News in Brief

The Australia Institute has warned that continued coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef could lead to plummet in international visitors to the region by more than a million a year. The massive drop in visitors would result in the loss of $1 billion in tourism income and up to 10,000 jobs.

The institute surveyed 3000 Chinese, US and British visitors. The Great Barrier Reef is Australia’s top tourist attraction, but more than one-third of Americans, 55% of Chinese and 27% of British visitors surveyed said they would holiday elsewhere if the reef died completely.

The federal government is spending up to $18.9 million to trial the cashless welfare card for 1850 people.

Data published by the Department of Social Services show the government is paying the debit card provider, Indue, at least $7.9 million, while the Social Service Department's administrative costs are $2.6 million. The government is also spending $2.6 million on additional supports, such as drug and alcohol services.

Employees of a Brisbane 7-Eleven store have told the ABC they were forced to pay back thousands of dollars from their wages or face losing their jobs.

They have backed up their claims with covert video showing an employee handing back a sizeable portion of her pay to the store franchisee.

Known in the industry as the “cash back” scam, workers are paid the full award rate of $25 an hour, but have to hand back up to $11 for every hour worked to the store franchisee.

US media reported on February 14 that more than 4000 ground combat troops are heading to Kuwait. Reports indicate it could be the US’ largest ground force in the region.

The move comes as President Barack Obama is petitioning Congress for an Authorisation for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) against the Islamic State group.

Obama sent Congress the AUMF petition denying plans for a ground war, however the troops in Kuwait are prepared for any “contingency,” a Pentagon military source said.

Instro Precision, a factory in Kent, England, owned by Israeli arms manufacturer Elbit Systems was shut down on February 17 by four activists occupying the roof while others blockaded the entrance.

Instro Precision is a manufacturer of military targeting systems. Its optical equipment is used in drones such as those Israel used to bombard Gaza during the summer of 2014, say the activists. Such surveillance equipment has also been installed in Israel’s apartheid wall in the West Bank.

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