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! ...
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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 *
Australia tortures refugees: Fluffy Morrison boycott at Sydney Boys High School
Sydney Morning Herald [27/3/15]:
Old boys from one of Sydney's most prestigious public schools say they are disgusted that federal cabinet minister Scott Morrison will be a special guest at an alumni fund-raising event, warning it would be an embarrassment to their school to celebrate a man who has "so flagrantly disregarded human rights".
Almost 300 alumni of Sydney Boys High have signed a fiercely-worded letter to the school's Old Boys Union, which is organising a fund-raising cocktail event next month featuring Mr Morrison as one of its keynote speakers.
Mr Morrison, the former immigration minister, is one of several prominent old boys who has been invited to reflect on how his life has been shaped by his time at the high-performing selective boys school.
But the invitation has infuriated many of the school's alumni, including the former Supreme Court judge Hal Wootten and veteran journalist John Pilger, who say it "is cruel and insensitive for the union to laud this man's connection to the school, its graduates, and their families."
Several former students from the neighbouring Sydney Girls High have also added their name to the letter.
The old boys say during his time as minister for immigration and border protection, Mr Morrison was at "best complicit, and at worst the chief protagonist" in advocating offshore immigration detention policies that violated the United Nations Convention against Torture.
"As Sydney Boys High School Old Boys, as well as friends and family of Old Boys, we stand in outrage and disgust at the Old Boys Union's decision to invite Scott Morrison to speak at the Spilling the Beans function," the letter says.
"We call on the Old Boys Union to immediately rescind the invitation so as to spare the organisation, and the school itself, the embarrassment of being seen to celebrate the achievements of a man who has so flagrantly disregarded human rights."
The letter says the old boys do not want to restrict freedom of speech, but their action "reflects the desire not to tacitly endorse the actions of a man who has demonstrated callous disregard for human rights."
The event is to raise money for the union, as well as the Governors Centre, a new two-level building which will be a joint project of Sydney Boys and Sydney Girls, to be built between the two schools.
Mr Morrison responded to the letter, saying "everyone is entitled to their opinion, including those I disagree with.
"That is what I learnt at Sydney Boys High School," he said on Friday night.
"I don't propose to politicise this fund-raising event, instead I suggest those who wish to stay away to send a cheque to the school in lieu."
The event organisers have been contacted for comment.
Man who was detained for 3 yrs in Australia's concentration camp on Nauru calls for release of refugees [SBS - 27/3/15]
Fascism 101: Ignore the human rights atrocity.
Australia's Deparment of Torture of Refugees office move unfair to public servants, Andrew Leigh MP [Canberra Times - 27/3/15]:
Fraser MP Andrew Leigh says the Abbott government must end the anxious wait faced by thousands of Belconnen workers over the future location of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.
Gruesome kangaroo mutilation one of the worst ever seen
Canberra Times [26/3/15]:
The gruesome mutilation of a young female kangaroo at Captains Flat has been described as one of the worst cases of animal cruelty ever witnessed by Wildcare volunteers.
The young female is the second kangaroo in as many days to suffer from human-induced cruelty, reported to the Queanbeyan-based animal rescue and rehabilitation group.
While a young male kangaroo found with an arrow in his shoulder on Tuesday survived the incident, a badly-injured young female, found at Mountain Creek Road, Captains Flat, on Thursday morning, had to be put down days after it escaped a snare with significant injury.
Wildcare communications co-ordinator Diane Hinton said it was likely the device was set specifically to trap kangaroos.
"She was hopping around for the last week or so with a rather nasty injury," she said.
"When I got to it, the wire had cut right through the body cavity.
"You could see inside, she was ripped apart."
Ms Hinton said she believed the animal's head and one shoulder got stuck and became entwined in the wire when it tried to pull free of the trap.
"The injury is as bad as anything I've ever seen," she said.
"It had cut through bone, cut through flesh, you could see into her abdominal cavity, and she had been fly-blown."
Ms Hinton said she expected the kangaroo would have stayed in close range of where the event took place after it escaped the device.
NSW RSPCA chief inspector David O'Shannessy said while the incident had not been reported to the organisation or police, the RSPCA would investigate any act of cruelty against animals.
He said anyone found guilty of cruelty to animals could face six months in prison, anyone convicted of aggravated animal cruelty could face a maximum of two years in jail and/or a $22,000 fine.
"Make no mistake, acts of cruelty against animals are taken seriously
by the law," Mr O'Shannessy said.
Who was hacked? An investigation into phone hacking and its victims – Part 1: News of the World
Hacking Inquiry [27/3/15]:
Who was hacked? An investigation into phone hacking and its victims – Part 1: News of the World is the first systematic attempt to analyse who was hacked by the News of the World and the context in which they were hacked.
