Australia tortures refugees.
Which politicians and human rights organisations will call for an end to it?
Nauruan refugees’ protest defies police ban [Refugee Action Coalition, Sydney - 11/3/15]:
Up to 300 refugees, women, men and children, from all refugee camps across Nauru have defied the Nauruan government and police attempts to ban refugee protests and staged a peaceful protest this afternoon.
The protest comes just one week since Nauruan police staged mass arrests on the island in a bid to stifle the campaign of non-cooperation being waged by the refugees. The Nauruan government had distributed notice on Nauru warning that protesters could be punished by up to three years jail.
One hundred and eighty three people including children were arrested on 4 March, and held for 24 hours without food and without water in some cells.
Ten of those arrested, including a number of children, are due to appear in the Nauruan district court on 18 March.
“We have just one slogan,” refugees on the island told the Refugee Action Coalition, “‘Freedom and Justice’.”
Banners at the rally appealed for the UN to intervene on Nauru.
The UNHCR has condemned Australia’s offshore processing regime, while yesterday the report of the UN Committee Against Torture found Australia exposed asylum seekers to ‘torture and inhumane treatment’.
Conditions on Nauru have also been condemned by the Australian Human Rights Commission and by medical staff recently on the island.
On International Women’s Day, 9 March, women and children also held a defiant rally calling for ‘Freedom’ and an end to the discrimination that keeps them on the island.
Video of today’s protest at Nibok are available on request.
The real message of the Forgotten Children report from the Australian Human Rights Commission must be heard, Professor David Isaacs [The Age - 11/3/15]
Australia Cherry-picking Human Rights to Fight for, Andrew Eagle [The Daily Star – 11/3/15]
The choice: facing trial for drug crimes resulting in a penalty of death by firing squad or facing indefinite detention for no crime based on a secretive bureaucratic process.
Which is crueller? If you had to, which would you choose?
The former option is the fate of two Australians, Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, found guilty in Indonesian courts of attempting to export heroin from Bali to Australia. Final preparations underway, it looks as though the two will be executed in coming days.
The latter option is the fate of thirty-four refugees in Australia, mostly Tamil Sri Lankans deemed by the largest security agency, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), to be a threat. Those detained, as they are genuine refugees, cannot be returned to their country of origin. They are not allowed to settle in Australia due to the negative security assessment.
Let's be clear: these refugees are not charged with any crime. They have no opportunity to counter the bureaucratic findings made against them by an agency of dubious decision-making ability, demonstrated most recently by ASIO's reported failure to properly monitor the gunman who perpetrated the Sydney siege last December, which resulted in three deaths.
The Australian government argues that refugees held under such circumstances may be resettled in a third country. Unsurprisingly no third country agrees to take them.
The number of refugees in indefinite detention was over fifty a few years ago. A number has been quietly reassessed and released – a course of action that may suggest they were never a genuine security threat in the first place. It may reflect the Australian government's wishes to distance itself from a secrecy-riddled draconian policy that remains a perpetual international embarrassment. Yet thirty-four remain in indefinite detention.
Ethics is a funny thing. To be taken seriously requires consistency. It makes the vocal and persistent efforts of both the Australian government and the opposition Labor Party to save the lives of two Australian drug dealers confusing. Neither party advocates against indefinite detention. Neither advocates accountability for its past and present practice.
Australians were entertained recently by two rousing parliamentary speeches against the death penalty: by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and her Labor Party counterpart Tanya Plibersek. Many Australians welcome efforts to save the lives of two citizens and for politicians the issue is without risk of voter backlash because both major parties have the same stance. But there's a problem: people can join dots.
While ever the country's security sector rules the roost over government policy favouring extrajudicial indefinite detention of some refugees, Australia is well-positioned as an international laughing stock in the realm of human rights.
It's a significant price to pay for protection against Tamils, who would seem unlikely domestic terrorists in Australia, particularly these days. Potentially Sukumaran and Chan are about to pay for Australia's perennial lack of human rights credentials with their lives. After all, nobody is easily convinced by hypocrisy.
Furthermore, one wouldn't hold one's breath to see the same level of political action for any Australian held on death row in the United States. It's undeniable that defending the two is popular because it's happening in Indonesia.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott's unfortunate comments linking the issue to foreign aid granted to help Indonesia recover from the 2004 tsunami aside, there remains the whiff of “white man's burden” in Australia's official response, of trying to “civilise” the Muslim-majority neighbour.
Nor does such hypocrisy escape Australians. Australian politicians are held in low regard by most constituents, evidenced not least by membership of political parties sitting at a paltry 0.5 percent of the population. There are more than twice as many Australians waiting to join the Melbourne Cricket Club as there are members of all political parties combined.
While Australian politicians scratch their heads wondering why so few bright minds wish to take up their profession or join their beloved parties, one reason is certainly that decent-minded Australians do not wish to sign their name to fundamentalist policy.
De facto indefinite detention without charge as a system, if not currently considered a crime against humanity, absolutely should be. Those refugees still detained must be released. Formal charges at an international level against those responsible must be considered.
Many Australians would love to see rousing human rights speeches in parliament not only for two convicted drug peddlers but for everybody. Australia as a wealthy, developed country certainly has the potential to adopt the world's best practice standards in many areas including human rights. It should be a leader. It could be taken seriously.
As such, ethical consistency would be a novel and welcome approach. At the moment, in observing due process Indonesia's police, gaolers, justice officials and also executioners seem to have an undeniable ethical upper hand over most of Australia's politicians.
While one may be of the personal view that applications for clemency against the death penalty should generally find favour, Indonesia will and should consider the issue from their own sense of humanity and not because of any confusing noises emanating from the south.
The writer is a feature writer and English Language trainer at The Daily Star.
Bali Nine: Australian Islamic clerics in Indonesia to appeal for clemency [ABC -11/3/15]:
Australia's most senior Islamic cleric is in the Indonesian capital to plead for the lives of two Australian death-row prisoners to be spared.
Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, members of the so-called Bali Nine heroin trafficking group, are listed for execution after president Joko Widodo denied them clemency.
Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohamed, the Grand Mufti of Australia, met with Indonesia's religious affairs minister Lukman Saifuddin to urge the Indonesian government to show mercy.
He was accompanied in Jakarta by two Indonesian-born Australian clerics.
Last month Dr Mohammad expressed his concern for the two Australians at a joint media conference with Sydney Catholic Archbishop Anthony Fisher.
"By all accounts Andrew and Myuran have come to appreciate clearly the gravity of their crimes," Dr Mohammad said at the time.
"These Sydney-born men have had a long time to think about what they have done while in Kerobokan prison and on death row."
Dr Mohammad said mercy and forgiveness were at the heart of Islam.
