Two people outside of 10 Downing Street in #London.
Image: @RudawEnglish [10/5/15]
@KremlinRussia_E [10/5/15]: Vladimir Putin has met with President of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe
Unidentified assailants break smart phone feature from selfie-taking Ottoman statue [Hurriyet Daily News - 10/5/15]
University of British Columbia student writes 52,438 word architecture dissertation with no punctuation [National Post - 8/5/15]
Twittamentary is a unique documentary about the everyday people who use Twitter.
The movie is also a social media experiment which fuses together a Documentary with real time Social Media interaction - where viewers can interact with the cast and production team, in real-time, while watching.
Director Tan Siok Siok set up a website to crowd source Twitter stories. She then set out on a whirlwind tour across the United States to discover and document the effects of the social media phenomenon, Twitter.
Siok interviewed a wide range of Twitter'ers, from a travel journalist turned 'Twilebrity', to a porn star who uses Twitter to stay in touch with her fans, to a homeless women who uses Twitter from a public library to try to find a home.
Japanese Defense Minister meets with Okinawa governor to discuss Futenma relocation plan
Japan Times [9/5/15]:
Defense Minister Gen Nakatani on Saturday met with Okinawa Gov. Takeshi Onaga over a controversial plan to relocate U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma within Okinawa Prefecture.
Their meeting, at the prefectural government offices in Naha, was the first since Onaga was elected governor last November with a pledge to block the plan to build a replacement facility in a coastal area of Nago for the Futenma base, which is located in the densely occupied city of Ginowan.
Nakatani and Onaga were expected to exchange views on the central government’s plan to deploy Ground Self-Defense Force units on the islands of Ishigaki and Miyako, also in Okinawa Prefecture.
At the meeting, Nakatani was likely to reiterate the government’s position that the planned relocation from Ginowan to Nago is needed to alleviate the risk of accidents posed by the existing base and at the same time maintain the deterrence effect of U.S. forces stationed in Okinawa.
Nakatani was expected to explain to Onaga that Tokyo and Washington reaffirmed the need to ease Okinawa’s base-hosting burdens at their “two-plus-two” security talks in New York last month between the two nations’ foreign and defense ministers.
Onaga voiced “strong resentment” after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Barack Obama confirmed the need for the Futenma relocation facility at their summit in Washington held the day after the two-plus-two meeting.
Following talks with Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga in Okinawa in early April and before Abe’s visit to the U.S., Onaga met with the prime minister in Tokyo, but the two sides have remained apart on the relocation issue.
Wife of Iraqi president inaugurates new refugee complex
Al Arabiya [10/5/15]:
The wife of the Iraqi president has inaugurated Saturday a new complex south of Baghdad aimed at welcoming internally displaced people, Al Arabiya’s Jawad al-Hatab reported.
“Iraq will not stand idly in regards to Iraqi refugees’ suffering and ordeal resulting from the continuous terrorist attacks on innocent residents who belong to all different components in several areas,” Ronak Mustafa , the wife of President Fouad Maassoum, said during the opening of Iraq Tent.
During the inauguration, Mustafa, who appeared in front of the media for the first time, stressed the importance of “supporting the refugees and helping them until they can go back to their homes.”
She said that the refugee issue, which she described as a “national issue” and a “humanitarian crisis,” concerns everyone.
The opening of the camp was attended by a number of politicians and social personalities.
The conflict in Iraq has forced more than 2 million people from their homes in 2014 according to the annual report by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC).
Dead, wounded in suicide bombing north of Baghdad [IraqiNews.com - 10/5/15]
Suicide attack in Kabul city leaves 3 dead, 18 others wounded [Khaama - 10/5/15]
French President François Hollande is set to inaugurate a museum and memorial site to honour the memory of slaves and their struggles in the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe on Sunday.
Hollande, who is on a tour of the Antillean islands that includes a scheduled trip to Cuba, will pay homage to slaves and their sacrifices at the memorial, which is the first of its kind by France to remember those who suffered during the slave trade.
"The way I see it, this monument will allow Guadeloupe, but also the entire Caribbean with a deep link to Africa as many African leaders will be here, to tell the whole world that the fight for human dignity is not over,” Hollande said on a trip to the French Caribbean island of Martinique on Saturday.
“We have to remember what happened, remember history of course, but also we must find hope, and we must fight on," he said, to explain the significance of Sunday’s inauguration. ... [France 24 - 10/5/15]
500 Myanmar Rohingya refugees wash ashore in Indonesia
Bangkok Post [10/5/15]:
Boats carrying about 500 members of Myanmar's long-persecuted Rohingya Muslim community washed to shore in western Indonesia on Sunday, with some of the people in need of medical attention, a migration official and a human rights advocate said.
The men, women and children arrived on two separate boats, one carrying around 430 people and the other 70, said Steve Hamilton, deputy chief of mission at the International Organization for Migration in Jakarta, Indonesia's capital.
Teams were racing to Mantang Puntong in Aceh province, where the boats landed, Hamilton said.
Rohingya Muslims have for decades suffered from state-sanctioned discrimination in Myanmar.
Attacks on the religious minority by Buddhist mobs in the last three years have sparked one of the biggest exoduses of boat people since the Vietnam War, sending 100,000 people fleeing, according to Chris Lewa, director of the Arakan Project, which has monitored the movements of Rohingya for more than a decade.
Lewa confirmed that nearly 500 Rohingya landed in Indonesia early Sunday.
Some were apparently weak due to lack of food and water, she said.
Though their first stop has in the past been Thailand, where the Rohingya waited in jungle camps while brokers collected hefty ``ransoms'' from family members before allowing them to continue their journeys onward, tactics have changed in recent months.
They are now being held on boats at sea, Lewa said, estimating that 7,000 to 8,000 Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants are currently parked in the Malacca Straits, unable to disembark because of crackdowns on trafficking networks in Thailand and Malaysia, their primary destination.
Tightly confined, and with limited access to food and clean water, Lewa said she worries that the migrants' health is steadily deteriorating. Dozens of deaths have been reported in the last few months.
Three years after Myanmar liberalised its economy, a second wave of companies from the Republic is flocking to the rapidly-developing South-east Asian country - setting up upmarket pre-school centres, swanky bars and eateries, as well as building posh condominiums.
Also targeting the more well-off is Modern Montessori International (MMI), which gauged that the high-quality early childhood education sector has untapped potential. In March, it opened a 5,000 sq ft preschool in Yangon’s affluent Bahan township. Plans are afoot to open more centres. ... [Channel News Asia - 9/5/15]
UN criticises Saudi bombings of civilians in Yemen
The United Nations representative in Yemen has said that the Saudi-led coalition is bombing "effectively, trapped civilians".
Civilians in the northern city of Saada are struggling to flee Saudi-led coalition air strikes targeting Houthi rebels, reports and aid workers say.
The UN also warned that the indiscriminate bombing of populated areas is against international law.
Air strikes have killed at least 1,400, more than half civilians, the UN says.
On Sunday morning air strikes in Sanaa targeted the home of former Yemeni President Al Abdullah Saleh, according the Yemeni news agency Khabar.
The report adds that the former president and his family are unharmed.
Mr Saleh is allied with the Houthi rebels and has been accused by the coalition of destabilising the country.
The UN's humanitarian coordinator for Yemen, Johannes Van Der Klauuw, said he was "deeply concerned" by the impact of the latest air strikes on northern Yemen.
"Many civilians are effectively trapped in Saada as they are unable to access transport because of the fuel shortage," he added.
The medical charity MSF, say that shortages mean many people can only flee on foot.
The Saudi-led coalition says it consider all of Saada a "military zone". On Friday it dropped leaflets warning residents to leave.
