UN Committee Against Torture astonished at Australian suggestion that domestic violence is a "private matter"

With Crown Princess of #Denmark & @NZUNGVA to address sexual violence against women & girls in conflict #TimeToAct

Image: @AustraliaUN_GVA - Australian Mission to the UN & other International Organisations in Geneva [10/11/14]

Today I announce the appointment of Mr John Quinn as Australia’s next Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva. Mr Quinn will also be Australia’s Ambassador for Disarmament. ... [Foreign Minister Media Release - 24/8/14]

When's the last time you saw the Australian media deconstruct - rather than reinforce - a myth?

Rates of domestic violence, crime and suicide will increase in Adelaide's north if Holden workers cannot eventually move to other jobs, a Senate inquiry has heard. ... [ABC - 10/11/14]

Myths of domestic violence

Refuge UK:

There are many myths surrounding domestic violence. By believing them we allow the problem to continue.

Myth: Alcohol and drugs make men violent.

Many men are violent when they are stone-cold sober. Many men who drink never lay a finger on their partner.

Blaming drink or drugs is an excuse, a way of denying responsibility. Both may be the trigger for a particular attack, but they are not the underlying cause.

Myth: It only happens in poor families on council estates.

Anyone can be abused, no matter where they live or how much money they have. Abused women come from all walks of life. You only have to think of the celebrities we hear about in the papers to realise that money cannot protect you from domestic violence.

Men who abuse women are as likely to be lawyers, accountants and judges as they are milkmen, cleaners or unemployed.

Myth: More women would leave if the abuse was that bad.

It can be extremely difficult to leave an abusive partner. The abused woman may fear what her partner will do if she leaves, particularly if he has threatened to kill her or her children. She may believe that staying with him is better for the children.

There are also practical considerations to take into account. She may not have access to money, or anywhere to go. She may not know where to turn for help, particularly if English is not her first language. If she is emotionally and financially dependent on her partner, she may be very isolated.

Women from different cultures can find it particularly difficult to leave an abusive man as this would bring shame on both themselves and their family. They may feel like they are betraying their community if they contact the police.

An abused woman’s self-esteem will have been steadily worn down. She may not believe she will manage on her own, or that she has any other options. She may feel ashamed of what has happened and believe the abuse is her fault.

She may hope that her partner will change. She remembers the good times at the start of the relationship and hopes they will return. In emotional terms she has made a huge investment in the relationship and she wants it to work.

Myth: Abusers grow up in violent homes.

This is not true. Growing up in a violent home is a risk factor and some children who experience abuse do go on to be abusive in their relationships. But many do not. Instead they are repelled by violence because they have seen the damage it causes. They would not dream of hitting their partner.

Abusers learn to be violent from the society they grow up in. Inequality between the sexes means that men have more power than women – inevitably some of them abuse or exploit that power.

People who blame violence on their childhood experiences are avoiding taking responsibility for their actions. Violence is a choice an abuser makes.

Myth: Some women like violence.

Women do not enjoy violence, or find it a turn-on. Most abused women live in fear and terror.

This is a way of blaming the victim for what is happening.

Myth: Women ask for it. They deserve what they get.

Women are often attacked by their partner for no apparent reason. Even if a woman has behaved appallingly, she does not deserve to be beaten. Violence and intimidation are not acceptable ways to solve conflict in a relationship.

Again, this is a way of making excuses for the abuser’s behaviour. It allows a violent man to avoid responsibility for his actions.

Myth: Abusive men have a mental illness.

The vast majority of men who abuse women are not mentally ill. Research shows that the proportion of abusers with mental health problems is no higher than in society as a whole. And if an abusive man were mentally ill, why is it that he only abuses his partner – not his colleagues, strangers or friends?

Myth: He only hit her because he was under stress.

Some men who abuse their partners do suffer from stress. Again, this is a factor – not the underlying cause of the abuse. Many men who are stressed are never abusive. Similarly, many men who do abuse their partner cannot claim to be under stress.

Women experience stress too, yet they rarely beat or abuse their partners to the extent that men abuse women.

Myth: He loses his temper sometimes, that’s all.

People argue that an abusive man “loses his temper”, or is “out of control”. The truth is that he is very much in control.

Abusers are usually selective about when they hit their partner, e.g. in private or when the children are asleep. They choose not to mark her face or other parts of the body which show. They never “lost their temper” with other people. This suggests they are very aware of what they are doing.

Many men abuse their partners emotionally and psychologically, without ever using physical violence. This shows the extent of their control.

Myth: Domestic violence is a private matter, you shouldn’t get involved.

For too long domestic violence has been allowed to happen behind closed doors. People think what goes on in the home is private, and not their problem.

Domestic violence is a crime. It is against the law.

We are all affected by domestic violence, and we all have a responsibility to speak out against it. Only then will it end.

DFAT admits to hearing about Iraq prison abuse concerns last November

ABC [2/6/04]:

ELEANOR HALL: The Department of Foreign Affairs has admitted that an Australian legal advisor was briefed by an interim Iraqi Minister about general concerns of prison abuse back in November last year.

That discussion was then reported to three Government departments in Australia but was not considered serious enough to act on.

JOHN QUINN: The general concerns about the methods used at the time of detention, lack of respect etcetera, accuracy of information about the detainment…

JOHN FAULKNER: Is that the same meeting?

JOHN QUINN: It's the same meeting… So, a lot of issues, sort of process issues, access to relatives, and the comment made by the officer whose allegations lack specificity, but represent an unhealthy perception of practices. So there was criticism of the practices in a broad way.

JOHN FAULKNER: So we now know on the 28th of November, it was reported to Australian authorities that the Iraqi minister had concerns.

JOHN QUINN: General concerns.

JOHN FAULKNER: Well, alright, general concerns, about the way prisoners were being treated?


JOHN FAULKNER: What happens to that reporting?

JOHN QUINN: As I say Senator, that reporting went to a range of colleagues in Defence, Attorney-Generals and DFAT in Canberra.

JOHN FAULKNER: Well what happens when this gets back to DFAT here in Canberra?

JOHN QUINN: Well Senator, I think it has been explained. Our view was that these processes were working. We had the ICRC in the system, there was transparency. It's a good thing if the Human Rights Minister is engaged on the issues.

They were primarily general questions, relating to practices on detention – lacked specificity was the judgement being made. And our view was that these issues were being followed up as appropriate.

So I think it's a healthy sign of transparency and openness that these issues are raised. The officer in question is working for the CPA, which is not the line area responsible for prisons. They're following up, they're raising issues. So our sense was this was a positive thing in terms of due process being followed.

JOHN FAULKNER: This is an Acting Iraqi minister, we've now redefined him from Iraqi minister to an Acting Iraqi minister, on the 28th of November 2003.

JOHN QUINN: Minister, Senator, if I just clarify the officer in question was representing the CPA. These were not representations to the Australian Government.

ELEANOR HALL: John Quinn from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, at a Senate Estimates hearing in Canberra this morning.

