SPRING HILL VOICE
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"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 *
Palmer to get kids out of immigration detention in exchange for support to reintroduce TPVs
Nine MSN [2/9/14]:
Clive Palmer is pushing to get child asylum seekers out of Nauru and Christmas Island detention centres in exchange for supporting the reintroduction of temporary protection visas.
The leader of the Palmer United Party is looking at what conditions would apply to the visas and his starting point in negotiations is getting youngsters released.
"Our position is that it's very important to get the children off Christmas Island and Nauru," Mr Palmer told reporters in Canberra.
The visas were a key plank of the Abbott government's asylum seeker boat crackdown but the upper house blocked their reinstatement last year.
The government has been negotiating with crossbenchers following the Senate changeover in July, to have the temporary protection visas reintroduced.
Talks with the government are ongoing but Immigration Minister Scott Morrison says he's optimistic he'll get his way.
Mr Palmer said there were unaccompanied children on Christmas Island with no hope.
"I don't think any Australian likes to think of a five year old alone at night away from their parents not being properly cared for," he said.
"As a father that concerns me."
Mr Palmer lamented that public debate on asylum seekers had become political.
"These are all human beings with flesh and blood and families," he said.
He said he's also concerned about the $6-7 billion cost of detaining asylum seekers each year.
"Wouldn't it be great if we could come up with a solution where all those people could have a happy outcome, the economy could be boosted and we could save that money for the budget," Mr Palmer said.
... Self-harm attempts have continued to occur within the Manus centre, with six serious events occurring during the month-long period, including an asylum seeker attempting to hang himself with a wash cloth. A large number of asylum seekers also continued to miss meals, with more than 10 asylum seekers not eating in early August.
The reports reveal that detention centre managers are employing the use of an isolation unit named Chauka for detainees regarded as troublemakers.
One document shows that on Monday 14 July three asylum seekers were moved to Chauka following disputes about internet and phone access. One of the men was described as displaying abusive and aggressive behaviour but was then calmed. There was no description of the behaviour of the other two men. One was returned to the main population the following day, but the other two remained in Chauka until 18 July.
According to the reports, a group of asylum seekers began peaceful protests as a result of the two mens continued detention in Chauka. But the logs note on 17 July that another respectful and considered meeting over phone and internet access took place and this was certain to be a consequence of the removal to the Chauka compound of the two men.
Guardian Australia has previously reported that both the men detained in Chauka allege they were threatened and assaulted while held in isolation. The immigration minister has refuted the claims.
RPNGC will not partner with G4S
PNG Loop [2/9/14]:
The Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary says it will not compromise its position as the number one law enforcing agency in the country with a security firm.
Acting Deputy Police Commissioner Operations, Jim Andrews, said this in regard to the CCTV concept rolled out NCD Governor Powes Parkop in partnership with G4S Security.
Andrews said Police will not compromise its position stipulated under the Constitution and Police Act by partnering with a security firm.
Ive discussed with the other senior officers and the former Commissioner, and the RPNGC will not enter into a partnership like that, said Andrews.
RPNGC is a law enforcing agent of the Government.
Our duty is to maintain law and order and security.
Andrews said the setup should be done within the Police Department.
I maintain that if the Governor is going to continue, I ask that he reconsider.
Andrews said there are other issues which have arisen out of the CCTV concept. High on the agenda is the right to privacy of all citizens.
We need to look into those areas by involving our Attorney General and Justice Department who have to deliberate on these matters.
We have to get legal advice it has to be done properly and be seen if it is good for the country, Andrews said.
Andrews said these were the issues that needed to be looked at carefully.
Israeli warships open fire at Gaza fishermen off coast of Rafah
Israeli forces opened fire at fishermen off the coast of the southern Gaza Strip on Tuesday, in apparent violation of the ceasefire agreement reached with Palestinian militant factions a week ago, fishermen said.
Palestinian fishermen told Ma'an that Israeli warships used machine guns to fire at their boats while they were sailing within the agreed-upon six-nautical-mile limit near Rafah.
No injuries were reported.
An Israeli army spokeswoman said fishermen "deviated from the designated fishing zone," and that navy soldiers fired warning shots into the air.
The fishermen then "backed away," the spokeswoman said.
Asked how far the fishermen were sailing from shore, the spokeswoman said she did not know the exact distance, but that it was further than six nautical miles from shore.
Prior the recent agreement, Israeli forces maintained a limit of three nautical miles on all Gaza fishermen, opening fire at fishermen who strayed further, despite earlier Israeli agreements which had settled on a 20-mile limit. The restrictions crippled Gaza's fishing industry and impoverished local fishermen.
A ceasefire agreement reached on Aug. 26 stipulated that Israel would immediately expand the fishing zone off Gaza's coast, allowing fishermen to sail as many as six nautical miles from shore, and would continue to expand the area gradually. Under the terms of the deal, Israel also agreed to ease its siege on the coastal enclave.
Other unresolved issues such as the construction of a seaport and airport, the release of prisoners, and the demilitarization of factions in Gaza were to be negotiated a month later in Cairo.
Israel's assault on Gaza lasted seven weeks, left over 2,100 Palestinians dead and over 11,000 injured, the vast majority of them civilians. Some 71 Israelis also died in the fighting, 66 of them soldiers.
Israeli bulldozers demolished a dairy factory in Hebron and Bedouin homes east of Jerusalem early Tuesday, witnesses told Ma'an. ... [Maan - 2/9/14]
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does not plan to send a delegation for negotiations in Cairo as stipulated by the ceasefire agreement that ended seven weeks of fighting in Gaza, Israeli media reported Monday. ... [Maan - 2/9/14]
... "Shalom, Israel," the pop superstar [Lady Gaga] said in the brief greeting. "I'm so excited to perform my new tour in Tel Aviv," she added in reference to her concert scheduled for Sept. 13. ... [Al Arabiya - 2/9/14]
Islamist fighters who seized dozens of Fijian soldiers serving as U.N. peacekeepers on the Golan Heights last week are demanding that their group be removed from a global terrorism list and that compensation be paid for members killed in fighting, the head of Fiji's army said on Tuesday.
Brigadier-General Mosese Tikoitoga said negotiations had been stepped up between the Al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front and a new U.N. negotiation team now in place in Syria. ... [Reuters - 1/9/14]
Islamic State accused of ethnic cleansing in Iraq
Videos published here appear to show massacres of civilians - but it is not clear who is doing the killing.
Homes have been shelled and one attack killed 30.
According to @IraqiSpringMC [2/9/14] rebels have launched attacks in Mahmudiyah, south of Baghdad and there has been indiscriminate shelling of houses in Tikrit.
Amnesty International says it has new evidence Islamic State militants are carrying out "a wave of ethnic cleansing" against minorities in northern Iraq.
The human rights group said IS had turned the region into "blood-soaked killing fields".
The UN earlier announced it was sending a team to Iraq to investigate "acts of inhumanity on an unimaginable scale".
IS and allied Sunni rebels have seized large swathes of Iraq and Syria.
Thousands of people have been killed, the majority of them civilians, and more than a million have been forced to flee their homes in recent months.
Amnesty says it has gathered proof that several mass killings took place in the northern region of Sinjar in August. Two of the deadliest took place when IS fighters raided villages and killed hundreds of people on 3 August and 15 August.
"Groups of men and boys including children as young as 12 from both villages were seized by IS militants, taken away and shot," the UK-based group said.
"IS is carrying out despicable crimes and has transformed rural areas of Sinjar into blood-soaked killing fields in its brutal campaign to obliterate all trace of non-Arabs and non-Sunni Muslims."
On Monday, Iraqs counter-terrorism office announced the killing of 23 fighters of Chechen nationality who belong to the organization of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, in Sulaiman Bek district, east of Tikrit.
Sabah Numan, a counter-terrorism unit spokesman said in an interview for IraqiNews.com that, Elite counter-terrorism forces managed to kill 23 Chechens today; they were fighting among the organization of ISIS in the area of Sulaiman in Tuz district (90 km east of Tikrit).
Numan added, that Among the dead were 10 snipers; they were concentrated in there. On Monday, government counter-terrorism units cleansing Sulaiman Bek from ISIS fully.
Relatives of Iraqi soldiers killed by the Islamic State (IS) in June stormed the parliament building in Baghdad today, demanding information on the fate of the victims.
Shortly after the protesting began, the relatives entered the parliament building, said Rudaw correspondent in Baghdad. The members of parliament have been taken to a safe location.
After defeating the Iraqi army in Mosul in June, Islamist militants overran Camp Speicher outside Tikrit where they claimed to have killed scores of pilots and military personnel.
It was later reported that the IS had killed 1,700 cadets.
According to our correspondent, 15 family members were allowed into parliament to meet with the MPs on behalf of around 1,000 angry protesters.
The families demand the Iraqi government to investigate the killing of their loved ones and find their whereabouts.
They have gathered at the main gates of the Green Zone and shout slogans against Iraqs leaders, said our correspondent.
Salim Shushkayi, an MP from the Islamic League (Komal) said the security guards try to control the situation.
The protesters number more than 1,000, Shushkayi told Rudaw. They wave black flags. They push towards the gates and refuse to listen to anyone.
Iraqi politician and former MP, Mashan al-Jibouri revealed the names of the alleged IS perpetrators last week, among them Ibrahim Alsabawi, a nephew of Iraqs former dictator Saddam Hussein.
secretary-general Ban Ki-moon offers tacit backing to Australian involvement
in US military action in Iraq [Radio Australia - 2/9/14]
US-funded $86 million Afghan army building inaugurated in Helmand
A newly constructed building for the Afghan National Army (ANA) was inaugurated in southern Helmand province of Afghanistan on Monday.
The provincial government media office, following a statement, said the newly constructed building was completed in three years period with a total cost of $86 million.
The statement further added that the new compound will be used by Afghan army first brigade in Garamser district.
Funded by US Marines, the building has 130 blocks and other facilities, the statement by provincial government media office said.
The statement also added, provincial governor Alhaj Muhammad Naeem inaugurated the newly constructed building along with the other high level government and American officials.
This comes as the largest NATO military base in southern Helmand province of Afghanistan will be transferred to Afghan national security forces control, following an agreement reached between the NATO-led coalition forces and local government officials.
The transfer of the base Shorab Airfield, located in Greshk district of Helmand province, will pave the way for the launch of civilian flights in this province, local officials said.
As schools opened, the first #Novorossiya wedding of the season took place, here in #Lugansk, Alyona and Slava.
Image: @GrahamWP_UK - GrahamWPhillips, journalist [1/9/14]
Reported comments by President Vladimir Putin that Russia could capture Kiev within two weeks were taken out of context, Itar-Tass news agency quoted a Kremlin foreign policy aide as saying on Tuesday.
"It was taken out of context and had a totally different meaning," Yuri Ushakov was quoted as saying.
Italy's La Repubblica reported this week that Putin had told European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso: "If I want to, I can take Kiev in two weeks".
UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, has warned western powers "there is no military solution" to the Ukraine crisis, after the government in Kiev accused Russia of launching a "great war".
As NATO prepares to upgrade its combat readiness in eastern Europe, Ban said he was greatly concerned at developments in Ukraine and wanted to avoid further deterioration to "a very chaotic and dangerous situation".
"I know the European Union, the Americans and most of the western countries are discussing very seriously among themselves how to handle this matter," he told reporters on Tuesday during a visit to New Zealand.
"What is important at this time is that they should know there is no military solution in this. There should be a political dialogue for a political solution, that is the more sustainable way," Ban said.
Pakistan parliament convenes amid crisis
Al Jazeera [2/9/14]:
A joint session of parliament is under way in Pakistan as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif tries to rally support against the protesters calling for his resignation.
The session, which is expected to continue for a week, comes a day after supporters of opposition leaders, politician Imran Khan and religious leader Tahir-ul-Qadri, briefly occupied state TV building in the capital, Islamabad. Broadcast was resumed after paramilitary soldiers cleared the building.
Speaking in parliament, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said that the "protesters were trained terrorists" and "were armed with weapons and lethal tools".
Khan and Qadri have been calling for the resignation of Sharif over allegations of vote rigging in the last year's general elections won by Sharifs party.
But Khawaja Asif, Pakistans minister of defence, has said that the prime minister "will never resign come what may".
Sharif held [a] meeting with Army Chief General Raheel Sharif on Monday to discuss the situation.
The military's press department issued a statement on the same day, denying rumours reported on local media that the army chief had asked PM Sharif to resign. The statement described the army as an "apolitical institution" that did not take sides in the political stalemate.
Protesters have been attempting to storm the prime ministers official residence since Saturday night, prompting an outbreak of violence which has resulted in three deaths and more than 595 people injured, including 115 police officers.
Khan and Qadri have since distanced themselves from the attack on PTV, calling on supporters not to enter government buildings.
Following Mondays attack, the government has filed paperwork asking for a legal case to be filed against Qadri, Khan and hundreds of their supporters under anti-terrorism laws for inciting their supporters to damage and invade state buildings and attacking security forces.
On Tuesday morning, Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party and Pakistan Awami Tehreek, the movement led by Qadri, continued their nearly three weeks of protest at Islamabads Constitutional Avenue, where government buildings are located.
France bans Muslim worker from nuclear sites
Al Jazeera [2/9/14]:
A French court has upheld a ban on a Muslim engineer from accessing nuclear sites, citing his links with what it termed as "jihadist networks", but his [lawyer] called it a case of Islamophobia.
Lawyer Sefen Guez Guez told AFP news agency on Monday that he was looking at launching an appeal.
The 29-year-old working for a firm subcontracted by energy giant EDF had been granted access to nuclear installations as part of his job throughout 2012 and 2013.
But in March this year the man, who cannot be named according to French law, had his pass to enter the Nogent-sur-Seine nuclear power station revoked.
Officials said he had links with a violent armed group and that he was in touch with an imam involved in recruiting people to fight in Iraq.
A court in the north-eastern town of Chalons-en-Champagne upheld the ban saying the management could prevent those "undergoing a process of political and religious radicalisation" from accessing sensitive sites.
The lawyer for the man cried foul and argued that his client had no police record.
"There is no proof of these supposed links," Guez Guez said.
In June 2014, Guez Guez successfully had the ban revoked by an appeals court. But when the engineer turned up for work, he found he was once again refused access - this time by EDF - to his place of work and his lawyer appealed again.
Yudhoyono Offered a Leading Position at UN
Jakarta Globe [2/9/14]:
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, whose term in office is due to end next month, has been offered a leading position at the United Nations in recognition of his international role, Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa confirmed on Monday.
It is true that the UN offered President Yudhoyono a position as the end of his term nears, in recognition of his performance during his time in office, Marty said at the presidential office on Monday.