The report finds that :
1. Police estimate that 5,500 people were ‘likely’ or ‘potential’ victims of News of the World phone hacking. This figure may rise as new evidence comes to light
2. Over two-thirds (69%) of 591 people who settled claims with News International were not celebrities or public figures
3. Many of these non-public figures were not the primary target but were closely connected to the primary target. They were, for example, the partner or ex-partner of a public figure (33%), or a work colleague (25%) or a friend or acquaintance (14%) or a parent or step parent (13%)
4. Less than a third of the primary targets came from the world of entertainment or music. The rest were from sport, politics, journalism, the police, the Royal Household, the law, and the military, amongst others
5. In just under one in ten cases the people targeted had been caught up in a personal tragedy – a relative had died or been murdered, a drug trial had gone wrong, or they had been injured in a terrorist attack
6. Four consecutive Home Secretaries from 1997 to 2007 are reported to have been hacked, as well as many senior officers from the Metropolitan Police
The report has analysed 303 people who settled claims with News UK in court; 288 people who settled claims through the News International compensation scheme; 77 people who we know were targeted through evidence given during the hacking trial and other court cases, and 102 people who are reported to have been hacked (in the press or in recent books).
All the named victims and reported victims are published online (and can be found online in Google spreadsheets).
Due to the incomplete, inconclusive and sometimes incoherent nature of the evidence, we will never know exactly how many people were hacked by the News of the World.
Phone hacking was one of a range of methods of gathering personal information, and was often one of the less directly intrusive. Others included blagging, pinging, paying informants and tailing.
This report focuses on the actions and consequences of one newspaper, the News of the World. It does not include the victims of Mirror Group Newspapers, which has recently admitted liability for phone hacking.
Read the full report – Who was hacked? An Investigation into Phone Hacking and its Victims. Part 1 – The News of the World
A real leader would stand up to the Murdoch press.
The Queensland Premier disgraces herself by dancing to their tune.
Annastacia Palaszczuk helps racist, gutter Murdoch press and LNP good ol' boys smear a First Nations MP [Yahoo - 27/3/15]:
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has reportedly referred Labor MP Billy Gordon to the state's police commissioner.
It's believed she has instructed Ian Stewart to follow up allegations levelled at the newly elected member for Cook.
It comes after Mr Gordon admitted he owed child support payments to his ex-partner but said they had since been paid.
Queensland Parliament Hansard [27/3/15]:
Mr GORDON (Cook—ALP) (9.58 am): I rise to make a personal explanation. Members would be aware that some personal elements of a former relationship of mine have been made public today. Given the respect I have for this place, I wanted to rise at the earliest opportunity to address those issues. In 2006 a relationship I was in came to an end. At the outset I want to acknowledge that the relationship gave me two beautiful children, both of whom I love with every fibre of my being—every fibre of my being. However, the relationship I shared with their mother included both good times and not-so-good times.
There were times when both of us failed to behave as adults should, and I certainly bear full responsibility for my actions. Unfortunately, the relationship did not end on a positive note. It was an extremely upsetting period after which I independently sought counselling. The counselling involved a self-appraisal process during which I admitted to my ex-partner some personal failures as well as challenges I had faced in my life. Over time I moved on, and I feel privileged to be able to start afresh while at the same time providing support to my ex-partner and our children.
Last week there were claims made against me, some of which were true and some not. As a result I have moved to immediately rectify my tax affairs, and I have also ensured that any outstanding child support payments have been made to my ex-partner so that I can put this issue beyond doubt. It upsets me to stand in this House and divulge details of such a personal nature to members. I am a proud father; it is the most important job I will ever do.
I am also extremely humbled to be representing
the good people of the great electorate of Cook here in the people’s house. To
my family and friends I say thank you so much for your love and support during
this time. To the people of the great electorate of Cook, I pledge to you that I
will continue to do everything that I can to live up to the extraordinary honour
you have bestowed on me by electing me as your member of parliament.
QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
Member for Cook
Mr SPRINGBORG (10.02 am): My question without
notice is to the Premier. Premier, last evening the member for Cook voted
confidence in your government. Mr Speaker, does the Premier have confidence in
the member for Cook?
Ms PALASZCZUK: Mr Speaker, I would like to thank the Leader of the Opposition for the question. I think all members in this House have today heard the personal explanation from the member for Cook. When I became aware of the issues surrounding tax and child support I was absolutely furious, and I ordered the state secretary to deal with these matters immediately.
