SPRING HILL VOICE
The Australian website where spooks, media advisors, media monitors, partisan shills, sentiment miners, establishment media purloiners, fabricators, marketing and PR people start their day! ...
There's no rationalisation for what you do and you are satan's little helpers. ... Bill Hicks
I feel sorry for Americans
STOP THE WARS! TAX THE RICH! FREE THE REFUGEES! LEGALISE FREEDOM!
Perception correction. Bearing witness. Unfashionable.
"If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time ... but if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together." - Lilla Watson, aboriginal educator and activist, Brisbane
* Other Things *
Thanks for numbering every box and putting the LNP last! Cedar Woods: Controversial Brisbane housing development gets green light [ABC - 31/7/15]
Audit blasts Queensland departments' disaster recovery capability [Brisbane Times - 30/7/15]
Queensland politicians more interested in covering up outsourcing failures than the protection of children
An IT failure in the Queensland Education Department meant 644 suspected cases of child sexual abuse were not relayed to police.
School principals attempted to report the cases, which took place from 22 January and involved students whose parents or guardians were deemed to be acting in their interests over the abuse, via the department’s One School online portal.
But they never reached police because of a coding error during an upgrade to the reporting system, which was never tested in an oversight that has led to a departmental staffer and a contractor being stood aside.
Queensland’s education minister, Kate Jones, said she was “clearly outraged” at the “system failure”, which was discovered only on Thursday when a principal followed up on a report and found it was not received.
Police were separately aware of some of the previously unreported cases, having examined most of them in the past 24 hours.
There were no urgent cases of children in danger yet identified, but police were expected to take weeks to examine all the lost reports.
Jones said principals had been receiving automated responses from the system that their reports were received, but they were not.
They were among more than 3,800 cases of suspected child abuse or neglect reported by schools to police since 22 January.
The others, which involved cases where relatives were suspected of abusing children, were relayed.
The reporting system was “streamlined” in January on the recommendation of the Carmody inquiry into child protection.
Jones sought to put the blame on the former Liberal National government, which was in power until a few weeks after the system upgrade.
“If you are making a change to the IT system, the very first thing you would do is test that the system properly,” Jones said, adding there had not been enough “checks and balances”.
“When I talk to principals, making complaints about sexual abuse is one of the toughest part of the job,” she said.
“I’m deeply sorry this has happened ... We owe it to Queensland students to do better than that.”
The director-general of the Education Department, Jim Watterson, who was in charge of the department at the time, said he was shocked and disappointed.
“It should have been brought to our attention much earlier than this,” he said.
Brisbane Times [24/4/15]:
Queensland's chief justice insists he has no bias against Daniel Morcombe's killer despite holding meetings with a prominent child protection advocate.
Lawyers for Brett Peter Cowan, 44, are preparing to file an application to have Chief Justice Tim Carmody disqualified from hearing his appeal, citing a possible perception of bias.
Mr Carmody this month met with Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnston - an appointment he says that was publicly declared on his calendar and attended by an independent third party.
The meeting was to discuss "an information solution system for reducing administrative expenses and burdens associated with child protection matters" relating to the 2013 Child Protection Inquiry report, he told the Supreme Court on Friday.
Queensland government takes no step in IBM Health Payroll case in almost a year
The Age [1/12/14]:
The Queensland Government is attempting to rewrite history by launching legal action against IBM over the failed health payroll system, the tech giant says.
Premier Campbell Newman confirmed on Sunday that the government will this week serve IBM with court documents over the system which was implemented under Labor in 2010.
Thousands of health staff were incorrectly paid when the system malfunctioned after its rollout by IBM, in a debacle that is expected to ultimately cost taxpayers $1.2 billion.
"Queenslanders were wronged, we believe, in the pay affair," Mr Newman told reporters on Sunday.
"We intend to recover money for them - the taxpayers - the men and women of Queensland."
But IBM says the government's lawsuit ignores the settlement it reached in 2010 to resolve the dispute.
"The government's lawsuit also seeks to run roughshod over the findings of its own Commission of Inquiry," the company said in a statement.
The commission's report found no evidence that IBM had breached any law or contractual provision and the government was merely shifting blame, it said.
"Instead, the Commission concluded: the primary cause of the problems suffered by the payroll system project was the state's unjustified and grossly negligent conduct."
The last agency using the South Australian government's shared services body for IT support has flagged its intention to leave, a move which threatens to put an end to the state government’s failed effort to centralise technology services.
The state's public sector minister Susan Close told a budget estimates committee last week that Shared Services SA was in talks with the SA Attorney-General’s Department about a transition out of their service arrangement.
“It is possible” the department might take its IT back in-house, she said. ... [IT News - 30/7/15]
Qld Health Payroll Commission of Inquiry Report, July 2013 [PDF]:
In 2002 the then Queensland Government established the “Shared Services Initiative” (SS Initiative, or the Initiative), the purpose of which was to amalgamate and rationalise government services across a number of departments and agencies.
