996

The irony of fracking is that it destroys the natural resource it needs most. The tragedy for those living near fracking operations is that natural resource is the fresh ― and increasingly scarce ― water supply on which they, too, depend. Fracking ― or hydraulic fracturing ― is the fracturing or rock by pressurised liquid. It is used to access several natural resources, such as shale gas and coal seam gas, in otherwise out-of-reach places.
The West Papuan independence movement's hopes of of gaining a foothold in the international community were set back when foreign minsters visiting West Papua pledged non-interference with Indonesia. Last June, the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Leaders Summit met in Noumea, New Caledonia, and discussed a membership application from the West Papua National Council for Liberation (WPNCL). The summit postponed the decision until a ministerial delegation visited West Papua to determine the legitimacy of the group and to assess the situation in the occupied country.
Tens of thousands of people marched to Spain's parliament in Madrid on February 1 to protest against a proposed new law that would severely curb access to abortion. Changes to the law would permit abortions to be carried out only in cases of rape or serious risk to health. The rally was organised by dozens of women's groups fighting for reproductive rights. Participants travelled from across the Spanish state to take part, with trains full of protesters arriving in Madrid throughout the day.
It's celebrity time again. The Golden Globes have been, and the Oscars are coming. This is a “vintage year” say Hollywood's hagiographers on cue. It isn't. Most movies are made to a formula for the highest return, money-fuelled by marketing and something called celebrity. This is different from fame, which can come with talent. True celebrities are spared that burden.
With more than 99% of polling places reporting, the candidate for the left-wing Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), Salvador Sanchez Ceren, easily won the first round of El Salvador’s presidential elections on February 2. Sanchez Ceren scored nearly 49% of the vote, more than ten-points higher than Norman Quijano of the Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA), who placed second with 39%. Former president Tony Saca garnered just over 11% of the vote. The FMLN and ARENA will head to a run-off on March 9.
A New Zealand newspaper has sparked outrage after declaring “protest-free news” and printing a white power symbol to mark the country's official founding as a European colony. The New Zealand Herald drew ire from readers over its outspoken refusal to cover otherwise high-profile protests by indigenous Maori on Waitangi Day. Commemorated on February 6, it is a state holiday marking the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi between the British crown and tribal delegations.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said he would take “the most radical measures to protect our people's economy” as a deadline for businesses to adhere to new price controls approaches. “We will expropriate whatever needs to be expropriated,” Maduro said during a February 4 speech in Caracas amid commemorations of the 22nd anniversary of a 1992 failed military rebellion. The coup was led by Maduro's predecessor, Hugo Chavez. Although he was jailed for the insurrection, Chavez became a popular figure with the poor majority. He won the 1998 presidential elections by a landslide.
The decision of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) to cut ties with the ruling African National Congress (ANC) has been badly analysed. Comment has tended to focus on the possibility of a new political party in 2019, or whether suspended general secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) Zwelinzima Vavi will get his job back. But the greater significance of the biggest trade union in the country throwing in its lot with a growing movement in opposition to the neoliberal order, and thus to the left of the ANC, is being missed.
“The age of entitlement is over,” Treasurer Joe Hockey has bluntly told the Australian people. Hockey, entitled to a six-figure pension every year when he retires, suggests we must learn to get on with less.
The Brisbane branch of Socialist Alliance released this statement on February 5. ** The Griffith by-election comes after a series of statements by the federal government that demonstrate just how anti-people and anti-environment the Liberal-National Coalition government really is. Prime Minister Tony Abbott has flatly lied to the public, claiming that SPC Ardmona is suffering because of “over generous” wages and conditions for the workers. This is part of his broader attacks on workers’ rights and the unions, and the return of the Australian Building and Construction Commission.
The national elections held on February 2 cannot solve the Thai political crisis because those lined up against the government and democratic elections are fundamentally opposed to democracy. The election was marred by violence from right-wing Democrat Party thugs who were determined to prevent voting from taking place. Armed thugs fired automatic weapons into crowds of people seeking to vote. These thugs have been enjoying total impunity for more than a month while intimidating voters and candidates.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has called for an “eradication” of “colonialism” in Latin America at the annual summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC). During the summit held in Cuba’s capital, Havana, over January 28 and 29, Maduro called for Puerto Rican independence and an end to British administration of the Falklands/Malvinas Islands, to which Argentina claims sovereignty. Puerto Rica was offered full membership of CELAC under a proposal made to the summit by Venezuela.

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