Ronald Reagan shooting a rifle out of a window of Air Force One, 1983.
Image: @History_Pics [8/1/15]
Saudi Arabia carries out two beheadings, prepares to flog activist
Al Akhbar [8/1/15]:
Saudi Arabia on Thursday beheaded a Pakistani man convicted of drug smuggling and a Saudi for murder, the interior ministry said.
Meanwhile, Saudi liberal activist Raif Badawi, who was sentenced to prison and flogging, will face a first round of lashes on Friday, rights watchdog Amnesty International said on Thursday.
The executions bring to six the number of people beheaded since the start of 2015 in the conservative Muslim kingdom.
Awida Utaibi was executed after a court found him guilty of murdering a relative, the ministry said in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.
Mohammed Shahbal of Pakistan was beheaded for smuggling heroin into the country. The drugs were found in capsules he had swallowed.
Last year, Saudi Arabia executed 87 people, up from 78 in 2013, according to an AFP tally.
Rape, murder, apostasy, armed robbery and drug trafficking are punishable by death in the kingdom.
Image: @stefbluedrean [8/1/15]
Asghar Bukhari [Medium - 7/1/15]
... I argue, that we are creating extremists in the bucket load and have done so exponentially, since we declared this endless war of terror . Our policies are hardening views on all sides.
To justify its continuation, politicians have to keep lying (via the plaint corporate media) to the public, saying Muslim violence is due to ‘Islamists, Extremists, Hate Preachers — the evil Muslim fairy, or any other word that makes people think the problem is faith and not the real driver — War.
The Arab satellite television channel al-Jazeera is to pull its reporters out of Iraq after one of them was killed during a US air raid on Baghdad. ... [Guardian - 9/4/03]
IS group in Libya claims execution of two Tunisian journalists
France 24 [8/1/15]:
The Libyan branch of the Islamic State jihadist group claimed Thursday to have killed two Tunisian journalists who went missing in September.
In a statement released on jihadist websites showing images of Sofiene Chourabi and Nadhir Ktari, the group said it had "applied the law of Allah" against them.
It was not immediately possible to verify the claim.
In the statement signed by the "communication service of the province of Barqa", the group accused the two Tunisians of having worked for "a satellite channel that fights religion".
Barqa is the ancient name of a region in eastern Libya where IS is thought to have gained a foothold.
A picture showed the two young men alongside an armed man in fatigues, his face covered.
Chourabi, an investigative journalist and blogger who was active during Tunisia's 2011 revolution, and Ktari, a photographer, went missing on September 8 in the eastern Libyan region of Ajdabiya.
Their disappearance came after the pair, who were working in Libya without authorisation, were detained by an armed group days earlier but released.
Libya has been engulfed by chaos since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed veteran dictator Moamer Kadhafi, with two rival governments and a host of militias now vying for territory.
IS has seized swathes of Iraq and Syria, declaring a "caliphate" and committing widespread atrocities, including the beheading of Western hostages.
Sun "journalist" paid army officer for information on the Royal Princes, jury told
Hacking Inquiry [8/1/15]:
A Sun journalist paid an army officer for information on the Royal Princes a jury was told today.
Opening their case at the Old Bailey the prosecution at the trial of four Sun journalists, Army officer John Hardy and his wife Claire alleged that the paper’s Royal editor, Duncan Larcombe, sought to arrange 34 payments to the Sandhurst based soldier for information about Prince Harry and Prince William during their officer training. Some of these payments, the Crown alleges, were authorised by Larcomber’s fellow defendant the Sun’s then Deputy Editor Geoff Webster.
Barrister Michael Parroy QC told the court that: “It is the prosecution case that paying a serving officer for confidential material is a naked act of corruption and Geoffrey Webster knew precisely that. Yet he was prepared to sanction it in the pursuit of an amusing and salacious story.”
The prosecutor also told the court that Hardy also assisted The Sun to obtain a picture of Prince William in a bikini dressed as a “Bond girl” at a fancy dress party though.
Hardy, who retired from the army in 2012, is on trial alongside his wife Claire who is alleged to have received payments from The Sun into her bank account in full knowledge that they were for confidential information.
The prosecution also say that the former officer was paid £250 to go to a strip club to “spy” on other Sandhurst staff which led to an article in the newspaper entitled: “Stripocrisy of Harry Bosses”.
All of the defendants deny all of the charges, the trial continues.
Soldier’s death story a “belting exclusive splash” court hears [Hacking Inquiry – 8/1/15]
Peru’s Fujimori convicted of corruption in fifth trial
Las Vegas Sun [8/1/15]:
A three-judge panel in Peru has convicted jailed former President Alberto Fujimori of funneling more than $40 million in public funds to tabloid newspapers that smeared his opponents during his 2000 re-election campaign.
Thursday's conviction was the fifth for the 76-year-old Fujimori.
The judges sentenced him to eight years in prison and fined him $1 million.
The sentence will run concurrently with the stiffest sentence he has received to date: 25 years for murder in the military death-squad killings of 25 people.
Fujimori fled Peru in 2000 amid a bribery scandal and was extradited in 2007 from Chile, where he was arrested trying to return to his homeland to attempt a political comeback.
He is Peru's most expensive prisoner, costing the state $157,000 a year, authorities say.
With Power of Social Media Growing, Police Now Monitoring and Criminalising Online Speech
Glenn Greenwald [Intercept – 6/1/15]:
On March 6, 2012, six British soldiers were killed in Afghanistan by a roadside explosive device, and a national ritual of mourning and rage ensued. Prime Minister David Cameron called it a “desperately sad day for our country.”
A British teenager, Azhar Ahmed, observed the reaction for two days and then went to Facebook to angrily object that the innocent Afghans killed by British soldiers receive almost no attention from British media. He opined that the UK’s soldiers in Afghanistan are guilty, their deaths deserved, and are therefore going to hell:
The following day, Ahmed was arrested and “charged with a racially aggravated public order offense.” The police spokesman explained that “he didn’t make his point very well and that is why he has landed himself in bother.” The state proceeded to prosecute him, and in October of that year, he was convicted “of sending a grossly offensive communication,” fined and sentenced to 240 hours of community service.
As demonstrators demanded he be imprisoned, the judge who sentenced Ahmed pronounced his opinions “beyond the pale of what’s tolerable in our society,” ruling: “I’m satisfied that the message was grossly offensive.”
The Independent's Jerome Taylor noted that he “escaped jail partially because he quickly took down his unpleasant posting and tried to apologize to those he offended.”
Apparently, heretics may be partially redeemed if they publicly renounce their heresies.
An ode to our freedom of speech
The morals and ethics we teach
When money is god
Then love is a fraud
And hate is the message we preach
BBC writer Thom Phipps advocates the murder of Julian Assange [greekemmy – 11/12/14]
US "fatwas" against journalists create a climate where attacks on journalists are seen as acceptable … #CharlieHebdo @wikileaks [8/1/15]
US Demands to Assassinate Assange [VIDEO]:
Published on Nov 27, 2012
High-level US government officials, including Clinton and Biden, demand for the assassination of Assange and to list WikiLeaks as a terrorist organisation.
These 17 Journalists Were Killed by Israel In Gaza [Countercurrent - 29/18/14]
Image: @Ian56789 [8/1/15]
The way-too-far side: Sydney newspaper apologises for 'anti-Semitic' cartoon after Attorney-General brands it 'deplorable' [Daily Mail – 4/8/14]
US lawmakers to reintroduce Iran sanctions legislation
Republican lawmakers said on Thursday they are close to reintroducing legislation seeking a voice in negotiations over Iran's nuclear program and to impose tougher sanctions against Iran, now that they control both houses of the U.S. Congress.
Senator Mark Kirk told reporters at the Capitol he expected the Senate banking committee to vote within weeks on a bill he co-authored with Democratic Senator Robert Menendez that would increase sanctions on Iran if the negotiations falter.
Menendez-Kirk was introduced in December 2013, but did not come up for a vote in the Senate when it was controlled by President Barack Obama's fellow Democrats. The White House insisted its passage could endanger international negotiations on Iran's nuclear program.
The United States, France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China reached a preliminary agreement with Iran in 2013 for it to suspend its sensitive nuclear activity in return for easing some economic sanctions.
The two sides failed for a second time in December to meet a self-imposed deadline and extended the preliminary accord by seven months. Frustrated U.S. lawmakers want Obama to be more forceful with Iran.
Senator Bob Corker, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he was working on a bill that would allow Congress to weigh in before Obama can implement any final agreement on Iran's nuclear program.
Western powers, fearing Iran wants to build a nuclear bomb, have imposed penalties that have slashed its oil exports, causing inflation to soar and the value of its currency to plummet. Tehran says its nuclear work is purely peaceful.
Iran and the six powers resume negotiations on Jan. 18.
Palestine is not a state, and therefore does not qualify for membership in the International Criminal Court, the State Department said on Wednesday.
The US will oppose the Palestinian Authority’s move to join the body, and several others at the United Nations, as technically flawed, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.
“It doesn’t qualify to join the ICC,” Psaki told reporters. ... [Jerusalem Post - 7/1/15]
‘We need to find a way to live together,’ says UN chief in special plea for tolerance [UN Media Release – 8/1/15]
Cultural imperialism is the practice of promoting a more powerful culture over a least known or desirable culture. It is usually the case that the former belongs to a large, economically or militarily powerful nation and the latter belongs to a smaller, less powerful one.
Cultural imperialism can take the form of an active, formal policy or a general attitude. A metaphor of colonialism is employed: the cultural products of the first world "invade" the third-world and "conquer" local culture.
In the stronger variants of the term, world domination (in a cultural sense) is the explicit goal of the nation-states or corporations that export the culture.
The term is usually used in a pejorative sense, usually in conjunction with a call to reject foreign influence.
Noise 11.com [8/1/15]:
Original Little River Band singer Glenn Shorrock has sent a letter to The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon and Fallon himself protesting the upcoming performance by the non-original Little River Band next week.
Shorrock is outraged by the current band “grinding our good name into dust” and has made feeling known to Fallon.
“I’ve written a strong letter to the production and/or Fallon outlaying my distress and outrage if it were and I ended it “if you do decide to put them on the show just pass on my message ‘to go fuck yourselves’”, Glenn tells Noise11.com.
The current Little River Band has not had an original member since the departure of Derek Pellicci 18 years ago but continues to perform the songs of Glenn Shorrock, Graeham Goble, Beeb Birtles and David Briggs under the LRB brand name.
Indian Government Revokes Adani Authority to Run Indian Ports
Palmer United Party Media Release [9/1/15]:
Queensland leader of the Palmer United Party, John Bjelke-Petersen, says the Indian Government has taken steps to revoke Adani from running an Indian Port yet Campbell Newman wants Adani to develop and operate the port at Abbot Point.
