Anything to say? A public art project for freedom

We need your help to make a monument to courage. There is no room for compromise today and art is called upon to make choices and show a direction. I want to create a life-size bronze statue of Assange, Manning and Snowden standing on three chairs with an empty fourth chair next to them. It is not a simple homage to individuals, but to courage and to the importance of freedom of expression and information. This is the reason for the empty chair. Each of us can climb onto it, however uncomfortable and vulnerable, and change our point of view. The work of art will travel from country to country and offer the opportunity for us to hear each other out and to think. To be free, we need to be courageous. And courage is contagious.

 

United States continue bombing Iraq and Syria

US Department of Defense [8/12/14]:

U.S. and partner-nation military forces have continued to attack Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists over the last four days, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported.

Fighter and bomber aircraft have conducted 15 airstrikes in Syria since Dec. 5, officials said.

Separately, they added, U.S. and partner-nation military forces conducted 31 airstrikes over the same period in Iraq, using fighter, bomber, attack, and remotely piloted aircraft.

Strikes in Syria In Syria, 14 airstrikes near Kobani destroyed four ISIL fighting positions, three ISIL-occupied buildings, two ISIL staging areas, two ISIL tanks, a motorcycle and a mortar, and struck eight tactical ISIL units and two ISIL fighting positions.

Near Raqqah, an airstrike struck an electronic warfare garrison. Strikes in Iraq In Iraq, six airstrikes near Kirkuk destroyed two excavators, a bulldozer, an ISIL bunker and an ISIL ammunition dump and struck another excavator and an overpass servicing the ammunition dump.

These airstrikes also suppressed an ISIL fighting position and struck a tactical ISIL unit near Kirkuk, officials said. Near Biaj, four airstrikes destroyed four armored vehicles, an ISIL checkpoint and two ISIL storage containers.

Near Sinjar, four airstrikes destroyed six ISIL-occupied buildings, seven ISIL storage containers, two ISIL fighting positions and an excavator and struck an ISIL bunker. Near Mosul, four airstrikes destroyed an excavator, an ISIL vehicle and an ISIL heavy weapon and struck two ISIL tactical units.

Also in Iraq, three airstrikes near Qaim destroyed two ISIL armored vehicles and struck an ISIL observation point. Near Tal Afar, three airstrikes destroyed seven ISIL armored vehicles, a bulldozer and an excavator.

Near Ramadi, three airstrikes destroyed an ISIL-occupied building and a front-loader and struck two ISIL units. Near Bayji, two airstrikes destroyed an ISIL-occupied building and struck two tactical ISIL units.

Near Rawah, an airstrike destroyed an ISIL tank. Near Hit, an airstrike was conducted, but there was no damage.

All aircraft returned to base safely, officials said, noting that airstrike assessments are based on initial reports.

...

Iraq appeals for more US strikes as coalition to send 1,500 new troops [Al Akhbar - 9/12/14]

Official denies having confirmed Iranian anti-ISIS strikes in Iraq [Al Akhbar - 9/12/14]

Afghanistan: Unknown gunmen kill 4 civilians in Nangarhar [Khaama - 9/12/14]

Amnesty: Strikes on Gaza high-rises were war crimes [Al Jazeera - 9/12/14]

Hague-based ICC accepts Palestine's status [Al Jazeera - 9/12/14]

Live Coverage of the Senate Torture Report [The Intercept - 9/12/14]:

One of the worst myths official Washington and its establishment media have told itself about the torture debate is that the controversy is limited to three cases of waterboarding at Guantánamo and a handful of bad Republican actors. In fact, a wide array of torture techniques were approved at the highest levels of the U.S. Government and then systematically employed in lawless US prisons around the world - at Bagram (including during the Obama presidency), CIA black sites, even to US citizens on US soil. So systematic was the torture regime that a 2008 Senate report concluded that the criminal abuses at Abu Ghraib were the direct result of the torture mentality imposed by official Washington.

...