I expect high standards from all members of my team, and I also expect high standards from those opposite. Today the member for Cook has dealt with those issues and he has made a full and frank explanation in this House. Let me reiterate that I expect high standards because that is one of the cornerstone principles of my government: integrity and accountability. The Deputy Premier and I have also met with the member for Cook, and I have said to the member for Cook that I am extremely disappointed. I think anyone who read the article today would have been extremely disappointed as well. I made it fundamentally clear to the member for Cook that he must get his house in order immediately. The issue has been dealt with and the member has made a personal explanation.
Gavin King. Former Murdoch editor. Never held to account during his single term as an MP.
Who do you believe?
Gavin King [27/3/15]: BREAKING: Billy Gordon MP under investigation for alleged domestic violence. Exclusive story on Cairns Now and Channel 9 Brisbane: http://www.cairnsnow.com.au/MP-admits-abuse-and-violence.19.0.html
... Children are the most wonderful of our society, whose innocent lives deserve the greatest of love and care.
Cherish them. ...
QPS Media [VIDEO - 27/12/14]:
A family spokesperson, Mr Rod Willie, spoke to the media on Wednesday, December 24, in relation to the multiple homicide in the Cairns suburb of Manoora earlier this month. ...
Queensland Govt Media Release [4/4/13]:
Rogue public housing tenants will soon face stricter penalties for bad behaviour with the Newman Government today launching a “three-strikes and you’re out” policy.
Minister for Housing Tim Mander said the new policy would see problem tenants evicted if they failed to curb their behaviour. ...
The Queensland Government's tougher policy on public housing tenants comes into effect today.
The so-called 'three strikes and you're out' policy will prohibit evicted tenants from reapplying for public housing for three months.
The member for the far north Queensland seat of Cairns, [and former Editor of Murdoch's 'Cairns Post'] Gavin King, says some tenants have been getting away with too much.
"Some public housing tenants have to get eight or nine breaches before the department and the court considers an eviction," he said.
"Often a public housing tenant will cause significant damage to their property, cause hell to their neighbours, and will get evicted.
"The trouble is they'll just be moved across town into another public housing tenancy."
Information for Queensland public housing tenants:
What happens if I receive 3 strikes?
If you receive 3 strikes within a 12-month period, we may take action to end your tenancy. You will be given written advice when each strike is issued and we will discuss the consequences with you.
8 children dead in Cairns massacre [The New Daily - 19/12/14]:
... Residents, along with family and friends of the deceased, took refuge together near a children’s playground at a small park on the street.
Just metres away forensic experts were sifting through a crime scene detectives have described as one of the most shocking and distressing they have encountered.
People young and old wept, put their arms around each other and shook their heads in disbelief.
Neighbour Bessie Mareko said she did not know those in the house but would say hello when they were in the street.
Ms Mareko said she saw the woman and a number of children at 2:00am this morning cleaning up their home and putting unwanted items on the street.
“I’m really shocked. I just saw her this morning on the verandah with her kids,” she said.
Residents in the housing commission suburb of Manoora in the far north Queensland city of Cairns are used to commotion – it’s an area that’s been described as a ghetto, a suburb that historically has suffered a bad reputation and high crime rates.
In June, media revealed the suburb was at the centre of a secret government report into youth sexual abuse and domestic violence.
The first police to attend the scene – inexperienced, junior officers – have been given counselling.
Select Committee on Certain Aspects of Queensland Government Administration related to Commonwealth Government Affairs Report [27/3/15]:
2.80 The committee recommends the Queensland government make it a priority to review legislation that may be inconsistent with Australia's obligations under a range of international instruments, with a view to ensuring Queensland legislation is amended to ensure consistency with Australia's international obligations.
2.81 The committee recommends the Queensland government recognise all decisions that have been delivered by the Federal Court of Australia in the recognition of Indigenous land rights in Queensland.
2.82 The committee recommends the Queensland government consider replacing the Crime and Corruption Commission with an organisation modelled on the Independent Commission Against Corruption in New South Wales.
2.83 The committee recommends once the Crime and Corruption Commission is replaced that the Queensland Government re-open, review and reconsider all issues, matters and cases presented to the Crime and Corruption Commission inclusive of all decisions.
2.84 The committee recommends the Queensland government make a commitment to restoring the relationship between government and the Queensland people, through adequate consultation, transparent decision making and accountability for outcomes.
2.85 The committee recommends the Queensland Government review decisions made by the Newman Government as well as decisions pending, in relation to the approval of mining leases and other projects called in by the Deputy Premier and Minister for Infrastructure and Planning, where environmental and planning laws and decisions reached by Local Government, have been ignored and disregarded and/or where potential conflicts of interest may have occurred and/or where political donations to the Liberal National Party were involved in some way.
