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Britain’s House of Commons voted in favour of equal marriage rights on February 5. France’s lower house approved a bill for equal marriage rights on February 12. If these bills make it the rest of the way through their respective parliaments, Britain and France will join the Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, Massachusetts, Spain, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, Argentina and Denmark in having equal marriage rights.
“Enough is enough,” warned a full page ad taken out by the Mineral Council of Australia in the February 13 Australian, “in relation to the obsession with increasing taxes on mining in Australia." It was like an exasperated parent pushed too far by a naughty child. “Enough! Go back to playing with your toys. What about the welfare recipients? You love kicking them! Go on, leave us adults alone!”
The Knitting Nannas Against Gas staged an anti-coal seam gas (CSG) protest outside the office of Lismore MP Thomas George on February 13. The protest was held to coincide with a stop-CSG action in Casula, Sydney, outside the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce, which hosted a luncheon with NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell. The Knitting Nannas Against Gas, who have been actively supporting the blockade to stop CSG mining at Doubtful Creek, sent this message to be read out at the Casula action. ***
A picket line that lasted for two weeks at the site of a water treatment plant in Werribee has been disbanded. The Age reported that the protesters left the site on February 14 after “police and the water authority warned them they were trespassing”. The picketers — established by unemployed tradespeople — were protesting the employment practices of Tedra Australia and its associated subcontractors.
Around 200 people turned out for the February 13 protest in Casula to tell Barry O’Farrell to "lock the state" on coal seam gas companies. The protest was initiated by Socialist Alliance and Greens activists in Western Sydney. The breadth of growing anger against the CSG industry was on display through the number of groups that supported and spoke at the rally. This included representatives from the Scenic Hills Association, SOS Rivers, NSW Greens MLC Jeremy Buckingham as well as Stop CSG groups from St Peters, Ingleburn, Blacktown, Blue Mountains and Illawarra,
Guess who thinks the Mineral Resource Rent Tax (MRRT) is working well? Sorry, but there's no prize if you guessed right. “The MRRT was designed as a tax on super profits on the mining industry and importantly the tax is actually operating as it was physically designed," mining giant Rio Tinto's new chief executive Sam Walsh told AAP. Err, yes, very well designed — for some — by a Gillard government fresh from the ALP leadership coup, with more than a little help from the biggest mining companies.
Protesters gathered in Redfern on February 14, to mark the ninth anniversary of the death of the 17-year-old Aboriginal youth TJ Hickey and repeat the call for an inquest into his death. In 2005, police pursued Hickey causing him be thrown off his bike and land on a spiked fence.
In a letter to the New York Times published on February 13, South African Nobel Peace Prize laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu challenged the hypocrisy of the US and its citizens for accepting a killer drone program when it pertains to foreign suspects while demanding judicial review when those targets are American citizens.
This was a speech given to a One Billion Rising event in Sydney on February 14. *** I'd like to welcome you all here tonight. I'm a Kairi and Badjula woman, so I can't do a welcome to country, but I can do an acknowledgement. So I'd like to acknowledge that this celebration is taking place on the stolen lands of the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation. The Gadigal people were the first to endure the impact of invasion and as a result their communities were decimated. Invasion was a violent process, though history has tried to cleanse it was with the word colonisation.

Searching for Sugarman Directed by Malik Bendjelloul Starring Rodriguez, Malik Bendjelloul Music by Rodriguez Now showing at selected cinemas Director Mike Malik Bendjelloul’s film Searching for Sugarman, which has been nominated for best documentary film at this year’s Oscars and the British Film and Television Awards, traces the efforts of two South African fans to find out what happened to the mysterious Mexican-American folksinger known as Rodriguez.

Jesus Posada, the right-wing People’s Party (PP) speaker of the national Spanish Congress of Deputies, received a delegation on February 12 presenting a People’s Legislative Initiative (ILP). The initiative had the support of more than 1.4 million signatories, 900,000 more than required by law.
According to a report by Europol, hundreds of football matches across Europe have been fixed by betting syndicates, which must surely leave all genuine supporters of the game delighted. Because this is so much fairer than the current method of fixing matches, in which three clubs owned by trillionaires buy all the top players, making it impossible for anyone else to finish even close to them. Bribing a referee and a goalkeeper is much more democratic, as it can be done for a few grand, a fraction of the sum Manchester City spent on buying the Premier League.
Last December, I stood with supporters of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange in the bitter cold outside the Ecuadorean embassy in London. Candles were lit; the faces were young and old and from all over the world. They were there to demonstrate their human solidarity with someone whose guts they admired. They were in no doubt about the importance of what Assange had revealed and achieved, and the grave dangers he now faced. Absent entirely were the lies, spite, jealousy, opportunism and pathetic animus of a few who claim the right to guard the limits of informed public debate.
Several hundred people attended a night of solidarity with Cuba at the Uruguayan Club in western Sydney on February 9. The event, organised by the Committee in Solidarity with Cuba, Western Sydney, raised funds to help pay for repairs to the widespread damage caused to homes and infrastructure by cyclone Sandy last year. It featured entertainment by a variety of cultural groups from the Latin American community.
The assassination of left-wing leader Chokri Belaid has thrown the interim government of Tunisia, led by Islamist party Ennahda (the Renaissance), into a deep crisis. Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali has threatened to resign if his proposed "technocratic" solution can't be implemented. The death of Belaid, a well-respected leader of the united left group Popular Front, led to widespread protests, including tens of thousands on the streets of Tunis for his memorial on February 8.
About 80 residents held a rally outside Coburg Town Hall before a meeting of Moreland City Council on February 13.  They then went into the Council meeting and raised their concerns during question time. The rally was organised by Save Coburg, a residents group recently formed in response to the proposed new Coburg Structure Plan.  This plan includes 10-storey buildings alongside existing homes. 

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