A Green Surge has hit Britain. Thanks to an ongoing growth spurt, the Green Party of England and Wales has now hit 54,000 members, on top of nearly 10,000 members in the Scottish Green Party. Opinion polls put the party on the rise, frequently beating the Liberal Democrats, who are governing in coalition with the Conservatives. The Greens now have more members than the far-right anti-immigrant UK Independence Party (UKIP), whose growing support has generated much media attention.
US media reported on February 14 that more than 4000 ground combat troops are heading to Kuwait. Reports indicate it could be the US’ largest ground force in the region. The move comes as President Barack Obama is petitioning Congress for an Authorisation for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) against the Islamic State group. Obama sent Congress the AUMF petition denying plans for a ground war, however the troops in Kuwait are prepared for any “contingency,” a Pentagon military source said.
Palestinian student Lina Khattab, 18, a first-year media student at Birzeit University, was sentenced by an Israeli military court to six months imprisonment, a NIS6000 (US$1500) fine and three years probation on February 17. She is also a folkloric dancer with the world-renowned El-Funoun Popular Palestinian Dance Troupe and is active in other cultural and political student activities at the university.
Instro Precision, a factory in Kent, England, owned by Israeli arms manufacturer Elbit Systems was shut down on February 17 by four activists occupying the roof while others blockaded the entrance. Instro Precision is a manufacturer of military targeting systems. Its optical equipment is used in drones such as those Israel used to bombard Gaza during the summer of 2014, say the activists. Such surveillance equipment has also been installed in Israel’s apartheid wall in the West Bank.
Coles meat workers picketed a new Coles supermarket in Richmond, Victoria on February 18 after a mass meeting of Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union members. Coles is proposing a new enterprise agreement which wipes out most of the conditions for newly employed butchers and meat wrappers. The new butchers can earn $12,000 less in a year and the new meat wrapper can earn $8,000 less for doing the same jobs.
Secretary of the South Coast Labour Council Arthur Rorris has stepped down from his union position to stand as an independent for the seat of Wollongong in the NSW State election on March 28. The seat is held by ALP right-wing factional leader Noreen Hay. Rorris lives in the electorate and has been a member of a local ALP branch for many years. Yet when he and other long-time local ALP members attended the Wollongong preselection ballot in December, they were not only denied a vote but physically escorted from the premises where the ballot was taking place.
NSW premier Bruce Baird was confronted by 200 TAFE students, teachers and supporters when he visited Newcastle’s Hamilton TAFE campus on February 16. His visit was to inaugurate the offices of the Hunter Business Chamber, which have been relocated to Hamilton TAFE. Significantly, the old TAFE signage out the front of the campus has been replaced with a sign that reads “Australian Business Apprenticeship Centre”.
The pledge below was published on the website of the Australia-Greece Solidarity Campaign, which says: “Let Greece Breathe is a campaign for hope and justice. We aim to show that Greece and the Greek people are not alone in their hour of need. “A victory for Greece will be a victory for people everywhere -- that is why the battle is so fierce. You can help by endorsing the statement and pledge below.” ***
“The ABC is trying to destroy Tony Abbott,” reads the first line of Andrew Bolt's whistle-blowing expose, entitled “Bias against Tony Abbott is truly sickening”, that was published in several Murdoch tabloids on February 19. And I suppose that's what these overpaid ABC bludgers living off our hard-earned tax dollars have the gall to call a “job”! Destroying Tony Abbott? I've had more taxing naps.