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FREE THE REFUGEES!
"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 *
Man whose family are detained on Australia's asylum seeker prison ship fears if they are handed over to India, they may be sent to Sri Lanka
MARK COLVIN: India is now waiting for a response from the Abbott Government, after seeking consular access to the 157 Tamil asylum seekers being held on an Australian customs vessel on the high seas.
Both the Immigration Minister Scott Morrison's office and the Indian High Commission have confirmed the boat was discussed in Delhi yesterday. But neither will say whether Mr Morrison's asked India to accept some or all the 157 people Australian authorities intercepted more than three weeks ago.
One man, whose extended family is now in Australian custody, fears that if they're sent back to India, India may then hand them over to Sri Lanka.
From Canberra, Alexandra Kirk reports.
ALEXANDRA KIRK: The Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has left Delhi now, providing scant information about his meeting with the Indian home minister and external affairs minister.
Beyond the generic phrase of discussions about "cooperation on combating people smuggling", the Minister's office has now said they included the "most recent venture" involving an Indian-flagged vessel that left Tamil Nadu carrying 157 passengers.
India says the meeting was about quote, "the boat".
It's almost a month since the boat carrying Tamil asylum seekers was intercepted on its way to Christmas Island. And ever since then, they've been detained on an Australian customs vessel, somewhere on the high seas.
Vimal is the father of a three year old asylum seeker being held at sea, along with his wife and his wife's brother, sister and parents. They're all Tamils who fled Sri Lanka to India.
Vimal, who's now in Europe, says he last heard from them when the boat got into trouble, speaking on the phone just for a minute before the phone cut out.
VIMAL (translated): I'm so anxious about their whereabouts and current situation. They left Sri Lanka after fearing for their lives and came to India, as they couldn't live in India. They risked their lives to reach a country which respects human rights.
ALEXANDRA KIRK: The Indian High Commission in Canberra explains Delhi has sought consular access to the 157 people to determine who they are, where they departed from, whether they're Sri Lankan or Indian Tamils, or Sri Lankan nationals who fled to India but are not Indian citizens.
The High Commission says Indian officials would need to speak to the Tamil asylum seekers face to face, and India is still waiting for an answer from the Australian Government.
Vimal says Australia should not hand over any asylum seekers to India, fearing they'd end up being sent back to Sri Lanka, and face being tortured.
VIMAL (translated): If Australia passes on their responsibility to India, India could also pass on their responsibility to Sri Lanka. They get into major trouble if India hands them over to Sri Lanka, so Australia shouldn't hand them over to India.
We can't do anything in these refugee camps in India. One has to register even to go out of the camp for a while. There are no rights whatsoever in these camps. There is no freedom at all.
This is the reason refugees risk their lives to reach a safer place.
ALEXANDRA KIRK: The Indian High Commission stresses the importance of handling the matter, quote, "in a legal and humanitarian" way, ensuring the asylum seekers come to no harm.
But Vimal says he isn't reassured by that statement.
VIMAL (translated): I don't believe India's assurance because there are four refugees from Sri Lanka recently arrived in India by sea. They're detained in India's Pulal Camp. That's almost a jail.
Living in a refugee camp in India is like living in a prison. It's an open prison. We are constrained to a limited area.
ALEXANDRA KIRK: He says that's why refugees flee India.
VIMAL (translated): Many refugees leave refugee camps by boat and risk their lives to reach countries like Australia, because of these appalling situations prevailing in these camps.
We know we might die at sea, but if we survive, we're born again. Taking such a huge risk is proof enough of our plight, and how desperate the refugees are in India.
We're not allowed to lead a normal life in India, and can't go back to Sri Lanka. That's the reason they try to reach a destination where they can lead a peaceful life.
ALEXANDRA KIRK: PM asked Scott Morrison's office if he raised the possibility of India taking back some or all of the 157 asylum seekers, and whether the Government has granted India's request for access to them.
There's been no response.
MARK COLVIN: Alexandra Kirk.
No response to this either ---> Australian Human Rights Commissioner: Conditions on Christmas Island a national shame [ABC, World Today - 24/7/14]
... NAOMI WOODLEY: Formal education classes for the children will soon begin, and both professors say that is a positive development, but the Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young says it's not enough.
SARAH HANSON-YOUNG: Let's get these kids processed. If they're refugees, then we welcome them. If they're not, then we send them home.
NAOMI WOODLEY: She's endorsed the commission's call for the Government to immediately move the women and children to the mainland.
SARAH HANSON-YOUNG: It is inevitable that those children will deteriorate even faster in coming months. It is inevitable that someone will die inside that detention camp unless something changes.
It is a recipe for disaster, a humanitarian disaster, and what is going on inside is child abuse and I don't say that lightly.
NAOMI WOODLEY: The Federal Opposition's immigration spokesman, Richard Marles, is currently overseas and wasn't available for comment.
The Immigration Minister Scott Morrison is also overseas and his office has not responded to The World Today's questions about conditions on Christmas Island.
ELEANOR HALL: Naomi Woodley reporting from Canberra.
BBC got a response [24/7/14]:
... In remarks e-mailed to the BBC, the spokesman said that chest and gut infections are "not pervasive", and that any illness was treated with appropriate medical support.
The spokesman added that Christmas Island detainees had access to healthcare that was "commensurate" with that provided to Australians.
The spokesman noted that the number of children in detention on Christmas Island had declined by 60% since the Liberal-National coalition took power last year, and said there were currently 153 children in the camp.
More than 1,000 would-be migrants attempt Melilla fence jump
El Pais [23/7/14]:
Around 1,000 undocumented Africans attempted to jump the border fence separating Moroccan territory from the Spanish exclave of Melilla on Wednesday morning.
A large contingent of Moroccan and Spanish law enforcement officers prevented the migrants from entering Spain and thus European territory.
The immigrants had attached hooks and screws onto their shoes in an attempt to defeat the new anti-climb mesh installed by Spain as an added deterrent.
Since the mesh has been in place, just 0.86 percent of fence-jumpers have made it into Melilla.
So far this year, around 3,500 undocumented Africans have managed to enter the city, a 234-percent rise from the same period the year before.
The Spanish government says that more than 10,000 people have attempted to cross into Spain at Mellila and Ceuta, the other Spanish exclave on the northern coast of Africa. Spain is treating the issue as a crisis situation and has asked for cooperation from Morocco and the European Union.
Interior Minister Jorge Fernández Díaz visited Melilla last Monday and praised the efficiency of the mesh, as well as the joint work of Moroccan and Spanish forces to fight illegal immigration.
Even though the mesh is working very well, we are not letting our guard down, because they will try to find a way to overcome that obstacle as well, he said.
Wednesdays attempt marked the biggest of its kind since June, when 900 people unsuccessfully tried to enter Spanish territory. On July 7, 20 out of 130 individuals successfully went over.
By comparison, on May 28, when the anti-climb mesh was still not in place, around 400 climbed over into Melilla.
United Nations Human Rights Council Resolution on Gaza: Full Text
India, along with BRICS countries today, voted in support of a United Nations Human Rights Council resolution to launch a probe into Israel's offensive on Gaza. (India Votes in Support of UN Resolution on Gaza)
Here is the full text of the resolution:
In a resolution (A/HRC/S-21/L.1) on ensuring respect for international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, adopted by a vote of 29 States in favour, 1 against and 17 abstentions, the Council strongly condemns the failure of Israel, the occupying Power, to end its prolonged occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem; and condemns in the strongest terms the widespread, systematic and gross violations of international human rights and fundamental freedoms arising from the Israeli military operations carried out in the Occupied Palestinian Territory since 13 June 2014 that may amount to international crimes, directly resulting in the killing of more than 650 Palestinians, most of them civilians and more than 170 of whom are children, the injury of more than 4,000 people and the wanton destruction of homes, vital infrastructure and public properties.
The Council condemns all violence against civilians wherever it occurs, including the killing of two Israeli civilians as a result of rocket fire; calls for an immediate cessation of Israeli military assaults throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and an end to attacks against all civilians, including Israeli civilians; demands that Israel, the occupying Power, immediately and fully end its illegal closure of the occupied Gaza Strip; calls upon the international community to provide urgently needed humanitarian assistance and services to the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip; and expresses deep concern at the condition of Palestinian prisoners and detainees in Israeli jails and detention centres.
The Council also recommends that the Government of Switzerland, in its capacity as depositary of the Fourth Geneva Convention, promptly reconvene the conference of High Contracting Parties to the Convention; and decides to urgently dispatch an independent, international commission of inquiry to investigate all violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, in the context of the military operations conducted since 13 June 2014, and to report to the Council at its twenty-eighth session.
The result of the vote was as follows:
In favour (29): Algeria, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, China, Congo, Costa Rica, Cote d'Ivoire, Cuba, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Maldives, Mexico, Morocco, Namibia, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela, and Viet Nam.
Against (1): United States of America.
Abstentions (17): Austria, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Gabon, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Montenegro, Republic of Korea, Romania, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and United Kingdom.
ITV News has witnessed the aftermath of an attack on a UN school in Gaza, which has left at least 16 people dead and dozens more injured.
The Beit Hanoun elementary school, which was being used as a shelter, had around 800 people - mostly women and children - inside when the attack took place at 2.30pm today. ... [ITV - 24/7/14]
Gaza ceasefire talks uncertain as Palestinian death toll exceeds 730 [Al Akhbar - 24/7/14]
Some 400 Palestinians fleeing Israeli raids that have destroyed their neighborhoods have taken shelter in a Greek Orthodox Church in Gaza City.
Desperate Gazans escaping from Beit Hanoun and Shejaia, where more than 70 Palestinians many of them women and children were killed on July 20, have entered the Church of Saint Porphyrius after Archbishop Alexios opened the door. ... [Hurriyet Daily News - 24/7/14]
alarmed over civilian toll in Gaza: British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond
[France 24 - 24/7/14]
Brazil has recalled its ambassador from Israel following the operation in Gaza.
''The Brazilian government considers the escalating violence unacceptable'', said a statement quoted by Israeli media. ''We firmly condemn the disproportionate use of force by Israel in Gaza''.
Egyptian airline Air Sinai, controlled by Egypt Air, the only carrier connecting Egypt with Israel, has suspended flights to Tel Aviv indefinitely ''due to the dangerous situation'' in the area, according to airport sources in Cairo.
The move forced Israel's ambassador to Cairo, Haim Corey, together with nine embassy officials, to travel to Tel Aviv through Amman, in Jordan, the sources added.
The decision comes as the US federal aviation authority lifted a ban on US flights to Tel Aviv.
Meanwhile reports said five members of the same family Abu Eita, were killed last night at the Jabalya refugee camp by an Israeli strike. Twenty other people were injured.
More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the nations reserve force, citing regret over their part in a military they said plays a central role in oppressing Palestinians, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday. ... [Al Arabiya - 24/7/14]
Iraq: 60 dead in attack on prisoner convoy
The News Tribune [24/7/14]:
Gunmen attacked a prisoner convoy north of Baghdad on Thursday, setting off a gunbattle with troops in which 52 prisoners and eight soldiers were killed, officials said.
The attack came as Iraq's parliament was set to elect a president, part of a troubled political transition that has seen repeated delays despite the lightning advance of Sunni militants across much of northern and western Iraq last month.
U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon arrived in Baghdad earlier Thursday to encourage lawmakers to form a more inclusive government that can address the crisis.
The dawn attack began with militants firing mortar rounds on Iraqi army bases in the town of Taji, where suspects were being held on terrorism charges, prompting officials to evacuate the facilities, fearing a jailbreak.
As the convoy traveled through a remote area, roadside bombs went off and militants opened fire. The ensuing battle left 52 prisoners and eight soldiers dead, with another eight soldiers and seven prisoners wounded, they added.
It was not immediately clear if the prisoners were killed by soldiers or militants, or if the extremist Islamic State group was involved.
The town of Taji is located some 20 kilometers (12 miles) north of the capital.
The officials two policemen, an army officer and a medical official spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to release information.