Independent Senator Nick Xenophon also travelled to Indonesia to support the Grand Mufti's mission, which he said could only do good for the two condemned Australians.
Speaking from Jakarta, Senator Xenophon said he had been talking to as many people as possible about the case, including both human rights and Islamic groups.
"[The Grand Mufti] gave a dignified, impassioned statement to the Indonesian media which I hope will cause those Indonesians in favour of executing these two young Australians pause for thought, a chance to reconsider," he told the ABC.
"This really is an unprecedented intervention by the Grand Mufti and is a tremendous initiative of the Islamic community of Australia.
"For the Indonesian government to hear a different voice other than that of just the Australian Government on this issue, and I think his intervention speaking to the Muslims of Indonesia, is potentially very powerful and beneficial."
Senator Xenophon said the Grand Mufti was listened to and well respected.
"He's an Islamic scholar of international repute with the works he's published," Mr Xenophon said.
"The situation is incredibly grim but the fact that the Grand Mufti is making this tremendous effort along with his delegation has to be enormously respected."
The legal team of French death-row inmate, Serge Atlaoui, has said it will continue to try to prevent his upcoming execution.
Lawyer Nancy Yuliana, said the team would file a protest to President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM).
Nancy said the legal team would strive to prevent their client being executed as he was not guilty of involvement in illicit drug manufacturing activity. ... [Jakarta Post - 11/3/15]
PNG: Union says electricity state-of-emergency heralds privatisation
The National [11/3/15]:
A trade union leader says the electricity state-of-emergency has more to do with privatisation than debt collection.
PNG Trade Union Congress general-secretary John Paska, in response to a directive from Public Enterprises Minister Ben Micah suspending the activities of the PNG Power Limited board, warned that there could be serious repercussions with the Pacific Games three months away.
“We have always been under the impression that the invoking of the Essential Services Act had more to do with privatisation than debt collection,” Paska said.
“Today’s announcement in The National is a vindication of our assessment. It is evident the Essential Services Act has wide ranging powers to deal with a number of issues and situations which affect the normal operations of any institution deemed to constitute an essential service.
“What is not immediately clear is whether the Act was intended to be used for the purposes of privatisation, itself an exercise which will adversely affect the normal operations of the provision of electricity.”
Paska said the privatisation of PNG Power did not come as a surprise.
“We’ve been anticipating it. However, given the Pacific Games is around the corner, the last thing the nation needs right now is any disruptions to work that may severely affect the timely delivery of the Games.”
Business as usual in Queensland
Premier and Minister for the Arts and Minister for State Development and Minister for Natural Resources and Mines Media Release [11/3/15]
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has today announced a new agreement between the Labor Government and major proponents Adani and GVK to put in place an environmentally sustainable and fiscally responsible proposal for the expansion of the Abbot Point Coal Terminal.
Ms Palaszczuk said the agreement reached would see dredge spoil dumped on land on the site known as T2, adjacent to the existing coal terminal, not on the Caley Valley wetlands or within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.
Court summons India's ex-PM Singh in coal corruption case [Reuters – 11/3/15]
Gladstone Observer [10/3/15]:
The QCLNG facility on Curtis Island will shut down for about two weeks as part of the commissioning process of Train 1.
The shutdown will start today.
A spokesperson for QCLNG partner QGC said an increase in flaring activity and associated smoke emissions was anticipated for a few days at the beginning and end of the shutdown.
The spokesperson said the maintenance being carried out was not unusual during the commissioning and start-up of an LNG facility.
The shutdown is a scheduled part of the commissioning process on Train 1.
Flaring will increase while natural gas and refrigerant is cleared from the plant, and again when gas is introduced on re-starting.
Bull with two faces sold at far north Queensland saleyard [Yahoo – 11/3/15]
How safe is safe? A Review of the Federal and State Regulatory framework for the Public, Private and Aged Care Sectors in Queensland [Queensland Nurses Union Media Release – 11/3/15]:
... We have included reference to the QNU’s key claims around legislated nurse/patient ratios which we anticipate the new Labor government will move to implement once it is established in office. ...
[Mackay Regional Council] CEO Barry Omundson has announced a management restructure in a rejuvenated push to establish council as a modern, progressive business to prepare for a challenging future.
The changes, which council approved today will result in four managers being let go, in what Mr Omundson described as a "gut wrenching decision", but needed as the region transitions to a new economic reality. ... [Daily Mercury - 11/3/15]
Dairy farmers question supermarket deal [ABC - 11/3/15]:
... The scheme has its fair share of critics, such as John Cochrane of the Premium Group, a milk bargaining collective that negotiates between farmers and processor Parmalat.
Mr Cochrane has described the Woolworths deal as one that seeks to "divide and conquer" the industry.
"We approached Woolworths and would've liked them to have taken milk from all of the Premium group and give some sort of a margin across 200 people," Mr Cochrane said.
"They're saying how it [the 'Farmer's Own' milk] is going to grow, I'd be really interested if they would put the figures on the table regarding the growth in New South Wales.
"Show to us how it has grown, and how it has benefitted farmers in New South Wales, and we will come on board."
Mr Cochrane, who is also an auctioneer, said he is seeing more dairy farming families forced to leave the industry.
He said farmers are disillusioned that farm gate prices have not reflected increased input costs, despite Queensland having a milk deficit.
"When you are 100 million litres of milk short in a market, surely that would drive price," he said.
"We are searching for markets outside the domestic market, you need to think about overseas somewhere that are prepared to pay us for the quality product we produce.
"We'd love to supply Queensland, but if we stay doing this, we're going to find it extremely difficult to stay in business."
In Queensland, about 140 farmers have left the industry since the supermarket milk price war began four years ago.
While Mr Kennedy claimed his arrangement with Woolworths was a positive step for the local dairy industry, he acknowledged that many Queensland farmers continued to be priced out.
"There's two [local] farms that have just sold their heifers out, so they'll be getting out in the next six or 12 months," he said.
"I think for a lot of people it honestly is too late. I think a lot of people, the age they are, the position they're in, financially, what we've put up with for the past four or five years, people just don't really want to continue on."
Imagine what could have been accomplished if the Greens, union movement and so called environmentalists had advocated to send the fascist major parties a message by utilising optional prefential voting and voting for neither the ALP or LNP.
Imagine what could have been accomplished if the Greens and union movement had put their resources and efforts behind getting their own candidates elected rather than ALP scumbags.
"Put the LNP last" was a vote for the ALP i.e. retain the status quo - if not worse.
... After a decade in which the number of voters showing preferences has declined consistently, in 2015 the trend has reversed.