The Initiative was based on the Shared Services Model, an organisational approach which had been embraced by large corporations in the United States of America in the 1980s and had apparently been applied to the public sector with some success.
The Initiative promised to deliver high quality and cost effective corporate functions across the whole-of government.
It was considered by the Service Delivery and Performance Commission to be “the largest organisational reform undertaken within the State Government”
Arena Organisational Consultants (Arena) in its Strategic Review of the Initiative described it as “one of the most significant projects of its type undertaken in the southern hemisphere”.
The Initiative was intended to produce a higher standard of corporate service functions at a lower cost to government in providing them. A centralised agency was to take on services such as collecting monies and paying debts, purchasing goods and services, recording those financial transactions and managing and paying public servants from individual departments and agencies covered by the SS Initiative.
By centralising the workforce the number of employees engaged in those activities could be reduced or redeployed, and by developing and implementing a uniform set of business rules a common set of computer technology and programs could be deployed for all the agencies and departments thereby reducing acquisition and licensing costs, bringing about simplification in systems and applications.
Such, at least, was the theory, which was not unique to Queensland. It was essayed in other States at about the same time. In June 2011 the Economic Regulation Authority of Western Australia brought down its fifthand final report into “ ... the Benefits and Costs Associated with the Provision of Shared Corporate Services in the public sector”.
The report noted the Western Australian Initiative had incurred costs of $401M “and achieved minimal benefit in terms of savings ... ”
It concluded that:
The history of shared corporate services projects in the public sector in Australia shows that it is a complex process with uncertain and distant returns. While there is some evidence of successes in the corporate sector, there has not been one fully successful implementation in the public sector of any Australian jurisdiction.
It recommended the dismantling of the Shared Services experiment in Western Australia. With the benefit of that State’s experience the Economic Regulation Authority explained:
[A]ttempting to service multiple agencies with differing needs by using a single system is very costly, fraught with challenges, and potentially unachievable. Servicing agencies with a system that is modified to meet all needs results in a system that is expensive, costly to maintain and prone to error, while the alternative of servicing agencies with a standardised product results in large integration costs being imposed on agencies.
The lesson for Japan is this: do not expect a global surveillance superpower to act with honour or respect.
There is only one rule: there are no rules.
Today, Friday 31 July 2015, 9am CEST, WikiLeaks publishes "Target Tokyo", 35 Top Secret NSA targets in Japan including the Japanese cabinet and Japanese companies such as Mitsubishi, together with intercepts relating to US-Japan relations, trade negotiations and sensitive climate change strategy.
The list indicates that NSA spying on Japanese conglomerates, government officials, ministries and senior advisers extends back at least as far as the first administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, which lasted from September 2006 until September 2007.
The telephone interception target list includes the switchboard for the Japanese Cabinet Office; the executive secretary to the Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga; a line described as "Government VIP Line"; numerous officials within the Japanese Central Bank, including Governor Haruhiko Kuroda; the home phone number of at least one Central Bank official; numerous numbers within the Japanese Finance Ministry; the Japanese Minister for Economy, Trade and Industry Yoichi Miyazawa; the Natural Gas Division of Mitsubishi; and the Petroleum Division of Mitsui.
Today's publication also contains NSA reports from intercepts of senior Japanese government officials. Four of the reports are classified TOP SECRET. One of the reports is marked "REL TO USA, AUS, CAN, GBR, NZL", meaning it has been formally authorised to be released to the United States' "Five Eyes" intelligence partners: Australia, Canada, Great Britain and New Zealand.
The reports demonstrate the depth of US surveillance of the Japanese government, indicating that intelligence was gathered and processed from numerous Japanese government ministries and offices.
The documents demonstrate intimate knowledge of internal Japanese deliberations on such issues as: agricultural imports and trade disputes; negotiating positions in the Doha Round of the World Trade Organization; Japanese technical development plans, climate change policy, nuclear and energy policy and carbon emissions schemes; correspondence with international bodies such as the International Energy Agency (IEA); strategy planning and draft talking points memoranda concerning the management of diplomatic relations with the United States and the European Union; and the content of a confidential Prime Ministerial briefing that took place at Shinzo Abe's official residence.
Julian Assange, WikiLeaks Editor-in-Chief, said: "In these documents we see the Japanese government worrying in private about how much or how little to tell the United States, in order to prevent undermining of its climate change proposal or its diplomatic relationship. And yet we now know that the United States heard everything and read everything, and was passing around the deliberations of Japanese leadership to Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK. The lesson for Japan is this: do not expect a global surveillance superpower to act with honour or respect. There is only one rule: there are no rules."
WikiLeaks Investigations Editor Sarah Harrison said: "Today's publication shows us that the US government targeted sensitive Japanese industry and climate change policy. Would the effectiveness of Japan's industry and climate change proposals be different today if its communications had been protected?"
Japan has been a close historical ally of the United States since the end of World War II. During a recent Presidential visit to Japan, US President Barack Obama described the East Asian country as "one of America’s closest allies in the world". Today's publication adds to previous WikiLeaks publications showing systematic mass spying conducted by US intelligence against the US-allied governments of Brazil "Bugging Brazil", France "Espionnage Élysée" and Germany "The Euro Intercepts"; "All the Chancellor's Men".