Militants affiliated with the Islamic State group - which seized much of northern and western Iraq last month - have staged several jailbreaks, including a complex, military-style assault on two Baghdad-area prisons in July 2013 that freed more than 500 inmates.
Apparently fearing a repeat of the incident, Shiite militiamen killed nearly four dozen Sunni detainees last month in the town of Baqouba northwest of Baghdad when the facility where they were being held came under attack, according to a report by Amnesty International.
The report documented a "pattern of extrajudicial executions" of mainly Sunni detainees by forces loyal to the Shiite-led government in Baqouba and in the north, basing its conclusions on interviews with survivors and relatives of those killed.
The rapid advance of the Islamic State group, which captured Iraq's second largest city of Mosul and declared a self-styled Islamic Caliphate straddling the Iraq-Syria border, has plunged Iraq into its worst crisis since U.S. troops withdrew in 2011.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has come under increasing pressure to step aside, with critics accusing him of monopolizing power and alienating the country's Sunni and Kurdish minorities. He has vowed to remain in his post, however, which he has held since 2006, and his bloc won the most votes in April elections.
The vote for president - a largely ceremonial post currently held by Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani - was to take place later Thursday after being delayed the day before.
of Baghdad: Why is the world silent? [Vatican Radio - 24/7/14]
Afghanistan: Explosion in Takhar leaves 9 dead, 27 injured
At least nine people were killed and nearly 27 others were injured following an explosion in northeastern Takhar province.
According to local government officials, the incident took on Thursday morning in Khawajah Ghar district.
Provincial governor spokesman, Sanatullah Temori, said a motorcycle packed with explosives was detonated in a busy market around 10:30 am local time.
Temori further added that the target of the explosion was a convoy of the Afghan Local Police (ALP) forces which was crossing the area.
The Ministry of Interior (MoI) blamed Taliban group for the incident and said at least 6 civilians were killed and 28 others were injured in the blast.
No group including the Taliban militants has so far claimed responsibility behind the incident.
Unknown gunmen shot dead two foreign aid workers in western Herat province of Afghanistan.
The aid workers were reportedly working in a non-governmental organization (NGO) and were serving in health sector.
Interior ministry spokesman, Sediq Sediqi, confirmed that two foreigners were shot dead by unknown gunmen.
Sediqi said a massive search operation and hunt operation has been launched to detain the assailant militants.
Local security officials in Herat province said the two female aid workers were travelling in a taxi vehicle when they were attacked by gunmen.
Arseniy Yatsenyuk resigns from post of Ukrainian prime minister
Ukrainian parliament-appointed Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk announced his resignation on Thursday.
In connection with the breakup of the parliamentary coalition, as well as non-adoption of a number of important bills, I announce my resignation, Yatsenyuk said from the Verkhovna Radas rostrum.
Rada speaker Alexander Turchinov suggested that deputies submit their candidacy for the post of a technical prime minister to the parliament.
The Verkhovna Rada approved Arseniy Yatsenyuk as new prime minister on February 27.
With a simple majority consisting of 226 votes, 371 MPs supported Yatsenyuks candidacy.
PNG: Ex-police chief to fight revocation
PNG Loop [24/7/14]:
Former Police Commissioner Tom Kulunga is challenging the National Executive Council decision that revoked his appointment as the Commissioner.
Kulunga, through lawyer Loani Henao, has filed an application in court seeking a judicial review of his revocation by the NEC and also the appointment of current Commissioner Geoffrey Vaki.
Filed on Tuesday, the application was brought before Justice Les Gavara-Nanu today but was adjourned as it was a new matter. Justice Gavara-Nanu was only to hear adjourned matters today.
Henao told PNG Loop that Kulunga was seeking a review on the grounds that the revoking of his appointment was allegedly made without any proper reasons.
Kulunga is also challenging the appointment of Vaki on the alleged reasons that proper processes were not followed by the NEC. The reliefs being sought by Kulunga is his re-instatement to the post of Police Commissioner and the dismissal of Vakis appointment.
The hearing of the motion has been listed for Aug 7th2014. Meanwhile, the judicial review application by former Deputy Police Commissioner, Simon Kauba, also challenging the NEC decision to sack him has been adjourned to the same date.
European court rules against Poland over secret CIA jail
The European Court of Human Rights ruled on Thursday that the CIA ran a secret jail on Polish soil, a judgement that adds to pressure on the United States and its allies to reveal the truth about the global programme for detaining al Qaeda suspects.
The United States has acknowledged the existence of its "extraordinary rendition" scheme in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks but has never revealed which of its allies hosted the secret detention facilities.
It is becoming harder to maintain that silence, especially after Thursday's ruling by the Strasbourg-based court, which comes as a U.S. Senate committee prepares to publish parts of a critical classified report about extraordinary rendition.
The court case was brought by two men, Saudi-born Abu Zubaydah, and Saudi national Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who alleged they were flown in secret to a CIA-run jail in a Polish forest and subjected to treatment that amounted to torture.
The two men, who are now in Guantanamo Bay, the U.S. military prison on Cuba, brought the case against Poland for failing to prevent their illegal detention and torture and for failing to prosecute those responsible.
The Strasbourg-based court ruled that Poland had violated Articles of the European Convention on Human Rights that cover torture, the right to liberty, and the right to an effective remedy for victims of crime.
It ordered Poland to pay al-Nashiri 100,000 euros in damages and 130,000 euros to Zubaydah. The court ruling did not cover the United States, which is outside its jurisdiction.
Thursday's decision puts the Polish government in an awkward position. It has a close security relationship with the United States and Polish officials have always denied the existence of any CIA jail on their territory.
The ruling may also have implications for other European states alleged to have hosted CIA prisons: similar cases have been lodged with the court in Strasbourg against Romania and Lithuania.
'Qaeda' suspects kill army officer in south Yemen
Zee News [24/7/14]:
Al-Qaeda suspects on a motorbike shot dead an army officer Thursday in Lahij province of southern Yemen, a local security official said.
The gunmen opened fire at Major Bilal Karo near his home in Thalab town, "immediately killing him," the source said, adding that the militants "suspected of belonging to Al-Qaeda" fled on their motorbike.
A medical source said Karo's body was taken to Ibn Khaldoun hospital in the province.
Motorbikes in the impoverished country have become a tool for hit-and-run shootings which have killed dozens of officials in past years.
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, branded by Washington as the network's deadliest franchise, has been blamed for most such attacks, although it has never claimed them.
In December, Yemen enforced a temporary ban on motorbikes in Sanaa to prevent attacks during a key phase of a national dialogue.
Lahij province is home to Al-Anad air base, where Yemeni officials have said Washington has deployed personnel to gather intelligence for its drone war on Al-Qaeda.
In late April, the Yemeni army launched a ground offensive against Al-Qaeda in Abyan and Shabwa provinces to the east.
The military says it has killed more than 500 militants, but the jihadists are believed to have regrouped in the mountains and neighbouring provinces.
citizens in Yemen accuse American embassy of confiscating passports [Guardian
Clashes in Libya's Benghazi kill at least nine
At least nine people were killed and 19 wounded, mostly civilians, in Benghazi after heavy clashes between Islamist fighters and regular forces trying to oust the militants from the eastern Libyan city, medical sources said.
The fighting late on Wednesday involving aircraft and troops followed a week of the fiercest clashes between militants, former rebel fighters and government forces in Benghazi and the capital Tripoli since the 2011 war against Muammar Gaddafi.
More than 50 people have died so far in the violence that has deepened fears post-war Libya is slipping into lawlessness, with its government unable to control heavily armed brigades of former rebel fighters battling for power.
Two main rival militias have exchanged fire with Grad rockets, shells and anti-aircraft cannons for control of Tripoli's main airport, shutting down most international flights and prompting the United Nations to pull its staff out of Libya.
The fighting has also taken a toll on Libya's fragile oil industry, with one main field, El-Feel, reducing production due to the clashes, and total output slipping around 20 percent to 450,000 barrels per day on Monday.
Boeing in deal to provide plane parts to Iran
Al Arabiya [24/7/14]:
Boeing has struck a deal with Iran Air to provide plane parts, the first time the US firm will be doing business with Iran since the U.S. embargo of 1979.
According to a regulatory filing published Wednesday, Boeing will supply goods and services "related to the safety of flight" to Iran Air, the country's flag carrier.
The filing says that the agreement, reached in the second quarter, includes the provision of airplane parts, manuals, navigation charts and data to the airline, in line with the U.S. company's recommendations to customers for such things as an aircraft modification, a parts replacement or inspection.
Boeing also reported it had discussions with the flag carrier's subsidiary, Iran Air Tours, on the potential sale of similar goods and services.
The Chicago-based company said that it had generated no gross revenues or net profits during the second quarter in relation with those activities.
In April, the US government issued a license allowing Boeing, for a "limited period of time," to provide "spare parts that are for safety purposes" to Iran. Boeing is still not allowed to sell new planes to Iran.
The license was granted by the US Treasury Department in the context of an interim deal between world powers and Iran over its nuclear program signed in November.
In late February, another US company, General Electric, indicated it had requested permission to sell spare airliner parts to Iran.
Washington severed diplomatic relations with Iran in the aftermath of the 1979 Islamic revolution.
The United States and European nations have imposed severe economic sanctions on Iran in recent years aiming to pressure Tehran to dramatically reduce its nuclear program for a lengthy period of time to keep it from developing nuclear weapons.
Iran has steadfastly insisted its nuclear program is for civilian purposes.
If Russia is behind MH17 crash, wheres the evidence? Defense Ministry
Russia has so far been the only nation to release evidence related to the MH17 crash, the Defense Ministry said, urging other countries to follow suit.
Though there have been a lot of claims of Russias involvement, none have been backed by proof.
The US claims its intelligence data and satellite imagery confirm that the missile which downed MH17 was fired from rebel-controlled territory. So far its only a claim that has to be supplemented by proof, Russias Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said in an emotional address released on Thursday.
Where is this data? Why hasnt it been made public? Is it because it is still being cooked, if I may say so? Antonov asked in the statement.
By the way, one of the four US experts reportedly said that Russia may have been involved in creating conditions for the launch of this missile. It was nice, of course, of the other three that they did not say anything, but what about the fourth? Does he have any grounds to make such accusations? Or is it something predetermined?
Antonov wondered how the bulk of accusations that Russia has been facing could possibly be based on unverified material taken from social media.
US intelligence officials refer to some photos posted on social networks which allegedly show a missile launcher crossing the border between Russia and Ukraine. What exactly are they talking about? Are they talking about a picture of a Ukrainian Buk being transported somewhere by Ukrainians on a prime mover with a white cab, made in the town of Krasnoarmeysk, which has long been controlled by the Ukrainian military? Or maybe they are talking about a photograph of Buk No. 312? If so, there is another picture of the same launcher rolling as part of a Ukrainian armor column. Gentlemen, are you implying that this is the launcher that fired the missile? If so, demand an explanation from Kiev.
Antonov reminded that following the plane crash, the Russian Defense Ministry released monitoring data related to the accident. Based on this information, the ministry developed a number of questions for Ukraine and other countries which are blaming Russia for the tragedy. The questions have remained unanswered.
The Russian Defense Ministry would like to know, for example, why the US rules out the possibility that the plane was shot down by the Ukrainian military.
This begs the question: are US experts ready to assume responsibility for their claims? Do they know where all the SAM launchers are deployed in Ukraine? What do they have to say about the monitoring data presented by Russia? Do they ignore it simply because there is nothing for them to say?
Speaking about accusations of Russian military build-up on the border with Ukraine, Antonov recalled nine instances of Russian territory coming under fire in the course of June and July from Ukraine. One of those instances turned fatal for a Russian citizen, Andrei Shulyatyev.
What if US territory was shelled from a neighboring country and, God forbid, a US citizen was killed? Antonov asked.
What would the United States do? I think the answer is obvious. Yet Russia is behaving in a reserved and responsible manner. It is therefore self-evident who is trying to provoke whom at the border. Why dont you take note of the constant rocket shelling of Donetsk and Lugansk instead, which claims civilian lives?
