Manus refugees calling for UN intervention beaten, arrested, held without charge in a death row prison was not raised in the Senate or House of Representatives on Monday.

 

 

... This is a government which is getting on with the job for which it was elected. We promised to stop the boats—they have stopped. ...

[Prime Minister of Australia Tony Abbott, House of Representatives - 9/2/15]

 

 

Greens will move to grant media access to immigration detention centres [Media Release  22/1/15]:

"Australians have the right to know what is being done in their names and with their taxpayer dollars," Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said.

“The government cannot be trusted to tell the truth about what is really going on inside the Manus Island detention camp.

“The Minister has been caught lying to the Australian public and he must be held to account.

“The only insurance the public has against this government’s secrecy is granting journalists access to the detention centres and giving those inside the protection to speak freely.

“That is why when Parliament resumes I will be moving for the media to have access to all Australian funded detention centres and will move to provide protections to people inside to speak freely about what is really happening behind the gates.

“I am gravely concerned about those inside the centre. I plead with those inside the camp not to harm themselves and to engage in constructive conversations with centre staff.”

"This government's obsession with cruelty is breaking people. It is no surprise people feel that they have no other option but to resort to such acts of desperation.


 

Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee Recommendations re "Incident at the Manus Island Detention Centre from 16 February to 18 February 2014" [December 2014]:

Recommendation 1

8.26 The committee recommends that the Australian Government ensure an adequate and effective investigation into the criminal assaults perpetrated against individuals detained at the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre during the events of 16 to 18 February 2014, including by assisting the Papua New Guinea authorities in any ongoing investigations and facilitating the taking of witness testimony from individuals present at the incident who are now in Australian territory.

Recommendation 2

8.35 The committee recommends that the Australian Government acknowledge its responsibility to respect, protect and fulfil the human rights of individuals detained at the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre.

Recommendation 3

8.39 The committee recommends that, in accordance with the right to an effective remedy and right to health in international human rights law, the Australian Government:

• acknowledge and take responsibility for violations of human rights in relation to the incident at the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre from 16 to 18 February 2014; and

• provide compensation to those who have suffered human rights violations, including to Mr Reza Barati's family and to asylum seekers who were injured during the incident.

Recommendation 4

8.40 The committee recommends that the Australian Government ensure that all asylum seekers injured in the violence at the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre from 16 to 18 February 2014 receive adequate professional assistance, including medical treatment, full rehabilitation and mental health services, as well as independent legal advice.

Recommendation 5

8.49 The committee recommends that, in the interests of transparency and accountability, the governments of Australia and Papua New Guinea take measures to facilitate appropriate access to the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre, including:

• allowing United Nations representatives full access to the centre and transferees;

• permitting qualified lawyers, including lawyers certified to practice in Australia, access to the centre in order to meet with transferees and provide legal assistance;

• allowing the Australian Human Rights Commission to regularly inspect the centre and meet with centre staff and transferees; and

• permitting journalists to visit the centre and speak freely with centre staff and transferees.

Recommendation 6

8.52 The committee recommends that Transfield Services and the Australian Government ensure that service provider staff employed at the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre be provided with sufficient workplace training to perform their roles, in line with the standards applicable to employees working in detention environments in Australia, and accounting for the particular difficulties associated with working in remote conditions.

...

1.8 On account of the committee's inability to make a site visit to the centre under its own powers, the committee sought the support and assistance of the Commonwealth Government to do so.

On 28 April 2014, the committee wrote to the Prime Minister, the Hon Tony Abbott MP, as well as the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, the Hon Scott Morrison MP, and the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Julie Bishop MP, seeking the government's approval and assistance.

1.9 The committee did not receive any response.

...

4.70 In specific evidence about actual incidents of encouragement to return home, a former employee of Playfair suggested that staff from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) were 'speaking to transferees, trying to convince them of the benefits of returning home'.

4.71 In contrast, government representatives re-confirmed their view that any returns from Manus Island RPC were strictly voluntary. For example Lieutenant General Campbell stated that '[i]t is really important to note these are voluntary returns'.

 4.72 In terms of the number of returns from the Manus Island RPC, the department provided information that:

As at 1 August 2014, 203 transferees have been voluntarily returned from an Offshore Processing Centre (OPC) and 174 transferees from the Manus OPC since 18 February 2014 with the assistance of the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

...

6.57 Other evidence presented to the committee contested the claim that no individuals involved in assaults on asylum seekers were now employed at the centre.

Humanitarian Research Partners (HRP) contended that 'at least two of the alleged 17 February assailants are now back working in the centre and terrifying their victims by their mere presence'.

Mr Ben Pynt, Director of Human Rights Advocacy at HRP, told the committee that asylum seekers at the centre had reported to him on multiple occasions that perpetrators were still working at the centre.

Mr Pynt expanded:

[The transferees] do not feel that they are being adequately protected by the guards that are employed at the centre. In fact, they feel threatened by a number of the guards at the centre. I know of one story that chilled me to the bone. An asylum seeker contacted me shortly after he had been to medical. He was in Mike compound. From Mike compound you get in the back of a ute and they take you through to IHMS, because you are not meant to walk through. He got into the ute, screamed, and got out of the ute, because the person driving the ute was one of the people who attacked him. This is happening all the time. The mental harm that is created simply by having the attackers remain at the centre is unbelievable and unconscionable.

...

Miss Judge [who worked on Manus Island] continued:

The attacks on asylum seekers [in February 2014] were not unpredictable and unforeseen. The attacks were not due to asylum seekers insulting PNG nationals in February or asylum seekers feeling discontent with their processing time frames. The attacks were due to the entire system. The attacks were due to the lack of due care for asylum seekers' safety and wellbeing, the acceptance by staff that PNG was just a dangerous place and that there was nothing we could do to change that. With reports going unheard and incidents being covered up, with no-one really to report to and the threat of danger being from outside, I am unsure of how anyone can guarantee the asylum seekers' safety. Regardless of how high fences are built around the centre, how many CCTV cameras are installed or how many extra guards are employed, I do not believe anything can change the fact that the key threat to the asylum seekers safety is, in fact, simply being detained on Manus Island.

...

 

 



Two bombs in Baghdad kill 15 civilians: sources [Reuters – 9/2/15]

 

 

Former UN chief Kofi Annan blamed the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq for the rise of the Islamic State (ISIS), warning that the Middle East must evolve and adapt for lasting peace.