Mr Bjelke-Petersen said Mr Newman and his LNP government were funneling hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money to support Adani’s coal in the Galilee Basin.
Mr Bjelke-Petersen said the project isn’t viable and Adani hasn’t been able to raise finances itself for the construction of the project in the Galilee Basin.
“This is an LNP stunt, spruiking that jobs will be created from this project in the lead up to the January 31 state election by citing the Galilee Basin as a major source of future new jobs,” he said.
“How can the Newman government funnel hundreds of millions of dollars towards Adani’s project when the Indian government is seeking to stop it from operating a port there?”
Mr Bjelke-Petersen said it was scandalous and an outrage that Queensland taxpayers are funding Adani when the company has lost support from its own national government.
“The LNP has destroyed jobs in Queensland over the past three years to the point where the state has one of the worst unemployment rates in Australia,” he said.
“Now Mr Newman is trying to dupe Queenslanders by claiming he’ll create jobs in the Galilee Basin by giving a foreign company taxpayers’ money despite the fact they are unlikely to ever get their project off the ground. It’s a scandal.”
Millions of coal miners in India have called off a five-day strike on the second day after an hours-long meeting with the government, averting power cuts in the energy-hungry country.
Five unions ended the strike late Wednesday after talks with the coal minister who promised jobs would not be lost during the government's moves to open up the market to private companies. ... [Times Of India - 8/1/15]
After 30 years, the Indian Navy will show off its fighter jets and reconnaissance aircraft in the Republic Day military parade.
The Naval contingent will be led by the newly-acquired and made-in-USA long-range maritime reconnaissance and anti -submarine aircraft.
Not entirely surprising, given that US President Barack Obama is the Chief Guest for the event. … [NDTV – 8/1/15]
Sunshine Coast public transport top election issue
Sunshine Coast Daily [9/1/15]:
The region's public transport system was rated the top election issue by fans of the Daily's Facebook page, although the honesty of politicians scored highly.
Eleni Karandrew suggested there should be more consultation between government and people who used public transport.
"Establish a public transport system that is efficient and affordable, especially for seniors, and easy to access," she said. "Scrap the current one and start from scratch in consultation with the people who use it."
Hazel Cash wanted to know why duplication of the railway north to Nambour had stalled, pointing out that a better train service to Brisbane meant fewer cars on the roads.
"The railway from Nambour to Brisbane is a joke, so clogged with freight that passengers use buses in between railway stations," she wrote.
But Elvira Meridy White had a completely different idea, pushing the need for more cottage industries operating out of peoples' homes.
"Particularly along rural roads, so tourists are allowed to stop at the home and purchase," she said.
"Since manufacturing has been squashed throughout Australia and cheap goods are allowed in, the talented crafter and artist can only afford to work from their home."
A small band of volunteers has been left devastated and outraged after a group of vandals used their beloved Condamine Gorge as "a four-wheel-drive playground".
Cambanoora Gorge Management Group president Keith Murray told the [Warwick] Daily News he was baffled why senseless hoons decided to plough through the gorge, destroying anything in their path after the New Year's rain. ... [Chronicle - 9/1/15]
Patient mortality rates on election agenda
(Queensland Unions still believe ALP promises)
Queensland Nurses Union Media Release [8/1/15]:
The Queensland Nurses’ Union (QNU) has welcomed the Labor Party’s guarantee to introduce nurse to patient ratios if elected.
QNU Acting Secretary Des Elder said Queensland Labor leader Annastacia Palaszczuk had today promised to regulate the number of nurses available to patients in public hospitals. Mr Elder said the introduction of legislated nurse levels would help ensure public patients received the level of care they deserved.
At present no health service in Queensland has legislated nurse to patient ratios.
“A commitment to install safe nurse to patient ratios provides a ray of sunshine after three bleak years of hospital and health service job cuts in Queensland,’’ Mr Elder said.
“The nurses and midwives who have survived the LNP health cull have told us they are over worked, fearful for patient safety, tired and demoralised. The ALP’s announcement they will introduce nurse ratio legislation if elected will no doubt brighten their day.
“We welcome support for nurse ratios. Research shows nurse and midwife numbers and skill levels are vital in reducing patient deaths and ensuring patients successfully recover after an incident or operation.
“In fact studies in America and the United Kingdom have shown there is a ‘seven-fold difference’ in patient mortality rates at hospitals with varied nurse staffing levels.
“It is very clear more nurses mean lower mortality rates and that the introduction of nurse ratios will better protect Queensland patients.’’
Mr Elder today called on all political parties to commit to legislating safe nurse to patient ratios. He said the ALP’s newly announced Nursing Guarantee: patient safety first! policy also included a provision to create a Queensland Bureau of Health Statistics (BHS) to publicly report key indicators of public and private hospitals and health services.
He said the proposed initiative would grant Queenslanders greater access to hospital performance statistics.
“A Queensland Bureau of Health Statistics would effectively allow Queenslanders to get the facts on mortality and recovery rates at hospitals throughout the state,’’ Mr Elder said.
“International experience indicates nothing focuses politicians’ and the public’s attention on nursing levels as quickly as publishing hospital mortality rates.’’
On December 3, patient safety researcher and US Centre for Health Outcomes Director Professor Linda Aiken visited Australia to address the QNU’s Keeping Patients Safe symposium. [Research points to patient safety in nurse numbers - NCAH - 3/12/14]
Mr Elder said most Queenslanders were unaware there was currently no legislation in place to govern how many patients could be allocated to a single nurse or midwife in any health sector. The ALP government recently committed to introducing nurse ratio legislation in Victoria.
He said state government cuts to nurse and midwifery numbers in hospitals throughout the state had placed staff under intense pressure and put patients at risk.
It’s important to note that the State government figures which revealed more than 4820 hospital and health service jobs cuts made under the Newman administration were released to the QNU via Right to Information (RTI) – not handed over voluntarily.
The figures obtained by the QNU under RTI were almost 2000 higher than those voluntarily released by the State government.
Imaginary Queensland journalist to Premier or Ministers for Housing, Health, Communities: Do you think your policies have disenfranchised people and driven them to despair?
If you are re-elected, will there be a full investigation and/or urgent reporting into every aspect of government involvement in the Manoora tragedy i.e. housing, family and welfare services, mental health?
For the children of the Cairns suburb of Manoora, the blue uniform of a police officer once drew a reaction of fear, but it now identifies a friend.
The far north Queensland city has banded together over the past three weeks to support one another after it was left reeling by one of Australia's most horrific mass murders.
The community will on Saturday lay to rest four girls and four boys, aged between two and 14 years, who died in their Murray Street home at Manoora on December 19.
On the same street, a community centre is a home away from home for dozens of children over the school holidays that have been marred by the incident.
"Our main role was to put a bit of calmness and stability back into the community," Yodie Batzke, a member of the centre's response team, said on Thursday.
"Our concern was the children, the friends of the children that passed away."
The team has organised excursions, arts and crafts, and sporting games for local children and teenagers.
This week there was a basketball match between police officers and the youngsters, but the children were unaware two of the police were among the first responders to the tragedy.
"The activities are also beneficial to the healing process of the officers who have clearly been affected by the tragedy," Ms Batzke said.
"One of them, you can see that he doesn't say much, but whenever we ask about how he's going or talk about things in general, you can see."
Police are regular visitors to the housing commission suburb that has a history of high crime rates, including abuse and domestic violence.
But the shocking incident had changed the dynamic of the suburb, according to Ms Batzke.
"Everyone's now become aware of their responsibility of caring for your neighbour - being a concerned person," she said.
Indigenous Police Liaison Officer Kathy Lowah said the centre had helped break down barriers between police and the locals.
"It's opened those doors there's a change," she told AAP.
"You can feel there's a change in the community. People are wanting to come out and talk and wanting to engage."
Ms Lowah said affected families had found common ground in the need to help each other heal.
"We've got grandparents coming over just to sit in the centre. We've got parents that just want to come in and have a cup of coffee," she said.
"We think that's great, because they haven't done that before."
About 3000 people are expected to attend Saturday's service at the Cairns Convention Centre, which is being referred to as the "Keriba Omasker" memorial - a term which means "our children" in a Meriam Mir, Erub dialect, a language of the eight children's heritage.
... the Premier confirmed he would attend the funeral for the murdered Cairns children which is being held here tomorrow ... [Brisbane Times - 9/1/15]
... Children are the most wonderful of our society, whose innocent lives deserve the greatest of love and care.
Cherish them. ...
QPS Media [VIDEO - 27/12/14]:
A family spokesperson, Mr Rod Willie, spoke to the media on Wednesday, December 24, in relation to the multiple homicide in the Cairns suburb of Manoora earlier this month. ...
Queensland Govt Media Release [4/4/13]:
Rogue public housing tenants will soon face stricter penalties for bad behaviour with the Newman Government today launching a “three-strikes and you’re out” policy.
Minister for Housing Tim Mander said the new policy would see problem tenants evicted if they failed to curb their behaviour. ...
The Queensland Government's tougher policy on public housing tenants comes into effect today.
The so-called 'three strikes and you're out' policy will prohibit evicted tenants from reapplying for public housing for three months.
The member for the far north Queensland seat of Cairns, [and former Editor of Murdoch's 'Cairns Post'] Gavin King, says some tenants have been getting away with too much.
"Some public housing tenants have to get eight or nine breaches before the department and the court considers an eviction," he said.
"Often a public housing tenant will cause significant damage to their property, cause hell to their neighbours, and will get evicted.
"The trouble is they'll just be moved across town into another public housing tenancy."
PNG PM wins reprieve over misconduct claim
A Leadership Tribunal inquiry into the conduct of Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister has been halted until the Supreme Court rules on constitutional issues relating to his referral.
Peter O'Neill was referred by the public prosecutor over allegations that cabinet didn't follow normal administrative processes when securing a 1.1 billion US dollar loan from the Swiss bank, UBS, last year.
But Mr O'Neill challenged the referral, saying the public prosecutor had no constitutional power to refer him to the tribunal.
The Post Courier reports the National Court yesterday referred the challenge to the Supreme Court to rule on whether the prosecutor has the jurisdiction to investigate and seek evidence from the Ombudsman Commission.
The court also granted Mr O'Neill an interim injunction restraining the prosecutor from continuing proceedings into the misconduct claim, meaning the Leadership Tribunal scheduled for later this month has been halted.
Renewed warning about Fiji sewage spill
There have been renewed warnings in Fiji for people to stay away from a coastal zone near Suva contaminated after last month's sewage spill.
A broken pipe saw millions of litres of raw sewage poured into the Samabula River last month and infected the waterways and waterfront around the capital.
The Environmental Emergency Zone was declared from the mouth of the Rewa River eastward, but FBC News quotes police as saying some people are unaware of the restrictions.
The police say so far they have not arrested anyone, but they will if people do not adhere to the rules stipulated under the emergency declaration in force now.