While the LNP continued to recommend 'just vote 1', both labor and the Greens moved back to recommending lists of preferences in every seats, and the union movement ran a strong 'Put the LNP last' campaign. It looks like those preferences recommendations, and the decisions of voters themselves to number more squares, have been the difference between Labor winning the 2015 election and the LNP being returned.
QPS Media [11/3/15]:
A man has been charged following an incident at a film set yesterday at Helensvale.
Police were called to a premises on Clubhouse Drive after midday after a man allegedly produced a knife after being intercepted by a security guard.
It will be further alleged that he then fled and was located this morning at Palm Beach.
A 22-year-old Scarborough man has been charged with one count of going armed as to cause fear and is due to appear in the Southport Magistrates Court on March 27.
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.
Johnny Depp is flying back to the U.S. for surgery after injuring his hand while on location in Australia, where he is filming Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.
The Hollywood legend was not actually working at the time of the injury, the Wrap reports.
Production of the film is expected to be “minimally impacted” by Depp’s absence and the July 7, 2017, release date remains unchanged.
Shooting for the fifth installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise began last month and is being directed by Espen Sandberg and Joachim Ronning.
Starring alongside Depp is Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men), Kaya Scodelario (Skins), Brenton Thwaites (Maleficent) and Golshifteh Farahani (Exodus: Gods and Kings).
Independent Schools Queensland hosts education forum with Minister Pyne
Independent Schools Queensland was pleased to host Federal Education and Training Minister, the Honorable Christopher Pyne MP, at a schools education forum held at Clayfield College in Brisbane today.
ISQ Executive Director David Robertson said Mr Pyne addressed and took questions from a broad range of education stakeholders from State, Catholic, and independent schooling sectors, as well as representatives from universities, about the Government’s response to the Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group report released last month.
“The Minister has committed to improving initial teacher education to better prepare new teachers with the skills they need for the classroom,” Mr Robertson said.
“The Minister said that while theory was important, it was vital for pre-service teachers to have practical experience in the classroom.”
“Mr Pyne also highlighted the need for more teachers to focus on specialty subjects such as science, maths, and technology, as the TEMAG report found there were too many generalist teachers, particularly in primary school.”
Independent schools enroll approximately 15 per cent of students in Queensland and employ 16 per cent of Full Time Equivalent teaching staff across the state.
“ISQ welcomes more opportunities for Queensland independent schools to play a greater role in the quality assurance of initial teacher education programs,” Mr Robertson said.
“ISQ’s Literacy and Numeracy Coaching Academy helps schools build their capacity to implement a coaching approach within their own school environments, and our Centres of Excellence in Preservice Education provide high quality proessional experiences to prepare high quality classroom ready teachers.”
Hedge fund executives give 'til it hurts to politicians, especially Cuomo, to get more charter schools [New York Daily News - 11/3/15]
UNICEF arrives in Vanuatu as cyclone approaches
Preparations in Vanuatu are country-wide as the disaster prone nation readies itself for Cyclone Pam.
The category three cyclone is heading between Vanuatu and Fiji, but tracking much closer to Vanuatu.
Winds of 75 kilometres per hour are expected to affect the northern provinces of Vanuatu within the next 12 to 24 hours.
Alice Clements from UNICEF's Pacific office arrived in the country yesterday and says due to its geography, the entire country is vulnerable.
"There's preparations at the government level, at institutional levels, and then of course with communities and children who are always worse affected by these types of disasters. There's government appointed shelters for people who are living in low income housing areas who are very vulnerable as well."
Alice Clements says the cyclone has the potential to inflict quite a lot of damage over a period of days.
Residents have started preparing for a severe weather onslaught with rainfall and wind gusts intensifying on the Queensland coast as a category two cyclone barrels in, however the storm will not make landfall. ... [Nine MSN - 11/3/15]
Cyclone warning for WA's Pilbara as ports and anchorages are cleared [WA Today – 11/3/15]
Trio charged over immigration concentration camp assault
WA Today [11/3/15]:
Three men have been charged over the alleged assault of a man at an immigration detention centre, north-east of Perth.
The 41-year-old man was rushed from Yongah Hill Detention Centre to Northam Hospital with face and head injuries after he was assaulted at midday last Thursday.
After being assessed at Northam, the man was taken to Royal Perth Hospital in a critical condition.
Three men aged 42, 40 and 26 years have been charged with assault occasioning bodily harm in circumstances of aggravation and are due to appear in Perth Magistrates Court on March 23.
A man is in a critical condition in hospital after being bashed in a West Australian immigration detention centre.
The Department of Immigration and Border protection confirmed there was an "incident between several detainees" on Thursday at the Yongah Hill detention centre, next to the town of Northam, about 80km north-east of Perth. ... [ABC - 6/3/15]
WA police search for man after stabbing death of his sister
Nine MSN [11/3/15]:
West Australian police are hunting a man after his sister was reportedly stabbed to death and his nephew badly injured at a house north-east of Perth last night.
Police were called to house on Toodyay Road, in the township of Gidgegannup, about 11pm and discovered the body of a 56-year-old woman.
The woman’s 19-year-old son had also suffered significant injuries – believed to be multiple stab wounds – but managed to call police.
Detectives are now hunting the deceased woman’s brother, 42-year-old John Michael Mackinnon, who also lived at the home.
This morning police seized a red BMW sedan dumped by the side of the nearby Tonkin Highway. It is believed Mr Mackinnon may have driven from the Gidgegannup house in the vehicle before abandoning it.
Mounted police, the Dog Squad and specialist police are now scouring the area.
Police today released an image of Mr Mackinnon but urged members of the public not to approach him.
Perth’s Major Crime unit’s Detective Senior Sergeant Tom Mills urged Mr Mackinnon to come forward.
“Obviously a very traumatic event has occurred but if he (Mr Mackinnon) can hear this we’re asking him to contact police as matter of urgency,” he told reporters in Perth today.
Sgt Mills declined to reveal what kind of wounds the mother and son suffered in last night’s attack but local media has reported both were stabbed.
The 19-year-old remains in hospital in a serious but stable condition and is expected to undergo surgery shortly.
Anyone with further information about the death or Mr Mackinnon should contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
Australian businessman charged with murder over death at Phuket nightclub
WA Today [11/3/15]:
An Australian businessman living on the Thai resort island of Phuket has been charged with murder after a Thai nightclub security guard died from stab wounds early on Wednesday.
Mark Hamilton Pendlebury, 59, is believed to have been walking home from a Rotary meeting when he became involved in an altercation outside a nightclub in Patong, a tourist entertainment area on the island.
Formerly of Western Australia, Mr Pendlebury is involved in charity work, runs a boating business and has lived on Phuket for about 10 years.