Tasmania discussed as a place for new Australians

ABC [10/11/14]:

Tasmania would become Australia's asylum seeker processing centre, with newcomers living and working freely in the community, under a plan developed by local leaders and human rights activists.

The Tasmania Opportunity Leaders Summit in Launceston heard that the case for making the state an asylum seeker processing centre went beyond the natural security it afforded as an island.

Speakers, including human rights lawyer Julian Burnside QC, said Tasmania offered an alternative to the Federal Government's Sovereign Borders policy, one that was more humane, better value for the Australian taxpayer and of benefit to the local economy.

The proposal included allowing people to live and work in the community, receive Centrelink benefits and live where the Government determined their money would have the greatest benefit for the local economy.

Mr Burnside, who won this year's Sydney Peace Prize, told the summit the Federal Government spent $5 billion a year on asylum seekers, and that Tasmania was a much more cost-effective option.

"If you can reduce that cost dramatically to one-tenth of what it is at the moment, and in the process avoid doing harm to frightened people and do some good for the Tasmanian economy, that seems a good thing all round," he said.

Mr Burnside told the summit that asylum seekers should be seen as a resource, not a threat.

"They would be bringing in to the community not only their courage and their initiative but also the income that they can earn," he said.

He said there were some conditions that should be attached to any planned move to make Tasmania a refugee processing centre.

Asylum seekers would still be detained on arrival for one month only, for health and security screening.

Following that, Mr Burnside said further conditions needed to met under the plan.

These included:

The asylum seekers had to stay in touch with the Immigration Department;

They should be engaged in education, training and work; and

They must live in a region designated by the Government - for example, Tasmania.

A summit co-ordinator, Launceston paediatrician Dr David Strong, said the plan had the potential to be "the biggest, most far-reaching project in Tasmanian history".

"It would deliver enormous economic benefit to the state in infrastructure spending, education and training and in business opportunities," he said.

"It would further enhance Tasmania is the eyes of the nation and the world as a welcoming place that warmly embraces those seeking a better life.''

Never again for everyone?

Canberra Christian Leaders arrested following peaceful prayer vigil in ACT Senator’s Office [Love Makes A Way - 10/11/14]:

• Five Christian leaders including a 70 year old Catholic Nun have been arrested
• The group was holding a peaceful prayer vigil inside Senator Zed Seselja’s office
• The Senator did not meet with the group, but issued a statement to a local paper
• The group had spent the day in prayerful protest, and asked ‘when will the 789 children and their families be released from detention?’

At 10am this morning five local Christian leaders entered Senator Zed Seselja’s office.

“We would like an answer to when the 789 children and their families will be released from immigration detention” said Rev Roberta Hamilton, Anglican Priest and one of the leaders sitting and praying in the office. “We won’t resist arrest, but we aren’t planning on leaving until we have an answer.”

An answer was not forthcoming, and in the end the leaders from the Catholic, Anglican, Uniting and Evangelical Anabaptist traditions were arrested at 6:30pm. All five have subsequently been released on summons.

One of those arrested, 70 year old Catholic Nun, Sister Jane Keogh was still standing strong “I was willing to be detained as a gesture of solidarity with the asylum seekers,” she said.

“I am in grief for this loss of humanity I see in the way our government criminalizes vulnerable children and their families. ”

The group is part of the ‘Love Makes a Way’ movement, which has seen over 100 religious leaders risk arrest over peaceful actions bearing witness to the plight of children in detention.

This is the 13th time Christian leaders have prayed inside a politician’s office, and the first time it has happened in the ACT.

Senator Seselja was not able to meet with them, however he issued a statement.

The group found the statement ‘disappointing’. They did note it was an “important basis for a constructive dialogue about asylum seekers.”

However they were concerned that its “portrayal of legislation currently before the parliament as protective of children is misleading. The legislation has been roundly condemned by refugee law and human rights experts.

It was described by a former Liberal Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser as “the perverse creation of a Government prepared to tear up the rule of law for its own political ends.” It was found to violate basic human rights by a bipartisan parliamentary committee.”

And it did not answer the question as to when the children would be released from detention.

For Senator’s Seselja’s staff however, they had nothing but praise.

“They were at all times polite and professional” says Annabelle Lee, a working mother of two who belongs to the Evangelical Anabaptist Community, “and we thank them for that.”

The people inside were supported by a strong community of outside helpers, and support from those walking past. One of the outside crew, the Reverend Wendy Bloomfield, Anglican Priest and grandmother of six, reflected on her motivation:

“When Jesus was a little baby, he and his family fled to save their lives. What if Egypt had a ‘stop the donkeys’ three-word slogan?”

None of the group faced arrest with an entirely easy mind, with its implications for their reputations, employment prospects and standing in the community.

But in the end, as Sister Jane reflects:

“The words of the Nobel Peace winner Elie Weisel challenge me when I find myself burying my head in the sand again. ‘There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.’”

Over 100 Jewish Survivors and Descendents of Survivors of Nazi Genocide Condemn the Massacre of Palestinians [International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network - 8/8/14]:

... As Jewish survivors and descendents of survivors of the Nazi genocide we unequivocally condemn the massacre of Palestinians in Gaza and the ongoing occupation and colonization of historic Palestine.

We further condemn the United States for providing Israel with the funding to carry out the attack, and Western states more generally for using their diplomatic muscle to protect Israel from condemnation.

Genocide begins with the silence of the world.

We are alarmed by the extreme, racist dehumanization of Palestinians in Israeli society, which has reached a fever-pitch. In Israel, politicians and pundits in The Times of Israel and The Jerusalem Post have called openly for genocide of Palestinians and right-wing Israelis are adopting Neo-Nazi insignia.

Furthermore, we are disgusted and outraged by Elie Wiesel’s abuse of our history in these pages to promote blatant falsehoods used to justify the unjustifiable: Israel’s wholesale effort to destroy Gaza and the murder of nearly 2,000 Palestinians, including many hundreds of children.

Nothing can justify bombing UN shelters, homes, hospitals and universities. Nothing can justify depriving people of electricity and water.

We must raise our collective voices and use our collective power to bring about an end to all forms of racism, including the ongoing genocide of Palestinian people. We call for an immediate end to the siege against and blockade of Gaza. We call for the full economic, cultural and academic boycott of Israel. “Never again” must mean NEVER AGAIN FOR ANYONE!



2 Gazans wounded, 4 missing after Israel fires on boats

Daily Star [10/11/14]:

Two Gaza fishermen were wounded and four missing Monday after the Israeli navy fired on two boats off the coast, Palestinian security officials said.

It was not immediately clear whether the four had been arrested, the officials added.

The Israeli military confirmed that naval fire had destroyed one boat it said had been involved in smuggling, but had no information about the four fishermen reported missing.

The two wounded fishermen were pulled out of the water off the southern port of Rafah after the Israeli fire destroyed both boats, a Hamas security official said.

The Israeli military said that naval vessels had tracked a boat engaged in smuggling from nearby Egypt.

"The navy identified a fishing boat which had left the Gaza shore and went down towards Egypt," a statement said.