Earlier this week, the assistant health minister, Veena Bhatnagar, said despite numerous warnings, people keep using water sources affected by the sewage spill..
The Environmental Emergency Declaration will be liable for a penalty or 12 months imprisonment or both.
Australia to Pacific neighbours: Want foreign aid? Host one of our refugee death camps or get fucked
Solomon Star [7/1/15]:
Rural Water Supply Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) has seen a drop of AusAID funding on its budget from $13 million to $6 million this year.
The huge drop could be attributed to Australian government’s move to slash its foreign aid to the Pacific this year by further 3 billion US dollars in addition to a 7 billion US dollar reduction slated last May.
It was reported that only Papua New Guinea and Nauru will be immuned from the cuts because they host detention centres.
WASH project coordinator, Jacob Makini said he has seen a drop in their budget and believes it will affect some of the projects to provide clean water and sanitations to the communities.
However, Makini said European Union has intervened to provide assistance in the ongoing programmes.
He said EU is likely to provide $120 million, which will run in a five-year programme.
He said WASH will need to push hard to access the EU funds because it goes straight into the basket in the Ministry of Finance and Treasury.
He said unlike the AusAID funding, it was channelled through the Ministry of Finance but purposely for RWASH projects.
A high level insider in the Ministry of Development Planning and Aid Coordination said the health department needs to work smarter and harder to get internal revenues to supplement the gaps.
He said AusAID funding are short term, therefore there is need to ensure capacity needs to be filled up.
The insider said most of AusAID funding was spent on technical assistants or advisors while small components had trickled down to the capital budget.
He said AusAID funding dropped due to the scale down of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI).
“Solomon Islands has never received such big aid assistance from Australia in the past until when RAMSI intervened,” he said.
RAMSI intervened in 2003 to restore law and order following the ethnic conflict on Guadalcanal.
Banality of evil career opportunity managing exiled refugees and pesky locals on Nauru, $200K (future appearance at the ICC a possibility).
Gold Coast lifeguards warn of dangerous surf conditions
Gold Coast City Council Media Release [9/1/15]:
City of Gold Coast Lifeguards are warning of dangerous surf conditions and urging the public to take extra care on the city’s beaches.
Surf conditions on the Gold Coast at present are treacherous, with a heavy dumping shore break, a strong inshore current and rips running out to sea.
The outgoing tide into the afternoon is expected to make conditions worse and these conditions will continue into the weekend.
Residents and visitors should exercise caution, always swim between the flags and stay within their own depth of water.
People are also encouraged to check notice boards and seek the advice of lifeguards and lifesavers before entering the surf.
Driver fleeing police crashes car into house, passenger hospitalised
West Australian [9/1/15]:
A driver allegedly fleeing from police lost control of his car and crashed through a fence and into the front of a house overnight.
Police say the driver of a silver Commodore sped away after officers tried to stop the car about 12.30am.
The driver lost control on a corner and crashed through a fence and into the patio of a unit on the corner of Filburn and Manning Streets in Scarborough.
No-one was in the unit at the time.
The fence and patio were extensively damaged.
A 22-year-old woman who was a passenger in the car received minor injuries and was taken to hospital.
A 23-year-old Mosman Park man, who police say was the driver of the vehicle, has been charged with excess 0.08, reckless driving and failing to stop.
He is due to appear in Perth Magistrates Court on January 29.
Police dog squad savages teenager following traffic crash, Toowoomba
A Toowoomba teenager has been charged after a white ute crashed out front of a Bridge St home.
Toowoomba police shift supervisor Sergeant Greg Wheeler said the 19-year-old learner driver and a passenger fled the scene of the crash about midnight last night.
"The dog squad tracked the occupants and located the driver," Sgt Wheeler said.
He said the squad tracked the teenager for about an hour before they found him.
A Bridge St resident reported hearing a vehicle sliding downhill across a nature strip before colliding with a tree.
When the resident came out of his home to investigate, the ute was already empty.
A search for the passenger was unsuccessful, with police still keen to catch up with the person.
The 19-year-old was charged with dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, possessing dangerous drugs, possessing a utensil, failing to displaying an L plate, failing to comply with the duties of a driver in a crash, failing to wear a seatbelt, failing to maintain proper control of a vehicle and failing to comply with requirements of a learner licence.
After further investigation he was also charged with stealing, fraud and possessing a utensil.
The teenager is due to front Toowoomba Magistrates Court on February 23.
Toddler dies in police pursuit in Sydney
Sydney Morning Herald [9/1/15]:
A toddler who was struck and killed during a police chase in Sydney's west was hit by a police car, a neighbour claims.
The 17-month old girl was hit at a home in Bessbrook Way at Constitution Hill about 7pm on Thursday.
Police are yet to confirm initial media reports that an unmarked police car was leading four marked cars in the pursuit of an allegedly stolen Audi when the latter crashed through a garden fence into a suburban backyard where children were playing.
Neighbour Raymond Nair said he was jogging when he saw the tragedy occur.
"I saw the police car chasing the black Audi and then I saw the police cars chasing with a siren on and there was another four cars at the back and suddenly the cars stopped," he said.
He claimed the police car struck the child, although police have not confirmed this.
"The [Audi] went through but the police car stopped straight away, because they hit the little kid and they were assisting the little kid," he said, adding that it was a "blue car with a siren on".
After sustaining critical injuries, the child was taken to The Children's Hospital, Westmead, where she died.
Markers at the scene of the crash indicate the child was hit about 10 metres before the end of the street.
A 23-year-old woman believed to have been a passenger in the Audi was later arrested at Kings Cross.
Police are trying to track down the male driver.
Residents say the driver lives in the area and is often in trouble.
Mr Nair said the toddler's family was very popular in the community.
"They've got eight kids, and the 17-month-old is a twin.
"They are a very good family."
Witnesses have said the small cul-de-sac is commonly filled with children playing in the street.
A sister of the dead toddler is in hospital and the family is reportedly staying in a nearby motel organised by the police.
Assistant Commissioner Frank Mennilli said the tragedy was "a pain no parent should go through".
"We're reaching out to members of the community. This man is well known to them and they know who this person is."
The officers involved in the incident are suffering, he said.
"My thoughts and prayers go to the family but to also the police involved.
"They are distraught - they really are - these are family members, they've got children the same age. They are doing it very tough at the moment."
A police critical incident team, alongside the Crash Investigation Unit, will now investigate all circumstances surrounding the crash, including the pursuit.
... The streets are empty
Life goes on ...
'Belfast Child' Simple Minds 
United States continue bombing Iraq and Syria
... we have to put all this in context and understand that all these appalling features come from somewhere. And this somewhere is, before everything, the action of the West, the responsibility of the West, and also the responsibility of the West and the United States, in particular, in fostering the source, the ideological source, of all this—of the most fanatical, most reactionary interpretation of Islam, that is the Saudi kingdom. ...
Professor Gilbert Achcar [Democracy Now - 8/1/15]
U.S. and partner nation military forces continued to attack ISIL terrorists in Syria, Jan. 7, using fighter and bomber aircraft to conduct six airstrikes.
Separately, U.S. and partner nation military forces conducted seven airstrikes in Iraq, Jan. 7, using bomber and fighter aircraft against ISIL terrorists. All strikes took place between 8 a.m., Jan. 7, and 8 a.m., Jan. 8, local time.
The following is a summary of the strikes conducted since the last press release:
* Near Kobani, five airstrikes struck two ISIL fighting positions and an ISIL staging area and destroyed four ISIL fighting positions.
* Near Al Hasakah, an airstrike struck four ISIL crude oil pumps and five ISIL crude oil well heads.
* Near Al Rutbah, an airstrike destroyed an ISIL vehicle.
* Near Tal Afar, two airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL VBIED and an ISIL vehicle.
* Near Kirkuk, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL checkpoint.
* Near Fallujah, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit.
* Near Al Asad, an airstrike struck a large ISIL unit.
* Near Sinjar, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit.
Airstrike assessments are based on initial reports.
Boko Haram fighters are reported to have killed hundreds of people in a renewed assault after capturing a key town and military base in northeast Nigeria at the weekend, local officials have said.
The group's fighters initially captured the town of Baga and the headquarters of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF), which is made of troops from Nigeria, Niger and Chad, on Saturday.
At least 100 people were killed when the Boko Haram first took over the town on the edge of Lake Chad, the district head Abba Hassan said on Thursday. The fighters then razed several towns and villages in Borno state in the following days. ... [Al Jazeera - 8/1/15]
Comics Legend Art Spiegelman & Scholar Tariq Ramadan on Charlie Hebdo and the Power Dynamic of Satire [Democracy Now - 8/1/15]:
… ART SPIEGELMAN: Why were they targeting Muslims? Do you think it’s—
TARIQ RAMADAN: I’m not—you know why? You know what? You know why? It’s mainly a question of money. They went bankrupt, and you know this. They went bankrupt over the last two years. And what they did with this controversy is that Islam today and to target Muslims is making money. It has nothing to do with courage. It has to do with making money and targeting the marginalized people in the society.
The point for me now is just to come with you, as somebody who is involved in this, and to come with the principles that you are making now, and to come and to say, look, now, in the United States of America as well as in the West, everywhere, we should be able to target the people the same way and then to find a way to talk to one another in a responsible way, not by throwing on each other our rights, but coming together with our duties, our responsibilities to live together.
I think that what you are saying now could be dangerous if you are not coming to the facts, but just with the impression that their past is similar to the present. Charlie Hebdo is not the satirical magazine of the past. It is now ideologically oriented. And Philippe Val, who was a leftist in the past, now is supporting all the theses of the far-right party, very close to the Front National. So, don’t come with something which is politically completely not accurate. ...
Suspect in Paris Attacks Trained With Al Qaeda in Yemen, US Official Says [New York Times - 9/1/15]
Charlie Hebdo suspect was in class at time of shooting, alleged schoolmates claim on Twitter [Fusion - 8/1/15]
Eiffel Tower Goes Dark in Tribute to Paris Attack Victims [Naharnet - 8/1/15]
Attentat à "Charlie Hebdo" : les radios musicales diffuseront "Imagine" de John Lennon à midi [OZAP - 8/1/15]
... The world really needs to feel love again ...
New Rihanna song, 'World Peace', leaks online [Gigwise - 5/1/15]
Several Attacks against France Muslim Targets Since Magazine Killings
Charlie Hebdo shooting: Crowds gather for vigils in Melbourne, Sydney, Perth [ABC - 8/1/15]
... It’s known as colonialism, and it is really not that complicated a model. It takes but a few seconds to understand. [I Follow Charlie - The Automatic Earth - 7/1/15]
Afghanistan: 6 killed in US drone strike, Nangarhar
Six insurgents have been killed in US drone strike in eastern Nangarhar province, police spokesman said on Thursday.
Hazrat Hussain Mashriqiwal told Pajhwok Afghan News the unmanned aircraft carried out the missile attack in Lalpori district late on Wednesday evening.