Mr Van Der Klauuw said that the decision to target the entire province "will put countless civilians at risk".
In a statement he added that many of Saada's residents were effectively trapped due to a lack of transport and that the leaflet warnings did not absolve the coalition of its responsibility not to target civilians.
Israeli forces injure 3 farmers, arrest 2 fishermen in northern Gaza
Israeli troops shot and injured three Palestinian farmers in Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip on Saturday afternoon and arrested two fishermen off Beit Lahiya's coast, locals told Ma'an.
The three injured men, from the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis, were first evacuated by ambulance to Shifa hospital in Gaza City and later transferred to the European Hospital in Khan Younis.
Medics said one of the three sustained serious wounds.
An Israeli army spokeswoman said she was aware of three Palestinian "suspects" approaching the border.
However, she said that Israeli forces had fired warning shots into the air, and that the army was not aware of any injuries.
Separately, Israeli navy forces arrested two Palestinian fishermen off the coast in Beit Lahiya.
A human rights group told Ma'an that Israeli gunboats fired warning gunshots at a fishing boat before arresting two fishermen on board.
The sources identified them as Khalid and Muhammad al-Sultan from Beit Lahiya.
The army spokeswoman confirmed the incident, saying that the boat had left the designated fishing zone.
She said that Israeli forces fired rubber-coated steel bullets into the air, then at the boat when it continued moving, and afterwards arrested the two men who remain under investigation.
Israeli forces, stationed in military watchtowers, have recently intensified shooting attacks against Palestinian farmers who have been busy harvesting wheat in farmlands near the border with Israel.
Saturday's shootings came one day after a 17-year-old Palestinian was critically injured when Israeli forces shot him in the head.
Israeli forces have repeatedly opened fire on Gazans since the ceasefire agreement signed Aug. 26, 2014 that ended a devastating 50-day war between Israel and Hamas.
The attacks come despite Israeli promises at the end of the ceasefire to ease restrictions on Palestinian access to both the sea and the border region near the "security buffer zone."
West Bank village challenges Israel's iron grip on planning [Maan - 10/5/15]
The Department of Trade Commerce and Industry will be helping the Government of Israel stage its first and inaugural Israel Trade and Investment Road Show in Papua New Guinea.
Minister Richard Maru has revealed this after returning from Israel last week.
He said the Government had been asked by the Israel Government to do likewise in Israel as a matter of priority.
Maru said in all bilateral meetings he had while in Israel, the Israeli Government, its Agriculture Minister and officials stressed that PNG is one of four nations they now call vector countries, meaning countries the Israeli Government has targeted with the highest priority to develop bilateral relationships with, especially in the area of trade and investment. ... [PNG Loop - 10/5/15]
Armed clashes on Macedonia-Kosovo border: five police killed [Telegraph – 9/5/15]
Report: Foreign spy agencies anxious over Germany's BND intelligence revelations
Deutsche Welle [10/5/15]:
Reports that Germany's foreign intelligence agency helped US agents to snoop on European targets could leave it isolated. Several foreign agencies are believed to have called cooperation with Berlin into question.
The concerns came in the wake of German media reports that the country's foreign espionage agency, the BND, had helped the US National Security Agency (NSA) to spy on targets such as Europe's Airbus Group, the French presidency and the European Commission.
The German Sunday newspaper "Welt am Sonntag" reported that several foreign intelligence representatives had expressed concern to their German counterparts.
The BND currently cooperates with 451 intelligence services in 167 countries.
CSU politician Hans-Peter Uhl told "Welt am Sonntag" that the BND's reputation had been damaged. He said foreign intelligence services would be "very sensitive to the fact that information declared secret could end up in the public domain in Germany."
Of particular interest is the extent to which the BND willingly cooperated as the NSA broadened its surveillance from potential terrorist threats to European officials and businesses - and what the Germany's federal government knew.
Germany's opposition has launched a fresh political attack on Angela Merkel's government, claiming that Merkel's cabinet had done nothing to stop its foreign intelligence service from spying for the United States.
US whistleblower Edward Snowden said in a comment published in the German media on Friday that mass surveillance was being used on a large scale - in part to aid industrial espionage.
"Massive surveillance is a reality. Industrial espionage is practiced, and the intelligence services are working beyond the control of the representatives of the people and of justice," Snowden told German weekly news magazine "Der Spiegel."
Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere denies he lied to parliament over the cooperation with the NSA.
To clear up the accusations, Germany's Social Democrats - the grand coalition partners of Merkel's Christian Democrats - have asked for a list of "selectors." These include IP addresses, search terms and names that the BND has been tracking on behalf of the NSA.
German media reported on Thursday that the BND has severely restricted cooperation with its US partner the NSA in the wake of the scandal. The German agency was reportedly only sharing phone and fax intercepts, and not internet data - unless a justification is provided. Justification is already required to share the telephone and fax data.
Torrent Freak [10/5/15]:
A new Hollywood commission report investigating the revenue sources of more than 600 supposedly infringing sites has controversially included file-hosting site Mega.
The listing marks the second time in a matter of months that the cloud-storage service has been accused of online piracy via an industry-connected report.
Yet again, the report's authors are refusing to comment.
Boy, 6, killed in rally crash
West Australian [10/5/15]:
A six-year-old boy is dead after a car ploughed into spectators at a rally in Western Australia yesterday.
There were also reports on Saturday that two other children were seriously injured in the crash, which occurred about 4.30pm (WST) at Donnelly River, about 280km south of Perth.
WA Police believe a man aged in his 40s was driving a Subaru WRX rally car south along Penny Road when it lost control on approach to a right hand bend and slid through temporary barriers and into the crowd before coming to rest in the bush on the side of the track.
The six-year-old boy was killed and two other children were hurt.
The injured children were flown to Perth and then taken to Princess Margaret Hospital.
This morning, an eight-year-old girl is in a serious but critical condition and the ten-year-old boy is in a serious but stable condition in Princess Margaret Hospital for Children.
Pedestrian hit and killed in Hobart
Nine MSN [10/5/15]:
A pedestrian has died after being struck by a truck in Hobart.
Police say the pedestrian was hit on Lampton Avenue in Derwent Park.
The age and gender of the person have not been released.
Armed robbery, Chermside
QPS Media [10/5/15]:
Police are investigating an armed robbery of a bottle store at Chermside last night.
Around 8.20pm a man armed with a knife entered a bottle store on Webster Road and demanded money.
The attendant complied and the man fled the store with an undisclosed sum of money.
The man is described as Aboriginal in appearance, approximately 180cm tall, average to solid build, wearing a light coloured balaclava, grey hooded jacket, black jeans, blue cap and white shoes.
No-one was physically injured during the incident.
Police are urging anyone with any information that could assist in this investigation to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
Teachers reject EBA offer and move towards strike action
Canberra Times [9/5/15]:
ACT public school teachers have rejected the government's recent industrial offer and taken the first step towards strike action.
With a failure to put forward requested cuts in classroom working hours remaining the key division, elected union representatives from across 86 schools passed a motion on Saturday requesting an application for a protected industrial action ballot be prepared.
Australian Education Union ACT secretary Glenn Fowler said the likelihood of impacts on schools from the "almost unanimous" motion was in the government's hands.
"We have not turned ourselves away from negotiations, we're still ready to talk in whatever capacity they want to," he said.
"We will concurrently be consulting members on the forms of industrial action that they will be prepared to take - they will consider a range of stoppages and work bans."
Mr Fowler said members' core priority was a 40-hour annual cut in face-to-face teaching time for all secondary school teachers and a 60-hour shift for those in primary schools to allow for ongoing communal professional development, a system now in place for first year teachers.