In addition, Marty said similar offers have also come from other international organizations. The president is currently considering his options.
There are plenty of offers that would allow the president to be continually involved in international matters, Marty added.
However, he declined to disclose what positions the president had been offered.
Better ask Mr. President, not me, he said.
Presidential spokesman Julian Aldrin Pasha said Yudhoyono had been offered positions in at least three international bodies, including the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Japan-Indonesia Association and the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI).
Of those three, Yudhoyono is most likely to choose Seoul-based GGGI, according to Julian.
Ban Ki-Moon diplomatic over New Zealand backing US drone strikes
The United Nations Secretary General has shown New Zealand politicians a thing or two about how to diplomatically dodge a question.
After touching down in Auckland today, Ban Ki-Moon was quizzed about Prime Minister John Key's support for US drone strikes in Iraq, which the UN hasn't sanctioned.
Mr Ban was asked whether that could hurt New Zealand's bid for a seat on the UN Security Council.
"As the Secretary General I'm not in a position to say anything because this is a matter to be decided by the member states. But at the same time I am aware how actively you have been engaging," he replied.
Mr Key and Mr Ban discussed the most pressing issues facing the world.
The pair discussed the situations in the Middle East and the Ukraine, climate change and international aid, Fiji and the upcoming elections during their meeting in Auckland this morning.
"New Zealand's been a founding member of the United Nations since 1945. In that time we've played a very important role," Mr Key said.
"We're a small country but we've held an independent foreign policy and a strong voice for a very long period of time. We're consistent in what we do and I think people respect the views of New Zealand."
Mr Ban is in the country to receive an Honorary Doctor of Law degree from the University of Auckland.
UN Climate Chief Says Door Closing on Warming Fix
Jakarta Globe [2/9/14]:
UN climate change chief Christiana Figueres on Tuesday warned time was running out for meaningful action on global warming, citing the plight of low-lying Pacific nations facing ever rising seas.
Figueres, in Samoa for a UN conference on small island states, said the impact of climate change was greatest on Pacific nations, even though they had contributed little to the problem.
Climate change is the greatest threat these islands face and they are recognized as the bellwether of global efforts to address this issue, she told AFP.
Unless the world acts on climate change in a timely way, they are going to be the hardest hit.
Figueres said rising seas not only eroded the coastlines of island states, they also spoiled water supplies when they entered the water table and swamped agricultural land, rendering it barren.
Warming also meant more cyclones and storms battered the islands, while planning was underway for a worst-case scenario where populations of climate change refugees would have to be relocated from their homelands.
Kiribati [which has purchased land in neighboring Fiji] is probably the most famous, but countries as large as Papua New Guinea are already starting to identify which are their most threatened populations, she said.
These are extreme measures that these islands are having to look at. Of course they, and the rest of the world, want migration of populations out of the islands to be kept at a minimum.
Figueres said the situation facing island nations underlined the need for progress in the quest to seal a global pact on greenhouse gas emissions by the end of 2015.
The UN wants to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius over pre-Industrial Revolution levels, which scientists say is the minimum needed to stabilize the climate.
The science tells us that we have to stay under two degrees temperature-wise and that the door is closing quickly, she said. Its still possible for us to stay under two degrees but we have to do it.
Island leaders have become increasingly vocal on the issue in the face of global inaction, with Seychelles President James Michel telling the Samoa conference that the interests of big business have dominated the debate for too long.
It is time that we recognize climate change for what it is a collective crime against humanity, he said. Climate change is robbing island nations of their right to exist. We must save our future together.
Marshall Islands President Christopher Loeak said island nations had to get across a positive message about what needs to be done at a UN summit in New York this month, which will be followed by an attempt in Paris next year to forge a new climate deal.
The time for finger-pointing is long past instead, we must recognize that there is no more powerful form of leadership that leadership by example, he said.
Rupert hates kids, public schools, teachers, parents and citizens associations, ordinary people having the capacity to sue for personal injuries ... and journalism ... he really hates journalism
Queensland Premier Anna Bligh says she is surprised to hear that a primary school in Townsville has banned students from doing cartwheels and handstands.
Belgian Gardens State School in the state's north has banned all gymnastics activities during lunch breaks, declaring it dangerous because it has the potential to cause back and neck injuries.
Parents and carers say students have been threatened with suspension.
Ms Bligh says the school is obviously taking student safety very seriously.
"I'd be interested to hear from this school what prompted them to take this action, because school communities by and large try to meet the standards that parents have in that community," she said.
Education Queensland has defended the ban on unsupervised gymnastic activities.
Regional executive director Vicki Baylis said fear of litigation was never a factor in the decision and it was made purely for the students safety.
Queenslanders confident of overturning anti rights laws
Nine MSN [2/9/14]:
... Lawyers representing 17 motorcycle gangs have appeared before the High Court in Brisbane to challenge the Newman government's anti-bikie legislation.
Among the laws being challenged are sections prohibiting three or more bikies from gathering in public and laws targeting tattooists who are members of criminal gangs.
Mick Kosenko from the United Motorcycle Council of Queensland, which is funding the appeal, says the legislation has affected people's livelihoods and stopped gang members raising money for charities.
He said there's been a number of people jailed despite not having any previous criminal convictions.
"I could be locked up with my wife and kids and put in solitary confinement until the judges decide whether my kids and my wife aren't criminals," he told reporters outside court today.
Mr Kosenko said if the Queensland government wards off the challenge bikies in other states could face the same harsh restrictions.
However he was confident the seven judges of the High Court would see both sides of the story.
"If common sense prevails we will win," he said.
The High Court was asked to look at the Newman government's Vicious Lawless Association Disestablishment laws and other legislation, including those that impose lengthy mandatory prison sentences on bikies who break the law.
In court the bikies' barrister, Ken Fleming QC, said the laws "extraordinarily and substantially" impair the institutional integrity of Queensland's courts.
He said they hadn't been subjected to scrutiny by the courts and created a serious imbalance by forcing judges to impose much harsher sentences on offenders just because they were a member of a gang.
"We say that this result offends any meaningful conception of justice," he told the packed court.
"If people participate in identical circumstances then there should be an identical outcome."
Mr Fleming said the definition of a criminal association was too wide and could apply to any organisation, even the Australian Bar Association.
The legislature and executive was asking the courts to do their bidding, he added.
Queensland Solicitor-General Peter Dunning countered that there were limits to who could be prosecuted under the law.
He said it had to be proved they were a participant in a criminal organisation while engaging in the group's criminal affairs.
Attorneys-general from five states and territories and the Commonwealth are backing the laws.
Chinese mother jailed for methamphetamine exportation
A Chinese mother who claimed she was tricked into smuggling more than three kilograms of methamphetamine into Brisbane will spend at least five years in an Australian prison.
Wan Hao Wu, a 47-year-old widow, was arrested at the airport after travelling to Brisbane with her 17-year-old son in June 2013.
Authorities had inspected her two suitcases and found 3.17kg of pure methamphetamine concealed in hidden compartments.
The haul was more than four times the commercial threshold set out in federal legislation.
Ms Wu pleaded guilty to importing a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug.
On Tuesday, prosecutor Glen Rice, QC, told the Brisbane Supreme Court Ms Wu initially declined to be interviewed by federal police, but was more forthcoming with Hong Kong police in March this year.
Ms Wu claimed she was offered a lucrative deal to smuggle diamonds into Australia by an acquaintance.
"The arrangements were that she pay the travel agent 15,000 Hong Kong dollars for each of the defendant's trip and her son's trip," Mr Rice told the court.
"Ms Wu also said she was promised, upon her return, 35,000 Hong Kong dollars for herself and her son."
Mr Rice submitted that the diamond story was "lacking in credibility", and the defendant made no attempt to investigate it.
Defence barrister Peter Nolan said Ms Wu had co-operated with authorities once she fully understood the situation.
She changed her plea to guilty on Tuesday morning, after finding out her son had been flown home.
Through an interpreter, Ms Wu told justice Ann Lyons that she wished to return to Hong Kong as soon as possible to care for her son.
In sentencing, Justice Lyons said Ms Wu's change of plea had removed the need for a trial and therefore delivered a significant saving to the administration of justice.
But the judge also said the defendant had acted with a "high degree of recklessness".
Justice Lyons imposed a 10-year jail sentence with a non-parole period of five years.
The judge took into account that Ms Wu's prospects of rehabilitation were good and her risk of reoffending was low.
Ms Wu was told if she is released on parole after five years, she may be deported to China.
Fatal traffic crash, Cooktown
QPS Media [2/9/14]:
The Forensic Crash Unit is investigating a fatal traffic crash that occurred this afternoon near Cooktown.
Police were called to the Main Highway approximately 3kms south of the township at around 3.20pm after a single vehicle has left the road and went into a drain.
The female driver was transported to Cooktown Hospital from the scene but was pronounced deceased a short time later and a boy has been taken to Cairns Hospital for observation.
Investigations 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.
Truck and car crash, Toowoomba [Chronicle - 2/9/14]
Mt Isa man on bond for police assault
North West Star [1/9/14]:
A 22-year-old man was capsicum sprayed in the eyes by police officers who were investigating a fight in the Buffs Club car park, a court has heard.
The Mount Isa Magistrates Court was told yesterday that the man, Jackson Neville Bisson, was involved in a fist fight in the northern car park in the early hours of Sunday, July 13.
Bisson, who pleaded guilty to assaulting and obstructing police, was placed on a $1660 good behaviour bond.
If he breaches the bond in 18 months he will have to pay the fine.
As part of the bonds conditions, Bisson will have to apologise within three weeks to the police officer he obstructed.
Civilian prosecutor Bimal Raut said Bisson was part of a group of 10 people who had gathered in the car park.
Police arrived at the scene and resorted to restraining the defendant, who struggled.
They then used capsicum spray but he still resisted arrest, Mr Raut said.
Legal Aid solicitor Danny Yarrow said his client had no previous criminal history and was remorseful for his actions.
He recalls being head-butted before the police arrived, Mr Yarrow said.
Magistrate Rod Madsen said the particular type of behaviour described near the club was often heard in the Mount Isa courtroom.
When you see those things going on, it spoils the evening for everybody, Mr Madsen told Bisson.
Hopefully youve learned your lesson.
Palmer saves unemployment benefit from Abbott austerity measure
Clive Palmer has given the kiss of death to the Abbott government's apparent compromise on tough new dole rules for young unemployed people.
To try to win crossbench support for its changes, the government might accept reducing from six months to one its initial waiting period plan for Newstart payments.
But that's not good enough for the Palmer United Party.
"If we support those things, we have got to say are we in favour of increased youth suicide or are we in favour of increased crime," Mr Palmer told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday.
Nor does the government have the backing of another key crossbencher.
"I wouldn't support allowing a genuine jobseeker to have to wait for (even) one day," Family First senator Bob Day said.
The government needs six crossbench votes to have its changes clear parliament in time for their planned rollout on January 1.
Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews said he was prepared to negotiate with anyone who understood the taxpayer cannot subsidise people who didn't want to work or train.
"This is not an earn-or-starve provision, this is an earn-or-learn provision," he told AAP in a statement.
The welfare sector hopes Mr Palmer will stay true to his word in what it says is a "high stakes" game on young peoples' lives.
The Australian Council of Social Services cautioned the government against copying New Zealand, which imposes a one-month wait for welfare.
"The message we're hearing (from there) is that it's ugly," chief executive Cassandra Goldie told reporters in Canberra.
The Australian Greens say even a one-month wait is a recipe for homelessness.
Coles is reportedly planning to cut 20 percent of its workforce at its headquarters in Melbourne. ... [Nine MSN - 2/9/14]
Perth hospital workers to rally over EBA
Nurses and midwives will rally over stalled pay negotiations outside a Perth hospital next week unless private healthcare operator Healthscope comes to the table, unionists say.
Australian Nursing Federation (ANF) WA secretary Mark Olson said staff at Mount Hospital had been left in limbo for the past three months after the operator walked away from EBA (Enterprise Bargaining Agreement) discussions.
Mr Olson said the EBA expired in November and staff had not had a pay rise in 19 months, leaving them about $88 a week worse off than other hospital workers in Perth.
Queensland Hospital and Health Board outsources radiology services, claims radiographers
and sonographers won't lose their jobs and patients will have better care
[CQ News - 1/9/14]
Fukushima workers to sue TEPCO for danger pay
Channel News Asia [2/9/14]:
Workers employed in decommissioning the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant are to sue operator Tokyo Electric Power and some subcontractors, demanding millions of yen in unpaid danger money, their lawyer said on Tuesday.
The four men, of whom two are still working at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, will demand the companies pay a total of ¥65 million (US$620,000), mostly in hazard allowances.
The workers, whose ages range from those in their 30s to their 60s, say they have not been properly compensated for the risks their work entails, including removing contaminated debris and patrolling at the plant.
The suit will be filed with the Iwaki branch of the Fukushima District Court on Wednesday, according to lawyer Tsuguo Hirota. It is the first time that workers still employed at the plant have launched legal action against TEPCO over remuneration and working conditions, despite widespread reports of exploitation and abuses.
"My health may be harmed some day. I believe there are many people who can't speak out about this kind of (underpaying) problem," one of the workers told public broadcaster NHK. "I may get fired or may be given no further work. But I hope people will take this as an opportunity to speak up and get paid," he said.
A massive tsunami triggered by a 9.0-magnitude earthquake in March 2011 smashed into the plant on Japan's northeastern coast, sending reactors into meltdown and contaminating a wide area.
TEPCO, one of the world's largest utilities, has routinely used several layers of contractors and subcontractors in the clean-up and decommissioning work at Fukushima.
Of the 6,000 people working at the plant every day over the last two months, only a handful were directly employed by TEPCO. Allegations continue to swirl that organised crime has had a hand in staffing subcontractors at the bottom of the food chain.
The sometimes murky arrangements mean that despite pledges by TEPCO of extra cash for employees, it is often difficult to tell if the money filters through to the people at the sharp end, or is skimmed off at one of the many intermediary levels. TEPCO had no immediate comment on the case, but said it would wait to hear what the plaintiffs said in court.
agrees to interim nuclear waste storage facilities [Japan Today - 2/9/14]
Australia is satisfied with the safeguards India has in place to allow the export of uranium to the nuclear-armed nation, Trade Minister Andrew Robb said on Tuesday (sEP 2) Prime Minister Tony Abbott is due to arrive in India on Thursday for his first visit to the country since assuming power a year ago and is expected to sign a deal clinching the export of uranium. ... [Channel News Asia - 2/9/14]
Victorian mine operator not prepared for fire that burned 45 days
Nine MSN [2/9/14]:
A fire in a Victorian coal mine that burned for 45 days was foreseeable but the mine operator was not prepared for the blaze, an inquiry has found.