Read the full list of NSA high priority targets for Japan published today here.
WikiLeaks' journalism is entirely supported by the general public. If you would like to support more work like this, please visit https://wikileaks.org/donate.
Japan’s Sacred Rice farmers brace for TPP death sentence [Jakarta Globe - 31/7/15]
A Japanese civilian judiciary panel on Friday forced prosecutors to indict three former Tokyo Electric Power (9501.T) (Tepco) executives for failing to take measures to prevent the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. ... [Reuters - 31/7/15]
Thousands of tonnes of Australian chickpeas were shipped to India without the proper pest treatment after a Queensland grain company fudged fumigation documentation over two years. ... [Brisbane Times - 31/7/15]
A Queensland strawberry grower hopes a new variety from the United States will help ensure the security of his future in the industry.
Ray Daniels, grows the fruit at Wamuran north of Brisbane, and is of the first Australian growers to plant the new variety, called splendour. ... [ABC - 30/7/15]
Pacific nations make plea at UN
More than a dozen small island nations have made an urgent appeal to the UN Security Council for help in combatting climate change, which they say poses a threat to their existence.
The council heard pleas from ministers and ambassadors from Pacific states such as Kiribati, Fiji, Samoa, Niue and the Marshall Islands, and Caribbean countries like St Vincent and the Grenadines.
The island states want financial and technical assistance, to help avoid being washed away in the rising tides and powerful storms caused by global warming.
The president of Kiribati, Anote Tong, says the plight of smaller islands for too long has been at the bottom of the list of priorities of the United Nations and other global organisations.
He expressed hopes the concerted appeal by the Small Island Developing States would help change that.
The SIDS nations said they have made appeals in the past - mostly in vain - for global powers to address the unique and acute impact they fact from climate change.
The difference now is that New Zealand is the currently president of the 15-member Security Council.
Typhoon expected to sweep through northern CNMI [RNZI – 31/7/15]
Landslides, floods kill 34 in Nepal [Jakarta Post - 31/7/15]
PNG PM says spy agency inactive, looks for mentors
The National [31/7/15]:
The National Intelligence Organisation is completely rundown, according to Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.
He made the admission when answering a question from Kundiawa-Gembogl MP Tobias Kulang on the status of the State agency.
O’Neill said it had not been “fully functional for some time”.
“In fact, it has been rundown for many, many years because of neglect by many governments, including ours,” he said.
“We recently appointed the current Police Commissioner (Gari Baki) to revamp that organisation, but because of his experience, we moved him to the police constabulary.
“Today we are speaking to our Chief Secretary to recruit a leader who’s going to lead that organisation. We have been talking to other counterpart agencies around the world to rebuild this organisation, particularly because it is important that we have protection over our national interests, and national security of our country.”
Gold Coast City Council's Mobile CCTV network criminalises certain localities and doesn't make anyone safer [Media Release – 31/7/15]
Man who burnt down ex-girlfriend's Coomera home sentenced [MYGC - 29/7/15]:
A man who burnt down his ex-girlfriends Coomera home has been sentenced in Southport Court this morning.
Kyle Tubb, 23, was sentenced to six years behind bars after pleading guilty to a range of charges including arson and the unlawful use of a motor vehicle.
Tubb broke into the Coomera home on May 12, 2013, setting it alight whilst his ex-girlfriend was inside asleep.
The court heard that the fire had caused $241,000 in damage to the home and that there could have been fatal consequences.
Tubb will be eligible for parole on February 16, 2017.
New motto for White Ribbon Day: Keep violence in its appropriate place ---> Air Force C-17A Globemaster flies over Gold Coast, Brisbane in support of White Ribbon Australia [ABC - 31/7/15]
Gunmen open fire at Sri Lanka rally, one dead
Channel News Asia [31/7/15]:
One person was killed and 15 wounded on Friday in a drive-by shooting at a Sri Lankan election rally attended by the finance minister, police said, the latest political violence to hit the nation still recovering from civil war.
Three people were being treated in an intensive care unit of a hospital in the capital, Colombo, hospital sources said.
Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake told Reuters four men sprayed bullets from a car driving past the outdoor rally in Colombo attended by about 600 people. He was unhurt.
"They seemed to target me. I am safe. Four people from a car shot at in all directions," he said.
Karunanayake said the violence was an attempt to discredit the government ahead of general elections on the Indian Ocean island, where memories are still fresh of decades of political violence during a civil war which ended in 2009.
The policeman and main suspect in the January 17 Tatana shooting returned to court today. ... [PNG Loop - 31/7/15]
PNG soldiers in student bashing arrested and charged [PNG Loop – 30/7/15]
Jeremiah Yuni, a student who is a student and comes from Madang Province, was at a cultural festival at Coronation Primary School in Port Moresby when attacked by allegedly drunken soldiers. ... [PNG Loop - 30/7/15]
An expatriate has been shot dead during a robbery in Madang on Wednesday.
