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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.
Victorian state government enterprise VicForests tabled its annual report in parliament in October last year, revealing that, for the sixth year running, the corporation had failed to pay a dividend to the state for being allowed to log publicly owned forests.
Two protesters chained themselves to a gate, preventing VicForests contractors from accessing a logging coupe for the day in the Toolangi State Forest north of Melbourne, on February 7. The Toolangi State Forest is one of the few areas of forest unburned by the 2009 Black Saturday fire. Environmental campaigners have called for its incorporation into a proposed Great Forest National Park. It has been estimated that only 1% of the old growth tall forests of the central highlands area is left.
The Northern Territory government released the draft report of the independent Review of Indigenous Education in the Northern Territory on February 7.  The government’s website says the review aimed to “get an informed understanding of the impact of current programs and initiatives”. If the report’s recommendations are indicative of government intent, education for remote Aboriginal children in the NT looks set to suffer more blows.
The Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network released the statement below on February 13. * * * The Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network condemns the recent violent actions instigated by far-right sections of the opposition in various cities across Venezuela. The first opposition-led protests were initiated on February 4 in the city of San Cristobal, in the western state of Tachira. Two students were arrested for alleged breach of the peace during a demonstration. The students were released the next day.
Venezuela's opposition have continued staging violent demonstrations amid calls for calm from across the political spectrum. In an address to the nation late on February 13, President Nicolas Maduro said there were fresh reports of violent demonstrations, including attacks on government run medical centres. He urged for national “dialogue” and said he would present a “plan of living together and peace” the next day. The president provided few details of the plan, but said he would seek support from cultural icons including sports people, poets and others.
Anti-government demonstrations broke out in Tuzla, Bosnia on February 6. They were led by workers who had been laid off by the owners of newly privatised factories. Contracts agreed at the time of the state sell-offs stipulated that the new owners were to invest in their companies. Instead, they started stripping the assets and sacking their workers.
In this piece reprinted from Counterfire, Lindsay German looks at what the severe flooding in Britain tells us about the system. * * * 1) Climate change is a reality, and those who deny it are the equivalent of those who persisted in believing the earth was flat, against all scientific evidence. Sea levels are rising worldwide, weather is becoming more unpredictable and this is affecting food production, where people live and how they carry on their livelihoods.
History repeats itself. The time-worn tactic of the dominant class that controls the spread of information is to provoke violence and then blame it on the enemy, usually those who struggle for change. Nero did it when he burned down much of Rome and blamed it on the Christians. Similarly, US newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst used the sinking of the USS Maine in 1898 to create war fervour that led to war with Spain.
The statement below was released by the British-based Hands Off Venezuela. * * * After days of violent opposition demonstrations in several cities of Venezuela, February 12 had been billed as the “D Day” of an offensive to overthrow the democratically elected Nicolas Maduro government.
London transport workers have been involved in industrial action against proposed job cuts. The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) and Transport Salaried Staffs' Association are campaigning against plans to close all 260 London Underground ticket offices, which will cut 950 jobs. Below, British comic and socialist Mark Steel looks at the media response to rail strikes in early February.
The Wolf of Wall Street Directed by Martin Scorsese Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Matthew McConaughey, Kyle Chandler Showing at selected cinemas “There is no nobility in poverty. I’ve been rich, and I’ve been poor and I chose rich every time. At least as a rich man, when I have to face my problems, I show up in the back of a limo wearing a $2000 suit and a $40,000 gold plated watch! ... I want you to deal with your problems by becoming rich! Be aggressive, be ferocious, be telephone fucking terrorists!”
On a hot and breezeless day at the end of January, representatives from 83 unions across El Salvador gathered in the Casa Sindical (a shared union hall) in San Salvador to greet a delegation of international election observers. We had come to ensure that the presidential election would be free of fraud, violence and intimidation. The images and names of their fallen comrades loomed on the walls behind them in black paint. Febe Elizabeth Velasquez. Juan Chacon. Ten unionists were martyred in a 1989 bombing by right-wing death squads, targeted because they were union leaders.
The BBC's Today program is enjoying high ratings, and the Mail and the Telegraph are, as usual, attacking the corporation as left-wing. Last month, a single edition of Today was edited by the artist and musician PJ Harvey. What happened was illuminating.
Toxin Toxout: Getting Harmful Chemicals Out of Our Bodies Bruce Lourie & Rick Smith University of Queensland Press, 2013 289 pages The intrepid, and possibly just a little mad, environmental advocates Bruce Lourie and Rick Smith, are up to their old chemical tricks again in Toxin Toxout.
In his State of the Union address on January 28, United States President Barack Obama highlighted growing inequality in the US. He also pledged to take steps to cut greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. So what has the Obama administration done recently on both counts?

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