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FREE THE REFUGEES!

LEGALISE FREEDOM!

Perception correction.

Bearing witness.

Unfashionable.

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* Other Things *


Gold Coast beaches fit for summer: GCCC

Blue Green Algae, Surfers Paradise [27/11/14]

Gold Coast City Council Media Release [27/11/14]:

The Gold Coast’s iconic beaches are in great shape and more than ready for the crowds of locals and visitors who’ll be enjoying them over the summer months.

That’s the verdict of Mayor Tom Tate as he surveyed our 30 kilometres of coast from The Spit to Rainbow Bay, inspecting our beaches and the efforts of City staff and community groups to prepare them for the long hot summer ahead.

As set out in our Ocean Beaches Strategy 2013-2023, City of Gold Coast works year round to maintain, manage and protect Gold Coast beaches and waterways.

Mayor Tate took the opportunity to thank all those who had contributed to the city’s beaches being in such good condition ahead of the summer season.

“It’s no easy task looking after Australia’s best beaches, and it’s a responsibility we take very seriously. I’d like to thank the many thousands of unsung local heroes who care for our beaches every day of the year, from local residents who pick up rubbish every time they step onto the sand, to the volunteer groups who care for our dunes, to the City staff including engineers, beach cleaners and lifeguards who all do their bit to make a difference,” he said.

“As a result of their efforts, the City’s annual beach protection works, and minimal storm impacts last year, the health of our beaches has improved, and we are in a good position to better manage this summer’s storm season.”

For general information on Gold Coast beaches, see our Coastal Management section.

During storm season, our beaches may be impacted by unsettled and sometimes extreme weather events including low pressure systems, storms and king tides. This summer’s king tides are due around 20-23 January, with higher than usual tides also expected either side of 23 December and 19 February.

For beach advice and updates during summer, see our Beach Update page.

Lake Awoonga blue green algae at high level

Morning Bulletin [27/11/14]:

Blue-green algae in Lake Awoonga is now at a high alert level.

Gladstone Area Water Board chief executive Jim Grayson said the recreational hazard alert had been upgraded to high and was expected to remain at that level throughout spring and summer.

He said the increase in blue-green algae cells usually occurred in late October or early November, and was a natural phenomenon in many Australian waterways, especially in tropical and sub-tropical regions.

"The treatment process used by the Gladstone Area Water Board is designed to efficiently remove algae cells to produce safe drinking water," Mr Grayson said.

"This process is constantly monitored to ensure confidence in the provision of high quality drinking water to the Gladstone community."

However, people coming into direct contact with raw water in Lake Awoonga should be aware that blue-green algae may cause skin and eye irritation.

Drinking untreated or boiled water may result in illness.

Anglers are reminded that glue-green algae toxins can accumulate in the internal organs of fish and in mussels.

Floods hit drought stricken Brazil

The Weather Network [26/11/14]:

A heavy rain storm flooded large parts of Sao Paulo Tuesday just as evening commuters were leaving work causing travel headaches and traffic jams several miles long.

A large, dark rain cloud hovered over the megacity of 20 million people dumping a short, heavy onslaught of rain that quickly flooded streets, highways and entire neighbourhoods.

The flooding caused significant disruption to transport, with cars, buses and trains becoming stranded in the flood waters.

The city of Sao Paulo and the surrounding region is in the midst of the worst drought it has have faced in 80 years.

Government agencies said the rain brought some relief, but despite the problems it was causing, it would not be enough to impact stressed reservoirs that collectively sit at about 16% of capacity.

The wet season in this part of Brazil usually occurs between November and January and the forecast is for more rain in the coming days.

However, the national weather service has said it will not be enough to replenish the areas reservoirs and reverse the drought.

OPEC heading for no output cut despite oil price plunge

Reuters [26/11/14]:

OPEC Gulf oil producers will not propose an output cut on Thursday, reducing the likelihood of joint action by OPEC to prop up prices that have sunk by a third since June.

"The GCC reached a consensus," Saudi Arabian Oil MinisterAli al-Naimi told reporters, referring to the Gulf Cooperation Council which includes Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. "We are very confident that OPEC will have a unified position."

"The power of convincing will prevail tomorrow. I am confident that OPEC is capable of taking a very unified position," Naimi added.

A Gulf OPEC delegate told Reuters the GCC had reached a consensus not to cut oil output. Three OPEC delegates separately told Reuters they believed OPEC was unlikely to take any action when the 12-member organisation meets on Thursday after Russia said it would not cut output in tandem.

The OPEC meeting will be one of its most crucial in recent years, with oil having tumbled to below $78 a barrel due to the U.S. shale boom and slower economic growth in China and Europe.

Cutting output unilaterally would effectively mean for OPEC, which accounts for a third of global oil output, a further loss of market share to North American shale oil producers.

If OPEC decided against cutting and rolled over existing output levels on Thursday, that would effectively mean a price war that the Saudis and other Gulf producers could withstand due to their large foreign-exchange reserves. Other members, such as Venezuela or Iran, would find it much more difficult.

Brent crude LCOc1 was trading down 73 cents at $77.60 a barrel at 1919 GMT.

Naimi said earlier on Wednesday he expected the oil market "to stabilise itself eventually", after talks with non-OPEC member Russia on Tuesday yielded no pledge from Moscow to tackle a global oil glut jointly.

The UAE sided with Naimi, saying oil prices would soon stabilise, while ramping up pressure on non-OPEC nations.

"This is not a crisis that requires us to panic we have seen (prices) way lower," UAE Oil Minister Suhail bin Mohammed al-Mazroui told Reuters.

"The oversupply came from the evolution of the unconventional oil production. I think everyone needs to play a role in balancing the market, not OPEC unilaterally," he said.

Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zangeneh said some OPEC members, although not Iran, were now gearing up for a battle over market share.

"Some OPEC members believe that this is the time where we need to defend market share. All the experts in the market believe we have oversupply in the market and next year we will have more oversupply," he added.

The group could opt to roll over output levels but stress the importance of better compliance, while also agreeing to hold an extraordinary meeting if prices keep falling, a Gulf OPEC delegate and several OPEC watchers said.

...

Serious traffic crash, Gaven

QPS Media [27/11/14]:

The Forensic Crash Unit is investigating a serious two vehicle traffic crash that occurred this morning in Gaven.

Initial information suggests that about 8.25am a hatchback entered onto Banyulla Drive from Coolibah Crescent, where it collided with a sedan towing a trailer that was travelling north on Banyulla Drive.

It is believed that the sedan swerved to avoid the hatchback and as a result, travelled off the road and into a culvert.

The male passenger of the sedan was transported to the Gold Coast University Hospital with life-threatening injuries and remains in a critical condition. The driver, also of the sedan, was transported there for treatment of minor facial injuries.

There is no further information available as the Forensic Crash Unit continue their investigations.

Anyone with information which could assist with this matter should contact Crime Stoppers anonymously via 1800 333 000 or crimestoppers.com.au 24hrs a day.

Worker critical after accident at Royal Adelaide Hospital site

ABC [27/11/14]:

A worker at the Royal Adelaide Hospital site is in a critical condition after an accident this morning.

The construction union said the 54-year-old worker suffered a head injury and was found on a scissor lift just after 7:00am (CDST).

It was confirmed the man started his shift at 6.00am, but it was unclear how long he had been injured before being found by co-workers.

All work was suspended at the site as Safework SA carried out an investigation.

Union secretary Aaron Cartledge said the mood had been sombre and workers would meet again on Friday to discuss when they would return to work.

"A lot of guys knew this worker, he's been in the industry some time, is very popular on the site," Mr Cartledge said.

"This is a small industry - the South Australian building industry - there's a lot of guys that are devastated."

Earlier this morning Ambulance Services SA said the man went into cardiac arrest while on a scissor lift and fell.

He was resuscitated while being taken to hospital.

Police pursuit tactics haphazard - IPCA

RNZI [27/11/14]:

The Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) has criticised police over a car chase along Auckland's southern motorway that left an innocent man seriously injured.

The police were chasing a stolen BMW after an armed bank robbery in September last year.

Road spikes were laid but the driver, Michael Rai, avoided them the first time by going on the wrong side of the road and through red lights.

The high speed chase continued after Rai dodged a clump of spikes a second time.

He was driving at 160 kilometres an hour when he hit Hugh Foster in his ute.

Mr Foster suffered a broken neck.

The IPCA said police failed to comply with policy and their use of road spikes was haphazard and risky.

Cyclist hit by car in Dickson taken to hospital

Canberra Times [26/11/14]:

A cyclist has been taken to hospital after colliding with a car in Dickson on Wednesday morning.

An ACT Police spokesman said the crash happened on Morphett Street about 8.34am.

An ACT Emergency Services spokesman said paramedics attended the scene and took the 45-year-old male cyclist to the Canberra Hospital in a stable condition.

Australia Obligated To Protect Refugees In Nauru, Say Legal Groups

New Matilda [26/11/14]:

Legal experts and asylum seeker advocates have contradicted Immigration Minister Scott Morrison’s claim that violence against refugees settled [exiled] on Nauru is “wholly a matter for Nauru”, after another incident left two teens hurt and escalated fears about the safety of the island’s growing refugee community.