"Chris Hedges and Loretta Napoleoni": "The Islamic State and the Crisis in US Foreign Policy" [VIDEO - 4/12/14]

Qantas: Record high incidents as workers sent offshore

Katter's Australia Party Media Release [9/12/14]:

KAP Leader and Federal Member for Kennedy Bob Katter said three Qantas safety incidents overnight reiterated his concerns the airline moving 5000 maintenance jobs offshore would affect the company’s safety.

“This is probably the greatest number of incidents that have occurred in a short space of time within Qantas’ history.

“That experience and knowledge at Qantas and its subsidiary has now been dissipated. Instead of having the training and maintenance carried out in one country, it’s now being scattered over five countries and four continents.

Mr Katter said all of the airlines in the world are now built in America and Europe with the manuals being written in English. The work is then carried out in countries where the first language is not English.

Mr Katter cited two of the world’s worst crashes as having occurred due to mis-reading and mis-translation as a major contributing factor.

“The gutting of the finest group of aeronautical engineers on earth can be laid at the feet of the two mainstream parties and their obsessive zealotry with free market economics, which allowed Qantas to be sold off.

Mr Katter has come out strongly supporting the Transport Workers’ Union and the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association’s (ALAEA) comments today.

“Steve Purvinas of the ALAEA has said again and again that incidents will occur with increasing frequency.

“James Strong, the long term Chief Executive of Qantas, said if the Government moved to a full free market policy, he would have no alternative but to move all 5000 maintenance jobs to Singapore.

“They said rather confrontationally to me, “you of all people know the implications of that”.

“What he foresaw as inevitable is now clearly happening. The safest airline on earth was safe because we had the best aeronautical engineers on earth and there was the handed down accumulated wisdom.

“The price of getting from Mt Isa to Brisbane has gone through the roof through their so called free market. "For the people of Mt Isa and inland Queensland airlines are an essential service we need to use whether we want to or not.

“The reality is you can run the airline very cheaply if you have second rate engine maintenance done on it overseas, but it will come at the cost of passenger safety,” Mr Katter said.

UN calls for end to mandatory sentencing to cut Indigenous jail numbers

Guardian [9/12/14]:

The United Nations has called for the abolition of Australia’s mandatory sentencing laws to reduce Indigenous incarceration rates.

It is the second time the UN’s committee against torture has urged Australia to have its states abolish the laws, arguing there is mounting proof they affect Indigenous people disproportionately.

Indigenous people make up more than a quarter of Australia’s prison population, but only 2-3% of the general population, while in the Northern Territory the prison population is almost 90% Indigenous.

Among juveniles in Australian detention centres, 48% are Indigenous. The committee said Australia should increase its efforts to address the overrepresentation of Indigenous people in prison and “review mandatory sentencing laws with a view to abolishing them, giving judges the necessary discretion to determine relevant individual circumstances”.

Northern Territory mandatory sentencing laws include a minimum of three months in jail for first-time violent offenders and year-long sentences for repeat offenders, with judges having limited powers to suspend sentences in certain cases. Western Australia, which has 20 times more Indigenous prisoners than non-Indigenous, has a three strikes rule under which people convicted of three burglary charges face a two-year minimum sentence. People who commit serious physical or sexual assaults in the course of a burglary in the state face mandatory sentencing of between five and 15 years.

The police director for the First Peoples Disability Network Australia, Scott Avery, travelled to Geneva to present to the UN committee, and said Indigenous people with disabilities were suffering under mandatory laws and a legal framework that failed them.

The committee’s observations on Australia were released in the same week the Human Rights Commission released a report into the indefinite detention in the Northern Territory of four Indigenous men with disabilities who have not been convicted of any crime.

“We’ve got to find a way around this tough on crime rhetoric, what we argue is a lot of these people shouldn’t be in jail in first place,” Avery said.

“It’s unwarranted detention they are being subject to multiple systemic failures from the moment they are picked up by police. It’s not just one point letting them down it’s legal framework and policy framework.

“This is actually a social issue and a health issue, as well as a legal and ethical issue.”