Promises by Education Minister Joy Burch and the directorate the proposed Enterprise Bargaining Agreement, released late last month, would deliver a minimum annual reduction of 20 hours – about 30 minutes per week – were not backed up by terms in the deal or necessary extra funds for those taking on administrative work, he said.
"They have put in wording to protect teachers from excessive work, but the 20 hours was an estimate from them - it's a bogus figure, it's literally a guess," he said.
Ms Burch did not address the specific reduction figure on Saturday, but said Mr Fowler's proposals would not solve any workload program.
"Unless the unnecessary admin work issue is addressed then any time saved will just be transferred from in-class to out-of-class work," she said.
"The EBA offer that was made sets out to reduce the unnecessary red tape teachers are being faced with."
The pay offer of a 12.6 per cent rise across four years has been broadly supported by the union, but Mr Fowler said it was for Ms Burch to ensure back pay to October 2014 was made part of the formal offer.
Ms Burch said she supported the move to include back pay if it helped a speedy resolution of negotiations, but - as it was removed as a default option by last year's offer rejection - Mr Fowler first needed to make a formal request for its inclusion.
Disputes during the last completed EBA negotiations in 2011 resulted in seven hours of industrial action by the teacher workforce, who walked off the job twice.
... Stephen and Amy Illidge enrolled their son Jacob at Marshall Road State School in Brisbane’s south last year because of its special needs program.
The nine-year-old, who has Doose Syndrome, saw a marked improvement in his learning.
But at the end of last year, Jacob’s parents say his teachers were told they would not have their contracts renewed.
They were forced to move Jacob into the mainstream of his school.
“I was very devastated. I couldn't believe it,” Amy told 7News.
"It's meant that Jacob's struggled." ... [Yahoo - 9/5/15]
NDIS neoliberal scam: Even the information forums have been outsourced [Sunshine Coast Daily - 8/5/15]
Teacher quits after online post [West Australian – 8/5/15]:
A teacher from Catholic girls’ school Santa Maria College has lost her job for allegedly misusing social media.
Catholic Education Office executive director Tim McDonald confirmed a teacher had lost their job because of a social media incident.
“Catholic Education was advised a teacher had resigned from one of our schools, after acknowledging use of social media that fell below the standards of a teacher in a Catholic school,” he said.
“The use did not relate to, nor involve children.
“Catholic school teachers work within a framework of rigorous employment policies and practices and hold positions of trust within the community that come with clear behavioural standards expected of them at all times.”
Principal Ian Elder did not return calls yesterday but an email he sent to parents of students at the college provided the same statement.
He also warned parents the school’s name was likely to appear in the press.
“Whilst unfortunate, I seek your understanding in entrusting myself and the leadership team to act in the best interests of the College and the individual concerned regarding this matter,” he wrote.
Mystery syndrome hits sugar cane industry
Daily Mercury [8/5/15]:
One of the biggest threats to cane growers is also one of the least understood.
Yellow Canopy Syndrome appeared at a farm south of Cairns in 2012 and has since spread to farms across north Queensland including Mackay.
Canegrowers state president Paul Schembri said about $5-6 million had been spent to discover the cause.
"We call it a syndrome because we are not sure if it is a disease," he said.
Mackay Area Productivity Services CEO John Agnew said it was widespread with about 50% showing some sign of the syndrome.
"This year has been the worse year for it so far," Mr Agnew said.
"You can find it everywhere. It's not in every paddock but it is everywhere."
Mr Agnew said if anyone asked Mackay farmers what was one of the biggest issues they were worried about they would say this syndrome.
"We don't know what it is and if you don't know what it is, then that's scary," he said.
One of the main problems with identifying a cause or a solution was because it appeared to have no pattern.
"There are no consistent patterns. And the extent of the outbreak fluctuated," he said.
"They believe that it's eliminated by some things. They don't think it is caused by insects, nutrition and they don't think that it is the disease."
"In severe cases you can end with 30-40% less yield. Most cases in Mackay are not severe, they are slight to moderate."
Italy's olives under siege [Science Mag - 8/5/15]:
In the far south of Italy, olive trees are falling victim to the devastating bacterium Xylella fastidiosa. In spite of control efforts, the disease is spreading north, ringing alarms across Europe.
In January, the European Food Safety Authority warned of yield losses and rising costs from control measures.
Italy declared its first national emergency for a plant disease.
Workers are clearing sick trees and host plants such as oleander.
This month, they will begin spraying insecticides to control the primary vector of the disease, the spittlebug Philaenus spumarius.
These insects are common across Europe and abundant in olive groves.
Genetic markers suggest the pathogen arrived in ornamental coffee plants and oleander exported from Costa Rica to Europe.
Last week, an E.U. advisory committee recommended that the European Commission ban imports of ornamental coffee plants from Costa Rica and Honduras.
WA inquiry shines spotlight on floating LNG safety fears
WA Today [8/5/15]:
Royal Dutch Shell and Woodside Petroleum have insisted that workers to be stationed on vast floating liquefied natural gas plants far off the Western Australian coast will be safe despite serious concerns having been raised in a parliamentary inquiry that they won't be evacuated even for severe tropical cyclones.
A WA parliamentary committee examining the safety of floating LNG highlighted fears that workers would be thrown around within their accommodation modules during cyclones and could experience psychological stress at being unable to leave the vessel.
An Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union official told the inquiry that he couldn't envisage having to remain on a vessel "a number of hundreds of kilometres away from anywhere that is remotely safe and secure" and having to put his faith in the hope that "they got it right" on the safety design.
Shell is developing Australia's first floating LNG plant, at the $US12 billion ($15 billion) Prelude project in the Browse Basin, which is due to begin production in 2016-17. The huge vessel used at the project will be permanently moored over the field, with up to 340 personnel to stay in cyclone-proof accommodation during extreme storms. Woodside plans to use a similar vessel for its Browse floating LNG project, on which it is targeting a final go-ahead in 2016.
The plan for the FLNG vessels during cyclones differs to current practices for offshore oil operations in Australia, where workers are evacuated to safety onshore ahead of storms and production ships disconnect from fields to sail to calmer waters.
Shell and Woodside both stood by their plans on Friday.
"Safety remains the primary focus of Shell's FLNG technology," a spokeswoman in Perth said.
"Multiple formal safety assessments confirm an FLNG facility is equally as safe and reliable as other modern offshore production facilities currently in operation."
Chevron: A hornswoggler of the highest order [Brisbane Times - 9/5/15]:
... Yet the piece de resistance is "debt push-down". This is a tactic deployed by many multinationals to load up their subsidiaries in higher-tax countries such as Australia with costs (usually high borrowings) in order to reduce profits – and therefore tax obligations – while siphoning off interest payments on these onerous loans to the parent company.
Chevron is the quintessential culprit when it comes to debt push-down.
The accounts of Chevron Corporation in the US for 2012, 2013 and 2014 show interest expense (after tax) was zero, yes zero. Interest capitalised in 2012 for the whole group was $US242 million. The gross amount of interest paid before tax does not appear to have been disclosed separately.
By comparison, Chevron Australia was charged a total of $975 million (before tax) in 2012. Some of this was capitalised into Australian assets under construction and probably accounts for a large part of the $US242 million. ...
Correa calls out Brad Pitt on Ecuador's case against Chevron [teleSUR – 4/5/15]
Colombia has announced it will stop using a controversial herbicide to destroy illegal plantations of coca, the raw ingredient for cocaine.
The decision follows a warning by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that glyphosate is "probably carcinogenic".
The product has been used in US-sponsored crop-spraying anti-narcotics programmes in South America.
The Colombian drug eradication programme began in 1994.
The authorities target mainly areas controlled by the country's largest rebel group, the Farc.
They say the Farc use the income from cocaine production to finance its armed struggle.
Other coca-producing countries in the region, including Ecuador and Peru, have also used the herbicide to destroy coca fields.