The victim was with his friends and waiting at a drive way to enter a shop when he was shot by armed criminals. ... [PNG Loop - 30/7/15]
United States, "allies" continue bombing Iraq and Syria
US Department of Defense [30/7/15]:
U.S. and coalition military forces have continued to attack Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists in Syria and Iraq, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported today.
Officials reported details of the latest strikes, which took place yesterday, noting that assessments of results are based on initial reports.
Airstrikes in Syria
Fighter-attack, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted nine airstrikes in Syria:
-- Near Hasakah, eight airstrikes struck seven ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL fighting position, an ISIL vehicle bomb, six ISIL motorcycles and two ISIL vehicles.
-- Near Raqqah, one airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL vehicles.
Airstrikes in Iraq
Attack, fighter-attack, bomber and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 22 airstrikes in Iraq, coordinated with the government of Iraq:
-- Near Haditha, eight airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit, five ISIL staging areas and as ISIL command and control site and destroyed two ISIL vehicles, three ISIL structures, an ISIL berm, an ISIL IED belt, eight ISIL mortar systems and an ISIL fighting position.
-- Near Kirkuk, one airstrike struck an ISIL heavy machine gun position.
-- Near Makhmur, three airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed three ISIL fighting positions and three ISIL buildings.
-- Near Mosul, four airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed five ISIL fighting positions, two ISIL bunkers, an ISIL weapon cache, an ISIL excavator and an ISIL light machine gun.
-- Near Ramadi, three airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL tank, an ISIL vehicle and an ISIL mortar system.
-- Near Sinjar, one airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL light machine gun and two ISIL fighting positions.
-- Near Tal Afar, two airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle and an ISIL fighting position.
Turkey awaits US jets for broader ISIL operations [Hurriyet Daily News - 31/7/15]
UNESCO voices alarm at reported killing of Iraqi journalists by extremists [Media Release - 31/7/15]
Saudi Arabia has conducted fresh attacks on Yemen as international organizations voice concern about the humanitarian situation in the impoverished Arab country.
According to local media outlets, Saudi warplanes bombarded the Yemeni military base of al-Anad in the southwestern province of Lahij early on Friday.
The Saudi jets also targeted an area in the central province of Ma’rib with five airstrikes and also bombarded the district of Lawdar in the southern province of Abyan.
There have been no reports on the possible casualties or damage as a result of the Saudi attacks. ... [Press TV - 30/7/15]
UN still waiting for $274 million Saudis pledged for Yemen [Daily Star - 31/7/15]
Palestinian baby burned to death in settler attack [Al Jazeera - 31/7/15]
An ultra-Orthodox Jewish man has lunged into a group of revelers leading Jerusalem's annual gay pride parade and stabbed six of them as they marched in the city, Israeli police and witnesses said.
The alleged attacker, Yishai Schlissel, had recently been released from prison after serving a term for stabbing several people at a gay pride parade in 2005, police spokeswoman Luba Samri said, adding that he was arrested at the scene of Thursday's attack. ... [Al Jazeera - 30/7/15]
Israel deploys Iron Dome on Lebanon border after nuclear deal [Naharnet - 30/7/15]
Chad says killed 117 Boko Haram fighters in two-week campaign [Ahram - 30/7/15]
@moas_eu [30/7/15]: UPDATE: #Phoenix is making its way to #ViboValentia to disembark 194 #refugees we saved ystday in 2 separate rescues
Firing on refugee boats probably just another day at the office for the Australian navy: Mediterranean refugee rescue boats involved in friendly fire incident [Guardian - 30/7/15]:
Two European naval boats involved in Mediterranean migrant rescue missions were engaged in friendly fire this week off the coast of Libya, in what is believed to be the first incident of its kind.
The Swedish coastguard vessel Poseidon, which is part of an EU-led border patrol and rescue mission, fired warning shots at an speedboat driven by the Italian navy, fearing that it belonged instead to smugglers.
Twice in the past few months, Libyan smugglers have clashed with coastguards as the Libyans attempt to retrieve their boats once the migrants have been rescued from them.
A spokeswoman for Frontex, the EU agency that runs the border patrol mission, said no one was hurt or in danger, and the situation was soon clarified and resolved. Ewa Moncure said: “The Italian boat slowed down, and was able to be identified, and that was it.”
The incident, which was first revealed by the website Migrant Report, is thought to be without precedent, said Glen Forbes, the head of Oceanus Live, a firm specialising in maritime security analysis.
“It is unprecedented that any coastguard vessel has targeted another during operations in the Mediterranean,” Forbes said.
“The nearest to any conflict between coastguards may be that between Greek and Turkish vessels, but that is a protracted standoff.”
The media and human rights establishment are censoring the Australian government's rush to refoul "rejected" Manus refugees - just as they blacked out the mass hunger strike in January.
"Guantánamo of the Pacific": Australian asylum seekers wage hunger strike at offshore detention site [Democracy Now - 22/1/15]
Fascism 101: Ignore the human rights atrocity and/or cover it up with another "queue jumping/economic migrants" distraction.
