health

The United States Supreme Court ruled on June 13 that human genes cannot be patented.

This surprise decision is a victory for women who need genetic testing to detect whether they carry a genetic mutation that increases the risk of developing breast and ovarian cancers.

But the ruling has much broader implications. It puts in jeopardy thousands of patents already granted on human genes over the past 30 years.

Experts say a statewide ban on synthetic drugs could create a black market for the resale of the substances.

New South Wales Fair Trading has failed to provide an industry buy-back scheme, or propose a means of safely and legally disposing of the products for the tobacconists, service stations and adult shops which stock the drugs.

Last month the death of 17-year-old student Henry Kwan, who plunged from his parents' balcony in Kilarra in Sydney after taking a synthetic substitute for LSD which led him to believe he could fly, ignited fears over the safety of the substances.

Nearly 60 years have passed since Totem 1, a British nuclear test in the Australian desert, was recklessly conducted in unfavourable meteorological conditions.

Nuclear testing of any sort, even in the most “controlled” of circumstances, is inherently abusive, a crime against the environment and humanity for countless generations to come. Yet the effects of Totem 1 were particularly bad, even by the warped standards of the era.

It is time for us to rise up and reclaim our power. As citizens of the world, as people of this planet.

If we want a fair, just, harmonious, equitable, peaceful world, we need to create it.

We need to take action. Show our politicians we care about our planet and the destruction being wreaked on it by unaccountable, tax-avoiding, profit-driven corporations who are polluting and poisoning the planet for profit.

If we analyse the genetically modified (GM) industry's “humanitarian” claims, we see they are nonsense. They trot out the line that GM food will solve the world's hunger.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme, now to be known as DisabilityCare, has become a central theme of Australia’s national debate. This is a tribute to the many thousands of people who have campaigned tirelessly for better support for and inclusion of people with disabilities in society.

The Socialist Alliance estimated in 2010 that its key policies for social justice and environmental sustainability would cost a minimum of $81-140 billion a year. Any budget devised by a party focused on putting people and the planet before profits would look significantly different to the “safe” yet largely austere budget the federal Labor government released last week.

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.

“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.

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