He said lawyers in the Northern Territory were so stretched and processing people so quickly that even if they noticed something “not quite right” with a client it was rarely investigated properly before the person was sent for trial and sentenced.

“Rather than the issue being seen as a delinquency it’s just their disability playing out,” he said. “There’s no mechanism to think about crime as other than from a criminal perspective ... mandatory sentencing is part of it but it’s not as simple as just getting rid of that.”

Avery said the committee made very similar observations and recommendations in 2008 but blame-shifting had continued between state, territory and federal governments.

“The response we’ve had from governments is more disappointing than the observations from the committee. I think the government has been dismissive,” he said.

“Behind these numbers, behind this legal jargon are actual families who have not had justice for decades and decades some of this can get glossed over when you’re just thinking about it in policy terms. “How much evidence is needed before evidence-based policy kicks in? Are other Australians OK with this, or do they just not know?”

Last week the government dismissed the Human Rights Commission report, arguing it was was acting outside its jurisdiction.

Huge sperm whales found dead on South Australian beach

BBC [8/12/14]:

A pod of sperm whales has been found dead after becoming stranded in shallow water on a South Australia beach.

The animals were seen swimming in the area by local people according to reports, but six whales were discovered dead on Monday morning.

A seventh whale was later seen several kilometres from the rest of the pod, local TV reported.

"You love to come and watch them swimming but when you see them like this, it's terrible," said one woman visiting the beach.

What emergency?

Local ABC radio Gold Coast  91.7 FM broadcast cricket all afternoon [9/12/14] - before, during, and after bad storm

Not everybody has a smartphone or the ability to stream online or use apps - they rely on their radio when there is an emergency.

92.5 Gold FM:  Our transmitter tower has been hit by lightning - our team of engineers are working on getting us back on air at 92.5 GOLD FM BUT you can stream us now with the below link and using the 92.5 GOLD FM app on your smart phone.

Due to the storm activity this afternoon 1029 Hot Tomato's transmitter is currently off-air and hopefully we'll be back soon.

@SeaFM: If you're in your car or listening to the radio we are currently off air due to storm but still streaming on line: http://www.seafm.com.au/goldcoast/ 

The PR, spin and propaganda from government goons, partisan "refugee advocates" and the Murdoch Press is on overdrive.

For all we know these men could be dead.

Where is the journalism?

RNZI [9/12/14]:

The Refugee Action Coalition says a hunger strike by asylum seekers at Australia's detention centre in Papua New Guinea ended after intimidation from Australian immigration staff.

Seven detainees had sewn their lips shut, as more than 250 of them took part in the hunger strike in a protest at Australia's Manus Island camp last Wednesday.

The Coalition's Ian Rintoul says immigration officials warned the asylum seekers that their refugees claims would not be processed if they continued to protest.

"The people who were on hunger strike were visited by their Immigration Officers and warned that if they maintained any kind of protest, there'd be nothing happening with their processing. That was really the consequences. They visited everybody individually and ended up intimidating them."

The protest was in response to an amended Australian law that allow detainees on Christmas Island to be processed in Australia and given access to apply for Temporary Protection Visas, but not those on Manus or in Nauru.  

If Australian media outlets won't let their journalists visit Nauru to report on the welfare of exiled refugees, why don't the Greens, Palmer, Wilkie or Muir undertake their own fact finding mission? 

Does it not bother them that the truth of what is happening in Australia's name is being blacked out?

Refugees settled on Nauru woke on Monday to find an ominous letter, signed “Youth of Republic of Nauru”, had been delivered overnight. Copies had been left at shops, homes, workplaces employing refugees… [Manifesto for a pogrom: hostility to exiled refugees grows on Nauru  -  The Conversation - 20/11/14]

Greens senator visits Ebola sites in Liberia [SBS - 9/12/14]

Republic of Nauru Media Release [9/12/14]:

The Government of Nauru handed down status determinations to 25 asylum seekers yesterday, 24 of those were granted refugee status.  