2.86 The committee recommends the Queensland Government review all alleged conflicts of interest raised during the Inquiry.
2.87 The committee recommends the Queensland Government review any controversial asset sale during the Newman Government’s term.
2.88 The committee recommends the Queensland Government conduct a thorough review of the Queensland vocational education and training programs and reinstate courses cut under the Newman Government. In particular, the review should consider course cost increases, infrastructure, facilities, staffing, course accessibility and other matters.
2.89 The committee recommends that the Queensland government refers to the Crime and Corruption Commission and/or to the Parliamentary Crime and Corruption Commission the issue of the extension of the sand mining lease on Stradbroke Island and any issues relating to political donations and election spending by Sibelco.
Pesticide scare at far north Queensland school
A rural school in far north Queensland is in lockdown after pesticide spray drifted over the grounds.
It's understood paramedics are checking students of the Butchers Creek State School, located near Malanda, for any possible side effects of the spray.
Emergency services were called to the site just after noon on Friday following reports of a "herbicide exposure".
The school is in lockdown, with students kept in their classrooms with windows and doors shut.
They're waiting for the all-clear from scientific expert crews, a Queensland Fire and Rescue spokesperson told AAP.
Gannons Hotel Julia Creek destroyed in fire
North West Star [27/3/15]:
Gannons Hotel in Julia Creek was burnt to the ground about 1am in the morning.
There were no injuries in the fire.
The hotel was originally built in 1925 but was burnt down in 1930.
The hotel was then rebuilt in 1932 by Mr and Mrs Bill Gannon.
The Gannons resided in the McKinlay Shire for more than 50 years.
Police are investigating the cause of the fire.
The most essential component of refugee status and of asylum is protection against return to a country where a person has reason to fear persecution. This protection has found expression in the principle of non-refoulement which, as will be seen below, is widely accepted by States.
Australian Financial Review [23/3/15]:
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop's visit to Tehran in April at the invitation of her counterpart Jared Zarif, is a very astute move by Australia, but the visit also carries with it a few potential downsides.
It has been more than a decade since an Australian foreign minister set foot on Iranian soil and, while there have been good reasons for its diplomatic isolation, it can be argued this visit is an example of the sort of creative middle-power diplomacy Kevin Rudd talked about but rarely achieved. ...
West Australian [31/10/13]:
Julie Bishop has begun high-level efforts to strike an agreement with the Iranian Government to repatriate its nationals whose refugee claims have been rejected by Australia.
The Foreign Affairs Minister told The West Australian that she raised the involuntary return of boat people with her Iranian counterpart Mohammad Zarif in New York last month.
Millions spent on ‘voluntary return’ of asylum seekers [Australian Lawyers Alliance – 5/8/14]
Sri Lanka: 3 Tamils arrested for helping refugees escape to Australia following entrapment operation
Sri Lanka Mirror [27/3/15]:
The Tamil Nadu 'Q' branch police on Wednesday arrested three Sri Lankan Tamils for illegally migrating the refugees from the special camps to Australia.
Police identified them as Dhushyanthan, 29, Lingeswaran, 30 and Vijayaraj, 28, from a house in Pozhichalur near Pallavaram. Based on a specific tip from one of the refugees, who paid money to them, police nabbed them. The 'Q' branch sleuths registered a case and remanded them in judicial custody.
Preliminary inquiries revealed that Dhushyanthan and Lingeswaran came to Tamil Nadu through an illegally ferry from Sri Lanka last year. They told police that they were conned by some people and lost a few lakhs of rupees, as they failed to take them to Australia through illegal ferry. Meanwhile, they met Vijayaraj and devised a plan to make easy money implementing similar modus operandi.
Police said they floated a fake organization and decided to canvass their plan among the refugees. They told police that they travelled to various special camps in Chennai and nearby districts targeting the 'potential' refugees. They asked the refugees to pay cash ranging from Rs2 to Rs4 lakhs for taking them to Christmas Island, which is geographically located north of Australia.
People travelling in the illegal ferry abandoned their vessel after entering into the Australian waters. The refugees later took asylum in the Christmas island after destroying their passports and other documents to prove their status. As the 135 sq.km area island was discovered on December 25, 1643, it was named as Christmas Island and Australian government use the island to detain the refugees. After detailed verification, the refugees will be given permanent citizenship in Australia.
As many people from Sri Lanka are migrating to Australia in a similar modus operandi, as refugees, the Australian government is now sending them back to Sri Lanka in the recent incidents.
'Concrete acts of co-operation' with OHCHR needed says Amnesty International [Tamil Guardian - 26/3/15]:
The Sri Lankan government must take “concrete” steps towards co-operating with the United Nations said Amnesty International in an address to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Thursday.