Annan, who was speaking Sunday at the Munich Security Conference where many world leaders and ministers have been discussing global issues that include the wars in Iraq and Syria, said he had always opposed the US invasion of Iraq.  ... [RUDAW - 9/2/15]

 



Afghanistan: Ex-Guantanamo Bay prisoner wounded, 4 killed in drone strike [Khaama - 9/2/15]



Two persons were killed and another wounded after gunmen opened fire at them inside a mosque in eastern Nangarhar Province. ... [Khaama - 9/2/15]



Insurgents have burned a school in eastern Nangarhar province, 3rd such like incident in eastern Afghanistan in less than 15 days. ... [Khaama - 9/2/15]

 

 

3 injured as bodyguards of an MP clash with residents in Kabul [Khaama – 9/2/15]



Former rebel militiamen who have switched sides and joined Syria’s pro-government forces are engaged in a fierce battle against Islamist insurgents near Damascus, sources said on Sunday. ... [Al Akhbar - 9/2/15]

 

 




Lebanon receives new shipment of US arms [Naharnet – 8/2/15]


 


Gunmen shot dead a lawmaker in the Somali capital Mogadishu on Monday, a fellow MP said, the latest in a string of assassinations of politicians in the war-torn country.

"Abdulahi Qayad Barre was shot dead, men killed him as he left his house to go to parliament," his colleague Abdukarim Hajji said.

At least five MPs were killed last year, but Barre was the first to be assassinated in 2015. ... [France 24 - 9/2/15]

 

 





Tunisia arrests 32 militant Islamists planning 'spectacular' attacks [Reuters – 7/2/15]

 

 

 

 

Huge explosion at Donetsk chemical plant, military ‘don’t know what they hit’

RT [9/2/15]:

Windows were shattered and homes shaken in Donetsk after a huge blast rocked the vicinity of a city chemical plant.

A Ukrainian MP praised pro-Kiev forces for hitting a target – but said they “don’t know what they hit.”

The powerful explosion took place at 10:50pm local time on Sunday. Local militia reported that a military chemical plant DKZHI was the target of Kiev’s artillery shelling.

Witnesses saw the sky lit up by the explosion, some nearby living residents had their windows broken by the blast’s shockwave and many others felt the ground shake, RIA Novosti reported. Even those living in nearby towns said they felt the tremor.

“The epicenter of the blast was near DKZHI,” co-chairman of the anti-Kiev People’s Front Konstantin Dolgov said on his Facebook page. The factory is known for producing chemical products used for industrial explosives, ammunition and equipment artillery bombs. This is not the first time the plant has been the target of a Kiev attack. It was also hit with artillery rockets in September and November.

The militia forces would not immediately confirm if there were casualties, either among militiamen or civilians. But they said the fire, which started after the explosion, poses no threat of a chemical spill, which is a cause of great concern at the plant, as it handles toxic compounds in producing explosives.

“The fire has been contained. There is no threat of chemical spill. Most likely it was a high-caliber artillery shell,” a local news outlet cited a military source as saying.

Ukrainian military deployed multiple rocket system Smerch (the BM-30 Tornado) to shell the area in the city, Boris Filatov, former deputy head of the industrial Dnepropetrovsk Region and a member of the Ukrainian parliament (Verkhovna Rada), said on his Facebook page.

According to Filatov, the men who fired the missiles “do not know what they hit because they were shooting based on coordinates.”

Earlier, Ukrainian far-right politician and paramilitary commander Dmitry Yarosh, who is involved in the Kiev military action in southeastern Ukraine, confirmed on his Facebook page that the explosion was caused by Ukrainian artillery.

Yarosh, who is wanted by Interpol on charges of inciting terrorism, was elected to the Rada in October 2014. He played a key role in the protests on Maidan (Kiev’s Independence Square), which led to the toppling of Viktor Yanukovich’s government earlier that year. Back in May, the Right Sector leader received less than 1 percent of the vote in Ukraine’s presidential election.

Meanwhile, the situation in southeastern Ukraine has been rapidly worsening since January 18, when Ukrainian troops have launched a massive assault on militia-held territories after an order from Kiev.

Shelling of the rebel-controlled towns has been witnessed on a daily basis, including the city of Donetsk, with both sides blaming each other for violence. Meanwhile, the indiscriminate shelling of residential areas by Kiev, at times with internationally-prohibited arms, has even been confirmed by the Ukrainian government’s strongest supporter – Washington.

John McCain, US Chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, said Kiev used cluster bombs – claiming it’s because Ukrainian troops did not have better weapons delivered to them by the US.

Reports from Donetsk coincided with the latest report from the German intelligence service, which estimates the real losses in the Ukrainian civil war at 50,000 dead (civilians and servicemen). This reported figure is nearly 10 times higher than the death toll named by the Kiev authorities.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian crisis became the center stage of discussions as the world leaders commenced for the Munich Security Conference.

The latest breakthrough was announced on Sunday with plans for ‘Normandy Four’ format peace talks. The meeting may be held in the Belarusian capital, Minsk, as early as Wednesday, the German government said, following a phone call between Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French leader Francois Hollande.


 

 

Iran says opportunity for nuclear deal is now

Al Jazeera [8/2/15]:

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has appeared to rule out any new extension to negotiations with world powers over his country's nuclear programme after meeting US Secretary of State John Kerry for new talks.

Kerry and Zarif held a second round of talks in the German city of Munich on Sunday, meeting for about 90 minutes as they try to hammer out a political accord to rein in Iran's nuclear programme ahead of a March 31 deadline.

Following the talks, Zarif told the conference that progress had been made in the past months and that there was now a window of opportunity to come up with a final deal.

"This is the opportunity to do it, and we need to seize this opportunity," he said. "It may not be repeated."

"I do not think another extension is in the interest of anyone, as I do not believe this extension was either necessary or useful.

"In my view extension is not useful, not conducive to an agreement, and all my energy and focus and that of my colleagues and I'm sure my negotiating partners ... are all focused on reaching an agreement as early as possible."

Iran and six world powers - US, Britain, China, France and Russia as well as Germany - have previously held several rounds of talks intended to scale back Tehran's nuclear programme in exchange for the lifting of sanctions but sticking points remain.

...

 



Marshall Islands to appeal US court ruling on nuclear lawsuit, disarmament advocates say [ABC - 9/2/15]

 

 

 

Newnham siege triggered by 'domestic incident'

Examiner [9/2/15]:

The stand off is continuing albeit in a more subdued fashion as most of Cedar Street Newnham calls it a night.