The missile hit militants’ sanctuary in Chaknor locality of the district, he said, adding three rebels were also wounded in the attack. But Taliban have not yet commented on the incident.
Iraq: Suicide attack kills 7 in Baghdad, car bombs kill three in Samarra
Daily Star [8/1/15]:
Iraqi officials say a suicide bomber targeting a police checkpoint south of Baghdad has killed seven people.
Police officials say the bomber rammed his explosives-laden car into a police checkpoint in the town of Youssifiyah on Thursday, killing three police and four civilians, and wounding another 21 people.
Medical officials confirmed the casualty figures. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to journalists.
Iraq sees near-daily bombings and other attacks targeting the Shiite majority and security forces. The attacks are often claimed by ISIS, a Sunni extremist group that seized much of northern and western Iraq last year.
Daily Star [8/1/15]:
Car bombs exploded at three checkpoints on the western outskirts of Iraq's holy city of Samarra on Thursday, killing three people and wounding 41 others, a security official and locals said.
Samarra in central Iraq, 125 km north of Baghdad, is home to a signficant Shiite shrine and has been under attack since ISIS militants swept through most Sunni areas north of the capital in June.
The three bombs before sunrise on Thursday killed a civilian and two policemen as well as wounding dozens of others, and were followed by a hail of rocket and mortar fire, the official said.
Then, after several hours of fighting with security forces, gunmen retreated under fire from Iraqi warplanes, he said.
The blowing up of the ninth century al-Askari shrine in Sunni-majority Samarra in February 2006 by Sunni jihadis triggered revenge attacks by Shiite militias, tipping Iraq into years of sectarian violence.
ISIS adopts a puritanical interpretation of Sunni Islam and considers tombs sacrilegious. It has also destroyed shrines in areas of eastern and northern Syria that it controls.
On Thursday, Al-Qadea-linked Nusra Front militants blew up the 13th century tomb of a revered Islamic scholar in southern Syria, Syrian state news agency SANA and activist group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, reported.
Syria rebels destroy 13th century Muslim tomb [Al Jazeera -8/1/15]
Buyers beware: The real Iraq 'most wanted' cards are still awaiting distribution [Stripes – 17/4/03]
Two Turkish officers injured in suspected Kurdish attack
Al Akhbar [8/1/15]:
Suspected Kurdish militants fired a rocket at an armored police vehicle and opened fire on a police station in the southeastern Turkish town of Cizre on Thursday, injuring two officers in a surge of violence threatening a fragile peace process.
Security sources said the two officers were injured when their vehicle was hit by a rocket as they drove across a bridge while on patrol in the town. There was a brief gun battle as officers returned fire in the attack on the police station.
Four Kurds, including a 14-year-old, have been killed over the past few weeks in clashes in Cizre.
Some of the violence has been Kurdish infighting between Islamist Kurds and youth groups linked to Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants, but Kurdish protesters have also clashed with the Turkish police.
The violence highlights the fragility of a two-year-old peace process between Turkey and the PKK, a militant group that has waged a three-decade insurgency for greater Kurdish autonomy in which more than 40,000 people have been killed.
Thirty-five people died in early October after Kurds rioted in several southeastern cities over what they perceived as the government's refusal to help Syrian Kurds fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants in the besieged Syrian border town of Kobani.
According to Damascus and Kurdish PKK leaders, Turkey, a NATO member and Washington's key ally in the region, has been playing a major role in fueling the armed crisis in Syria by opening its borders and allowing free access to foreign jihadists into Syria.
The Syrian government has repeatedly accused Turkey of harboring, financing, training, and arming militants since violence erupted in March 2011.
Earlier in November, a video published on al-Mayadeen news channel’s website revealed that up to 100 civilians and militants crossed the Syrian-Turkish border daily under the surveillance of the Turkish army, which never interfered.
The border has become a safe haven for militants to move freely and smuggle weapons and aid inside Syria into the regions they occupy.
The Syrian government sent letters to the United Nations time and again attacking Turkey’s “destructive” role in the Syrian conflict.
In 2013, Syria’s foreign ministry said in letters addressed to the UN Security Council and to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that “Turkey supports and publicly justifies terrorist, destructive acts against Syria” and “has turned its territory into camps used to house, train, finance and infiltrate armed terrorist groups, chief among them the al-Qaeda network and the al-Nusra Front.”
Again in 2014, Syria’s Permanent Representative to the UN Bashar al-Jaafari submitted a letter to Ban Ki-moon in which the Syrian government criticized “Turkey’s role in supporting terrorism in the region.”
Jaafari said the Turkish authorities allowed thousands of foreign terrorists, extremists and mercenaries from across the world to enter Syria and provided armed groups with funds, weapons and other forms of support, which is “blatant violation of international agreements on counter-terrorism.”
Turkey Urges Citizens to Leave Libya 'Quickly'
Turkey has urged all Turkish citizens remaining in Libya to leave "quickly" due to the deteriorating security situation in the conflict-torn country.
Turkey on Wednesday condemned as "unacceptable" and "irresponsible" a statement allegedly made by the Libyan Air Force in a Facebook post warning all Turkish civilian and military planes would be shot down should they enter Libyan air space.
"We advise once more our remaining citizens in Libya to quickly leave because of the unstable security situation and negative developments in recent weeks," the foreign ministry said in a statement.
The warning came after Turkish Airlines suspended flights to Misrata this week, its only remaining destination in Libya after it had earlier pulled its flights to the capital Tripoli as well as Benghazi and the inland desert city of Sebha.
Libya has been in chaos for more than three years after dictator Moammar Gadhafi was toppled and killed in a NATO-backed revolt. The country is awash with weapons and powerful militias, and has rival governments and parliaments.
The foreign ministry attacked the reported Libyan Air Force's statement, "which is against international law (and) is totally unacceptable."
It added that Ankara had raised the issue with the UN special envoy for Libya Bernardino Leon. "We strongly condemn this hostile statement targeting our country," said the ministry.
It pointed the finger of blame at the international community, saying that its failure to respond to government air strikes encouraged "those who made this irresponsible statement".
The ministry said that civilian flights between Turkey and Libya were an important humanitarian and economic link for the war-torn country.
Egypt to remove border city Rafah for buffer zone
The Egyptian authorities have decided to remove the city of Rafah on the borders with the Gaza Strip completely, says the governor of North Sinai district Abd al-Fattah Harhour.
In a news conference Wednesday, Harhour said it would be necessary to remove Rafah city completely in order to create a buffer zone on the borders with the Gaza Strip.
“A new Rafah city is being established with residential zones appropriate to the nature and traditions of the residents of Rafah.”
He confirmed that engineering units have already been asked to start work on the new city.
The governor’s remarks came ahead of the second stage of evacuation of Rafah houses in preparation to create a buffer zone between Egypt and Gaza. According to the original plan, 1,220 houses were slated for evacuation.
Some 2,044 families live in those houses.
LRA rebel Dominic Ongwen surrenders to US forces in CAR
Uganda's military has confirmed that a senior commander in the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) movement has been taken into custody by US forces.
The army spokesman told the BBC that soldiers had visited Dominic Ongwen, who was being held in the Central African Republic, to identify him.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) wants to put Mr Ongwen on trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
But the Ugandan government has said it would prefer to try him at home.
Government spokesman Ofwono Opondo told the BBC that Mr Ongwen should be in Uganda by the end of the week, when he would be charged.
The LRA has abducted thousands of children in northern Uganda, and neighbouring countries, forcing the boys to become fighters and the girls to become sex slaves.
The US first deployed about 100 special forces in 2011 to support thousands of African troops searching for LRA commanders.
Dominic Ongwen is considered by some to be a deputy commander to LRA chief Joseph Kony.
Colorado explosion could be a hate crime, NAACP official says
LA Times [7/1/15]:
A day after an improvised explosive was detonated outside the Colorado Springs, Colo., NAACP office, local leaders condemned what some believe is a possible hate crime and act of domestic terrorism..
“This certainly raises questions of a potential hate crime,” said Sondra Young, president of the Denver chapter of the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People.
“But at this point we’re still gathering information. It’s a very sad situation, but we’re happy our people in Colorado Springs are safe.”
Young added that her branch “stands tall with the community of Colorado Springs in rejecting an attempt to create fear, intimidation and racial divisiveness. Although this is an active investigation, one thing is clear: This is an act of domestic terrorism.”
The device was detonated against the exterior wall of the NAACP building on South El Paso Street on Tuesday morning. No one was injured, said Amy Sanders, a spokeswoman for the FBI in Denver.
A gasoline can had been placed near the device but did not ignite during the explosion, Sanders said.
On Wednesday, Sanders said she could not comment on the contents of the device, but said the FBI was exploring a wide range of motives, including the possibility that the NAACP building was not the target of the attack.
"It has also not yet been determined if the motive was a hate crime, domestic terrorism, a personal act of violence against a specific individual, or other motive as there are numerous individuals and entities tied to the building in the vicinity of the explosion," Sanders said in an email to The Times.
The incident erupted on social media with the Twitter hashtag #NAACPbombing trending nationwide much of Wednesday.
Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), an influential leader of the civil rights movement, tweeted he was “deeply troubled by the bombing in Colorado. It reminds me of another period. These stories cannot be swept under the rug."
The sidewalk and the NAACP headquarters building, which also houses a barbershop, suffered minor damage, she said.
The FBI and the Colorado Springs Police Department were investigating. A man described as being about 40 is a person of interest in the investigation. He may be driving a 2000 or older dirty white pickup truck with paneling, a dark-colored bed liner, an open tailgate and a missing or covered license plate.
The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is also investigating the explosion, according to Christopher Amon, acting spokesman for the agency's Denver office.
Phone calls to the Colorado Springs NAACP office were not immediately returned Wednesday.
The Colorado Springs chapter, housed in a single-story building, is among the largest in Colorado. In past weeks the organization has taken part in local protests related to the deaths of unarmed black men last year in Ferguson, Mo., and New York City.
Gene Southerland, the owner of Mr. G’s barbershop, said he rushed outside Tuesday morning after hearing the explosion. He reopened on Wednesday and said police had left the scene.
“I’m not sure what will come of it,” he said. “But hopefully someone will have answers.”
Iran, six powers to hold nuclear talks on January 18: EU
Iran and six world powers will hold talks on Tehran's disputed nuclear program in Geneva on Jan. 18, the European Union said on Wednesday.
The six powers - the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany - and Iran "will continue negotiations in Geneva on 18 January with a view to making further progress towards a long-term comprehensive solution on the nuclear issue," an EU statement said.
"The meeting will be at political directors' level, chaired by EU Political Director Helga Schmid," it said.
US Navy Commander pleads guilty in corruption investigation
Jakarta Globe [7/1/15]:
A US Navy commander pleaded guilty on Tuesday in federal court in San Diego to bribery charges in connection with a wide-ranging corruption investigation of a Singapore-based defense contractor.