Initial police reports say he was walking past the Taipan nightclub at about 12.30am when he saw a scuffle involving a security guard evicting customers.
The Phuketwan news website quotes police saying Mr Pendlebury attempted to photograph the incident and an altercation ensued that led to stab wounds to the guard.
Both Mr Pendlebury and the guard were taken to Patong Hospital but the guard died soon after arriving.
Mr Pendlebury's arrest has shocked foreign business people on Phuket.
Earlier this week he was arranging a boat trip for a handicapped Danish man who had been brutally attacked on a Phuket beach. Mr Pendlebury was providing the trip to help the man's recovery.
Foreign volunteer police, including Australians, who usually patrol the streets of Patong where the altercation occurred stopped their patrols several days ago over a dispute with Thai police.
Man accused of raping six-year-old girl
West Australian [11/3/15]:
A NSW man accused of raping and repeatedly sexually abusing a six-year-old girl has been charged.
The 52-year-old allegedly abused the girl at a Shoalhaven home in 2001 and 2002.
He was arrested at a Port Kembla hotel on Wednesday morning and charged with sexual intercourse with a person under 10 in circumstance of aggravation and two counts of indecent assault of a victim under 10.
The man was refused bail and will face Port Kembla Local Court on Thursday.
A yachtsman who is accused of repeatedly raping a young woman aboard his vessel while it travelled up the Queensland coast during the 1980s has emphatically denied the allegations. ... [News Mail - 11/3/15]
Cyclist seriously injured in Brisbane hit-and-run
A cyclist has been taken to hospital with serious injuries after a hit-and-run incident in Brisbane.
A silver car drove off after knocking the 45-year-old man off his bike at an intersection at Dutton Park in the city's inner-south about 6.10am (AEST) on Wednesday.
The cyclist was taken to the Princess Alexandra Hospital with serious but non-life threatening injuries.
Witnesses are asked to phone Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
Dangerous operation of a vehicle charges, Harristown [QPS Media - 10/3/15]
Man arrested for allegedly trying to run over police officer, Maroochydore [Sunshine Coast Daily - 10/3/15]
Serious traffic crash, Daisy Hill [QPS Media - 10/3/15]:
The Forensic Crash Unit is investigating a multi-vehicle traffic crash on the Pacific Motorway at Daisy Hill yesterday.
Initial investigations suggest that just before 7pm a truck collided with a stopped car causing it to crash into another car and so on. Five vehicles in total were involved in the crash.
The female driver of one vehicle sustained serious injuries. A man from one vehicle and a woman from another received minor injuries. All three people were taken to the Princess Alexandra Hospital for treatment.
Footage captures Victorian train staff wrestling, tackling fare evaders
Nine MSN [11/3/15]:
Shocking footage has emerged of three Victorian train staff violently wrestling a pair of fare evaders to the ground and then forcing them up against a fence as passenger look on in horror.
One of the pair can be heard screaming “get off my head” as he is forced to the concrete after being caught during a random ticket blitz on board a Melbourne-bound V-Line train.
Witnesses told 9NEWS the commotion started after the pair was discovered on board a train that had just left Geelong.
But after the confrontation the incident spilled out on to the platform of Lara station.
Police were called to Lara station after the female fare evader allegedly punched one of the V-Line staff members in the face.
V-Line has asked police to charge the pair of fare evaders over the alleged assault.
The footage, which shows the pair grappling with the V-Line staff, has shocked passengers.
“They don’t have the right to do this – it’s not their job,” one witness said.
The incident comes only weeks after the Ombudsman blasted a Metro ticket inspector for spear tackling a teenage girl.
The regional transport authority said it was still reviewing the actions taken by its staff.
The West Australian Government has come under fire over new laws aimed at criminalising radical protests, which reverse the onus of proof and carry maximum jail penalties of two years.
The Government last week introduced the legislation to Parliament, which aims to stop what it has dubbed the "dangerous behaviour" of some protesters. ... [ABC - 11/3/15]
Alleged kingpin in Titans cocaine scandal fronts court
The man at the centre of the cocaine scandal rocking Queensland’s sporting codes has appeared in Southport Court this morning.
John Touma is accused of being the distributor to several Gold Coast Titans players as well as Queensland Reds star Karmichael Hunt.
It’s alleged players sent a number of text messages to Touma, making references to a variety of wines, which the Queensland Crime and Corruption Commission will argue was code for cocaine.
Touma’s case was adjourned until September 11.
A pair of alleged armed burglars have been arrested after reportedly storming a Gold Coast Hinterland home and robbing the occupant in a brazen daylight attack. ... [MYGC - 11/3/15]
Break and enter, drug possession charges – Maroochydore [QPS Media – 11/3/15]
Armed robbery, Cleveland [QPS Media – 10/3/15]
Armed robbery, Bellbird Park [QPS Media – 10/3/15]
Attempted armed robbery, Inala [QPS Media - 10/3/15]
Gold Coast fire destroys house at Guanaba [ABC - 10/3/15]
An argument between two women snowballed into a massive brawl involving up to 50 people in a Cloncurry hotel in the early hours of Saturday morning.
Police say as many as 50 people fought or encouraged the violence at Cloncurry’s Oasis Hotel about 1.30am. ... [North West Star - 9/3/15]
Former police officer’s case adjourned
Sunshine Coast Daily [10/3/15]:
A former Kawana cop's well-publicised legal battles are drawing closer to a conclusion.
Ex-Senior Constable at Kawana Shoppingworld's Police Beat, David John Latemore, had his charges, 11 in total, adjourned until June 15 in Maroochydore Magistrates Court yesterday, as lawyers spoke of progress being made in the long-running saga.
Mr Latemore faced charges, including counts of unauthorised dealing with shop goods, assault or obstruct a police officer, forgery and fraud, among others.
Mr Latemore had been previously the subject of controversy, suspended in 2012 after an Ethical Standards investigation into an alleged fraudulent WorkCover claim by the former policeman.
The court heard yesterday the current matters were progressing, with a court-ordered assessment of Latemore for Mental Health Court and Legal Aid purposes to take place this week. The matter was adjourned by Magistrate John Hodgins.
Further delay in case of Logan men facing "terror charges" following September 2014 Murdoch beatup and AFP raid
A delay in obtaining secretly recorded phone conversations is holding up the cases of two Queensland men accused of preparing to fight in Syria.
Omar Succarieh, 32, and Agim Kruezi, 22, had their matters mentioned briefly in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on Wednesday.
They're facing a number of terrorism-related charges, including preparing for incursions into war-torn Syria.
Commonwealth prosecutor Justin Williams told the court on Wednesday the "vast bulk" of evidence had been provided to Kruezi's and Succarieh's lawyers.