"The forces followed the boat and identified it heading back towards Gaza, fully loaded," it said, adding that Israeli warships had fired warning shots before targeting the vessel when it failed to respond.

"The smuggling attempt was foiled and the target was destroyed," it said, without indicating what the boat had been carrying.

Under the terms of Israel's eight-year blockade of the Palestinian territory, Gaza's fishermen have the right to trawl the waters up to six nautical miles off the coast.

There are around 4,000 fishermen working in Gaza, more than half of whom live below the poverty line.

The waters off Rafah, a town that straddles the Gaza-Egypt border, have become an increasingly important smuggling route since Egyptian security forces destroyed a network of tunnels running under the land border.

24 Palestinians in court for protesting after Israel shooting [Maan - 10/11/14]

"Explosive chemicals and bombs" used as excuse by police to terrorise a Brisbane suburb turn out to be fireworks

Yahoo [10/11/14]:

The mother of a Queensland man accused of stockpiling explosive chemicals says her son isn't dangerous and police have blown the case out of proportion.

James Christie Fraser, 32, appeared in Beenleigh Magistrates Court on Monday after police allegedly found chemicals for making explosives as well as bullet casings, spent munitions and an inert training grenade at his Rochedale South house.

Fraser did not apply for bail and was remanded in custody.

Outside court his mother, who declined to give her name, said her son used to let off fireworks and search old army depots with metal detectors.

"He likes chemistry. He's not a danger to anybody, I can tell you," she told reporters.

"He just likes making fireworks. Who doesn't? It used to be legal at one stage.

"I really think this has all blown out of proportion you know. This is a bit outrageous."

Fraser is charged with a number of offences including manufacturing explosives without authority, failing to correctly store explosives and two counts of unlawfully possessing weapons.

He's also expected to be charged with cannabis possession after police allegedly found more than 170 grams of the drug at the property.

In court Senior Sergeant David Clarke said police were still gathering information from the crime scene and asked for more time to prepare a prosecution opposition to bail document.

Sen Sgt Clarke said parts of the property were still to be cleared, including a shed with a large volume of chemicals, and it would probably be two days before the area was declared safe.

It would take up to a week for samples of the evidence to be tested, he said.

Fraser's case was adjourned until November 19.

Police were led to raid the house by a series of photos and posts Fraser allegedly made on Facebook.

Officers have ruled out any links to terrorist groups and this weekend's G20 world leaders' summit.

Queensland mother's plea for help in cold case

Yahoo [10/11/14]:

The family of a woman violently murdered on the Sunshine Coast three decades ago has made a fresh appeal in the hope of finding her killer.

Lesley Patricia Larkin, 31, was found brutally assaulted at her Kareela Avenue unit at Noosa Heads on November 9, 1984, and died from her injuries the following day.

Her mother, Patti Larkin, made an emotional appeal on Monday, urging anyone with information to come forward.

"It's 30 years ago today since my daughter Lesley died, murdered by a person or persons as yet unknown," the elderly woman told reporters in Brisbane.

"It's been a long time for us, for the family, to wait for a resolution and to await for some kind of closure to what happened to her and why it happened."

The family believe Lesley's killer is still alive.

Detective Acting Superintendent Mick Dowie said there had been a number of persons of interest but police were keeping an open mind.

"We're looking at any new intelligence that comes in and we'll investigate it and hopefully come up with something we haven't been able to identify before," he said.

Ms Larkin had moved from Sydney to Noosa where she lived with her boyfriend.


Police search for clues in Tweed hit and run

MYGC [10/11/14]:

Police are desperately searching for clues after a man was seriously injured in a hit and run in Tweed Heads on Sunday.

Officers were called to the Pacific Highway off ramp at Kennedy Drive around 6:30am following reports that a pedestrian had been hit by a car.

Initial reports sggest the 26-year-old Banora Point man was walking alongside the road about 5.30am when he was struck by a Toyota Hilux.

The driver of the Hilux is accused of fleeing the scene without stopping to help the man.

It wasn’t until an hour later that he was spotted by a walker who called emergency services.

He was taken to the Gold Coast Hospital in a serious condition. His injuries are not considered life threatening.

About 11.20am a 32-year-old Tweed Heads man attended Tweed Heads Police Station.

He was interviewed by police and charged with dangerous driving cause grievous bodily harm, fail to stop and render assistance, and negligent driving occasioning grievous bodily harm.

He was granted bail and will appear at Tweed Heads Local Court on Monday 1 December.

Police from North Coast Crash Investigation Unit are conducting investigations into the incident and urge anyone who witnessed the crash or anyone with information to contact them via Crime Stoppers.

Woman dead after attack

Monash Weekly [10/11/14]:

A woman is dead after an attack at a house near Geelong.

Emergency services were called to a residence in on Ibis Court in Norlane about 9.30pm last night where paramedics discovered a 31-year-old woman with severe injuries.

She was pronounced dead at the scene. A 35-year-old man was taken to the Geelong Hospital with minor injuries and a second man is assisting police with inquiries.

It’s believed the dead woman and two men were known to each other.

Engineering firms guilty in worker's fatal 40m fall in Melbourne

Nine MSN [10/11/14]:

Two engineering firms have been found guilty of negligence over the death of a worker who plunged 40m when a large rig suddenly collapsed on a building site in Southbank, Melbourne.

Sonny Swaanebeck, 30, fell to his death when the rig's mast snapped in May 2011.

His mother, Anne TeWake, said she was continually haunted by the thought of her son's fatal fall and had been battling depression and insomnia, Fairfax Media reports.

Frankipile and Vibropile, both owned by Keller Australia, told a Victoria County Court they were not responsible for the tragic death of the New Zealand-born worker.

But a Victorian WorkCover Authority found that 10 crucial bolts were never installed in the most vulnerable section of the massive pile-driving rig before it collapsed.

A jury found the two firms guilty of failing to provide safe systems of work and failing to provide adequate information, instruction, training or supervision.

Each company could face penalties of up to $1.1 million.

The court will hand down its sentencing later this month.

Goat shot with bow and arrow, Mt Isa

North West Star [9/11/14]:

A friendly goat was callously slaughtered at close range in front of his six pen-mates in Mount Isa yesterday morning.

The senseless killing of the billy at the Mount Isa horse paddocks has outraged owner Pat McHugh and has other animal owners concerned about more attacks.

Mr McHugh, 67, was one of the first residents to own paddocks near the city cemetery in Mount Isa and has had animals in his care for more than 30 years.

“I just couldn’t believe that someone would kill him,” he said.

“It’s just disgusting.”

Mr McHugh’s wife, Gordy, said the heartless killing was senseless.

“They have killed an innocent animal, what will they progress to and kill next?” she said.

“What if this isn’t good enough, they might start on people next.”

Mr McHugh said he locked up the small pen at about 6pm on Saturday night and believes the killer may have struck at dawn.

There were four kid goats and two nanny goats in the pen when the male goat was shot. The remaining six were too traumatised to return to the pen.

The goat was shot with a unique broad-head arrow and Mr McHugh hopes its distinctiveness will help track down the killer.