Flight MH17 Voice Recorder in Good Condition ICAO
RIA Novosti [24/7/14]:
The cockpit voice recorder (CVR) of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777, which crashed in eastern Ukraine on July 17, is in good condition, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) said Thursday.
"The cockpit voice recorder is in good condition," ICAO said in a statement.
The experts from the organization are investigating the causes and circumstances of the tragedy. The statement also said that specialists were currently analyzing the device.
A study of the data recorded by the device is expected to be carried out Thursday. At the same time, the international specialists managed to successfully extract data from the CVR and will now analyze it.
On Wednesday, the MH17 flight recorders, known as black boxes, were delivered to the United Kingdom, where Air Accidents Investigation Branch specialists in Farnborough will study them. It is one of two labs in Europe that can extract data from flight recorders, with the other located in Italy. According to British officials, the deciphering process will take about two days.
The Dutch-led international team of 24 specialists, including Russian and Ukrainian analysts, will carry an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the MH17 catastrophe.
Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed on July 17 near the city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board, including 283 passengers and 15 crew members.
The Ukrainian government and militia have been trading blame for the alleged downing of the airliner, with independence supporters saying they lacked the technology to shoot down a target flying at altitude of 33,000 feet.
Russias Defense Ministry said that at the time of the crash, the Ukrainian military had at least 27 Buk surface-to-air missile systems capable of hitting targets at the attitude of up to 25,000 meters (82,000 feet).
Air Algerie plane 'disappears' with 116 on board
Algerian aviation authorities have lost contact with an Air Algerie aircraft en route from Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso to Algiers, about 50 minutes after take off, the APS state news agency reported this morning.
It is understood there are 110 passengers onboard flight AH5017, an airbus A320.
The last contact Algerian authorities had with a missing Air Algerie aircraft carrying 116 people form Burkina Faso to Algiers was at 0155 GMT when it was flying over Gao, Mali, an Algerian official said on Thursday.
APS quotes the source as saying that the flag carrier has "started its emergency plan".
Spanish private airline company Swiftair said it had lost contact with one of its airplane operated by Air Algerie with 110 passengers and 6 crew members onboard.
The company said in a notice posted on its website that the aircraft took off from Burkina Faso at 0117 local time and was supposed to land in Algiers at 0510 local time but never reached its destination.
It said the 6 crew members includes 2 pilots and 4 flight attendents.
An Algerian official confirmed to Reuters the aircraft is an Airbus A320. Flight AH5017 flies Ouagadougou - Algiers route four times per week.
The plane's flight path was not immediately clear.
Ougadougou is in a nearly straight line south of Algiers, passing over Mali where unrest continues in the north.
A senior French official said it was unlikely that fighters in Mali had weaponry that could shoot down a plane.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the fighters have shoulder-fired weapons which could not hit an aircraft at cruising altitude.
Castro's niece - prominent gay rights advocate Mariela Castro - aboard missing
Air Algerie plane [WHAS11 - 24/7/14]
South Korea reports first foot-and-mouth case in 3 years
Channel News Asia [24/7/14]:
South Korea on Thursday confirmed its first case of foot-and-mouth in more than three years, and just two months after the country was declared free of the disease.
The Agriculture Ministry said in a statement that the case had been confirmed in a pig farm in Uiseong in the eastern province of North Gyeongsang.
"A close examination confirmed an outbreak of FMD at the Uiseong farm," the statement said.
South Korea had just regained its status as an FMD-free country in May at a meeting of the World Organisation for Animal Health in Paris.
The entire Korean peninsula suffered a devastating outbreak in 2011 that resulted in the culling of nearly 3.5 million cattle, pigs and other animals in South Korea alone. The Seoul government estimated the cost of that outbreak at $2.6 billion.
Foot-and-mouth disease affects cloven-hoofed animals such as cattle, pigs, deer, goats and sheep. North Korea suffered an outbreak in February this year, triggering a rare offer of vaccine and medical equipment from the South.
Samoa on health alert over suspected dengue fever outbreak
Islands Business [24/7/14]:
Samoa's Ministry of Health (MOH) has put the country on high alert to prevent the entry of what is suspected as an outbreak of dengue fever in neighbouring American Samoa.
This was reaffirmed by Tuliau Dr.Seine Vaai-Neilsen in a press conference Wednesday.
The alert was a prompt response to an outbreak of Acute Fever and Rash (AFR) in American Samoa.
The symptoms of AFR is similar to that of dengue fever and is suspected to be a virus transmitted by a mosquito hence the alert, said Dr. Neilsen.
Due to the proximity of our two islands, the public to take precautions and seek medical advice when the symptoms show, said Dr. Neilsen.
The symptoms includes feverish, skin rash, joint pains, generalized body aches, headaches and other less common symptoms.
The symptoms remind MOH of the dengue fever outbreak in 2008 which last five months.
No case has been reported to MOH yet of any cases similar to the AFR in American Samoa, however, Dr. Neilsen said it was always best to take precaution and report any suspected cases.
Hotels and resorts operators have also been alerted to report any suspected cases. The Airlines have also been alerted on the situation.
It is highly recommended that traveling between Samoa and American Samoa should be monitored well to avoid anyone with the disease entering Samoa.
It is not easy to monitor because a person can be a carrier of the disease for three to four days before the symptoms show, said Dr. Neilsen.
In American Samoa, 102 cases were reported since 7 July. Two have been hospitalized with one in intensive care.
The Ministrys Prevention and Education division has already started an operation called Surveillance and Vector Control on all international port of entry.
They are using Aerosol spray to spray aeroplanes and boats entering the country.
With Samoa hosting the Small Island Development States (SIDS) conference next month, MOH is vigilant to keep the virus from entering Samoa.
GM recalls 717,950 vehicles in U.S., not for ignition switches
General Motors Co on Wednesday announced six recalls covering 717,950 vehicles in the United States for varying reasons, although none were related to ignition switch issues.
GM has recalled nearly 15 million vehicles worldwide this year for potentially lethal issues with ignition switches.
The largest recall announced Wednesday is for a potentially loose bolt in power adjustable front seats for several cars from model years 2010 and 2012.
Vehicles involved in the recalls announced Wednesday have been linked to two crashes and three injuries but no deaths, GM said.
Most of GM's recalls this year have been for older models, but many of the recalls announced Wednesday are for current-model vehicles, including about 57,000 Chevrolet Impala sedans from the 2014 model year for the loss of power steering.
The latest recalls hit GM's best-selling vehicles, the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickup trucks, from the 2014-2015 model years.
They were among about 124,000 vehicles across eight model lines recalled because a weld on seat brackets may not have been done properly. GM said it expects that 1 percent of welds were not completed properly.
Others recalled include three Cadillac models from the 2014 model year, - the ATS, CTS and ELR.
The largest of the recalls announced Wednesday was for 414,333 vehicles that may have a loose bolt to adjust front seat heights. Consumers are advised not to use the power seat height adjuster until dealers can replace a bolt.
Vehicles involved in this recall include the 2010-2012 Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain crossovers; the 2011-2012 Buick Regal and LaCrosse sedans; the 2010-2012 Cadillac SRX crossovers and the 2011-2012 Chevrolet Camaro sports cars.
GM on Wednesday did not report how many more vehicles will be included in the six recalls outside the United States.
GM has recalled about 29 million vehicles worldwide this year, of which about 25.7 million have been in the United States.
Orica-GreenEDGE's Michael Albasini denies making racist comments
North West Star [24/7/14]:
Orica-GreenEDGE general manager Shayne Bannan says that he would look at sacking any of his riders if they were proven to have made racist remarks.
The Australian team's boss was speaking in the aftermath of such an allegation against one of his cyclists, Michael Albasini, that the Swiss rider vehemently denied after Tuesdays 16th stage of the Tour de France in the Pyrenees.
Albasini was accused of calling French rider Kevin Reza a dirty negro during the 16th stage from Carcassonne to Bagneres de Luchon.
But Bannan supports Albasini who said he was misunderstood by Reza, and believes that a meeting between the pair before Wednesdays 124.5km 17th stage from Saint Gaudens to Saint Lary Pla dAdet has provided clarity to that.
When asked what Orica-GreenEDGE's policy on racism is, Bannan said that: The team position of racism [is that] isnt tolerated and we stand by that.
Asked if a rider would be lose their contract if their action or words were racist, Bannan said: We term it as putting the sport - or the team - into disrepute. Putting it at that level, if in fact there was that type of scenario then we would seriously look at it.
Asked if he believed Albasinis version of what happened, and told that Rezas team manager Jean-Rene Bernaudeau said on Tuesday that he believed Reza, Bannan said: Well, he is our rider. We do believe what he has presented to us
"But we also understand that there could have been some miscommunication and repeat that racial slurs and comments are not acceptable and are not about what we are as a team.
By Wednesday morning, no one was exactly sure what Albasini had said to Reza, in light of the Swiss riders denial that his words contained anything of a racist nature.
Albasini said he regretted his comments, but while admitting they were harsh, said they were in response to his frustration for the French rider not riding in a breakaway.
I was angry with him and for sure I say to him some words maybe I shouldnt but none of them were of racist content, Albasini said outside the Australian teams bus in Saint Gaudens.
He misunderstood me, that is what happened; so I couldnt understand all the trouble at the finish line because I am far away from being a racist or anything like this.
But Albasini would not say what he exactly said to Reza when he asked, other than: I'm not going to repeat any bad words in the media because when you're in sport going full gas, hard words are said, but there's no sense to repeat it.
However, he said he repeated his words to Reza during the flash point of their clash.
He came up and asked, What did you say?, Albasini explained.
I said to him again well, I didn't choose nice words, but that's how it is when you are on your limit, but definitely there was no racist comments.
I told him, how it was not nice if you are going full gas and one guy stays on your wheel. I don't understand after the stage it came out I was saying something racist.
The two riders met before Wednesdays stage at Rezas team hotel in Vielha, a town on the Spanish side of the Pyrenees where Orica-GreenEDGE also stayed overnight.
After that meeting, a Tour organisation representative also visited the Europcar hotel to be briefed on what had happened and where things stood between the two riders.
I'm happy I could see him to say my version. I apologised for misunderstanding, I hope he understood that there wasn't anything racist, Albasini said.
I apologised we had a handshake. I hope for me and for him, this story is gone.
Europcar and Bernaudeau tried on Wednesday to defuse the issue that Bernaudeau raised with his accusation the day before in quotes published by the French newspaper Sud Ouest.
But there was still no denial from the French team that a racist remark had been made.
On Tuesday night, Bernaudeau was quoted on the website of Sud Ouest as saying that Reza had been called a dirty negro by Albasini and that: "I do not tolerate racism.
"After doping, it is the other scourge of the sport. I got Kevin very upset after the race. This is unacceptable, inadmissible. We will solve it [Wednesday] at the start.
On Wednesday, Europcar said Reza would not comment on it, saying the rider wanted to focus on the race.
Bernaudeau would only say to reporters: "Before you ask a question, the case is closed. They met, they have had an explanation. Case is closed.
Told his mood was different on Tuesday, Bernaudeau replied: "I can't stand racism. The case is closed. It was a strategic problem. Kevin had no authorisation to pull in the breakaway. They talked and said things they shouldn't.
"The case is totally closed."
Pressed on whether racism was central to the issue, Bernaudeau said: The case is really closed. Things are settled and I am glad they are settled, they shook hands.
What was said or not by Albasini to Reza may remain a mystery up until the Tour finishes in Paris on Sunday, or even way beyond as the road cycling season continues.
But the issue still raises the question of whether or how far racism exists in the peloton in which so many nationalities, cultures and languages are represented.
Racism is simply too delicate an issue to let that question remain unanswered.
Trades union forced ACT asbestos removal, not health concerns
Canberra Times [23/7/14]:
The Hawke government was forced to fund the removal of deadly asbestos from buildings in Canberra more by the threat of trade union industrial action than by health concerns, newly released documents show.
