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.
A busload of students, Aboriginal activists and musicians embarked on a commemorative trip around regional New South Wales on February 19 to mark 50 years since the first Freedom Ride. Also on the bus were 15 of the original Freedom Riders, filmmaker Rachel Perkins, and musicians Troy Cassar-Daley and Paul Kelly.
Unions NSW has launched a "NSW Not For Sale" campaign in the lead-up to the March 28 state elections. The campaign targets the state government's plans to privatise the power industry, as well as attacking private involvement in hospitals and TAFE. The campaign involves TV advertisements, as well as a radio and digital blitz. It aims to mobilise union members and other volunteers for doorknocking and mass telephoning.
After days of fraught negotiations, a temporary agreement was finally reached on February 20 between the Greek government and its Eurozone creditors to extend Greece's loan agreement. It came a day after the German government scuttled a Greece proposal for a six-month extension to its loans program, which was set to run out at the end of the month.
The Redfern tent embassy in Sydney has received an eviction notice from the Aboriginal Housing Company. It claims the owners of the tent embassy do not have “permission to be on this site” and are “trespassing”. The tent embassy was set up in May last year to stop land being taken from the Block and redeveloped for commercial space and private housing. READ MORE: Redfern Tent Embassy remains strong
Several hundred residents and supporters of the campaign to stop the NSW government's WestConnex tollway project gathered in Whites Creek Park, Annandale, on February 15. Cait Jones, a representative of the campaign which successfully stopped the similar East-West Link tollroad in Melbourne, said: "In Victoria, we beat the East-West Link. We're here today to stand with you in your fight against WestConnex. Mass transit is what we want and need. Tollroads are a disincentive to public transport.”
Fires were still smouldering on the morning of February 17 as emergency crews assessed the damage after a train carrying Bakken crude oil derailed and exploded near the Mt Carbon area of Fayette County, West Virginia, the day before. About 2400 people have been evacuated or displaced by the derailment, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, as the fire burned power lines.
The Fair Work Commission decided on February 11 that two male mine workers at the Crinum mine in the Bowen basin in Queensland were not eligible for paid primary carer’s leave to look after their newborn children. The case was brought by the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CMFEU) as part of the dispute settlement procedure in the BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance Enterprise Bargaining Agreement 2012.
With 44 seats (to the LNPs 42) and the support of Independent Peter Wellington, the ALP leader Annastacia Palaszczuk was sworn in as Premier on February 14. The full Cabinet of 14 (including 8 women) was sworn in on February 16. The ALP minority government represents a number of firsts for Queensland: first cabinet with a majority of women ministers; first female team of Premier and Deputy Premier (Jacki Trad); and first woman indigenous cabinet minister Leeanne Enoch. It is assumed that the axing of asset sales will be the first item on the new government’s to-do list.
The Refugee Convention and similar international laws exist to protect the world’s most vulnerable and persecuted people. People who flee war zones or are victimised by their governments and communities rely on countries that are signatories to these conventions to recognise their at-risk status and provide safety.
50 Shades of Grey Directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson Starring Dakota Johnson & Jamie Dornan Based on the novel by EL James In cinemas now Perhaps the most concerning thing about 50 Shades of Grey is not that it is a film adaptation of a novel that was written in an online forum — and a Twilight fan forum at that.
Hundreds of people started a week-long walk through Sydney’s western suburbs on February 21 to highlight the risk coal seam gas poses to drinking water. Beginning at Cataract Dam the route will continue for 160 kilometres through Camden, Campbelltown, Liverpool, Fairfield, Prospect, Parramatta, Auburn, Ryde and Gladesville before finishing at Parliament House in Sydney. More than 10 community groups came together to organise the walk, including the Western Sydney Environment Network, Stop CSG Macarthur, Parramatta Climate Action Network and the Nature Conservation Council of NSW.