It was shot with such force that the arrow entered through the goat’s shoulder and exited through his stomach. The arrow was found near the fence of the pen and handed in to police.


Mr McHugh said he had spoken to the Mount Isa Bowhunters Club, who said their shooters didn’t use those types of arrows.

Mr McHugh said there had been many dead kangaroos found around the horse paddocks recently and they may have been shot with arrows.

Mount Isa Police sergeant Brendan Poustie called on residents to be vigilant and confirmed police would investigate the killing.

“We ask people who observe suspicious behaviour like illegal hunting or discharging firearms in the Sunset area to notify police,” he said.

Sergeant Poustie said police were in possession of the arrow and would examine the weapon to assist their investigations.

Dominionism, pointless cruelty breeds more pointless cruelty. [Sunshine Coast Daily - 10/11/14]

... Residents are calling on the council to "act fast" to move on the winged creatures.


Cat's leg amputated after shot with a projectile, Clermont [Daily Mercury - 27/10/14]

North West Star [20/10/14]:

It may not be one of the largest sports in Mount Isa, but bowhunting is one of the fastest growing.

Originating in 1977, the Mount Isa Bowhunters Club has been growing in popularity ever since.

With the help of films such as Lord of the Rings and the Hunger Games, club publicity officer Tony Copelin said the club continues to grow in size.


Serious motorbike crash, Kewarra

QPS Media [10/11/14]:

The Forensic Crash Unit is investigating a serious traffic crash that occurred yesterday at Kewarra Beach, north of Cairns.

Initial information suggests about 7pm on Sunday a motorcycle was travelling east on the grass verge on the side of Moore Rd. The driver lost control and came off the motorcycle.

The rider, a 21-year-old male from Kewarra Beach, was transported to Cairns Hospital where he is in a critical condition. It appears he was not wearing a helmet at the time of the incident.

There is no further information available at this stage as 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.

Thief rams stolen vehicle into police car

Yahoo [10/11/14]:

A thief has rammed a stolen ute into a police car in Brisbane.

Police pulled over the ute on Kingsford Smith Drive at Eagle Farm early on Monday morning.

But when they began walking towards it, the driver reversed into their car and drove off.

No one was injured but the police car was damaged extensively.

Fatal traffic crash, Chinchilla

QPS Media [9/11/14]:

Police are investigating a fatal traffic crash that occurred near Chinchilla this afternoon.

Shortly after 3pm, a car and a ute that were travelling on the Warrego Highway around 7kms west of Chinchilla collided.

The two male drivers and a female passenger in the ute were all transported to Chinchilla Hospital where the 35-year-old woman, from the Roma area, was pronounced deceased.

Both men, aged in their 30s, are believed to have non-life threatening injuries.

The highway was closed for a period of time, but was reopened around 7pm.

The Forensic Crash Unit is investigating.

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.

Armed robbery, Gympie

QPS Media [10/11/14]:

Police are investigating following the armed robbery of a petrol station in Gympie last night.

Police were called to a business on Wickham Street about 9.50pm after a man entered the store and produced a knife.

He demanded money and cigarettes from the attendant, who complied, and the man then fled the scene on foot.

The attendant wasn’t physically injured as a result of the robbery.

The man was dressed all in black, wearing a balaclava, black gloves and white shoes.

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.

Murdoch's hate sheets and Salvation Army work together recycling BS to deter people in need from seeking help

... I don't mind takin' charity
From those that I despise ...

'Cheap Wine', Cold Chisel [1980]

3AW [5/3/13]:

Backpackers and tourists are stealing food from the homeless, says the Salvation Army.

The Salvation Army sends its Outreach van onto the streets of Melbourne five nights a week but has observed a worrying trend: backpackers who are not in need and certainly not homeless are taking food that is actually donated to feed the less-well-off.

Major Brendan Nottle hopes the backpackers grow a conscience, revealing there's been a marked increase in the numbers of backpackers coming to the van over recent months.


Israeli backpacker killed in Christchurch earthquake was carrying five passports [Cryptogon - 20/7/11]

Gold Coast City Council, Pratt Foundation to fund community organisations to direct surplus food to disadvantaged

Gold Coast City Council Media Release [7/11/14]:

The VISY Sustainability Grant, a new community scheme to reduce the amount of edible food waste going into the city’s landfills, is being launched by City of Gold Coast and leading recycler VISY.

The Pratt Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the family which owns VISY, is providing up to $50,000 in 2014-15, with a further $25,000 possible in 2015-16 to fund eligible community organisations who want to make a difference by channelling safe and nutritious food to disadvantaged or vulnerable people on the Gold Coast.

The grants support new or existing initiatives that reduce food waste from our city’s hospitality, food wholesale, manufacturing and retail industries. Mayor Tom Tate welcomed the new scheme, which he said will benefit the whole community.

“Reducing waste going into landfill is our top priority, because it saves money and helps to reduce the impact on our unique environment,” he said.

“Getting restaurants and other food businesses on board with finding ways to reduce perfectly good, safe food from being binned makes sense. It helps those in our community with the most need, cuts the waste bill for ratepayers, and reduces the volume of waste going into landfill.”

VISY’s General Manager for Resource Recovery, Gary Whitehead, said his organisation was pleased to be able to help make a difference on the Gold Coast.

“The Gold Coast is an important base for VISY, so we were pleased to be able to support community waste and recycling initiatives through the Pratt Foundation,” he said.

“There’s no more obvious place to target food waste than here in Australia’s tourism capital. The abundance of hospitality venues and services inevitably generates excess food capacity, so we are excited to be able to fund projects to help see some of that edible waste, often of a very high quality, be used to feed people who need a little extra help.”

Applications for funding through the VISY Sustainability Grant are open to organisations operating within City of Gold Coast boundaries.

Applicant organisations must also have Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) status.

Applications must be received by 21 November 2014. Contact 1300 GOLD COAST for details.

Read about our commitment to reducing waste at greengc.com.au.

Kandanga celebrates Traveston Dam milestone

Sunshine Coast Daily [9/11/14]:

... Yesterday, the Mary River Festival reached a significant milestone.

Tuesday will mark five years since the proposed Traveston Dam was canned.

The moment the word "no" left federal environment minister Peter Garrett's lips, there were cries heard throughout the Valley.

It is something still firmly planted in the mind of Mary Valley advocate Ian Mackay.

Still working as a school teacher at the time, he made a mad rush to Kandanga when the bell rang at 3pm.

Event co-ordinator Joolie Gibbs said thousands of revellers had flocked to yesterday's festival held at Kandanga to celebrate both the decision and the beauty of the area.

ALP counts on Greens' gullibility [Greens Media Release - 10/11/14]:

The Australian Greens congratulate community campaigns to protect the Great Barrier Reef, which have brought about Labor’s change of policy on offshore dumping today.

“Finally Labor has realised that Australians will not accept dumping in our Reef, after Labor failed to refuse the Abbot Point dumping and approved the Gladstone Harbour dumping disaster when in government,” Senator Larissa Waters, Australian Greens environment spokesperson, said.