Police remain outside the home negotiating with the 35-year-old man holed up in the property with a suspected firearm.

Special operations officers continue to be on stand by as the siege runs into its 14th hour.

...

 





'Armed' man holed up in Launceston house, police armoured truck arrives [ABC – 9/2/15]


 

Police investigate Tasmanian hay bale fatality

Nine MSN [9/2/15]:

How and why a large hay bale came loose from a fully-laden truck, killing two people on a passing motorcycle, is the focus of a police investigation in Tasmania.

The married couple from Launceston, whose ages and identities are yet to be released, died at about 3pm on Sunday as they rode near Lilydale in the state's north.

The large rolled bale, wrapped in plastic, was moving when it struck the bike. The couple died at the scene, police said.

The driver of a white Western Star truck towing a trailer and fully laden with hay, has spoken to investigators as a report is prepared for the coroner.

"We've asked for witnesses to that accident to contact police," acting assistant commissioner Peter Edwards told reporters on Monday.

"What we are looking for is any person who saw the motorcycle and certainly any person who saw the truck transporting the bales of hay, on the Lilydale Road."

It marked the worst 24-hour period on Tasmanian roads since 2009 when nine people died in one day, Mr Edwards said.

The first in Tasmania's latest string of fatalities occurred late on Saturday night when a Mazda ute crashed off a corner while driving on King Island.

The ute's sole occupant, Leigh John Williams, 26, was rushed to hospital but died a short time later.

At 11am on Sunday police were alerted to a single motorcycle crash near Bothwell in central Tasmania in which a 57-year-old man was killed.



 

 

Oakland protesters send governor fracking message

ABC 7 [7/2/15]:

… The demonstration was one of the largest public against fracking recently, and it was held in Governor Jerry Brown's home town of Oakland for a reason.

Environmentalists are taking aim at Governor Brown who used to be a political darling of the movement in his first tour as governor in the 1970's.

Event organizers say Governor Brown's administration has given a green light to oil companies to drill in California.

The state is the third highest oil producer in the country.

Fracking has recently gained more interest after records analyzed by the Associated Press found that California regulators allowed oil companies to re-inject hydraulic fracturing fluids back into federally protected aquifers.

People from across the state converged in Oakland for this event.

"I came up by bus this morning. And I'm doing this because I believe in a future for all human life and all life on earth, and I believe it's time for us to create a whole other way of being human," said Cindy Dixon of Paso Robles.

During a news conference Friday, Governor Brown challenged protestors when he said they, along with most other Californians are still getting around on gas guzzling cars, trucks and buses.

There was a small group of counter-protestors at Saturday's event who support increased oil drilling in California.

One woman said California has some of the strictest rules in the country governing hydraulic fracturing.

"With these safeguards in place, Californians can benefit from affordable energy which we're seeing at the pumps already," said Sabrina Lock with Californians for Energy Independence.

Gas prices have been falling dramatically in the last six months, in part because of increased oil drilling in the United States. But it's also because newer cars are more fuel efficient, and countries like Saudi Arabia have continued to pump oil despite a worldwide oil glut.

 



Australian wind farms face $13 billion wipeout from political impasse [Japan Times – 8/2/15]

 


 

Japan defends seizing journalist's passport over IS fear

Channel News Asia [9/2/15]:

Tokyo defended Monday its confiscation of the passport of a Japanese journalist planning to travel to Syria, as the country reels from the execution of two citizens by Islamist extremists.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the government took travel documents away from freelance photographer Yuichi Sugimoto, 58, for his own safety, after learning of his plan to cover refugee camps in the war-torn country.

"'Islamic State' has expressed its resolve to continue killing Japanese," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a regular press briefing.

"If a Japanese national enters Syria we have assessed that there is a high risk that the person would face immediate danger to his life, like being captured by ISIL (militants) and other Islamic extremists," he said.

Suga said the government had given consideration to both the principle of a free press and the government's responsibility to protect the safety of Japanese nationals in confiscating the document.

...

 

 


Hoddle Street murderer closer to suing Commonwealth over Duntroon military college treatment

ABC [9/2/15]:

Melbourne's Hoddle Street killer Julian Knight is a step closer in his bid to sue the Commonwealth over his treatment as a military cadet in Canberra in the 1980s, after a ruling in the ACT Supreme Court.

Knight killed seven people and injured 19 others during the Hoddle Street massacre in Melbourne in 1987, and is now serving seven consecutive life sentences in prison.

He claimed before the shooting he had been the subject of attacks from other cadets at the Royal Military College, Duntroon and was now seeking damages from the Commonwealth.

So far the case has been bogged [down] in procedural applications, but the court has set May 4 for a hearing into whether Knight should be allowed to make his claim out of time.

The court has also ordered that the ACT Bar Association be asked to help find a pro bono lawyer to assist Knight set up his case.

Master David Mossop told the court he was concerned that Knight, who has so far represented himself, had not been able to set out his case in a form suitable to be argued in court.

Mr Mossop said it was not clear if his claim was limited to the alleged assaults or extended to economic loss because he lost his position.

He urged Knight not to delay obtaining legal help to set out his case.

In separate action Knight is pursuing criminal compensation over the alleged assaults in the ACT Magistrates Court.

A hearing into that matter has been set down for March 10.

 


'Jedi Council' sex ring leader Hastings Fredrickson sentenced to 15 months [Sydney Morning Herald – 9/2/15]:

Fredrickson, 41, a former Australian Defence Force contractor, admitted sending pictures of himself having sex with a woman to a group of ADF members, who called themselves the "Jedi Council" and routinely sent emails about their sexual exploits.

In July 2010, while working at HMAS Kuttabul, Garden Island, Fredrickson sent pictures of the sex acts, which had been filmed without the woman's consent, to four email addresses.

The email was titled "the footage" with an attachment called "The Wolf of Woolloomooloo" and described the woman as "Melbourne mistress/Melbourne moll #5".

He also expressed his disappointment at the prospect of being unable to send emails as frequently because his wife was about to give birth, the court heard.

Two days later, Fredrickson sent an email titled "Interesting Menu" to the group, with a picture of a woman taken from the ADF website, expressing his desire to meet her and have sex with her.

He also sent graphic descriptions of sex he'd had with other women.

In the Downing Centre District Court on Monday, Judge Paul Lakatos handed Fredrickson a 15-month sentence, but asked that he be assessed for an Intensive Corrections Order, which means he would not serve full-time custody.

...