Hazelwood mine operator GDF Suez fell short of its obligations to neighbouring communities by not properly identifying the hazards of a fire starting in the worked-out areas of the coalmine, an inquiry into the blaze found.
The company failed to take reasonable measures to eliminate or reduce the health and safety risks associated with a fire in the worked-out areas, the inquiry's report released on Tuesday said.
It also failed to carry out a risk assessment that may have avoided or reduced the severity of the blaze that shrouded Morwell in smoke and ash.
The fire was sparked by bushfire embers on February 9 but there was no preventative measure in place to prevent the area being hit by an ember attack.
The Latrobe Valley, where the mine is located, is particularly vulnerable to extreme bushfire conditions, the report said, and coalmine fires can spread extremely quickly.
"Contrary to suggestions that the Hazelwood mine fire was the perfect storm of events, all of the factors contributing to the ignition and spread of the fire were foreseeable," the report said.
"Yet it appears they were not foreseen."
The Hazelwood mine fire inquiry report, which makes 18 recommendations, said the plan the company did have relied on the Country Fire Authority being able to respond quickly.
GDF Suez made a fire plan on February 7 when a total fire ban was declared but failed to update it later that day when a bushfire started near the mine.
All but one of the GDF Suez workers nominated as emergency commander in the emergency response plan were out of Morwell on holiday, the report said.
This was despite the company being shown modelling about the risk of fire spreading into the mine.
It took GDF Suez more than an hour to activate its emergency response after the fire was reported, nobody called triple-zero and no request was made for CFA resources until several hours after the fire started.
"The inability of GDF Suez to effectively suppress the Hazelwood mine fire during the initial stages was due in large part to the mine operator being inadequately prepared to manage the fire," the report said.
Bundaberg Tennis Association to celebrate diamond jubilee
News Mail [2/9/14]:
Drinan Park will make a well-deserved racket next weekend as the Bundaberg and District Tennis Association celebrates its diamond jubilee.
And what a story rich in history the club has to tell.
While the tennis association itself was formed in 1930, it wasn't until 1938 that it managed to acquire a lease of land from the council, which agreed to lay four courts at Rotary Park.
Fast forward to the post-war year of 1953, when two major events happened that would go on to shape the club's history - the Queensland Hardcourt Championships held at Rotary Park for the first time and the association's expansion to Drinan Park.
Diamond jubilee organiser Val Killer said the Tantitha Tennis Club had six courts and a clubhouse operating at the corner of Powers and George Sts.
"They generously sold it at a huge discount to the Bundaberg and District Tennis Association," she said.
Mrs Killer said the courts were then relaid and the council made available sufficient land for another six courts.
At that time, the tennis club had a very healthy membership of 630 registered players - 530 more members than the club has today.
By 1954, the tennis complex boasted 10 courts and was officially opened with much fanfare as the association's headquarters on October 26, 1963.
"Wimbledon finalists Margaret Smith, Fred Stolle, Ken Fletcher and Robyn Ebbern joined the celebration with exhibition matches," Mrs Killer said.
"That was a big deal for Bundaberg."
Mrs Killer said the next major milestone for the Drinan Park complex was the lighting of two courts in 1969 which was celebrated with a special exhibition match played by John Alexander, Phil Dent, Evonne Goolagong and Winnie Shaw.
"You couldn't name a Queensland tennis player that hasn't played in Bundaberg - it's just incredible," she said.
Mrs Killer said a further three courts were lit in 1977 and the last six courts in 1991.
"Now all the courts are flood-lit," she said.
While the improvements of the tennis facility grew from strength to strength, member numbers began to dwindle about 1989 when the popularity of Saturday all-day fixtures lessened and Wednesday night fixtures became more favourable.
Mrs Killer said work commitments and the introduction of shops being open on a Saturday were partly to blame.
She said tournament playing had also been popular until that time.
"Now it's quite a large number of people just playing socially and for fitness," she said.
"Our oldest active player in Bundaberg is 93."
Mrs Killer said the September 13 celebrations were three-fold - to acknowledge 60 years since the purchase of the courts, 50 years since the opening of Drinan Park and also a celebration of the reopening of courts one-five and the recent refurbishment of the clubhouse.
"The day is open to anyone with an interest in tennis," she said.
Tennis Association President Rob Hardie said the club had invested significantly in upgrading facilities in the past 18 months to attract players to the club.
"It would be great to see more players of the younger generation Y, who are currently under-represented at the club, coming onboard," he said.
Mr Hardie said Wide Bay Australia had been a valued major sponsor of the club during the past 10 years and with its support, the club had been able to facilitate events including the annual Wide Bay Australia Bundaberg Open as well as the upcoming jubilee.
Art to challenge what it means to be Australian
UQ News [28/8/14]:
The University of Queenslands Great Court will be filled with challenging artworks for the Courting Blakness art installation next month.
Installation curator Adjunct Professor Fiona Foley said the works would challenge people to think about what it means to be Australian.
Through bringing eight Aboriginal artists into the University of Queensland's Great Court we are reinterpreting this space, she said.
The artists are reshaping the way we think about Australian identity.
What happens when you subvert constructs of power? I think that the Great Court is a construct of power and by subverting that space you actually create a more interesting space.
Through Courting Blakness were going to enter into a new dialogue that weve never had before, Adjunct Professor Foley said.
Courting Blakness uses original art to create new ways of visualising Indigenous belonging within universities and the community.
UQ lecturer in Cultural Studies Dr Fiona Nicoll said the contributions of generations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander thinkers, activists, writers and artists to ways of knowing, seeing and being human had been invisible or undervalued in universities.
Today, Indigenous knowledge and cultural industries are increasingly recognised as drivers of social change and innovation in the global university, she said.
The ground-breaking art installation will bring together works by Michael Cook, Christian Thompson, Karla Dickens, Megan Cope, Natalie Harkin, r e a, Ryan Presley and Archie Moore.
Three artworks in photography, fabric and sculpture will be placed at points within the Great Court and multimedia works will be screened onto the sandstone walls in the early evening on 5 and 6 September.
Courting Blakness will be in the Great Court on UQs St Lucia Campus from 5 to 28 September, with a free public national symposium on 5 and 6 September to be addressed by Indigenous academic and arts industry figures.
Dr Foley, who works jointly with the Schools of English, Media Studies and Art History and Political Science and International Studies in the UQ Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, was the Australia Councils artist of the year in 2013.
Courting Blakness is supported by the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland, Alumni Friends of UQ, Copyright Agency Cultural Fund, Professor Fred DAgostino, the National Indigenous Research and Knowledges Network and The University of Queensland.
As well as the murder of Reza Barati, 60 + refugees were injured during attacks on Australia's death camp on Manus Island.
When can we expect further arrests?
Police in Papua New Guinea have arrested and charged two suspects for the murder of Iranian asylum seeker Reza Barati on Manus Island in February.
Scott Morrison to wind down Manus Island death camp in favour of Nauru concentration camp, apparently [The Age - 2/9/14]:
Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has ordered that no asylum seekers be sent to Manus Island, instead funnelling them to the small Pacific Island of Nauru.
In changes made to the Migration Act on July 15, Mr Morrison revoked the direction to send male asylum seekers to Papua New Guinea's offshore processing centre on Manus Island.
In the changes made under subsection 198ad(5) of the Migration Act 1958 ('the act'), obtained by Fairfax Media, Mr Morrison writes it is in the "public interest" to "direct officers to take unauthorised maritime arrivals to the Republic of Nauru."
It says the only people who are exempt from the Act are asylum seekers who are flown to Australia for medical reasons.
"In this instance I direct officers to take the unauthorised maritime arrival to Papua New Guinea when the person no longer needs to be in Australia for the medical treatment," the statement says.
Service providers, who have recently returned from working on Manus Island, have told Fairfax Media the Manus Island centre appeared to be "winding down".
Manus Island asylum seeker in critical condition: 24-year-old Iranian flown to mainland for specialised care after cellulitis infection developed into severe septicaemia. [Guardian - 28/8/14]
A 17-year-old asylum seeker has broken her pelvis after throwing herself from the second storey of Darwin's immigration detention centre, refugee advocates say. ... [ABC - 27/8/14]
Sydney Morning Herald [1/9/14]:
The Abbott government has sent one asylum seeker back to Syria and several others back to Iraq through "voluntary" return packages last month.
In his now-monthly written briefings Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said 412 asylum seekers from Australian detention centres and the offshore detention centres on Manus Island and Nauru had been returned, including one asylum seeker from Syria, six Iraqis and 48 Iranians.
Sydney Morning Herald [1/9/14]:
More than three months after Tony Abbott said asylum seekers would begin to be resettled in Papua New Guinea, the PNG government is still to decide on a resettlement policy.
Although more than half of those whose refugee claims have been processed on Manus Island have been given "interim" positive decisions, none can be afforded refugee status until the PNG government agrees on a policy.
Despair at the lack of progress is cited for high levels of self-harm within the detention centre and for the increasing numbers of asylum seekers opting to return to their country of origin.
About 200 asylum seekers held on Manus have opted to return, about half the total of those returning from all onshore and offshore facilities. The total of 412 returns includes one Syrian and six Iraqis, despite the scale of conflict in both countries.
When Mr Abbott visited Port Moresby in March, he said his understanding was that the PNG cabinet would be finalising its resettlement policy in April. He expected the PNG parliament to approve legislation in May "so resettlement ought to be taking place for any of those who are found to be genuine refugees in May and June".
Replying to questions from Fairfax Media, PNG Immigration Minister Rimbink Pato said that while refugee status determinations were progressing well, "no determination has yet been made by the PNG cabinet on a refugee resettlement policy".
One cabinet member, Ben Micah, who describes himself as a strong advocate for those seeking refuge in his country, said cabinet had sought more time to consider the policy, which also covers other asylum seekers. He expected a decision by the end of the year.
Despite Mr O'Neill's assertion when he met with Mr Abbott that "a good majority" of those interviewed on Manus were not refugees, the latest update from Operation Sovereign Borders reports 41 positive and 38 negative "interim" determinations.
Immigration Minister Scott Morrison made scant reference to the situation on Manus when delivering his latest monthly report on Monday, instead focusing on the success of the policy in stopping the boats and on the resettlements on Nauru.
He said 179 asylum seekers had been settled on Nauru, of which 33 were employed in a range of occupations including dental assistant, electrical engineer, carpenter, gardener and school teacher.
"The government is advised a further 12 have applied for business licences to establish their own local businesses," he said.
Last week, Fairfax Media spoke by phone with 50 asylum seekers who had been resettled on Nauru who claimed they did not have enough clean water, food, or work to sustain themselves and that they could not afford phone calls to their families back home.
There are 1084 asylum seekers in detention on Manus Island and 1233 on Nauru.
Red Cross to axe 500 jobs as Government makes cuts to asylum seeker support service
The Red Cross says 500 jobs will be lost after the Immigration Department slashed funding for the charity's asylum seeker support service.
The charity has confirmed 500 of 800 staff working in its migrant support programs around the country will lose their jobs over the next 10 months.
Australian Red Cross chief executive Robert Tickner said he was "deeply saddened and disappointed" by the decision.
"The [result of the] introduction of a new service model to respond to the department's new requirements will be a loss of many skilled and caring staff," he said.
Since 1992 the Red Cross has assisted thousands of asylum seekers released from detention into the community.
Currently about 12,000 people, mostly families with children, rely on the charity to access financial assistance, healthcare, protection visa health and character checks.
The Department of Immigration and Border Protection's revised Status Resolution Support Services will see the number of clients supported by the Red Cross reduced to 5000 by June 2015.
Address to Carnival Cruise reception and launch of economic impact study of cruise tourism in Vanuatu
... Any slight delay or perceived lack of utter servility by our hard-working Filipino and Indonesian cleaners or waiters was angrily pounced on and condemned. Any shore expedition that didnt totally live up to expectations was subjected to withering criticism. Forget the fact that the rugged mountains and meandering streams of one of our ports of call were awesome; the coffee ashore was ratshit and the sandwiches like cardboard. Aspirational Australia really loves a whinge. Its the glue of aspirational solidarity.
And no one so much as mentioned the plight of the real
aspirationals on board, the Indonesian and Filipino crew
members who were away from their families on low-wage contracts for up to 10 months, or queried why they had one kind of lifestyle and we had another. ...
Australia were a ship, where would it be headed? David Williamson 
Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop [1/9/14]:
Aboard Pacific Jewel, Samoa
Good evening ladies and gentlemen,
I acknowledge the presence here of the Prime Minister of Vanuatu, Prime Minister Natuman, and his Ministers - particularly his Foreign Minister Kilman, who has become a friend of mine after we met in Canberra, we took pictures of ourselves and tweeted them were "tweet friends".
To Ann Sherry, the CEO of Carnival Australia and Rachel Kyte, Vice-President of the World Bank, and to all the friends of Australia, friends of Vanuatu, thank you for being here tonight.
The stars have really aligned tonight for this launch because I cant think of a better place than a cruise ship to talk about an Economic Study on the Impact of Cruise Tourism in Vanuatu.
This is just a delightful venue to talk about the importance of tourism to the South Pacific generally, but in particular to Vanuatu.
Thank you for that delightful surprise of the Ni-Vanuatu crew who sang their national anthem so beautifully.
It really gave a tingle to my spine listening to those glorious voices.
Indeed Samoa is also to be congratulated on hosting such a magnificent event as the Small Islands Developing States Conference.
What a great place also for us to launch this study - also in the South Pacific - which is becoming an increasingly popular place for tourists.
The beautiful pristine islands that are here are a magnet for tourists from around the world. Australians and New Zealanders particularly love being able to take holidays in and cruise throughout the South Pacific - and Vanuatu is a favourite destination.
In recent months the Australian Government has been talking about an overarching principle that we apply to our international engagement and that is "economic diplomacy".
Essentially were talking about using all of our assets in our international engagement to promote economic growth - not only in Australia but of course with our friends, neighbours and partners.
We want to see more two-way trade, more investment opportunities, more job opportunities in Australia, in our region, because economic diplomacy leads to greater prosperity, prosperity leads to stability and peace and thats what we want for our region a peaceful, prosperous, safe and secure region.
We are also focusing on getting economic outcomes from our aid program. Australia is the largest provider of development assistance funds into the Pacific and we want to make sure that these funds are driving economic growth.
Growth is what lifts standards of living and thats what reduces poverty giving people the opportunity to be more economically resilient and more self-reliant. Were using our aid budget in ways that we hope leads to sustainable economic growth.