Do Lock The Gate realise how offputting Alan Jones is to intelligent Australians?

The Premier, Campbell Newman and his deputy, Jeff Seeney and ALP representatives were invited to the event but did not attend.

Lock The Gate Media Release [9/11/14]:

City and country united against coal seam gas at a community forum at Queensland’s Lockyer Valley at the Darling Downs today.

Several hundred people attended the Locker Valley Regional Council’s event at Grantham, warning the State Government that it would have a tough fight on its hands if it tried to open up the region’s valuable farming land to gasfields.

Speakers included Sydney radio presenter Alan Jones, Lock the Gate Alliance’s Drew Hutton, Lockyer Valley Mayor Steve Jones, Matthew Hood from Growcom and independent MPs, Dr Alex Douglas and Ray Hopper.

Corruption and questionable links between mining companies and the government were common themes of the speeches. Other issues included protecting our foodland, water and clean air from a gasfield invasion, as well the need to galvanise the Lockyer community in joint action.

The Premier, Campbell Newman and his deputy, Jeff Seeney and ALP representatives were invited to the event but did not attend.


When a bigoted shock jock is given a place of honour by Lock the Gate, it is understandable that any attempt to forge unity between activist groups in Australia fails.

Retired astronomer halts Santos in the Pilliga [Lock The Gate - 7/11/14]

A retired astronomer from Coonabarabran has halted Santos’ clearing in the Pilliga forest in North West New South Wales for the second day running this week by attaching himself to a bulldozer.

76-year-old Malcolm Hartley worked for decades at the Siding Spring Observatory outside Coonabarabran.

He discovered eight comets at Siding Spring during the 1980s. The internationally-renowned observatory is under threat from gasfield and other mining development nearby because light pollution will ruin the dark night sky the observatory needs.


Anger grows in Eumundi over airport consultation [Sunshine Coast Daily - 9/11/14]

Stage 3 of Broadwater Parklands disaster capitalism project to deliver 80 jobs says Council

Gold Coast City Council Media Release [6/11/14]:

Construction of Stage 3 of the Broadwater Parklands is one step closer and the message to local companies is ‘be ready’.

Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate said the City would soon be calling for tenders for the civil works for 3.5 hectares of new parklands to the north of Gold Coast Aquatic Centre.

"Broadwater Parklands Stage 3 is a fantastic Commonwealth Games legacy project delivering new world-class parklands and more than 80 new jobs," said Cr Tate.

"Tenders will be called later this week and it’s important that local businesses are ready to compete for the work. Gold Coast company Element Ecology recently completed the relocation of 3000 square metres of sea grass outside the Stage 3 works zone.

"Sea grass relocation ensures a sustainable habitat for marine life in the Broadwater and the 500 square metres of sea grass relocated as part of previous Broadwater Parklands stages has now grown to more than 2500 square metres.

"We have the expertise here on the Gold Coast to deliver this fantastic project and it’s a perfect opportunity for local businesses to be part of getting our city ready for the Commonwealth Games."

Chairman of the Gold Coast Waterways Authority Gary Baildon said the Broadwater Parklands Stage 3 project offered a range of benefits for the Gold Coast.

"This project will be delivered progressively and incorporate a new four lane regional boat ramp with parking facilities, and the existing Labrador navigation channel in the western Broadwater will be dredged and extended to the south to provide an alternate channel for small vessels," said Mr Baildon.

"Civil works, including dredging, are expected to commence at the conclusion of the Christmas holidays season (end of January 2015) to ensure no disruption for the Broadwater Tourist Park during their peak period."

Broadwater Parklands Stage 3 is a joint initiative of City of Gold Coast and the Gold Coast Waterways Authority.

For information on tendering for Broadwater Parklands Stage 3 works, visit www.lgtenderbox.com.au.

First Nations response to G20 begins with Musgrave Park ceremony

Image: NIRS - National Indigenous Radio Service [10/11/14]

NIRS [10/11/14]:

Hundreds of people from around the country have attended the launch of the First Nations response to the G20 Summit in Brisbane.

The weeklong series of marches and forums at Musgrave Park will attempt to bring attention to issues such as deaths in custody and the high rate of Indigenous kids taken from families.

Gunai Kurnai Gunditjmara man Robbie Thorpe has travelled from Melbourne to attend the demonstrations.

He says it's critical to send a message to the international community about Australia's past.

Refugee mental health a top priority for Endeavour Scholarship winner

UQ News [7/11/14]:

A University of Queensland researcher is bound for Harvard, thanks to the Australian Government’s Endeavour Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarship for 2015.

Clinical psychologist Dr Felicity Brown will continue her research into the mental health in refugee children and families when she takes up a postdoctoral position at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Dr Brown said she hoped her project would lead to improved services, and psychological and social outcomes of refugee youth and families in the United States and Australia.

“Refugee mental health is an issue of ongoing global importance, so I am excited and honoured to have the privilege to take part in the Endeavour Scholarship programme,” Dr Brown said.

“This gives me the opportunity to apply the skills I have learned at UQ in delivering and evaluating evidence-based family interventions, in a world leading programme at the Harvard University Research Program on Children and Global Adversity,” she said.

“I will be working with international expert Associate Professor Theresa Betancourt to explore interventions for resettled refugee youth and families and will gain experience in refugee mental health, cross cultural psychology, and community-based research.”

Thirteen other UQ researchers have been awarded with 2015 Endeavour Scholarships or Fellowships, providing them with an opportunities to further their skills and knowledge overseas while building their international awareness.

Scholarship and fellowship recipients from UQ will undertake research at institutions all over the world.


Police speak to #lovemakesaway protesters in Senator Zed Seselja’s office in Civic. ...

Image: @gcnelson [10/11/14]

Love Makes A Way [10/11/14]:

Local Christian leaders have just entered ACT Senator Zed Seselja's office seeking an answer to when the 789 children and their families in immigration detention will be released.

The group is peacefully praying, and refusing to leave, until they have an answer to their question.

“The basic tenant of the gospels is that we treat others as we would like to be treated ourselves” says Sister Jane Keogh a 70 year old Catholic nun from North Canberra who is participating in the vigil.

“No Australians would agree to their children and grandchildren being subjected to long term stress and trauma in order to teach vulnerable people not to come to Australia asking for help.”

The group is part of the ‘Love Makes a Way’ movement, which has seen over 100 religious leaders risk arrest over peaceful actions bearing witness to the plight of children in detention.

The movement seeks an end to Australia's inhumane asylum seeker policies through prayer and nonviolent love in action.

Vigils have been held across the country, from Perth to Launceston, from the offices of Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison to Bill Shorten and Richard Marles.

This is the 13th action, and the first in the ACT.

“We are prepared to stay here until we get an answer,” says the Rev Roberta Hamilton, an Anglican Priest with the Parish of South Tuggeranong. “When will the 789 children and their families be released from detention?”

The group comes from different Christian denominations and traditions, but are united here today.