However, transcripts of intercepted telephone conversations involving Kruezi could not be obtained from a third party before late March or early April, Mr Williams said.
"The amount of material that's already provided, in my submission is substantial, and will take the parties a significant amount of time to consider," he warned.
Further allegations against Kruezi include that he was planning a terrorist act, possessed weapons and recruited people to fight overseas.
Succarieh is charged with providing funds to the terrorist organisation Jabhat al-Nusra, also known as the al-Nusra Front, in Syria.
Both men have been behind bars since their arrest in counter-terrorism raids last September.
Neither was required to appear in court.
Succarieh's lawyer, James Wallace, expressed frustration at the "extremely slow and tedious" progress of the case.
Queensland Chief Magistrate Ray Rinaudo adjourned the matter until April 3.
Brisbane Times [23/1/15]:
Court documents have revealed how an undercover police officer infiltrated a Logan Islamic bookstore community, gaining the trust of three members who were later charged with terrorism offences.
The Australian Federal Police agent known as UCO317656 met Omar Succarieh, Agim Kruezi and Robert Louis Maestracci in June 2014 at the iQraa Islamic Centre, according to material filed in the Brisbane Supreme Court this week.
iQraa, which was run by Mr Succarieh, was raided on September 10 last year by AFP anti-terrorism police.
Al Jazeera Investigates - Informants [VIDEO – 20/7/14]:
Al Jazeera's Investigative Unit takes you inside the shadowy world of FBI informants and counterterrorism sting operations. Following the 9/11 attacks, the FBI set about to recruit a network of more than 15,000 informants. Al Jazeera's investigative film tells the stories of three paid FBI informants who posed as Muslims as they searched for people interested in joining violent plots concocted by the FBI.
Canberra Times [3/2/15]:
Federal Coalition MP Luke Simpkins illegally crossed the Thai border into Myanmar to attend a military parade and "revolution day" ceremony with rebel fighters.
The former Australian army officer, who has spoken out often about human rights abuses in the country, also known as Burma, presented a large Australian flag to Karen soldiers who have been fighting the Myanmar army.
He spent a night at a base of the Karen National Defence Organisation, which has several thousand fighters, before re-entering Thailand near the border town of Mae Sot, 491 kilometres north of Bangkok.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade declined to comment on Mr Simpkins' crossing of the border.
Australian Federal Police are investigating the whereabouts of Northern Territory Labor Party chief Matthew Gardiner, also a former Australian army officer, who has reportedly joined Kurdish guerrillas in Syria fighting against the so-called Islamic State.
Ex-council worker who poisoned homeless people in Townsville jailed
A former council worker from north Queensland has been sentenced to 12 months' jail for attempting to poison homeless people.
The Townsville District Court heard 65-year-old Neville Douglas Welsh was frustrated with cleaning up after homeless people who slept in the city's Dean Park.
Welsh's trial heard he left iced coffee bottles in the park containing methylated spirits and weed killer.
Witnesses told the court they heard Welsh say he would brew up medicine for the itinerants, that he wanted to "make them sick" and that the "Abos at the park should be shot".
Welsh's lawyer said his client was not on trial for saying such things.
"We don't live in perfect world - who hasn't heard these sorts of racist comments?" he told the court.
Welsh had pleaded not guilty to two counts of attempting to injure by noxious substance.
The jury found him guilty on both counts.
He was sentenced to 12 months in jail, suspended after six months.
In handing down the sentence, Judge Anthony Rafter said Welsh has shown a distinct lack of remorse.
Amit Kumar inquest: Group making citizen's arrest on Queensland's Sunshine Coast contributed to man's death, coroner finds [ABC – 11/3/15]
“The net effect of this language system was not to keep these people ignorant of what they were doing, but to prevent them from equating it with their old, "normal" knowledge of murder and lies. Eichmann's great susceptibility to catch words and stock phrases, combined with his incapacity for ordinary speech, made him, of course, an ideal subject for "language rules.”
Hannah Arendt, 'Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil' [The New Yorker - 16/2/1963]
The Age [11/3/15]:
... Some of the refugees have now been held more than five years, spanning Labor and Coalition governments.
Most are Tamils who fled Sri Lanka's civil war.
In the correspondence, Australia told the UN it "sincerely regrets" missing by almost a year the 180-day deadline to respond to the committee's July 2013 ruling, which called for the refugees to be released and compensated.
But the government's eventual response, made in December last year but not public before now, gives no ground to the UN committee finding that Australia was "inflicting serious psychological harm" on the refugees in indefinite detention.
The government said prompt medical treatment is provided and "Australia is committed to minimising the factors that contribute to mental health deteriorations of individuals in immigration detention".
The majority of the refugees with negative assessments are detained at a Broadmeadows detention centre in Melbourne's north, where a spate of suicide and self-harm attempts have taken place.
Police were called to the centre as recently as December and laid mattresses on the ground after a Burmese man spent a night on the roof threatening to jump.
The government also disagreed with the committee's interpretation of "arbitrary" detention and "arrest" that Australia has accepted under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
"We know nothing": Department of Immigration on missing addressees
The Australian government says most mail sent to asylum seekers in its detention centre in Nauru last year was returned because they had departed or refused to accept letters from an unknown Australian source.
A barrister in Melbourne, Julian Burnside, had accused the immigration department of intentionally withholding 2,000 letters of support sent by people in Australia to asylum seekers held on Nauru.
The department says the service providers at the Nauru camp attempted to deliver all the letters.
It also says letters were sent to Canberra's detention centre in Papua New Guinea.
The department has not said where the asylum seekers went and why it couldn't forward the mail to those who had departed.
Mr Burnside says the letters were sent by Australians throughout the course of last year, but were returned unopened in bulk to his office in December.
The immigration department says it had been in contact with Mr Burnside and organised the return of all undeliverable letters to him as per his request.
All asylum seekers sent to Nauru and Papua New Guinea have been told by Canberra that they will never be allowed to settle as refugees in Australia because they lodged their application after arriving in Australian waters by boat.
“Australia must make a choice: do we want to stand beside governments which torture and mistreat their people or do we want to take a stand against them by protecting those who flee this cruelty?”
Refugee Council responds to UN findings that Australia tortures refugees [Media Release - 9/3/15]:
The Australian Government cannot yet again ignore a credible human rights report by attacking its author, the Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) said today.
RCOA chief executive officer Paul Power said the Australian Government must seriously address the substance of the report by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Méndez which outlines Australia’s breaches of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in its treatment of asylum seekers.
The report found that Australia has violated the Convention Against Torture through holding asylum seekers (including children) in indefinite detention, failing to provide adequate conditions of detention and protect asylum seekers from violence in offshore detention centres, holding Sri Lankan asylum seekers in incommunicado detention at sea and introducing legislation which allows arbitrary detention at sea and tightens restrictions on access to visas.