That means working in economic partnerships with other Governments but also with NGOs and, importantly, the private sector. How appropriate was it that yesterday we had an opening discussion on the role of the private sector in driving economic growth in Small Island Developing nations.
Its natural - given that were focusing on economic outcomes, were focusing on job opportunities, were focusing on lifting standards of living and reducing poverty - that Australia would look to partner with the private sector.
Phosphate hill family camp, Christmas Island
Merits review for asylum seekers
Andrew Wilkie MP [1/9/14]:
The Independent Member for Denison, Andrew Wilkie, today introduced a Bill to restore merits review through the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for asylum seekers with adverse ASIO security assessments.
The Bill is fundamentally about fairness, Mr Wilkie said. Currently asylum seekers are denied access to merits review by the AAT if they are the subject of an adverse security assessment.
ASIO must be allowed to determine security risks, but to deprive asylum seekers of the right to have those assessments scrutinised is just part of the litany of attacks by this Government that target asylum seekers with punitive and cruel measures.
The bottom line is that Australian citizens can challenge adverse ASIO security assessments but asylum seekers cannot. This is a clear statement by the Government that asylum seekers are second class human beings who dont deserve their fundamental human rights.
Moreover, besides being plain wrong, its also at odds with Australias obligations under international law. Under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as the Refugee Convention, refugees should be afforded the right to question their detention and have it examined by an official judicial body.
The current situation is simply discrimination. If there is a genuine security concern then the original adverse assessment will be upheld on review, and if there isnt then innocent people are not arbitrarily detained.
Australians have nothing to fear from this reform, and we must pass it as a compassionate and fortunate country which believes in equality before the law.
Just got an update from Muhammad's family. He arrived in Lahore on the 23rd of August, and remains presumably in police custody somewhere, his family can't find him. Still missing.
Rights Action Network WA [1/9/14]
Stop the Deportation of Muhammad: No Deportation to Danger [Petition]
Muhammad is a Hazara asylum seeker from Quetta, Pakistan currently detained in Perth Immigration Detention Centre who has been told by the Australian government that he is to be deported back to Pakistan on the 21st of August.
Green Left Weekly [30/8/14]:
The first asylum seeker to be forcibly returned to Afghanistan begged an Australian court for help the day he was due to be deported.
The judge used a two-year out-of-date security assessment of Afghanistan to rule that the 29-year-old ethnic Hazaras home district, Jaghori, was reasonably stable.
Jaghori is confined, its like a prison, the man said through an interpreter, the Sydney Morning Herald reported. The surrounding areas are all controlled by the Taliban. Many people die on the way to Jaghori.
The deportation on August 26 has horrified Australian refugee advocates.
The Refugee Council of Australia president Phil Glendenning had just returned from spending eight days in Afghanistan when the Hazara man was flown out of Sydney airport.
He said the security in the wartorn country was undoubtedly deteriorating.
I have been a regular visitor to Afghanistan for nine years, he said on August 27. Never before have I seen the security situation as grim as it is now.
He said the impasse over this years presidential election has left a vacuum filled by violence and it was intrinsically dangerous for certain groups of people, especially Hazaras.
Members of the Hazara ethnic group are particularly vulnerable. Insurgents have been shelling parts of Kabul where Hazara people live. Afghan police are reluctant to enter Hazara areas due to the heightened risk of violence.
Just a few weeks ago, the Taliban halted two buses in the Ghor province, singled out the Hazara passengers and shot them at the roadside. Fourteen people were killed.
The UN refugee agency also considers returning refugees to be at significant risk. Glendenning said these returnees were often targeted by the Taliban: Senior Afghan officials told me that anyone who has sought asylum in a western country would be at risk.
No one with any knowledge of the situation in Afghanistan could possibly come to the conclusion that conditions are conducive to safe return.
I would hold grave fears for the safety of any person returned to Afghanistan in the current circumstances, let alone a Hazara person from Jaghori who will be perceived as having sympathies with foreigners.
Refugee supporters gathered at Sydneys international airport to try to delay the mans 9.40pm flight. They picketed the Malaysia Airways counters and handed leaflets about the imminent deportation to passengers and crew.
Federal police detained and questioned the activists and issued move-on notices.
Refugee Action Coalition spokesperson Ian Rintoul said during the appeal to the Federal Circuit Court: The case also reveals serious flaws in the refugee determination system and the inconsistency of Refugee Review Tribunal decisions. At least eight other RRT decisions using more recent country information have recognised the danger in Jaghori province and granted protection visas.
Glendenning said the risks were clear: There is no question in my mind that deportation to Afghanistan is deportation to danger.
Through work with the Edmund Rice Centre, Glendenning has uncovered multiple cases of refugees deported by the Australian government being killed by the Taliban or disappearing.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates there were about 600,000 internally displaced people in Afghanistan and expected this number to rise to more than 750,000 by the end of this year.
UN guidelines produced a year ago said Hazaras continued to be in need of international refugee protection based on their ethnicity.
United States attack Somalia
New York Times [2/9/14]:
American military forces launched an operation in Somalia on Monday against the Qaeda-linked militant network the Shabab, defense officials said.
Rear Adm. John F. Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said that officials were still assessing the results of the operation, and will provide additional information as and when appropriate.
Admiral Kirby declined to go into further detail about the operation, which was first reported by CNN.
A senior American official, who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the operation, said it had been carried out with Somali partners against a senior Shabab operative.
The Pentagon and the State Department have been supporting a 22,000-member African force that has driven the Shabab from their former strongholds in Mogadishu, the capital, and other urban centers, and continues to battle the extremists in their mountain and desert redoubts.
The United States now has a total of about 100 Special Operations forces operating in different parts of the country, both in training-advisory roles and in an operational role. Most, if not all, of those forces are Navy SEALS.
Officials did not say where the operation on Monday occurred or how it was carried out. But last October, Navy SEALS descended on the port town of Baraawe, which is a Shabab stronghold.
Their target was a Kenyan of Somali origin known as Ikrimah, who was one of the Shababs top planners of attacks outside Somalia, officials said.
But instead of slipping away with the man they had come to capture, the SEALs found themselves under heavy fire as they approached a villa. They retreated after inflicting casualties on the Shabab defenders.
That raid occurred less than two weeks after Shabab militants slaughtered more than 60 people at a shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya.
Though Mr. Ikrimah had not been tied directly to the Nairobi assault, fears of a similar attack against Western targets broke a deadlock among officials in Washington over whether to conduct the raid.
HMAS Darwin has completed a highly successful maritime security deployment to the Middle East and is now heading home to Sydney.
Deployed under tasking to the US-led Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) and Combined Task Force (CTF) 150, the Guided Missile Frigate with a Ships Company of 232 personnel seized narcotics with a street value of more than AU$2.1 billion during the five-month deployment, including the largest seizure of heroin (1032kg) in the CMFs history. ... [Department of Defence - 21/7/14]
HMAS Darwin operating in the Indian Ocean in international waters, 40 nautical miles off the east coast of Somalia, intercepted a suspected drug smuggling dhow on 13 May 2014, seizing 449 kilograms of heroin with an estimated street value of $132 million dollars.
Darwins Commanding Officer, Commander Terry Morrison, said the
seizure removed a major source of funding for terrorist and criminal networks
which included Al Qaeda, the Taliban and Al-Shabaab. ... [Department
of Defence - 15/5/14]
Why are places like Doomadgee always singled out for special treatment by the authorities?
QPS Media [2/9/14]:
More than 35 people have been charged as a result of a drug and alcohol operation conducted in the Doomadgee area at the end of last month.
From August 26 to August 30, Doomadgee Police, Mount Isa Tactical Crime Squad, traffic branch officers and dog squad officers worked together with the Doomadgee Aboriginal Shire Council and the local community to target and address drug and alcohol-related offences.
Officer in Charge of Doomadgee Police Station, Senior Sergeant Matt Campbell said it was a combined effort of first-class policing and community assistance that allowed police to charge over 35 people on 54 liquor, drug, public order and traffic charges.
Over my four years stationed at Doomadgee, I can say this is one of the most successful operations we have had and I believe this is due to the support of council, particularly Mayor Frederick OKeefe, and the local community being aware and supportive of addressing these issues, Senior Sergeant Campbell said.
Information provided to the police by the public had a tremendous impact on the positive results of this operation, including a 100 per cent strike rate on raids that were conducted, he said.
Among the items seized by police was a large quantity of alcohol, eight cannabis plants, plus other drugs and drug paraphernalia.
Around 160 Random Breath Tests were performed, with the highest reading 0.215 BAC.
There were also a number of Traffic Infringement Notices (TINs) issued, including one for speeding at 152km in a 100km zone.
Other notable offences included a 19-year-old Doomadgee man charged with one count of assault occasioning bodily harm on August 27 who will appear in the Doomadgee Magistrates Court on September 9.
A 20-year-old Pioneer man was charged with one count of assault police on August 28 and is expected to appear in the Doomadgee Magistrates Court on September 9.
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.
Why is stopping the government from siphoning more money out of weekly pay packets for the benefit of Wall Street a bad thing for working Australians?
ABC, PM [4/8/10]:
MARK COLVIN: Is your super ripping you off?
An ABC investigation has revealed that the returns on the more than $1 trillion of savings held in the super system are scandalously low.
The ABC has gone beyond the industry research, which looks at the bigger balance funds, to analyse returns on the entire pool of money in the system. And in real terms, the money is going nowhere, barely beating the inflation rate over the past 14 years, and below inflation - going backwards, over the past 10.
The investigation also shows that combined, the generous tax breaks on super and the billions eaten away in fees, cost far more than the age pension.
Economics Correspondent Stephen Long has the story.
STEPHEN LONG: It was Paul Keating's vision; build the savings to make workers secure in their retirement. But over the past decade or more the returns from the superannuation system have been woeful; stagnant or going backwards in real terms.
MARK RAFFERTY: It's not just bad for peoples' pensions it's an absolute economic travesty
STEPHEN LONG: Dr Mike Rafferty is an economist at the University of Sydney who specialists in financial markets and retirement income.
He says that the poor returns revealed by the ABC's research show that as a vehicle for building retirement savings, the super system is fundamentally flawed and failing.
MIKE RAFFERTY: We should start thinking about whether or not the aged pension should be the primary vehicle and start putting more money into that and have super as a second audit.
STEPHEN LONG: At the ABC we've analysed official data from the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, which goes back as far as 1997 and across the entire pot of money in the superannuation system, the average yearly return to mid-2009, is just 3 per cent; that's barely ahead of the average inflation rate over that time, which averaged 2.8 per cent. And over the past decade the returns are below inflation. The returns are a lot less than you would have got for cash in the bank and about half the return on government bonds.
Over those years the money in the super system's almost quadrupled, but the vast bulk of the growth has come from contributions; our money going in, not the money making money.
There's a host of factors behind those poor system-wide returns; volatile markets, with the Asian financial crisis, the tech wreck and the GFC wiping out years of double digit gains. Millions of lost or inactive super accounts being eroded by fees and the sizeable cut being chipped out of super all the way down the line.
JEFF BRESNAHAN: It's a $1.1 trillion industry and out of that there's about $17 billion in fees that are stripped out of it every year.
STEPHEN LONG: Jeff Bresnahan runs SuperRatings, an agency that monitors fund performance.
JEFF BRESNAHAN: Quite simply, almost $47/$48 million a day coming out of our superannuation accounts to pay suppliers for managing that money.
STEPHEN LONG: Is that justified?
JEFF BRESNAHAN: I don't think so, no.
STEPHEN LONG: The conflict of interest in the way financial planners are paid to promote super schemes has been in the spotlight but there's been less attention on those who get paid the biggest money, the investment managers.
JEFF BRESNAHAN: Quite clearly it's the investment management side of it that is taking the bulk of that income; just over half, or about $9 billion a year.
STEPHEN LONG: So why do the investment managers get paid so much?
JEFF BRESNAHAN: Look it's a good question; you've got to ask yourself, are there underlying costs in the investment management industry that shouldn't be there, or are too high and one of those is obviously salaries; the salary levels in the investment management industry are incredibly high.
STEPHEN LONG: Dr Mike Rafferty.
MIKE RAFFERTY: Average wage and salary earners putting money into super are subsidising massive salaries that go to fund managers.
STEPHEN LONG: The highly salaried stock pickers don't get a flat base fee and a bonus for doing well as you might expect
JEFF BRESNAHAN: They get a percentage of the superannuation fund assets, irrespective of performance.
STEPHEN LONG: So the bigger the pot, the more they get.
JEFF BRESNAHAN: No-one's willing to push the boundaries and say we need to change the way the investment managers are paid.
STEPHEN LONG: At Australia's biggest super fund, they've cut the fees they were paying by sacking most of the investment managers. Mark Delaney is the fund's chief investment officer.
MARK DELANEY: Stock picking is what people call in investment terms a zero sum game; that is for every winner there's a loser.
STEPHEN LONG: Australian Super found that one manager it hired would sell a stock and another one would buy it, with no net gain for the fund portfolio.
MARK DELANEY: So what we are doing is we're paying out fees for something which isn't achieving any outcome.
STEPHEN LONG: Now half the money this fund allocates to Australian share investment is passively managed; it merely tracks the broad share market index and the returns are just as good, with fewer fees.
Fees are one super-sized issue; another, the massive tax breaks to encourage people to put money into super, which overwhelmingly benefit the wealthy.
ALEX DUNNIN: Well the cost of superannuation tax concessions in total in Australia is about $26 billion; that's almost as much as the cost of the aged pension itself.
STEPHEN LONG: Alex Dunnin is research director at Rainmaker, a specialist information company that analyses superannuation.
ALEX DUNNIN: It brings up the question; who gets the most benefit from those tax concessions? Well that's really saying who gets the most benefits from paying less tax? Well people who pay a lot of tax now, meaning people who earn a lot of money.
MIKE RAFFERTY: You know, I have to ask the question; why would we spend more on the fees and charges and subsidies to super, than it cost to run our current pension system?
The review of the super system chaired by former ASIC commissioner Jeremy Cooper addresses some of these questions, but not all.
MARK COLVIN: Stephen Long.
Can The Taxpayer Afford Self-Funded Retirement? - Dr Richard Denniss and David Richardson, The Australia Institute [15/8/12]:
Australian taxpayers contributed $30.2 billion to the private accounts of that portion of the population with superannuation 2011-12. By 2015-16 this sum is projected by Treasury to rise to more than $45 billion by which time it will be, by far, the single largest area of government expenditure.
By 2015-16 the taxpayer contribution of $45 billion to private superannuation balances will account for almost twice the $24 billion projected to be spent on defence in that year. Indeed, the $45 billion subsidy is almost as much as the $51 billion provided by the Commonwealth to the states in 2012-13 and territories to provide health, education and other essential services.