Jailed Malaysian opposition leader's wife wins his seat
Al Jazeera [8/5/15]:
The wife of jailed Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has won his parliament seat in a by-election, officials said, in one of two votes held this week that were seen as a test of Prime Minister Najib Razak's leadership.
The announcement on Friday came a day after Wan Azizah Wan Ismail - a medical doctor and mother of six - took the seat in the northern state of Penang, according to unofficial poll results, that was vacated after her husband was jailed in February.
Anwar was imprisoned for five years on charges that he sodomised a former male aide, a case he says was fabricated by the government.
Thursday's result marks the second time that Wan Azizah, 62, has stepped in for her husband during his controversial imprisonments. There was no immediate statement from her.
She won the same seat in 1999, replacing Anwar after her husband was sacked as deputy prime minister in Malaysia's long-ruling government and jailed on previous sodomy and corruption charges widely considered politically motivated.
That imprisonment left Wan Azizah at the head of the reform movement that emerged in response to Anwar's ouster, and she twice defended the seat.
But she vacated it in 2008 to allow Anwar to return to parliament after his release.
Taking over leadership of the opposition, he helped inspire a once-fragmented opposition to unprecedented gains in parliament, nearly taking power in 2013 polls from the ruling coalition that has dominated Malaysia for decades.
The three-party opposition alliance - Pakatan Rakyat - made big gains in the 2013 election, which for the first time raised the prospect of a genuine challenge to the coalition that has ruled Malaysia since independence in 1957.
Anwar calls the sodomy case a conspiracy by Najib's government to derail the opposition's momentum.
Najib has been condemned at home and abroad over the Anwar case and for the arrests of scores of opposition politicians and other critics over the past year on sedition and other charges.
George Galloway may have lost his seat – but this isn’t the last we’ll see of him [Guardian - 9/5/15]
Former Fraser government minister Michael MacKellar dies aged 76
Former Fraser government minister Michael MacKellar has died at 76.
MacKellar held the seat of Warringah for 25 years before Tony Abbott became the member in 1994.
He was immigration minister and minister for health in the Fraser government in the 1970s and 80s.
Abbott paid tribute on Saturday to MacKellar, who he credited with natural charm and strong intellect.
“He stood for the humane and the decent,” Abbott said in a statement. “I was aware I had big shoes to fill.”
MacKellar leaves behind partner Pamela and children Cameron, Duncan and Maggie.
Migrants, Refugees and Multiculturalism: The Curious Ambivalence of Australia's Immigration Policy - 2001 Alfred Deakin Lecture delivered by Marion Lê OAM:
... Then, on 21 January, 1976, Michael McKellar, the new Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, announced two initiatives - the first, to accept 800 refugees, mainly from Thailand (for the first time) on the basis of their having family links or other ties with Australia; the second, to cancel undertakings the Whitlam Government had sought from a number of "special case" Vietnamese refugees (such as Mr Tran Van Lam, former President of the Senate of South Vietnam and a former Ambassador to Australia) that they would not engage in political activity in Australia.
Whilst both these measures appeared fair and in distinct contrast with the restrictive policies of the Labor government, more astute observers noted that the family links criteria actually narrowed the eligibility factor further and lobby groups then applied pressure to have the category broadened.
After a period of calm and few developments, the first Indo-Chinese boat slipped quietly into Darwin on 28 April, 1976, with four refugees from Vietnam aboard.
They attracted very little public interest and were granted two year temporary entry permits (TEPs), thereby making Australia for the first time a country of first asylum rather than merely of resettlement.
Two further boats arrived in November and December of 1976, were granted TEPs, flown to Brisbane for medicals and allowed to stay.
Now, however, the Press (particularly the Melbourne Sun News Pictorial) began to express some concerns about the "trickle" becoming a "tide of human flotsam".
During 1977, boat arrivals in the ASEAN countries, especially Thailand and Malaysia, increased steadily but were not resettled in equal numbers.
Singapore and Thailand began to pressure Australia to take more refugees; the reported shooting of some boat people attempting to land in Malaysia and increasing reports of "push offs" leading to death, awoke compassion in the hearts of many in Australia to offer their help in direct settlement of refugees into the community.
Australia's responsibility was argued by the ASEAN countries in terms of her past involvement, under a Liberal Government, in the war. Vietnam Veterans also felt some obligation and guilt for the people now pouring out of their former homelands because of a war, or wars, lost by the USA and her allies.
McKellar did not cave in easily. He resisted the pressures to raise numbers and in the government's "Green Paper on Immigration Policies and Australia's Population" he attempted to balance Australia's obligations as a signatory to the UN Convention on Refugees whilst establishing the principle that the decision to accept refugees must always remain with the government and be determined by Australia's capacity to absorb them.
He talked about skills being used to assess some refugees for entry but the majority would always come under a family tie or other link with Australia.
Australia linked its refugee intake policy to that of other countries such as the USA and Canada which were to be used as the barometers whereby Australia would calculate her "fair share".
The other concept of linking intake numbers to "Australia's capacity to absorb them" was never defined or explained and thus remains a running sore to this day.
Obviously political factors were most important in the calculation of refugee entry numbers. Since there was no way of knowing what numbers of refugees could be accepted without a domestic backlash, caution was seen to be the best policy to be adopted by the Government. 
In June and July 1977, four more boats arrived in Northern Australia, one of them undetected, which aroused considerable alarm in Government circles.
The Government tried desperately to send "signals to Asia" about the dangers of the voyage in order to deter others from making the trip.
Thailand, however, announced that, with approximately 95,000 refugees on her territory, she would take no more and began pushing off with or without refuelling.
Thai pirates also began preying on the small boats and it was estimated that between 10 - 40% of all boat refugees in 1978-80 lost their lives either to the sea or to the pirates who raped, pillaged and killed them.
In Australia, refugee boats arrived almost daily in the last two months of 1977 bringing the numbers of unauthorised arrivals (as they were to be called in the 1990s) to 857 compared with assisted arrivals of 2107.
Politically, the Government was vulnerable because there were the elections to think about and a certain Senator Mulvihill, acting as the ALP spokesman on Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, declared that Australia should begin turning refugee boats back to sea.
Mulvihill questioned whether the boat arrivals were really genuine political refugees; advanced the cause of refugees in Latin America who, he argued, were more politically deserving; and raised the spectre of disease and quarantine risk being brought by the unauthorised arrivals.
Fifteen years later his counterpart was also a Senator - WA's Labor Jim McKiernan who, as Chairman of the Joint Standing Committee on Immigration under Ministers Hand and Bolkus, raised the same questions.
WA Liberal Ross Lightfoot and other WA talk-back callers went further and suggested, variously, shooting arrivals as they landed, bombing them at sea or putting them on a small island and either leaving them to die or blasting them out of existence.
Labor Member for Kalgoorlie, Graeme Campbell, joined the radical chorus in the mid-1990s playing to the anti-Immigration lobby. He was to be expelled from the Labor Party prior to the 1995 Federal Election. He ran as an Independent, won his seat and for a time at least championed the rise of Independent Pauline Hanson, Member for Oxley, in the espousal of her anti-Asian, anti -ATSIC views in Parliament and the community. 
The official response from the Governments of both eras, up to 1996, was to ignore the redneck solutions and come up with something practical.
In 1977, the solution was to send selection teams of Australian Immigration Officials to the South East Asian camps to process boat arrivals for Australia.
News that a large freighter, hijacked from the Vietnamese Government in Ho Chi Minh City, had called briefly at the refugee island of Bidong in Malaysia and was currently refuelling in Indonesia to continue its voyage to Australia with "a large number of refugees on board", made the dispatch of selection teams more urgent.