Calling the Sri Lankan government's commitment to prioritise engagement with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) “promising”, Amnesty International said “it needs to be backed by concrete acts of co-operation, including to determine truth and pursue justice for crimes under international law”.
“Amnesty International cannot stress enough the need for a thorough accounting and justice for the victims of violations and abuses in Sri Lanka,” said the organisation.
The non-governmental organisation continued to say it “strongly encourages Sri Lanka to use the time until the Council considers the OHCHR Inquiry report in September 2015 to take specific measures to improve its human rights situation.”
“Publishing the names and locations of all detainees and permitting family visits; charging and trying detainees promptly in accordance with international standards or releasing them; repealing the Prevention of Terrorism Act; and acceding to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance,” were examples of specific measures Sri Lanka could take before September said Amnesty International.
“This Council should continue to encourage, support and monitor progress in Sri Lanka, and remain vigilant for reprisals against human rights defenders,” concluded the statement.
Afghanistan: Rockets hit civilian homes in Khost leaving 5 killed, 2 injured
Over a dozen rockets landed on civilian houses in eastern Khost province leaving five persons killed and two others wounded.
Mobariz Zadran, spokesman for the governor of Khost province says that the rockets landed in Babrak Tana and Chargotai areas of Ali Shir district last night.
He said five persons were killed and two wounded in the incident.
He further said that eight rockets landed in Chargotai area and seven others in Babrak Tana area where few houses were also damaged.
Zadran said the rockets were fired from the other side of the Durand line (Pakistan). Khost province in the east of the country shares a long border with Pakistan.
This is not the first time rockets from the other side of the Durand line kill people in Afghanistan. In the past also dozens of people have lost lives to these rockets with most of them in eastern Kunar province.
The Security Council has agreed to boost the United Nations peacekeeping presence in the Central African Republic (CAR) amid the country's continuing instability and simmering sectarian tensions.
In a unanimous resolution adopted earlier this morning, the 15-member Council agreed to increase the number of 'blue helmets' serving in the UN mission in the CAR, also known by the acronym MINUSCA, by 750 military personnel, 280 police personnel and 20 corrections officers. ... [UN Media Release - 26/3/15]
Security Council renews DR Congo Mission, reduces troop numbers by 2,000 [UN Media Release – 26/3/15]
Turkey, US agree on deployment of armed drones to İncirlik Airbase [Hurriyet Daily News – 26/3/15]
Syria's Assad says open to dialogue with US [France 24 – 27/3/15]
US drops graphic propaganda leaflets over Syria's Raqqa [Channel News Asia – 27/3/15]
US, “allies” continue bombing Syria and Iraq
Daily Star [27/3/15]:
The United States and its allies staged 29 air strikes on Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq in the latest round of daily attacks, the Combined Joint Task Force said on Thursday.
In Iraq, the coalition conducted 17 air strikes near Tikrit, where Iraqi forces have mounted an offensive to try to oust Islamic State militants from the city. Seven air strikes were conducted against Islamic State targets in other parts of Iraq.
In Syria, four air strikes hit Islamic State positions near the city of Kobani and one strike hit near Raqqa.
The air strikes occurred between Wednesday and Thursday mornings.
France launchs its first air strike on Tikrit [IraqiNews.com – 27/3/15]
Yet another declaration of world domination and neverending war reads like a weaselly worded Disney screenplay [Centcom - 26/3/15]:
U.S. Central Command's area of responsibility is more volatile and chaotic than ever, Army Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, CENTCOM commander, told Congress today.
Speaking to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Austin said the stakes in the region have never been higher.
Forces of evil thrive in the region's poorly governed areas, the general said. "It is essential that we are present and engaged, and that we cultivate strong partnerships and continue to do our part to address emerging threats and to move the region in the direction of greater stability and security," he said.
"And we must be properly resourced to do what is required to effectively protect and promote our interests," Austin added.
CENTCOM forces are doing all they can to prevent problems while shaping future outcomes, and they concurrently manage real-world crises, the general said.
"Over the past year, we dealt with conflicts in Iraq and Syria," he said. "We transitioned combat operations to a train, advise and assist and [counterterrorism] mission focus in Afghanistan. At the same time, we've dealt with a number of difficult challenges in Yemen, Egypt, Lebanon, and a host of other locations throughout our area of responsibility," Austin said.
CENTCOM troops in that area of responsibility pursued violent extremist groups and "took measures to counter the radical ideologies that are espoused by these groups," the general said.
"We also dealt with Iran, which continues to act as a destabilizing force in the region, primarily through its Quds forces and through support for proxy actors such as Lebanese Hezbollah," he said.