Cabinet-in-confidence documents released by the National Archives show the Trades and Labour Council of the ACT was already calling for action on Mr Fluffy asbestos at the same time it was picketing the National Library in 1983.
The documents also show the ACT Administration was inadequately prepared to deal with the loose-fill asbestos insulation crisis that would hit at the end of the decade.
The Hawke government documents, which relate to the decision to fund the asbestos removal from the library and two schools, included an ultimatum sent by the union to the first asbestos working party in the ACT.
The union also took out an advertisement in The Canberra Times warning householders, prospective buyers and renovators about deadly brown asbestos fluff insulation two months later.
In the ultimatum secretary Peter ODea claimed the health of workers exposed to the asbestos was not being taken seriously and that the government continued to permit the use of asbestos in the ACT fully knowing the health implications.
But the most damning aspect of the inquiry, he said, was that the casualties of exposure to asbestos through government and departmental negligence were not to be considered.
It can do nothing for those who due to having built, worked or lived in buildings with asbestos have developed cancer of the lungs, larynx or stomach and/or breathing disorders, Mr O'Dea said.
The council was also angry that the Commonwealth, through the National Capital Development Commission, continued to approve the use of asbestos despite its knowledge the substance was dangerous to peoples health.
Mr ODea also writes that the working party had no powers to investigate asbestos in non-government buildings and laments that no one is concerned for the safety and care of people living in homes laden with asbestos.
Who will pick up the tab for its removal? We have been informed that at least 800 such homes have already been identified, he said.
The cabinet-in-confidence documents show asbestos was removed from the National Library in 1984 because the Hawke government was concerned about the threat of significant industrial action, not the health implications.
The Trades and Labour Council had picketed the library for about three months over the issue in 1983 which caused inconvenience to users and threatened the collection.
The council wanted the asbestos removed but the government's first investigation showed there was no health threat to workers and no action was taken.
The National Archives papers show the government approved $1.2 million in funding because of the in-principle agreement given to the union to end the picketing of the library.
The unions list of demands included that the government advertise the dangers of asbestos insulation in private dwellings.
Documents submitted to cabinet request urgent action because of the threat of significant industrial disruption if a decision on expenditure was not made.
Any delays or repudiation of that agreement now would be seen by the TLC as a breach of faith and it is anticipated that extensive and strong industrial action would be certain, a submission by ministers, including Territories Minister Tom Uren, said.
The Hawke government was also concerned about the proposal creating a precedent for asbestos removal from other Commonwealth buildings and facilities. Several departments argued strongly for a delay until all buildings in the territory could be assessed.
Expert advice to cabinet from the Commonwealth Institute of Health said there was no significant health risk from the presence of asbestos in the library and removal of it was not supported.
However this was at odds with the independent report compiled by Kevin Purse and Ian Furness of the South Australian Asbestos Advisory Committee that was scathing of the ACTs total absence of legislative and ancillary provisions concerning all aspects of asbestos usage, control and removal.
They said historically the hazards posed by airborne asbestos dust had been known as far back as 1918 but had been largely neglected.
Despite this, legislative provisions have been totally lacking as in the case of the ACT or not implemented as has been the case in other states, they said.
Together with poor management practices this has resulted in workers being subjected to totally unwarranted health hazards.
Former Hawke government adviser Peter Conway said at the time there had been a realisation asbestos in the territory was going to be an issue.
I think it was a growing awareness that we had a problem and had to do something about it, Mr Conway said.
The former chair of the first ACT Asbestos Working Party, Ben Selinger, says the National Library was the first attempt to deal with asbestos in the ACT.
We had no regulations, no way of dealing with it except for trying to find another jurisdiction whose rules and regs we could just use, Dr Selinger said.
Dr Selinger, who was a reader in chemistry at the Australian National University, said it was the union that forced the government to take action on the issue.
They had placards saying One Fibre Kills and so on which were wrong, but they got the public onside, they got things moving and Tommy Uren, who was the minister, said Look, get me out of this hole. I want to see something done, he said.
Like most campaigns if you want to get something done you overstate it and they certainly did that.
Dr Selinger said he doesnt know how much was publicly known about asbestos at the time but certainly within scientific and regulatory authorities a lot was known.
Asbestos has been an issue since Roman times, he said.
By post war its effects, like smoking, were pretty well established but enthusiasm for doing something about it was pretty low.
Dr Selinger said the asbestos working party he chaired had been disbanded after a few years and the incoming working party dealt with the issue of loose-fill asbestos in residential properties.
The Commonwealth was running the ACT, this was a standard material that was authorised to be used, so most people then quite naturally assumed it was fine, he said.
The removal of asbestos from the National Library paved the way for new asbestos guidelines for the ACT, the first ACT Asbestos Advisory Committee, the ACT Asbestos Branch and the loose-fill insulation removal program.
The ACT Administration wrote to householders in the ACT about the Mr Fluffy loose-fill insulation in 1987 when it believed that up to 8000 houses could have been affected.
Teens injured after being hit by car
Nine MSN [24/7/14]:
Two teenagers have been hit by a car in Campbelltown.
A 14-year-old boy and 13-year-old girl were struck near a local cinema complex just after 4pm.
Both have been taken to hospital and are believed to be in a stable condition.
The Secret Government Rulebook For Labeling You a Terrorist
The Intercept [23/7/14]
Jeremy Scahill and Ryan Devereaux
The Obama administration has quietly approved a substantial expansion of the terrorist watchlist system, authorizing a secret process that requires neither concrete facts nor irrefutable evidence to designate an American or foreigner as a terrorist, according to a key government document obtained by The Intercept.
The March 2013 Watchlisting Guidance, a 166-page document issued last year by the National Counterterrorism Center, spells out the governments secret rules for putting individuals on its main terrorist database, as well as the no fly list and the selectee list, which triggers enhanced screening at airports and border crossings.
The new guidelines allow individuals to be designated as representatives of terror organizations without any evidence they are actually connected to such organizations, and it gives a single White House official the unilateral authority to place entire categories of people the government is tracking onto the no fly and selectee lists.
It broadens the authority of government officials to nominate people to the watchlists based on what is vaguely described as fragmentary information. It also allows for dead people to be watchlisted.
Over the years, the Obama and Bush Administrations have fiercely resisted disclosing the criteria for placing names on the databasesthough the guidelines are officially labeled as unclassified. In May, Attorney General Eric Holder even invoked the state secrets privilege to prevent watchlisting guidelines from being disclosed in litigation launched by an American who was on the no fly list.
In an affidavit, Holder called them a clear roadmap to the governments terrorist-tracking apparatus, adding: The Watchlisting Guidance, although unclassified, contains national security information that, if disclosed could cause significant harm to national security.
... From October, the fixed and mobile cameras will scan about 600,000 registration plates every week.
Eight fixed cameras will be installed on highways across the state from Brisbane to Cardwell.
Another 15 mobile Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras will be mounted on the roofs of well-labelled cars driven by Department of Transport and Main Roads staff.
The cameras, which cost up to $22,000, will record thousands of plates a day and send the information back to a centralised database for cross-referencing with registration records.
Owners of unregistered plates will automatically receive fines in the mail.
Police around the country currently use similar devices to conduct background criminal checks or to issue on-the-spot fines.
The State Government says the data collected by the new cameras will not be used by any other department at this stage.
Queensland Council for Civil Liberties president Michael Cope said governments should be responsible when collecting large amounts of personal data.
"What we are concerned about is the development of the surveillance state," he said
"We say people's private information should not be collected when they have not committed an offence."
Mr Cope said similar registration surveillance programs overseas should act as examples for Australian authorities.
"In the US state of Maryland, where there are about six million people, they have collected about 85 million data hits of which, 0.2 of a per cent were related to offences."
Australian aid and trade watchdogs denounce Pacific Free Trade Agreement
... Picture it now
See just how
The lies and deceit
Gained a little more power
By a sun tan
And a grin
The grabbing hands
Grab all they can
All for themselves
After all ...
'Everything Counts', Depeche Mode 
Islands Business [24/7/14]:
Independent Australian organisations, the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network (AFTINET) and AID/WATCH, Australia's aid monitor, have voiced serious concerns about the PACER-Plus Free Trade Agreement currently being negotiated between Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Island Countries.
Both organisations assert that PACER-Plus will leave Pacific Island Countries disadvantaged, and ignores calls from Pacific Islanders who claim that this agreement is not in their interest.
PACER-Plus negotiations began in 2009 with the agreement introduced as different, with a primary objective of economic development in the Pacific region. An agreement has still not been reached.
These negotiations were born out of fears from Australia and New Zealand that they would lose market share in the Pacific. You can see this in the negotiations as it is the Pacific Islands who are bearing the burden of making binding commitments on liberalising their goods and services," said AFTINET Campaigner Jemma Williams.
This will reduce their ability to regulate, especially in areas such as foreign investment in land and essential services and will result in the loss of income through tariffs.
The Islands are pushing for additional development assistance and greater access to Australian labour markets to be included in the deal. There is no precedent for these areas to be included in trade negotiations, and the negotiations have come to a deadlock over this issue as the Pacific feel that what is on offer represents an unbalanced agreement.
The June PACER-Plus closed door negotiations in Adelaide were closely followed by Australian Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop's announcement of the new aid policy to the National Press Club.
Aid for Trade is presented as the cornerstone of the new aid trajectory. The Australian Government claims that the primary objective of the PACER-Plus trade talks is to achieve economic development in the region.
Similarly, Aid for Trade policy is being presented as pathway towards poverty alleviation, while giving Australia 'better value for money'.
AID/WATCH Director Thulsi Narayanasamy said, "Australia has aggressively pursued this trade agreement despite significant pushback from Pacific Island countries. There is a worrying level of coercion involved when aid is used as a bargaining chip. This is an example of Australia pursuing its interests at the expense of the people of Pacific Island Countries. DFAT need to articulate how this will benefit the Pacific".
Both AFTINET and AID/WATCH claim that the recently unveiled Aid for Trade policy will not lead to a better outcome for Pacific Island countries through this trade agreement.
Narayanasamy said Aid for Trade is presented as new but it has been an ongoing policy pursuing trade liberalisation since Howard. PACER-Plus is simply a way to brand an agreement that favours Australia and New Zealand as a development opportunity for the Pacific - an insidious way for two regional heavyweights to pursue their commercial priorities.
Australian companies like resources companies, service companies and banks investing in the Pacific clearly stand to gain the most from investment and services liberalisation. said Williams.
Narayanasamy said If the Government is serious about working to alleviate poverty in the Pacific, it needs to seriously review the role trade liberalisation has played in sustaining inequality. Increased trade leading to increased economic growth does not always translate into positive development indicators and in Pacific Countries such as Papua New Guinea, this hasn't been the case. In fact economic growth has often been linked with income inequality yet the Government is turning a blind eye to the evidence."
AFTINET and AID/WATCH have long demanded increased accountability and transparency on Australia's trade agreements.
Australia's focus in the Pacific should be on effective development programs, rather than secretive trade negotiations. If this agreement is mainly about development, why is it being negotiated behind closed doors? Williams questioned.
Narayanasamy concluded, Aid for trade is set to represent a 20% portion of the overall aid budget. That will be almost $1billion a year in whitewashing unequal trade agreements, presenting trade as a mechanism out of poverty rather than a method of sustaining it, and lending an unequal trade system an undeserved legitimacy. People need to look past the rhetoric extolling the virtues of aid for trade to examine what the real impacts of free trade are on the poor and marginalised in developing countries.
We stand in solidarity with the people of the Pacific calling on their Governments to reject this predatory trade agreement.
RISE withdraws from National Australia Bank's services
RISE Media Release [24/7/14]:
RISE: Refugees, Survivors and Ex-Detainees has withdrawn from the use of National Australia Banks banking services because of its involvement in Australias inhumane, unlawful and unconscionable offshore detention industry.
We have been a National Australia Bank (NAB) customer since our founding in 2009. However, concerning information about NABs investment activities was brought to our attention in the last few months.