 

 

China executes tycoon who bid for Australian miner

Yahoo [9/2/15]:

A Chinese mining billionaire said to have links with disgraced former security tsar Zhou Yongkang and who once launched a bid for Australia's Sundance Resources was executed for multiple murder on Monday, a court said.

Liu Han, his younger brother Liu Wei and three accomplices were condemned to death in May for "organising and leading a mafia-style group", murder and other crimes.

Their appeals were unsuccessful and all five were put to death on Monday, the Xianning Intermediate court in the central province of Hubei said on its verified account on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo.

The five met with their "close relatives" before the execution, the court said in a separate posting.

"The executed criminals' legal rights were fully protected," it added.

Liu Han led private company Hanlong, which is based in the southwestern province of Sichuan and launched a takeover bid of more than $1 billion for Sundance, a listed Australian iron ore firm, in 2011.

But the deal collapsed in 2013 after the Chinese firm failed to follow through. Chinese media reports said at the time that Liu Han had been detained.

Sichuan is one of the power bases of Zhou, who once enjoyed vast power as China's security chief but whose targeting in a corruption investigation was announced in July.

The influential business magazine Caixin has reported that Liu Han once had dealings with a businessman believed to be Zhou's son. State media have also hinted that the gang had connections to central government officials.

Zhou was handed over to prosecutors in December.

The official announcement of the long-rumoured probe into Zhou made him the most senior member of the Communist Party to be investigated since the infamous Gang of Four -- a faction that included the widow of founding leader Mao Zedong -- were put on trial in 1980.


Bali Nine duo receives more support

Jakarta Post [9/2/15]:

As the day of the execution of two Australian drug smugglers, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, draws closer, more demands have been addressed to President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to spare their lives.

Sukumaran, 33, and Chan, 31, have been detained at Kerobokan Penitentiary for almost 10 years.

They are two of nine Australians, the so-called Bali Nine, convicted for an attempt to smuggle more than 8 kilograms of heroin from Bali to Australia in 2005.

They are now awaiting execution, slated for this month, as their clemency pleas were officially rejected by President Jokowi and a second request for case reviews was rejected by the Denpasar District Court.

But the latest news about their executions did not deter fellow prisoners in Kerobokan from showing genuine support. They wrote letters to President Jokowi saying they would be willing to take the places of Chan and Sukumaran on death row, if that was permitted by Indonesian law.

“He is a kind, caring person and so helpful to all people here. He is not ‘using and playing’ with drugs anymore. Every day, he is in church to teach us about mercy and kindness. Bapak President, please consider forgiving him,” wrote Martin Jamanuna, portraying Chan in his letter.

Rico Ricardo, another inmate, also expressed his support for Chan. “If the honorable President insists on implementing the death sentence of Chan, I, Rico Ricardo, am ready to replace Chan,” Ricardo wrote. Francois Jacques Giuily, a French inmate, wrote a similar letter.

Support also went to Sukumaran. “Thank Myuran. Nothing is impossible in the eyes of God. Don’t give up,” said Rusmono.

The American Friends Service Committee, a US-based religious organization, also sent a letter to the President through The Jakarta Post last weekend.

The letter, addressed to President Jokowi, was later delivered to the convicts’ lawyer and families, as well as to local and international media, including the Australian media.

“Our organization is deeply troubled by the impending execution. We believe that the death penalty is excessive. With deep respect and humility, we request that you, as the new President of Indonesia, demonstrate to the world the enlightened values of your country’s democracy by showing mercy to these two worthy individuals by offering them a pardon,” the Prison Watch program director, Bonnie Kerness, said in the letter.

At the Yale Divinity School in Connecticut on Saturday, Ronald Jenkins, professor of theater in Wesleyan University and Yale Divinity School’s Institute for Sacred Music, moderated a panel on prison and the arts dedicated to the death-row duo.

“We want Chan and Sukumaran to know that the international community fully supports them,” Jenkins, who conducted a theater program at Kerobokan with Chan and Sukumaran four years ago, told the Post.

In the convicts’ homeland, senior religious leaders on Sunday called on Indonesia to show mercy.

Sydney’s Catholic Archbishop Anthony Fisher and Grand Mufti Ibrahim Abu Mohammad called on President Jokowi to save the men.

“Our request today is for clemency or a commuted sentence for Andrew and Myuran so as to allow them to be further rehabilitated. To execute would prematurely end these lives, robbing both them and our communities of the opportunity for ongoing repentance and rehabilitation,” the religious leaders said in a joint statement as quoted by AFP.

Last week, the Foreign Ministry announced that it had received an official notification from the Attorney General’s Office (AGO), saying that Chan and Sukumaran would be executed later this month by a firing squad. The specific time and location of the execution has not yet been decided.

Apart from the two Australians, the AGO has revealed its plan to execute another nine prisoners, including Rodrigo Gularte of Brazil, Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso of the Philippines, Serge Areski Atlaoui of France, Martin Anderson of Ghana and Raheem Agbaje Salami of Nigeria. Four Indonesian convicts will also be executed.



 

Statement by the Chan and Sukumaran Families [Jakarta Globe - 9/2/15]

 

 

 

Greek prime minister not backing down

ekathimerini.com [8/2/15]:

With a difficult week looming for Greece and amid rising pressure from creditors, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Sunday presented his government’s policy program in Parliament, pledging to implement pre-election promises to revoke austerity measures, though not all at once.

“We only have one commitment – to serve the interests of the people, the good of society,” he said, adding that it was the “irrevocable decision” of his government to implement campaign promises “in their entirety.”

The premier said the government would not seek an extension to Greece’s bailout, noting that it would be an “extension of mistakes and disaster,” and reiterated Greek demands for a “bridge” deal to be put in place until a “mutually acceptable agreement” is reached with creditors. “We do not intend to threaten stability in Europe,” he said, adding, however, that he would not “negotiate” the country’s sovereignty.

Tsipras said his government needs “fiscal space” for a discussion on restructuring Greece’s debt and a new deal, adding that increasing austerity would only exacerbate the problem.

He pledged to replace a unified property tax (ENFIA) with a new tax on large property and to increase the tax-free income threshold to 12,000 euros from 5,000 euros. He also vowed to introduce a fair tax system and crack down on tax evasion and corruption.

Collective wage bargaining will be restored, Tsipras said, adding that the minimum wage will return to 751 euros a month from 586 euros, though gradually from now until 2016.

Greek authorities would also reinstate at the end of the year the so-called 13th pension for retirees earning less than 700 euros a month, Tsipras said.