“The Convention Against Torture is designed to prevent some of the most serious of all human rights violations. The fact that Australia’s asylum seekers policies have been found to be in breach of this Convention shows just how low we have sunk in our treatment of people seeking protection,” Mr Power said.
“This report should serve as a wake-up call for the Australian Government. Instead, the Prime Minister has chosen to question the Special Rapporteur’s credibility and dismiss his findings as a mere ‘lecture’.
“Juan Méndez is a foremost human rights expert, having previously served as Special Advisor to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court and Special Advisor to the UN Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide. He was himself subjected to torture during administrative detention under Argentina’s military dictatorship.
“The role of experts like Mr Méndez is not to ‘lecture’ governments but to draw attention to serious human rights violations and advocate for people at risk of mistreatment. His advice should not be dismissed as a ‘lecture’ any more than the Australian Government’s appeals for clemency for Australians on death row in Indonesia.
“If the Prime Minister truly wishes to ‘uphold the universal decencies of mankind’ and ‘ensure that the best values of our world are realised’, he should spend less time attacking human rights experts and more time listening to what they have to say.
“There can be no doubt that Australia’s asylum seeker policies place us in breach of our international human rights obligations. Many of these policies were implemented during the life of the previous government. If the Abbott Government chooses to maintain these policies, it does so in full knowledge that it is perpetuating serious human rights violations.
“Australia must make a choice: do we want to stand beside governments which torture and mistreat their people or do we want to take a stand against them by protecting those who flee this cruelty?”
Amnesty Australia silent on UN finding refugees are being tortured in their own backyard. [Thousands at risk of execution after Pakistan’s ‘shameful retreat to the gallows - Media Release - 11/3/15]
Australian Human Rights Commission silent. [e-bulletin: 10 March 2015]
Fiji military knew about NZ spying
Fiji's military commander, Brigadier-General Mosese Tikoitoga, says the military knew it was spied on by New Zealand.
He made the comment to the Fijilive website after last week's reports that New Zealand's electronic spy agency, the GCSB, engaged in mass collection of data from countries in the region, passing it on to the United States.
The reports say New Zealand spied on Fiji's military in the 2000 and 2006 coups.
Brigadier General Tikoitoga said whether it empowered them at the time, it has belittled them because they are now not seen around this area as being friendly as they said they were.
He maintains Fiji has nothing to hide.
The lawyer for Kim Dotcom is again seeking to delay his client's extradition hearing but this time by five months. ... [RNZI - 11/3/15]
Swedish Supreme Court Approves Assange's Appeal Hearing
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange was granted Tuesday an appeal hearing by Sweden's Supreme Court.
Assange's lawyers have been seeking to appeal sexual assault accusations against him, which were used by Swedish authorities to issue an arrest warrant in absentia.
Assange fears that any extradition to Sweden would see him onwardly extradited to the U.S, where the FBI continues a criminal investigation into Wikileaks.
The decision was published in the Supreme Court's website and and the court ordered a new investigation to be carried by the attorney general.
Earlier in November 2014, Assange's lawyers filed an appeal which was denied by the appeals court.
“The situation (case) is completely stalled and that is what we highlighted on our request,” explained Per Samuelsson, one of Assange's lawyers, earlier in February when the request was issued.
The lawyers also filed a petition with the United Nations in protest of arbitrary detention.
However, as Wikileaks made it clear through its Twitter account, even if Swedish authorities do drop the case, the United Kingdom could still detain Assange.
Assange, who sought asylum in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, has repeatedly requested the Swedish prosecutor question him in England.
Although this is a standard procedure allowed by the Swedish Justice system, prosecutor Marianne Ny has refused his requests.
Hillary Clinton faces new questions over personal emails she 'chose not to keep' [Guardian - 11/3/15]
NSA sued by Wikimedia, rights groups over mass surveillance [Reuters – 10/3/15]
The Intercept [10/3/15]:
Researchers working with the Central Intelligence Agency have conducted a multi-year, sustained effort to break the security of Apple’s iPhones and iPads, according to top-secret documents obtained by The Intercept.
The security researchers presented their latest tactics and achievements at a secret annual gathering, called the “Jamboree,” where attendees discussed strategies for exploiting security flaws in household and commercial electronics. The conferences have spanned nearly a decade, with the first CIA-sponsored meeting taking place a year before the first iPhone was released.
Suicide car bombing kills 7 in southern Afghanistan
A suicide attacker detonated a car bomb near a police vehicle in the capital of southern Afghanistan's Helmand province on Tuesday, killing seven people and injuring 23 others, the province's deputy governor said.
The attack happened at about 6 p.m. in the Bolan area of Lashkar Gah city, said Mohammad Jan Rasoolyar, deputy governor of Helmand.
Several children were among the wounded, and the majority of casualties were civilians, Rasoolyar said.
Details about the attacker's identity and motive weren't immediately available.
Pakistan will begin executing convicts on death row whose appeals have been exhausted, an interior ministry spokesman has said, reversing an earlier announcement that only those convicted of terrorism would be executed.
"It applies to all [on death row], irrespective of the nature of the crime," said the spokesman, who said the order was given late on Friday but not publicised until Tuesday.
There are more than 8,000 Pakistanis on death row. But the country had a de facto moratorium on executions in place from 2008 until December, when Taliban gunmen massacred 134 children and 19 adults in the worst attack in the country's history. ... [Al Jazeera - 10/3/15]
United States, “allies” continue bombing Iraq and Syria
On March 9, U.S. military forces continued to attack ISIL terrorists in Syria, using fighter, bomber and remotely piloted aircraft to conduct four airstrikes.
Separately, U.S. and Coalition military forces conducted eight airstrikes in Iraq, using attack, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft against ISIL terrorists.
All strikes took place between 8 a.m., March 9, and 8 a.m., March 10, local time.
The following is a summary of the strikes conducted since the last press release:
* Near Kobani, four airstrikes struck four ISIL tactical units and destroyed nine ISIL fighting positions and an ISIL vehicle.
* Near Fallujah, three airstrikes struck two ISIL large tactical units and destroyed three ISIL vehicles.
* Near Kirkuk, four airstrikes struck three ISIL large tactical units, an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed five ISIL fighting positions, four ISIL buildings, three ISIL vehicles, three ISIL VBIEDS, an ISIL culvert crossing and an ISIL heavy machine gun.
* Near Mosul, an airstrike suppressed an ISIL vehicle.
Airstrike assessments are based on initial reports. All aircraft returned to base safely.