As recently as May, NAB was a substantial holder of shares in Transfield Services Limited. Transfield operates the Australian governments offshore internment camps on Nauru and Manus Island. It stands at the heart of this countrys immigration detentionindustrial complex.
During the extended period that NAB held a substantial stake in the company, Transfield announced that it had reached an agreement with the Australian government to take over the Manus Island facility, on top of its existing contract to run the Nauru camp.
RISEs governance structure includes refugees who are ex-detainees, and many of our members have also directly experienced and continue to experience the cruelty of Australias immigration detention system. After NABs investments in Transfield were brought to our attention, we were compelled to review our position as a NAB customer.
We sent a letter to NAB asking for an explanation. NAB responded that it had not directly invested in Transfield for its own benefit. It said that investment divisions within the group had traded in Transfield shares for the benefit of investors.
It said that the decisions to invest in Transfield were not taken by NAB itself, but rather by investment managers who were bound to act solely based on financial considerations.
We have carefully considered this justification, but have indicated to NAB that we are not satisfied with it. It ignores the fact that NAB provides investment services as part of commercial activities from which it derives profit. It also ignores the fact that NAB created the investment products whose terms allegedly require the investment managers to invest unethically.
We have reached the view that it is untenable to stay with a bank that cultivates an ethical image but involves itself financially with policies that degrade the mental and physical well-being of persecuted people. We have therefore ended our own involvement with NAB.
We note that the Ethisphere Institute recently rated NAB as one of the worlds most ethical companies. We urge Ethisphere to review its decision in light of the serious concerns that we have raised.
Finally, we call on all refugee advocacy and welfare organisations to audit their activities to ensure that they are not implicated with the dirty profits of the immigration detention industry.
Woman and child reportedly abducted at gunpoint
Brisbane Times [24/7/14]:
Police are investigating an alleged abduction in Toowoomba, west of Brisbane.
It is believed a man forced a woman into a car at gunpoint in the Wilsonton suburb of Toowoomba shortly after 9am.
Police have so far been unable to confirm whether a young child was also held at gunpoint with the woman.
The man has let woman out of the car, Inspector Mike Curtin of the Darling Downs police district said.
"Our latest information is that the lady is safe," Inspector Curtin said.
"Police are travelling to her now.
"We believe the parties are known to each other."
Inspector Curtin said the sequence of events was unclear, although initial reports suggested a woman and child had been held at gunpoint.
"Initial reports indicated there may have been a small child with the female person," he said.
"But we're unable to say what has occurred, because we are yet to speak all parties involved.
"Our investigations are continuing to gain a full appreciation of the circumstances relating to the incident."
Police are searching for the man who is now believed to be travelling in the Southern Downs area.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or crimestoppers.com.au.
QPS Media [24/7/14]:
Police are investigating an incident at Drayton today.
Around 9am police received information that a 26-year-old Toowoomba woman and a child had been abducted by a man armed with a gun at Drayton Road.
Initial information was that the man entered the womans car and then forced her to drive along the Gore Highway towards Kindon. At the time there was a 3-year-old child in the car.
The woman was then instructed to stop the car at Kindon where the man got out before being driven off in a second vehicle that had been following the womans car from Drayton.
Police located the woman and the child at Kindon, neither received any physical injuries. Both were taken to Goondiwindi Hospital for assessment and later released.
The second vehicle that had been following the womans car is described as a black sedan.
Investigations into the incident are continuing.
Anyone with information which could assist with this matter should contact Crime Stoppers anonymously via 1800 333 000 or crimestoppers.com.au 24hrs a day.
Victorian police failed to pass on a decapitation threat by Luke Batty's father just weeks before he killed the 11-year-old at a public cricket pitch, it has been revealed. ... [Nine MSN - 14/7/14]
We asked, but @QPSMedia wouldn't say what the difference between a "member" and a "participant" is.
Several participants of the Bandidos criminal motorcycle gang were arrested overnight on a number of charges, including extortion and wilful damage, involving numerous victims. ... [QPS Media - 24/7/14]
... "One of the victims has had to escape out of his toilet window to get away from them." ...
Why is it necessary to extradite a 14 year old boy from Brisbane to Cairns?
Why is he in police custody in the first place?
QPS Media [24/7/14]:
... Escape from custody, Aeroglen: A 14-year-old Bentley Park youth was charged yesterday afternoon after allegedly escaping from police at Aeroglen at around 5.10pm.
The boy was in police custody and had been transported by air from Brisbane. On arrival at the General Aviation side of the Cairns airport he allegedly requested to use a toilet before climbing out though a cubicle window and escaping on foot across the Captain Cook Highway.
Police conducted a search of the area and the boy was located hiding in vegetation on Collins Avenue just after 5.30pm, where he was taken back into custody without further incident.
He was charged with escaping lawful custody and will be dealt with under the provisions of The Youth Justice Act 1992. The incident posed no risk to air traffic as the youth did not access the secure area of the airport at any stage.
Former police officer guilty of lying about Gold Coast bender
Brisbane Times [24/7/14]:
A former NSW policeman has been found guilty of misleading the Police Integrity Commission over an alleged drug-fuelled weekend with fellow officers on the Gold Coast.
Robert John Reid, 45, pleaded not guilty to three counts of giving false or misleading evidence at a hearing before the police watchdog in October 2011.
At the commission, Reid was quizzed about an alleged bender he and former and serving officers went on during a boys weekend in Queensland in 2010.
The former officer said he did not remember whether anyone else ate hash cookies or took ecstasy or cocaine.
He also denied supplying the illicit drugs for the Gold Coast jaunt, saying another of his "mates" had been responsible for the hash cookies.
But Magistrate Peter Barnett rejected the claims on Thursday, saying surveillance footage - which had been secretly installed by investigators at the Gold Coast apartment - clearly showed Reid bringing hash cookies into the room before proclaiming: "Help yourself guys, go nuts."
At another point, Mr Barnett said Reid could be seen going into a corner "doing something with a packet" and saying to the room, "Do you want a pill?"
The court heard Reid had claimed he was so intoxicated he could not recall what the others were doing.
A friend, former policeman Joshua Smith, and Reid's wife, Wendy, told the court how he became "obnoxious, belligerent, aggressive and loud" when drunk and that once a particular "switch had flicked" he would often forget what he had done the night before.
Mr Barnett said Reid would ask them, "What did I do last night and who do I need to apologise to?"
The magistrate did not dispute the truthfulness of Mr Smith and Mrs Reid's evidence, but said he did not believe the 45-year-old had been so drunk that weekend that he forgot what happened.
Footage taken on one of the mornings after the evening drinking sessions shows Reid asking one of the other men,
"How many of those f***ing pills did you ram down your throat?"
Reid will face sentencing in September.
Armed robbery, Mansfield
QPS Media [24/7/14]:
Police are investigating an armed robbery at a tavern in Mansfield this morning.
Two men entered the premises shortly before 2am and demanded cash from the staff wielding a length of wood and an axe.
The men fled in a Commodore sedan with a quantity of cash and liquor.
The first man is described as 184cm tall, dark complexion, average build, short dark hair wearing a black cloth around his face, dark grey hooded jumper, blue jeans and white joggers.
The second man is described as 160cm tall, dark complexion, wearing a black hat, a horizontal grey and white stripped hooded jumper and dark pants.
No one was injured during the robbery and police investigations continue.
Anyone with information which could assist with this matter should contact Crime Stoppers anonymously via 1800 333 000 or crimestoppers.com.au 24hrs a day.
Man charged over armed robbery Helensvale
QPS Media [24/7/14]:
Members of the Gold Coast Rapid Action Patrol have located and arrested a man in relation to the armed robbery of a bottleshop at Helensvale on July 20, 2014.
During the robbery a hatchet was allegedly produced at the Siganto Drive premises.
A 28-year-old man of no fixed place of abode has been charged with armed robbery, unlawful use of a motor vehicle, stealing and a drug offence.
He is expected to face Southport Magistrates Court this morning.
Anyone with information which could assist with this matter should contact Crime Stoppers anonymously via 1800 333 000 or crimestoppers.com.au 24hrs a day.
House fire, Wynnum
QPS Media [24/7/14]:
Police are investigating the circumstances surrounding a fire which destroyed a Wynnum home this evening.
Around 8pm police were called to the Prospect Street address to find the home well alight.
The house was completely destroyed as result of the blaze, however, no one was injured.
Investigations are continuing.
Two more arrested over the Australia Day murder of a Melbourne man
Nine MSN [27/7/14]:
Two more men been arrested over the death of a man during a suspected home invasion in Melbourne on Australia Day.
Michael Sleiman, 20, died after a group of 15 people allegedly stormed a Deer Park house in the city's west on January 26 and started a fight.
Four men have already been charged with his murder and are due back in court in November.
Two other men - a 23-year-old from Caroline Springs and a 29-year-old from Hillside - were arrested on Wednesday night in the city's west, police said.
Fatal crash, Lota
QPS Media [23/7/14]:
A 26-year-old old Robina man has died following a single vehicle crash earlier today.
At around 10.55am, police were called to the Esplanade at Lota following reports a motorcycle had lost control and crashed.
The man was pronounced deceased at the scene.
The Forensic Crash Unit is investigating.
Missing woman, Nambour
QPS Media [23/7/14]:
Police are seeking public assistance to locate a 29-year-old woman reported missing from the Nambour area.
Jennifer Elizabeth English was last seen on Howard Street Nambour on July 19 but hasnt been seen or made contact with anyone since.
Police hold concerns for her welfare as she suffers from a medical condition.
Ms English is described as being Caucasian, around 173cms tall, of a proportionate build and has hair dyed bright red and blue eyes.
She was last seen wearing a purple tracksuit outfit.
Police are urging anyone that may have seen Ms English to contact them via Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
Fatal traffic crash, East of Emerald
QPS Media [23/7/14]:
A woman has died following a two vehicle crash today at Yamala, east of Emerald.
Around 8.40am, police were called to the Capricorn Highway at the intersection of Bauhinias Road following reports of a collision between a car and a truck.
A 68-year-old Kawana woman was the driver and sole occupant of the car.
A 43-year-old man from the Blackwater area and driver of the truck was not physically injured during the incident.
The Forensic Crash Unit is investigating.
Whale freed from shark nets off Gold Coast
Brisbane Times [24/7/14]:
Rescue crews have freed a whale trapped in shark nets off the Gold Coast.
The whale became trapped by its tail in nets off Kirra Beach on Thursday morning.
Members of the public phoned Sea World to raise the alarm after spotting the animal struggling about 500 metres offshore.
A rescue crew from Sea World was dispatched about 8am and managed to free the whale about 9.20am.
Strike at Sydney's Barangaroo
Nine MSN [24/7/14]:
More than 1000 workers at Sydney's Barangaroo construction site have walked off the job in the latest setback for the harbourside development.
After last month's bomb scare and two fires in March, construction was halted once again on Thursday morning with a strike over concerns a union delegate has been victimised for speaking out on safety.
Peter Genovese was stood down from duties after the March fires for challenging site developer Lend Lease on their "inadequate evacuation plans", according to a statement from the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU).
The strike is expected to continue until Monday.
Subservient Simpson Slides
Palmer United Party Media Release [24/7/14]:
The federal leader of the Palmer United Party and Member for Fairfax, Clive Palmer, says party polling shows if an election were held today the Member for Maroochydore and Speaker of the Queensland Parliament Fiona Simpson would poll less than 35 per cent of the vote.
Fiona Simpson is fully subservient to Campbell Newman and his leadership group of Tim Nicholls and Jeff Seeney, and will pay the price for blind loyalty instead of good judgment, Mr Palmer said.
She should show better judgment and speak up now before the ship sinks. Our polling shows she only has 35 per cent support, while at the 2012 state election she received 58 per cent of the vote.
One wonders how she can support co-payments for doctors and limitations on other pensioners rights with so many pensioners in her electorate.
Instead of being a cheerleader for the LNP and its leadership group, she should stand up for her constituents rights, not the rights of the leadership group who want to privatise hospitals and schools.
Mr Palmer said the Queensland public were continually being let down by an untrustworthy government lead by Campbell Newman.