In another secret and unjust manoeuvre, the Australian government rushes to refoul refugees incarcerated on Manus Island
Australian UNHCR and human rights groups "tweet" approving links to divisive Go Back To Where You Come From propaganda as refugees on Manus are about to be imminently disappeared.
Are the UNHCR and Australian human rights groups powerless to say anything, or are they complicit in this exercise?
Refugee Rights Action Network WA [31/7/15]:
Men on Manus whose refugee claims have been rejected, including those who have only had an initial rejection (and have stopped their process) and also those who have not even had their initial interview, have been sent letters asking them to demonstrate why they should not be imminently deported.
If they refuse to be sent back, they risk incarceration in a jail in Port Moresby, without charge and without judicial overview.
This is clearly a tactic designed to coerce and intimidate the men.
"You do not have a visa or a lawful right to remain in PNG. If ICSA assesses that you can not be removed to your country of origin, you will remain in custody until you are able to obtain a visa to lawfully enter and reside in PNG or another country. You will continue to be accommodated at the Regional Processing Centre. However you may be held in any location, including correctional institutions, while your removal is being effected."
They have been given five days.
Day 1 and 2 have already passed.
This is day 3.
Failing a refugee claim assessment does not mean one is not a refugee; many of us know all too well that the 'processing' system is flawed and deliberately seeks out any reason to reject a claim.
I know people in the effected cohort who cannot go back as they will be killed.
This scenario is evidenced by those people who have been tortured, murdered or otherwise persecuted when sent back to their country of origin.
This is how the Australian legal system operates. How they've been conducting interviews and assessments on PNG is likely to be equally if not more fraught: the fact that some people have received double negatives despite the fact that they are in obvious danger if they return is a testament to this.
Friends who have received a letter, if you're not yet attached to Ben Lomai's PNG High Court challenge, I've been advised that you should attempt to do so, as this could prevent you from being deported.
The MP for Papua New Guinea's Manus Island says the province's jail is dangerously overcrowded and a new facility is desperately needed. … [RNZI – 27/7/15]
Where are the Greens, Australian Human Rights Commission, Amnesty or Human Rights Watch?
Where's the Refugee Council of Australia? Too busy buffing the turd, when the Australian government hasn't accepted UNHCR refugees since October 2014?
Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee Recommendations re "Incident at the Manus Island Detention Centre from 16 February to 18 February 2014" [December 2014]:
8.49 The committee recommends that, in the interests of transparency and accountability, the governments of Australia and Papua New Guinea take measures to facilitate appropriate access to the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre, including:
• allowing United Nations representatives full access to the centre and transferees;
• permitting qualified lawyers, including lawyers certified to practice in Australia, access to the centre in order to meet with transferees and provide legal assistance;
• allowing the Australian Human Rights Commission to regularly inspect the centre and meet with centre staff and transferees; and
• permitting journalists to visit the centre and speak freely with centre staff and transferees.
US owned media always presents demolitions of places where tragedies have occurred as cathartic.
It is sick.
As if obliterating the structure neatly ends the affair.
West Australian [31/7/15]:
The owner of a cafe that was hit by an out-of-control ute, sparking an explosion that killed his daughter, says "it's a good feeling" to see the building reduced to rubble.
Two people died and another 18 were injured when the ute ploughed into gas bottles at the side of the Ravenshoe building last month. What was left of the Serves You Right Cafe was demolished over a 24 hour period on Wednesday.
"It's just rubble now," Owner Hans Nyholt, whose daughter Nicole Dempsey died in the accident, told News Corp.
Gold Coast: 3yo boy safe after another "Child Abduction Alert" false alarm
A three-year-old boy taken from a childcare centre on Queensland's Gold Coast has been found safe, police say.
Police had issued a child abduction alert about 8:40pm.
Police said they were looking for a man, known to the child, who had been seen taking the boy from a centre on the Gold Coast about 3:30pm.
Kool kids are safe kids [QPS Media - 29/7/15]:
Police from Pacific Pines visited Kool Kids at Norris Street Pacific Pines yesterday to talk about stranger danger, road safety and how to use Triple Zero ‘000’.
The kids then all got a chance for a closer look at the police car and use the lights and sirens and show how to put a seat belt on.
Police were impressed with how knowledgeable some of the youngsters were especially when it came to calling ‘000’ and crossing the road safely.
It is equally important for parents and carers to talk to children about what to do in an emergency.
Second stage of public hearing into Catholic Church authorities in Ballarat [Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse Media Release - 30/7/15]
'I didn't think of Iraqis as humans,' says US soldier who raped 14-year-old girl before killing her and her family [Daily Mail - 21/12/10]
Canberra: Teenage boy in hospital after hit-and-run incident in school zone
Canberra Times [30/7/15]:
A 13-year-old boy was taken to hospital with serious injuries after a hit-and-run outside a school in Canberra's north on Thursday morning, according to police.
The boy was walking on a school pedestrian crossing on Starke Street in Holt at 8.55am when he was hit by a black SUV.
