Stop CSG Illawarra released this statement on August 2. *** The NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer, Professor Mary O'Kane, released the initial report from her review into coal seam gas (CSG) on July 31. The findings — particularly the contaminants involved and risks to water resources — confirm risks that community members have been talking about for years. However, the recommendations from the review are framed by the terms of reference, and focus on how to develop the industry, not if or under what conditions development is safe.
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 mainstream press has focused on the decision of the judge in the military courts-martial of Bradley Manning to find him not guilty of “aiding the enemy”. However, judge Denise Lind's conviction of of the whistleblower who exposed war crimes for 20 other charges amounts to a full-scale assault on democratic rights. The courts-martial now enters the sentencing phase. Manning faces a maximum of 136 years behind bars. Whatever the final sentence is, it is widely believed it will be decades in the military stockade.
The Barack Obama administration has proposed new regulations for hydraulic fracturing on 756 million acres of public and tribal lands. The rules were written by the drilling industry and will be streamlined into effect by a new intergovernmental task force, established by the president, to promote fracking ― a practice that has been linked to water poisoning, air pollution, methane emissions and, most recently, earthquakes.
Former Brazilian president Lula, who helped found the ruling Workers’ Party (PT) and governed from 2003–2010, took his time to comment on the wave of protests that erupted in mid-June, bringing millions onto the streets. But when he finally gave an interview, he warmly welcomed the protests: “Brazil is living an extraordinary moment in the affirmation of its democracy. We are a very young democracy ... It’s only to be expected that our society should be a walking metamorphosis, changing itself at every moment.”
Fearing state repression, farmers in the Cataumbo region of Colombia, on the border with Venezuela, have formally requested asylum in Venezuela. Farmers in the Rural Workers’ Association of Catatumbo (Ascamcat) erleased a public letter on June 21 asking Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro for refuge. They have been protesting and blocking roads since June 10 in response to a campaign to forcefully eradicate coca cultivation in their area. They say they fear military reprisals.