We need a government that its people can trust and that puts the rights of its people first, not a government that reneges on its promises and fails to uphold its policies, he said.
The Palmer United Party can give the people of Queensland the future they deserve. Its not the Liberal way or the Labor way, its the right way.
Palmer United Holding Balance of Power Good for Democracy: Poll [Media Release - 24/7/14]:
A majority of respondents to a survey believe the Palmer United Party holding the balance of power in the Senate is good for democracy.
In the latest poll results from Essential Research, the highest percentage of the 1000-plus people surveyed favoured the election of micro parties in the Senate.
Keeping in mind the fact the Palmer United Party now held the balance of power, respondents were asked if they thought the election of micro parties in the Senate was good or bad for democracy.
Thirty six per cent of those polled said it was good for democracy with 28 per cent saying it was bad, while 15 per cent believed it made no difference and 21 per cent were undecided.
The federal leader of the Palmer United Party and Member for Fairfax, Clive Palmer, said the results highlighted Australian voters frustration with the two-party duopoly which has dominated politics for too long.
They have welcomed a fresh change. Palmer United Party stands for real freedom and allowing Australians the right to choose, he said.
The Australian public understands that a diversity of ideas is essential for a good democracy to flourish. Making politics a two-horse race restricts the freedom of Australians.
The daily struggle of single mums on Newstart
Andrew Wilkie MP Media Release [24/7/14]:
The Independent Member for Denison, Andrew Wilkie, has congratulated the National Council of Single Mothers and their Children for highlighting the plight of single mothers struggling on Newstart.
The National Council of Single Mothers and their Children has produced a documentary of 10 mothers speaking about the struggle to put food on the table and keep a roof over their head on Newstart.
``Bringing up children is the most important job in the world and doing it as a single parent is as tough as it gets, Mr Wilkie said.
``Single parents deserve support but instead governments have been stripping away the little help they get.
``They have the perennial difficulty of finding gainful employment between dropping the kids off at 9am and picking them up at 3pmand when it comes to the parenting payment they have already taken a big hit with the reduction in the qualifying age of children from 16 to eight.
``But now they face cuts to family tax benefits, co-payments for seeing the doctor and getting their scripts filled, and even more to fill the tank in the car.
``What is going on here? Why are single parents, and in particular single mums, being singled out for even harsher treatment than the rest of the community?
``I urge the Prime Minister to take the time to watch these individual stories and increase support to single mothers so they can focus on their children.
The film will premiere in Adelaide tomorrow, July 25, at the Mercury Cinema at 6pm. For more information www.10storiesofsinglemothers.org.au
Australian-born anaesthetist Kelly Dilworth in our team assisting at Al Shifa hospital, #Gaza
Image: @MSFAustralia - Médecins Sans Frontières Australia [24/7/14]
Gaza: A night in Al Shifa hospital, Palestinian Territories
Unceasing Israeli attacks on Gaza left 73 Palestinians dead on Wednesday, bringing the death toll since the beginning of Israel's offensive on the Strip to 695. ... [Maan - 23/7/14]
man shot dead while searching for his family [VIDEO - France 24 - 23/7/14]
... Rina Andolini, a British activist based in Gaza, was there when the shots were fired. She told her version of the story, firstly via her Facebook page on Sunday afternoon, and later on to FRANCE 24. According to the young woman, the man shown in the video wearing a green t-shirt, and the people with him, were taking advantage of the Israeli army-approved two-hour ceasefire (from 13:30 to 15:30), to search for victims among the ruins of Shejaya. She said the shorts were fired before 15:30, or in other words, while the humanitarian truce was still in effect. According to a BBC team in Gaza, the shots were fired less than one hour after the beginning of the truce. And according to the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), a Palestinian NGO, the aid teams seen in these images started working in the area only once the ceasefire had been declared.
After being accused for this attack, the Israeli army, when questioned by FRANCE 24, stated that following the example of other armies around the world, the Israeli ground forces use snipers to kill their enemies.
The spokesperson, however, noted that no proof permits us to confirm the authenticity of this video. The army will make an inquiry into this to determine what happened. For the time being, it is not in a position to comment.
All your armies, all your fighters
All your tanks, and all your soldiers
Against a boy holding a stone
Standing there all alone...
In his eyes I see the sun
In his smile I see the moon
And I wonder, I only wonder
Who is weak, and who is strong?
Who is right, and who is wrong?
And I wish, I only wish
That the truth has a tongue
"My Only Wish (Interlude)"
via Hazaras in Indonesia
Afghanistan: Explosion rocks Khair Khana area in Kabul city
A heavy explosion rocked Khair Khana area in capital Kabul late Wednesday night.
Preliminary reports suggest the blast took place due to a magnetic bomb which went off near a residential house.
The explosion was so loud that was heard from the areas located near the airport, Karte 3 and Kart-e-Parwan areas.
Police sources have confirmed the blast took place in Poroj-e-Naw area of Khair Khan city, but no one was killed or injured following the explosion.
There are also reports of a blast in Microryan area of Kabul city. However, the security officials have not commented regarding this so far.
Afghan policeman sentenced to death for killing foreign journalist
An Afghan policeman who shot dead a foreign female journalist, was sentenced to death by a court in capital Kabul on Wednesday.
The policeman, Naqibullah opened fire on Associated Press (AP) photographer Anja Niedringhaus in eastern Afghanistan during the first round of election.
Another AP correspondent Kathy Gannon was also critically injured following the incident which took place in eastern Khost province earlier in April this year.
The first verdict was announced by Kabul District Court where Naqibullah was found guilty of murder and treason over the attack.
Naqibullah was also sentenced to four [years] in prison for critically injuring the AP reporter Kathy Gannon.
The verdict and sentence can be reviewed to several stages under the Afghan law, which means that Naqibullah may appeal to a second court within 15 days and then ultimately to the Supreme Court.
No reason was given by Naqibullah during the court hearing regarding his intention to open fire on foreign journalists.
The defense lawyer of Naqibullah argued that the convict was not a normal person. However, his claims were rejected by judges after the convict correctly provided his name, age and the correct date.
Did Australians not drink tea when they were participating in the invasion of Afghanistan?
Nine MSN [24/7/14]:
A newly named cafe at the Australian War Memorial has better coffee than its namesake in Afghanistan, Tony Abbott reckons.
But Poppy's will maintain the spirit of the old recreation room at the Tarin Kowt military base in Oruzgan province.
The prime minister officially opened the refurbished cafe on Thursday. It has been named in honour of what became an institution for diggers serving in Afghanistan.
"I've got to say it is a far better cafe than Poppy's Cafe back in Tarin Kowt," Mr Abbott said of the modern establishment, all gleaming glass and concrete.
The best you could get at the Afghan version was "a crappy Nescafe".
Poppy's sprang to life in the Afghan desert in honour of Trooper David "Poppy" Pearce, one of the first Australian casualties from the long-running mission.
Naming the war memorial's cafe Poppy's would not only honour Trooper Pearce, but all 26,500 of those who had served in Afghanistan, Mr Abbott said.
"In honouring Poppy, we honour everyone he served with."
Image: Hazaras In Indonesia [17/12/13] - A website chronicling news items, reflections and experiences of asylum seekers and refugees living - and waiting - in Jakarta.
PNG: Concerns over old bombs
The National [24/7/14]:
The National Museum has warned of potential risks posed by unexploded World War II bombs.
Museum deputy president Andrew Abel said the risks were greater when the National Museum was denied access to the historic sites.
He said that following the destruction of settlement dwellings at Paga Hill in Port Moresby on Tuesday, which included WWII bunkers and relics.
Abel said the denial of access to the sites set a bad precedence because of the potential risks, especially war relics such as unexploded bombs.
Possibly, it could be activated and pose a severe threat to human lives and properties, he said.
Abel said the actions of the National Capital District Commission (NDCD) Enforcement Unit on Tuesday implied that they did not appreciate and respect the status of the National Museum and Art Gallery.
By legislation we are entrusted to govern war surplus materials, which remained after World War II, he said.
It is evident that in pursuit of commercial interest the parties involved are causing inconveniences for the (National Museum) board of trustees and management to engage in an amicable understanding.
National Museum deputy director Herman Mandui said they were concerned about restoring, maintaining and preserving historic remains such as the World War II bunkers on Paga Hill for the national interests.
We are not stopping development occurring there, Mandui said.
The project developer of the Paga Hill development project says it is not responsible for Tuesdays destruction of settlement houses and World War 11 relics. ... [The National - 24/7/14]
Touring war veterans in Mount Isa for a yarn
North West Star [23/7/14]:
Touring veterans sat down at the Buffs Club on Tuesday to share a beer with the local RSL sub-branch and take a break from life at home.
The 40 couples from the Totally and Permanently Disabled Ex Servicepersons Association (TPI) in Townsville will hop off their bus at a number of stops between Townsville and Darwin to meet with the locals and have a yarn.
TPI Association North Queensland president Warren Pop Duscha said the trips were organised by the association every few years to get veterans out of isolation.
A lot of them are very isolated and have bad Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the wives dont get much of a chance to enjoy a holiday with them, he said.
Its great and the boys and their wives really enjoy the trip to reminisce and have a few drinks.
The return trip to Darwin is worth around $55,000 in fund-raised money, $20,000 of which was donated by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Mr Duscha said the tour was headed to Tennant Creek and Mataranka before stopping in Darwin for two nights.
The bus will head back through Mount Isa on the tours return journey to the coast.
by Helen Hamilton
(How I dislike you!)
Dealer in white feathers,
Of all the men you meet,
Not dressed in uniform,
When to your mind,
(A sorry mind),
They should be,
The judgment of your eye,
That wild, infuriate eye,
Whose glance, so you declare,
Whos good for military service,
Oh! Exasperating woman,
Id like to wring your neck,
I really would!
You make all women seem such duffers!
Enforces and held reluctantly,
- Not that youll believe it
You must know surely
Men there are and young men too,
Physically not fit to serve,
Who look in the civilian garb
Quite stout and hearty.
And most of whom, Ill wager,
Have been rejected several times.
How keen, though, your delight,
Keen and malignant,
Should one offer you his seat,
In crowded bus or train,
Thus giving you the chance to say,
In cold, incisive tones of scorn:
No, I much prefer to stand
as you, young man, are not in khaki!
Heavens! I wonder youre alive!
Oh, these men,
These twice-insulted men,
What iron self-control they show.
What wonderful forbearance!
But still the day may come
For you to prove yourself
As sacrificial as upbraiding.
So far they are not taking us
But if the war goes on much longer
When the last man has gone.
And if and when that dark day dawns,
Youll join up first, of course,
Without waiting to be fetched.
But in the meantime,
Do hold your tongue!
You shame us women.
Cant you see it isnt decent,
To flout and goad men into doing,
What is not asked of you?
A historical society west of Brisbane is recreating the call to arms that prompted hundreds of local men to go to war a century ago.
Prospective soldiers will be plucked off the main street of Laidley next month as part of celebrations to mark the centenary of the start of World War I.
John Barwell from the Laidley and District Historical Society said they planned to stage an authentic re-enactment of the recruitment marches that occurred in the town throughout the war.
"They marched down the main street of Laidley and asked for any of the young men who might be interested in going to war," he said.
"Butchers, bakers, candlestick makers and whoever else that the young fellas worked for, even bank johnnies, they joined the march and went in to training and signed up and went into war."
The 2nd Lockyer Light Horse Troop volunteers who strive to keep the groups memory alive - would be leading the call to arms down the main street and onto the Laidley Pioneer Village.
"The war was declared on the 4th of August and were going to run our event on the 2nd of August," Mr Barwell said.
"So were two days shy of the actual century but we wont worry too much about the difference in the dates."
Anyone inducted into the army as part of the commemorative call to arms would be put through military training drills.
Prospective recruits would then undergo medical check-ups, just as they did in 1914.
"They would be measured for height, chest measurements, checked to see if they've got flat feet, the measurements of the chest when they inhaled," he said.