Madeline Gleeson, Research Associate at the Andrew and Renata Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law at UNSW, told New Matilda Australia had a “clear legal obligation” to protect refugees in its care, including those temporarily settled [exiled] in the Nauruan community.

...

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has remained largely silent on the situation on Nauru. After the October incident he told media: “This incident is wholly a matter for Nauru."

...

Cambodia Khmer Rouge tribunal postpones war crimes trial to January [Jurist - 25/11/14]

The Khmer Rouge tribunal has capitulated to a sustained boycott of Khieu Samphan’s genocide trial by his defense team, adjourning proceedings until next year so the lawyers can prepare an appeal against his recent conviction for crimes against humanity. ...[Cambodia Daily - 25/11/14]

International Criminal Court: Ruto lawyers counter witness evidence he incited violence in 2007 election run-up [Nation - 25/11/14]

Fascism 101: Ignore the human rights atrocity: Singapore reaffirms ties with Nauru [Asia One - 26/11/14]

Poland establishes diplomatic relations with Nauru [MSZ - 25/11/14]

Greece: 200 Syrian refugees go on hunger strike

ANSAmed [24/11/14]:

Some 200 Syrian refugees protesting in front of Greek Parliament for the last six days went on hunger strike on Monday, as Kathimerini online reports.

The protesters have taped shut their mouths as they demand asylum and medical assistance. One of the Syrian women taking part in the protest fainted and had to be taken to the hospital.

Attica Governor Rena Dourou said that she spoke to the head of the Church of Greece Ieronymos, Public Order Minister Vassilis Kikilias and Deputy Interior Minister Giorgos Dolios on Sunday in an attempt to find a way to help the refugees.

Hundreds of migrants on crippled ship off Crete

ekathimerini.com [25/11/14]:

Ships from Greece rushed to help after a crippled freighter crammed with hundreds of migrants floundered for hours Tuesday in gale-force winds and high waves in the Mediterranean Sea, officials said.

The 77-meter-long (250-foot) Baris cargo ship carrying some 700 people trying to enter Europe suffered engine failure around dawn 30 nautical miles southeast of the Greek island of Crete, the Greek Coast Guard said in a statement.

Four merchant ships, the Greek navy frigate Hydra and an air force rescue helicopter were sent to the area to evacuate the vessel if necessary, although authorities said they would probably try to tow it to Crete.

"The likeliest scenario right now is for the frigate to tow it to a safe haven, coast guard spokesman Nikos Lagadianos said. "It would be a very difficult operation and should take at least 10 hours."

He told The Associated Press there were no reports of health problems onboard but anyone in need would be airlifted to a hospital.

The coast guard said initial indications suggested the passengers included Syrians and Afghans heading for Italy.

The freighter was flying the flag of Kiribati, a small Pacific Ocean island, but it was not known which port it left from.

...

@ItalianNavy [25/11/14]:

#UltimOra La nave mercantile Filomena 1^ in evento #SAR ha soccorso 107 #migranti e li ha trasbordati su nave San Giorgio #MarinaMilitare

#UltimOra La nave mercantile Stjerneborg in evento #SAR ha soccorso 99 #migranti e li ha trasbordati su nave Bergamini #MarinaMilitare

United States continue bombing Iraq, Syria

Centcom [26/11/14]:

U.S. military forces continued to attack ISIL terrorists in Syria Nov. 24-26 using bomber and fighter aircraft to conduct ten airstrikes. Separately, U.S. and partner nation military forces conducted seven airstrikes in Iraq Nov. 24-26 using attack, fighter and remotely-piloted aircraft against ISIL terrorists.

In Syria, ten airstrikes near Kobani struck an ISIL fighting position, a large ISIL unit, two tactical ISIL units, and destroyed four ISIL staging areas and six ISIL fighting positions.

In Iraq, two airstrikes near Mosul destroyed an ISIL bulldozer, two ISIL vehicles, three ISIL-occupied buildings and an ISIL fighting position, and also struck a large ISIL unit.

Near Kirkuk, two airstrikes destroyed an ISIL tank, an ISIL HMMWV and an ISIL vehicle, as well as struck two ISIL units.

North of Sinjar, an airstrike destroyed an ISIL HMMWV and an ISIL vehicle. Northwest of Ramadi, an airstrike damaged an ISIL checkpoint.

Finally, west of Bayji, an airstrike destroyed one ISIL vehicle and damaged another.

All aircraft returned to base safely. Airstrike assessments are based on initial reports.

...

US drone strike in Pakistan kills five [Reuters - 26/11/14]

41 men targeted but 1,147 people killed: US drone strikes – the facts on the ground [Guardian - 25/11/14]

At least 63 people, half of them civilians, were killed when Syrian war planes struck the northeastern city of Raqqa on Tuesday, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the war in Syria. ... [Reuters - 25/11/14]

Suicide bombers kill at least 44 in Nigeria's northeast [Reuters - 25/11/14]

Afghanistan: Significant Rise in Violence Against Women

TOLONews [25/11/14]:

Over the past seven months, more than 2,000 cases of violence and sexual abuse against women and girls were registered at the Ministry of Women's Affairs (MoWA), officials said on Tuesday, marking the international day for the elimination of violence against women.

Deputy Minister for MoWA, Muzhgan Mustafawi, expressed deep concerns over the rapid rise in sexual abuse against women and children. She mentioned this year five children, below the ages of ten, suffered sexual abuse.

During the past seven months, 2,224 cases of violence against women and children were recorded with majority documented in Kabul, Herat, Sar-e-Pul, Balkh and Faryab province.

Mustafawi told reporters that the major parts of these cases have taken place in remote areas due to so-called social values and absurd customs.

According to the ministry's statistics, 5,406 cases were registered in 2013, while 4,505 cases were registered in 2012 illustrating a 16 percent increase in violence against women in over a year.

"We are really concerned about the situation because in the recent years these cases have increased tragically," Muzhgan said, adding that the children below 10 years of age have faced the most cases of sexual abuse.

"We want the national unity government to take solid steps in eliminating violence against women," said Rehana Azad, member of the Parliamentary commission on women's affairs. "Most of these efforts have been symbolic so far."

Since the fall of the Taliban regime in 200, the Afghan women have played a vital role in various social spheres with significant presence in the government and non-government institutions. But their rights seem to have not been guaranteed yet, as the women's rights advocates accuse the government of not doing enough to adopt the law on elimination of violence against women.

Iran will not sink 'to knees' on nuclear deal

Al Jazeera [25/11/14]:

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader has, said that Western powers will not be able to bring the country to its knees in nuclear talks, but gave his indirect approval for a continuation of the negotiations.

Iran and major global powers agreed on Monday to extend talks into next year after failing to meet a November 24 deadline.

The US, UK, Russia, China, France and Germany agreed with Iran to try to sign a political deal by 1 March, with confirmation of the full technical details of the agreement by July 1.

In his first remarks since the extension of the deadline, Khamenei said: "On the nuclear issue, the United States and European colonialist countries gathered and applied their entire efforts to bring the Islamic Republic to its knees, but they could not and they will not,"

Khamenei made the remarks to a group of clerics, according to his website.

In a nationwide broadcast on Monday, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani told the nation that it "has achieved a significant victory" and "negotiations will lead to a deal, sooner or later".

Rouhani also said many obstacles in the talks "have been eliminated". But he also vowed that Tehran would not relinquish its right to nuclear capability."Our nuclear rights should be admitted by the world," Rouhani said. "We will continue the talks."

...

Four Killed in Nicaragua Mine Disaster

Naharnet [25/11/14]:

Search teams in Nicaragua on Tuesday recovered the bodies of at least four men killed in a cave-in at an old gold mine in the country's northwest, authorities said.

The cave-in occurred Monday night at the Rincon de Los Garcia mine in the town of Villanueva, 132 kilometers (80 miles) northwest of Managua after heavy rains in the area, the town's mayor told Radio Ya.

The four were killed as they were leaving the mine after a 10-hour shift, said the mayor, Juan Gomez.

Their bodies were recovered early Tuesday, he said.

It was the second deadly mine disaster in Nicaragua since August when seven men were killed in the Caribe mine.

Long live freedom of expression!

See reason ... Tk Tk Tk ... Broadbeach [26/11/14]

Broadbeach [26/11/14]

Just like Queensland!

Egyptian court jails 78 teenagers for belonging to "an outlawed group"

Al Jazeera [26/11/14]:

Seventy-eight Egyptian minors have been handed sentences of between two and five years in prison by a juvenile court in Alexandria on charges of "belonging to an outlawed group," according to Egypt's state news agency.

Heavy security was seen outside the court in Alexandria on Wednesday, where judicial sources said those sentenced were aged between 13 and 17.

The minors' lawyers were barred from attending the court hearing while their family members were forced to wait outside.

The 78 minors were arrested for taking part in protests organised by the Muslim Brotherhood that called for the fall of the government and the return of deposed former president Mohamed Morsi to power.