The 24 comprise 22 people in seven family groups, one single adult female and an unaccompanied minor.  

The family groups will reside at the family accommodation and the unaccompanied minor and single adult female at separate residences.  

Like previous arrangements, the asylum seeker that did not receive a positive determination will remain at the Regional Processing Centre.  

Refugees that are "resettled" into the community are free to move around the island, seek employment and be part of the community.  

Some have found employment with local companies and others have set up businesses such as a restaurant, beautician services, selling food and other products at the local market.  

The Government of Nauru will continue to hand down refugee status determinations in the coming weeks.

Abbott Government arrogant, out of touch and desperate

Palmer United Party Media Release [9/12/14]:

Palmer United Senator for Queensland and Leader of Palmer United in the Senate Glenn Lazarus has today called on the Abbott Government to stop wasting taxpayer’s money.

The Abbott Government has just launched an expensive advertising campaign, along with a new website, to promote higher education reforms.

“Clearly, the Abbott Government is refusing to listen to the people of Australia,” Senator Glenn Lazarus said.

“Last week, the people of Australia voted, through their Senate representatives, to kill off the Abbott Government’s nasty higher education reforms.

“I consulted widely with the people of Queensland including universities and based on their feedback I voted down the Abbott Government’s higher education cuts.

“Despite this, the Abbott Government thinks they can ignore the will of the people.

“Australia has spoken. The Abbott Government needs to move on or take the matter to the next election.

“The Abbott Government needs to cancel all advertising booked for this under-handed campaign and apologise to the people of Australia.

“On one hand, the Abbott Government is telling us we are facing a budget emergency and on the other hand, they are engaging in an expensive propaganda campaign on radio and television to sell their dud reforms.

“Clearly Christopher Pyne has given up on texting and moved on to advertising, websites and social media.

“Education is fundamental to a fair, democratic and successful society.

“In order to succeed we need to invest in our people through quality education. Cutting funding to education is not going to achieve this.

“Christopher Pyne thinks that by adding some sweeteners to his higher education reforms that Australia will buy it this time round. Well, we all know what he is up to and we are not buying it!

“Every Australian deserves access to quality education.”

Faceless Men yet again decide our fate!

Dr Alex Douglas MP [8/12/14]:

26 faceless men have re-emerged in Queensland to remove a former minister and sitting member of parliament. This flawed LNP version of democracy in having un-named LNP councillors voting in a secretive manner is no different to the LNP government of Campbell Newman’s ideas of democracy in the governance of this state.

To describe the vote that installed Dr Christian Rowan in Moggill yesterday as democratic, against the original choice of Dr Bruce Flegg after all the state councillors voted in secret, is ludicrous.

In 1963 Sir Robert Menzies of the then Liberal Party and Prime Minister, stated that it was really the 36 faceless men of the ALP who would determine the Labor policy to be implemented on the nation to the then ALP Federal leader, Mr Arthur Caldwell.

Here yesterday, 51 years later in Queensland, 26 faceless men re-emerged from the shadows to determine the fate of not just Dr Bruce Flegg but also possibly a government. They rode rough-shod over the wishes of the electorate and its members. They did so because Dr Flegg refused to earlier concede to them. Queenslanders don’t even know who they are, because they voted in secret.

Queenslanders are being instructed to believe it was democratic. What version of democracy is this?

This was no act of public interest by these faceless men. This was all about the self-interest of a narrow group who are not representative of the wider public.

This is a recurring example of everything that is wrong with the LNP style of governance. They talk about democracy and practice dictatorship. They talk about transparency but use secret ballots to hide their actions. They say that the grass roots membership will select the member, but the faceless men choose the representative.

No Queenslander should support this. The faceless men and their actions have no place in Queensland to determine political outcomes.

They're deceitful, they monopolise and corrupt dissent, and all they care about is getting TEAM ALP elected

Vote 1 Tweedledee [Red Hill, Brisbane]

Brisbane Times [9/12/14]:

... The group's specific task is to raise objections to Cedar Woods, the large new suburb of around 1000 homes being proposed for bushland between The Gap and Upper Kedron.

