1086

Racism and homophobia are on the rise. Millions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex (LGBTI) and sex and gender diverse identifying (SGDI) people face life-threatening persecution. About 2.7 billion people live in the 76 countries that criminalise homosexuality. The death penalty for homosexuality is applied in Iran, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen. In China, several hospitals use electric shock therapy as “anti-gay treatments”.
A “cessation of hostilities” in Syria, sponsored by the United States and Russia, came into force on February 27. Only some of the internal and foreign participants in Syria's multi-sided conflicts signed on. The air wars that the US and Russia are waging in Syria are both officially directed against ISIS. But in reality, Russia is keen to protect its ally, the dictator Bashar al-Assad, while the US and its regional allies, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, have given money, weapons and logistical and diplomatic support to his opponents since the civil war began in 2011.
Tens of thousands of Nigerian fisherpeople and farmers were given the green light to sue energy giant Shell in a British court on March 2 for a series of destructive oil spills in the Niger Delta over the past decade. The action, brought by London-based law firm Leigh Day on behalf of Nigeria’s Ogale and Bille communities, alleges that decades of uncleaned oil spills have polluted fishing waters and contaminated farming land. As well as a compensation package, both groups want the Anglo-Dutch oil company to clean up the land devastated by the spills.
Melbourne’s Liberal Lord Mayor Robert Doyle has been offered a campaign donation, rumoured to be about $200,000, by a councillor in return for them running as deputy lord mayor in the October election. Ken Ong, the council's chair of planning, said: "The offer is not $200,000 specifically. It might be less or it might be even more if the campaign demands." When questioned whether the donation is conditional on being Doyle's deputy, Ong said: "Well, if I'm not the deputy lord mayor, I don't need to contribute."
Various actors called for a boycott of the 2016 Oscars ahead of the awards night held on February 28, due to the lack of Black nominees for the second year in a row. Many spoke out about Hollywood's racism, with no non-white nominees in major categories for the second year running, via the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite
On February 27, 1989, the poorest Venezuelans took over the streets in protest against price rises. Thousands of Venezuelans took the streets in February 1989 in a wave of protests that highlighted the right-wing misrule in the South American country. The protests came to be known as the Caracazo — an uprising that began in the capital Caracas — and ultimately shaped the country's future.
From a distance, Australia's tax system looks gender neutral. The tax return carefully avoids gendered words and the tax rules were purged several years ago of direct gender discrimination. There is no assumption that the male in a partnership is the primary breadwinner or that the female is the primary carer. There is no assumption that one partner must disclose to the other all their financial affairs to enable a tax return to be sent on behalf of both of them, unless they explicitly agree to it. Single men and women are not treated differently for income tax purposes.
Toy company Hasbro has taken a lot of criticism in recent weeks regarding the conspicuous absence of Rey, the lead female character in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, from its Star Wars-themed Monopoly game. A lot of people have made thoughtful and well-articulated arguments about why this is sexist, but probably the most insightful (and concise) critique came in the form of a brief letter to the company written in rainbow colours by an eight-year-old girl: “Dear Hasbro,
Honduran indigenous and environmental organizer Berta Cáceres has been assassinated in her home in Honduras. She was one of the leading organizers for indigenous land rights in Honduras. In 1993, she co-founded the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras, or COPINH. For years, the group faced death threats and repression as they stood up to mining and dam projects that threatened to destroy their community. Last year, Cáceres won the Goldman Environmental Prize, the world's leading environmental award.
When looking at the world through the prism of the mainstream media it can sometimes be easy to get stuck in a pessimistic feedback loop. Take, for example, the US presidential primaries, where candidates vie to become the presidential candidate for their respective party. On the one hand there is the almost unstoppable rise of Donald Trump in the Republican presidential race and, on the other, there is the campaign of Bernie Sanders.
United States Democratic Party presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton has built her campaign around her self-proclaimed dedication to fighting for women’s rights, as well as her superior experience in the realm of foreign policy. Many feminists have disputed her claims, and the women on the receiving end of her foreign policy, particularly in Latin America, are even less likely to see the former Secretary of State as a champion of their rights.
“Turnbull's NBN in crisis”, blared the front-page headline in the February 29 issue of The Sydney Morning Herald. "Malcolm Turnbull's cut-price National Broadband Network is facing mounting delays and rising costs, according to a damning internal report obtained by Fairfax Media," the article said. Fairfax revealed that the report, labelled “commercial in confidence” and “for official use only”, details a litany of problems in delivering the Coalition's supposedly more budget-friendly fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) model.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has filed a lawsuit against Distinctive Assets, the company distributing a luxury gift bag to Oscar nominees that includes an all-expenses paid trip to Israel sponsored by the Israeli government. “Distinctive Assets has been falsely representing that its extravagant 'gift bags' [are] redistributed by the Academy, at its direction, or with its endorsement or approval,” an Academy spokesperson told the Hollywood trade publication Variety.
Right-wing Western Australian senator Joe Bullock has announced his resignation from the Senate over Labor's decision to remove the conscience vote for equal marriage rights in 2019. The former head of the WA branch of the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association entered the Senate in 2014 after a back-room deal to dump the Left's Louise Pratt.
The Labor and Liberal National parties hope to slip in four-year fixed parliamentary terms in Queensland through a referendum being held at the same time as state-wide polls for local councils. A four-year term proposal was defeated in 1991.
Comedian and filmmaker Dan Ilic unveiled a portrait of environment minister Greg Hunt on February 29 outside Parliament House in Canberra. The portrait, entitled “Greg Hunt, best minister in the world for clearing trees” was in response to Hunt being named the “Best Minister in the World”. The irony of the award is that Hunt has overseen a huge rise in tree clearing and carbon emissions, while his government is spending billions from the Emissions Reduction Fund to keep trees in the ground and plant new trees.

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