"They've got to cough and poke their tongue out and check their teeth."
It was planned that these new recruits would then be given the chance to marry their sweethearts in mock ceremonies before they headed off to war.
"I imagine if they were going overseas to some land that they'd probably never even heard of, their lady friends would have been most interested in tying the knot before they went," Mr Barwell said.
"This did happen, historically there were quite a few marriages before they went off overseas."
Mr Barwell said extensive research had been conducted to ensure the events authenticity.
A historian has helped to compile a list of the names of men who enlisted from the local area.
"She's found 444 names of people, or men who have signed up from the Lockyer Valley in the original intake," he said.
"Out of those 444 we've managed to get some photographs of some of the relevant people."
The 2nd Lockyer Light Horse Troop would play a special part of the commemorative events to recognise the fact that 97 local men joined the Light Horse in World War I.
"Out of those 97, there's only one of those persons buried in the Lockyer Valley," he said.
"They've either been killed overseas in action, or when the war was over the ones who survived may have moved away."
The historical society hoped members of the public would join in the event, and urged people interested to come along in period dress.
"You can Google it and just see what was worn in those days and try to come up with something as close as you can," Mr Barwell said.
"Instead of wearing your baseball hat, go down to the second-hand shop or somewhere and get an old Akubra - the more battered the better - and get in the spirit of it.
"We owe it to these guys, these 444 who signed up."
The Australian Homefront during World War 1:
An overview by Robert Lewis
The year 2004 marks the 90th anniversary of the onset of the First World War. Australias support of Great Britain as the Mother Country meant that this country was also at war. The information that follows examines the impact this conflict had on the fledgling Australian nation. A range of issues, such as: the male populations reaction to recruiting drives; Gallipoli, where the national character was tested and found not wanting; the governments wider range of powers over some aspects of peoples lives; effects on the economy, and the changing role of women has been addressed and enhanced with cartoons, posters and photographs from the time.
The outbreak of war in August 1914 seemed to unleash a huge wave of enthusiastic support for Britain, and support for Australias part in the war. All major political parties, churches, community leaders and newspapers seemed to support Australias entry. It was seen as a moral and necessary commitment. There was a rush to the recruiting offices, and, at this stage, only the very fittest and healthiest men were accepted.
The whole country seemed to be both enthusiastic for the war, and united in support of it. There is, however, some evidence that this is an incomplete and even distorted impression. There are hints and suggestions of the fracture lines in society that would later lead to great bitterness and divisions in Australian society. For example, while many tried to enlist, far more did not. Even during the first enlistment rush, there are stories of white feathers being sent, and women rejecting and abusing men who did not enlist. There were also some who actively opposed Australias entry into the war, though their voice seems to have had few ways of being heard at the time.
The Butchers Bill
The fighting in World War 1 ended at 11am on 11 November 1918. But the deaths and suffering did not end then. To soldiers at the time, the casualties were referred to as the butchers bill. More than eighty years later the cost of the war is still with us -- the butchers bill is still being paid.
The great recruiting drive: 1915 [Department of Veterans Affairs]:
I am going to avenge Ozzie, one man declared amid the rush to enlist. His simple determination would have pleased the recruiting committees forming across Australia to lift even further the number of men in uniform. Huge posters soon plastered town halls, office buildings and railway stations, begging, accusing, frightening and an insult to anyone of intelligence according to the novelist Martin Boyd.
They were effective nonetheless. Australia has promised Britain 50,000 more men, one screamed at passers-by: Will YOU help us keep that promise?
Equally effective was the pressure some people put on others to enlist. A group of fathers in Murray Bridge decided to march en masse to homes where boys had not left for the front to plead with the families to allow their sons to go.
Some women posted white feathers to men they called shirkers. More charming were the little snowball marches of the summer of 191516 that tramped through rural New South Wales under names like Kangaroos and Waratahs, Cooees and Boomerangs, calling on locals to join them on their way to the recruiting depot.
When the white-hatted, sore-footed Kangaroos marched into the tiny town of Galong on a December afternoon they were met by a councillor and a flock of locals. Sunday was a great day for the town, a reporter announced after the Kangaroos were joined by dozens of railway workers fine physical giants, who can dig trenches, and for whom the hot sun has no terrors.
Around 1500 men joined marches like this and went to war singing.
The names of these and other recruits began to be recorded on wooden Honor Rolls put up on walls by schools, councils and churches. Women began wearing enamel brooches representing the battalion their son or husband belonged to.
Some women wrote to men in uniform on behalf of mothers who could not put onto paper what was in their hearts. The soldiers replies could be unsettling. I read two letters from Gallipoli from boys I dont know written to their Mothers, Agnes Miller of Mosman in Sydney recorded, and what they wrote seemed so real & dreadful & inhuman[,] & life & death seemed so akin.
In such ways, and despite the censors, Australians began to learn the truth about the war.
Dozens killed in Taiwan plane crash
Al Jazeera [23/7/14]:
More than 40 people have been killed after a TransAsia Airways passenger plane crashed while trying to make an emergency landing in typhoon-hit Taiwan.
TransAsia Airways flight GE222 was carrying 58 people when it crashed into houses near Magong airport on the Penghu island chain after requesting a second attempt to land there, local media reported on Wednesday.
The ATR 72-500 twin turboprop was flying from the southwestern city of Kaohsiung to the islands off the west coast and had been delayed due to bad weather as Typhoon Matmo pounded Taiwan, according to authorities.
"We have found 42 bodies and some body parts so far", an official surnamed Tsai at the Penghu county fire department told AFP news agency early on Thursday.
Television images showed firefighters working in heavy rain to douse the mangled plane and soldiers on the scene.
"There were 58 people on board including four crew members, four children and, so far, according to the information we have, 12 were injured and were sent to hospitals," Transport Minister Yeh Kuang-shih told reporters.
Two French nationals were on board the plane and the de facto French embassy had been notified, Yeh said.
Taiwan's Civil Aeronautics Administration director general Shen Chi earlier said 51 were feared dead in the crash, but later revised the figure to 47.
"The control tower lost contact with the aircraft soon after they requested a go-around", Shen told reporters.
Local fire chief Hung Yung-peng told TVBS there were 11 survivors, with all others on board feared dead.
"The weather was bad and some witnesses said there were storms and lightning when the plane went down", said Hung.
"We rushed 12 people to hospitals soon after our arrival. One died at the hospital. We kept searching for the other passengers from the wreckage but with more and more bodies pulled out, I'm afraid the rest of them might be dead", Hung said.
US Nazi suspect dies day before extradition
Al Jazeera [23/7/14]:
A Philadelphia man suspected of being an SS guard at the Auschwitz death camp has died a day before the US government was set to approve his extradition to Germany.
Johann Breyer died on Tuesday night aged 89 at a Philadelphia hospital, his lawyer said on Wednesday. His death came on the same day that Timothy Rice, a magistrate, issued an order granting a request for extradition.
German prosecutors had hoped to try Breyer on charges of aiding in the murder of more than 200,000 Jews at the Auschwitz death camp. Breyer had said he was forced to work there as a guard as a teenager.
Rice had found probable cause that "Breyer is the same person sought for aiding and abetting murder in Germany", adding that no statute of limitations offers a safe haven for murder".
Breyer was being held on allegations stemming from his suspected service as an SS guard at Auschwitz during the second world war. US marshals arrested him in June outside his home in northeast Philadelphia.
He was facing charges of aiding in the killing of 216,000 Jewish men, women and children at a Nazi death camp.
Breyer claimed he was unaware of the slaughter at Auschwitz and then that he did not participate in it, but "the German allegations belie his claims", the judge wrote.
"Given Breyer's role as an elite SS armed guard at a camp designed and operated almost exclusively as a killing centre for Jews, Germany has established probable cause of Breyer's complicity in the mass murders at Auschwitz.''
German authorities in the Bavarian town of Weiden issued a warrant for Breyer's arrest in June 2013.
He was accused of 158 counts of accessory to murder - one count for each trainload of victims brought to the Auschwitz death camp in occupied Poland from May to October 1944, when Breyer was allegedly a guard there.
Suspended Nauru MP says waiting continues
One of five opposition MPs suspended from Nauru's parliament says he is advising his constituents not to let anger over his suspension get the better of them.
Three opposition MPs were banned from Parliament in May and another two were suspended in early June for behaving in what the Government claims was an unruly manner.
Mathew Batsiua says the MPs are waiting for the Government to appoint a Chief Justice so they can appeal their suspension in the Supreme Court.
"My constituents have been approaching me over this period because they are just as concerned about what is happening. There is a lot of anger out there as well but we advise our people and our supporters, you know, to try and remain civil about all these issues and rather than become unruly about it, let's try to deal with it through the court system."
Nauru opposition MP, Mathew Batsiua, says two of the five suspended MPs, Sprent Dabwido and Squire Jeremiah, will have their suspensions considered by the Privileges Committee, which is yet to meet.
Ethiopia faces wave of refugees from South Sudan
UN Media Release [23/7/14]:
South Sudan is the most rapidly deteriorating humanitarian crisis in the world today, according to a senior United Nations relief operations official who made an urgent appeal for desperately-needed funding for Ethiopia, which hosts 180,000 mostly women and children South Sudanese refugees.
John Ging, Operations Director for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), just back from Ethiopia, told a news conference at UN Headquarters today: This is a manmade problem the result of a political disagreement between two powerful individuals. It is tragic to see this happening in the worlds youngest country, whose independence we were so recently celebrating.
It is imperative that parties to the conflict, and those with influence over them, find a peaceful political solution urgently, Mr. Ging said. The people of South Sudan must not be treated as expendable pawns in this power struggle.
An estimated 180,000 refugees have arrived in Ethiopia from South Sudan since the violence erupted in late 2013 with numbers set to reach 300,000-350,000 by the end of this year.
He said that in addition to the more than 400,000 refugees who have fled their homeland for neighbouring countries, including Ethiopia, the desperate situation in South Sudan has forced 1.1 million people to leave their homes inside the country and 3.8 million victims of the war inside South Sudan require humanitarian aid.
Mr. Ging said 90 per cent of those arriving in Ethiopia are women and children and 70 per cent are under the age of 18. People are arriving in a dire state, with some 30 per cent of new arrivals under the age of five acutely malnourished, and 10 per cent severely acutely malnourished, meaning that without urgent treatment they are likely to die of starvation.
I applaud the generosity of the people and Government of Ethiopia, who are now hosting almost 600,000 refugees from neighbouring countries South Sudan, Sudan, Somalia and Eritrea.
Despite not being a rich country, they have consistently kept their borders open, and are an example of international standard for the treatment of refugees in practice. It is now the international community's turn to step up and shoulder its responsibilities to share the burden with Ethiopia. So far, of the 193 Member States of the United Nations, only 18 are funding the appeal.
The $211 million South Sudanese refugee appeal for Ethiopia is just 25 per cent funded, which means that across the board delivery of service does not meet what the refugees are entitled.
Only 5 per cent of school-age children in Gambella have access to education, which sets us up for huge problems down the road, and in the camp I visited only 20 per cent of people had shelter which meets international humanitarian standards, noted Mr. Ging.
Camps are overcrowded and, with the onset of the rainy season, the danger of a disease epidemic is very real, he said. Urgent funding is needed to ensure that those fleeing violence in South Sudan can live decently, healthily and with dignity.
With the prospects of famine on the horizon in South Sudan, and no prospect for an end to the conflict, humanitarians must prepare for the worst in South Sudan and neighbouring countries.
The veteran humanitarian official described South Sudan as one of three mega crises in the world today on a trajectory to becoming a real catastrophe. The two other mega humanitarian crises today are Syria and the Central African Republic.
Fence to control migrants finished along Bulgarian-Turkish border
EURO News [23/7/14]:
Bulgarian authorities have announced the completion of a 33-kilometre fence along the countrys border with Turkey.
Sofia has said the reason behind building the three-metre-high barrier was to control the increasing number of refugees, many from Syria, entering the country.
The fence has drawn criticism from the UN refugee agency for closing the door to asylum seekers.