A chief priority remains tackling the “humanitarian crisis,” he said, pledging free electricity and food to households that have fallen victim to the “barbarous measures” of recent years. In the civil service, immediate rehirings will include dismissed Finance Ministry cleaners, school guards and university administrative staff, he said, noting that this would not burden the budget and will come from planned hirings for 2015.

The premier also pledged to reopen ERT, the state broadcaster that was abruptly shut down in June 2013 by the former government, and to launch a parliamentary investigation to determine how Greece entered the memorandum.

On privatizations, he said the government welcomed private investment but rejected a “selloff,” adding that utilities would not be up for sale.

In a dig at Germany, he said it was a “historic duty” for Greece to seek war reparations and the return of a forced loan during WWII.

Tsipras’s speech marked the launch of three days of debate that are to culminate in a vote of confidence in his government.

The coalition is certain to clinch the vote, with 162 seats in the 300-seat House. But winning around the country’s creditors will be tougher.

Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis is to face his eurozone counterparts in Brussels for an emergency summit on Wednesday and suggested over the weekend that he would present them with a “comprehensive proposal” for a solution.

Tsipras is to meet his European peers the next day at a leaders’ summit in Brussels. Another summit of eurozone finance ministers next Monday has been set as a deadline by Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem for Greece to apply to an extension to the European part of the country’s bailout which expires on February 28.





Australia's coal exploration approvals system needs to be overhauled to discourage corruption at the government level.

The former NSW Independent Commission against Corruption commissioner David Ipp has pointed to a landmark corruption case involving NSW Labor figures Eddie Obeid and Ian Macdonald as offering valuable lessons to governments. ... [Yahoo - 7/2/15]

 

 

 

 

Level 4 water restrictions for Mount Isa

North West Star [9/2/15]:

Mount Isa City Council has been forced to implement Level 4 water restrictions immediately after receiving urgent advice from the Mount Isa Water Board.

A statement by council stated: "In the last week water usage across the city has increased from 13 to 21 megalitres per day essentially crippling the temporary filtration system leased by the Mount Isa Water Board".

Mayor Tony McGrady said in an effort to avoid issuing a City wide need to boil all drinking water, Level 4 restrictions will be enforced immediately and residents may experience low water pressure and coloured water.

Level 4 water restrictions allow for hand held hose watering only during the hours of 8-10pm on even dates for properties with even property numbers and odd dates for properties with odd property number.

...

 

GP co-payment architect annoyed by "$5 fee" distraction to ultimate goal of dismantling universal health care in Australia [Sydney Morning Herald - 9/2/15]

 



Cuban Medics Fighting Ebola Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize [teleSUR - 5/2/15]:

 

 

 

 

A financially battling Bloomsbury mother, who lives with her child in an unapproved shed, has been ordered to appear before Mackay Magistrates Court.

Documents were served on Jasmine Wood on Friday stating she had failed to comply with Mackay Regional Council enforcement notices and was in breach of its Sustainable Planning Act.

"I just can't afford to do this," Ms Wood said.

"It would cost me around $40,000 to get work done and its money we don't have," she said.

"The council has singled me out, as there are plenty of other people living in unapproved buildings and sheds.  ...  [Daily Mercury - 9/2/15]

 

 



 

“Illegal street campers” in Byron Bay fined [Tweed Shire Echo – 9/2/15]



 

 


Brisbane Irish Club goes into administration

Irish Echo [2/2/15]:

The 118-year-old Queensland Irish Association has been placed in voluntary administration after directors of the club resolved that the enterprise was “insolvent or is likely to become insolvent at some future time”.

The Irish Echo understands that staff and members are shocked by the news.

The devastating development comes after a week of disruption at the club, which was forced to close its doors after apparent weather damage to the first floor of the historic Tara House building.

But in a memorandum to members – dated January 30 – company secretary Paul Hogan said that the directors had resolved on Thursday, January 29 that an administrator be appointed.

“Since the election of the new QIA Board on 29 November 2014, the Board has been attempting to monitor the financial position of the Queensland Irish Association,” he wrote.

...

 

 

Palmer to stand new Ferny Grove candidate

Yahoo [9/2/15]:

Clive Palmer has declared his party will stand a new candidate if a pivotal, government-deciding by-election is held in Ferny Grove.

The Queensland election hangs in the balance after the Palmer United Party candidate in the Brisbane seat, Mark Taverner, was found to be an undeclared bankrupt and therefore ineligible to stand.

Mark Furner, of Labor, was leading the count in the seat on Monday afternoon, which would give the party enough seats to form a minority government.

But Mr Taverner's disqualification means the results are set to go to the Court of Disputed Returns after the seat is declared by the state electoral commission.

The court is likely to rule that all votes for Mr Taverner are null and void, allowing the Labor result to stand, or that a by-election is required.

Mr Palmer apologised for running an ineligible candidate and said his party would contest any by-election.

"We certainly have to apologise for the fact we had a bankrupt running in Ferny Grove," Mr Palmer said in Canberra.

"It's a great sadness that happened and it's very disappointing.

"We will run another candidate."

It's uncertain which major party the PUP's preferences would flow to if there was a by-election.

 

 

Queensland has Optional Preferential Voting.  This means you can number as many boxes as you like.

 

 

Senator Lazarus calls on banks to pass on rate cut

PUP Media Release [9/2/15]:

Palmer United Senator for Queensland and Leader of Palmer United in the Senate, Glenn Lazarus, today called on all banks and financial institutions to urgently pass on the Reserve Bank of Australia's February rate cut.

“The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) cut the official cash rate by 0.25 percentage points to a new record low of 2.25 per cent on Tuesday 2 February 2015," Senator Lazarus said.

"It has now been a week since the RBA's announcement.

"Despite this, only some banks and financial institutions have announced cuts to home loan interest rates and very few, if any, have actually passed on the rate cut to customers.

"This is disgraceful. Clearly banks and financial institutions are holding out in order to make more money at the expense of everyday Australians.

"According to some reports, several banks are pocketing two million dollars a day for every day they do not pass on the rate cut to their customers.

"The RBA cut the official cash rate to stimulate the market because the Australian economy is floundering.

"What good is a rate cut if the cut is not being passed on to consumers.

"Banks and financial institutions are taking advantage of their customers and this needs to stop.

"Car loans, business loans and credit card rates also need to be cut.

"Banks and financial institutions need to stop making up excuses to delay passing on the rate cut to consumers.

"Banks are quick to apply penalties and fees, but slow to pass on any benefits to consumers.

