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Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has expelled three United States consular officials from the country due to suspected conspiracy with the right-wing opposition, Venezuela Analysis said on February 17.
The consequences of the inhumane policies by successive Coalition and Labor governments to make life as unbearable as possible for asylum seekers are unfolding on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island.
The statement below was released by the Refugee Action Coalition on February 16. *** Report from Manus Island indicate a major protest and breakout has taken place on Manus Island late this afternoon. The most recent reports indicate that the riot squad has been mobilised and that the perimeter fence has been breached. Protests have been building all day, but escalated after a meeting (around 2pm Manus time) was held to answer asylum seeker’s questions about resettlement.
Australia’s central bank, the Reserve Bank of Australia, gets its powers from the Reserve Bank Act (1959). Its two primary functions are to ensure the stability of the currency and the provision of full employment. Besides managing Australia’s gold and foreign exchange reserves, it supposedly meets these objectives by setting the cash rate to meet an agreed medium term inflation rate, which is now set at a target band of 2% to 3%.
Sit-ins to support Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails have been held every week since 1995 in the courtyard of the International Committee of the Red Cross’s Gaza office. Recently, they have been followed by rallies outside the office for Ibrahim Bitar, a sick detainee in Israel’s Nafha prison. Ibrahim’s brother Mamdouh said: “We’ve garnered internal support for my brother, and created this popular campaign. It started within our family. It’s a symbol of all the sick detainees.”
There are some cynics who argue that Tony Abbott is a lying scumbag who wouldn't know the truth if it was tattooed on Rupert Murdoch's arse. Or, to put it another way, if it was right in front of his face. But this is demonstratively false, because Abbott told us in his February 1 YouTube video “Delivering on Our Promises” that “not a single illegal boat has arrived since mid-December”.
As a 65-year-old Afghan Hazara man fights to avoid deportation, refugee rights advocates grow increasingly alarmed by reported “round ups” of hundreds of asylum seekers who are being threatened with imminent deportation. Immigration minister Scott Morrison confirmed last month that the government was re-detaining people who had been denied refugee status and have apparently exhausted their appeals. Refugees reported from detention centres across Australia that those who have been “screened out” were being told to pack up and prepare to be removed.
The Basque political prisoner Arkaitz Bellon was found dead in his jail cell on February 5, more than 1000 kilometres from his home. The body of the prisoner from Elorrio, who was 36, was found in his bed. Jail authorities say “his death points to natural causes”, but they will carry out a more detailed investigation. Bellon's lawyers and family have petitioned for a doctor they trust to be present at the autopsy. Bellon spent 13 years in prison for acts of sabotage and had the date for his release was set for next May.
A new opinion poll shows left-wing opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) party ahead of the ruling conservative New Democracy by 1.5%, Ekathimerini.com said on February 12. The survey showed SYRIZA leading with 30% support. A poll published in January put SYRIZA at 31.5% and New Democracy at 28%.
"February 14 is celebrated as a day of of love by many people, but for us it is a day of grief" said one of the Aboriginal speakers at the start of the rally and march to mark the 10th anniversary of the killing of Aboriginal youth TJ Hickey in a police pursuit in Redfern. The protest began at the spot in where TJ was impaled on a fence after being thrown off his bicycle. The Hickey family, including mother Gail, where out in force. "Its been 10 long years but I am not giving up the fight," she said. Photos below by Peter Boyle

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