Despite the number of difficult issues in the region, Austin told the committee, he firmly believes that challenges present opportunities.
"And we make progress primarily by pursuing those opportunities," he said. "And we do pursue them. And I am confident that our broad efforts are having a measurable impact."
President Hadi leaves Yemen amid air strikes on Houthis [Al Jazeera – 26/3/15]:
... In a statement following the strikes, the White House said that the US was coordinating military and intelligence support with the Saudis but not taking part directly in the strikes.
Jeff Rathke, a US State Department spokesman, said on Thursday that the US government "understands the concerns" of Saudi is is "supportive of their effort".
The European Union, however, opposed the strikes with the EU High Representative and Vice President Federica Mogherini saying the operation "dramatically worsened the already fragile situation" and "risk having serious regional consequences."
"I'm convinced that military action is not a solution," she said, calling for an immediate return to negotiations to resolve the conflict.
Médecins Sans Frontières receiving large numbers of patients in Aden, as security situation in Yemen deteriorates [Media Release - 27/3/15]
Noting Saudi Arabia’s announcement that, at the request of the Government of Yemen, it has begun military operations in the Gulf nation, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on all parties to ensure the protection of civilians and emphasized that despite escalation, negotiations remain the only option for ultimately resolving the crisis. ... [UN Media Release - 26/3/15]
Nuclear negotiations between the United States and Iran entered a critical phase Thursday with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meeting his Iranian counterpart less than a week away from a deadline to secure the outline of a deal. ... [Daily Star - 27/3/15]
Doctors group releases startling analysis of the death and destruction inflicted upon Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan from the "War on Terror" in Body Count
Physicians for Social Responsibility Media Release [19/3/15]:
On March 19, 2015--the 12th anniversary of the onset of our country’s ill-fated military intervention in Iraq--Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) is releasing the latest edition of Body Count for North American distribution.
The report, authored by members and colleagues of the German affiliate of the Nobel Prize-winning International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), is a comprehensive account of the vast and continuing human toll of the various “Wars on Terror” conducted in the name of the American people since the events of September 11, 2001.
This publication highlights the difficulties in defining outcomes as it compares evaluations of war deaths in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Even so, the numbers are horrific. The number of Iraqis killed during and since the 2003 U.S. invasion have been assessed at one million, which represents 5% of the total population of Iraq. This does not include deaths among the three million refugees subjected to privations.
Dr. h.c. Hans-C. von Sponeck, UN Assistant Secretary General & UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq (1998-2000) calls the report, “a powerful aide mémoire of their legal and moral responsibility to hold perpetrators accountable.”
Body Count takes a clear and objective look at the various and often contradictory--reports of mortality in conflicts directed by the U.S. and allied forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The result is a fuller picture of the devastation and lethality to civilian non-combatants throughout these regions. Unfortunately, these deaths have been effectively hidden from our collective consciousness and consciences by political leaders seeking to pursue military solutions to complex global issues with little, if any, accountability.
At a time when our nation is once again contemplating new and expanded military operations in Iraq and Syria, Body Count underscores the scope of human destruction that helps fuel the widespread anger at the Coalition Forces. It similarly provides the context to understand the rise of brutal forces such as ISIS thriving in the wake of our leaders’ failures. After an estimated cost of at least three trillion dollars over a decade of warfare, we need to fully account for our responsibility and learn the appropriate lessons to avoid a tragic exacerbation of the explosive situation we face today.
Download the report at
Australian Privacy Commissioner accepts enforceable undertaking to enhance information security at Optus
OAIC Media Release [27/3/15]:
The Australian Privacy Commissioner (the Commissioner) has accepted an enforceable undertaking from Optus, following three significant privacy incidents where the security of personal information held by Optus was compromised. This is the first enforceable undertaking made under the reforms to the Privacy Act 1988 which came into effect on 12 March 2014.
The Commissioner, Timothy Pilgrim, accepted the undertaking offered by Optus that it would complete a wide ranging independent review of its information security systems, and implement any recommendations.
The enforceable undertaking finalises an investigation that the Commissioner commenced in July 2014 following a voluntary data breach notification by Optus of the three privacy incidents. Optus took steps to contain the incidents once it became aware of them, and cooperated with the OAIC during the OAIC’s investigation.
‘I appreciate the positive way in which Optus worked with our Office to address these incidents. I consider that the enforceable undertaking is an appropriate outcome that will ensure Optus takes steps to strengthen its privacy controls and meet its security obligations under the Privacy Act’, said Mr Pilgrim.