According to police, the female driver of the car stopped but did not provide information before driving away. The boy sustained serious injuries and was taken to the Canberra Hospital.
The incident occurred shortly before classes started at the Kingsford Smith School and was witnessed by many parents and students.
School principal Paul Branson sent a letter to parents and the school community explaining the circumstances of the hit-and-run and said counselling was available to students.
Police have described the female driver as having dark hair and wearing businesses attire.
Officers have called for the female driver and anyone who may have witnessed the incident to contact police or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
New Zealand police to carry tasers at all times
Police have announced that frontline staff will carry tasers at all times while on duty.
The announcement was made by Police Commissioner Mike Bush at a media conference this morning.
Currently, tasers are available to police when attending specific incidents.
Over the past five years, police have taken tasers to 30,000 incidents and they have been used in about 10 percent of cases.
Police Minister Michael Woodhouse said tasers were an effective tactical option in high-risk situations, with a low risk of injury to the public, offenders and police staff.
Police Association President Greg O'Connor said the move was courageous, timely, and acknowledged the realities of modern policing.
Around 600 additional tasers would need to be purchased.
@wikileaks [30/7/15]: Hacked email reveals Mexico’s intelligence officers “trained to hunt down political dissidents,” not cartels:
... Therefore, there is a new spirit of interoperability between the two on the border when it comes to U.S. undercover agents. ...
Russia vetoes MH17 tribunal draft at UN Security Council
Russia has vetoed a draft of a UN Security Council resolution calling for an international tribunal on the crash of the Malaysian Airlines MH17 flight over eastern Ukraine last July and classifying the plane’s downing as a threat to peace and security.
Eleven UN Security Council (UNSC) members voted in support of the Malaysia-proposed draft resolution, with Angola, Venezuela and China abstaining.
This was enough for the resolution to pass, but Russia applied its veto right as a permanent UNSC member.
The vote was preceded by Security Council Chairman and New Zealand foreign minister Murray McCully announcing a minute of silence for the MH17 tragedy victims.
Despite the veto, Moscow is ready to assist the investigation into the reasons for the Malaysian Boeing 777 crash, Russian UN envoy Vitaly Churkin said.
“Russia stands ready to cooperate in the conduct of a full independent and objective investigation of the reasons and circumstances of the crash,” he said.
The Russian envoy also stressed that Malaysia and its backers submitted the resolution already knowing that it would be vetoed.
“This, in our view, indicates the fact that political purposes were more important for them than practical objectives. This of course is regrettable,” he said.
Churkin noted that Russia had repeatedly said that it wouldn't support the tribunal “due to the fact the UNSC resolution 2166 [of 2014] didn’t qualify the Boeing tragedy as a threat to international peace and security.”
“It is difficult to explain how the event, which wasn’t considered a threat to international peace and security a year ago, now suddenly becomes one,” he wondered.
The Russian envoy also pointed out that there were no precedents of the UNSC creating an international tribunal to bring justice to those responsible for a transportation catastrophe.
The expertise of previous international tribunals on “Yugoslavia and for Rwanda, can hardly be considered successful in view of their complexity, susceptibility to political pressure, high cost and extremely long proceedings,” he added.
Malaysian transport minister, Liow Tiong Lai, told the council members that Russia’s veto sends a “dangerous message of impunity to the perpetrator of this heinous crime.”
US envoy, Samantha Power, was also displeased with the outcome, saying that “no veto will stand in the way of this heinous crime being investigated and prosecuted.”
“Efforts to deny justice only intensify the pain of the victims’ families, who have already endured more than any of us can fathom. It is the effect of Russia’s veto today,” she said.
Before Wednesday’s vote, Moscow had openly stated that it would do everything in its power to prevent the Malaysia-proposed document from passing.
Russia warned that the tribunal would lead to even more confrontation in the international arena as it is intended to assign blame to those who Washington wishes to finger as responsible for the crash.
The Russian side noted that although the MH17 downing was a criminal offense, it was not a threat to global security.
Dutch investigators looking into the MH17 tragedy said that the plane was shot down while flying over the conflict zone near Donetsk.
However, they have not yet established responsibility for the tragedy, as pro-Kiev forces were engaged in combat with rebels from the self-proclaimed republics in eastern Ukraine at the time.
The Ukrainian authorities and the West blame the Donetsk militias for downing the plane, saying that they used a Buk surface-to-air missile allegedly provided by Russia.
The rebels deny these accusations, and Moscow has repeatedly warning against putting blame on anyone before the investigation into the crash has been completed.
The Dutch Safety Board that has been heading an international investigation into the cause of the crash is due to release its official report in October, while the criminal investigation is expected to continue until the end of this year.
A draft resolution submitted by Malaysia proposed the establishment of a tribunal to investigate the incident, with judges and the prosecutor to be appointed by the UN Secretary General.
The document also called on member states to adhere to the 2014 Resolution 2166 and provide maximum assistance to the international investigation into the incident.
The draft was supported by several nations in the UNSC, including the Netherlands and Ukraine.