A final vote to approve the first two stages of this new suburb comes to Brisbane City Council on Tuesday afternoon.

Critics say the site is designed to promote Labor candidates Kate Jones and Mark Furner.

Since Sunday afternoon the Save The Gap website has published Labor Party strategy to oppose the council vote and to promote future actions of two Labor candidates in the 2015 state election.

"We have received word from Kate Jones and Mark Furner that they have received confirmation from Cr Milton Dick that all Labor Councillors will stand up and vote to support our Local Plan," the site reads.

The 2007 Ferny Grove Local Plan wanted less dense development over the cleared-bushland site.

Ms Jones is Labor's candidate for the crucial seat of Ashgrove, held by Premier Campbell Newman.

Former senator Mark Furner is Labor's candidate for the seat of Ferny Grove – where the new suburb would be – and is running against the LNP's Dale Shuttleworth.

Shane Bevis confirmed his family – including his father, brother and wife - had set up Save the Gap, but denied it was Labor election campaign vehicle.

...

 

War Is Over

If You Want It

 

John Pilger - Logan Symposium [VIDEO - 5/12/14]

Julian Assange - Logan Symposium [VIDEO- 5/12/14]

 

John Cusack, Daniel Ellsberg and Arundhati Roy visit Julian Assange [El Universo - 8/12/14]:

... Ellsberg, "amigo personal" de Assange, explicó que los tres habían venido para demostrar su "solidaridad" con el fundador de WikiLeaks, que "lleva cuatro años retenido sin cargos", primero bajo arresto domiciliario en la casa de un amigo en Inglaterra y, desde el 19 de junio de 2012, en la embajada ecuatoriana. ...

 

Societe Generale pulls out of GVK Hancock's Galilee Basin project

Reuters [7/12/14]:

Societe Generale has suspended its involvement in financing a $10 billion coal mine, rail and port project being developed by India's GVK conglomerate and Australian billionaire Gina Rinehart, citing the project's years-long delay.

The French bank's decision is the latest twist for a project originally scheduled to produce coal from 2014, but which has suffered challenges from landowners and green groups, and been complicated by coal prices falling to more than five-year lows.

Developer GVK Hancock said that before seeking financing it is focused on finalising approvals for the project's Alpha coal mine in the Galilee Basin in Queensland, fighting legal disputes against approvals already won, and securing supply agreements.

"We have been working with Societe Generale on a specific element of the financing arrangements for our projects, but are not currently working on that specific work package and as such do not require their services at this time," GVK Hancock said in an emailed statement.

The French bank said on Twitter on Friday that, "In the context of the Alpha coal project's delay, Societe Generale has decided, in agreement with GVK-Hancock, to suspend its mandate. The bank has therefore no involvement with the project." (twitter.com/SocieteGenerale)

The project has been targeted by green groups opposed to coal use and by tourism operators in Queensland, where there are concerns about plans to dredge ahead of expanding a port near the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef.

Green groups, which have been pressing banks to not back coal projects, counted Societe Generale's withdrawal as another win, following similar moves by Deutsche Bank AG, HSBC Holdings PLC, Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC and JPMorgan Chase & Co. Greenpeace France on its Facebook page called the withdrawal "good news".

A spokeswoman at Societe Generale Corporate and Investment Banking in Hong Kong confirmed the bank's decision. She had no immediate comment on whether the bank would consider lending for the project when GVK Hancock is ready to seek financing.

GVK bought 79 percent stakes in the Alpha and Alpha West coal projects and a 100 percent stake in another project from Rinehart's Hancock Prospecting for $1.26 billion at the peak of the coal boom in 2011, aiming to start producing in 2014.

It still owes $560 million for the purchase. (Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by Christopher Cushing) FILED UNDER:

Mine money misdirected: Knuth [North West Star - 8/12/14]:

Katter's Australian Party member Shane Knuth believes the state government should have spent a billion dollars in giving primary producers “a leg up” instead of giving it to the development of an Indian-owned mine in the Galilee Basin.