The Commissioner was concerned that Optus may not have taken reasonable steps to secure the personal information it held, as required by Australian Privacy Principle 11. ‘Organisations and agencies need to take reasonable steps to protect the personal information of customers. If personal information is compromised, I encourage organisations and agencies to notify affected individuals and the OAIC, where there is a real risk of serious harm to an individual. This can assist people to respond to the breach, and mitigate the potential harm’, said Mr Pilgrim.
‘Data breaches can pose a serious threat to individuals and to the reputation of organisations. For those reasons I recommend that all organisations and agencies develop a data breach response plan, as this will significantly improve their ability to respond to a breach.’
The reforms to the Privacy Act 1988 introduced a new power for the Australian Privacy Commissioner to accept an enforceable undertaking from an organisation or agency.
An enforceable undertaking is an agreement between the OAIC and an organisation or agency that creates a binding commitment to take steps to ensure privacy compliance. An enforceable undertaking can be enforced by the Commissioner in the Federal Court or Federal Circuit Court.
Senator Lazarus [26/3/15]:
SENATE LIVE: Data retention bill - Labor & Coalition win due to numbers. This bill has reduced the freedoms & privacy of Australians. I (Senator Lazarus) along with other cross benchers including Xenophon, Madigan, Leyonhelm, Lambie, Muir and the Greens fought hard to stop this bill. See Senate image below. Coalition & Labor together on the left, cross benchers on the right.
"You will be judged for this" - Senator Ludlam's data retention message to Government and ALP [VIDEO - 26/3/15]
Business as usual in Queensland as party pooping ALP set to expand anti fun zones [Brisbane Times - 27/3/15]:
... Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath said police would be granted the power to breathalyse disorderly or drunk revellers "so they have the evidence they need to prosecute licensees, managers and patrons who are breaching the Liquor Act". ...
Boy, 2, critical after assault
A man has been charged with repeatedly assaulting a two-year-old boy, leaving the child with critical injuries.
It's the second case of horrific child abuse in the state in just two days.
An 18-month-old boy died on Thursday from injuries he suffered in a separate assault, allegedly at the hands of a 29-year-old man.
Police allege the two-year-old was assaulted on a number of occasions between December and March.
He was airlifted from Kin Kin, near Gympie, to the Lady Cilento Children's Hospital in Brisbane on Thursday afternoon.
A 33-year-old man from Kin Kin has been charged with one count of grievous bodily harm and four counts of assault occasioning bodily harm and will face the Brisbane Magistrates Court on Friday.
In the case of the 18-month-old, a man has been charged with murder after the boy died in a Townsville hospital from unspecified injuries.
The child was initially taken to the Moranbah Hospital in central Queensland on Wednesday, but was transferred to Townsville when the extent of his injuries became clear.
The 29-year-old man accused of killing the boy will face the the Mackay Magistrates Court on Friday.
Man charged with murder of Moranbah baby has case adjourned [Daily Mercury - 27/3/15]
Driver of car linked to fatal Brisbane hit-and-run found dead
The driver of a car linked to a fatal hit-and-run in Brisbane has been found dead.
Ashleigh Humphrys died after being struck by a car near the Toowong roundabout about 3:50am on Sunday after spending the night celebrating her 20th birthday.
The initial investigation indicated Ms Humphrys had been intoxicated and lying on the road or on her hands and knees when she was hit.
Police appealed for the driver of a dark sedan seen in security footage around the time of the incident mounting the footpath and swerving back onto the road to come forward.
A car was seized on Monday and police began scientific testing on it.
The driver of the car was found dead yesterday, police said.
The 57-year-old man had been helping officers with their inquiries.
Police said there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding his death.
Police said they had received a phone call prior to the hit-and-run from a member of the public who said he had concerns for the safety of a woman he had seen walking on Mount Coot-tha Road.
They said the caller told police the woman looked to be affected by alcohol or another substance "and she was either a danger to herself or other road users".
The investigation into the accident is continuing.
@ABCNewsBrisbane [27/3/15]: #BREAKING: One person has died and the D'Aguilar Highway is closed in both directions near Kilcoy after fuel tanker rollover ...
Delays in to Brisbane after truck rollover [MYGC – 27/3/15]:
… It’s understood the accident happened just before 6am.
No word yet as to whether the driver sustained any injuries. …
Queensland nursing homes told to improve service
A group of Queensland aged-care homes targeted in a federal government audit blitz will be allowed to stay open, but have been told to improve in several key areas.
The Australian Aged Care Quality Agency (AACQA) on Thursday publicly released reviews of seven nursing homes run by Baptist-linked Carinity Aged Care.
The audit was sparked after allegations surfaced about neglect, underfeeding and poor health management processes at carinity's Kepnock Grove facility in Bundaberg.
The audit highlighted 21 instances where the homes did not meet expected outcomes, including pain and medication management procedures at Kepnock Grove.