U.S. President Barack Obama's request to authorize military force against Islamic State has made little progress since he sent it to Congress, and it may never pass, due largely to opposition from his fellow Democrats.
Both lawmakers and aides said they expected it would be months, if ever, before the full House and Senate vote.
"Time is not on our side," Democratic Representative Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee and a leading advocate for a new AUMF, told Reuters.
"The longer we go into this conflict without a resolution, the more members become comfortable with the status quo and failure to act ... that would be an appalling result," he said. ... [Reuters - 10/3/15]
Sweden has torn up a decade-long arms agreement with Saudi Arabia after the Saudis blocked the Swedish foreign minister from speaking about human rights to a summit of Arab leaders. ... [Guardian - 11/3/15]
U.S. forces will join Gulf Cooperation Council nations and international partners in Exercise Eagle Resolve, the premier U.S. multilateral exercise within the Arabian Peninsula, in Kuwait, from March 8-31, 2015. ... [Centcom - 9/3/15]
The Islamic State released a video Tuesday purporting to show a young boy executing an Arab Israeli who it claimed infiltrated the group in Syria to spy for Tel Aviv.
In the video, a youth identifying himself as 19-year-old Mohammed Said Ismail Musallam recounts how he was recruited by Israeli intelligence. ... [Naharnet - 10/3/15]
On Tuesday, a local source in Nineveh province said, that 5 ISIS elements were killed in an explosion that took place in the University of Mosul.
The source informed IraqiNews, “An explosion, which was not known in nature, has occurred inside the hall of the women’s gymnastics room in the University of Mosul, located in central Mosul,” pointing out that, “The explosion resulted in killing five elements of the ISIS group.”
@IraqiSMCEn - Iraqi Spring Media Center [10/3/15]:
Baghdad: The ministry of health has evacuated most of hospitals in Baghdad-including Kadhumiya and Pediatric hospitals- to receive hundreds of wounded elements of swarms militia ...
Ta'ameem: Peshmerga elements have blazed civilian homes in Samai Lawa village west of Kirkuk after controlling on the village......
Ta'ameem: The war planes have flown over west of Kirkuk areas and multi blasts have been heard at the suburb of the city ,further details unknown....................
@ANA_Feed - ANA PRESS [10/3/15]:
Syrian Air Force resumed shelling Tuesday morning in Idlib province leaving at least a man killed and 8 wounded in the Maarat Al Nouman area, which was hit by barrel bombs dropped by Syrian military helicopters. Air strikes were carried out also on the Habeet area and on the outskirts of the Saraqeb area.
ANA PRESS [9/3/15]:
Six people were killed and several others were wounded, including children and women, by two barrel bombs dropped by Syrian military helicopters on the Talbisah area of Homs province on Monday. Among the dead two children and two opposition fighters, while another woman was killed by artillery shelling from the Ashrafiyeh pro-regime village rising the death toll in Talbisah to 7. The town was also subjected to several air strikes.
Furthermore air strikes were carried out by Syrian warplanes on the Deir Foul area and regime tanks shelled today the Houla area in the province, while mortar shelling targeted the Waer opposition-held neighborhood of Homs.
On the other hand, opposition forces fired two Grad missiles at the Akramah pro-regime area of Homs and a number of rockets at regime positions in the Al Mashrafa area in the province.
34 Killed in Explosion at Market in Northeastern Nigeria
ABC News [10/3/15]:
At least 34 persons were killed by a teenage girl suicide bomber on Tuesday at a crowded market in the northeastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri, said witnesses.
The blast by a female teenager occurred in the market near the Old Elkanemi Cinema in the late afternoon, said Musa Danbaba, a member of a civilian protection militia. He said 34 bodies were counted and many more were wounded.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing, but it bears the hallmarks of Nigeria's Islamic extremist group, Boko Haram.
The Maiduguri market is where suicide bombers on Saturday detonated explosives that killed 54 people.
Violence in Yemen claimed four lives Tuesday, various sources said, with one fatal shooting attributed to al-Qaida.
In al-Qatan, in the terror network's stronghold of Hadramawt province, two al-Qaida fighters on a motorcycle gunned down an officer of the intelligence services, a local official said.
In Huta, capital of Lahij province, gunmen tried to rob a post office, killing two soldiers guarding it and wounding a third, police said.
And unidentified gunmen firing from a car killed a retired colonel, a police official said. ... [Naharnet - 10/3/15]
Condemning the “reprehensible” attacks on civilians and United Nations peacekeepers and facilities in Mali, UN independent expert Suliman Baldo today expressed deep concern that massive violations of the most basic rights continue to plague populations in areas affected by fighting. ... [UN Media Release - 10/3/15]
Russia 'completely ending' activities under Conventional Armed Forces in Europe treaty
Moscow has announced it is "completely" ending activities under the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE). Russia’s participation in the treaty was first halted in 2007.
"The Russian Federation has taken the decision to halt its participation in meetings of the [consulting group] from March 11, 2015. Therefore, Russia is ending its actions in the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, announced in 2007, completely," a statement from the Foreign Ministry said.
Moscow has asked Belarus to represent Russia's interests in the group starting from Wednesday, the statement said.
According to the Ministry, the move does not mean that Moscow refuses to continue further dialogue on control of conventional armed forces in Europe - "if and when our partners are ready for it," the Ministry official said in the statement, adding that future work on the project should serve the interests of both Russia and other European states.
The original CFE Treaty, signed in 1990 by 16 NATO and six Warsaw Pact, set equal ceilings for each bloc on key categories of conventional armaments, with tanks, combat armored vehicles, artillery, assault helicopters and combat aircraft among them.
For instance, under the treaty, each side is supposed to have no more than 16,500 tanks or 27,300 armored combat vehicles in active units.
1999 saw an “adapted” version of the treaty signed. However NATO members refused to ratify it until Russia withdrew troops from Georgia and the breakaway Moldovan region of Transdnestria. Russia slammed the condition as an “artificial linkage.”
In December 2007 this led to Moscow imposing a moratorium on the CFE treaty. Moscow also said the treaty was “irrelevant” since NATO planned to increase its military presence in Eastern Europe.
Four years later, the North Atlantic bloc stated exchange of information on conventional weapons and troops with Russia would be stopped. In November 2014, Moscow suspended the implementation of the CFE Treaty.
Two months later, the US House of Representatives issued a resolution condemning Russia and, among other points, urging president Obama to review US and NATO armed forces readiness under the CFE.
"For many years the Russian Federation has been doing everything possible to maintain... the treaty, initiated talks on its adaptation and ratified the adaptation agreement," Moscow said Tuesday, adding that all such efforts have been dismissed by NATO in favor of the alliance's expansion.