They were also charged for obstructing traffic and for spreading fear among local residents and store owners.

The minors had denied the charges and said that they were arbitrarily arrested. Nevertheless, the presiding judge handed down combined sentences totalling 340 years. Their sentences can be appealed.

Protests against the Egyptian government have been held since the army overthrew Morsi last July following mass protests against his rule.

Demonstrations have been staged in support of Morsi but they have lost strength after a fierce security crackdown against his Muslim Brotherhood party.

At least 1,400 people are estimated to have been killed, more than 15,000 jailed and hundreds sentenced to death since Morsi's outing.

The Muslim Brotherhood has started a social media campaign calling for hunger strikes to take place in solidarity with current Muslim Brotherhood prisoners and in response to what they see as the mistreatment of their members.

Commodore driver pulled over by police 15 times since July last year [Morning Bulletin - 26/11/14]

Feel safe Queensland?

Trigger happy police raid 75 houses in 24 hours using arbitrary anti rights laws [ABC - 27/11/14]

Mum denies police shooting victim lunged

No politician raised police shootings in Queensland Parliament, the Senate or House of Representatives yesterday [26/11/14]. Fascists.

Yahoo [27/11/14]:

The mother of a man shot dead by police on the Gold Coast says her son was "rampant" and "psychotic" at the time, but denies he lunged at officers with a knife.

She has also questioned the need for lethal force.

Troy Foster, 32, became the third person to be fatally shot by police in Queensland in a week, after officers were called to a Southport home on Monday evening.

His mother Rhonda says she called triple zero because he had been drinking and threatening her.

"He hit me with a bottle, threatened me with a knife," she told Channel Seven.

Police have said the two experienced officers who attended the property had no choice but to shoot after a man came at them with a knife.

"It was one step sideways," Rhonda said.

"He didn't run anywhere, he didn't do anything."

She recalled the moment she heard six shots before her son fell to the ground and died.

"Why didn't you let the dogs out, why did you not shoot him elsewhere, why was it so quick to kill?" she said.

Channel Seven has reported that Mr Foster had been taken to the Gold Coast Hospital by police for a mental health assessment on Sunday night.

Police Commissioner Ian Stewart has announced an immediate review of training and other policies.

On Tuesday, he met Queensland's Mental Health Commissioner Dr Lesley van Schoubroeck, who praised the review as a step in the right direction.

But she warned no conclusions could be drawn from the six police shootings across Queensland this year because they were subject to coronial investigations.

Four of the shootings have been fatal.

Mr Foster's mother joined the call for changes to police policy.

"I just want them to change a few things in the system so nobody else goes through what me and other families are going through," she said.

Police claim drunk man made threats with firearm [Chronicle - 27/11/14]

Man fined for having hunting knives, knuckle dusters and Viagra in car [Gladstone Observer - 26/11/14]

Man fined after swearing and kicking at police [Gladstone Observer - 26/11/14]

Woman charged with unlawful wounding, Camooweal [QPS Media - 26/11/14]

When the political and media establishment greenlight racism, racists feel above the law: Brisbane train racist caught breaching bail by going to Schoolies [Brisbane Times - 27/11/14]

... State parliament voted on Wednesday to prohibit the sale and supply of electronic cigarettes to children and restrict their advertising and display at retail outlets from January 1. ... [Yahoo - 26/11/14]

Ex-child care centre director shared child porn

Tweed Daily News [27/11/14]:

A Grafton man struggling with his homosexuality and religious beliefs used child porn to please a man he was attracted to.

Instead, Daniel Patrick Maher's behaviour landed him a jail sentence.

The 30-year-old had moved to Cairns and was a child care centre director when he began sharing photos of boys aged between five and eight years with Mark Lawless in Texas.

Maher used Skype to share 13 images, that were not all sexual, and discussed what he liked about the boys with Lawless.

He met the man through a gay couple who allowed their adopted son to be molested in the US.

Peter Truong and Mark Newton invited Maher to live with them in Cairns after they met online through photography website Flickr while he lived in Grafton.

Maher idolised the men as a successful gay couple with a child - something he aspired to.

He said he did not realise they were allowing the boy to be molested.

The photos he shared included a photo of the couple's child and children related to Maher.

Judge Michael Burnett said he accepted a psychologist's report tendered in Brisbane District Court detailing how Maher had struggled to accept his sexuality, having come from a conservative Christian family.

Maher was described in the report as naïve and Judge Burnett accepted arguments Truong and Newton had "groomed" him.

Maher received a 12-month sentence, but only needs to complete one month in jail.

He has already spent 27 days in pre-sentence custody.

Judge Burnett ordered he be released on a $1000 good behaviour bond and go on probation for two years to ensure he received the treatment the psychologist suggested.

Yesterday in the Senate [26/11/14] the ALP and LNP voted against Senator Wright's amendments to anti terror legislation which would have prohibited torture by ASIS

The ALP and LNP also voted together to pass the fascist Migration Amendment (Character and General Visa Cancellation).

Today [27/11/14] in the House of Representatives ALP and LNP MPs are furiously agreeing to dismantle what remains of Australia's biosecurity protections - along with the repeal of other "uncontroversial" regulations i.e. those which restrict corporations from screwing over workers and small business.

Senator Penny Wright [VIDEO]:

Astounding contempt of the Senate last night from the Attorney-General George Brandis, refusing to answer questions about counter-terror legislation. But what Mr Brandis says next to the Chair directly (before microphones are turned off), is unbelievable.

Fake bombs terrify employees during security drill, Sydney

Sydney Morning Herald [26/11/14]:

Police were called after an elaborate safety drill conducted by a leading investment bank caused neighbouring tenants to panic upon finding a fake bomb, reveals AFR's Rear Window.

Two weeks ago, in the lead up to the G20, the Deutsche Bank decided to conduct a security drill. Rather than opt for the classic siren and evacuation plan, they kitted out their building with four suspicious boxes that had been designed to resemble sophisticated explosive devices.

They spread the boxes throughout the Investa tower in the heart of Sydney's CBD: in the lobby, in the loading dock, in the childcare centre and also in the Bank of Queensland offices on level nine.

Unfortunately, the coordinating team failed to warn either the building owner or their fellow tenants.

So when a female employee at the Bank of Queensland discovered a strange box concealing what appeared to be a complex explosive device when entering her office, she alerted security.

The building was evacuated and police poured into the building at around 1130am. Shortly afterwards, they trooped out shaking their heads in disbelief.

Deutsche Bank declined to comment but was reportedly very apologetic about terrifying their co-tenants.

Witness tells trial of Swanbourne attack

West Australian [26/11/14]:

A witness has described watching four men repeatedly assault and run over David Liam Johnson after he was dragged from under a car in the lead-up to his death.

Noel Dunn yesterday told a jury he realised the incident was going beyond a beating when the men continued to attack the battered 32-year-old as he lay motionless on a driveway.

"By that time I was pretty much in shock," he said.

Alexander James Stephens and Angus William John Ritchie are on trial in the Supreme Court accused of murdering Mr Johnson in March last year.

The pair were at a gathering in Swanbourne with Mr Dunn when an argument broke out between Mr Johnson and another guest.

Mr Dunn said the guest threatened Mr Johnson with a meat cleaver and followed him outside as he tried to leave before punching him.

The 25-year-old told the court a group of men, including Mr Stephens and Mr Ritchie, kicked Mr Johnson to the stomach, punched him to the head and assaulted him with a stick.

He said Mr Stephens and Mr Ritchie left the house in a car but came back 15 minutes later with a balaclava, gloves, a sack and a small gun.

Mr Dunn ran around the side of the house and started dry-retching after Mr Stephens allegedly reversed his car over Mr Johnson three or four times.

He said Mr Stephens, Mr Ritchie and another man left the house after they put Mr Johnson in the boot of a car.

When they came back about 40 minutes later, they allegedly pulled the carpet lining out of the boot and threw it in a bin.

Prosecutor Carmel Barbagallo is arguing Mr Stephens threw a concrete slab on Mr Johnson's head and shot him in nearby Lime Kiln Field.

At the beginning of the trial, she said the gathering was organised by a gang who were recruiting members.

Under cross-examination, Mr Dunn was asked if he had thought about what he should do when he was watching the attack unfold.

He said he did not know many people at the gathering and did not want to be seen to be going against the beating in case the men turned on him.

"I didn't say anything," he said.

The trial continues.

Fatal traffic crash, Federal

QPS Media [26/11/14]:

Police are investigating a fatal traffic crash that occurred in Federal this evening.

Initial investigations suggest that around 5.30pm a vehicle and a motorcycle travelling on Middle Creek Road have collided.

The motorcycle rider, a 55-year-old man was pronounced deceased at the scene.

The Forensic Crash Unit are currently investigating.

Anyone with information which could assist with this matter should contact Crime Stoppers anonymously via 1800 333 000 or crimestoppers.com.au 24hrs a day.