"The banking industry needs to have strict guidelines imposed on them in relation to passing on rate cuts, ie, passing on the full rate cut within a maximum of five business days or incurring penalties where delays occur.

"Enough is enough. The industry needs to be held to account. Australians deserve better."

 

 

Wounding, Coomera

QPS Media [9/2/15]:

Police are investigating following the discovery of a man with apparent stab wounds at a house in Coomera this afternoon.

Around 2pm, police attended an address in Buccaneer Way and located a man with wounds to his chest.

He was transported to the Gold Coast University Hospital in a serious condition.

Police are appealing for public assistance to help locate two men who may be able to assist with their enquiries.

It is believed one man is travelling in a stolen white Mazda 3 with Queensland registration 140 TVH.

It is believed another man is travelling in a black Subaru with Queensland registration 041 MBU.

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.

 

 

 

 

Police investigate possible drive by shooting, Mountain Creek [Sunshine Coast Daily - 9/2/15]

 

 

 

Not here to be "recognised".

Sovereignty never ceded.

Today at Parliament House, Canberra via @ATEmbassy - Aboriginal Tent Embassy [9/2/15]

 

 

An Open Letter From New Matilda Editor: We're Back In Court, And We Really Need Your Help

New Matilda [8/2/15]:

We have a dream and some of it is fit for publication. So read on, dear New Matildan, and find out how you can be part of it!

This Friday, New Matilda will head back to the Supreme Court of NSW to defend a series of stories we broke in June last year, about political donations to the Liberal Party by a prominent private college based in Sydney.

The stories sparked a federal Senate Inquiry, backed by the Greens, Labor and independents, which was announced late last year (while we were in the midst of another court battle, in the Federal Court, over the leaking of the Professor Barry Spurr emails).

The terms of reference for the Senate Inquiry are available here.

Our court battle is expected to be a lengthy legal process, and we’ll keep you updated as it progresses. But in the interim, legal fights consume an awful lot of time, and an awful lot of money.

For New Matilda, it’s simply a cost of doing business – if you practice strong investigative journalism, there’s unfortunately no way to avoid it. But we need your help raising funds to fight our latest court battle, and to keep New Matilda shining a light into dark places.

After 10 years of operation, New Matilda's goal in 2015 is to attract 10,000 subscribers.

A subscriber base of 10,000 raises almost $1 million in revenue. That buys an awful lot of journalism, it pays contributors and our staff real, liveable wages, and in the process you’ll be helping New Matilda to hold an awful lot of power to account.

It might sound like a dream (and it certainly is ours) but New Matilda’s profile has grown enormously in the last six months, thanks in no small part to support from our lovely readers.

We figure if we can’t convince 0.04 percent of the Australian population – ie. about half of half of half of half of one percent - that vigorous, ethical independent Australian media is worth supporting, for less than the cost of one cup of coffee a fortnight… well, then we’re probably all in a bit of trouble.

So… there’s a few ways you can help us:

...

 

Huffington Post adds Australian edition, plans for entry into China [Mashable – 8/2/15]

 

 

Egypt Retrial for Al-Jazeera Pair to Start Feb. 12

Naharnet [8/2/15]:

An Egyptian court will this week retry Al-Jazeera journalists, including a Canadian awaiting deportation, a judicial official said on Sunday, after his Australian colleague was deported.

Canadian Mohamed Fahmy and Egyptian Baher Mohamed, journalists with the Qatari-owned channel, were originally sentenced to up to 10 years in prison for allegedly aiding the blacklisted Muslim Brotherhood, along with Australia's Peter Greste.

But an appeals court overturned that verdict in January and ordered a retrial, which the judicial official said is to begin on Thursday.

Greste was deported on February 1 under a presidential decree that allows the authorities to expel foreigners charged in Egypt and see them instead face trial in their home countries.

As a result, lawyers said the court was likely to drop proceedings against Greste after the opening session.

In a bid to secure his own deportation, Fahmy has renounced his Egyptian nationality and is awaiting a return to Canada, where he also has citizenship.

However, the third journalist, producer Mohamed, remains in jail as he only has Egyptian nationality.

...

 

 

Bomana Prison.

Where beaten, "arrested" hunger striking refugees calling for the UN were (and still may be) held without charge.

Silence from Australia's media and human rights establishment continues.

 

 

 

The National [9/2/15]:

The youngest of the 14 people intially on death row died from an illness last month while detained at Bomana Prison in Port Moresby, according to Correctional Services Minister Jim Simatab.

Another person on death row is still on the run after escaping from Baisu Prison in Western Highlands.

It leaves 12 currently on death row.

Simatab said Fred Abenko, 16, from Esa’ala in Milne Bay, convicted of double wilful murder in 2007, died from hepatitis in prison.

...

 

 


The governments of Indonesia and Thailand are ready to help the PNG inter-agency committee set up by Cabinet to implement the death penalty this year, Correctional Services Minister Jim Simatab says.

Indonesia will provide advice and technical assistance on the “death by firing squad” method and Thailand on “hanging”. ... [The National - 9/2/15]

 

 

 

Guardian [23/1/15]:

... None of the men arrested at the detention centre this week have been charged with any offence.

Most of the asylum seekers were arrested after detention centre guards in riot gear broke through a barricade in Delta compound.

Suspected protest “ringleaders” from other compounds were also arrested.

Guardian Australia has been told some of the men imprisoned were taken from the Manus centre’s secret solitary confinement cells, the Chauka isolation unit.

The National newspaper in PNG reported that some of the men would be held in Lorengau prison on Manus Island, while others would be flown to the larger Bomana prison in Port Moresby.

 

 

PNG: Hanuabada petition delivered to PM

PNG Loop [9/2/15]:

Representatives from Hanuabada will today present their petition to the Government over the killings at Hanuabada.

PNG Loop has been reliably informed that the handing over of the petition to the government will take place at 10am this morning.

It is understood only a select group of representatives, about 20, from Hanuabada will present the petition to Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.

Initially the presenting of the petition was planned as a peaceful protest with a convoy from Hanuabada to Parliament.

That was postponed and was to be set down for a later date.

However, arrangements by a few Hanuabada representatives with the office of the Chief Secretary organized for the petition to be delivered today behind closed doors.

The funeral and burial of Nicholas Rarua and Toka Gaudi, who lost their lives, allegedly at the hands of police, will be held today.

Their deaths are the impetus on which the petition has been made.