By 2015-16 the annual cost of taxpayer contributions for private superannuation will again exceed the annual cost of the age pension. That said, from that point on, taxpayer subsidies for superannuation are likely to grow significantly faster than the annual cost of providing the age pension.
According to Treasury the top five per cent of income earners receive 37 per cent of all superannuation tax concessions. While comprehensive data matching individuals wealth and income is not available we do know that the net worth of the highest income quintile (that is, wealthiest 20 per cent of the population) was $2.2 million per household in 2009-10. The non-housing assets of that top 20 per cent averaged $1.4 million.
Given that the assets test for the age pension currently means that no pension is payable to a single person with assets of more than $696,250 (excluding the family home) it would appear that a significant proportion of tax concessions for superannuation are going to individuals who will almost certainly be ineligible for the age pension.
While we know from Treasury that a disproportionate share of the benefits of tax concessions for superannuation accrue to the highest income earners we also know from the ABS that none of the benefits go to Australias lowest income earners.
Despite Australias superannuation system often being described as universal in fact a substantial portion of the working age population does not make contributions to superannuation and, in turn, receive none of the $30 billion available to boost retirement incomes.
Superannuation tax concessions can only boost the retirement incomes of those who contribute, and it boosts those income proportionate to the level of contribution.
Put simply, superannuation tax concessions are designed in such a way that the more income a person earns the more taxpayer support they will receive. Those Australian who cannot work receive nothing.
While it is possible that such an inequitable system design maximises the capacity of the superannuation tax concessions to take pressure off the age pension such an outcome is highly unlikely, especially as it is low income earners who are the most likely to rely on the age pension and very high income earners who do not.
The belief that the tens of billions per year spent on taxpayer contributions to private retirement accounts takes pressure off the commonwealth budget may be widespread but the source of this belief is not well documented.
The sheer size, and rate of escalation, of the cost of tax concessions for superannuation combined with the small reduction in the expected number of retirees who do not receive the age pension make clear that it is unlikely that the current subsidies will deliver long run savings for the overall budget.
That said, a closer look at the detailed design features of the current superannuation arrangements make clear that the architects of the system had goals that are quite divergent from minimising the future cost of the age pension.
Consider the following:
If the Howard and Costello Government were worried about the impact of baby boomers on the cost of providing the age pension why did they substantially loosen the age pension means and assets tests in 2007?
If the objective of the subsidies for superannuation is to reduce the cost of the age pension why can people access their super at 55 when they cannot access the age pension until they are 65?
If the objective of the subsidies for superannuation is to reduce the cost of the age pension why can people take their super in the form of a lump sum, spend it all, and still be eligible for the age pension?
If the objective of the subsidies for superannuation is to reduce the cost of the age pension why can people who already hold more assets than the amount prescribed in the assets test continue to make concessional contributions?
If the objective of the subsidies for superannuation is to reduce the cost of the age pension why dont the poorest third of the population, the third of the population most likely to rely solely on the age pension, receive any of the $45 billion contributions?
If the cost of providing tax concessions for superannuation are greater than the cost of providing the cost of providing the age pension how could substituting the former for the latter save the government money?
Whatever the rationales for the creation of the current system of tax concessions for superannuation, minimising the future cost of the age pension does not appear to be among them.
Man hospitalised after being tasered by police, Hope Island
Brisbane Times [2/9/14]:
A man allegedly armed with a bottle and a knife has been Tasered by Gold Coast police after failing to surrender, police say.
The 43-year-old was taken to hospital for precautionary treatment after the incident which occurred at Babirra Street on Hope Island.
Officers were called to the scene about 8.30pm after receiving reports of a disturbance.
Police said the man went into the home occupied by people he knew, and then came outside armed with the knife and bottle.
Officers used the Taser to subdue the man when he failed to drop the weapons, police said.
A police spokeswoman said officers at the scene were not injured.
The man was charged with one count of going armed so as to cause fear and two counts of serious assault of police.
He is due to face Southport Magistrates Court on Tuesday.
Queensland Attorney General wins prisoner release appeal
... Mark Richard Lawrence, 52, was to have been released from prison in early May after doing time for the 1983 manslaughter of a female psychiatric patient and the 1999 rape of a fellow inmate.
Supreme Court justice Philip McMurdo decided he wouldn't be a danger to the community if he was released under strict supervision.
Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie appealed that decision.
The Court of Appeal on Tuesday ruled Justice McMurdo made an error in his initial ruling and ordered Lawrence's detention order to continue.
In his written judgment, Justice Robert Gotterson said no supervision order would prevent Lawrence from experiencing sadistic sexual fantasies like the ones that triggered his previous offending.
He said Justice McMurdo had made a mistake by assuming Lawrence was telling the truth when he told psychiatrists he was no longer experiencing fantasies.
"No provision of a supervision order could provide a reliable means of ensuring that the development of such fantasies upon which (Lawrence) might act could be detected after the respondent was released," Justice Gotterson wrote.
"The consequences of the realisation of the risk of reoffending were potentially of the utmost seriousness.
"Only a continuing detention order could adequately protect the public."
Lawrence was given the continuing detention order, which is periodically reviewed, in October 2008.
Deprivation of liberty and extortion, Willawong
QPS Media [2/9/14]:
A man has been charged with numerous offences following an incident at Willawong last week.
It will be alleged between the early hours of August 27 and the afternoon of August 28 the man, in the company of others, held a 45-year-old Willawong man against his will at a residence on Sherbrooke Road.
It will further be alleged that during that time the victim was forced to reveal his bank account details and that money was withdrawn from his account.
A 31-year-old Bridgeman Downs man was charged with 22 offences including one count each of deprivation of liberty, torture, burglary, extortion with intent to cause detriment, unlawful possession of weapons, discharge of a weapon, dangerous conduct with a weapon, possession or use of a weapon under the influence and receiving tainted property.
Other charges included two counts each of stealing, unlawful use of a motor vehicle, extortion with intent to gain benefit and breaching bail conditions as well as four counts of fraud.
The 31-year-old is due to appear in the Richlands Magistrates Court today.
Police continue to investigate the incident.
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.
Update: Sudden death, Kallangur
QPS Media [2/9/14]:
Detectives from the Pine Rivers Child Protection and Investigation Unit have charged a 34-year-old man with murder following investigations into the sudden death a 3-year-old child that occurred at Kallangur on June 17, 2014.
The 34-year-old Kallangur man was taken into custody this morning and is due to appear in the Brisbane Magistrates Court later today.
This charge has resulted from ongoing investigations by Pine Rivers Detectives attached to Operation Mike Capel.
The investigation is ongoing and continuing to follow further avenues with respect to this death.
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.
Drug charges, Cleveland
QPS Media [2/9/14]:
Police have charged a Cleveland man following a search warrant that was executed in Cleveland yesterday.
It will be alleged that as a result of a search warrant police located dangerous drugs at a Compass Court residence.
A 36-year-old Cleveland man was charged with 34 drug related charges and will appear at Wynnum Magistrates Court today.
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.
Drug charges, Sun Valley (Gladstone)
QPS Media [1/9/14]:
Police have charged a Sun Valley man following a search warrant that was executed today in Sun Valley.
It will be alleged that as a result of the search warrant police located a quantity of several types of illicit drugs, drug utensils and weapons at a residence on Edlorowa Street.
A 26-year-old Sun Valley man has been charged with one count each of supplying dangerous drugs, receiving or possessing property obtained from trafficking or supplying, unlawful possession of weapons Category D/H/R weapon, unlawful possession of weapons category A/B//M and possess property suspected of having been used in connection with the commission of a drug offence.
He was also charged with seven counts of possessing dangerous drugs and two counts of possess utensils and is scheduled to appear in the Glastone Magistrates Court on September 9.
WA police officer charged with stealing
West Australian [2/9/14]:
A WA Police officer has been charged with stealing and will appear in court this morning.
A police Senior Constable has been charged with stealing from a sporting and camping store.
Mandurah Detectives have charged a 44-year-old male Senior Constable from the East Metropolitan area with stealing offences.
A police spokeswoman said it would be alleged that on two occasions in July and August 2014, the officer stole items from a Rockingham sporting and camping store.
He has been charged with two counts of Stealing and will appear before the Rockingham Magistrates Court this morning.
The officer has been stood aside from operational duties.
Australian government remains committed to punishing young people
Greens Media Release [2/9/14]:
The Australian Greens said today that the Government's attempt at a compromise on cruel budget measures affecting young job seekers is policy on the run that still will deny people access to essential income support for months at a time.
"However the Government tries to spin their attempts at a so-called compromise, they are still committed to a policy that deprives young people of crucial income support," Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on family and community services said today.
"The Greens do not support waiting periods that will deny people access to assistance. Denying people access to income support for one week, let alone four weeks is significant. I find it hard to believe the Government thinks that cutting down the waiting time is an acceptable compromise, given the hardship it will cause. One month on and one month off, if that is what they are proposing, is still denying people access to income support for six months every year.
"Living without income support will expose young people to poverty, hardship and homelessness, and it will seriously undermine their efforts to move into work or study. How are people supposed to pay their rent, pay for food and other essential costs?
"Minister Andrews continues to perpetuate the myth that young people do not want to work or train. It is nonsense for a cabinet minister to claim that younger Australians are not interested in getting a job and building a life for themselves. We know from figures released yesterday by the Brotherhood of St Laurence, that unemployment and underemployment for young people is significant. If the jobs or the hours aren't there, cutting people off income support will not make opportunities appear out of thin air.
"If the Minister was genuine about supporting people as they train, the proposed expansion of work for the dole would contain proper training and skills building opportunities for jobseekers, but as I learnt during Senate Estimates, people will only be taught the basic skills and OH&S they need to do their assigned task. How is this supposed to help a jobseeker build a career?
"Changing the waiting period from six months to one month does nothing to address the fact that young people [will] still be forced off income support for six months of the year and still be asked to apply for the totally impractical figure of 40 jobs a week.
"If the Government does have a proposal, we will examine the details, but the Greens will not support measures that make things harder for people who are already struggling," Senator Siewert concluded.
Up to 100 workers set to lose jobs at Rio Tintos Kestrel mine
Daily Mercury [2/9/14]:
Up to 100 workers are set to lose their jobs at Rio Tinto's Kestrel mine north of Emerald.
Workers coming on and off shift yesterday were told of the decision to shed the jobs by the end of the month.
It is believed to be a mix of permanent and contract jobs in the firing line.
Central Highlands Mayor Peter Maguire said he had been briefed on the situation.
Rio Tinto will begin a consultation process with the outcome to be known by workers at the end of September.
Workers seeking $15 an hour to strike in 150 cities across US
Fast-food workers in 150 U.S. cities plan to protest this week in what could be the largest strike since the demonstrations began in late 2012.
Thousands of workers from restaurant chains including McDonalds Corp. (MCD) and Yum! Brands Inc. (YUM)s Pizza Hut are planning to rally on Sept. 4 for $15-an-hour pay and the right to form a union.
They will strike in cities such as Chicago, Pittsburgh and Oakland, California, union organizers said.
Fast-food protests are spreading in cities across the U.S., and even overseas, as unrest about low-paying jobs grows.
In May, McDonalds asked corporate employees to stay home after workers demonstrated at its Oak Brook, Illinois headquarters. A year ago, fast-food employees walked off the job in about 50 U.S. cities, ratcheting up pressure on chains to raise wages.
The workers are asking for about 65 percent more than what they make now. U.S. food preparation and serving workers, including fast food, earn $9.08 an hour, on average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Delores Leonard makes $8.25 an hour at a McDonalds in Chicagos Hyde Park neighborhood. The 28-year-old mother of two girls has been working the cash register and grills there for almost six years and hasnt ever received a raise. Thats why shes planning to go on strike Thursday.
I work so hard and its still like Im struggling, she said in a telephone interview.
Leonard says she has trouble buying shoes for her children because she earns just about $600 a month, or $7,200 a year, less than half the U.S. governments poverty guideline of $19,790 for a family of three.
Companies may face more responsibility for people employed by franchisees. In July, the National Labor Relations Boards general counsel determined that McDonalds has joint responsibility with restaurant owners over how employees are treated. The decision was celebrated by union activists and labor groups, while criticized by retail organizations and McDonalds.
McDonalds has more than 14,200 domestic locations, and about 90 percent are owned by franchisees. Yum, which also owns KFC and Taco Bell, has about 18,000 U.S. restaurants.
Mexico investigates mass fish death in Lake Cajititlan
Hundreds of thousands of fish have been washed up on the shores of Lake Cajititlan in the Mexican state of Jalisco over the past week.
Almost 50 tonnes of dead popoche chub freshwater fish have been removed from the lake.
The local authorities said it was part of a "natural cycle" but state officials said it was due to the lake's "poor management".
More fish are expected to wash up over the next days.
Jalisco's secretary for the environment, Maria Magdalena Ruiz Mejia, denied "categorically that this is a natural and cyclical phenomenon".
"We have no evidence to support that it is natural and cyclical, to the contrary, we have a series of variables which lead us to believe this phenomenon is not only recurrent and becoming more frequent and severe, but also that it is caused by the poor management of the body of water," she said.
Ms Ruiz Mejia said mud from local wastewater treatment plants could be to blame for the mortality.
When questioned by local journalists whether her office had evidence to support her allegation she said state authorities had been denied access to the plants and could therefore not yet carry out an investigation of the premises.
The state authorities have issued an environmental alert for the lagoon, but said human health was not endangered.
The lake is 9km (5.6 miles) long and 2km wide and is located north of the much bigger Lake Chapala, about 500km west of Mexico City.
The 88-year-old Castro asks if, instead of promoting conflicts, "it would not be preferable to fight to introduce more food, build hospitals and schools for the billions of human beings who desperately need them."
La Prensa [1/9/14]:
Fidel Castro on Monday attacked the alleged imperialism of the United States and its allies, accusing them of promoting conflicts in third countries and comparing the style of recent statements by NATO spokespeople with those of the Nazis.
"Hitler's empire, inspired by greed, passed into history without any more glory than the encouragement provided to the bourgeois and aggressive governments of NATO, which makes them the laughingstock of Europe," Cuba's former leader wrote in an essay published in Communist Party daily Granma.
The 88-year-old Castro asks if, instead of promoting conflicts, "it would not be preferable to fight to introduce more food, build hospitals and schools for the billions of human beings who desperately need them."
"We have a rather powerful adversary as our closest neighbor: the United States. We warn him that we would resist the embargo, although it means a very high cost for our country. There is no worse price than capitulating before an enemy who attacks you without any right to do so," Castro said.
