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United States: Seven-year-old banned from mentioning 'fracking' ― ever “When a property owner reaches a settlement with an oil or gas driller, it's not unusual for the company to demand that the plaintiffs in the case agree to a gag order that bars them from talking about the agreement. But a recent case in Pennsylvania is unusual. “That's because the gag order prohibited the 7- and 10-year-old children of a couple that sued several gas companies not only from talking about their specific settlement, but from mentioning fracking at all. Ever …
The Tamil National Alliance (TNA), the main party representing Tamils in Sri Lanka’s parliament, has selected 36 candidates to contest the Northern Provincial Council elections, to be held on September 21. Sri Lanka’s northern province, which is mainly inhabited by Tamils, has been under military rule since the defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in 2009. The LTTE fought for nearly three decades for an independent Tamil state in the north and east of the island.
Hassan Rouhani was inaugurated as the president of Iran on August 4. He was elected in June, after mass mobilisations swept the country in support of his candidacy. Those who supported him saw his election as the best way to open up space for reforms within the country. However, he is not an outsider to the system. Rouhani was on Iran's nuclear negotiating team and was the country's top negotiator with the European Union on Iran's nuclear program from 2003 to 2009. He received official endorsement from Iran's supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, on August 3.
Back in 1989 a schoolmate of mine showed me some copies of Tribune, the newspaper of New Zealand’s Socialist Unity Party. The SUP had for decades been convinced of the infallibility of the leadership of the Soviet Union, and the pages of Tribune were full of recycled press releases from the Kremlin and large airbrushed photographs of crumbling Soviet leaders like Leonid Brezhnev and Yuri Andropov.
In April last year, many Palestinian political prisoners in Israel went on hunger strike calling for rights to family visits and the end of solitary confinement. Israel eventually conceded their demands. But now Israel says the deal did not apply to the Palestinian political prisoners who held Jordanian citizenship. These prisoners are still prohibited from family visits and various other basic rights.
Prime minister Kevin Rudd’s announcement of the “PNG solution” — where refugees who arrive in Australia by boat will be denied resettlement and sent to Papua New Guinea — has sparked the largest refugee rights rallies in Australia since John Howard was in power, as well as opposition from within PNG itself. On August 2, 2000 students at the University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) held a protest against the proposed plan.
The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) cost United States workers 700,000 jobs. But another effect was to drive Mexican small farmers out of business. In the brave new world of free trade, Costco makes tortilla chips and salsa in the US and trucks them to its stores in Mexico. US Congress will soon debate whether to “fast-track” a trade deal that would make job-killers like NAFTA look puny. The Trans-Pacific Partnership is being negotiated by Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the US and Vietnam.
For a good part of his 33 years in power, Robert Mugabe has presided over a ruthless dictatorship. From the thousands killed in the 1980s Gukurahundi massacres and misery for millions under structural adjustment plans, Operation Murambatsvina and hyper-inflation of 2008. Yet in the July 31 general election, endorsed by Southern African Development Community and the African Union, the 89-year-old ruler annihilated the hitherto iconic working-class leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T), who beat him in March 2008.
Love & Struggle, My Life in SDS, the Weather Underground & Beyond By David Gilbert, PM Press, 2012 336 pp, $22.00 From the earliest anti-capitalist revolutions, starting almost as soon as capitalism cemented its political mastery of Europe in the late 1700s, there has been dispute between those whose moral outrage at oppression led them to conspiratorial methods and those saying that open political struggle is superior. Originally this debate was between the Blanquists and Marxists and later between Bakuninite anarchists and (again) Marxists.
One year after a huge explosion and fire at the Chevron oil refinery in Richmond, California, there was a demonstration of thousands of people directed against the oil giant on August 3. Richmond is part of the sprawling San Francisco Bay Area, where I live. A significant aspect of the action was that it brought together environmentalists from the Bay Area and nationally, and activists from the Richmond community.
As more people start to share scientists' long-expressed concerns over climate change, revelations of big bank energy market manipulations highlight Wall Street's entrenched stake in the fossil fuel economy that is heating up the planet.
For more than a month, more than 400 prisoners in seven Californian prisons have refused to eat in protest at the use of long-term solitary confinement and other abuses. This is the longest hunger strike in California’s history and is provoking a predictably savage response from prison authorities. Prisoners are being denied medical attention, those accused of being representatives of the strikers are put in administrative segregation to further isolate them and many are being denied their mail.
About sixty people attended a meeting on “America’s Pacific Push” on July 25. Bruce Gagnon, coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, spoke about the growing US military presence in the Pacific. Examples included the expansion of a missile test range in Hawaii, the building of a naval base on South Korea’s Jeju Island despite strong resistance from local people, and the plan to station 2500 US troops in Darwin. Gagnon said that US bases in Australia play a crucial role in US military strategy.
Zane Alcorn, Socialist Alliance candidate for the seat of Newcastle, scored equal top in a survey of candidates on environmental issues. The Hunter Central Rivers Alliance conducted a survey of 17 questions designed to compare the different parties policies on coal and coal seam gas and related issues. The Hunter Central Rivers Alliance campaigns for “an alternative vision for the Hunter, where sustainable industries, historic communities, and public health are more valuable than the boom — bust cycle of coal industry profits.”
Nauru's terrible poverty, stagnant economy and unstable administration has paved the way for its main aid-provider, the Australian government, to sign it up for a similar refugee “deal” as Papua New Guinea. Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced that refugees who arrived in Australia by boat could be sent for processing and then would “settle and reside” on Nauru.
A public meeting held in the Tasmanian town of Oatlands on August 2 discussed the application by PetroGas, an offshoot of Petratherm, to explore for shale gas and oil in more than 3000 square kilometres of southern Tasmania. About 80 residents attended the meeting. Tim Kirkwood, general manager of Southern Midlands council, said it was the best-attended public meeting ever held in Oatlands. The process of “fracking” for gas requires millions of litres of water and a major concern for many of the farmers present was the question of where the water would come from.

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