The announcement was made by McKellar and Health Minister, Ralph Hunt, on 23 November, 1977 and the teams left for Singapore and Malaysia the next week with more officials sent to strengthen the task force in Thailand.
On 29 November, 1977 the freighter, Song Be 12, finally docked amidst huge international media publicity in Darwin with 183 people on board, including three Vietnamese Communist soldiers under guard in the hold. (Incidently, my future husband was one of the crew on that boat.)
Foreign Minister Andrew Peacock was urged to return the boat and its occupants back to Vietnam as allegations of piracy and hijacking were added to the protests by Bob Hawke, then speaking as a Unionist, and other pro-Hanoi voices that these were "not genuine refugees". 
In 1989, Bob Hawke, then Prime Minister, was to voice the same sentiments of the boat arrivals of that period.
Declaring "Bob's not your uncle", he vowed to return the 1989 boat arrivals to their country of origin, Cambodia, whilst at the same time offering refuge, and eventually permanent residence to the more than 40,000 Chinese illegal visa overstayers and students stranded in Australia at the time of the Tiananmen Square Massacre of June 4 1989.
In 1977 pressures of the December election forced the Liberal Government to act with speed to stem the direct "flow" of boat arrivals and the deterrent factor in selection of more refugees off-shore led to the announcement in mid-December of an increase in the number of arrivals - an emergency quota of 1,000 was set, soon raised to 1,500, to be airlifted from Malaysia to Australia in a five week period from 23 December, 1977.
Non-government community groups,  responded and over the next few years applied pressure to the respective Governments to lift quotas based on the community's ability and willingness to respond.
Murdoch's Mothers' Day Massacre, 2015
Image: @ScottMorrisonMP - Scott "Fluffy" Morrison - formerly Minister for Refugee Concentration Camps, now Minister for Austerity [10/5/15]
Britain: A Functioning Democracy It’s Not (but which western nation is?) [The Automatic Earth - 8/5/15]:
... A whole bunch of ‘leaders’ will leave too, but there’s plenty of shades of dull grey humanoids waiting in the wings to replace them. Besides, though Nigel Farage has often been dead on in describing, in the European Parliament, the inherent failures of Brussels, at home he’s never been more than a sad lost clown. I had to think hard about LibDem Clegg’s first name, even needed to look it up -it’s Nick- , and that sort of says it all: he would do well to change his name to Bland.
And perhaps Ed Milibland should do the same. Can anyone ever really have believed that this lady’s underwear salesman could have won this election? Or did they all just fudge the numbers so they had material to print? Ed Milibland never stood a chance. And Russell Bland can now go lick his wounds from supporting the guy, and no, Russell, saying now that you’re just a comedian won’t do the trick. You’ve been tainted. If it’s any consolation, you screwed up the same way Springsteen did when he played Obama’s support act. No surrender, no excuses. ...
Nauru's Facebook shutdown labelled an assault on democracy
(Everywhere but in Australia)
The government of Nauru's move to block Facebook on the island has been met with outrage and suspicion by Opposition politicians and refugee advocates. [AUDIO - RNZI - 10/5/15]
Stop Stolen Generations [5/5/15]:
Letter requesting support for Grandmothers Against Removals conference and rally in Western Australia for National Sorry Day
On ‘Sorry Day’, May 26, the national network Grandmothers Against Removals (GMAR) will lead a protest in Perth against continuing Stolen Generations.
This date marks 18 years since the release of the ‘Bringing Them Home’ report. This report detailed the horrors of the Stolen Generations of the 20th Century and called for urgent action to stop the continued removal of Aboriginal children from their families by ‘child protection’ agencies.
Since 1997 however, the number of Aboriginal children being forcibly removed has increased more than five times, with more than 15,000 Aboriginal kids in foster care today.
In WA more than half of all children in ‘care’ are Aboriginal, despite being less than 5% of the population.
This is an urgent national crises and affected families are fighting back.
Grandmothers Against Removals stand as representatives of Sovereign Aboriginal Nations and fight for restoration of their sacred children to their people.
Over the past 18 months the group has forced the issue into the national and international media spotlight, helped many families win their children back and forced negotiations with welfare departments in different states.
GMAR is appalled that WA Premier Colin Barnett is using “child protection” as an excuse to forcibly remove entire communities from their lands, recycling the same lies about child abuse used to justify the NT Intervention.
These forced closures will be systematic child abuse on a massive scale, putting families into destitution, more kids into foster care, more adults into prison.
GMAR is leading a conference at Matagarup, the Perth Tent Embassy from May 24 - May 30, to strategise for the future and to march on May 26.
Western Australia has been chosen as a focus for the conference to show solidarity with communities facing closure and help build links between the struggles.
Your support is vitally important to help us fight for the right of children to live with their families and the right of all Aboriginal people to live on their lands and determine their own futures.
Donations are urgently required to assist with the costs of travel, accommodation, food and other logistics for the conference. Please give generously and spread this message through your networks.
Donations can be made to:
Grandmothers Against Removals WA
BSB: 633 000
Account Number: 154 186 902
The scar of domestic violence [University of South Australia News - March 2015]:
Female victims of domestic violence are likely to be poorer, and more vulnerable to unemployment, poor mental health, reduced housing circumstances and have a reduced sense of belonging as citizens in their own society, according to a new UniSA study.
For the first time in Australia the study exposes the experiences of domestic violence for middle and upper-class women, and provides a better understanding of the long-term consequences of abuse for a diverse range of women.
The survey, which is the first broad-scale review of women in Australia who suffered what the researchers call ‘intimate partner violence’, concluded that domestic violence doesn’t just happen. It occurs because of the ways in which male partners control women to achieve and maintain their dominance.
Run by UniSA’s Professor Suzanne Franzway, Associate Professor Sarah Wendt, Drs Nicole Moulding and Carole Zufferey, and Curtin University’s Professor Donna Chung, the survey is part of an Australia Research Council-funded Discovery Project with Curtin University in Western Australia.
Assoc Prof Wendt says domestic violence impacts on a woman’s achievements and independence.
“Nearly half of those surveyed (42.2 per cent) had to move interstate or overseas,” she says.
“When they were experiencing domestic violence, about 80 per cent of women were living in a jointly owned house with their partner or renting. After they left home, more than half were forced to rent (26.7 per cent) or live with family and friends (33 per cent).”
Assoc Prof Wendt says while some managed to buy their own homes – often with housing settlements – they experienced the increased costs of rent and mortgages.
Added to generally lower wages and frequent moves due to safety concerns, all of these factors were found to affect women’s and their children’s sense of belonging to place and community.
About two thirds of the women said domestic violence made it hard to hold down a job; it either made it hard to work the way they wanted to or had reduced their confidence and skills for work.
Of the people interviewed, 30 per cent could not continue at the same workplace for fear of their safety.
Assoc Prof Wendt says the study was comprehensive and unique.
“We examined mental health and wellbeing, housing, and employment as dimensions of everyday life that shape a person’s capacity to participate in society; that is, we understand these as indicators of status and practising citizenship,” she says.
Until now researchers had only seen the perspective of the poorest of women because surveys were often held in shelters.
The resounding message from the research is that there is no class barrier to domestic violence against women.
Researchers found that male desire to exert control through violence affected women regardless of their financial or other resources.
Violent men, for example, maintain status by brutalising a woman who might seek education to become more competent and capable in the workforce.
“The more capable and educated I became the greater the domestic violence,” said one survey respondent.
“Without domestic violence I would have a stable career.”
Assoc Prof Wendt says the results show that domestic violence has long-term consequences such as impacting on employment opportunities, on mental health and on the type of hours women can work.
While many women were resilient, the researchers argue it is not appropriate to depend solely on the resilience of victims as a way of solving domestic violence; preventing the harm in the first place is vital, as is holding perpetrators accountable for their abuse and the long-term damage it does.