Mr Knuth, also the state member for Dalrymple, sat silently among the crowd attending the Rural Debt Crisis Summit while other KAP members were more visible.

“We all support mining but at the same time we’ve got to look after the interests of our primary producers,” Mr Knuth later told The North West Star.

“Because it was the primary industry that got us through the global economic crisis.”

“We’ve got the government spending a billion dollars on the development of a mine in the Bowen basin that doesn’t belong to us.

‘Why can’t they spend a billion dollars in helping the primary producers get out of a rut?”

The federal government had the perception they had already thrown in $100 million for concessional loans, Mr Knuth said.

But an immediate halt on bank foreclosures was what was needed.

“Not next year, not two years down the track, right now,’’ he said.

“Otherwise we’re going to see reductive land that had been built up for years by family wiped off the map, and sold to international interests.”

One property could create up to 50 jobs, Mr Knuth said.

State member for Mount Isa Robbie Katter believed pushing for an Australian Reconstruction Development Board at the summit was the National Party’s last chance “to shine”, judging from the party’s poor poll results at the weekend.

Mr Katter said a committee would be established to progress the resolutions passed at the meeting, and to potentially hold more crisis meetings throughout the North West.

“Rural debt is a huge structural problem, and we’re not giving up on it,” he said.

Disability is not a cute little joke

Stella Young, [Ramp Up - ABC - 9/2/12]:

 ... Once again, disability rears its head in social media and invokes what I like to call The Two Hand rule. On the one hand, disability is something Real. It's experienced by real people and treated seriously by people who don't directly experience it. Everyone probably has at least a passing acquaintance with someone who has a disability. After all, we make up about 20 per cent of the Australian population, whether you have the type that's visible to the naked eye or not. And in sage conversations, we all like to murmur amongst each other and agree that, yes, people living with disabilities deserve to be respected because that's what a benevolent society does - it treats everyone with respect.

And on the other hand, we have the Not Real kind of disability. The one you can use to make cheap jokes to score cheaper points. It's this kind of Not Real disability that presumably led Hildebrand to compare, for the benefit of his almost 15,000 strong twitter followers, workplace incompetence to intellectual disability.

...

... But for now, taking some of the most disadvantaged people in our communities and subjecting them to assessments that don't take into account the very real discrimination they face, is pointless. ... We're damned by discrimination, not the Disability Support Pension - Stella Young - [ABC – 14/5/14]

Budget: ABC Ramp Up website to go [Guardian - 14/5/14]

... International Health and Medical Services declined to comment to the ABC, referring questions to Immigration Minister Scott Morrison's office.

Mr Morrison also declined to comment, saying the case was a matter for the Queensland Coroner.

Soon it will be a matter for The Hague.

ABC [8/12/14]:

A request to fly a seriously ill asylum seeker off Manus Island was not acted on for more than 24 hours because of delays, including the man's lack of a visa to enter the PNG mainland.

Hamid Kehazaei, whose skin infection had turned into potentially fatal septicaemia, was later taken by air ambulance to hospital at Port Moresby and then on to Brisbane where he was pronounced brain dead and his life support switched off.

Documents obtained by the ABC show staff working for government contractor International Health and Medical Services (IHMS) warned that all antibiotic treatment at the Manus camp had been exhausted and Mr Kehazaei's condition was deteriorating.

A "recommendation for medical movement", written on the morning of August 25, recommended "urgent transfer by commercial carrier, with a medical escort and ground transfer from airport to hospital in Port Moresby".

"There is a commercial flight leaving Manus to Port Moresby today at 17:30," Dr Yliana Dennett wrote at 11:30am.

"The medical officer Dr Richard McGrath is already booked on this flight and can act as a medical escort if approved."

Mr Kehazaei, a 24-year-old Iranian, had been diagnosed with severe septicaemia in his leg spreading to the groin, which medical staff warned in their request for a hospital transfer could lead to a "life-threatening systemic infection".