"When the USSR disintegrated and disappeared from the socialist landscape, we continued resisting and together, the state and the revolutionary people, we're continuing our independent march," said Castro, who handed over power to younger brother Raul in July 2006 after falling gravely ill.
The leader of the Cuban revolution also discussed the role of the Soviet Union in the world historical context.
The Soviet state, Fidel said, was "a union capable of gathering its resources and sharing its technology with a large number of weak and less developed nations, the inevitable victims of colonial exploitation."
War is an area of uncertainty; three quarters of the things on which all action in War is based are lying in a fog of uncertainty to a greater or lesser extent. The first thing (needed) here is a fine, piercing mind, to feel out the truth with the measure of its judgment.
Carl von Clausewitz
Truth and fairness stuffed down the shredder [Sydney Morning Herald - 22/3/03]:
When John Howard interrupted normal programming to give his scungy, unctuous (no other words will do) national television address two nights ago on why Australian troops have been sent to join the US invasion of Iraq, not once in his 10-minute address did he actually use the word "war". Instead, what his Government has done, smarmed the Prime Minister, is "commit forces to action to disarm Iraq".
The careful choice of words is more of the Howard fudge and sludge that for months now has helped the Government's increasingly hysterical attempts to whip up fear and loathing of its straw man, Saddam Hussein, to justify subservience to Washington's strategic aims and objectives. Twelve years ago, when the US administration of George Bush the father, led a coalition of nations to drive an invading Iraq out of Kuwait, 32 UN member countries sent forces.
This time, in the crusade led by the Administration of Bush the son, just three countries have committed troops. Howard two nights ago said nothing to try to explain the huge disparity between then and now.
Why, if Saddam is such a monster who must be gotten rid of - along with what will likely be many thousands of Iraqi civilians, if the Americans conduct the same sort of war they did 12 years earlier, by bombs from several thousand metres up and missiles from several hundred kilometres away - why such a miserable and risible response from US allies this time?
Howard has no answer. Or none he shared with viewers. What he did have was lines like this, from the scabrous reporting by Rupert Murdoch's international stable of 174 newspapers: "This week, The Times of London detailed the use of a human shredding machine as a vehicle for putting to death critics of Saddam Hussein. This is the man, this is the apparatus of terror, we are dealing with." The Times, of course, is a Murdoch masthead.
The description Howard offered of "the human shredding machine" sounds more like the media mogul's own treatment of his many editors over the years, and a threat, too, that apparently ensures, this time, all 174 of his newspapers around the world indulge in the sort of war hysteria coverage that supports, without question, what the Bush, Blair and Howard governments are doing.
Not a Murdoch newspaper anywhere, or any of its commentators, have uttered a single word of criticism, Labor MPs accused in the Australian Parliament this week.
Sounds right, too, given some of the garbage about the issue in Murdoch's Australian stable of papers, the country's largest. If Howard has his head firmly up the lower orifice of the US President, then there are Murdoch journalists and editors adopting a similar posture in relation to their boss as well as the prime ministerial fundament.
At least Howard disclosed the source of his "human shredding machine" line. A week ago, in his televised press club speech in the Parliament's Great Hall, he said: "We're talking about a regime that will gouge out the eyes of a child to force a confession from the child's parents. This is a regime that will burn a person's limbs that, in 2000, decreed the crime of criticising it would be punished by the amputation of tongues."
Four nights later, the ABC Media Watch's David Marr revealed Howard had plagiarised the passage from the book The Threatening Storm: The case for invading Iraq by Kenneth Pollack, a Middle East analyst "who's worked with the CIA and the US National Security Council".
When I asked Howard's office yesterday to explain the lack of any attribution, his chief spokesman gave me a typed reply which rationalised: "The address was based on a variety of sources, including drawing on intelligence material, and it's not the practice to footnote everything in a speech. All facts were double checked against other sources."
Yeah, I'll bet. Like the human shredding machine.
The German parliament is set to debate Merkel's decision to arm Kurds in Iraq - on the 75th anniversary of Germany's invasion of Poland. DW's Felix Steiner says the choice of date is tasteless. ... [Deutsche Welle - 31/8/14]
Grave crimes committed on 'unimaginable scale' in Iraq, UN Human Rights Council told [Media Release - 1/9/14]
Al Arabiya [1/9/14]:
The United Nations on Monday placed Augusts death toll of violence in Iraq at more than 1,420, Agence France-Presse reported.
The number was revealed as the Human Rights Council convened in a day-long emergency session on Iraq.
The U.N.'s top human rights body has been asked to investigate the alleged crimes against civilians committed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria group in its rampage across northeastern Syria and northern and western Iraq, according to the Associated Press.
The 47-nation council is convening the request of Iraqs government, which proposed that the council set up a U.N. fact-finding mission to investigate alleged abuses by the group.
Such a mission would be carried out by U.N. staff, unlike the independent commissions that have been examining alleged war crimes in Syria and North Korea.
Flavia Pansieri, the U.N. deputy high commissioner for human rights, told diplomats on Monday that "systematic and intentional attacks on civilians may constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity."
Earlier, the U.N. said ISIS forces are committing atrocities amounting to crimes against humanity against minorities while Iraqi government forces have executed detainees and shelled civilian areas in acts that may constitute war crimes, the United Nations said on Monday.
Pansieri said that the conflict is having a grave impact on Iraqi civilians, particularly women and children.
"Systematic and intentional attacks on civilians may constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Individuals, including commanders, are responsible for these acts," she said, referring to crimes committed by both sides.
Iraqi Kurdish forces and allied militiamen retook the town of Sulaiman
Bek from militants on Monday, removing a key stronghold they have held for over
11 weeks, officials said. ... [Al
Akhbar - 1/9/14]
via @IraqiSpringMC [1/9/14]:
Maliki's army bombed Hawija [VIDEO]
Civilian wounded by shelling, Hawija [VIDEO]
Even animals not spared from the bombing of Fallujah [VIDEO]
According to @IraqiSpringMC government planes also bombed a school inhabited by displaced families in Salahuddin province, and there has been fighting and heavy shelling targeting civilians south of Baghdad.
Afghanistan: Insider attack leaves 3 policemen dead in Uruzgan province
At least 3 policemen were killed following an insider attack in central Uruzgan province of Afghanistan late Sunday.
Provincial governor spokesman, Dost Mohammad Nayab, has said the incident took place on Sunday night in Shahid Asas district.
Nayab further added that the attack was carried out by four policemen who opened fire on their three comrades in a check post in Kekhi area.
He said the assailant policemen managed to flee the area following the attack and have taken with them some weapons and ammunition.
According to Nayab, the main motive behind the incident is not clear so far, but he said the policemen belonged to Afghan Local Police (ALP) forces.
No group including the Taliban miliants has so far claimed responsibility behind hte incident.
Uruzgan is among the relatively volatile provinces in central Afghanistan where anti-government armed militant groups are actively operating in a number of its districts and frequently carry out insurgency activities.
At least seven policemen were killed and another one was injured in a similar attack in Tarinkot city of Uruzgan earlier in last month.
41 killed in Afghan National Security Forces operations [TOLO News - 1/9/14]
US drone strike kills 3 in Kunar province
At least three Pakistani insurgents were killed following a US drone strike in eastern Kunar province of Afghanistan.
According to local government officials, the airstrike was carried out in Shonkiri area of Kunar province.
Provincial police chief, Gen Abdul Habib Syed Khel, confirmed the report and said the local residents did not suffer any casualties following the airstrike.
Kunar is among the volatile provinces in eastern Afghanistan where anti-government armed militant groups including Pakistani militants are actively operating.
The foreign militants including fighters of the Pakistani Taliban group are usually crossing border into Afghanistan and launch attacks on check posts of the Afghan national security forces in Kunar.
At least 6 members of the Pakistani Taliban group Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) were killed following a drone strike in Dangam district of Kunar province late last month.
According to local officials, a senior Pakistani Taliban commander was also among those killed in the airstrike.
'PTI didn't attack PTV', Imran Khan summons core committee meeting
Following the attack on PTV building, Imran Khan tweeted that PTI has not stormed the state building.
Disowning the act, the PTI chief said that the workers have been very peaceful throughout the protest.
Earlier, protesters entered the PTV building and forced the management to shut down the transmission of PTV News and PTV World.
The angry demonstrators also ransacked the office and held staff members hostage. Following the incident, the Rangers came in and vacated the building. The transmission was restored within half an hour.
Following the shut down, the Interior Minister also directed law enforcement agencies to immediately restore the transmission of PTV. Chaudhry Nisar said strict action should be taken against those trying to take law into their own hands.
On the other hand, Imran Khan has summoned an emergency meeting of core committee. The session will be held in container. The future course of action will be decided in the meeting. The session will also review the anti-PTI statements of Javed Hashmi.
PTI leader Shireen Mazari also condemned the incident.
Lawyers hold countrywide strike [Dunya - 1/9/14]
Fighting erupts between Syrian army, rebels on Golan Heights
Heavy fighting between the Syrian army and Islamist rebels erupted on Monday on the Golan Heights, where the militants have wrested control of a key frontier crossing which had been operated by the United Nations.
It was not clear whether the forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had managed to retake control of the Quneitra crossing from the rebels of the al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front.
Persistent gunshots and explosions from mortar shells and other munitions could be heard on the Israeli-controlled side of the frontier and combatants could be clearly seen targeting each other with their weapons.
At least one tank belonging to the Syrian army was also involved and some rebels could be seen a few meters (yards) away from the frontier fence.
A large Syrian flag that had been flying for days between the Quneitra crossing and the abandoned town was taken down and a United Nations position in the area, thought to be unmanned, was pounded with mortar shells.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors violence in the Syrian civil war, said the Nusra Front and allied fighters were battling government forces near the Quneitra crossing and in the nearby village of al-Hmaydieh.
The Observatory, which says it gathers information from all sides in the conflict, said there were confirmed casualties on both sides.
Speaking to Reuters, Observatory founder Rami Abdelrahman said the Nusra Front's aim appeared to be "to end once and for all the regime's presence in the area and it also appears that the goal is to expel the international observers".
On Sunday, Israel's military said it had shot down a drone that flew from Syria into Israeli-controlled airspace over the Golan.
It was not immediately clear who had dispatched the unmanned aircraft or the nature of its mission in an area where fighting from Syria's civil war has occasionally spilled over into Israeli-held territory.
In a statement, the military said the drone was downed by a Patriot missile near the Quneitra crossing between the Israeli-held Golan Heights and Syria.
A contingent of 44 UN peacekeepers from Fiji was detained on the Syrian side of the Golan by Islamist militants on Thursday. The head of the Fijian army said on Sunday negotiations for their release were underway.
More than 70 Philippine troops trapped by Islamists in a different area on the Syrian side of the frontier have been moved to safety, the United Nations and authorities in Manila said.
Israel captured the Golan Heights in the 1967 Middle East war and beefed up defenses in the area after the outbreak of the Syrian civil war more than three years ago.
A UN peacekeeping force has monitored the disengagement zone on the plateau between Israel and Syria since 1974, following the 1973 Arab-Israeli war.
Wounded Gazans struggle to find treatment after war
Still in shock weeks after an Israeli shell blast shredded his arm and killed four members of his family, Ahmed Ayyad is one of many wounded Palestinians in Gaza now needing long-term care.
But many of the organizations charged with rehabilitating Palestinians like him are struggling to cope in the wake of an Israeli offensive in which the United Nations estimates that more than 10,000 Palestinians were wounded, with up to 1,000 likely to suffer permanent disability.
Staring blankly ahead and speaking softly, 23-year-old Ayyad sits in the waiting room for Gaza's only prosthetics center as he recalls the day that shrapnel raked his chest and his left arm, now amputated above the elbow.
"The shelling started at dawn prayer in areas far away but we heard the sound of it coming closer to us at six in the morning, and we were forced to leave our homes," he says.
The Shujaiyeh neighborhood where Ayyad was wounded on July 20 suffered intense shelling.
His family and dozens of his neighbors were 50 meters from their house when shells hit nearby, killing two of his nephews and two other members of his extended family.
"As soon as I was hit I lost consciousness, I was hit in my hand, in my leg and my chest. There were body parts in the area and bodies and people who had lost limbs," he says quietly.
Ayyad was evacuated to the West Bank city of Nablus, where his arm was amputated. Unlike some of the wounded, who are staying in Jordanian, Egyptian and Turkish hospitals for treatment, Ayyad returned home after 14 days to start treatment at Gaza's Artificial Limbs and Polio Center.
A doctor gently leads him to a gurney in the corner of the small clinic. He massages the stump where Ayyads left arm was to desensitize the skin, the first of many sessions the young man will need before his prosthesis can be fitted.
The ALPC has no shortage of equipment for prosthetics, provided by the Red Cross, but the dire financial situation of the Gaza municipality, provider of the 25 employees' salaries, threatens their ability to keep working, says Hazem Shawwa, the center's director.
"This is the third month without salaries for the center's employees," he says
The Gaza Strip has been under an intense financial squeeze since Israel imposed a blockade in 2006.
"We agreed with the employees that we will keep offering services even if there are no wages, for as long as possible," Shawwa says, but admits he does not know how long they can hold out.
Since Tuesday's start of the Gaza ceasefire, aid groups have started offering help to residents who suffered life-changing injuries in the conflict.
In Shujaiyeh, a team of nurses supported by staff from NGO Handicap International, that has been working in Gaza since 2007, was visiting 28-year-old Nahaya al-Angar.
When a shell hit her house on July 20, she and her three children were buried beneath the rubble.
Her children suffered burns but the debris that fell on her caused pelvic fractures that have left her unable to walk unsupported.
Sitting in a bed in her father's house, a few streets away from her ruined home, crutches on one side of her and her 10-year-old daughter Nur on the other, she is still in shock.
"The house collapsed on us. I couldn't hear anything apart from the shaking and the buzzing sound, a buzzing sound. The first time I saw how I was under the rubble, I said to myself: 'That's it, were going to die'."
As she speaks, Angar and her daughter cry. She says she called frantically called from beneath the rubble for her neighbors to look for her children, before realizing she could not stand. One of the nurses visiting says she may never walk on her own again.
Handicap International and its Gazan partners have been visiting casualties at home to dress wounds and provide therapy.
But the groups project manager Samah Abu Lamzy says the NGO still faces challenges in carrying out its work in Gaza.
"We are facing difficulties in distributing supplies like nappies and treatments as a result of shortages in the Gaza Strip".
Health workers from Gaza also suffered heavily themselves in the conflict.
Teams working in the field "did not receive the psychological support services they need after the suffering they have lived through during more than 50 days of the crisis in Gaza," she says.