Jose Luis Sanchez, 42, was accused of accepting cash and the services of prostitutes from the maritime services firm Glenn Defense Marine Asia, led by Malaysian businessman Leonard Glenn Francis.
“Commander Sanchez sold out his command and country for cash bribes, luxury hotel rooms, and the services of prostitutes,” said Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “After today’s guilty plea, instead of free stays at the Shangri-La hotel, Sanchez is facing many nights in federal prison.”
Sanchez is the fifth of seven defendants charged in the case and the highest ranking Navy officer to plead guilty so far. He has admitted to accepting bribes worth between $30,000 and $100,000 in exchange for passing along classified ship schedules to representatives of Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA). The company held $200 million in contracts to service Navy ships from the Seventh Fleet at ports in Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore.
Two other Navy officials, former Naval Criminal Intelligence Service agent John Beliveau and logistics officer Dan Layug, have already pleaded guilty. The fourth, Commander Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz, 47, was formally indicted Tuesday on seven additional bribery charges. He has pleaded not guilty.
Three officials of GDMA have also been charged, and two have pleaded guilty. The Malaysian owner of the company, Leonard Glenn Francis, pleaded innocent to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery in September 2013 and remains in federal custody.
According to the plea agreement, Sanchez served as a fleet logistics officer from 2008 until 2013, while he was stationed in Japan. He admitted that he gave Francis classified information about ship and submarine movements that helped Francis draw the ships into ports where he held service contracts.
In his plea agreement, Sanchez said he also tipped Francis off to the federal investigations into the firm for overbilling the Navy, and that he used his influence within the Navy to benefit the defense contractor.
In exchange, Sanchez said, on several occasions Francis paid for travel, and prostitutes, including a five-night stay at the Shangri-La in Singapore.
Sanchez faces a maximum prison sentence of 20 years. His sentencing is set for March.
Call for NZ action on West Papua
West Papua Action Auckland is urging the government to do more to protect people from ongoing security force violence in Indonesia's Papua region.
Spokesperson Maire Leadbeater said Indonesia was responsible for decades of human rights abuses and the West Papuan people wanted self-determination.
She said New Zealand was a regional leader and was failing to take a stand against what was happening to its Pacific neighbours.
"We're on the Security Council, we've got high international profile and to some extent we are seen as a country with an independent foreign policy," she said.
"We have these opportunities that we seem to just let slip in favour of quiet diplomacy and good relations with Indonesia."
Ms Leadbeater said New Zealand should sever all military ties with Indonesia.
"Our military ties with Indonesia are not great. They are very small so it wouldn't be a huge issue really, just to cut them off altogether as a strong statement of our disapproval for the ongoing abuses committed by the Indonesian military and their failure to call to account those responsible for decades of documented human rights abuses against the West Papuan people."
The West Papua situation made international headlines in mid-December when Indonesian authorities opened fire on a peaceful protest in Papua's Paniai, killing five school students and injuring 20 others.
Ms Leadbeater said there must be an independent investigation into those events.
"The government should be openly, in a megaphone kind of way, calling for a truly independent investigation of the events that took place in Paniai. That's the kind of thing I would like to see them do much more strongly."
Minister sacks all advisers at PNG Power
PNG Loop [8/1/15]:
Minister for Public Enterprises and State Investments Ben Micah has terminated all consultants and advisers engaged for the purpose of giving advice on electricity and power matters to PNG Power Ltd as of today.
This has come into effect after the Government declared a State of Emergency into PNG Power Ltd.
Using the emergency powers, Mr Micah has also halted all travel and expenditure by PNG Power until approved by him.
“The Head of State, acting on advice, has proclaimed and gazetted the State of Emergency and I am now empowered and authorised pursuant to the provisions of the Essential Services Act and this will be done with respect to other applicable laws to fix up our electricity issues and to reform the electricity sector including a total overhaul of PNG Power Limited.”
Mr Micah said there had been a considerable decline in the state of electricity service in recent years and therefore it was the legal and moral duty of the Government to ensure that the electricity industry was recognized and supported with appropriate legislative, financial and technical resources premised on well-articulated, defined and practical policy framework.
Poland says received US request for Polanski extradition
Polish prosecutors plan to question filmmaker Roman Polanski after they received a request for his extradition to the United States over a 1977 child sex crime conviction, the prosecutor-general's office said on Wednesday.
A lawyer for the director -- viewed by many Poles as one of their greatest living cultural figures -- said Polish prosecutors already questioned Polanski last year and let him go free, and since then nothing had changed.
Polanski, who was born to Polish parents but lives in France, has been spending time in the southern Polish city of Krakow, where he is planning to shoot a film.
Mateusz Martyniuk, a spokesman for the prosecutor general's office in Warsaw, said the extradition request, which came from prosecutors in Los Angeles, will be passed on to the prosecutors' office in Krakow.
"Prosecutors will want to summon Polanski for questioning," Martyniuk said.
In October last year, prosecutors in Krakow interviewed Polanski in connection with a U.S. warrant over the 1977 conviction. They said there were no grounds to arrest him, and they would await a U.S. extradition request before deciding on any further steps.
"In our view no new circumstances have arisen which could lead to a change in the decision by the prosecutor's office in October," one of Polanski's Polish lawyers, Jerzy Stachowicz, told Reuters by telephone on Wednesday.
The filmmaker pleaded guilty in 1977 to having unlawful sex with 13-year-old Samantha Geimer during a photoshoot in Los Angeles, fuelled by champagne and drugs.
Polanski served 42 days in jail as part of a 90-day plea bargain. He fled the United States the following year, believing the judge hearing his case could overrule the deal and put him in jail for years.
In 2009, Polanski was arrested in the Swiss city of Zurich on the U.S. warrant and placed under house arrest. He was freed in 2010 after Swiss authorities decided not to extradite him to the United States.
His lawyers have been seeking assurances from the Polish authorities that he can travel freely back and forth to Krakow to work on the film project, about the 19th century Dreyfus affair, without risking another arrest.
France approves extradition of S. Korea ferry owner's daughter
France 24 [7/1/15]:
A Paris court on Wednesday authorised the extradition of the daughter of a South Korean tycoon blamed for a ferry disaster that killed more than 300 people.
Lawyers for Yoo Som-Na said they would appeal the ruling. Yoo ,47, is wanted in South Korea on suspicion that she embezzled millions of dollars from subsidiaries owned by the family company Chonghaejin Marine Co.
South Korean authorities believe that the alleged embezzlement contributed to safety defects that led to the April ferry disaster which claimed more than 300 lives, most of them schoolchildren.
If extradited and convicted in South Korea, Yoo faces up to 45 years behind bars.
Several Chonghaejin officials have already been arrested over the disaster.
Yoo's father Yoo Byung-Eun had been the target of a nationwide manhunt after he refused to respond to an official summons following the ferry disaster.
He was finally found dead in a plum orchard on June 12, although a post-mortem autopsy failed to determine the cause of death.
He did not have any direct stakes in Chonghaejin, but his children and close aides control it through a complex web of holding companies.
She said that the two groups were about to calm down and separate when a passing undercover police officer intervened and called for back up.
She said the presence of the police further incited the two groups and the situation worsened.
Sydney Morning Herald [8/1/15]:
One police officer was injured during a wild brawl in Cronulla on Wednesday night sparked over a smart-alec call between two groups of teenagers.
About 20 people, mostly teenagers, started fighting in the Cronulla Plaza at around 8.30pm.
It's believed about half of the teenagers were from the Liverpool area but police stressed the brawl was not race related.
Officers from the dog squad, transport command and two local area commands were forced to use [used] capsicum spray to break up the group.
A female detective was allegedly hit in the head by a 14-year-old girl. The officer was taken to St George Hospital for treatment of a facial injury and bruising to her head, a police spokesman said.
Some of the teenagers ran towards Cronulla train station where the brawl continued.
A 13 year-old girl, Angel, who was with one of the groups, told Fairfax Media that the fight started when a group of older boys made a call at her group of friends, inciting them to fight.
She said they were passing through the mall on their way to the station.
"They were just being smart to one of the boys, they were just saying stuff that got the boys angry," she said.
She said that the two groups were about to calm down and separate when a passing undercover police officer intervened and called for back up.
She said the presence of the police further incited the two groups and the situation worsened. She admitted that most of the people involved had been drinking.
She said her group had come from Liverpool to Cronulla to spend Wednesday at the beach. At one point during the day, they were suspected of stealing from a local store and police searched their bags on the beach.
Six teenagers, all from the Liverpool area, were arrested after the brawl.
A 14-year-old girl was charged with numerous offences including assault police resulting in actual bodily harm, offensive language, resist arrest, and hinder officer in the execution of duty.
A 19-year-old man, a 14-year-old boy and a 16-year-old boy were also charged with various assault and hinder arrest offences.
All four were granted conditional bail to appear before a court in late January or early February.
Two other people - a 15-year-old girl and a 15-year-old boy - were released on Thursday morning, pending further inquiries.
Channel Nine journalist Chris O'Keefe tweeted that the 14 year-old boy threatened journalists when he was filmed leaving the police station.
Police said an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident is underway.
A police officer involved in a violent brawl in Cronulla last night has been accused of excessive violence by a family whose two teenage sons were also there. ... [Nine MSN - 8/1/15]
Mackay: Ex-mill group worker faces fraud charges
Daily Mercury [8/1/15]:
A crowd of supporters gathered around Thomas Eugene Rosier as he left the Mackay Courthouse.
The 53-year-old is charged with fraudulently obtaining $292,671.68 from Mackay Sugar while he was employed by the company.
It is alleged the offending occurred between March 2012 and May 2013.
Rosier, who is no longer an employee of Mackay Sugar, faced the Mackay Magistrates Court for the first time yesterday.
He was arrested and charged with eight offences on November 25 last year after the matter had been brought to the attention of police in June.
Magistrate Ross Risson read aloud the charges, four of which involved dishonestly obtaining money from Farleigh Mill in the amounts on $43,921.68, $52,250, $125,000 and $71,500.
Rosier is also charged with four counts of generating false records regarding the fraud, the court was told.
Defence solicitor Geoff Govey, of Taylors Solicitors, who is representing Rosier, requested a full brief of evidence in relation to the matter.
It was adjourned to late March for a committal mention.
Mackay Sugar Ltd chief executive officer Quinton Hildebrand said, "I confirm that a previous Mackay Sugar employee has been charged for committing fraud while employed with the company.
"We are pleased that this matter is now coming before the court.
"Mackay Sugar has insurance policies in place, which covers fraud of this nature."
Rockhampton: Woman injured in car park accident at City Centre Plaza
Morning Bulletin [7/1/15]:
A driver has reversed into another vehicle with reports of a passenger being flung out of one of the vehicles involved in the crash in a carpark today.