Miner sues for negligence over car crash [Morning Bulletin - 27/11/14]

Abbott Government reportedly set to scrap proposed $7 GP co-payment

Nine MSN [27/11/14]:

The Abbott Government is reportedly set to scrap its proposed $7 GP co-payment amid seemingly insurmountable public opposition.

The cost-cutting measure, which has not yet been introduced to Parliament as legislation, was widely condemned as discriminating against lower-income people when outlined in the May budget.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott would not be drawn on the future of the controversial policy overnight, but reports by the ABC and Fairfax Media said he has privately conceded it would never make it through the senate.

Using a nautical analogy earlier this week, Mr Abbott vowed to knock a few “barnacles” off the Government ship before the year’s end, prompting speculation he was ready to dump some unpopular policies.

The paid parental leave scheme, which is the centrepiece of the May budget, is also thought to be in the firing line.

Health Minister Peter Dutton has dismissed the claims though, saying the GP co-payment is under review and the government is holding talks with crossbench senators over the deregulation of university fees.

Bleijie rejects invite to give evidence at Senate inquiry

Sunshine Coast Daily [27/11/14]:

Jarrod Bleijie has rejected an invitation to appear at the Palmer Senate Inquiry on Friday, dubbing it "politically motivated".

The LNP Attorney-General, as well as fellow Sunshine Coast MP Peter Wellington, were named as witnesses in a statement from inquiry chairman Senator Glenn Lazarus on Wednesday.

While Mr Wellington confirmed to APN he would take part, Mr Bleijie released a letter declining the invitation - which he said he was given only hours to respond to.

"I will not be attending the inquiry to give evidence. Public reports confirm my view that this is a politically motivated inquiry that will not deliver any positive outcomes for Queenslanders," he said.

"I regret that Labor and Palmer United Party Senators continue to pursue this expensive political stunt.

"As such, I would rather spend my time working to create jobs and keep Queensland communities safe."

Mr Bleijie said he received an invitation to the inquiry on Wednesday morning and was asked to confirm his availability by the end of the day.

Mr Lazarus said Friday's hearing would examine "human rights issues, legal issues and issues surrounding Queensland Government decision making in relation to major projects".

"The Senate Inquiry is providing a real and genuine forum for Queenslanders to raise their concerns with the Queensland Government under parliamentary privilege," he said.

Mr Lazarus said the date to make a submission to the inquiry had been extended from this month to the end of February next year after "hundreds of submissions" from Queenslanders.

The inquiry last Friday descended into a shouting match when a union witness admitted to being a State Labor candidate at the next election. [The unparliamentary, obstructive behaviour of LNP senators during the inquiry has still not been addressed by the Senate.]

REX visits Wellcamp Airport to prepare for flights [Chronicle - 26/11/14]

Qantaslink to drop Gladstone to Rockhampton flights [Gladstone Observer - 26/11/14]

Casino licence a step closer for Great Keppel Island [Morning Bulletin - 26/11/14]

Sale of Gold Coast light rail to China Rail

Queensland Parliament Hansard [26/11/14]:

Dr DOUGLAS [IND - Gaven]: My question is to the Minister for Transport and Main Roads. Gold Coast Mayor, Tom Tate, has publicly stated at a meeting of southern Gold Coast business owners that he had just returned from China negotiating the proposed sale of GoldLinQ—operators of the Gold Coast light rail—to China rail, and I ask: can the minister inform the parliament regarding details of the prospective purchase by China Rail of GoldLinQ, the operators of Gold Coast light rail, funded by state taxpayers?

Mr EMERSON: I thank the member for Gaven for the question. In terms of GoldLinQ, they have an ongoing contract with us as part of a PPP to provide services. That contract was signed prior to us coming to office. All those obligations continue in terms of GoldLinQ providing Gold Coast light rail.

Since light rail commenced we have seen strong numbers but not as strong as indicated. The business case first put forward by Labor was a flawed business case. They were forecasting figures of more than 40,000. Each day we are seeing figures of 20,000 at the moment. It is still early days. Clearly that contract is in place, no matter who the owner is, to provide that service. There are very clear obligations in that contract.

The owner, whoever they are, is obliged to provide maintenance, equipment and services on an ongoing basis as part of the agreement signed, as I said, before we came to office. We will keep them in place.

In terms of public transport on the Gold Coast, not just the light rail, I point out that since we have come to office we have increased peak morning and peak afternoon services on the Gold Coast heavy rail line. We have seen a 30 per cent increase in morning peak services and a 40 per cent increase in afternoon peak services.

As you know, before we came to office many people on the Gold Coast would have been very much aware, including members on the Gold Coast such as the member for Coomera, who travelled with me on the Gold Coast heavy rail from the Gold Coast to Brisbane, of the ‘Bombay Express’. Again, since we have come to office we have worked to increase services on the Gold Coast line—a 30 per cent increase in morning peak services and a 40 per cent increase in afternoon peak services.

All of those travellers on the Gold Coast have also benefited from our historic cut to public transport fares—a five per cent cut statewide. It is the first time any government in Queensland history has cut public transport fares. That is on top of, of course, the fact that Queensland Rail services are now running the most reliable on-time services ever in their almost 150-year history and are now the most reliable on-time running services of any metro system in—

Dr DOUGLAS: Madam Speaker, I rise to a point of order.

Madam SPEAKER: Pause the clock. What is your point of order?

Dr DOUGLAS: I asked if the minister could provide detail of the prospective—

Madam SPEAKER: What is your point of order?

Dr DOUGLAS: Relevance, Madam Speaker.

Madam SPEAKER: The minister has time on the clock. I remind members when they are putting a point of order to actually put the point of order, not to debate the question they have already asked. I call the minister.

Mr EMERSON: As I was saying, there are extra services on the Gold Coast and Queensland Rail is now the most reliable metro rail system in Australia. Since coming to office, not just in terms of rail but also in terms of public buses, we have put on an additional 3,000 bus and train weekly services. So we have dealt with the mess left to us by Labor in terms of fares, made services more reliable and also put more services on across public transport.

(Time expired)

Public Transport, Go Cards

Queensland Parliament Hansard [26/11/14]:

Mr JUDGE [IND - Yeerongpilly]: My question without notice is to the Minister for Transport and Main Roads. At the beginning of 2014, Transport and Main Roads was informed that many commuters struggled to access a go card top-up facility at Moorooka because the nearest facility was at the train station which is approximately 1.7 kilometres away from the Moorooka shopping precinct and bus stops. It was affirmed that TransLink would address the situation. So I ask: knowing this information in advance, why was a new go card top-up facility subsequently installed at the 7-Eleven service station, which is approximately 1.73 kilometres away from the Moorooka shopping precinct and bus stops where it is needed most to service commuters and especially those who struggle with mobility?

Madam SPEAKER: That is a long preamble but I am going to allow it. I call the Minister for Transport and Main Roads.

Mr EMERSON: I will not trouble the House to ask the member to repeat the question or we will run out of time. I thank the member for the question. Obviously, we always want to make access to our go cards as easy as possible. As the member knows, this year for the first time since 2010 we have seen the number of people using public transport in Queensland increase since Labor started those 15 per cent fare increases in 2010—a policy that we have ended. As I have already mentioned today, it was a historic decision to cut public transport fares—it happened for the first time in Queensland’s history across the state.

In terms of go card access, the member may be aware—and I am happy to point him to our ministerial statements and media releases—that we have new technology in terms of getting more go cards into 7-Eleven. They have actually changed their system. The old system involved go card specific machinery being put into 7-Elevens. As part of a contract they have won, they have actually put in new technology which has allowed us to adapt current EFTPOS equipment in those facilities at 7-Eleven to provide expanded services for go card access. Some of those machines that were already in 7-Elevens have been moved out into other areas. I am always seeing more demand for go card machines and I do try to provide that, but there are limited resources and a limited capacity to do that. I will always try to work with local members to do the best we can, but I am sure the member realises, as others do as well, that there is only so much that can go around.

Importantly, we are trying to do our best for public transport, as I have mentioned already. We have put on 3,000 additional weekly bus and train services since coming to office. In terms of Queensland Rail, it is now the most reliable public transport rail metro system in Australia, which is a great benefit to public transport users. We need to applaud the efforts of Queensland Rail in working hard to increase the availability and reliability of those services. As I said, we have more frequent services and more reliable services.

Again, I point back, most importantly, to our work in terms of fares. I can give the member for Yeerongpilly this very strong pledge that we will not be going back to the bad old days, the dark, dim days where we saw Labor increasing fares by 15 per cent year after year after year after year, a policy that was imposed and endorsed by the now Leader of the Opposition when she was transport minister, a policy that she backed in government and that she will keep backing because that is Labor’s record on public transport.

John Bjelke-Petersen endorsed as candidate for Callide

Palmer United Party Media Release [26/11/14]:

Federal Leader of the Palmer United Party, Clive Palmer, has announced John Bjelke-Petersen has been endorsed as Palmer United Party’s candidate for the Queensland state seat of Callide ahead of the next election.

A former Liberal National Party member and son of past Queensland Premier Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen, John will stand against current Callide member and Queensland Deputy Premier, Jeff Seeney.