Israel has seized some 200 million shekels ($55 million) from monthly tax revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, a senior Palestinian official told Ma'an on Monday. ... [Maan - 1/9/14]
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today voiced his alarm at the announcement by Israeli authorities to declare nearly 1,000 acres of land in Bethlehem as so-called state land.
The seizure of such a large swathe of land risks paving the way for further settlement activity, which as the United Nations has reiterated on many occasions is illegal under international law and runs totally counter to the pursuit of a two-State solution, Mr. Ban's spokesperson said in a statement. ... [UN Media Release - 1/9/14]
An Israeli military unit erected on Monday a utility pole carrying spying equipment near the occupied Shebaa Farms area in the South, the state-run National News Agency reported.
The pole was placed at the Farms Gate near Berket al-Naqar, it said.
Spying and transmission devices were placed on the six-meter telecommunications pole, NNA stated.
The Israeli army technicians were backed by around 25 soldiers and five armored vehicles, the agency added.
Israel has on several occasions planted surveillance devices along the technical fence to spy on Lebanon.
Devices aimed at spying on Hizbullah have also been found in southern Lebanon.
Lavrov: US, EU must demand Kiev stop using heavy artillery, airstrikes against civilians
Russias foreign minister believes that the peace plan offered by the Ukrainian president is unrealistic and calls of the US and the EU to persuade Kiev to stop using heavy artillery and airstrikes against the civilian population in the countrys east.
We assume that the most important thing is for Washington and Brussels to demand Kiev do the same thing they demand in any other conflict: stop using heavy artillery, aviation against the cities, against civilians; not to destroy schools, hospitals, Sergey Lavrov said on Monday, addressing students at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations.
Moscow hopes that the Monday peace talks in Minsk will primarily be devoted to agreeing on an immediate unconditional ceasefire in eastern Ukraine.
Lavrov stressed there would be "no military intervention by Russia into the conflict in Ukraine".
The peace plan offered by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is hardly implementable, according to the Russian Foreign Minister.
They have to sit down and talk, and not insist on unrealistic demands of laying down arms and letting themselves be killed. This whole peace plan by Petro Poroshenko is about that, Lavrov said.
He believes that pragmatic cooperation is still possible between Moscow and the West, but it can only be restored if the US and the EU stop using the language of threats.
Wed like to discuss with our partners things we disagree about. We are counting on them treating us the same way not just indiscriminately blaming us for all the deadly sins, but sitting down and talking, honestly laying out their accusations. If that doesnt happen then we conclude that criticism is a goal in itself, only justification of further ultimatums and sanctions".
Should the West choose to put more pressure on Russia, imposing new sanctions, Moscow will once again respond, according to Lavrov. The reaction wont be door smashing, but Russia will try to protect its interests.
Lavrov said Russia is being pushed toward enhancing cooperation with the East.
Its going to be bitter if Western countries themselves choose the type of policy toward Russia which would see us getting closer with the East at the expense of boosting cooperation with Europe and our Western partners, he said.
Lavrov said Moscow still had a number of questions to those conducting the investigation into the crash of the Malaysian Boeing.
What was in the black boxes is most likely deciphered, but is not being made public. Theres no information on conversations Ukrainian air traffic controllers had with the planes, including the Malaysian Boeing, that day. Why thats being concealed is not clear, he said.
All allegations the plane was downed by anti-government fighters have so far not been confirmed by a single photograph made from space, Lavrov said. All accusations are based on pictures from YouTube, which makes the whole story look shady.
Lavrov believes that international investigators have to come back to the scene of the crash.
Why dont they study the fragments which are still there and which journalists keep showing? So, you can film them, but you cant approach them? Why have experts, whose task is to find out the truth, left?
The foreign minister reiterated that Russia has already presented whatever data it had on the crash.
Perhaps one of the reasons Senator John McCain has been so consistently wrong about world events is that he is living in an alternate reality. Over the weekend Senator McCain told Face The Nation that former Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovich was overthrown peacefully by the people of Ukraine.
Regardless of how you feel about Viktor Yanukovich it is flat out wrong to claim he peacefully removed from office obviously and comprehensively wrong. It is so amazingly inaccurate that in order to to say it you either have to be a shameless liar or mentally defective. ... [Fire Dog Lake - 1/9/14]
China, Russia to start construction of joint gas pipeline
China and Russia are to start construction of a joint natural gas pipeline in Russia's eastern Siberia this weekend, in implementation of a natural gas supply contract signed between the two countries.
Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli flew in from Moscow to Yakutsk, the capital city of Russia's Sakha (Yakutia) Republic, Sunday evening to attend a start-of-construction ceremony for the Russian part of the East Route of the China-Russia natural gas pipeline.
Zhang's attendance at the start-of-construction ceremony reflects the importance that the Chinese government attaches to the comprehensive strategic partnership with Russia and its will to expand bilateral cooperation to wider fields and higher levels.
Pipe-welding will begin on Monday in the Russian part of the East Route of the China-Russia natural gas pipeline, which the Russian side named "Siberia Power" pipeline.
According to a contract signed under the witness of Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin during their Shanghai meeting in May, the pipeline will transmit 38 billion cubic meters of natural gas every year to China over a period of 30 years starting from 2018.
The Russian stakeholder of the pipeline Gazprom estimates that total investment in the project could exceed 5 billion U.S. dollars.
Gazprom Chairman Alexey Miller said Saturday that the gas supply contract was just a good beginning of bilateral cooperation in the field of natural gas.
He said the Russian side is working on implementing the consensus reached by President Putin and President Xi and will undoubtedly build the planned West Route of the natural gas pipeline and export gas to China through it.
The start of construction of the East Route of the China-Russia natural gas pipeline signifies a major step forward in implementing the consensus reached by Xi and Putin.
The Russian part of the pipeline will link the Kovyktin and Chayandin gas fields in Siberia with the eastern port city of Vladivostok, covering a total distance of nearly 4,000 km.
Vice Premier Zhang said the breakthrough on the natural gas project and other large-scale projects helped drive the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership into a new era of development.
Zhang visited Moscow to co-chair the 11th meeting of the China-Russia Energy Cooperation Committee with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich in Moscow on Saturday.
Japan: 2.35 million take part in nationwide disaster drill
Japan Today [1/9/14]:
About 2.35 million people took part in a government disaster drill in Japan on Monday, hoping to prevent a catastrophe when the quake-prone country is hit by another natural disaster.
Dry runs of evacuations, rescue operations and firefighting were carried out across the nation to simulate an emergency response to an imaginary quake with a magnitude of 7.3 hitting Tokyo in the early morning.
I order all the ministers to do their best to respond swiftly and appropriately by placing top priority on peoples lives, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said at the start of the drill.
The nationwide drill is held annually on Sept 1, known in Japan as Disaster Prevention Day which comes on the anniversary of the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake which killed more than 100,000 people and levelled Tokyo.
The government has stepped up its disaster response since the devastating 2011 earthquake in northeastern Japan which triggered a tsunami and sent reactors at the Fukushima nuclear plant into meltdown.
Recent deadly landslides in the western city of Hiroshima have also highlighted the need to guard against a potentially crippling natural disaster.
The death toll has now reached 72 with two others still missing after the massive landslides, triggered by heavy rain, engulfed part of the city in late August.
Last week, the industry ministry launched a public awareness campaign to call on people to stockpile toilet paper, learning lessons from the 2011 disaster during which the country suffered a shortage of toilet rolls among other items.
Turkey's foreign ministry summoned the U.S. charge d'affaires
Hurriyet Daily News [1/9/14]:
Turkey's foreign ministry has summoned the U.S. charge d'affaires on Sept. 1 over a media report that the United States had spied on Turkey, as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to address the United States and the United Kingdom leaders.
"For the reasons that the United States' name was mentioned, and such claims were made the charge d'affaires has been called to the foreign ministry and information has been received from him," Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arinç told reporters Sept. 1, referring to Washington's most senior diplomat in Ankara.
I will openly discuss [this issue] with leaders first at the NATO Summit and then at the United Nations [General Assembly], Erdogan told reporters at the press conference he held before departing to northern Cyprus.
Erdogan is expected to hold bilateral meetings with some Western leaders at this weeks NATO Summit in Wales, but it is not yet clear whether this includes talks with U.S. President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron.
Erdogans statement came upon a question regarding German magazine Der Spiegels claims that both the U.S.s NSA and the GCHQ of the U.K. have been spying on Turkey for years. The story was a follow-up to another claim that Germanys intelligence agency had also been eavesdropping on Turkey for years.
Erdogan did not openly name the leaders he will talk with about these claims, but he referred to the countries whose secret agencies have been the subject of such claims.
Despite the seriousness of the claims, Erdogan seemed to downplay the situation, as he said There is no such thing as countries with strong intelligence agencies not eavesdropping on other countries. Everybody does this.
Erdogan recalled the feud between Germany and the U.S. over the latters attempts to spy on German Chancellor Angela Merkel and described the process between the two agencies as settling accounts.
However, Erdogan said, what is important is how is [this spying] being carrying out and what [information] is being revealed?
Telstra reveals extent of government's data requests
Nine MSN [1/9/14]:
Police and government agencies accessed at least 84,849 Telstra customer records in the 12 months to July, the telco has revealed in its first full-year transparency report.
The vast majority of the records - some 75,448 - related to basic customer information, carriage service records, or basic pre-warrant checks, which are used to determine whether customers were still with Telstra.
Customer information can include a customer's name, address, previous address, service number, connection dates, and date of birth.
Carriage service records can include data on phone, text and internet communications, including when, to whom and for how long communication is made.
The report reveals 6202 records were provided to agencies in response to emergency situations, such as Triple Zero calls, with 598 provided in response to court orders, typically relating to civil disputes.
Some 2701 records were obtained via a warrant, allowing agencies to conduct real-time phone taps or access the content of a customer's communication.
Companies are prohibited from disclosing information requests from national security agencies such as ASIO, meaning the overall figure is likely far higher than the reported 84,849.
All Australian telcos are required by law to assist government agencies by handing over customer data in defined situations, such as criminal investigations.
Yet Telstra is one of the few companies operating in Australia to disclose the number and types of these requests.
It released its first transparency report in March, following the likes of tech giants Facebook, Google and Twitter.
That report covered the second half of 2013, but the new one is Telstra's first to disclose an entire year of data.
It comes as the telecommunications industry negotiates with the federal government about a controversial proposal to compel telcos to store customer metadata for two years.
Spying and law enforcement bodies say mandatory retention of customer data is vital for fighting crime and terrorism.
Critics within the industry counter that extra storage and retention could cost some telcos hundreds of millions of dollars.
Unlike most other transparency reports, Telstra did not disclose how many of the requests it challenged or denied.
But because Australian law allows agencies to undertake a pre-warrant check to fine-tune their investigations, there are relatively fewer illegitimate requests, it said.
Telstra added that its international arm, Telstra global, received fewer than 100 requests for information.
Royal Commission into Home Insulation Program report released
... The royal commission's final report was today handed down by commissioner Ian Hanger QC and delivered to the Governor-General.
It outlines seven significant failings in the design and implementation of the program, including the speed of the rollout and a failure to identify the risk to installers.
The program was set up in 2009 as an economic stimulus measure to help ward off the effects of the global financial crisis.
The inquiry examined whether the deaths of four installers, along with hundreds of house fires, could have been avoided.
Matthew Fuller, Rueben Barnes, and Mitchell Sweeney, all from Queensland, and Marcus Wilson from New South Wales, died while working on the roll out of the scheme in 2009 and 2010.
Mr Hanger said the then-Australian government "erroneously" regarded the risks to installers of death and serious injury as the responsibility of states and territories to manage.
He said the "states and territories were faced with a program on a large scale, about which they knew little, and which they were not properly resourced to regulate".
Mr Hanger said the states and territories might have done more to inquire about the program and push the Australian government to disclose more about the installations taking place.
But he said ultimate responsibility rested with the Australian government.
Mr Hanger said the Australian government failed to take proper responsibility for the regulation of its own program, by its almost complete reliance upon the state and territory regulatory regimes.
"At no stage did the Australian government ascertain that state and territory regulatory regimes would be adequate to deal with the risks to personal safety and property," he said in the report.
Death of elderly patient at Sunshine Coast University Private Hospital to be investigated by Health Ombudsman
Queensland's Health Ombudsman will investigate whether inadequate staffing contributed to the death of an elderly man at the Sunshine Coast University Private Hospital.
The Coroner's Office has formally asked the state's Health Ombudsman to investigate the death of 93-year-old James Hitchins.
After some falls at home, Mr Hitchins was sent as a private patient to the Sunshine Coast University Private Hospital for tests.
In March, while in hospital, he had another fall and broke his hip.
He was operated on but died the next day.
The Coroner's Office initially cleared the hospital of any wrongdoing.
But a spokesperson for the coroner said in view of allegations of broader staffing inadequacies impacting on patient care, the registrar this morning referred the allegations to the ombudsman.
The Sunshine Coast University Private Hospital has previously said staffing was adequate and Mr Hitchins' fall risk was identified and managed.
A former manager has told the ABC another employee claimed the hospital was to blame for his fall and subsequent death because there was not enough staff.
Novartis Japan admits concealing drug side effects
France 24 [1/9/14]:
The Japanese unit of Swiss pharma giant Novartis has admitted it did not report more than 2,500 cases of serious side effects in patients using its leukaemia and other cancer drugs, reportedly including some fatalities.
The revelations, which marked the latest in a string of scandals at the company's Japanese subsidiary, come after local authorities slapped the firm on the wrist, saying it had to clean up its operations.
On Friday, Novartis issued a statement saying it had failed to report to regulators at least 2,579 cases where patients had suffered serious potential side effects from its drugs.
Japan's Jiji Press news agency said they included some fatal cases, without specifying a figure.
The unit declined to comment on Monday, referring questions to its Swiss headquarters.
Japanese media said the number of cases involved could rise as Novartis probes 6,000 other cases.
The news comes about four months after Novartis replaced the top executives at its Japanese arm over allegations it did not properly disclose the possible side effects of its leukaemia treatments.
In July, Japanese prosecutors laid charges against the unit over claims that falsified data was used to exaggerate the benefits of a popular blood-pressure drug.
They also indicted a former employee, Nobuo Shirahashi, alleging he manipulated the data in clinical studies that were later used in marketing the drug Valsartan.
Judge temporarily blocks law that could close all Louisiana abortion clinics
A U.S. federal judge on Sunday temporarily blocked enforcement of a Louisiana law that advocates say would likely have closed all five abortion clinics in the state.
The measure, signed into law by Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal in June and due to take effect Sept. 1, would require doctors who perform abortions to have patient admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of their practice.