“The treatment of refugees is central to the Christian faith” says Daniel Cotton from the Uniting Church. “It is central that we welcome the stranger and stand up for the oppressed.”

Annabelle Lee, a working mother of two who belongs to the Evangelical Anabaptist Community says:

“While the government is caught up in policy and red tape, innocent children and families are being more and more traumatised each day they spend in this awful situation. I'm fed up with decisions being made out of fear and hate. It's time for our country to operate out of compassion and love. “

The Rev Peter Malone, Anglican Deacon, says:

“When all mainstream parties have strayed from the path of humaneness and compassion, I choose to make a public, peaceful stand and let love make a way for change to happen.”

The group knows that they face arrest, not a step any of them have taken lightly. They are aware of its implications for their reputations, employment prospects and standing in the community.


UN prepares to question Australia regarding torture, cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment

Human Rights Law Centre [6/11/14]:

... The UN’s Committee Against Torture is set to review Australia’s implementation and compliance with the Convention. As part of the review the Human Rights Law Centre coordinated a joint NGO report, endorsed by 77 NGO’s from around the country, highlighting many serious and ongoing human rights issues.

HRLC Director of Legal Advocacy, Daniel Webb, is in Geneva for the review and will meet with members of the UN Committee on Friday. Mr Webb explained that many of the issues identified by the Committee at Australia’s last review remain unaddressed.

“In 2008 the Committee raised concerns about Australia’s mandatory and indefinite detention of asylum seekers, its incredibly broad counter-terror laws and the over incarceration of Indigenous peoples. Six years on, Australia is now locking up asylum seekers in inhumane conditions in three different countries, it has significantly expanded its counter-terror laws and it continues to imprison Indigenous Australians at 15 times the rate of non-Indigenous Australians,” said Mr Webb.

“Australia’s form isn’t good. I expect the UN will be deeply concerned and keen for some answers,” said Mr Webb.

In addition to not committing human rights violations, Australia also has obligations to actively protect people from having their rights violated by others. Mr Webb explained that much more needs to be done on both fronts.

“Violence against women is a prime example of the Australian Government failing to address one of the most serious and widespread human right problems faced by Australians. The Convention Against Torture requires governments to prevent, investigate, punish and redress violence against women, yet there is insufficient action on all of these fronts,” said Mr Webb.


The Committee will then question Australian Government representatives on Monday 10 November at 10am (8pm AEDST) and Tuesday 11 November at 3pm (1am AEDST).

Those sessions can be watched live at http://treatybodywebcast.org/.

The Committee will make findings and recommendations that provide a blueprint for Government action to prevent cruel and inhumane treatment.

CAT - Convention against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment [OHCHR 53 Session (03 Nov 2014 - 28 Nov 2014)]

Australia Must Do Its Fair Share on Refugees, Susan Metcalfe [The Diplomat - 8/11/14]

When Opposition immigration spokesperson Richard Marles recently commented on Australia’s asylum seeker boat turn-back policy, the Australian media predictably stepped up to feed the nation’s obsession with boat arrivals. But what won’t be talked about on any newspaper front page in Australia, is the reluctance of both major parties to provide alternatives before refugees even think about getting on a boat.


A group of MPs suspended from Nauru's parliament are waiting for Nauru's Supreme Court to deliver its decision over the legality of their expulsion. ... [RNZI - 10/11/14]

Foreign Affairs Minister Rimbink Pato has thanked New Zealand for its ongoing support towards Papua New Guinea.

In Beijing for meetings, he held bilateral discussions with some neighbouring counterparts including New Zealand’s Murray McCully. ... [PNG Loop - 9/11/14]

Judge upholds force-feeding of Guantanamo Bay detainee awaiting transfer

The Coumbus Dispatch [9/11/14]:

A federal judge has refused to intervene in the force-feeding of a prisoner who has been on a hunger strike while awaiting his transfer from the U.S. prison for terrorism suspects.

Judge Gladys Kessler declared that U.S. military medical staff members do not show deliberate indifference to the health and welfare of long-held captive Abu Wa’el Dhiab.

“The evidence produced at the hearing regarding pain was very mixed,” Kessler wrote in the decision on the up-to-twice-daily insertion of a feeding tube into the 43-year-old Syrian’s stomach through his nose.

“There is evidence in the record, including Mr. Dhiab’s medical chart, that he often tolerates the procedure without complaints of pain or significant discomfort.”

Also, she said in the decision issued Friday, “there is simply no evidence” U.S. troops use a restraint chair that immobilizes his limbs and head during the feedings “in order to deliberately cause him pain or suffering.”

Rather, she said, Guantanamo records show that since April 1, the detainee has hit and kicked medical and guard staff members, threatened murder and thrown his feces and vomit on some guards.

“For all these reasons, the court concludes that petitioner has not submitted sufficient evidence to demonstrate deliberate indifference on the part of the government,” Kessler wrote.

The Syrian, who was told in 2009 he was cleared for release from Guantanamo, is among six captives who were notified this year that they had been selected for resettlement in Uruguay.

He has been held at the U.S. Navy base in Cuba for 12 years and cannot return to his native Syria or Pakistan, where he was picked up and turned over to the United States.

His transfer awaits the outcome of Uruguay’s election on Nov. 30. President Jose Mujica offered to take in the six detainees this year, but the Pentagon was slow in its approval. Because of the delay, Mujica has said he will consult his successor on the decision. One candidate has been an outspoken opponent of offering a haven.

In her decision, the judge noted that Dhiab “is clearly a very sick, depressed and desperate man. It is hard for those of us in the continental United States to fully understand his situation and the atmosphere at Guantanamo Bay. He has been cleared for release since 2009, and one can only hope that that release will take place shortly.”

Southcom again seeking $69M for new terror prison at Guantánamo [Miami Herald - 7/11/14]


... O gentlemen, the time of life is short!
To spend that shortness basely were too long,
If life did ride upon a dial's point,
Still ending at the arrival of an hour.
An if we live, we live to tread on kings;
If die, brave death, when princes die with us!
Now, for our consciences, the arms are fair,
When the intent of bearing them is just. ...

'Henry IV', William Shakespeare


Barack the Bloody: US Troop Increase in Iraq Signals 'New Phase' (i.e. World War Three well underway) [Naharnet - 9/11/14]

Iraqi military reach Baiji; Baghdadi's fate unclear [Reuters - 9/11/14]

Iranian general accuses US of supplying ISIS with arms, aid [Al Akhbar - 9/11/14]

The US delivered arms and aid supply to militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in eastern Iraq, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Brigadier claimed on Saturday, according to a report by the Iranian state news agency IRNA.

Describing the US’s fight against ISIS as a “lie,” General Massoud Jazayeri Jazayeri said “the US and the coalition air dropped weapons, ammunition, food and medical equipment to ISIS militants – which have been besieged by the Iraqi army – in Jalawla town of Diyala [in eastern Iraq] a few days ago.”

Jazayeri claimed that the US supported ISIS, currently in control of large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria, since the beginning of the insurgency.

