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“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.”
When East Timor won its independence from Indonesia in 1999, the country's medical infrastructure in rural areas was almost non-existent. When then-Cuban President Fidel Castro heard about the problem at a regional summit, he offered to send Cuban doctors free of charge — as many as were needed. So began the largest Cuban medical assistance program outside Latin America. In 2010, after a six year program of study in Cuba, the first of nearly 500 East Timorese medical students graduated and took up their posts in East Timorese villages and towns.
Twelve years ago, with the support of the United Nations, world leaders agreed to work together to achieve universal education, promote gender equality and halve extreme poverty by 2015. Known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the initiative has been described as the “most successful global anti-poverty push in history”. But how much have the goals really achieved? Five years after they were adopted, their achievements were discussed at the World Social Forum held in Brazil in 2005.
Since Richard Nixon proclaimed the “War on Drugs” four decades ago, drug use around the world has skyrocketed. From 1998 to 2008 alone, global opiate use rose 34.5%, cocaine 28% and marijuana 8.5%. People in the US are the world’s largest users of cocaine, Colombian heroin, Mexican heroin and marijuana. When Nixon launched the “war”, his initial budget was US$100 million for the first year. This has ballooned year after year, until it was $15.6 billion for 2011. Given this, here are many commentators who proclaim that the “war on drugs” has failed.
A landmark ruling in Sydney on February 15 gave the biotechnology industry an unprecedented right to make huge profits from genetic testing. The case involved the breast cancer genes BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 and the right of US biotechnology company Myriad Genetics to have exclusive licence to a patent over their use in research. Federal Court Justice John Nicholas had ruled that a private company can continue to hold a patent over an isolated gene, in this case, the BRCA gene. The BRCA gene is responsible for repairing or removing defective DNA cells.
In Western Australia, mental illness is the second-highest cause of disease for women and the fourth-highest cause for men. Premier Colin Barnett has responded by publishing a green paper for public discussion for a new Mental Health Act. The proposed act contains provisions that would improve the rights of people subjected to a Compulsory Treatment Order (CTO). But it negates those same provisions by allowing the treating psychiatrist to simply ignore them.
About 10,000 nurses and midwives across Western Australia were threatened with disciplinary action and deregistration by the state’s director general if they went ahead with a 24-hour strike on February 25. The evening before the planned action, WA premier Colin Barnett intervened to offer the nurses a 14% pay rise over three years. Australian Nursing Federation (ANF) members accepted the offer after voting at a mass meeting on February 25.
That Cuba has already developed four vaccines or inoculations against different types of cancer is without doubt important news for humanity. The World Health Organisation says each year about 8 million people die from this illness. However, the international mainstream media have almost totally ignored this news.
It was great to see all big health unions in Victoria hold a joint community rally on February 3 to protest against the state and federal governments’ slashing of health funding in Victoria. But any casual observer couldn’t help feeling that a re-elect Labor strategy was lurking. It was true that all of the secretaries from the key health unions roundly condemned the state Coalition and federal Labor governments for the $107 million cut to be implemented by June this year. The cut will result in more than 300 beds closing, elective surgery delays and job losses in many hospitals.
This statement was released by the Melbourne branch of Socialist Alliance on February 1. *** Labor and Coalition governments are both to blame Hospital administrators and staff are reeling. The Ted Baillieu state government axed $616 million from its last two health budgets and the Julia Gillard federal government has recently cut $107 million from Victorian hospitals.

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