The accident, which occurred about 15 minutes ago, was in the City Centre Plaza carpark in Bolsolver St.
The reversing car hit the second car hard enough it pushed it over a concrete barrier.
A woman has abrasions to her arm and bumped her head on concrete.
Reports car rolled over woman's leg at Glenlee residence [Morning Bulletin - 7/1/15]
Jakarta police hand over ‘Post’ cartoon case to Press Council
Jakarta Post [8/1/15]:
The Jakarta Police have handed over a blasphemy case implicating The Jakarta Post editor-in-chief Meidyatama Suryodiningrat to the Press Council.
Jakarta Police chief detective Sr. Comr. Heru Pranoto said on Wednesday that the investigators had canceled a session to question Meidyatama previously scheduled for that day.
Furthermore, he said the police would wait for the council’s recommendation before proceeding with the case.
“The questioning related to the [blasphemy] case has been canceled. It is now in the hands of the Press Council,” Heru told the Post.
The case started when the Jakarta Preachers Corps (KMJ) filed a report with the National Police in July, accusing the Post and its editor-in-chief of blasphemy for publishing an internationally syndicated cartoon in its July 3 edition, criticizing violence conducted by the Islamic State (IS) organization, otherwise known as ISIL or ISIS.
The newspaper retracted the cartoon, which contained symbolism that might have been viewed as offensive, and issued a public apology.
“The Post regrets the error in judgement, which was in no way meant to malign or be disrespectful of any religion. Our intent was to criticize the use of symbols, specifically the ISIL flag, in acts of violence in general and in this case, against fellow Muslims,” the newspaper stated in its apology and retraction in its July 8 edition.
Heru said that the Jakarta Police would wait for the council to decide if the cartoon was categorized as an ethics violation or a criminal action. However, he refused to comment when asked whether or not the Jakarta Police would drop the case if the council declared the cartoon was not a criminal matter.
“Let’s just wait for the council’s decision,” he said.Press Council member Yosep Stanley Adi Prasetyo acknowledged that he had met with the three Jakarta police investigators who handled the case at the Press Council building in Central Jakarta.
“The three investigators came to the Press Council office to hand over the case to the Press Council, as per the National Police chief’s letter, which said that this case was an ethics [violation] case, thus, it should be handled using the relevant mechanism,” he told the Post.
Yosep also hinted that the legal case would likely be terminated.
“During the meeting we also discussed the process [to issue] an SP3 [instruction to stop an investigation],” he said.
Yosep lauded the police’s move to return the case to the remit of the Press Council, saying it was in line with a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed by the Press Council and the National Police.
“I appreciate it and this is a positive move. We have agreed that disputes implicating the press corps should be returned to the Press Council,” he said.
Previously, the Press Council analyzed the situation surrounding the publication of the cartoon in July and deemed it insensitive but not a criminal matter. “We issued a recommendation and the Post fulfilled it. Case closed,” he said.
Indonesia and the United States have stepped up their defense cooperation with the signing of an agreement under which the former will get more support and assistance from the US in planning and managing defense strategy.
On Wednesday, the Defense Ministry and the US-based Defense Institution Reform Initiative (DIRI) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) allowing the latter to help formulate strategies with the aim of enhancing the performance of the Indonesian Military (TNI) from 2015 to 2019. ... [Jakarta Post - 8/1/15]
Armed robbery, Rockhampton
QPS Media [8/1/15]:
Police are investigating an armed robbery that occurred in Rockhampton earlier this afternoon.
At around 3.30pm, a man entered a bank within a shopping centre on Yammba Road. He approached a teller and demanded cash. He stated that he was armed with a firearm, and made threats.
The man left the scene with a sum of cash.
Police attended and established a crime scene.
The man is described as possibly being of indigenous appearance, around 175cm tall with a slim build, and aged in his mid-twenties.
Investigations are continuing.
Anyone with information which could assist with this matter should contact Crime Stoppers anonymously via 1800 333 000 or crimestoppers.com.au 24hrs a day.
LNP Gold Coast MP apologises over unpaid fines, driving bans
Queensland Government MP Verity Barton has apologised for failing to pay motoring fines that resulted in her being banned from driving twice in two years.
Ms Barton represents the Gold Coast seat of Broadwater for the LNP.
She was the LNP's third candidate for the Gold Coast seat of Broadwater in the 2012 election.
The first candidate was caught drink-driving and the second was disendorsed by the LNP after visiting a swingers' club.
Ms Barton won the seat from Labor that year.
She has now revealed her driver's licence was suspended twice - once in 2012 and again in 2013.
Ms Barton had not paid road tolls or paid the subsequent fines and her licence was suspended on both occasions.
She had since paid they money owing and has her licence back.
Ms Barton said it was an "oversight".
"I acknowledge these suspensions occurred because of my own mistakes and my actions are not what is expected of a community leader and I sincerely apologise for that," Ms Barton said in a statement.
Brisbane Times [5/8/14]:
Queenslanders who owe the state more than $5000 in unpaid debts could be ordered to do community service.
Treasurer Tim Nicholls says the State Penalties Enforcement Registry is on a new push aimed at people with the highest debts, and the largest number of debts.
He says the registry can currently seize and sell property and vehicles to recoup debts, but it's looking at a range of other options.
They include suspending debtors' vehicle registrations and slapping them with community service orders.
"These reforms, we believe, will reduce the outstanding debt and will also send a clear message to the community that enough is enough when it comes to debtors who have the financial capacity to pay their fines but choose not to do so," Mr Nicholls told parliament.
The treasurer said there were currently 1700 debtors who had a single debt of more than $5000, and 25,000 debtors who had 20 or more debts amounting to more than $5000.
Unemployed man risked a drive to 'earn needed bucks' [Queensland Times - 5/8/14]
85-year-old can't visit family in USA due to housing rules [Morning Bulletin - 5/8/14]
JESSICA van VONDEREN: Imagine living in a country where you could be picked up off the street and sent to jail without going through a courtroom. Well you do. Early this year police in Brisbane took a young mother into custody at her local shopping centre and locked her up for seven months. Her so called crimes were unpaid fines, mostly for traffic offences, some dating back ten years. Accumulated during a time when she was homeless. She was released from jail only after the prisoners legal service took up her case. Now the legal fraternity in Queensland is calling for a permanent change to the system to make sure no one goes to jail without the approval of a judge or a magistrate. Karen Berkman explains.
KAREN BERKMAN: Susan gave birth to baby Fabian while she was in the Brisbane Women's Prison.
SUSAN BEBBINGTON: Because I had a really bad birth with Fabian in there and you never get over that. I was handcuffed during my ultrasound handcuffed during, when I was in labour. It was horrible. It was the most hardest birth I've had. And then being there on my own.
KAREN BERKMAN: Corrective Services denies that she was handcuffed, but Sisters Inside, who lobby for the rights of women in prison, say it's a battle they've been having for years.
DEBBIE KILROY: We have a pregnant woman who then gives birth in handcuffs. Now Corrective Services have been very clear to us that that policy exists no longer. But it obviously does exist.
KAREN BERKMAN: Paying rent, and with only limited education, she just scrapes by from week to week while the State has spent a fortune locking her up.
MATILDA ALEXANDER [Prisoners Legal Service]: Well taxpayers have in fact spent $61,600 incarcerating this woman. It hasn't solved her problems in relation to employment, it hasn't given her stable accommodation, it hasn't drawn her or her family out of poverty, in fact, it's made all those situations a lot worse.
Campbell Newman is a serial spammer
Dr Alex Douglas MP Media Release [7/1/15]:
Queenslanders can expect to be bombarded with unsolicited emails from a rattled Premier clinging to power during the next 26 days, Member for Gaven Dr Alex Douglas MP said this afternoon.
“I’ve already had calls from three local residents who are not members of the LNP but have been receiving unsolicited emails during the past fortnight from a desperate Premier asking them for money or to volunteer during the campaign.
“Campbell Newman will do anything to confront voters to enlist his re-election prospects, even though these emails are nothing short of spam and would normally end up in a spam filter.
“It seems the emails will continue because today’s is marked Day 1 with an implication that the LNP or Campbell Newman will bombard unsuspecting people daily until the election on January 31.
“Remembering January is Queenslanders’ holiday time, the Premier is selfishly intruding on people’s only time off work with their families.
“The Premier will do anything to confront voters and spamming them is a good indication of the base levels that he will go to to secure votes.
“Election day can’t come soon enough to curb the Premier’s emails and I suggest that people unsubscribe him now and on election day.”
No Bill of Rights.
No general, constitutional right to free speech (unless you're a Murdoch propagandist).
Wake Up Australia.
Vaccination: more free speech, not less [Civil Liberties Australia - 8/1/15]:
Free speech means being able to comment publicly about many issues, including health.
We support the national immunisation program, but acknowledge the right of opponents to speak out.
Civil Liberties Australia does not believe that the government has a right to prohibit the speech of individual anti-vaxers, nor to compel an individual presenting at a conference to voice an “official” government opinion.
The government and individuals should counter misleading advice by using their own speech to promote facts, not by silencing the voices of others.
Already, the protest against an anti-vax campaigner has managed to air her views more widely than if nothing had been said against her, and she had been – quietly – permitted to go ahead with her addresses to mere handfuls of the already converted anti-vax community who are likely to comprise the majority of her audience.
Many people would never have heard of the US anti-vax speaker if she had not been publicised by people trying to curtail her right to free speech. It is an irony that their efforts to suppress her views are only giving them more widespread currency.
See CLA’s statement on immunisation …
Angelina Jolie is a Hollywood actress.
Angelina Jolie’s faulty gene: newspaper coverage of a celebrity’s preventive bilateral mastectomy in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom - Kalina Kamenova, PhD, Amir Reshef, MBA and Timothy Caulﬁeld, LLM, FRSC [Academia – July 2014]:
This study investigates the portrayal of Angelina Jolie’s preventive bilateral mastectomy in the news media. Content analysis of print news was conducted to identify major frames used in press coverage, the overall tone of discussions, how journalists report broader questions about testing and hereditary breast/ovarian cancer, and whether they raise concerns about the impact of celebrities on patients’ choices and public opinion.
The Factiva database was used to collect publications on Jolie’s preventive mastectomy in elite newspapers in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom. The data set consisted of 103 newspaper articles published in the ﬁrst month of media coverage.
The results show that although the press discussed key issues surrounding predictive genetic testing and preventive options for women at high risk of hereditary breast/ovarian cancer, important medical information about the rarity of Jolie’s condition was not communicated to the public.
The results highlight the media’s overwhelmingly positive slant toward Jolie’s mastectomy, while overlooking the relative rarity of her situation, the challenges of “celebrity medicine,” and how celebrities inﬂuence people’s medical decisions. Future research is required to investigate whether the media hype has inﬂuenced demand and use of testing and preventive mastectomies.