Mr Palmer said John Bjelke-Petersen is a passionate advocate for the regional sector and possesses a strong personal knowledge of Callide and regional Queensland.

“Mr Bjelke-Petersen is a man of integrity who will put the people of Callide first and stand up for all regional Queenslanders,” Mr Palmer said.

“The current Member for Callide has all but forgotten his constituents and is too caught up with life in his ivory tower in George Street.”

Mr Bjelke-Petersen said all the current Queensland government stands for is selling off Queensland’s assets.

“Campbell Newman has let Queensland down and Jeff Seeney has let the residents of Callide down, while regional Queensland has been all but forgotten,” Mr Bjelke-Petersen said.

“They have sold out the state by selling our schools and hospitals and have hung local industry and regional sectors out to dry. As the Palmer United Party candidate for Callide I will not stand for the sale of our assets.”

Canada: Kinder Morgan pipeline protesters joined by Clayoquot protest veterans

CBC [26/11/14]:

Some veterans of the Clayquot Sound protests have joined the growing list of pipeline protesters arrested at the Kinder Morgan drilling site on Burnaby Mountain.

Protest veteran Karen Mahon says she and a few other veterans of the mass arrests on the West Coast of Vancouver Island are planning to get arrested at Burnaby Mountain east of Vancouver on Wednesday morning.

More than 900 protesters were arrested in 1993 as environmentalists fought to stop logging in the old growth of Clayquot Sound, making it at the time the largest act of civil disobedience in Canadian history.

...

Oz now arresting IPCC report authors blockading coal. Prof Colin Butler at Maules Creek #leardblockade #endcoal

Image: @georgefwoods [26/11/14]

LNP’s rush to pass Bills illustrates why we must take Senate inquiry seriously

Lock The Gate [26/11/14]:

The LNP’s rush to placate big mining companies in State Parliament last night is more evidence of why Queenslanders must take the current Senate inquiry seriously.

The State Government’s proposed changes to the Water Reform and Other Legislation Bill favour mining companies over landholders and farmers, giving them unrestricted water use without the need for a water licence.

The proposed changes have received widespread criticism from farmers, local government, environmentalists, water experts and even the Queensland Resources Council.

Western Downs’ cattle producer, Lee McNicholl said: “This is the most treacherous sell-out in the history of the Queensland government of rural communities that depend on underground water.”

Lock the Gate Alliance president, Drew Hutton said the LNP’s rush to pass such wide-ranging Bills that favour mining companies was more evidence of why the Senate hearings into the Queensland Government were so important.

“The Senate hearings provide a way of shining a light on the shenanigans and dodgy dealings between Queensland politicians and the big end of town,” Mr Hutton said.

“Queenslanders should not allow the likes of Senators O’Sullivan, McGrath and Macdonald to high-jack the hearings so that what is going on can continue to be swept under the carpet.”

The proposed changes:

Will give mining companies privileged status over the rest of Queensland;

Will mean water planning aimed at maintaining our precious groundwater will not apply to the water mining companies using it to get at the coal;

Will deplete vital Great Artesian Basin water aquifers through unsustainable dewatering;

Ignore the fact the no ‘make good agreement’ can cover the permanent loss of water;

Ignore the fact that mining companies already treat the ‘make good agreements’ with contempt;

Will be another nail in the coffin of the Great Barrier Reef.

“The Queensland Government is run by mining companies and the big end of town and the proposed changes reflect that,” he said.

The Senate hearings into Certain Aspects of Queensland Government Administration Related to Commonwealth Government Affairs continue in Brisbane on Friday.

The submission period has been extended to February 27 due to the high volume of submissions being received.

There was a bad accident involving a scooter on the corner of View Street and the Esplanade, Surfers Paradise today [26/11/14].

This was unreported because the Gold coast political and media establishment oppose the urgent need for traffic calming.

MYGC [26/11/14]:

A mother and child have been taken to hospital after a freak two car crash at Ashmore.

The woman’s car was flipped onto its roof after it was T-boned outside Ashmore City Shopping Centre just after 3pm.

A Queensland Ambulance Service spokeswoman told myGC the woman received a cut to her face and was suffering from shock.

Both her and her child of unknown age have been transported stable to Gold Coast University Hospital for assessment.

Emergency services are working to clear the wreckage, which is causing some delays on Currumburra Rd.

...

MYGC [26/11/14]:

Two children have received cuts to their face and arms after the family crashed down an embankment in the Gold Coast hinterland.

Two adults and two children were inside the car at the time it left Gold Coast Springbroook Road at Neranwood just after 4.30pm.

The car came to a crashing halt down a steep embankment.

An ambulance spokesperson told myGC a male adult was complaining of back pain while two children were being treated for minor lacerations to their face and arms.

All emergency services remain on scene with the patients set to be transported to hospital by ambulance shortly.

...

MYGC [25/11/14]:

There has been another accident between a car and tram on the Gold Coast – this time in Southport.

Early reports suggest the white vehicle and tram came to grief just outside Southport State School shortly after 10am.

It’s the second traffic collision to involve a Gold Coast tram in as many days.

There’s no further information available at this time.

The down section of the Toowoomba Range was temporarily closed after a car and truck collided. ... [Chronicle - 26/11/14]

Woman hit by truck, Dalby [Chronicle - 25/11/14]

Man dies after being pulled unconscious from pool

ABC [26/11/14]:

A man has died after being pulled unconscious from a swimming pool at Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast.

Police said friends discovered the 29-year-old in the pool at the Top of the Mark building on Orchid Ave just before 8pm (AEST) on Wednesday.

They retrieved him from the water, performed CPR and called an ambulance.

The man was taken to Gold Coast University Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The event was not related to the Schoolies Week celebrations currently taking place in the Surfers Paradise precinct.

Queensland schoolie has lucky escape after balcony fall

Brisbane Times [26/11/14]:

A teenager has had a lucky escape after falling three storeys from a balcony during schoolies celebrations on the Gold Coast.

The 17-year-old reportedly fell at a Palm Avenue hotel in Surfers Paradise early Wednesday.

He is believed to have suffered a broken arm but a Queensland Ambulance Service spokesman wouldn't comment on the boy's injuries.

In 2012, Brisbane teenager Isabelle Colman died after she fell from a Surfers Paradise high-rise during that year's schoolies celebrations.

Dominatrix's death was self-defence, says accused

Brisbane Times [26/11/14]:

A former high school teacher says he acted in self-defence when he killed a "psychopathic" dominatrix who owed him money, a court has heard.

David John Hunt hit Angelia Michal Moore on the head with a metal bar and then strangled her when she attacked him at his home at Thornlands, east of Brisbane in September 2012, the Supreme Court in Brisbane heard on Wednesday.

He then drove her body to an uninhabited residential estate, where it was found in a car by police later that evening.

Mr Hunt, 45, has pleaded not guilty to her murder but guilty to interfering with her corpse.

In his opening address, prosecutor Dennis Kinsella said the pair had met online through a bondage website, and had dated for about six months before separating but carrying on their sexual trysts.

He said the court would hear evidence they had a "dysfunctional" and often "turbulent" relationship, and that they had previously come to the attention of police when Hunt tied Ms Moore up against her will and held her captive in what he claims was a consensual game.

Ms Moore denied consenting, but did not press charges.

Mr Kinsella said the exact circumstances of her death remain a mystery, but that the jury would be satisfied

Mr Hunt deliberately killed Ms Moore, who he claimed owed him $6000.

"There really are only two people who know the exact events - one of them is the accused and the other is dead," he said.

Mr Kinsella said Mr Hunt told police Ms Moore arrived at his home around 5pm on September 14, 2012, and attacked him when he asked for his money.

In his police interview and re-enactment Mr Hunt said he tried to fight her off with a metal bar.

He told police she had "crazy eyes" and threatened to kill him, so he held her down and strangled her for five minutes.

He then covered her body with a sleeping bag and waited until it was dark to try to cover his tracks.

Mr Kinsella said Mr Hunt told police he was terrified of Ms Moore because she had Mafia connections, links to an outlaw motorcycle group, and was a witch and a psychopath.

He said she had bragged about killing people in the past, and that he feared he would be next.

Mr Hunt's trial has been set down for eight days.

Health workers rally, Toowoomba

Chronicle [26/11/14]:

Health workers, scientists and dental officers will conduct a "peaceful lunch time gathering" in Clewley Park from 12.15pm today.

The public sector workers are protesting a State Government pay offer of 2.2%, which is 1% less than the consumer price index.

They are currently involved in negotiations with the government over pay and other issues including the proposed removal of clinical supervision allowance, a very small allowance that acknowledges the "above and beyond" function of supervising graduates in their practice.

The health workers also oppose the introduction of a hard barrier for progression where there was not previously one.

Together union representative Scott Parrington said the barrier would have the effect of discouraging health practitioners and dental officers from staying in the system.

The gathering is one of five taking place across Queensland.

Professions impacted by the dispute include physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech and language pathologists, social workers and psychologists.