There were nine expected outcomes not met at Karinya in Laidley, including privacy and dignity and clinical care, while there were six not met at Colthup in Ipswich, including continence management.
"Residents are not satisfied with the management of their continence needs," the report read.
"Residents are not assisted to access toilets and/or assisted with changing continence aids in a timely manner."
Privacy and dignity concerns were raised at three different homes.
AACQA has given each of the five homes that had problems a timetable to rectify them.
Carinity CEO Jon Campbell said this week the issues identified in the reviews had either already been rectified or the organisation was "well advanced" in addressing them.
"There is no serious risk at any of our facilities and all residents are safe and well cared for," Mr Campbell said in a statement.
He said the audits were sparked by "exaggerated media reporting".
"With this unprecedented level of scrutiny, all Carinity's facilities remain credited," Mr Campbell said.
"This should give the public confidence in the quality of our services."
Phong Nguyen, general secretary of the Vietnamese community of Australia: "Malcolm Fraser is like a father to us"
Image: @olliemilman - Guardian journalist [27/3/15]
@olliemilman [27/3/15]: Vietnamese community out in force at Malcolm Fraser's funeral
Labour has promised to introduce new time limits on the detention of people trapped in the asylum and immigration system in a move that would bring Britain into line with most other western countries by banning indefinite detention. ... [Guardian - 26/3/15]
The major parties are beyond reform: Malcolm Fraser's unrealised manifesto [Canberra Times – 27/3/15]
A citizen of the world who cared": Condolence speech for the Rt Hon Malcolm Fraser from Clive Palmer MP [Media Release – 27/3/15]:
Before the last election, Malcolm Fraser and I had lunch in Melbourne. When I met him on that cold Melbourne morning, he was in high spirits, eager to engage in debate about important issues affecting Australia’s future.
High on his mind that morning and over lunch was the threat to the world, and Australia, of war. He stated that the world had been at war for over 50 years in different parts of the globe and he wondered when it would all stop.
He was a strong supporter of the development and sustainable growth and said as Prime Minister, “Development requires modification and transformation of the environment. The planet’s capacity to support its people is irreversibly reduced by the destruction and degradation of the biosphere and the need to understand the problem and take corrective action is becoming urgent.”
He saw the dangers to our planet far before others had thought about the issue. In his travels around Australia as Prime Minister, he touched the people and they touched him. He valued our democracy and reminded us in 1980 as our Prime Minister that “Secrecy is completely inadequate for democracy but totally appropriate for Tyranny.”
CARE Australia: Malcolm Fraser a passionate humanitarian [Media Release – 20/3/15]:
International aid organisation CARE Australia is shocked and saddened by the sudden passing of Malcolm Fraser, AC, CH Founding Chair of CARE Australia and Chair from 1987-2001.
CARE Australia CEO Dr Julia Newton-Howes said Mr Fraser was a passionate humanitarian and a fearless defender of human rights.
“Today is a very sad day for CARE Australia as we learn of Mr Fraser’s passing. Mr Fraser had passionate concern for the devastation of humanitarian emergencies on people’s lives and the injustice of poverty around the world,” said Dr Julia Newton-Howes.
“He will be remembered as a compassionate Australian, who deeply cared for Australia and for people living in poverty and crisis around the world.”
Dr Newton-Howes said that as founding Chair of CARE Australia, Mr Fraser helped Australian’s contribute to the challenge of realising a world where poverty has been overcome and people live in dignity and security.
“Mr Fraser chaired CARE Australia’s response to some of the world’s worst humanitarian emergencies including the Iraq war, Somalia famine, Bosnian war and Rwanda genocide. He had a hands-on approach and selflessly placed himself in the midst of major crises to see and understand the ordeal people were experiencing and to support staff in their relief efforts.
“Mr Fraser was instrumental in mobilising the international community to respond to humanitarian crises such as the Rwanda crisis in 1994. He discussed the unfolding genocide with Nelson Mandela and other African leaders at Mandela’s inauguration as president and challenged the African leaders to intervene and stop the blood-shed.
“CARE Australia staff have enormous respect for Mr Fraser, and his legacy lives on today as we help communities affected by the devastating Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu,” said Dr Julia Newton-Howes.
In 1987 Malcolm Fraser formed CARE Australia as part of the international CARE network of humanitarian aid organisations. He was chairman from 1987 until 2001, when Sir William Deane succeeded him.
Malcolm Fraser was also President of CARE International from 1991 to 1995, and its Vice-President for the next four years.
CARE Australia is an international humanitarian aid organisation fighting poverty, with a special focus on working with women and girls to bring lasting change to their communities.
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