Kathy Fairfax

New South Wales has become the first state in Australia to ban greyhound racing, with an announcement on July 7 that it will be banned from July 1 next year.

Premier Mike Baird said the government was left with "no acceptable course of action except to close this industry down" after it considered an 800-page report by a special commission into the "widespread and systemic mistreatment of animals" in the industry.

Oppressed people around the world have long used self-immolation to protest grossly unjust regimes.

Thich Quang Duc protested the persecution of Buddhists by the South Vietnamese government in June 1963 by burning himself to death at a busy Saigon intersection.

The Arab Spring famously began when Tunisian street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi set himself alight in December 2010 in response to repeated harassment and humiliation by local officials.

A second refugee has self-immolated in the detention centre on Nauru, just days after 23-year-old Iranian refugee Omid Masoumali died in similar circumstances.

Hodan, a 19-year-old Somali woman, has been taken to Brisbane by air ambulance, but she suffered burns to more than 70% of her body and her condition remains critical.

Witnesses told Refugee Action Coalition (RAC) that all her clothes had been burned off. Another said she had suffered burns to her upper body and face at least as bad as Omid.

Activists from Stop CSG Sydney and the Australian Student Environment Network toured the AGL Camden CSG gasfields on April 17 to see for themselves how close gas wells are to homes. AGL has promised to end gas mining in Camden by 2023. Residents want them shut down now.

The NSW government has said that gas wells cannot be drilled within two kilometres of homes, but it is happy for Landcom, the government's own developer, to sell house and land packages within a few hundred metres of major gasfields.

This year the Earth's climate scored the global warming trifecta: it passed the milestone of 1°C of warming since pre-industrial times; it is set to be the hottest year on record; and it will be the first year in which the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is over 400 parts per million (ppm) on average due to the continued burning of fossil fuels.

This is uncharted territory for the Earth. It came as world leaders met in Paris for Climate talks on how to keep warming below 2°C.

Over the past few months, refugees who were once deemed by ASIO to be a threat to national security have been gradually released from indefinite detention. It appears that one of Australia's most internationally criticised immigration detention policies is being quietly abandoned.

The most high-profile victims of this policy, Ranjini and her son, who was born in detention and had never known a day of freedom, were released on November 13.

The federal government has now spent $1.22 billion on its “Direct Action” policy that is supposed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions but will actually allow them to increase.

The results of the government's second round of emissions reverse auctions under the Direct Action scheme were released on November 12, revealing that the Clean Energy Regulator had paid $557 million to companies in return for emissions cuts of 45 million tonnes of CO₂. The first auction, in April this year, spent $660 million to buy 47.3 million tonnes.

While the whole globe — from polar regions to the equator — has experienced record-breaking high temperatures, a small part of the Earth has experienced the opposite. Scientists say both are indications of the dangerous affects of climate change.

In September, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced that the first eight months of 2015 were the hottest ever recorded in the 135 years since records have been kept.

The Papua New Guinean police has called for the extradition of two Australians implicated in the murder of asylum seeker Reza Berati at Australia’s Manus Island detention centre. But there is no sign that the two will return to face justice.

The call comes as the trial of the two Papua New Guineans charged with his wilful murder is listed to begin in Lorengau, the largest town on Manus Island.

Pressure from activists for super funds to divest from Transfield Services, the biggest contractor in the Australian immigration detention industry, is increasingly bearing fruit.

HESTA, the industry superannuation fund for health and community services workers — at $32 billion one of Australia’s largest super funds — sold its 3.5% stake, worth $23 million, in Transfield Services on August 18.

On August 25 NGS Super, the industry superannuation fund for private school teachers, announced it would sell its $5.5 million stake in Transfield “on moral grounds”.

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