According to the documents, Mr Kehazaei had presented to the detention centre clinic two days earlier with an "infected blister in the left shin and intermittent fever".

The condition of Mr Kehazaei, also known by his identification number GDD059, had "worsened considerably" with staff warning that the "infectious process can spread quickly and if not treated appropriately can develop into a life or limb-threatening situation".

But the seriously ill man was not flown off the island until the afternoon of the following day.

"Plans to transfer patient to [Port Moresby] never came to fruition due to delays/visa requirements, so [patient] spent another night here," detention centre medical staff wrote on the morning of August 26.

"Patient remains very unwell despite all of our efforts," staff wrote at 10:11am.

It was not until 4:15pm – more than 24 hours after it was recommended that he be flown to Port Moresby – that Mr Kehazaei made it to the Pacific International Hospital in the PNG capital.

He was flown from Manus not on a commercial flight but in an air ambulance, the cost of which had been estimated at $51,000, according to the documents obtained by the ABC.

The documents also reveal that once Mr Kehazaei made it to hospital in Port Moresby his condition deteriorated further and he went into cardiac arrest.

He died at the Mater Hospital on September 5.

The documents do not reveal whether a visa was obtained for Mr Kehazaei to enter PNG.

Dr Peter Young, a former head of mental health services in immigration detention for IHMS, told the ABC that reports such as the one recommending Mr Kehazaei's medical evacuation would have been forwarded immediately to the Immigration Department.

But Dr Young said there were often delays as a result.

"The processes are that those type of recommendations are made and put through to the relevant decision-makers in the department fairly quickly, certainly in my experience when I was there," he said.

"The difficulty then becomes what happens through the internal processes in the department and the minister's office.

"And often they come back with questions and further questions and then all of that just delays the process.

"The department has been very critical of IHMS at different times in these sort of circumstances, and their feedback has been consistently that IHMS has been too ready to refer people for treatment offsite.

"It's come up in lots of discussions and feedback from the department."

International Health and Medical Services declined to comment to the ABC, referring questions to Immigration Minister Scott Morrison's office.

Mr Morrison also declined to comment, saying the case was a matter for the Queensland Coroner.

 

World leaders are failing to offer protection to Syria’s most vulnerable refugees with catastrophic consequences, Amnesty International has warned in a new briefing ahead of a UN pledging conference in Geneva on 9 December. ... [Amnesty Media Release - 5/12/14]

 

The ALP and LNP incarcerated and exiled Australia's refugees.

Only a partisan hack would continue blaming the crossbenchers

And why won't Australian media outlets send a journalist to Nauru to verify what's going on?

Is it acceptable to news directors at the ABC, SBS, Fairfax and the Guardian etc that refugee advocates and/or PR outfits are spreading disinformation?

@LyallMercer -  Principal - Mercer PR [8/12/14]: Nauru Govt - "Govt committed to resettlement program for #refugees. They enjoy safety & freedom while guests in our country" ...

 

Refugee Action Coalition, Sydney [8/12/14]:

Three refugee high school girls were confronted by around 15 teenage Nauruan boys around 11.00am, last Friday (5 December) at their class room at Nauruan College.

The boys came to the refugees’ English class, threatening and abusing them before physically attacking the three girls.

One young woman has been left with soreness and bruising to her nose and eyes after punches were thrown, and a door was pushed into her face. Windows were also broken in the melee.

The boys threatened to attack the girls after school.

The attack is the latest in a campaign of intimidation and physical attacks directed at refugees on Nauru. One of the attacks has left an Iranian refugee blinded in one eye.

Despite the girls being able to identify their attackers, no action has been taken against them.

“We are afraid to go to school now,” one of the girls told the Refugee Action Coalition.

“That an attack could take place in the Nauruan college is extremely worrying, and an indication that intimidation and attacks on refugees is becoming socially acceptable,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

“This attack is yet another demonstration that Nauru is unsafe for refugees, and that neither the Nauruan government nor the Immigration department is able or willing to protect refugees.