 

 

Lying by omission:  Australian media silent on London Five Eyes meeting

Stuff.co.nz [9/2/15]:

Security Services minister Chris Finlayson has finally confirmed his attendance at a Five Eyes meeting - three days after it occurred.

Finlayson was at talks in London with US secretary of homeland security Jeh Johnson British home secretary Theresa May, Australia's Attorney-General George Brandis, Canada's public safety minister Steven Blaney on February 6.

They are calling it "Five Countries" and top of the agenda was how to counter Islamic extremist's propaganda.

A joint communique says counter terrorism, foreign fighters, international sex offenders and information sharing information was discussed, as well as an intelligence briefing on terrorism threat levels.

The ministers also talked over measures to manage returning radicalised jihadis and sharing info on "travellers who could pose a threat to the Five Countries' national security or interests."

On the Five Eyes radar also appears to be better access to intelligence on foreign investment and ownership.

Fairfax Media reported the briefing more than two weeks ago, but Finlayson refused to confirm if he was attending or if Security Intelligence Service director Rebecca Kitteridge was travelling with him. They will all meet again in Canada next year. Finlayson is now back in Wellington.

"Our countries are all addressing similar issues in our different jurisdictions," Finlayson said in the statement. "In the current international environment, it is more important than ever that we continue the successful co-operation that has characterised the relationship between our five countries for so long." Fairfax has asked for further details.

The intelligence alliance is made of New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Britain and the US.

Blaney told local media that the group discussed "communication strategies" and establishing a "counter narrative" from terrorists trying to promote terrorism within their borders. The Canadian intelligence services have pledged to be more transparent on Five Eyes.

 

 

Five Eyes considers terrorist use of social media [RNZI – 9/2/15]


 

Travel to UK for National Security Meeting 5 February 2015 [Attorney-General for Australia Media Release]

 

'Armed' man holed up in Launceston house with family

ABC [9/2/15]:

Police have been called to a house in Launceston where a man is reportedly inside with a firearm.

The man's partner and two children are also at the property in Cedar Street in Newnham.

Police said the family members were safe and not thought to be in immediate danger.

Police have closed Cedar Street and evacuated residents from several nearby houses as a precaution.



Ex-ADF sergeant jailed for two weeks for indecent assaults at Darwin's Robertson Barracks [ABC – 9/2/15]

 

 

Pimpama man suffers spinal injuries in motocross accident

MYGC [9/2/15]:

A motocross rider has been airlifted to hospital with serious spinal injuries following an accident on Sunday.

RACQ CareFlight was tasked to the Queensland Motor Park about 30 km’s West of Beaudesert yesterday afternoon where they treated the man.

The 29 year old male from Pimpama on the Gold Coast had been riding around the track when his front wheel got caught sending the rider over his handlebars landing very heavily.

The intensive care flight paramedic treated the rider for a serious spinal injury and he was airlifted to the PA Hospital in a serious but stable condition.

 


HSBC bank 'helped clients dodge millions in tax'

BBC [8/2/15]:

Britain's biggest bank helped wealthy clients cheat the UK out of millions of pounds in tax, the BBC has learned.

Panorama has seen thousands of accounts from HSBC's private bank in Switzerland leaked by a whistleblower in 2007.

They show bankers helped clients evade tax and offered deals to help tax dodgers stay ahead of the law.

HSBC admitted that some individuals took advantage of bank secrecy to hold undeclared accounts.

But it said it has now "fundamentally changed".

The documents, stolen in 2007 by a computer expert working for HSBC in Geneva, contain details of more than 100,000 clients from around the world.

Offshore accounts are not illegal, but many people use them to hide cash from the tax authorities. And while tax avoidance is perfectly legal, deliberately hiding money to evade tax is not.

The French authorities assessed the stolen data and concluded in 2013 that 99.8% of their citizens on the list were probably evading tax.

The thousands of pages of data were obtained by the French newspaper Le Monde.

In a joint investigation, the documents have now been passed to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, the Guardian newspaper, Panorama and more than 50 media outlets around the world.

...

 

 

If you don't care about the media silence surrounding atrocities against refugees in Australia's gulag archipelago, maybe you will be concerned about the media silence surrounding the dismantling of your health system?

Ignorance is not bliss.

Morning Bulletin [8/2/15]

Feeling battered and beaten, regional and rural doctors gathered in Brisbane last night hoping to find the cure for a healthier medical payment system.

The Australian Medical Association forum attracted general medical practitioners from across the state.

They gathered to discuss Medicare "reforms" and how the Federal Government should tackle the system's short-comings.

The forum is part of a series of AMA discussions being held across the country.

Doctors have copped a hammering lately, particularly as the Federal Government pushed for a $20 cut to the Medicare rebate for short GP consultations last month.

The cut, just one in a raft of mooted Medicare changes, was expected to save $1.3 billion over four years.

A backlash saw Health Minister Sussan Ley dump the plan as she consults with the sector about reforms.

AMA Queensland president Dr Shaun Rudd told APN Newsdesk that pressure was mounting on his colleagues.

"General practitioners are feeling a bit battered and beaten and uncared for in that if we're (the government) going to save money it's let's beat up the GPs," Dr Rudd said.

He said doctors were best placed to decide what fees they should charge patients.

"The idea is to get the views of the GPs and make sure we're all in agreement with what we feel is the way forward," he said of the forum.

"But the general view is a very simple one - there's a therapeutic relationship between the doctor and the patient and there's also a financial relationship between the doctor and the patient and that's where it should stay.

"There shouldn't be any mandate on anything.

"It should stay between the doctor and the patient because the doctor understands the circumstances of the patient and they can judge what sort of fee they should charge each individual patient."

Dr Rudd said mixed billing practices worked for a reason.

"So they (doctors) will bulk bill people who they feel can't afford to pay, they will give some people a discounted fee and then some people will be charged the full fee," he said.

"So all the time what they're doing is making sure the patient doesn't come to see them because they can't afford it."

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners wants a six-month moratorium on any Medicare changes.

 

 

Tributes flow for Ningi mum killed in her home [Sunshine Coast Daily - 9/2/15]

 

A father went on a shooting rampage this weekend, killing his ex-wife, her boyfriend, and two children before taking his own life in a suburban Atlanta neighborhood, authorities said.

The massacre at the former wife's home near Douglasville, about 20 miles (32 km) west of Atlanta, left two other children on life support, authorities said on Sunday.