“When women leave they do bounce back but it’s not to the level prior to domestic violence,” Assoc Prof Wendt says.
“If you’re looking at time and citizenship, domestic violence erodes citizenship, that sense of natural belonging in society.”
As one woman in the study said, “I stopped being able to bounce back anywhere near as far as I had fallen”.
The survey findings resonate with that quote, indicating that women bounce back, but not totally, Assoc Prof Wendt says.
“It is like a scar. While women talk about having hope for the future, many report that they are ‘not the same person’ they were before the violence and abuse,” she says.
Mother of Bali Nine member sends message to Jokowi
Jakarta Post [7/5/15]:
Raji Sukumaran, the mother of Australian Myuran Sukumaran, who was executed on April 29, has sent a three-page letter to President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to express her anguish over the execution of her son.
She addressed Jokowi as Indonesia’s leader and a father of three, who instructed that the executions of Sukumaran and seven other condemned drug traffickers take place.
"As I make the preparations to bury my beautiful son, I thought I would share my feelings with you. I thought I would share how my son was reformed, was full of life, love and passion, and who so desperately wanted to live his life in service to help others," she said in the letter, which was distributed to the media.
Raji said she made the letter open to the public in the hope it might help other people or families of prisoners on death row deal with the situation.
While admitting that her son had committed a serious crime, Raji said he had "also apologized to your country and your people many times".
She deplored that Jokowi had never really learned what Sukumaran and his fellow Bali Nine member Andrew Chan had done while in prison and deplored Jokowi's decision not to look into the death-row inmates personal circumstances, in an apparent hint at Jokowi's own admission that the President did not read what he signed.
"If you do not read what you are signing how can you know whether the life you are taking belongs to someone who is mentally unwell, or an old man in a wheelchair, or young mother with two children, or a father of two, or a man who has been in your prison for 17 years, or a gospel singer, or two young boys who made foolish mistakes,” she said.
She also questioned the integrity of the Indonesian justice system while saying that Jokowi ordering the executions had nothing to do with preventing drug trafficking, but “everything to do with your politics”.
Raji conveyed her prayers to all inmates on death row as the Indonesian authorities were preparing the next batch of executions.
"As l finish this letter, I pray for the many other men and women whose lives are in your hands, especially those on death row. I pray that you will have the courage to look beyond the politics, for they too have families who love them, despite their mistakes," she concluded.
Jokowi: Starting Sunday, access to Papua Opened for Foreign Journalists [West Papua Media Alerts - 10/5/15]
Melanesian solidarity can resist Indonesian pressure [United Liberation Movement of West Papua Media Release - 9/5/15]
Papua New Guinea joins the world to celebrate Mothers’ Day this weekend, but the well-being of our mothers and their children is a long way off compared to some Pacific Island countries including Fiji. PNG has been ranked 157 out of 179 countries in the mother index, according to a Save the Children’s Fund report titled “The Urban Disadvantage’.
The State of the Mothers’ and their Children report of index used the latest data collected on women and children’s health, educational attainment, economic well-being and female political participation.
The data for PNG was for year 2013. It shows where children and mothers fare best and where they face the greatest hardships.
The ranking indicates that PNG is not doing well and is worse off than some Pacific Island countries despite the booming economy driven by mining, oil and the gas sector.
Fiji is ranked 96 out of the 179 countries. ... [PNG Loop - 10/5/15]
Victim’s bullet from Hanuabada tragedy handed to police [PNG Loop - 8/5/15]
The private prison operator Serco will be fined $150,000 if anyone dies in one of its new jail cells in South Auckland.
It is just one of the conditions the company has as it prepares to accept its first new inmates at the $300 million prison in Wiri.
The new prison, called Kohuora - Auckland South Corrections Facility, was officially opened at a ceremony today and will start accepting prisoners in 10 days.
The high-security prison was built under a public-private partnership deal with the Government and by October will reach its full capacity of 960 inmates.
One hundred people a day rescued at sea by MOAS
Media Release [9/5/15]:
Search and rescue charity Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) assisted in the rescue of almost 700 people since its vessel M.Y. Phoenix set sail on May 2nd.
MOAS has partnered with Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) which provides support to the MOAS mission and post-rescue medical care. The two NGOs combine to create the only private search and rescue service in the Mediterranean.
It is feared that 2015 will be the deadliest year yet for those risking the Mediterranean crossing. So far this year an estimated 1,750 have drowned compared to 96 deaths during the same period last year.
Since May 2nd, MOAS rescued three boats containing people fleeing from Africa and the Middle East and was asked to carry out the disembarkation of a fourth group of people rescued by another vessel.
MOAS is this year conducting rescues in the Mediterranean Sea for six months during the peak of the crisis. MOAS assisted 3,000 migrants last year when it was at sea for 60 days between August and October 2014.
“This year MOAS is seeing twice as many people rescued as last year,” said Christopher Catrambone, the co-founder of MOAS along with his wife Regina.
“The most shocking part of this ongoing tragedy is the sheer number of children, including unaccompanied children, making this dangerous crossing. It’s harrowing to imagine what these children have witnessed since leaving their homes, sometimes all the way from Syria.”
“We are very proud to be adding our professional crew and resources to the other rescue assets in the Mediterranean, most of which are commercial vessels having to face the brunt of the soaring numbers of boats in distress. Everyone is working around the clock and while commending them for their dedication we must stress that in order to save lives effectively the EU needs a dedicated search and rescue operation,” he added.
The latest rescue by MOAS saved 118 people from Syria, Somalia and sub-Saharan Africa: 80 men, 13 women and 25 minors, including nine children under five.
The operation was conducted in Force 5 swells and took almost two hours to complete.
It began when Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre Rome directed MOAS to search for a small wooden boat in distress. The Phoenix immediately dispatched a Schiebel Camcopter® S-100 to search the area and managed to quickly locate the boat, discovered by the Schiebel operators to be 14 miles from its estimated position. This rapid pin-point accuracy allowed the crew of M.Y. Phoenix to prepare for the rescue and medical issues.
The migrants had been sent out to sea at 3am from the coast of Libya and were scared but generally in good shape.
The Italian Coast Guard, through MRCC Rome, then requested that MOAS in partnership with MSF take on board an additional 101 persons, and disembark all the migrants in Sicily.
These rescues took place just hours after M.Y. Phoenix finished disembarking another 473 people in Pozzallo, Italy. The migrants were rescued on two separate boats within 24 hours of M.Y. Phoenix’s departure on May 2nd.
The 20 person team aboard the M.Y. Phoenix includes a professional crew of camcopter operators, search and rescue professionals, medics and mariners.
MOAS’s innovative use of two high-speed Schiebel Camcopter® S-100 drones aboard M.Y. Phoenix has already yielded excellent results. They have had nine hours of flight time in the past week and assisted during night-time rescues, ensuring that nobody is left behind.
“MOAS is providing state-of-the-art search and rescue but we are also providing post-rescue care through our partnership with MSF. In addition, we are coordinating our efforts with other vessels effectively to save lives,” said Director Brig. Ret. Martin Xuereb.
“This year we are grateful for the support of MSF, Schiebel and OGI, among others and we look to donors to extend our mission year round,” he added.
Those brought on board by the MOAS rescue crews were given an initial triage by the MSF medical team who treated conditions including diabetes, dehydration, conditions related to pregnancy, skin infections and injuries sustained during beatings and violent attacks. All those rescued receive food, water and other essential items onboard the M.Y. Phoenix.