However, the judge's ruling means that for the time being doctors can continue to perform legal abortions while seeking such privileges.
"Plaintiffs will be allowed to operate lawfully while continuing their efforts to obtain privileges," Federal Judge John deGravelles wrote in the decision.
A hearing will be scheduled within a month for the judge to make a more permanent ruling on the law.
Abortion rights activists applauded the decision, the latest in a string of rulings against similar measures, saying it would give doctors more time to seek hospital privileges.
"Todays ruling ensures Louisiana women are safe from an underhanded law that seeks to strip them of their health and rights," said Nancy Northup, president and chief executive of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which sued to block the law on behalf of three of the state's five clinics.
It was not immediately clear whether the ruling applied to doctors from the two clinics who were not plaintiffs in the suit and have also applied for admitting privileges.
Louisiana is among 11 states that have passed similar laws, with courts recently ruling unconstitutional such measures in Alabama and Mississippi. Key parts of a Texas law that would have shuttered most remaining clinics in that state were blocked by a federal judge on Friday.
Abortion rights campaigners, along with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Medical Association, say admitting privileges laws impose medically unnecessary requirements on doctors.
Anti-abortion advocates have countered that the measures aim to protect women's health, though some have also lauded their effect of shuttering clinics.
Only one doctor who performs abortions in Louisiana has hospital admitting privileges, the Center for Reproductive Rights said.
If all other doctors in the state are forced to stop performing abortions, that doctor, fearful for his safety, would stop carrying out the procedure, the group said.
In arguing against the ruling, Louisiana officials said they would not punish doctors performing abortions while their applications for admitting privileges were pending.
Indonesia: Undocumented migrants stopped from departing for Malaysia
Jakarta Post [1/9/14]:
The Agency for the Placement and Protection of Indonesian Migrant Workers (BNP2TKI) has foiled the attempts of 669 migrant workers from departing to Malaysia without the proper documentation.
The workers were attempting to depart from Batam and Tanjung Pinang, Riau Islands.
Speaking to The Jakarta Post in Batam on Saturday, BNP2TKI head Gatot Abdullah Mansyur said that together with the Immigration Office, his agency had screened Indonesians leaving for Malaysia from the Batam international ferry terminal for four days starting from Aug. 27.
Gatot said if they found indications that a person was to work in Malaysia without the required documents, such as a job order and a temporary residence permit, the person would be prevented from traveling.
According to the regulations, we cannot ban citizens from going to Malaysia. Yet, we know whether they are going for an ordinary visit or for work. We arrest those who are going there for work [without the required documents], he said.
He said the 669 workers arrested hailed from across Indonesia.
He added that they made Batam and Tanjung Pinang their points of departure.
The biggest challenge we face in preventing illegal migrant workers from going to Malaysia is the fact they do not need a visa to go there, he said, adding that the measure was conducted to make illegal workers complete their documents properly before leaving.
According to Gatot, the visa-free policy has been a concern for the State Palace and the Foreign Ministry, which are attempting to review the policy to prevent undocumented migrants from going to Malaysia.
The upcoming ASEAN Community that will implement borderless, united currency principles, will see an increase in the migration of illegal workers, Gatot said.
Things became more complex, he said, as in many cases illegal workers were sent from Malaysia to work in the Middle East.
Batam Center Immigration Office head Irwanto Suhaili, said departures to Malaysia through the ferry terminal that served the Stulang Laut, Johor Bahru, route were high, with ferries departing every hour.
An average of 500 Indonesians depart to Johor every day, mostly for work in Malaysia, Irwanto said.
Batam international ferry terminal is well known as a departure point for undocumented Indonesian migrants heading to Malaysia, both individually and through labor recruitment agencies (PJTKI).
Illegal workers can reportedly even buy one-way tickets on board the ferry. They usually board after all legal passengers. They also pay less money than legal passengers.
The situation has reportedly been allowed to develop by staff accepting illegal levies from undocumented passengers.
So far we have found no staff involved in such a practice. If we find them, we will report them to their superiors in Jakarta, Gatot said.
Based on the Posts observations at Stulang Laut Port, Johor Bahru, Indonesian undocumented migrants are also being financially exploited by staff, who seek to increase illegal levies for undocumented migrants at every opportunity.
In many cases, the staff even check the workers cell phones to see if there are porn videos on the phones.
In the event they find such videos, they demand that the workers pay 100 Malaysian Ringgit.
Aceh: More than 1,000 traditional miners protest ban
Jakarta Globe [1/9/14]:
Traditional gold miners in the Pidie district have slammed Aceh Governor Zaini Abdullahs recent ban on illegal gold mining, demanding that he proves claims that their activities cause environmental destruction.
More than 1,000 traditional gold miners from the Geumpang and Mane subdistricts staged a protest against the new ban at the Geumpang bus terminal on Saturday. They spread a 50-meter-long white cloth dotted with their bloody fingerprints.
We will hand over this cloth to the Aceh governor as proof of our fight till the last drop of blood for our right to keep our gold mining businesses, said Muhammad Abet, one of their leaders.
Muhammad Nasir, a coordinator of the rally, also called on Zaini to annul the ban.
Whatever happens, we will not close and abandon our businesses. If the government thinks our activities are not environmentally friendly, then it should show us how to make it environmentally friendly, Nasir said in his speech during the protest. And if they consider our activities illegal, then make them legal.
He added more than 5,000 people many of them were victims of decades-long conflict between the Indonesian government and now-defunct separatist group the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) depended heavily on traditional mining to support their economy.
Were trying to rise from our economic hardships caused by prolonged conflicts, Nasir said.
Zaini recently instructed the closing of traditional gold mining operations in Aceh, saying they have been responsible for the death of thousands of fish in the Tangse River in Pidie and the Teunom River in the neighboring district of Aceh Jaya.
Zaini said the deaths were caused by the irresponsible use of mercury in the process of gold extraction. Mercury also builds up in fish stocks and can be passed on to humans, causing severe illness and birth defects.
Aside from the Geumpang and Mane subdistricts, traditional gold mining can also be found in Gunung Ujeuen in the Aceh Jaya and South Aceh districts.
Nasir disputed the role of mercury in the mass fish deaths, citing a different lab test, which concluded that mercury did not play any part in the fish deaths.
We believe that there are some people who have influenced the governor [to issue the ban], because nearly all the areas in Geumpang were once claimed by mining companies, Nasir said.
He called for an independent team to investigate the alleged pollution of the two rivers with mercury.
We think the policy is unwise. Before issuing the ban, the governor and his team should have first properly studied the problem in the field, or discussed the issue with us, Nasir added.
Barrister's foul tirade at North Cottesloe Primary School
WA Today [1/9/14]:
A Perth primary school and the WA Law Society have denounced offensive comments made by a barrister at a fundraising quiz night.
The school's principal says the man will not be invited back and, if he was quoted correctly, the barrister could be in breach of the code of conduct for lawyers.
Local website The Starfish revealed the barrister shocked attendees at the North Cottesloe Primary School event on Friday with "a relentless bombardment of sexist, racist, homophobic and xenophobic utterances".
The barrister, whose identity was not revealed in the article, used offensive terms such as 'faggots' and 'frogs, wogs and Nazis' while he MC'd the event.
He was also reported to have said only "young" and "good-looking women with C and D-cups" should bring their table's quiz answers to the front of the room, and mocked the appearances of billionaire Gina Rinehart, former WA premier Carmen Lawrence and singer Alison Moyet.
The barrister was also reported to have asked the crowd if any of them was "a Thalidomide child" and belittled people from Perth's low income suburbs.
Law Society of WA president Konrad de Kerloy said the society would condemn such comments if it was found they had been made.
"It is not appropriate in any situation to make racist or homophobic comments, especially at a primary school quiz night," he said.
Mr Kerloy said the actions described could place the barrister in breach of the Legal Profession Conduct Rules.
"That is section 6.2 that says that a practitioner must not engage in conduct, in the course of providing legal services or otherwise, that demonstrates that the practitioner is not a fit and proper person to practice law; or may be prejudicial to, or diminish public confidence in, the administration of justice or may bring the profession into disrepute."
He said it would be up to the Legal Practice Board to act on any official complaints on the matter.
North Cottesloe Primary School principal Wayne Press didn't escape the foul-mouthed lawyer either.
"Don't worry about the result, the prizes are absolute crap, it doesn't matter. If we get enough money, we'll get a decent principal," the MC is reported to have said.
Many guests booed while others cheered as he wrapped up the evening's proceedings.
While the barrister indicated he would be back to MC at a future quiz night, a school representative has said he was not welcome to return.
Mr Press said the barrister made several deeply offensive and hurtful remarks.
"I would like to state clearly that these offensive comments in no way reflect the values of our school," Mr Press said in a statement.
He said the barrister was not a member of the school's community and had been invited by the P&C.
Mr Press also said he would work with the school board and the P&C to develop stronger protocols for the hosting, compering and running of future events.
The president of the school's P&C Celia Patrick said in a statement that the group had "only received positive accolades for an enjoyable evening" in regard to the event.
She said "a minority group" of people who attended the evening "were upset by some of the comments that were made" but said those comments had not been delivered directly to the P&C but "via external media outlets".
"The MC at our quiz night this year also MC'd the same event two years ago and was well received," Mrs Patrick said.
The statement said the MC was made aware that some people had been offended and had "since expressed his apologies to any one in attendance that took offense to any comments he made".
Fairfax Media has decided not to name the high-profile lawyer for legal reasons.
NSW farmers win case against Santos
Nine MSN [1/9/14]:
Farmers in northwest NSW have enjoyed a legal victory, with energy giant Santos being forced to hand over water monitoring data by the end of next month.
Farming group Mullaley Gas and Pipeline Accord Inc (MGPA) in May took legal action to gain access to the information.
The action followed the contamination of freshwater bores on the property of a farmer, whose land adjoins a site used for exploratory CSG drilling, in the Pilliga Forest, near Narrabri.
The Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) of NSW said he was advised by Santos in 2012 that the bore water was unfit for drinking and domestic use.
Another bore, closer to the CSG site, has also shown effects of possible contamination.
Santos agreed in the NSW Land and Environment Court on Monday to provide the data.
"Santos now has until 31 October 2014 to comply with the court order to provide the requested data and documents relevant to potential groundwater contamination in and around the property," EDO NSW principal solicitor Sue Higginson said.
Santos has big plans for its $1.2 billion Narrabri gas project, which it says could provide half of NSW's gas needs.
A Santos spokeswoman said the company was confident there was no connection between the bacteria in Mr Pickard's bore and its operations.
Santos would provide the required documents to the EDO by the end of next month, she said.
"At all times, Santos has acted in good faith with the information requested by the EDO," the spokeswoman said.
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30 November 2013 29 November 2013 28 November 2013 26 November 2013 25 November 2013 24 November 2013 23 November 2013 22 November 2013 21 November 2013 20 November 2013 19 November 2013 18 November 2013 16 November 2013 15 November 2013 14 November 2013 13 November 2013 12 November 2013 10 November 2013 7 November 2013 6 November 2013 5 November 2013 4 November 2013 2 November 2013 1 November 2013
30 October 2013 29 October 2013 27 October 2013 25 October 2013 23 October 2013 22 October 2013 20 October 2013 17 October 2013 15 October 2013 13 October 2013 11 October 2013 8 October 2013 6 October 2013 4 October 2013 3 October 2013 2 October 2013
30 September 2013 28 September 2013 26 September 2013 25 September 2013 24 September 2013 22 September 2013 20 September 2013 17 September 2013 13 September 2013 11 September 2013 10 September 2013 8 September 2013 6 September 2013 5 September 2013 3 September 2013 2 September 2013 1 September 2013
2 August 2013 4 August 2013 5 August 2013 7 August 2013 10 August 2013 13 August 2013 14 August 2013 16 August 2013 17 August 2013 18 August 2013 19 August 2013 21 August 2013 23 August 2013 25 August 2013 26 August 2013 28 August 2013 31 August 2013
2 July 2013 5 July 2013 7 July 2013 10 July 2013 12 July 2013 14 July 2013 16 July 2013 19 July 2013 21 July 2013 23 July 2013 25 July 2013 26 July 2013 28 July 2013 30 July 2013
2 June 2013 4 June 2013 5 June 2013 7 June 2013 9 June 2013 12 June 2013 16 June 2013 17 June 2013 20 June 2013 23 June 2013 26 June 2013 30 June 2013
5 May 2013 6 May 2013 12 May 2013 15 May 2013 17 May 2013 19 May 2013 22 May 2013 26 May 2013 28 May 2013 29 May 2013
7 April 2013 14 April 2013 21 April 2013 28 April 2013
6 January 2013 13 January 2013 20 January 2013 27 January 2013
2 December 2012 9 December 2012 16 December 2012 23 December 2012 30 December 2012
4 November 2012 11 November 2012 18 November 2012 25 November 2012
7 October 2012 14 October 2012 21 October 2012 28 October 2012
2 September 2012 9 September 2012 16 September 2012 23 September 2012 30 September 2012
5 August 2012 12 August 2012 19 August 2012 26 August 2012
1 July 2012 8 July 2012 15 July 2012 22 July 2012 29 July 2012
3 June 2012
10 June 2012 17
June 2012 24 June
6 May 2012 13 May 2012 20 May 2012 27 May 2012
1 April 2012
8 April 2012 15
April 2012 22
April 2012 29
4 March 2012 11 March 2012 18 March 2012 25 March 2012
5 February 2012 12 February 2012 19 February 2012 26 February 2012
1 January 2012 8 January 2012 15 January 2012 22 January 2012 29 January 2012
4 December 2011 11 December 2011 18 December 2011 25 December 2011
6 November 2011 13 November 2011 20 November 2011 27 November 2011
2 October 2011 9 October 2011 16 October 2011 23 October 2011 30 October 2011
4 September 2011 11 September 2011 18 September 2011 25 September 2011
7 August 2011 14 August 2011 21 August 2011 28 August 2011
3 July 2011 10 July 2011 17 July 2011 24 July 2011 31 July 2011
5 June 2011 12 June 2011 19 June 2011 26 June 2011
29 May 2011 21 May 2011 14 May 2011 7 May 2011
January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011
January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010
January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009
June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008
May 2008 April 2008
March 2008 February 2008 January 2008
December 2007 November 2007 October 2007 September 2007 August 2007 July 2007 June 2007 May 2007 April 2007 March 2007 February 2007 January 2007
December 2006 November 2006 October 2006 September 2006 August 2006 May 2006 April 2006 March 2006 February 2006 January 2006 2005
JUDICIAL CRITICISM OF THE MURDOCH MACHINE
BOB BROWN, THE FIRST GULF WAR AND UNITED NATIONS INTERVENTION
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