Meanwhile, Norway has started military exercises in its northernmost province, which borders Russia’s Kola Peninsula. Called 'Joint Viking,' the one-week war games involve 5,000 Norwegian troops and 400 vehicles, the largest military training exercise in nearly 50 years in the country, which has been promoting closer military cooperation with NATO member states after escalation of the Ukrainian crisis.
UNHCR delivers aid amid worsening conditions in eastern Ukraine [Media Release – 10/3/15]
At least 16 police officers and eight protesters were hurt when Myanmar police clashed with students, monks and journalists as they broke up protesters calling for academic freedom, according to news reports and witnesses.
About 200 students and supporters, who have been protesting against an education bill, which they said stifles academic independence, had planned to march to the commercial hub of Yangon, when they were confronted by police, Reuters news agency reported. ... [Al Jazeera - 10/3/15]
The U.S. Army commander for the Pacific says Southeast Asian nations are eager for the U.S. to engage with Myanmar's military and he's looking for an opportunity to visit the country.
But Gen. Vincent Brooks says building military ties with Myanmar is "an open door through which we need to walk not run" amid continued concerns over human rights and reconciliation there.
In October, the deputy chief of U.S. Pacific Command attended a human rights dialogue in Myanmar. But three years after the U.S.-Myanmar diplomatic rapprochement began, military ties remain very limited and restricted by law.
Brooks told a Washington think tank Wednesday that the U.S. and Myanmar are looking for the right subject areas and activities for training together that would benefit both countries and the region.
Israel Demolishes EU-Funded Shelters in Jerusalem
Israeli authorities on Tuesday demolished an EU-funded shelter in Arab east Jerusalem, the European Union said, denouncing the move.
"We condemn today's demolition of temporary shelters funded by the European Union as part of its response to the needs of the affected communities," an EU statement said.
EU funds have helped to pay for some 200 temporary buildings used as shelters in villages inhabited by Bedouin communities in the West Bank, just outside Arab east Jerusalem.
Israel occupied east Jerusalem in 1967 and later annexed it, in a move never recognized by the international community.
The structures demolished on Tuesday were small metal constructions put up on the outskirts of Arab neighborhood Issawiya, an Agence France-Presse correspondent said.
The area was empty of residents following the demolition by bulldozer.
A spokeswoman for the Jerusalem municipality said the process was initiated by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority.
A spokeswoman for the authority told AFP the structures were in a national park within the jurisdiction of the Jerusalem municipality, which had been informed of the violation and demolished the structures.
A spokesman for Regavim, a rightwing lobby group, said the move was unusual.
"This doesn't happen every day, and it certainly doesn't happen to EU buildings," the spokesman told AFP.
Israeli authorities regularly demolish structures inhabited by the Bedouin in the West Bank, and have tried to move communities into housing planned by the state.
Activists say Israel is deliberately displacing the Bedouin in order to build settlements in the area of the West Bank just outside east Jerusalem.
That effective annexation of a corridor running through the middle of the West Bank would make the creation of a contiguous Palestinian state impossible.
Palestine Is Still the Issue:
John Pilger first made the film 'Palestine Is Still The Issue' in 1977. It told how almost a million Palestinians had been forced off their land in 1948, and again in 1967. Twenty five years later, John Pilger returned to the West Bank of Jordan and Gaza, and to Israel, to ask why the Palestinians, whose right of return was affirmed by the United Nations more than half a century ago, are still caught in a terrible limbo - refugees in their own land, controlled by Israel in the longest military occupation in modern times.
Australia tortures refugees.
Which politicians and human rights organisations will call for an end to it?
... On Monday this week the UN Special Rapporteur on torture tabled his annual report at the Human Rights Council.
In his observations on communications Méndez discussed our urgent appeal regarding A and B, and found that Australia has violated their right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.
To paraphrase, the UN agreed the men were tortured.
The special rapporteur’s findings came too late for the men.
When the hunger strikes erupted in January this year, A decided the risk of further torture was too high and opted to return home to Iran, where he was certain he would face execution.
He has disappeared.
B felt he could not return home, and stayed on at Manus. He was accused of being a “ringleader” and was again tortured in Chauka compound.
He has sent me photos and videos to prove this.
His feet were beaten so hard that the skin split open from his heel to his ankle bone, and he is not the only one.
Former Department of Immigration employee tries to recant refugee (and advocate) bashing "stop the boats" propaganda. [New Matilda - 11/3/15]
Asylum seekers to race Sydney to Hobart [ABC - PM - 20/1/15]:
... FELICITY OGILVIE: And what will the journey look like between now and almost a year's time, when you hope to enter the Sydney to Hobart yacht race?
GREG LAKE: So there's obviously a lot to learn; you have to become a good sailor if you're going to compete in the Sydney to Hobart.
But we're hoping that we'll be able to find a crew of asylum seekers, who have got the energy and the inspiration to do that.
It's been very easy to find keen asylum seekers who want to go and learn these new skills.
And so, for the next 12 months, we'll be training up that crew; probably about eight asylum seeks who'll be, they'll go from never sailing all the way through to being ready to do that Sydney to Hobart, through all of the qualification races, through all of the training that they need to undertake.
And a lot of it will be about building a team of friends, who work together to compete in this race properly.
And I'm looking forward to those new relationships, I'm looking forward to those new challenges, and I'm looking forward to giving them the chance to actually overcome some of those traumatic experiences that they've had.
FELICITY OGILVIE: And how do you think that will happen during the year?
GREG LAKE: I'm hoping that, over the course of the year, we'll meet lots of new people, and we'll be doing a full sailing training program like most of the Sydney to Hobart competitors would do, where you actually plot out and plan your campaign, and these guys will invest themselves in that venture.
I'm very confident they'll be able to do that. So there'll be a lot of work involved for them; they'll have to learn new skills, get fit enough to do the race, learn a lot about racing, but it will be a lot of hard work for them, yes.
FELICITY OGILVIE: You were working on Christmas Island in 2010, when there was the boat disaster and many people died. Has this motivated you to create the Sydney to Hobart challenge?
GREG LAKE: Look, I think what the boat crash did for me was drive home that these boats we're talking about really are very dangerous, and a policy that doesn't address the arrival of boats and the use of boats as a means of getting to Australia is a deficient policy.
It also reminded me that the guys we're talking about, who we're hoping to involve in our sailing, and also in the Sydney to Hobart campaign in general, are people who have overcome that adversity at sea, and many of them have experienced the same kind of trauma or at least come close to that kind of disaster.
The sea is a dangerous place, and overcoming it for yourself is a huge thing for anybody, and especially for these people. ...
Mr Lake received a round of applause after giving evidence at the Australian Human Rights Commission National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention 2014.
11 March 2015