The shooter chased his daughter into the street and shot her in Saturday's incident, said Randy Daniel, coroner for Douglas County, Georgia. She died at the scene. ...
[Reuters - 8/2/15]

 

 

Unlawful wounding, Laidley

QPS Media [9/2/15]:

Police have charged a man in relation to an incident that occurred in Laidley yesterday, where a man sustained an injury to his shoulder caused by an air rifle.

At around 9.45am, a 63-year-old man was riding a mower on his property on Jacaranda Drive, when he was struck in the back by an air rifle pellet.

The man was transported to Laidley Hospital for treatment to his injury.

Police attended the scene and searched a neighbouring property, seizing an air rifle and drug utensils.

A 31-year-old Laidley man has been charged with one count each of wounding, unlawful possession of weapons, authority required to possess explosives and possession of utensils.

He is due to appear in the Gatton Magistrates Court on March 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.

 

 



Twenty-two people killed outside Cairo soccer stadium

Reuters [8/2/15]:

Twenty-two people were killed outside an Egyptian soccer stadium on Sunday when security forces barred fans from entering, the public prosecutor's office said.

Most of the dead were suffocated when the crowd stampeded after police used tear gas to clear the fans trying to force their way into a league match between two Cairo clubs, Zamalek and Enppi, doctors and witnesses said.

A health ministry spokesman told Reuters by phone the final toll was 19 dead and 20 injured. The reason for the discrepancy in numbers between the health ministry and the public prosecutor's office was not immediately clear.

...

 

 

Tree loss a blow to Toowoomba community

Letter to the Editor, [Chronicle - 9/2/15]:

The removal of a large blue gum a year or so ago and now the destruction of more trees along South St in the school grounds of Centenary Heights High School is a loss to the students, the community and to fauna.

The removal of the blue gum is still being talked about by local people.

This most valuable and beautiful tree was more than 100-years-old.

And now we are faced with a greatly spoiled streetscape (that used to be so beautiful), and an ugly collection of school buildings following the removal of more trees.

What message does this convey to young people who are increasingly disconnecting from nature and connecting more and more to technology?

There is already a great deal of community anger and sadness over the loss of over 400 mature trees in two local parks in recent weeks, and this is compounded by what appears to be senseless tree destruction at the high school.

Does the Department of Education bear any responsibility to the environment, the education of students re respect for nature?

And does it have a responsibility to ensure that the school is not visually ugly and impacting negatively on the streetscape?

• JENNIFER WILSON, Centenary Heights

 

Truck loses trailer north of Banana

Gladstone Observer [8/2/15]:

The Leichhardt Highway 10km north of Banana was closed for five hours today when a truck lost its trailer.

The trailer contained ammonium nitrate emulsion.

A crane removed the damaged trailer from the road.

Police re-opened the road at 3pm and no injuries were recorded.

 

 

Nobody is calling for censorship, we want a genuine discussion and debate i.e.  NOT fundamentalist christians vs the sex industry.

We want to hear from the experts.

Remaindered "mummy porn" (Fifty Shades of Grey) and Murdoch propaganda

Coles supermarket, Gold Coast [18/8/12]

 

 

'Fifty Shades of Grey' promotes violence against women, study says [LA Times - 13/8/13]:

“Fifty Shades of Grey” isn’t just a fun, racy read, according to a new study that finds the bestseller glamorizes violence against women.

Analyzing the naughty novel, psychologists at Michigan State University and Ohio State University concluded that its characters’ behaviors are consistent with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s official definition of intimate partner violence — and that the book perpetuates dangerous abuse patterns.

Intimate partner violence is pervasive in the novel, “occurring in nearly every interaction” between its protagonists, said Ohio State University researcher Amy Bonomi, lead author of the report, which was published Monday in the Journal of Women’s Health.

Written by British author E.L. James and published in 2011, “Fifty Shades” describes the relationship between multimillionaire Christian Grey and college student Anastasia Steele. The book contains explicit scenes depicting bondage and discipline, domination and submission, and sadomasochism, or BDSM. But the study had issues beyond the bedroom scenes.

After hearing all the buzz about the book, Bonomi and her colleagues decided to take a “systematic approach to understanding the abuse patterns” in Christian and Anastasia’s relationship, analyzing abuse tactics in the first 124 pages of the book to see how they measured up with the CDC’s standard.

According to the federal agency’s guidelines, intimate partner violence includes “physical, sexual, or psychological harm by a current or former partner or spouse.” Physical violence includes acts such as slapping and choking, while sexual violence entails forced sex acts, often induced through the use of alcohol or other drugs.

Psychological or emotional abuse can involve humiliation, social isolation and stalking.

The book depicts multiple elements of such abuse, Bonomi said. Additionally, Anastasia “suffers reactions typical of abused women,” changing her behavior to maintain peace in the relationship and, over time, becoming disempowered and socially isolated.

For example, the researchers pointed out, she withholds information about her plans to visit friends and family members and avoids social outings so as not to anger Christian. “That is exactly what we see in women in abusive relationships,” Bonomi said. “The abuser is very good at controlling social connections by intimidating the victim.”

Bonomi said also that it’s wrong to consider the book a depiction of a healthy BDSM relationship. In consensual BDSM relationships, partners take negotiations seriously and respect each others’ boundaries, she said. In “Fifty Shades,” she noted, Christian bullies Anastasia and plies her with alcohol to coerce her into sexual acts that she finds uncomfortable.

“Consenting BDSM relationships are fine,” Bonomi said. “But the relationship we see between Christian and Anastasia is different. What we see in them is a clear pattern of abuse.”

Cris Sullivan, who researches gender-based violence at Michigan State University and wasn’t involved in the study, agreed, explaining that Anastasia is in the relationship “not because she enjoys it, but because she’s trying to keep the man” — reinforcing a message “that is very pervasive in our society.”

“That’s not a message we want to keep sending to women or men,” Sullivan said. “I’m hoping [the study] will lead people to talk and think about the book a little more critically than just a hot little summer read.”

The study authors don’t call for the novel to be banned, but rather for “a greater societal awareness of the abuse occurring in the book,” Bonomi said.

“This is really a teachable moment when we should be talking with young people about what abuse is and what are some of the strategies to prevent it.”

Intimate partner violence affects around 35% of women globally, the World Health Organization reported in June.

“Fifty Shades of Grey” is the first in a trilogy that has sold more than 70 million copies worldwide and ranks as the fastest-selling paperback of all time. A film adaptation is in the works.

 

Chained to floor 'like a dog': man cleared of Fifty Shades assault [Canberra Times - 23/1/13]

 

 

9 February 2015

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