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A farmer from Wyoming, who featured in the documentary Gasland, is touring Australia to warn locals about the health and environmental consequences of fracking for coal seam gas (CSG). John Fenton will speak about his experience of living with polluted ground water, polluted air and other effects of the gas industry. Fenton’s first meeting will be on February 22 in Sydney and will include 10 meetings in areas most affected by CSG mining, including regional NSW, Brisbane, Wollongong and Melbourne.
Seaspray locals have pledged to resist resources company Lakes Oil, which has applied to undertake horizontal drilling for tight gas near the Victorian town in East Gippsland. The state government has a moratorium on fracking — hydraulic fracturing underground to release gas held in rocks or coal seams. But it does not apply to horizontal drilling, which in some cases can be enough to release gas from the rock.
The Tony Abbott government has announced another Royal Commission into corruption in building industry unions. But Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary Dave Oliver said the terms of reference for this Royal Commission “are narrowly directed at unions and will not adequately deal with corruption or unlawful behaviour by businesses or employers”.
At a major speech in parliament on February 12, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the government was “serious about Aboriginal policy … no less serious than it is about stopping the boats”. He pledged to close the gap between Indigenous and non-indigenous outcomes in health, education and employment.
Several hundred residents and supporters rallied in Ashfield Park, in Sydney’s inner west, on February 9 to protest against the WestConnex road development. Rally organisers said: "WestConnex intends to widen Parramatta Road in order to create an entrance to the planned westbound tunnel under Parramatta Road. We stand to lose a 10-20 metre stretch of Ashfield Park. "Ashfield Park may be used as a depot for trucks and heavy machinery for up to seven years. Now is the time to protest."
Bosnia: Uprising helps revive class politics Starting on February 5, mass protests led by workers and retrenched workers in privatised factories, have rocked most major industrial cities in Bosnia, writes Michael Karadjis. Read more. Venezuela: The political economy of inflation and investment strikes
In the general elections held on February 2, 44.7 million people were eligible to vote. On the day, 20.4 million cast their vote. Kasian Tejapira, a lecturer at Thammasat University, has estimated that there were about 12 million people who could not vote due to the right-wing thugs blocking polling stations and using violence to disrupt the election. This indicates there were about 32 million in total who wanted to vote. This compares to 35 million people who voted in 2011.
The statement below was released by the Council on Hemispheric Affairs on February 14. * * * The Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA) views with great alarm the violence perpetrated against the democratically elected government and civilians in Venezuela that has resulted, as of February 12, in three confirmed deaths, 61 persons wounded and 69 detained.
In its written submission to the four-yearly review of the award system, the federal government has called on the Fair Work Commission to introduce comprehensive changes that will include cuts to minimum award rates of pay and conditions.
Residents of Moreland in Melbourne's inner north have joined the campaign against the unpopular East West Link tollway tunnel. A community rally is planned for  March 30. Some of the local groups most affected by the tunnel in Moreland are sporting clubs. The Brunswick Zebras soccer club, the Brunswick Cricket Club and the Royal Park Reds cricket club face losing access to sports grounds while the tunnel is being built.
Sixty people rallied outside NSW parliament on the February 12 anniversary of former prime minister Kevin Rudd’s apology in 2007 to the Stolen Generations, to protest against what they say is a continuation of unjust removals of children from Aboriginal families.
The Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network (AVSN) released this statement on February 14. *** Australian journalist and photographer Tamara Pearson has been threatened at gunpoint by opposition activists while reporting on student protests in Venezuela. The incident occurred during student protests in the city of Merida on February 11.
A builder who donated $200,000 to the Liberal Party last year has gone into administration owing sub-contractors and suppliers an estimated $30 million. The collapse of Steve Nolan Constructions affects five building sites in the northern suburbs of Lindfield, St Leonards, Roseville and Gordon, where apartment blocks are being built for developer, the Ralan Group.
More than 500 people protested against the “bikie” laws in Brisbane on February 11. The crowd included unionists, Indigenous and community activists, members of motorcycle clubs, and family groups, who rallied in King George Square before marching through the city to parliament house.
Australia's latest official unemployment figures only confirmed what everyone already knew — jobs are being destroyed by the thousands. The announcement of Toyota's plan to close down car-making, after a decision by General Motors Holden and Ford to do the same, dominated the headlines. But a host of other lesser known manufacturing companies are also shutting down. An unemployment rate of 6% and rising is not as bad as in other parts of the world, but it doesn't tell the full story.
Two police officers have been released on bail in Mackay after being charged with raping a woman while on duty. The constables, aged 28 and 29, were charged after an internal police investigation. Little information about the crime itself has been released. But it is apparent there were at least 38 witnesses. The officers have been released on bail under condition they report to the district head of the Police Force and stay away from the witnesses.

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