“The Senate vote has given the government carte blanche to send babies and families back to danger in Nauru. Their vote has left asylum seekers in the most precarious situation.

“The cross-benchers who voted for Morrison’s bill have turned a blind eye to the danger on Nauru and the willingness of the government to arbitrarily bargain the rights of one section of refugees against another.

“The asylum seekers and refugees on Nauru must be brought to Australia. And the pregnant refugee women kept on the bus in the Darwin heat after being brought to Australia to give birth must be released from Wickham Point.”

 

... It was a dry wind

And it swept across the desert

And it curled into the circle of birth

And the dead sand

Falling on the children

The mothers and the fathers

And the automatic earth. ...

'The Boy In The Bubble', Paul Simon [1986]


Under African Skies: The story of the collaboration that became Graceland [WSWS - 8/9/12]

Ballet Without Borders: At Bolshoi, international stars dance for Ukraine

Channel News Asia [8/12/14]:

A dozen top ballet stars including Svetlana Zakharova and Natalia Osipova will on Sunday perform at a keenly awaited but politically sensitive gala at Moscow's Bolshoi Theatre in support of young dancers in war-torn Ukraine.

During the benefit organised by The Bolshoi's Ukrainian-born prima ballerina Zakharova, dancers from top international companies will perform highlights from a range of ballets. All proceeds from the sold-out concert will go towards the Kiev State Ballet School in Ukraine where organisers say young dancers are trained in poor conditions.

The gala takes place amid raging tensions between Russia and Ukraine, where Moscow-backed separatists have battled government forces since April.

"I came to support the guys," Osipova, one of the world's most sought-after ballerinas, said ahead of the gala. "How can one refuse? I recall how terrible it was to enter a dance hall in winter and shiver," said Osipova, the former Bolshoi star who joined Britain's Royal Ballet in 2013.

Zakharova and the producer of the concert Yuri Baranov - both of whom are Kiev-trained - hope that proceeds from the gala dubbed "Ballet Without Borders" will help renovate their alma mater.

"It's necessary to help children, no matter what country they live in," Zakharova told AFP. She said she got the idea for the concert during her visit to Kiev last year. "The idea was born before the situation became complicated. There was no way back - these are kids."

Baranov, a Kiev-born soloist at the Bolshoi, said the ballet school in Kiev had largely been neglected for the past 30 years and needed a new roof and windows. "They work in frigid temperatures," he told AFP, referring to young dancers.

All tickets have been sold out, and three VIP packages ranging between US$3,775-US$11,000 have also been sold. Baranov said the organisers had hoped to raise some US$300,000 but expect to end up with less than half of that because of the depreciated ruble.

In a sign of the sensitivity of the project, the organisers have been unable to find a sponsor, Baranov said. Dancers have also distanced themselves from politics. "This is an initiative of the artists and not the government or the management," Baranov said.

But political overtones will be hard to miss. Baranov said one of the pieces - "Digital Love" by Patrick de Bana - was created in memory of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, which disappeared with 239 people on board in March.

The duet by Zakharova and de Bana - first performed in China - is "about distance, distant love," the choreographer was quoted as saying in The Shanghai Daily last summer.

"It?s about love that goes through this electronic world, and trying to send from one side of the world to the other emotions, feelings and connections."

The inclusion of the piece has no political implications, and no relation to the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 with 298 people on board over rebel-held Ukraine in July, Baranov said.

In Kiev, Nobuhiro Terada, the Japanese-born artistic director of the Kiev Ballet School, said he was grateful to Zakharova for the event but noted that despite the conditions, his school provided world-class training.

"Ukrainians are conquering the world," he said, referring to dancers who trained in Kiev. He expressed regret that some of the best dancers chose to perform abroad. "This is sad and bad."

Leonid Sarafanov, a principal dancer with the Mikhailovsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg, and Alina Cojocaru, the Romanian-born star of the English National Ballet - who both trained in Kiev - will take part in the gala.

 

9 December 2014

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