Secret Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) Treaty: State-Owned Enterprises (SOE) Issues for Ministerial Guidance
Today, 29 July 2015, WikiLeaks releases a secret letter from the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP or TPPA) Ministerial Meeting in December 2013, along with a comprehensive expert analysis of the document.
The letter indicates a wide-ranging privatisation and globalisation strategy within the Agreement which aims to severely restrict "state-owned enterprises" (SOEs). Even an SOE that exists to fulfil a public function neglected by the market or which is a natural monopoly would nevertheless be forced to act "on the basis of commercial considerations" and would be prohibited from discriminating in favour of local businesses in purchases and sales.
Foreign companies would be given standing to sue SOEs in domestic courts for perceived departures from the strictures of the TPP, and countries could even be sued by other TPP countries, or by private companies from those countries.
Developing countries such as Vietnam, which employs a large number of SOEs as part of its economic infrastructure, would be affected most. SOEs continue to fulfil vital public functions in even the most privatised countries, such as Canada and Australia.
The TPP is the world's largest economic trade agreement and will, if it comes into force, encompass more than 40 per cent of the world's GDP.
Despite its wide-ranging effects on the global population, the TPP is currently being negotiated in total secrecy by 12 countries.
Few people, even within the negotiating countries' governments, have access to the full text of the draft agreement, and the public – who it will affect most – none at all.
Large corporations, however, are able to see portions of the text, generating a powerful lobby to effect changes on behalf of these groups and bringing developing countries reduced force, while the public at large gets no say.
The TPP is part of the TPP-TISA-TTIP mega-treaty package, which together proposes to encompass more than two-thirds of global GDP.
WikiLeaks' editor, Julian Assange, said: "The TPP erects a 'one size fits all' economic system designed to advantage the largest transnational corporations. In this leak we see the radical effects the TPP will have, not only on developing countries, but on states very close to the centre of the Western system. If we are to restructure our societies into an ultra-neoliberal legal and economic bloc that will last for the next 50 years then this should be said openly and debated."
Medicare celebrates its 50th birthday, despite Ronald Reagan [The Intercept – 30/7/15]
... What do you know about this world anyway? ...
'The American', Simple Minds 
Ronald Reagan shooting a rifle out of a window of Air Force One, 1983.
Image: @History_Pics [8/1/15]
Fiji: Man hospitalised after falling into vessel containing extremely hot liquid at Rarawai sugar mill
Fiji Times [31/7/15]:
Police have confirmed another accident at the Rarawai sugar mill in Ba where a worker fell into a vessel containing extremely hot liquid.
It is understood he suffered extensive burns and was rushed to the Lautoka Hospital yesterday afternoon.
Police spokesperson Ana Naisoro said a report had been received at the Ba Police Station.
"I can confirm that an incident occurred at the mill resulting in the hospitalisation of a worker," she said.
The incident comes days after another worker passed away allegedly from injuries sustained at the mill when he was entangled in a conveyor transporting bagasse.
Keni Senimoli, 44, died last Sunday enroute to the hospital, leaving behind five children all under the age of 18.
Sugar permanent secretary Viliame Gucake said he was not aware of the incident when contacted last night.
Calls made to Fiji Sugar Corporation executive chairman Abdul Khan were not answered.
Orangutans face extinction on Borneo where deforestation is simply unsustainable
UN Media Release [29/7/15]:
The massive conversion of Borneo’s forests for the production palm oil together with the impact of climate change is driving to extinction the orangutan on Asia’s largest island, making it “clear that a future without sustainable development will be a future with a different climate and, eventually, without orangutans, one of our closest relatives,” a new United Nations report revealed today.
This, according to Achim Steiner, the Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), who wrote the foreword of the report, The Future of the Bornean Orangutan: Impacts of Change in Land Cover and Climate, released today. And the report’s lead author Dr. Serge Wich declared: “The current policies for land conversion on Borneo are simply unsustainable” not just for orangutans but for the human population as well.
According to the report published by UNEP and Liverpool John Moores University in collaboration with the Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP), “the massive conversion of Borneo’s forests for agricultural development - primarily oil palm - will leave the endangered orangutans fragmented and facing extinction in a number of areas.”
“The environmental impact of climate change exacerbated by the deforestation of Borneo could result in severe floods, temperature rises, reduced agricultural productivity and other negative effects,” the report said.
While native to Indonesia and Malaysia, a century of deforestation, illegal logging, hunting and expansion of agro-industrial plantations, have combined to isolate orangutans to only the rainforests of Borneo – the world’s third largest island – and Sumatra, says UNEP.
Borneo’s deforestation rate has been among the world’s highest for over two decades and 56 per cent of the protected tropical lowland forests – an area roughly the size of Belgium – was lost between 1985 and 2001.
The report goes on to say that if deforestation in the Southeast Asia continues, a staggering 75 per cent of the original forest cover will be lost by 2030.
The Future of the Bornean Orangutan, according to a UNEP press release examines different climate and land-cover scenarios for the years 2020, 2050 and 2080 and models the individual and combined effect of both factors on the orangutan habitat.