The Biological State: Nazi Racial Hygiene, 1933–1939 [United States Holocaust Memorial Museum]:
Nazism was “applied biology,” stated Hitler deputy Rudolf Hess. During the Third Reich, a politically extreme, antisemitic variation of eugenics determined the course of state policy.
Hitler’s regime touted the “Nordic race” as its eugenic ideal and attempted to mold Germany into a cohesive national community that excluded anyone deemed hereditarily “less valuable” or “racially foreign.”
Public health measures to control reproduction and marriage aimed at strengthening the “national body” by eliminating biologically threatening genes from the population.
Many German physicians and scientists who had supported racial hygiene ideas before 1933 embraced the new regime’s emphasis on biology and heredity, the new career opportunities, and the additional funding for research.
Hitler’s dictatorship, backed by sweeping police powers, silenced critics of Nazi eugenics and supporters of individual rights. After all educational and cultural institutions and the media came under Nazi control, racial eugenics permeated German society and institutions. Jews, considered “alien,” were purged from universities, scientific research institutes, hospitals, and public health care. Persons in high positions who were viewed as politically “unreliable” met a similar fate.
Doctor says CSG harms kids, pregnant women
Brisbane GP Geralyn McCarron is urging families with young children or pregnant women not to buy lifestyle blocks near Surat Basin coal seam gas fields.
Dr McCarron first became involved with coal seam gas research in June, 2012, gathering local anecdotes about headaches, nose-bleeds, gastric issues, pins and needles, rashes and fits.
She published a report based on her experience with 113 people, 58% of whom "felt their health was affected by CSG".
Queensland Health released its own study in 2013 which Dr McCarron said took information from just 56 people, 13 visited in person.
"That's the basis of the Queensland Health report, which has been used to justify the stance that there isn't an issue."
Dr McCarron said her interest in the region was driven by the "immense escalation" of particulate pollution in the area.
"In terms of how much they can vent or flare, there's practically no limitations," she said.
"I think it is not a healthy environment for children to live in - certainly not for pregnant women."
When do the Rolls Close for the Queensland Election?
Quickly, deploy the whole force. So much disturbing the peace #qldvotes
Image: @lhilakari [8/1/15]
Antony Green [ABC – 8/1/15]:
There is a lot of inaccurate information floating around twitter and the internet at the moment suggesting that the Newman government has disenfranchised parts of the electorate by calling an early election.
The claim is that by closing the rolls at 6pm on Saturday 10 January, four days after announcing the election, the government has disenfranchised young voters.
This is wrong for two reasons.
First, the four day roll close period is in line with all Queensland elections since the current Electoral Act was put in place in 1992. The Newman has used the normal provisions of electoral law introduced by the Goss government.
Second, since 2012, voters have been permitted to enrol to vote up until 6pm on the day before polling day. The printed rolls may close on 10 January, but new voters have until 30 January to enrol. These late enrolments will not be on the printed roll, but voters claiming a late enrolment will be permitted to cast a declaration vote on polling day.
Police don't shoot man at Parliament House, Canberra
Canberra Times [8/1/15]:
A man apparently carrying a knife has been detained outside Parliament House in Canberra after being tasered by police.
Australian Financial Review staff member Elouise Fowler tweeted three pictures of the incident around lunchtime Thursday.
Australian Federal Police officers quickly swarmed the area.
In a statement, ACT Policing said there were "no national security concerns" related to the incident.
"Around 12:30pm, ACT Policing and AFP Protection Services Officers attended to a man who was observed to be armed with a knife," the statement said.
"Attending officers began a de-escalation negotiation process with the man. During the de-escalation negotiation process, the man was tasered as he failed to relinquish the knife. The man has been taken into custody."
Security in and around Parliament House was beefed up in October following an attack in Canada's parliamentary precinct.
In September, Speaker Bronwyn Bishop and the President of the Senate Stephen Parry ordered security be increased in the ministerial wing of the building, restricting who can enter the area.
The ministerial wing is home to the offices of Prime Minsiter Tony Abbott and members of his ministry.
Australian Federal Police officers replaced unarmed public servants who provided internal security in September after Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Parliament House had been identified as a potential terror target through "chatter" intercepted by security agencies.
Cartoonists & writers everywhere. Keep your wits sharp & your pencils sharper.
Image: @Kraabette [7/1/15]
Much of tonight's attention regarding the Charlie Hebdo attack has been on a pair of brothers currently sought by French authorities. But a third suspect, Mourad Hamyd, has garnered support from students in northeast France who proclaim his innocence.
Kurdish protester killed in clashes with Turkish police
Al Akhbar [7/1/15]:
A 14-year-old boy was shot dead during clashes between police and Kurdish protesters in southeastern Turkey on Tuesday evening, and another man was wounded, security sources said.
It was the latest in a series of deaths highlighting the fragility of a two-year-old peace process between the government and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a group that has waged a three-decade insurgency in pursuit of greater autonomy for Turkey's Kurds.
The protests took place in Cizre, a mainly Kurdish town near Turkey's borders with Iraq and Syria, where supporters of
Kurdish Islamist party Huda-Par and youth groups linked to the PKK have clashed in recent weeks.
There was no indication that Huda-Par was involved in Tuesday's clashes.
The dead youth suffered a gunshot wound in the chest and was taken to hospital where he died, the security sources said.
The Dogan news agency cited friends and colleagues as saying he was shot by police while returning home from work.
A 28-year-old man was also shot in the back and is undergoing treatment, the security sources said.
Man badly injured at workshop, Moranbah
Daily Mercury [8/1/15]:
A man is recovering in Townsville Hospital after being badly injured at a Moranbah tyre and mechanical workshop.
The 42-year-old was working at Moranbah Discount Tyres and Mechanical, in Bacon St, when he was injured.
He was flown to Townsville by the RACQ-CQ Rescue helicopter soon afterwards.
A Townsville Hospital spokeswoman said yesterday the man was in a stable condition.
Details of the industrial accident have not been released, however, Workplace Health and Safety Queensland officers and Moranbah police are conducting a joint investigation.
A Workplace Health and Safety Queensland spokeswoman said investigations into the December 22 accident were ongoing.
Officers from WHSQ arrived at the scene of the accident the following day and would continue to work with two Moranbah police officers on the investigation, she said.
It's believed the man's workmates administered first-aid until the rescue helicopter arrived in Moranbah at 3.30pm.
The helicopter took the man to Townsville Hospital by 7.30pm.
Moranbah Discount Tyres and Mechanical declined the Daily Mercury's request for comment yesterday as the matter was under investigation.
Man killed in forklift accident, Rochedale
A man has been killed in a freak forklift accident just north of the Gold Coast.
Early reports suggest the man, said to be aged in his 60s, was pinned between a forklift and a post at Rochedale.
Rescue crews were called to the Rochedale Rd property about 3.50pm Wednesday, but the man died at the scene.
Man crushed by vehicle in Sarina has died [Daily Mercury – 7/1/15]
John Bjelke-Petersen calls for Zonal Taxation in Regional Queensland
Palmer United Party Media Release [8/1/15]:
Palmer United Party Queensland leader and candidate for Callide, John Bjelke-Petersen, has called for the reintroduction of zonal taxation in regional Queensland to stimulate economic growth in rural areas.
Mr Bjelke-Petersen said Queenslanders living in regional and rural Queensland are suffering and are worse off under the LNP government than they were prior to the 2012 election.
“The Newman Government’s rampant privatisation of essential services can only lead to inferior quality of services and higher costs to the community, particularly in regional and rural areas,” Mr Bjelke-Petersen said.
“Queensland is a decentralised state and the government is not taking this into consideration.
“Many rural communities are losing out on the most basic, essential services and are being abandoned by a government that is more focussed on selling and leasing the state’s major assets than looking after Queenslanders.
“Zonal taxation would provide an incentive to regional industries including farmers who form the back bone of Australia’s economy – it also has the potential to attract high-quality doctors and teachers to the region.
“By providing tax breaks in areas that are disadvantaged or hurting, zonal taxation would stimulate population and economic growth in zonal areas, allowing these regions to decentralise and properly develop.”
Mr Bjelke-Petersen said the Palmer United Party is committed to regional Queensland and this commitment was evident in the party’s introduction of an Australia Fund in the federal Upper House.
“Regional Queensland needs proper representation and the Palmer United Party is committed to delivering a policy and a team that gives them the representation that they deserve.”
Newman Government Sets Unemployment Record: John Bjelke-Petersen [Media Release – 8/1/15]
If these people have committed crimes charge them.
If not, leave them alone and stop engaging in class warfare.
QPS Media [7/1/15]:
In response to calls from residents to prevent anti-social behaviour and late-night gatherings in the parks around Pacific Pines, Police together with the Gold Coast City Council have introduced a schedule for the car parks at Wajin Park (Community Hub), Flooded Gum Park and Brockman Way Park to be locked.
The current locking schedule is:
•Wajin Park: Locked at 6:00 pm – Unlocked at 6:00 am;
•Flooded Gum Park: Locked at 8:00 pm – Unlocked at 6:00 am;
•Brockman Park: Locked at 9:00pm – Unlocked at 6:00am.
Any queries about the locking schedule should be directed to the Gold Coast City Council Parks & Recreation Department.
Armed robbery, Palm Beach
QPS Media [8/1/15]:
Police are investigating following the armed robbery of a service station in Palm Beach early this morning.
Around 2.50am, a man armed with a tyre iron entered the store on Gold Coast Highway and made demands for cash and cigarettes.
The attendant complied, handing the man a quantity of cash and cigarettes.
The man fled the scene, heading south on the Gold Coast Highway in a black Honda sedan, unknown registration.
No one was physically injured in the robbery.
Investigations are continuing.
Anyone with information which could assist with this matter should contact Crime Stoppers anonymously via 1800 333 000 or crimestoppers.com.au 24hrs a day.
Suspicious fire, Redbank Plains
QPS Media [7/1/15]:
Police are investigating a suspicious fire which damaged a unit in Redbank Plains this evening.
Around 6.20pm police and emergency services were called to a unit complex on Henty Drive following reports of a unit on fire.
Fire services extinguished the fire which caused damage one unit at the complex.
The unit was unoccupied at the time and no one was injured.
A crime scene has been established with investigations into the cause of the fire continuing.
Anyone with information which could assist with this matter should contact Crime Stoppers anonymously via 1800 333 000 or crimestoppers.com.au 24hrs a day.
Police don't shoot man during Tamworth siege
A man threatened an elderly resident then barricaded himself inside a Tamworth home for more than four hours on Wednesday.
After more than four hours, police have removed a man from a home in Tamworth in the State's North West.
The man barricaded himself inside a South Tamworth home following a police chase through the city just before 1pm yesterday.
Inspector Jeff Budd from Oxley LAC says the pursuit started approximately 20km South of Tamworth and ended when the man's utility broke down near Robert Street.
