s struggle for independence from the Spanish state. The day is marked each year as Catalonia’s national day, commemorating Barcelona's capture by Bourbon forces in 1714 during the War of Spanish Succession.

This year’s march also demanded the release of pro-independence political prisoners, who have been jailed for their role in last year’s independence referendum.

Venezuela’s foreign minister Jorge Arreaza has reiterated his condemnation of the United States for seeking an intervention and supporting military conspiracies.

His September 9 comments followed a report that members of the US government have been meeting with Venezuelan military officers who were actively plotting to oust democratically elected President Nicolas Maduro since mid-2017.

There is a growing body of pro-establishment statements in the United States opposing the possibility of US military intervention in Venezuela, writes Steve Ellner.

The latest expression of this position is a New York Times editorial titled “Stay Out of Venezuela, Mr. Trump”, published on September 11.

At first glance the editorial is a welcome statement that counters the careless war-mongering declarations coming from the ilk of Marco Rubio and a number of high-ranking Trump administration officials, as well as Donald Trump himself.

The US Central Intelligence Agency’s drone program in Africa is expanding, the New York Times said on September 10.

Just south of the Libyan border, a covert military base in Dirkou, Niger has been deploying fleets of drones on surveillance missions for several months, a Defense Department spokeswoman, Major Sheryll Klinkel told the NYT.

Bolivian President Evo Morales said “the US is the real threat to humankind” on September 7 in response to US Senator Marco Rubio's talk of using the US Armed Forces against the Venezuelan government. Rubio had said Venezuela “has become a threat for the region and even for the United States”.

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