Nine MSN [25/11/14]:

Medibank Private's first day as a publicly listed company went off without a hitch, and mum and dad investors walked away with a tidy profit.

The shares listed at $2.22 at midday, after thousands of retail investors bought the stock for $2 each.

This was a slight discount to the $2.15 price offered to institutional investors. The stock closed at $2.14.

Toll Group sale prompts fears for jobs, freight monopoly in remote NT [ABC - 25/11/14]

Tiger shark caught in drum line at Yeppoon

ABC [25/11/14]:

The Australian Marine Conservation Society has called for an end to shark nets and drum lines after a tiger shark died in Central Queensland.

Spokeswoman Tooni Mahto said it was sad to see the 3.3-metre beast be hauled away today after being caught in waters off Yeppoon.

"Lethal shark control programs are an archaic approach to dealing with the issue of preventing interactions between shark and humans," she said.

Ms Mahto said Western Australia had made progress to move away from lethal programs and the Premier of New South Wales had also shown an interest.

But there had not been a peep from Queensland, Ms Mahto said.

"With no scientific evidence to back up claims that lethal programs work, it as time to find real solutions that don't kill sharks but do have real benefits for improving public safety," Ms Mahto said.

"Shark nets and drum lines are ineffective, expensive, unnecessary and, frankly unacceptable in today's climate when shark populations themselves are in real trouble throughout our oceans."

Queensland is the only jurisdiction that uses shark nets and drum lines.

In the 12 months to August this year, 667 sharks including endangered species such as the great white and grey nurses were killed, figures from the Fisheries Department revealed.

About 100 dolphins, turtles and dugongs were also unintentionally killed.

Queensland's Fisheries Department sees the program as a success because only one person has been killed by a shark on a controlled beach since it has been running.

The department says nets are checked every two days so animals can be released and 100 per cent of whales and 93 per cent of turtles were successfully released alive last year.

Hundreds temporarily homeless after Melbourne's towering inferno

Nine MSN [25/11/14]:

Hundreds of residents have been evacuated from a Melbourne apartment block as a wall of flames 21 storeys high consumed the building.

The LaTrobe Street building caught on fire at 2.30am today.

The building's 500 residents, most of them in pyjamas, were evacuated to street level as the fire raged.

PNG: Five die in Rabaul shipping tragedy

PNG Loop [26/11/14]:

Five men are dead after entering an oxygen-starved compartment in a barge near Rabaul today.

They are believed to have dropped unconscious and lost their lives after entering the compartment for an inspection of damage to the bow.

But one man is believed to have survived after being given breathing help and heart resuscitation efforts.

Three were employees of the large construction company, Nivani Ltd, and two were men from Karavia village mid-way between Rabaul and Kokopo.

Nivani maintains a work base at Karavia as well as at its main operations at Takubar.

Nivani general manager David Stein told PNG Loop a short time ago that the deaths had come as a shock to all.

“The barge, the Colossus, had suffered some damage in a beach landing recently and I believe the men opened the hatch to one of the airtight compartments to inspect damage to the bow,’’ he said.

Cambodia: Fire Destroys Hundreds of Stalls at Historic Market

Cambodia Daily [25/11/14]:

A fire tore through Phnom Penh’s Phsar Chas early Monday morning, incinerating hundreds of stalls in the historic market and damaging hundreds more before a fleet of fire trucks brought the blaze under control more than two hours later.

Phsar Chas, or “Old Market,” which was until Monday home to nearly 1,000 stalls and ringed daily by dozens of street vendors, had not yet opened when the fire broke out at its center shortly before 7:30 a.m.

Had the market been open, the flames would likely have taken many lives, said deputy municipal governor Khuong Sreng, who accompanied firefighters to the scene.

“We went to Phsar Chas this morning after the fire started, and I think that out of 914 stalls, more than 300 were destroyed, but there were no casualties,” Mr. Sreng said.

“Our main concern was to protect the lives of the vendors so we were not thinking about what caused the fire or the cost of the damage,” he said.

By the time firefighters arrived, the flames had spread to the east-facing front gate. Vendors rushed to salvage whatever stock they could.

Twenty-nine fire trucks from six different units circled the market, pumping out a total of 660 cubic meters of water to quell the inferno, according to Prum Yorn, chief of the National Police’s fire bureau.

Market fires break out regularly in Cambodia and are usually sparked by haphazard wiring and exacerbated by unenforced fire and safety regulations. In December 2012, eight people died in a fire that engulfed Siem Reap City’s popular night market.

“I appeal to vendors at all other markets to please be careful and make sure that your electrical wiring is safe and always have fire extinguishers in your stalls,” Mr. Yorn said.

Sann Sokleap, 38, whose jewelry shop inside the market survived the blaze, said a small fire broke out at about 6:30 a.m. but was quickly put out by market security guards. But when it flared up again, the flames quickly got out of control.

“I had been setting up, but when the fire spread, we ran out from the market to escape,” Ms. Sokleap said.

“My stall was saved, but my sister’s clothing shop was completely destroyed.”

Another vendor, Sok Leang, 42, said the clothing stall he had managed for more than 10 years had been gutted, his stock burned beyond salvaging.

“I’ve lost between $6,000 to $7,000 worth of clothing. I am in shock,” he said.

In a statement Monday, City Hall said the fire started in a part of the market where vendors sell mosquito nets, blankets, sheets and mattresses, all of which acted as kindling.

“[I]t was difficult to put out the fire initially because the stalls have aluminum roofs that made it difficult to direct the water down into the stall,” the statement said.

The statement also addressed rumors, circulating on social media Monday, that the fire was an act of arson intended to clear the market for development.

“City Hall rejects some of the public’s comments that someone secretly burned down the market so that it could be redeveloped,” it said.

The Old Market area, which sits on prime real estate just south of Wat Phnom between Norodom Boulevard and the riverside, has long been earmarked for potential redevelopment. In June, a Thai company proposed turning the site into an eight-story parking garage.

Municipal spokesman Long Dimanche said Monday no deal had been struck to redevelop the area.

“We do not have a plan to construct a new building on Phsar Chas and there is no private investment [to develop it] either,” he said.

Hundreds of people continued to pick through the still-smoldering debris Monday afternoon to retrieve what they could, while scavengers broke down metal structures and loaded them onto carts.

Sitting on a folding chair amid the rubble, district governor Kuoch Chamroeun said authorities would work throughout the night to clear the site, adding that the most recent count put the number of stalls lost to the fire at 229, with hundreds more damaged.

“We estimate losses of about $1.5 million,” he said. “The main thing now is to sort through the wreckage and see what can be salvaged so all the vendors can return and rebuild their shops again.”

Queensland police shootings have not been raised by politicians in state parliament or the Senate or House of Representatives.

Media continue using domestic violence (which they also don't give a fuck about) to assist police with their PR problem.

Fascists.

WA Police don't shoot man during siege on stolen boat [ABC - 25/11/14]:

Negotiations have ended with a man in his 30s who was threatening police from a stolen boat off Rottnest Island.

The man had been armed with a flare gun while standing on a boat beached at Duck Rock near Thompson Bay.

The boat was towed back to North Port Marine by water police.

The man is believed to have mental health issues and has been taken to the Rottnest Nursing Post.

The incident is not related to leavers week. [WA's "schoolies"]

Media present savaging of teenager by police dog as heroic [WA Today -25/11/14]:

A 16-year-old boy from Rivervale, allegedly on the run from police, was nabbed by police dog Jimmy in Hamersley early on Tuesday.

Police say they received tip-off about a person believed to be breaking into cars along Eastwood Way about 12:35am.

A Dog Squad unit was the first to arrive and Jimmy was sent into the backyard to look for the offender.

According to police, a person was seen jumping fences and trying to run away but Jimmy was able to track the person's scent and indicated to handlers that someone was hiding near a trailer on Hornet Street.

A 16-year-old boy from Rivervale was found hiding under the trailer and was taken into custody and handed over to officers from Mirrabooka Police Station.

He has since been charged with three counts of attempted stealing, two counts of possessing stolen property and one count of breach of bail.

Michael Brown Sr.'s Church Burned in Ferguson [NBC - 25/11/14]

Ferguson protesters occupy Chicago's City Hall [Chicago Business - 25/11/14]

New York: Protesters Block Lincoln Tunnel, Shut Down FDR Drive Night After Ferguson Decision [CBS - 25/11/14]

New York: FUCK CNN! on CNN! [VIDEO - 25/11/14]

National Lawyers Guild Stands with People of Ferguson, Condemns Systematic Police Violence in Communities of Color [Media Release - 25/11/14]

Durbin to chair hearing on civil rights, Ferguson will be topic [Salt Lake Tribune - 25/11/14]

UN rights chief concerned over disproportionate killings of African-Americans by US police [Media Release - 25/11/14]

Israel-trained police “occupy” Missouri after killing of black youth [Electronic Intifada - 15/8/14]

Feel safe Queensland?

Yahoo [25/11/14]:

A Melbourne man has been extradited to Queensland over allegations he helped smuggle 2.5 tonnes of cannabis into Queensland using domestic airlines.