The man then fled the vehicle and ran into the Susanne Street premises.
"He broke into a home, threatened the elderly resident as police surrounded the premises," says Inspector Budd.
"Fortunately police were able to remove the lady and the male offender then barricaded himself inside the premises."
Police set up a perimeter around the home with specialist police from Sydney and negotiators and a dog squad.
Inspector Budd says the Tactical Response officers smashed a window in the house in an attempt to speak to the man and resolve the situation peacefully.
"He suffered some injuries as a result of broken glass," he says.
"We were forced to take some action to get him out."
It's alleged the man was involved in an earlier pursuit in the Hunter Valley before he came to the attention of the local police.
The man from Tamworth has been taken into custody and faces 16 charges relating to the siege, two police chases and other matters.
These Streets Are Watching 
These Streets are Watching takes a fresh look at police accountability through the eyes of three communities; Denver, Cincinnati and Berkeley.
Independent filmmaker, Jacob Crawford, weaves three cities responses to police brutality into a single tale of community empowerment and direct action.
Within an amazing collection of footage that portrays police conduct and misconduct, the film conveys basic legal concepts that can provide practical help to groups and individuals seeking a clearer understanding of their rights when dealing with police.
The film is divided into sections that explain our basic rights, tactics for documenting police activity and ideas for further action and organising.
Press Freedom Brisbane Style: Critic of Queensland Premier arrested in Fortitude Valley
At least 10 police, 1 paddy wagon, 2 vehicles arrest this man citing 'public nuisance'. Waving at cars. #qldvotes15
Image: @judi_jabour - Campaign Manager for Grace Grace, ALP candidate for Central [8/1/15]
Brisbane Times [8/1/15]:
... A Brisbane man allegedly responsible for a parody Twitter account of the Premier has reportedly been arrested for public nuisance.
Twitter is abuzz with reports that @Can_Do_Campbell, a popular local tweeter and vocal critic of Campbell Newman, was picked up by police in Fortitude Valley on Thursday.
A photo doing the social media rounds appears to show the man wearing a baseball cap and an "I'm With Stupid" t-shirt.
While the Premier turns it on for the airwaves, his deputy Jeff Seeney is offering his services carrying equipment for the Sky News journalist.
... Once there was a way, to get back homeward,
Once there was a way, to get back home
Sleep pretty darling do not cry,
and I will sing a lullaby ...
'Golden Slumbers - Carry That Weight - The End', The Beatles 
Obama: Magazine Attack Shows Terrorists 'Fear Freedom of Speech'
President Barack Obama on Wednesday called the assault on the office of a French magazine in Paris a "cowardly and evil attack" that underscores terrorists' "fear" of free speech.
Speaking to reporters before a meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry, Obama said that the attack on satirical news magazine Charlie Hebdo "underscores that these terrorists fear freedom of speech and freedom of the press." ...
Should US torture photos be released? [Huffington Post – 6/1/15]:
The U.S. government has withheld thousands of photos depicting its torture and detention practices from the post-9/11 era. Officials argue revealing them poses a risk to national security, but is that true? Doesn't the public have a right to know?
From Drone Strikes to Black Sites, How US Foreign Policy Runs Under a Cloak of Secrecy
Democracy Now [5/1/15]:
At least nine Pakistanis were killed Sunday in a U.S. drone strike in North Waziristan, the first reported drone strike of 2015. News accounts of the strike are based on unnamed Pakistani government and security officials.
The Obama administration has said nothing so far. For years, the United States did not even publicly acknowledge the existence of the drone strikes.
The drone program is just one example of the national security state’s reliance on secret operations. The recent Senate Intelligence Committee report revealed another example: the shadowy network of overseas CIA black sites where the United States held and tortured prisoners.
The report also noted the CIA shrouded itself in a cloak of secrecy keeping policymakers largely in the dark about the brutality of its detainee interrogations.
The agency reportedly deceived the White House, the National Security Council, the Justice Department and Congress about the efficacy of its controversial interrogation techniques.
We are joined by a guest who has closely followed the debate over national security and secrecy: Scott Horton, a human rights attorney and contributing editor at Harper’s Magazine, whose new book is "Lords of Secrecy: The National Security Elite and America’s Stealth Foreign Policy."
AMY GOODMAN: Scott, you have been looking at these issues in deep detail for years. What surprised you in the torture report?
SCOTT HORTON: I wouldn’t say anything particularly surprised me. In fact, it was confirmation of what we’d seen before, in fact confirmation that actually the situation was worse than we had ever suspected before, consistently. But if anything surprised me a bit, it was the role of the media, because one thing the Senate committee did an excellent job of was research the way the CIA had interacted with and manipulated the media, including some very prominent journalists. Doug Jehl, for instance, a well-known national security writer from The New York Times, now editor at The Washington Post, comes up repeatedly in the report, as do many others. And what we saw was a repeated pattern in which the CIA fed them false information in the form of leaks. I think this is a huge problem with national security reporting in the United States, generally, this idea of pseudo-leaks that are put out by the CIA. While the CIA is telling the courts, "Don’t release the actual files, for national security reasons," it puts out adulterated or falsified versions to ostensibly credible reporters.
AMY GOODMAN: What needs to be done?
SCOTT HORTON: I think what needs to be done is a lot more information needs to be in the public sector. So, right now, we’re just drowning in this sea of secrets. There’s a need for much more information in real time to be available, so that people can be well informed and can have a good, meaningful, consequential discussion of these many issues.
'I Am Charlie': Mass Rallies for French Massacre Victims
… At least 35,000 held vigils in Paris, and some 20,000 people turned out in the French cities of Lyon and Toulouse, police said. Thousands more took to the streets in cities including Bordeaux and Marseille.
There were also rallies in European cities such as Berlin, London and Lausanne.
Many demonstrators wore black stickers with the words "Je suis Charlie" (I am Charlie), a slogan aimed at showing solidarity with the victims of the deadliest attack in France in decades and in support of the paper's decision to print controversial prophet Mohammed cartoons.
Others waved banners with slogans such as "Press freedom has no price" and "Charb mort libre" (Charb died free), a reference to the newspaper's slain editor-in-chief Stephane Charbonnier.
Charbonnier was one of four cartoonists killed in the attack that also left 11 people injured.
The Boxing Day Massacre.
Interventions Watch [7/1/15]:
At least that’s what it would have been called had the victims been white Europeans rather than nameless, faceless Afghan civilians.
Allow Agence France-Presse to elaborate:
Afghan officials said that a Nato air strike on Friday killed five civilians and wounded six others, just days before the US-led military coalition ends combat operations in the country.
NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) did not immediately confirm the strike on Logar province, south of the capital Kabul, but always stresses that it tries to avoid civilian casualties.
“At around 3:30 am, US forces conducted an air strike in Aab Josh village of Baraki Barak district,” said the district governor Mohammad Amin.
“The air strike hit a residential house killing five and wounding six civilians,” he told AFP.
And now a couple of images to sum up the reaction of the corporate news media, commentariat, Twittersphere and blogosphere in the U.S. and U.K. ...
US-led air strikes have hit 3,222 Islamic State targets: Pentagon
U.S.-led air strikes against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria have damaged or destroyed 3,222 targets since August, including 58 tanks, 184 Humvees, 673 fighting positions and 980 buildings or barracks, the Pentagon said on Wednesday.
Army Colonel Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, said he wasn't sure how many targets had been damaged versus destroyed, "but I'm confident that the destruction level is high. Our strikes are extraordinarily accurate."
Release of the target damage list came a day after U.S. defense officials confirmed they are looking into reports of civilian casualties caused by the strikes in Iraq and Syria and are conducting a deeper investigation of two cases involving fewer than five deaths.
He said the Humvees were U.S. vehicles supplied to the Iraqi military and captured by militants as were some of the armored personnel vehicles. It was unclear whether any of the tanks were U.S.-made.
@IraqiSMCEn - Iraqi Spring Media Center [7/1/15]:
Baghdad: Agencies: 8 persons have been killed and wounded in roadside bomb explosion in Mahmoudiya south of Baghdad......
Baghdad: Agencies/security source :4 persons have been killed and 11 wounded in two roadside bomb explosions in Ur hay east of Baghdad........
UN report: 5.5 million displaced by war in first half of 2014, setting record
UN Media Release [7/1/15]:
War across large swathes of the Middle East and Africa in the first six months of 2014 forcibly displaced some 5.5 million people, signalling yet another record, the United Nations reported today.
The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) in its new Mid-Year Trends 2014 Report showcases that of the 5.5 million who were newly displaced, 1.4 million fled across international borders becoming refugees, while the rest were displaced within their own countries also known as IDPs or internally displaced persons.
That said, the new data brings the number of people being helped by UNHCR to 46.3 million as of mid-2014 – some 3.4 million more than at the end of 2013 and a new record high.
“In 2014, we have seen the number of people under our care grow to unprecedented levels. As long as the international community continues to fail to find political solutions to existing conflicts and to prevent new ones from starting, we will continue to have to deal with the dramatic humanitarian consequences,” António Guterres, head of UNHCR, said in a statement.
“The economic, social and human cost of caring for refugees and the internally displaced is being borne mostly by poor communities, those who are least able to afford it.”
Mr. Guterres explained that enhanced international solidarity is a must to avoid the risk of more and more vulnerable people being left without proper support.
At least four Syrian refugees have died as a result of the huge storm that is currently sweeping across Lebanon, as more than a million refugees try and survive against the onslaught of snow and rain.
A three-month-old baby girl died on Tuesday night after being stuck at the Masnaa border crossing for four days. ...
Thousands of refugees have been left stranded in the Bekaa Valley with very little food and heating oil, as aid agencies struggle to gain access to them following the closure of roads due to the heavy snowfall.
There are currently 1.1 million registered refugees in Lebanon who have fled the conflict in neighbouring Syria, with another reported 300,000 unregistered refugees. ... [Al Jazeera - 7/1/15]
#MareNostrum ended on Nov 1. The Italian rescue operation saved 150,000+ lives in the #Mediterranean last year.
Image: @UNHCRUK [5/1/15]
Al-Shabaab execute CIA spies in Somalia
Somalia’s Al-Shabaab have executed four people accused of spying for the United States, Ethiopia and the country’s internationally-backed government, officials and witnesses said.
The late Tuesday executions by a firing squad took place in the town of Bardhere, a Shabaab stronghold in Somalia’s southwestern region of Gedo, and came a week after the US said it had killed the Al-Qaeda-affiliated militants’ intelligence chief in an air strike.
“One of the spies worked with the CIA and facilitated the killing of an Al-Shabaab commander,” a Shabaab judge in the town said before the four were shot dead.
According to the judge, another had been aiding US operations in Barawe, a port town and former Shabaab stronghold captured last year by Somali and AU forces, while the other two worked for Ethiopian intelligence and Somalia’s security agency.
9 January 2015