Kerry Smith 

At the time of writing almost 60,000 people had signed a change.org petition asking immigration minister Peter Dutton to allow a young family of Tamil asylum seekers, snatched from their home at 5am and detained by the Australian Border Force, to stay in Australia.

The family, Priya, her husband Nadesalingam and their daughters, 9-month-old Dharuniga and 2-year-old Kopiga, were woken on March 5 at their home in Biloela, central Queensland, by police, Border Force officers and Serco guards.

About five million women went on strike and marched in Spain on March 8 in support of a call for an international women’s strike to mark International Women’s Day and demand a just and egalitarian society, TeleSUR English said that day.

A group of 29 refugees, including eight children, became the fifth group of refugees to escape detention when they left Nauru on March 4 for resettlement in the US. The group consisted of Sri Lankan, Rohingyan and Afghan families, and single men from Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Since the US resettlement deal began in September a total of 139 refugees have left Nauru and 85 have left Manus Island.

United Nations human rights official Andrew Gilmour said on March 7 that it was impossible to safely send Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh back to their homes in Myanmar as documents released under freedom of information laws show that the Australian defence department plans to spend almost $400,000 on training members of the Myanma military in 2017-18.

An environment plan for petroleum exploration company Asset Energy to start seismic testing off the coast of Newcastle has been accepted by the federal regulator, the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority.

More than 500 people gathered at the Coonamble Bowls Club on February 10 to declare they do not want a gas pipeline across NSW’s western slopes and would fight to protect the Great Artesian Basin.

The meeting expressed deep-seated concern about the potential threat of coal seam gas (CSG) mining to the Great Artesian Basin.

APA has been contracted to build a gas pipeline through the NSW slopes and plains for gas giant Santos, which wants to sink 850 CSG wells in a 95,000-hectare project area in the Pilliga State Forest.

Five months after Hurricane Maria hit the United States’ Caribbean colony of Puerto Rico, swaths of the island still have no electricity, while food and water supplies have been slow to arrive, Democracy Now! reported on February 19.

Socialist Alliance councillor Sue Bolton reported that on February 14 Moreland City Council in Victoria passed her motion calling for an increase in the Newstart allowance. This follows similar decisions by 10 South Australian local councils prompted by campaigners from the Anti-Poverty Network.

The motion called for Newstart to be increased to the Henderson poverty line. Newstart is currently $177 below the poverty line.

“The steps of the Florida State Capitol building were crowded with thousands of students, teachers, parents, and advocates on Wednesday as survivors of last week’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School led a rally to demand gun control reforms including a ban on military-style firearms,” Common Dreams

The Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) and the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist Centre, which  formed a new coalition government after winning elections late last year, now plan to unify the two parties.

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