In each scenario, “dramatic rises” in temperature brought on by deforestation and the loss of land cover cause serious damage to the island’s biodiversity, with the combined model showing an even more pronounced impact than either factor alone, the report said.
UNEP’s top official, Mr. Steiner, urged adoption of programmes that measure the natural capital of a region and offer payment for ecosystem services to mitigate these threats.
“Now, it is time to utilize these approaches and divert from an unsustainable pathway to development,” he wrote. “It is clear that a future without sustainable development will be a future with a different climate and, eventually, without orangutans, one of our closest relatives.”
An estimated 55,000 Bornean orangutans remain in the wild, according to UNEP.
“But orangutans’ solitary nature and slow reproductive rates leave them particularly vulnerable to forest loss,” the agency said. “Models incorporating projected changes to climate and to land cover indicate that 68-81 per cent of the current orangutan habitat might be lost by 2080.”
Among the 59-page report's eight recommendations to curb the impact of agricultural conversion are: immediate identification and protection of priority orangutan populations and habitats; connection of key orangutan sites through the creation of corridors, so as to ensure the species' mobility and viability; conversion to more sustainable methods of agricultural use for palm oil and other crops; and support forest protection programmes.
GRASP is an alliance of 100 national governments, conservation organizations, research institutions, UN agencies, and private companies committed to ensuring the longterm survival of great apes in Africa and Asia.
The report was presented at the GRASP Regional Meeting – Southeast Asia on Borneo in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia.
@wikileaks [30/7/15]: Secret cable: US gov knew of Americans killing lions in #Cecil park. Only worried about Americans getting caught.
... Additionally, one safari operator accused an American, by name, of killing a lion illegally and then smuggling its hide out through South Africa. Given the rampant smuggling of other animal products across Zimbabwe's southern border (reftel), this is not unlikely. As reported in reftel, American hunting dollars are vital to Zimbabwe's conservation efforts, but there are also serious risks that Americans could be implicated in smuggling and poaching operations. ... [23/10/08]
BALANCING DEVELOPMENT WITH CONSERVATION AT YANAKARI GAME RESERVE [18/12/09]
New UN-backed plan sets disaster resilience standards for hotels in Asia and Pacific
UN Media Release [29/7/15]:
A United Nations-backed plan to develop and pilot disaster risk management standards for the hotel industry in Asia and the Pacific, home to 80 per cent of the world's disaster events, has been announced today.
“The hotel industry in hazard prone areas of the world is very vulnerable to major setbacks from floods, storms and earthquakes. Such events can result in closure of resorts and have a significant impact on tourism and employment. The hotel industry has a very important role to play in encouraging disaster risk management at the local level,” the head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), Margareta Wahlström, said.
A joint study carried out by UNISDR, the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) and the Global Initiative on Disaster Risk Management (GIDRM) has found significant interest in setting standards among hoteliers, tour operators, tourism bodies, government agencies and insurance companies in the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and the Maldives.
The study was carried out for the Hotel Resilient Initiative which aims to develop internationally recognized standards for hotels and resorts that will assist them in reducing business risk and the risk of tourism destinations to natural and technological hazards, while demonstrating the level of preparedness and safety of their premises to potential clients, insurers and financers.
“The report is telling us that there is concern about the lack of universal standards for disaster risk management across the hotel industry,” Mr. Wahlström added.
One incentive is that insurance companies could envisage premium reductions for hotels that demonstrate that they are investing in disaster resilience in line with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction which has been adopted with enthusiasm by governments across the region. The standards will be developed at the end of this year.”
Pacific civil society wants seabed mining to stop
Civil society organisations in the Pacific are joining a growing international call for a moratorium on mining exploration of the sea floor.
In the Pacific EEZ alone exploration leases have already been granted for an estimated 1.5 million square kilometres of the ocean floor.
The Pacific Network on Globalisation and the Bismarck Ramu Group in Papua New Guinea are particularly worried about the rapid pace at which PNG is moving towards being the first country in the world to carry out seabed mining.
The Pacific Network on Globalisation's campaigns officer Joey Tau says not enough is known about the potential effects of seabed mining and is calling for a halt to mining exploration to allow the science to catch up.
"To call for a moratorium on ESM (Experimental Seabed Mining) this experiment that is to take place in our oceans and seek more knowledge on the basis of to what extent this experiment will affect the lives of our pacific people."
Pacific CSOs support global call for moratorium on ESM [PNG Loop 30/7/15]
An Australian Naval vessel conducting seabed mapping of the Fiji waters will arrive in Lautoka tomorrow afternoon.
HMAS Leeuwin arrives in Lautoka for the second phase of its seabed mapping activities as part of its regional engagement with the Republic of Fiji Military Forces via the Fiji Naval Division, and the Royal Australian Navy.
Mapping surveys will be conducted from August 5 to August 7 in the vicinity of Lautoka and surrounding waters in partnership with the Fiji Hydrographic Office. [Fiji Times - 30/7/15]
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