Mel Barnes

The Defence Department has confirmed it was responsible for starting the ferocious State Mine fire in the Blue Mountains that burnt over 50,000 hectares of bushland in the past two weeks.

An investigation found that a large amount of explosives — exceeding normal limits — were used during a training exercise at Marrangaroo.

Unlike the young boys who were arrested for lighting fires this week, it is unlikely anyone from defence will be charged.

A new free trade deal to be signed this year could allow foreign corporations to sue the Australian government for introducing environmental regulations on coal seam gas (CSG).

Australia has joined 11 other countries — the United States, Malaysia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam — in negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP). Unlike most trade deals, other countries can sign on in the future.

A media campaign began this month to discredit the findings of the fifth major report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), due to be released on September 27.

The Australian published a front page story on September 16 headlined: “We got it wrong on warming, says IPCC”.

One of Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s first acts has been to abolish the Climate Commission. Set up under Julia Gillard in 2011 and chaired by Tim Flannery, the commission’s role was to explain climate science to the public.

It is well known Abbott will abolish the carbon price, but other climate programs in Abbott’s sights include the Climate Change Authority and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

This is a clear sign the new Abbott government believes the environment can be sacrificed for profit.

It is 95% certain that human activity is causing climate change, a new report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says.

The final report has not been released, but a leaked copy of the draft has revealed a stark image of the destructive impact climate change will cause in our lifetimes.

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Two of the most prominent Fairfax newspapers, the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age, have updated their mastheads to include the slogan “Independent. Always.”

The slogan alone does not make it clear from who or what they are claiming independence. After all, billionaire Gina Rinehart, one of the world’s richest people, is the single biggest shareholder in the company.

Fairfax does have what it calls a Charter of Editorial Independence that says: “Editors alone shall determine the daily editorial content of the newspapers.” The editors know not to step out of line.

The Israeli Law Centre, Shurat HaDin, has filed a complaint under the Racial Discrimination Act with the Australian Human Rights Commission against the Sydney Peace Foundation’s Stuart Rees and Sydney University's Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies’ Jake Lynch.

The complaint claims Rees and Lynch are supporting racist and discriminatory policies through their support for the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against the Israeli government.

It is the first time Australia’s anti-racism laws have been used against people involved in the BDS campaign.

The WikiLeaks Party formally announced its Senate candidates on July 25.

Three candidates will be standing for the Senate in Victoria, including WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, author and Monash University gender studies lecturer Leslie Cannold, and RMIT law lecturer Binoy Kampmark.

Two candidates will stand in the Senate in NSW — human rights lawyer Kellie Tranter and former diplomat Alison Broinowski. Another two candidates, refugee activist Gerry Georgatos and president of the National Ethnic Disability Alliance Suresh Rajan, will run for the Senate in Western Australia.

Telstra has been sharing its customer’s data information with the FBI and US Department of Justice for at least a decade, the Crikey website revealed on July 12.

Forest protesters disrupted work in the southern Tasmanian town of Esperance on July 16, disrupting operations of Malaysian logging company Ta Ann.

The Huon Valley Environment Centre (HVEC) said 40 people occupied the logging area and one person held a tree sit, which was attached to the logging machines.

HVEC spokesperson Jenny Weber said: “Controversially Ta Ann continues to receive timber from old growth ecosystems, and this logging area is forest that was promised protection, and now tragically the ancient eucalyptus regnans and wildlife habitat is being lost.

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