The 39-year-old arrived on the Gold Coast on Tuesday afternoon and was taken to the watch house. Police say he will appear before the Southport Magistrates Court on Wednesday.

The man is the latest to be arrested in the aftermath of operation Kilo Zurich, which spanned 12 months to April this year and dismantled major smuggling operations.

Detectives allege one criminal syndicate transported an estimated $22.5 million worth of cannabis into Queensland.

The man was allegedly the group's connection to the cannabis producers.

He faces two counts of trafficking dangerous drugs, one of which has an element of aggravation under Queensland's Vicious Lawless Association Disestablishment legislation.

The man could face an additional 15 years behind bars on top of any sentence he receives for the trafficking offences.

Police have charged 36 people as part of operation Kilo Zurich, including Joshua Thornbury, 30, and his older brother Terrence.

The brothers were allegedly the masterminds behind a syndicate that was ferrying cannabis from Victoria to Queensland using perfumed suitcases to mask the smell of the drugs and evade detection dogs.

Their matter will return to court on December 17.

North West Star [25/11/14]:

Mount Isa Police used tyre spikes to catch a wanted man travelling to the city from Cloncurry yesterday afternoon.

The vehicle burst into flames after it traveled over the tyre spikes. The man exited the vehicle and was not injured in the blaze.

Police intercepted the male driver 10 kilometres East of Mount Isa towards Cloncurry which caused the highway to be closed both ways.

Police attempts to stop the vehicle in Cloncurry were unsuccessful leaving Mount Isa Police to deploy tyre spikes on the highway.

Mount Isa Police Sergeant and District Crime Organiser Cath Purcell said police were informed the wanted man was travelling towards Mount Isa. It is unknown what offences the man was wanted by police for. The man was not from Cloncurry or Mount Isa.

“Police had information that the man was traveling through,” Sgt Purcell said.

“He was wanted for a number of serious offences and that he had failed to stop for police.”

“The tyre spikes were deployed in order to intercept the vehicle.”

“A male person was charged and will appear in court for a number of charges including evading police, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, unregistered vehicle and displaying false plates.”

Hollywood propaganda promotes shooting animals, cruelty

Nine MSN [25/11/14]:

Films and TV shows like Hunger Games and the Walking Dead have inspired reckless wannabe hunters to use bows and arrows to maim animals, many of which die in agony over several days.

The RSPCA says there has been a rise in the number of animals shot with arrows across Queensland over the past year.

The most recent incident - a pelican spotted with an arrow in its side at Lake Tinaroo, inland from Cairns - was reported to police on Tuesday morning.

Spokesman Michael Beatty suspects popular TV shows and films that have hunting themes such as Hunger Games, the Walking Dead and Game of Thrones may have inspired amateurs to take up the sport.

"It's always gone on but seems to be more prevalent," he told AAP.

"They don't stop to think of the suffering that they're going to cause the animal."

Unless a person is skilled in the practice, animals are often left injured and die in pain over a number of days.

At least 10 animals, including possums, magpies, wallabies, a kangaroo and even a horse, have been killed or maimed in Queensland in this way over the past year.

Most cases have been in the southeast and there is generally a spike over the school holidays.

Mr Beatty says attempts are being made to find the wounded pelican.

"If we can get it in time it might survive," he said.

There are no laws against hunting with a bow and arrow, but a person can be prosecuted if it can be proved the animal has suffered - a difficult task if the animal is dead, Mr Beatty says.

If we think you look shifty expect to be singled out for harassment and intimidation - and don't flinch - we might shoot you: Queensland Police

Shoot first and inquire afterwards, and if you make mistakes I will protect you.

Hermann Goering

Counter-terrorism law changes unnecessary, say top criminal lawyers: Changes to threshold from belief to suspicion ‘would allow police to be a little more trigger-happy’ [Guardian - 24/9/14]

ABC [24/9/14]:

There will be more armed police in public and pat-downs will become more frequent as part of a new state of "reduced tolerance" for suspicious behaviour in Queensland.

The Queensland Police Commissioner's warning comes after a "known terror suspect" was shot dead last night by police in Melbourne, as well as a number of counter-terrorism raids which took place south of Brisbane a fortnight ago.

Commissioner Ian Stewart said his officers would be nervous after last night's shooting and it was his duty to protect them, as well as the public.

"You will see officers regularly carrying their firearms more often than you would have seen in the past," he told 612 ABC Brisbane.

"It means when they pull people up or speak to people, they are probably going to ask people to submit to pat-down searches much more regularly.

"Our police are going to be noticeably alert and request people to be very compliant with their dealings with a lower tolerance to policing.

"Any little thing might be a key to how someone is about to react in a potentially bad way and our police will be on guard for those signs."

Commissioner Stewart said the hyped-up measures would not stop after the November G20 summit in Brisbane.

He again confirmed there had been no specific threat to Queenslanders or state assets.

Officers were also invited on Monday to apply to take their firearms home, however each application would be assessed individually.

"I'd be very sympathetic if there was a heightened risk for certain officers," he added.

Give police fascist powers and they will behave like fascists: I’m a cop. If you don’t want to get hurt, don’t challenge me. [Washington Post - 19/8/14]

Queensland's political and media establishment don't care about the well being of the citizenry.

These new laws are about entrenching the police state.

Yahoo [26/11/14]:

Dealers who supply drugs that cause a death could soon face harsher penalties in Queensland.

Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie says a bill being introduced to parliament on Wednesday means judges will have to consider if any deaths resulted from a drug deal.

He says that could lead to more serious charges being laid against dealers, such as manslaughter.

"Under Queensland laws at the moment, if you supply a drug which leads to a death, it's very hard to get charged for the death that results because of the drug supplied," Mr Bleijie told ABC radio.

"We're going to be changing that now, to give judges full discretion but also making sure that people are held responsible for their actions."

He said he hoped it would act as a deterrent.

"The drug dealers, they don't care about the pain and suffering they inflict on people. But they may think twice now about the consequences of someone dying because of them."

Do the Morcombes not want the justice system to make sure Daniel's killer has been captured?

... Denise Morcombe said the whole court process was an "absolute waste of taxpayers' money" as there was no doubt Cowan was guilty.

"Why has he got a chance to appeal? I mean know that's the law, but it's a waste of taxpayers' money - honestly," she said. ... [ABC - 26/11/14]

Yahoo [26/11/14]:

Lawyers for Brett Peter Cowan will argue he did not get a fair trial when he was convicted of the murder of schoolboy Daniel Morcombe.

The Court of Appeal in Brisbane will hear Cowan's case on Wednesday after he was sentenced in March to life with a non-parole period of 20 years.

A jury then found Cowan, 45, guilty of abducting and murdering the Sunshine Coast schoolboy.

Lawyers filed a notice of appeal against his murder conviction in April.

They are expected to argue the jury should have never heard his confession to undercover police.

He was convicted in part because of a recorded confession he made to police masquerading as gangsters before leading them to Daniel's burial site.

Lawyers are also expected to criticise what they say was biased media coverage of the trial.

Daniel, 13, was abducted in 2003 on Queensland's Sunshine Coast while waiting for a bus to go Christmas shopping.

The problem with 'Mr Big' confessions [ABC, Law Report - 26/8/14]

Canada’s top court weighs legal loopholes in Mr. Big sting operations [The Province - 15/5/14]

Pretty much symbolises how most of us feel about the media's journalistic standards

Phil Rudd gestures to media as he leaves court. Photo: GETTY IMAGES [RNZI - 26/11/14]

Trust in Mass Media Returns to All-Time Low [Gallup - 17/9/14]

Sun reporter tells court he was following instructions of News International’s most senior lawyer when he transcribed contents of MP’s stolen phone

Hacking Inquiry [25/11/14]:

Paying police was “within the rules of journalism” a senior Sun reporter testified today.

Nick Parker, who is on trial at London’s Old Bailey, made the comment while under cross-examination over charges which include paying a police officer for confidential information about an alleged assault by Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood.

The journalist confirmed that the policeman had supplied the address of two witnesses to the incident but told the jury: “I felt perfectly entitled to talk to a police officer as I was covered by the PCC code.”

Parker also defended his description of newspaper readers in one email as “plebs” saying this was a colloquial term used internally by reporters, adding: “it’s the Sun newspaper not the church times.”

He told the court that he felt the payments to the officer were justified as he was getting no information from the Surrey police press office saying: “if the story is in the public interest I have a degree of protection, my job as a journalist is to get the story.”

The reporter is also facing charges in connection with the theft of the mobile phone of Labour MP Siobhain McDonagh. Parker agreed today he had signed a contract offering £10,000 to co-defendant Michael Ankers if it contained any information that would lead to a front page story.

In a tense exchange with prosecution barrister Michael Porroy QC Parker admitted spending six hours transcribing the contents of the MP’s phone but told the court: “Its my job to take all of the information I get from a source and send it to the news-desk, I write it down and let them decide.”