An Egyptian court sentenced former president Hosni Mubarak and his two sons to three years in jail without parole on Saturday in the retrial of a corruption case. … [France 24 – 9/5/15]
More than 100 Saudi-led airstrikes hit Yemen
Daily Star [9/5/15]:
A Saudi-led coalition struck northern provinces of Yemen on Saturday in a third consecutive night of heavy airstrikes, the Houthi rebels said, following their shelling this week of Saudi border areas.
More than 100 airstrikes hit areas of Saada and Hajjah provinces, including the districts of Haradh, Maidi and Bakil al-Mir, the Houthis said.
It was not possible to independently verify the number or location of strikes but coalition jets destroyed a Houthi headquarters in al-Talah and tanks and military vehicles in al-Baqah in Saada province, Saudi state television reported.
Other strikes targeted Sanaa airport's runway, an official there said, and Houthi targets in the al-Sadda district of Ibb in central Yemen, residents there said.
In the southern port city of Aden, clashes continued on Friday and Saturday in the central Crater, Khor Maksar and Mualla districts as the Houthis and forces loyal to Saleh shelled local militias trying to oust them from the city.
However, the Houthis were pushed back from parts of Dar al-Saad in the city's north into Lahj Province, local militias send, and faced fighting in al-Dhala Province.
The coalition has bombarded the Houthis and army units loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh since March 26, but eased back on the strikes in late April and on Friday offered a five-day truce starting on May 12 if other parties agreed.
The Saudis and nine other Arab countries, backed by the United States, Britain and France, hoped to force the Houthis back to their northern heartland and restore the exiled government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who is in Riyadh.
The Houthis are mainly drawn from the Zaydi sect of Shi'ite Islam that predominates in Yemen's northern highlands. They took advantage of political chaos to seize Sanaa and then advance further south over the past year, aided by Saleh.
Riyadh fears the Houthis will act as a proxy for their main regional rival, Iran, to undermine Saudi security, and that their advance into Sunni regions will add a sectarian edge to the civil war, strengthening an al Qaeda group in Yemen.
Iran and the Houthis deny there are funding, arming or training efforts by Tehran.
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday said the campaign was the work of an "inexperienced" government that did not understand the region's politics.
United, States, “allies” continue bombing Iraq and Syria
Coalition military forces continued to attack ISIL terrorists in Syria and Iraq between 8 a.m., May 8, and 8 a.m., May 9, local time.
In Syria, coalition military forces conducted 15 airstrikes using attack, bomber and fighter aircraft.
Separately in Iraq, coalition military forces conducted 13 airstrikes approved by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense using attack, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft against ISIL terrorists.
“The coalition is keeping the pressure on ISIL militants in both Iraq and Syria,” said Col. Wayne Marotto, CJTF-OIR chief of public affairs.
“The coalition is steadfastly supporting Iraqi and Kurdish forces with intelligence, airstrikes and advice in support of their operations across Iraq and Syria.”
The following is a summary of the strikes conducted since the last press release:
Near Al Hasakah, 13 airstrikes struck three large and seven small ISIL tactical units, destroying nine ISIL fighting positions, 10 ISIL vehicles, two ISIL heavy machine guns and an ISIL armored vehicle.
Near Aleppo, one airstrike struck an ISIL building and an ISIL VBIED.
Near Kobani, one airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroying an ISIL vehicle and an ISIL heavy machine gun.
Near Al Asad, one airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit.
Near Bayji, four airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units, destroying three ISIL VBIEDS, two ISIL IED staging areas, an ISIL structure, an ISIL vehicle and an ISIL IED.
Near Fallujah, four airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit, an ISIL weapons facility, an ISIL IED staging facility, an ISIL VBIED facility, destroying an ISIL VBIED and an ISIL heavy machine gun.
Near Mosul, one airstrike destroyed an ISIL excavator.
Near Sinjar, one airstrike struck an ISIL mortar position.
Near Tal Afar, two airstrikes destroyed an ISIL building, an ISIL excavator, an ISIL heavy machine gun and an ISIL fighting position.
Airstrike assessments are based on initial reports. All aircraft returned to base safely.
Scores of prisoners have been killed during a jail break in eastern Iraq, in which 40 inmates managed to escape, officials have said.
Police officials said on Saturday that at least 50 inmates and 12 police officers were killed at the Al-Khalis prison during a riot.
There were conflicting accounts over the cause of the incident in the Diyala province. ... [Al Jazeera - 9/5/15]
Daily Star [9/5/15]:
Syria's deputy foreign minister has criticized a U.S. program to train what Washington calls moderate rebel fighters which has begun in Jordan, saying it only fuels terrorism and will further complicate efforts to reach a political solution.
The remarks by Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad were published Saturday in his weekly column for the Lebanon-based Al-Binaa newspaper.
U.S. officials say the program is part of a broader effort to build a force capable of fighting ISIS extremists - not Syrian army forces. Officials said Thursday the training started in Jordan and will be expanded to Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
Mekdad said Washington is better off giving a hand to those fighting terrorism, instead of cooperating with what he said were terrorists.
An Airbus (AIR.PA) A400M military transport plane crashed outside Seville on Saturday, killing four test crew and prompting Britain and Germany to ground Europe's new troop and cargo carrier.
The aircraft was due to be delivered to another NATO customer, Turkey, and was on its maiden test flight when it crashed in a field one mile (1.6 km) north of Seville's San Pablo airport.
It was the first ever crash of an A400M. Airbus said four Spanish employees had been killed and two surviving crew were in hospital in serious condition. ... [Reuters - 9/5/15]
Ebola virus transmission ends in Liberia – UN health agency [Media Release - 9/5/15]
Nine Georgia deputies fired over black inmate's death [Reuters – 9/5/15]
Mothers from around the country gathered in the nation's capital Saturday to protest police brutality in a march from Capitol Hill to the Justice Department.
The Facebook page for the Million Moms March on Washington event is overflowing with posts by mothers who lost their children to violent encounters with law enforcement.
Joining them are grieving spouses, siblings and friends of those who died, posting photos, sharing their own experiences and voicing their support.
Mothers for Justice United organized the Saturday march, using social media to attract support for the event. (The march is not affiliated with the Million Mom March of 2000, which protested gun violence.)
The marchers planned to present "demands for justice and racial equality," the organization says.
Among those marching is the organization's founder Maria Hamilton, whose 31-year-old son Dontre was shot and killed last year by a Milwaukee police officer after he was discovered sleeping in a park.
The officer was fired, but not charged with a crime.
The date of the march, on Mother's Day weekend, is the first anniversary of Dontre Hamilton's burial. ... [NPR - 9/5/15]
A judge declared a mistrial on Friday in the marathon trial of Pedro Hernandez, who had confessed to killing Etan Patz, the New York City boy whose 1979 disappearance raised awareness of the plight of missing and abducted children and their families.
... A judge found Ramos legally responsible for the death of Patz in a 2004 civil lawsuit brought by the Patz family.
Patz's disappearance brought attention to the issue of missing and abducted children, and his picture was one of the first to appear on milk cartons in the United States. ... [Reuters - 8/5/15]
Thousands of people around Russia and abroad have joined Victory Day parades and celebrations to mark 70 years since victory over Nazi Germany in WWII. Many of them gathered to march with the so-called “Immortal Regiment” to honor the veterans of the war. ... [RT - 9/5/15]
The Philippines is preparing to evacuate thousands of residents along its northeastern coast as a typhoon approaches, officials have said.
Residents near a volcano that has been spewing steam and ash over a central province are also being moved, in case the typhoon causes mudslides.
Typhoon Noul, with winds of 160kph and gusts of up to 195kph, was about 210km northeast of Catanduanes island in the central Philippines on Saturday.
It was expected to make landfall as a category four storm early on Sunday. ... [Al Jazeera - 9/5/15]
Endangered sei whales found beached on Chilean coast [CBC - 8/5/15]
Rome's Fiumicino airport reopened its main international terminal on Friday after a fire the previous day damaged the building and forced airlines to cancel dozens of flights.