Iran and other critics opposed to US involvement in the conflict with ISIS have pointed out that Washington in partnership with its Gulf allies, including Saudi Arabia, played a role in the formation and expansion of extremist groups like ISIS by arming, financing and politically empowering armed opposition groups in Syria.

In a speech mid October, Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that "America, Zionism, and especially the veteran expert of spreading divisions – the wicked government of Britain – created al-Qaeda and Da'esh (ISIS) in order to create divisions among Muslims.”

"A careful and analytic look at the developments reveals that the US and its allies, in efforts that are falsely termed countering Daesh, seek to create division and enmity among the Muslims rather to destroy the root causes of that (terrorist) current," Khamenei said.

The US-led international coalition, which includes France, Germany, and Saudi Arabia, has carried out numerous airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. However, the airstrikes have not been effective so far.

In September, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told the United Nations that the West was responsible for "strategic blunders" in the Middle East and Central Asia that had created terror havens.

In a thinly veiled reference to the United States and Israel, Rouhani blamed the rise of violent extremists on outsiders.

"Certain intelligence agencies have put blades in the hand of madmen (ISIS's extremists), who now spare no one," he said.

Moreover, Iran believes US and Britain are using the Islamist threat to justify their renewed presence in the region.

"Experience of creation of al-Qaeda, Taliban and modern extremist groups demonstrated one can’t use extremist groups to counter an opposing state and remain impervious to the consequences of rising extremism," he said. "The repetition of these mistakes despite many costly experiences is perplexing."

Iran's accusation appeared to be reference to Western support for the so-called rebel forces fighting the Syrian army and government.

Amongst the rebel forces, hardline Islamists are militarily the strongest.

"Wasn't Da’esh (ISIS) the same group who fought the Syrian government and the Syrian army? How is that they were not categorized as terrorists then?" and "Why is it that ISIS went from not-so-bad to extremely-bad depending on who they targeted in their terrorist operations?" Rouhani asked.

A study by the London-based small-arms research organization Conflict Armament Research revealed that ISIS jihadists in Syria as well appear to be using US military issue arms and weapons supplied to the so-called moderate rebels by Saudi Arabia.

@IraqiSMCEn - Iraqi Spring Media Center [9/11/14]:

An unmanned plane shelled a civil car in front of house in Tal Za'atar in Beiji whereas its owner was checking his house in the area ……..

A number of civilian homes in Asri hay in Beiji has been destroyed by mortars 120 mm from Mazra'a area ......

Salah-il-Deen: An unmanned plane has shelled a civil car-Toyota- causing killing of two persons and wounding of another near General Beiji Hospital....

Salah-il-deen: A war plane has shelled a home near Nationality department in Beiji and a generator near Beiji Hospital......

Anbar: Fallujah Hospital recieved 7 dead bodies including a children and two wounded persons- a child included -injured last night in the aimless and intended bombing of government's army in Fallujah....

Syrian air force raids kill 21, wound at least 100 in north: monitor [Reuters - 9/11/14]

At least 21 people were killed and around 100 wounded overnight when Syrian government war planes bombed a town in northern Syria controlled by Islamic State militants, a group monitoring the war said on Sunday.

The attack came hours before a United Nations mediator met senior Syrian officials in Damascus to discuss ways to ease the war, which has entered its fourth year, killed around 200,000 people and since September drawn in the United States and allies in air strikes against the Sunni militant group Islamic State.

The government of President Bashar al-Assad has stepped up its campaign against Islamic State and other enemies in the weeks since U.S.-led strikes began.

Washington, which is also bombing the fighters in territory they control in Iraq, says it opposes both Islamic State and Assad's government. In Syria it supports what it calls moderate rebel groups who are fighting against both in a complex, multi-sided civil war.

But some rebels complain that the U.S. air strikes help Assad by hurting his enemies. The government has not complained about the U.S. action and has concentrated its firepower on the western parts of the country while U.S. forces bomb the east.


Five Nuclear Engineers Murdered Near Damascus [Naharnet - 9/11/14]

Naharnet [9/11/14]:

The army carried out a raid on Sunday on a gathering for Syria refugees in Tyre's al-Shawakeer area and arrested a person.

The National News Agency said: “Army troops including an engineering team, raided a gathering for Syrian refugees in Tyre's al-Shawakeer area in front of Basel al-Assad cultural center.”

Two people were arrested during the raid, and one of them was freed afterwards, added NNA.

Army troops have been carrying out raids on encampments and Syrian gathering areas in different places around Lebanon, since the outbreak of the clashes in Arsal last August and has intensified it after the clashes in Tripoli and the North erupted against armed groups.

The army arrested a number of Syrians either for joining terrorist groups or for wandering in the Lebanese territories illegally, just like what happened in Manyara in Akkar, where the army arrested 19 Syrians last month.

Pakistan Air Strikes Kill 13 [Naharnet - 9/11/14]

Bombing in Eastern Libya as Government Meets UN Envoy [Naharnet - 9/11/14]

EU Concerned About Troops Movement in Eastern Ukraine

RIA Novosti [9/11/14]:

European Union's new foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini has expressed concern about OSCE reports of alleged troops movement in eastern Ukraine and urged to keep the military conflict from escalating, a EU statement said Sunday.

Mogherini said the last report of the OSCE special monitoring mission in Ukraine on convoys of heavy weapons, tanks and soldiers in militia-controlled areas caused serious concern.

She urged all sides in the conflict to prevent the new escalation of hostilities and show maximum restraint, while also sticking to the Minsk protocol on peace settlement in eastern Ukraine, which was agreed back on September 5.

The spot report, published by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe claimed the Special Monitoring Mission in the east of Ukraine "observed convoys of heavy weapons and tanks" in the city of Donetsk and on its northeastern outskirts.

The SMM said it could hear "heavy, outgoing shelling to the north and northwest of the city's outskirts" at the time of the reporting on Sunday.

Militias in the Donetsk region on Sunday confirmed the reports of continuing heavy shelling by Ukrainian troops, which they said targeted residential areas in the region's capital city.

Early morning, a RIA Novosti correspondent in Donetsk reported intense exchanges of artillery fire near the Donetsk airport to the northwest, with thundering blasts heard as far as the city center.

He cited a source with the Donetsk militia as saying that overnight Ukrainian troops loyal to the government in Kiev had stepped up attacks on the city and along the entire line of engagement. The bombardments killed two city defenders and wounded six people, including five civilians and one soldier, according to Donetsk militia leader Eduard Basurin.

The United Nations estimates that since the start of the Kiev-led campaign in mid-April more than 4,000 people have died and 9,000 have been injured in east Ukrainian hostilities as of October 31. A ceasefire is currently in place in the southeast, though the warring parties have accused each other of violating it.

Winston Churchill wanted to nuke Kremlin ‘to win Cold War,’ FBI memo reveals [RT - 9/11/14]

Protests in Mexico after claims of Guerrero student deaths

BBC [9/11/14]:

Hundreds of protesters in the Mexican state of Guerrero have attacked government buildings in the capital, Chilpancingo, burning cars.