Responding to a suggestion by Porroy that he was claiming to be a: “powerless, knowledgeless dummy” the journalist replied: “I’m was just the messenger, you are making me responsible for something, it was not my decision.”

Parker also claimed he had consulted with his companies head of legal affairs Tom Crone throughout the incident telling the jury: “I was following the instruction of most senior lawyer at News International. He made the decisions but is not in court today.” The reporter went on: “It’s run by the lawyers, it’s run by the senior management, it’s nothing to do with me.”

Also on trial are Lee Brockhouse, a prison officer at HMP Swaleside, and Michael Ankers. All three defendants deny all of the charges, the trial continues.

Sun reporter paid police officer for story about the aftermath of an alleged rape on a drunken woman by two Surrey police officers [Hacking Inquiry - 25/11/14]

Sun reporter bought a medical assessment of Yorkshire Ripper from Broadmoor health worker, court told [Hacking Inquiry - 25/11/14]

ALP won't say if they will reverse ABC cuts - ask members to donate to ABC "fighting fund"

WA Today [25/11/14]:

Labor is calling for donations to fight budget cuts at the ABC despite leader Bill Shorten's unwillingness to reverse the decision if he wins office.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has leapt on an interview Mr Shorten gave to ABC Statewide Drive in Victoria on Monday in which he criticised Mr Abbott's broken promise not to cut funding for the ABC or SBS.

Labor claims as much as $500 million has been slashed from the ABC's budget since the Abbott government won the 2013 election.

When asked if he would restore the money cut from the ABC's budget, Mr Shorten said "we don't think the cuts need to be as deep as they are, absolutely".

But Mr Shorten would not articulate whether a Labor government would reverse the cuts in full.

The opposition has said funding for public broadcasting would increase under a Labor government, but claimed it could not say by how much because it did not know what "the state of the ABC will be in 2016".

Earlier, the ALP emailed its members urging them to donate to an ABC "fighting fund" for a campaign targeting Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull in his Sydney seat of Wentworth.

In a reference to the axing of state-based 7.30 programs, the email calls on members to donate $7.30 to help fund the campaign.

"The night before the last election, Tony Abbott promised 'no cuts to the ABC or the SBS'," the email says.

"But today, 1 in 10 jobs at the ABC were lost because of Tony Abbott's $500 million cut to the ABC and SBS. Five regional stations will be shut down and the state based 7.30 program will be cut.

"Malcolm Turnbull has desperately tried to explain that Tony Abbott's pre-election promise not to cut the ABC or SBS was not actually a promise!"

The email notes the campaign will bombard Mr Turnbull's office with calls to make sure he gets the message that Australians do not want to see public broadcasting cut.

...

Queensland Government Administration Committee

Evidently the unparliamentary behaviour of LNP senators at the Senate Inquiry into the Queensland Government remains unsanctioned?

Senate Hansard [25/11/14]:

Senator LAZARUS (Queensland—Leader of the Palmer United Party in the Senate) (15:36): I seek leave to move a motion to enable the Queensland Government Administration Committee to meet during the sitting of the Senate today.

Leave not granted.

Government trashes traditions of Parliament. Need to draw line in the sand. ...

"tweeted" by @SenChrisKetter - ALP Senator Chris Ketter re behaviour at Senate Inquiry into Queensland Government [20/11/14]

Palmer United saves Australian National Preventative Health Agency

Glenn Lazarus MP [26/11/14]:

Palmer United Senator for Queensland and Leader of Palmer United in the Senate, Glenn Lazarus, this week voted along with his colleague Senator Dio Wang, to oppose the abolition of the Australian National Preventative Health Agency (ANPHA).

Palmer United held the balance of power in the Australian Senate to determine the future of ANPHA.

"Australia is one of the fattest countries in the world and this is creating significant issues across our population and placing enormous strain on our health system," Senator Glenn Lazarus said today.

"Australia is facing a diabetes pandemic.

"According to Diabetes Australia, an estimated 280 Australians develop diabetes every day.

"The diminishing health of our population is a serious issue which requires a nationally coordinated multi-faceted response.

"We urgently need to address the declining health of our people and develop national solutions to turn the problem around.

"We need solutions which are national and multi-agency oriented.

"ANPHA was established to deliver this level of response.

...

LNP rejects changes to Tertiary Transport Concession Card

Alex Douglas MP [25/11/14]:

Campbell Newman’s LNP Government is determined to keep tertiary students off public transport until they successfully negotiate all obstacles set up by the Transport Minister, Member for Gaven Dr Alex Douglas said today.

“I’m disappointed the government has dismissed my suggestion that interim receipts be issued whilst Tertiary Transport Concession Cards are being processed,” he said.

“I requested the Transport Minister to consider the issuing of interim receipts to alleviate issues when students are stopped by transport inspectors and given warnings when travelling without TTCCs which are being processed.

“The Assistant Minister for Public Transport has rejected my suggestion, saying that until the application is assessed, the department cannot guarantee that the eligibility criteria is met and therefore, interim receipts cannot be issued.

“I cited the case of a young constituent who sought my assistance recently after she received a warning, six weeks after she had applied for a TTCC.

“The issue of the warning and behaviour of the transport inspector caused untold grief to her, even to the stage where she no longer wanted to use public transport because of the stress it had caused.

“If she had been able to produce an interim receipt, as I advocated, she would not have had to suffer such anxiety.

“The Assistant Minister told me that the current processing time with contracted card suppliers for accurately completed applications is less than ten business days, excluding postage times, but I’m sure this will spiral out once university goes back early next year.”

All tertiary/post secondary students in Queensland are required to have the new TTCC as proof of eligibility to purchase and travel on a concession go card or concession paper ticket.

Gladstone Hospital

Queensland Parliament Hansard [25/11/14]:

Mrs CUNNINGHAM [IND - Gladstone]: My question without notice is to the Treasurer. In relation to the proposed long-term lease of the Gladstone Ports Corporation and the resultant funds available to the government if it is re-elected, will the Treasurer give an assurance to Gladstone residents that their greatest concern is addressed in that process—that is, a rebuilt hospital for Gladstone so as to provide better health services to all local residents?

Mr NICHOLLS: *BLURT*

Australian Tax Office slashes 4700 staff, brings in $250,000-a-year spin doctor

Canberra Times [25/11/14]:

The Australian Tax Office is hiring a $250,000-a-year media wrangler to sell the idea revenue collection will not fall but its own figures show each of the 4700 staff walking out the door collect an average of $23 million in taxes.

Tax Commissioner Chris Jordan's newest senior executive will respond to "high profile, high risk" media enquiries and craft the single most important message the organisation needs to send to the public: that cutbacks to staff numbers will not have any "material impact" on revenue collection.

The ATO's assistant commissioner of public affairs will help Commissioner Jordan brief Assistant Treasurer Mathias Cormann on tax collection which needs to be maintained even though 3000 staff left by October and another 1700 were scheduled to go.

An ATO spokeswoman said it was an existing position currently occupied under acting arrangements due to a permanent transfer out of the role.

Selling the idea tax revenue will not be hurt as staff numbers are slashed could be a hire wire act. ATO figures used in a report tabled in the House of Representatives on Monday show each Tax Office employee represents $23.58 million of tax collected - many millions of dollars more than agents in three comparable first-world nations.

ATO employees collect on average $10 million more revenue than counterparts in the United Kingdom ($14.7 million), New Zealand ($14 million) and Ireland ($13 million).

Australia's "gross revenue collected per staff member" figure was also almost on par with Norway ($25.9 million) and Denmark ($25.2 million).

The original source of the comparison table is the OECD's Forum on Tax Administration.

The ATO provided the figures to the committee to show how Australia's cost of tax collection had improved in recent years.

But top Tax Office bureaucrats do not want the figures used to argue revenue collection will drop when staff numbers are slashed.

The report by parliament's standing committee on tax and revenue quoted the ATO's second commissioner Neil Olesen who was confident tax collection - so vital when the Abbott government was trying to find savings everywhere - would not be hurt.

Mr Olesen said it was a "simplistic view that you just divide the revenue base by the number of officers in the organisation and that equates to revenue per head of the person working in the organisation".

"That is just not how it works," he said.

"The variety of functions that people do, the variety of risks they might address, the kind of work they do varies enormously.

"You certainly cannot apply a simplistic average to every person and say that for everyone who works in the organisation they bring in this amount of money."

The latest available figures which could be compared showed that in 2011 Australia collected $361.3 billion with 18,196 full time equivalent staff.

Staff numbers and revenue collection have increased since then.

The number of ATO staff was now about 20,000 and collected $419 billion in gross tax last financial year.

This puts the gross revenue collected per staff member at a lower $21 million but it would not yet be known how other nations have fluctuated in that time.

Transnational tax minimisation has become an issue in recent years which many countries have been grappling with.

Other indicators also showed the ATO's performance had improved markedly in the past decade.

The cost of collection relative to gross revenue had decreased from 84 cents in every $100 collected in 2005 to 71c per $100 collected in 2013.

In 2013, 0.18 per cent of GDP was spent on collecting taxes compared to 0.23 per cent in 2005.


 

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