Eighty percent of check-in desks in the affected Terminal 3 were working normally after hundreds of staff worked through the night to restore service, operator Aeroporti di Roma (AdR) said. Italy's busiest airport, through which 39 million passengers passed in 2014, was shut down when the blaze started just after midnight (2200 GMT) between Wednesday and Thursday. ... [Reuters - 8/5/15]
Snowden says Australia watching its citizens ‘all the time,’ slams new metadata laws
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden accused Australia of undertaking mass surveillance of its citizens and passing laws on the collection of metadata that he says do not protect society from acts of terrorism.
"What this means is they are watching everybody all the time,” the former NSA contractor-turned-whistleblower said.
“They're collecting information and they're just putting it in buckets that they can then search through not only locally, not only in Australia, but they can then share this with foreign intelligences services.”
Last month, Australia passed controversial laws that require telecommunications firms to retain their customers’ phone and computer metadata for two years.
Snowden decried this disturbing trend, warning that regardless of what you are doing “you're being watched."
He compared Australia's mass surveillance system to that being used in the UK.
"Australia's role in mass surveillance around the world is similar to the UK and the Tempora program," he said.
Snowden, who has been living in Moscow since June 2013 after receiving political asylum, criticized the Australian government’s passage of a metadata program that is being used, he said, to “collect everyone's communications in advance of criminal suspicion."
"This is dangerous," he told the conference.
The former system administrator for the CIA said such invasive surveillance technologies had nothing in common with traditional liberal societies.
"This is not things that governments have ever traditionally been empowered to claim for themselves as authorities.
"And to have that change recently ... is a radical departure from the operation of traditional liberal societies around the world."
Snowden repeated his position that acts of terrorism in the US and elsewhere have not been thwarted by conducting mass surveillance on citizens.
"Nine times out of 10 when you see someone on the news who's engaged in some sort of radical jihadist activity, these are people who had a long record," he said.
"The reason these attacks happened is not because we didn't have enough surveillance, it's because we had too much."
Aside from average citizens, he warned that journalists are also at risk of having their contacts exposed by the mass surveillance.
"Under these mandatory metadata laws you can immediately see who journalists are contacting, from which you can derive who their sources are."
He excoriated such a turn of events, saying the purpose of a free press in society is to “act as an adversary against the government on behalf of the public."
Snowden’s comments came on the same day that a US federal appeals court ruled the NSA’s bulk collection of Americans’ telephone records was illegal. In a unanimous decision, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York called the bulk phone records collection "unprecedented and unwarranted."
The ruling, which Snowden called “extraordinarily encouraging,” comes as Congress confronts a June 1 deadline to renew a section of the Patriot Act that allows the NSA’s bulk data surveillance.
Meanwhile, Snowden seems determined to reveal more information from the National Security Agency (NSA) files, hinting there was yet more information about Australia’s intelligence work that would be revealed at a later date.
Mexican Journalist Kidnapped in Iguala, Guerrero
Guerrero State authorities confirmed on Friday that a radio journalist was kidnapped in the outskirts of the city of Iguala, the same place where the 43 Ayotzinapa students were attacked and disappeared by police in September.
The local authorities informed that they have opened an investigation into the kidnapping of Bernardo Javier Cano Torres of the ABC Radio station of the city of Iguala, who disappeared on Thursday along with three other individuals. However the official status of Torres is considered to be that of ‘missing’.
His vehicle was found on Friday abandoned on the Iguala-Teloloapan highway, considered to be a dangerous area due to organized crime activity. Earlier this week an armed group temporarily kidnapped a local mayoral candidate and two of his staffers near Teloloapan, they were released hours later.
In a comunique the Guerrero State authorities affirmed that they will take all the necessary measures to localize Torres, "the state Attorney General reiterates its commitment to investigate the events to their conclusion."
Guerrero State is one of the 5 most dangerous states for media workers. According to statistics by the journalist right’s group, Article 19, Guerrero saw 28 agressions towards media workers in 2014.
According to the same organization, agressions towards journalists throughout Mexico happen on average every 26 hours, with 326 attacks in 2014, and more than 50% of the agressions have occurred by public officals or state actors.
Snowden: A matter of unintended consequences
No, I’m not into conspiracy theories. Yes, I believe that Edward Snowden is a genuine hero and that he is acting from the best of intentions. Nevertheless, there is a side of the Snowden revelations that has been oddly overlooked. A matter of unintended consequences.
Some people already knew. Some were pretty convinced. Some suspected. A lot of people had a hunch. Then came Snowden. Now we all know. That is a good thing.
Unless you are the US Government or the NSA. (Or their international partners.) Then you are furious.
This is what is so intriguing. Shouldn’t people in high places be rather content?
Naturally governments and spy organisations don’t want their methods to be known. But what about the awareness of mass surveillance, as such?
The very notion of blanket surveillance will change people. For the worse, if you ask me. But, giving it some thought, politicians and bureaucrats might have reason to perceive it in another way. From their perspective, the way Big Brotherism changes people doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
It will thwart opposition. It will daunt traditional whistleblowers. It will deter activism. It will silence dissent. It will keep people in check. It will foster servitude.
Now, the people will — sadly enough — know that there are good reasons to fear the government. Suddenly we live in a society where mass surveillance is the new norm. A society where it is safer to keep a low profile.
I fear it will not take long before this mindset will begin to saturate the ruling classes.
Solid 'Yes' vote in referendum on Norfolk Island governance
Norfolk Islanders voted an overwhelming 'yes' to a referendum on Friday asking if people should have a say in determining the island's political status.
The Chief Minister of Norfolk Island, Lisle Snell, says 624 people voted 'yes', 266 said 'no' and 22 people were not sure.
Mr Snell says clearly locals want a say on the future model of governance for Norfolk Island, not just have a governance model imposed on them.
The Australian federal government is considering legislation to strip Norfolk of its long time autonomy.
But he says the referendum results blow a hole in Canberra's assertion that the reforms introduced before the Australian Parliament that propose abolishing the Legislative Assembly and Norfolk Island Parliament were overwhelmingly supported by the people of Norfolk Island.
He says the referendum result clearly exposes that the Norfolk Island community has been misrepresented by the Norfolk Island Administrator to Assistant Minister Jamie Briggs.
He says the justification of community support for these changes on which Mr Briggs progressed the Bills can now only be described as flawed.
Mr Snell says he will write immediately to the Australian Government, the Opposition, the Greens and Independent Members and Senators to ensure that the views of the people of Norfolk Island expressed at yesterday's referendum are respected.
And he added that the correspondence, and a community delegation which he will lead from Norfolk Island to Canberra next week, will be seeking a process of consultation to ensure a more acceptable implementation of the Norfolk Island reform process is on the table.
The referendum question was - should people of Norfolk Island have the right to freely determine their political status, economic, social and cultural development, and that people also be consulted at referendum or plebiscite on the future model of governance for Norfolk Island, before such changes are acted on by the Australian Parliament?
Many against quick return to mining in Bougainville
A campaigner for women's rights on Bougainville says many people remain opposed to a quick return to mining in the region.
The autonomous Papua New Guinea region goes to the polls from Monday and with new mining laws in place, the new parliament is expected to consider a resumption in mining, to ensure a viable economy.
The head of the Leitana Nehan Agency, Helen Hakena, says there is a recognition that mining can generate the income needed by the government for its services but she says there are still many concerns to be dealt with.
"People still talk about there is a lot of hidden agendas inside the mining policy. They still believe there should have been more consultations to the people before the policy was passed by the ABG. People should have been gathered to view the policy and to question the articles in the policy."
10 May 2015