They accused the government of involvement in the murder of 43 students in the town of Iguala in September.

The protest came after the attorney general said gang members had confessed to the killings.

He said the students were killed by the criminals acting on police orders.

Mexican Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam said three alleged gang members had claimed the students were handed over to them by police.

They said some were already asphyxiated and they shot the others dead, before setting fire to all the bodies.

The suspects from the Guerreros Unidos drug gang were recently arrested in connection with the disappearances.

Mr Murillo warned that it would be difficult to identify the charred remains and that authorities would continue to consider the students as missing until DNA tests confirmed the identities.

Mr Murillo showed videotaped confessions by the suspects who said they had loaded the students into dumper trucks and taken them to a landfill site in Cocula, a city near Iguala.

About 15 of the students were already dead when they arrived and the rest were shot, according to the suspects.

Mr Murillo said the bodies were then burned with petrol, tyres, firewood and plastic in an inferno that lasted for 14 hours.

The case has shocked Mexico. The protests on Saturday in Chilpancingo echoed weeks of protests across the country where demonstrators have insisted there is collusion between officials and organised crime, along with government inaction.


Protesters clash with police over killing of French activist

France 24 [9/11/14]:

Thousands of people took to the streets of Paris and two other French cities on Saturday, demonstrating against police brutality nearly two weeks after an activist was killed during a protest against a controversial dam project.

At least two police officers were injured and 21 people were arrested as protesters clashed with the police in the southern French city of Toulouse. Similar demonstrations in Paris and the western French city of Rennes passed peacefully.

Demonstrators were commemorating a 21-year-old student, Rémi Fraisse, who was killed on October 26 in Albi, in southern France, while protesting against the Sivens dam project in the Tarn region.

An autopsy from the prosecutor’s office found Fraisse had died instantly after being hit in the back by a grenade. A detailed report is expected on whether the grenade was thrown from the area where the police were posted or from among the protesters, who were clashing with the police.

Protesters opposed to the Sivens dam project in the Tarn region say it will destroy a reservoir of biodiversity and will benefit only a small number of farmers. Those promoting the project say the dam is in the public interest as it will ensure irrigation and the development of high-value crops.

The death of the young environmental activist has sparked angry demonstrations across France and a political debate as members of the Green Party have called the killing “an indelible stain” on the track record of French President François Hollande’s government.


Catalans hold symbolic vote on independence from Spain

France 24 [9/11/14]:

Two million Catalans turned out Sunday to vote on independence from Spain in a symbolic ballot, defying challenges from the Spanish government.

Voters of all ages lined up around the block, some applauding, as polling stations opened after weeks of tense legal wrangling with Spanish authorities.

Catalonia's vice-president Joana Ortega told reporters that 1,977,531 people had voted across the region between 9:00 am and 6:00 pm (1200 GMT), two hours before polls closed.

Ortega could not give a turnout rate since there was no formal electoral roll, but Catalan authorities said 5.4 million people were eligible to vote overall.

But Justice Minister Rafael Catala dismissed the vote, which was staged by volunteers, as "fruitless and useless".

In one of Spain's richest but most indebted regions, a long-standing yearning for independence has swelled over recent years as recession and political corruption scandals have shaken Spain.

The desire to break away has been sharpened by resistance from Madrid.

"This is an opportunity we could not miss. We have been demanding it for a very long time," said Martin Arbaizar, 16, queueing to vote in a school in Barcelona.

Spain's conservative government challenged the vote in the courts, forcing Catalan leaders to water it down from a non-binding referendum to a symbolic vote organised by volunteers.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who has vowed to defend the unity of Spain as it recovers from recession, said the vote "will not have any effect".

But voters were undeterred, fired up by the independence referendum held in Scotland in September, despite most Scots voting 'no'.

"Even though it may not be official, the important thing is that they listen to us," said Arbaizar. "The more people vote, the more noise we make, the better."


News Corp won $1.4b on Luxembourg tax ruling, secret papers show

Australian Financial Review [10/11/14]:

Secret documents obtained by The Australian Financial Review show Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation reported a $US1.2 billion ($1.4 billion) profit in 2009 that depended on a favourable Luxembourg tax ruling.

The 2009 deal involved one of News Corp’s most controversial businesses, the Israeli-based technology company NDS Group, in a part sale to private equity group Permira.

The sale was announced in June 2008, days after a California jury had upheld two counts in a case where NDS was alleged to have pirated US satellite broadcaster EchoStar. The jury declined to award damages.

But documents obtained by the Financial Review as part of an investigation of a massive leak of secret Luxembourg documents led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists in Washington show the $US3.5 billion deal almost fell over.


Palestinians break open illegal apartheid wall 25 years after Berlin Wall fall

Al Akhbar [9/11/14]:

Palestinian activists affiliated with local popular resistance committees in the villages northwest of Jerusalem on Saturday broke open a hole in the illegal apartheid wall to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

"No matter how high walls are built, they will fall. Just as the Berlin Wall fell, the wall in Palestine will fall, along with the occupation," the popular committees said in a statement.

The activists said that their aim in destroying the wall was also to stress that Jerusalem is an Arab and Palestinian city, and that neither the construction of the apartheid wall nor Israeli military reinforcement could prevent Palestinians from reaching Jerusalem and the al-Aqsa mosque.

The activists also called upon Palestinians to unite and take part in the battle for Jerusalem, and to defend the al-Aqsa mosque and all Islamic and Christian holy sites.

They also called upon people to be ready to take part in the "intifada" of Jerusalem, which they said would be "the final, fateful intifada to liberate Palestine."


Father of Israeli Arab shot by police: Killing inhumane, deliberate [Ynet - 9/11/14]

Shaath slams Knesset bill [Maan - 9/11/14]:

Palestinian official Nabil Shaath said Sunday that a proposed Knesset bill to apply Israeli laws to West Bank settlements was dangerous and aimed to eventually annex the territory.

“The (Palestinian) Authority completely opposes applying the Israeli law to settlements in the West Bank because this creates a political context where these settlements become a part of Israel,” Shaath said.

“Israel is disregarding all international pressure and carries on with its occupation projects.

“Palestinians are suffering since the Camp David agreement with Egypt in 1979, especially in the West Bank as Israel has kept us under temporary measures and autonomy.

“They are stealing the land, water, materials, and all natural resources in the West Bank”, he added.

Israeli media reported Sunday that an Israeli ministerial committee on legislation approved a proposed bill that would apply all laws passed by the Knesset to the settlements.

Haaretz newspaper reported that the proposed law would require the head of the Israeli army's central command to publish all new laws as a military regulation so that they would apply equally to settlements in the West Bank.

Israeli minister of justice Tzipi Livni, who opposed the bill, said that “the real goal behind the bill is to normalize an abnormal situation – occupation crawling under the cover of discussing rights,” Israel's Ynet news site reported.

Slamming the bill, Meretz chairwoman Zehava Galon added: “The Knesset is seeking to assume the jurisdiction of the military commander of the territories.”

She said that such behavior violates international law by which Israel has agreed to be bound.


10 November 2014