Arizona Inmate Dies 2 Hours After Execution Began
Arizona officials say a murderer who was sentenced to death has died nearly two hours after his execution started.
Joseph Rudolph Woods lawyers had filed an emergency appeal in federal court during the execution demanding that it be stopped. The appeal said Wood was gasping and snorting for more than an hour.
Attorney General Tom Hornes office says Wood was pronounced dead at 3:49 p.m., one hour and 57 minutes after the execution started.
A message seeking comment was left with the Arizona Department of Corrections.
An Associated Press reporter witnessed the execution but could not immediately communicate with anyone outside the state prison in Florence where the execution took place.
The execution came after the U.S. Supreme Court denied several appeals seeking details about the states execution methods.
There have been several controversial executions recently, including that of an Ohio inmate in January who snorted and gasped during the 26 minutes it took him to die.
New Mothers on Suicide Watch at Christmas Island
Australian Human Rights Commission Media Release [24/7/14]:
The Australian Human Rights Commission holds grave concerns for the welfare of asylum seekers, particularly mothers and children on Christmas Island after visiting detainees for a second time as part of its National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention (2014).
The inquiry team led by Commission President, Professor Gillian Triggs and accompanied by internationally respected paediatrician Professor Elizabeth Elliott visited the Island to obtain objective evidence of the conditions there and to verify the numbers of people who had self-harmed or were on suicide watch.
In the four months since we visited Christmas Island, the situation for asylum seekers has significantly deteriorated, said Professor Triggs.
The inquiry teams visit coincided with the first anniversary of the 19 July 2013 - the date after which, under Government policy, no asylum seeker arriving by boat can settle in Australia. All 1,102 asylum seekers currently in detention on Christmas Island including 174 children - arrived after 19 July last year.
Commission staff arrived on Christmas Island on the 14th of July, at a time when there were 13 women on high-level risk monitoring with 10 of these women requiring 24 hour watch. Women on 24 hour watch are monitored by a guard who sits outside their room with the door open. Women are observed at all times, including when they breast feed and sleep.
The numbers of women on 24 hour watch constitute a spike in serious cases of self-harm or suicide attempts a fact that the Commission has only been able to confirm by visiting Christmas Island and speaking with the asylum seekers and staff there.
Previously, the numbers of people on suicide watch was one or two per week, but tensions have been high in the Christmas Island detention camps since July 7th when mothers of babies called a meeting to ask immigration staff if they could be moved to mainland detention.
The mothers were concerned that there are no places for babies to learn to crawl or walk in the 3x3 metal containers where they are confined in the extreme heat. These rooms contain a bunk bed and a cot and this leaves only one square metre of space.
Professor Elliott was extremely concerned at the state of the children.
Christmas Island is no place for infants and young children. Most were ill with chest or gut infections - reflecting the large number of families living in unacceptably cramped and high density accommodation intended for temporary use.
Data from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection reveals that 128 children self-harmed in the period from January 2013 to March 31st 2014. In this same 15 month period, 89 adults self-harmed.
Professor Elliott said: Of greatest concern was the high rate of distress - anxiety, depression and self-harm amongst otherwise healthy young mothers with young children. Many mothers are depressed after giving birth and suffering health problems related to childbirth and the unhygienic conditions in the camps. This maternal distress has the added impact of disrupting the mother-child bond and will potentially have lasting adverse effects on the mental health of their children.
Construction Camp on Christmas Island has almost no open, clean or safe areas for babies to learn to crawl.
According to Professor Elliott: The physical environment is totally unsuitable and children suffer from recurrent asthma and irritation of the eyes and skin is common, reflecting the dirty environment and raising questions about the causal effect of atmospheric phosphate dust from the local mine.
Mothers are begging for eggs and fresh fruit and education for their children. In the words of one woman under constant guard, I dont want a visa; I just want somewhere safe and clean for my child.
Professor Triggs commented on a distinct deterioration in the children and their families since her previous visit.
They are plagued by despair and helplessness at the seemingly endless period of detention. While I am encouraged that the Department intends to set up a school for children, for the past year, children have had no education or structured physical activity. Parents are asking for their children to be moved to the mainland where they will be safe and have access to medical facilities.
Commission staff met many children suffering with nightmares or flashbacks; children who had developed bed-wetting or stuttering and had withdrawn to their rooms or refused to eat. Professor Elliot described the symptoms that she observed as being consistent with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Most of the asylum seekers on Christmas Island have now spent close to a year waiting for their removal to Nauru or Manus Island. Nearly all are yet to have their claim to refugee status assessed.
To deny the right to claim refugee status for nearly a year, said Professor Triggs is to strip away all human dignity. These asylum seekers are trapped in a legal twilight zone.
These conditions raise concerns that Australia risks serious violation of its fundamental obligations at international law to protect asylum seekers without discrimination and to consider their claims to refugee status expeditiously. As one unaccompanied teenager said, we are like soccer balls, kicked from place to place.
The Commission calls on the Government to consider moving all children and their families to mainland Australia where they can be treated with humanity and their claims to refugee status can be assessed according to law.
Canberra Times [24/7/14]:
Harrowing eyewitness accounts from the president of the Australian Human Rights Commission and a team of medical experts say there is a mental health crisis on Christmas Island, confirming multiple suicide attempts and self-harm incidents.
Fairfax Media has obtained a document that describes injuries sustained by at least 11 women on July 7 who used various methods to harm themselves including attempted asphyxiation and poisoning after being told by immigration officials that they would not be settled in Australia.
The document describes how one woman put a bag over her head three times, drank half a bottle of detergent and used a broken mirror to cut herself.
Professor Gillian Triggs, who arrived on the island last week as part of the commission's national inquiry into children in immigration, said there were 13 mothers on suicide watch and their conditions were deteriorating rapidly.
''Our team were well aware with these allegations that were confirmed by other detainees,'' she said. ''This incident on July 7 has been smothered by a blanket.
''Much depends on how you define self harm and attempted suicide. The government has redefined acts that many of us would describe as attempted suicide to self harm and that is less than honest in terms of the public's right to understand what these conditions are doing to people on Christmas Island for longer than a year.''
A professor of paediatrics and child health at the University of Sydney, who also visited the island with Dr Triggs, said the women on suicide watch were exhibiting extreme signs of depression.
''I spoke personally to many of the mothers who had self harmed and all of them had young infants,'' Professor Elizabeth Elliott, AM, said. ''Many said that they felt life was not worth living.'' Professor Elliott said the women's self harm ranged from using a sharp implement to cut themselves to trying to use a rope around their neck.
A lawyer working for Maurice Blackburn, Katie Robertson, who independently visited the detention centre last week, described ''serious and alarming'' injuries sustained by the women.
''These women require urgent and intensive psychiatric care that is not, and cannot, be provided on Christmas Island,'' Maurice Blackburn spokesman Jacob Varghese said. ''At the time Maurice Blackburn lawyer Katie Robertson saw them, all of the women had been under constant surveillance by detention centre guards to prevent them from committing suicide.''
A spokeswoman for Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said: ''It is longstanding government practice not to confirm or comment on reports of individual acts of self harm.''
Lifeline 131 114
Australias First Political Medical De-registration
Exit International Media Release [24/7/14]:
In a decision taken at midnight last night, the Australian Medical Board has voted to use emergency powers under Section 156 of the AHPRA Act to immediately suspend Dr Nitschke because he presents "a serious risk to public health and safety that needs to be managed" and because his view "that people have a right to choose suicide is incompatible with his responsibility as a doctor".
Citing the death of serial wife killer Nigel Brayley, the Board claimed that Dr Nitschke had breached his duty to "protect and promote the health of individuals in the community" and that Dr Nitschke "poses a serious risk to the health and safety of the public". To prevent further deaths, the Board has initiated immediate action to suspend Dr Nitschkes registration as a medical practitioner.
11am today (Thursday) at 19 Gilbert St, Gilberton, SA
Dr Nitschke will publicly respond to the claims made by the Board which lack any evidential basis and show that this is a clear example of a political de-registration brought on by a fundamental difference in beliefs. At the conference further undisclosed detail on the death of serial killer Nigel Brayley will be released.
Bomb targeting imam in north Nigeria kills at least 15
A bomb tossed off the back of a motorcycle at a Nigerian Muslim cleric killed at least 15 people on a busy commercial road in the northern city of Kaduna on Wednesday, witnesses said.
The blast scattered debris and dead bodies on the Alkali Road in the city centre, but missed Sheikh Dahiru Bauchi, who was conducting Muslim prayers in Murtala Muhammed square, two witnesses told Reuters by telephone.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but Islamist militant group Boko Haram has been staging attacks, especially with explosives, outside its northeastern heartlands in the past three months.
The group has often attacked Muslim leaders and imams who criticise its hardline Salafist ideology.
Witness Yusuf Suleiman, a trader, said that he counted 15 bodies in a police van after the explosion.
Police were not immediately available for comment.
Boko Haram, which is fighting to carve out an Islamic state in Nigeria, has repeatedly targeted civilians this year, mostly in remote northeastern Borno state. It killed more than 2,000 civilians during the first half of this year, Human Rights Watch (HRW) estimated a week ago.
The Islamists sacked the northeast town of Damboa and surrounding villages over the weekend, killing at least 50 people.
The five-year-old insurgency has been in the international spotlight since Boko Haram fighters kidnapped more than 200 girls from a school in the northeastern village of Chibok on April 14th. President Goodluck Jonathan met parents of the abducted girls for the first time on Tuesday.
RT stringer among 4 people taken hostage in besieged Ukraines Donetsk report
RTs contributor, UK journalist Graham Phillips is among four people taken hostage by Ukrainian troops, ANNA news agency reports. Phillips has been missing since he went to Donetsk airport on his own while a firefight was taking place.
The other three people in the group are reportedly ANNA news agencys cameraman, an employee of the press service of the self-proclaimed Donetsk Peoples Republic, and possibly an acquaintance of Phillips, who accompanied the journalist to the airport.
Our cameraman, Vadim, was working in the epicenter of the fighting, RTs stringer was next to him, ANNA news agency reported.
The agency cites anonymous sources, saying the group of four was taken hostage by Ukrainian troops.
According to the information we have, they have been captured by Ukrainian troops. This information has been confirmed by the self-defense forces, the head of ANNA news agencys Ukrainian bureau, Konstantin Knyrik, told RT.
The last time Phillips got in touch with Moscow was on the evening of Tuesday, July 22.
The stringer informed Moscow he was planning to go to Donetsk airport, currently the most active warzone in the regional center besieged by Kievs troops and National Guard.
We urged him not to go, because of the obvious risks, but based on the messages that appeared in social media a bit later, he decided to go there anyway, alongside another group of journalists, RTs statement maintains.
At around 2am in the morning, Phillips sent RT a text message saying All is fine, and that was the last communication with him.
Although the channel did not assign Graham to go to the Donetsk airport, RT editorial staff are doing everything within their powers, such as contacting representatives of the Donetsk People's Republic and Kiev authorities, to learn about his present whereabouts.
So far all efforts have been in vain.
Popular YouTuber and RT stringer, Graham Phillips was detained once at a check point in Mariupol and held captive by Kiev military for over 36 hours in May.
Phillips has been reporting about the developments in Ukraine for several months now. According to research from Brandwatch social networks monitor, he has become the most popular author in Twitter reporting on the situation in Ukraine.
Moscow has received clear signals from US and European companies about their intention to continue work in Russia, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Wednesday. ... [RIA Novosti - 23/7/14]
Germany and Italy have most to lose if the European Union makes good on its threat to impose harsher sanctions on Moscow, while Britain's overseas territories are soaking up the lion's share of capital streaming out of Russia. ... [Reuters - 23/7/14]
People Who Shoot Down Passenger Planes 'War Criminals'or 'Hard to Fault'?
[FAIR - 22/7/14]
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JUDICIAL CRITICISM OF THE MURDOCH MACHINE
BOB BROWN, THE FIRST GULF WAR AND UNITED NATIONS INTERVENTION
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