School kids in Ibb city during airstrikes today. #Yemen ...
Image: @hafezbukari [12/4/15]:
@omeisy [12/4/15]: #Yemen Chamber of Commerce asking UN to intervene so coalition stops targeting infrastructure & open air/seaports
Australia and PNG Ministers for refugee concentration camps meet in Brisbane
PNG Loop [12/4/15]:
Foreign Affairs Minister Rimbink Pato has held informal talks with his Australian counterpart Peter Dutton on several key issues for both countries.
They met in Brisbane last night.
Minister Pato said the talks revolved around the asylum seeker detention centre in Manus Island, and also the issue of the granting of visas on arrival for Papua New Guineans wanting to enter Australia.
With the asylum seeker issue, the Minister said talks centred on what to do with those living in the detention centre who had expressed a wish to leave PNG, as well as those who were willing to settle within PNG, and the ongoing costs of both groups.
Mr Pato said he intended to ensure these issues were resolved by the end of this year.
An 82-year-old woman says she was "left to starve to death" in Fiona Stanley Hospital because of a medical mix up which saw her fast for almost five days. ... [WA Today - 12/4/15]
Senator Lazarus calls on The Courier Mail to apologise
Media Release [12/4/15]:
Independent Senator for Queensland, Glenn Lazarus, today called on The Courier Mail to apologise to the family of Stephanie Scott for its insensitive and offensive front page cover story ‘Bride and Seek’.
“I, like many Australians, was distressed to hear of Stephanie Scott’s disappearance and hoped she would be found safe and well,” Senator Glenn Lazarus said.
“Sadly, Stephanie was not found safe and well.
“I can’t image the pain and anguish her family and friends are now dealing with.
"My thoughts are with Stephanie's family and friends at this difficult time.
“Australia has lost a wonderful young woman.
“I am appalled at the disrespect shown by The Courier Mail towards Stephanie Scott and her family.
“The people of Queensland are also appalled. The Courier Mail’s behaviour towards Stephanie Scott does not represent the views of Queenslanders.
“I would like to apologise to the family of Stephanie Scott for The Courier Mail’s distasteful front page story.
“The people of Queensland are concerned about violence against women and we are deeply upset by Stephanie’s passing.
“Two women are now killed by domestic violence every week.
“Violence against women is a serious issue and one which should never be trivialised.
“As a community we all need to do more to stop
violence against women.”
Husband arrested as homicide police investigate disappearance of Townsville woman
A 47-year-old man has been arrested over the suspicious disappearance of his partner in north Queensland.
Julie Hutchinson was reported missing from a Townsville property on April 9.
Police launched a homicide investigation into her disappearance on Sunday afternoon.
The 48-year-old Queensland Nickel employee and mother of two was last seen at a residence in Chelsea Drive on March 7 - almost a month before being reported missing by her sister.
At a press conference, police said Ms Hutchinson's house was declared a crime scene late Saturday when information came to hand suggesting they were dealing with a homicide.
Forensic police were spotted combing the property on Sunday afternoon.
Police said Ms Condon's husband was in custody and assisting police with their inquiries.
No charges have been laid.
Neighbours described the couple as nice, quiet people who kept to themselves.
They have lived in the area for about a decade.
Police are appealing for anyone who may have seen Ms Hutchinson or the vehicle that she may have been driving, a 2004 silver Mazda 6 sedan with Queensland registration 622 HZE, since early March to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
Update 3 – missing man, Mount Mee
QPS Media [12/4/15]:
Police have released a new image of Raymond Westrop, missing in the Mount Mee area.
Missing man, Mount Mee - crop
Mr Westrop, 56, was last seen on Wednesday evening and a search involving the police helicopter, approximately 120 State Emergency Service volunteers and police, including the Police Mounted Unit, have so far failed to locate him.
Police are continuing to appeal for property owners to search their properties, especially any outbuildings and creek and dam areas for any sign of him.
Motorists who have been in the area since Wednesday night are also urged to contact Crimestoppers if they saw anyone walking near a road who could match Mr Westrop’s description.
Mr Westrop is described as frail with white hair and green eyes. He is believed to be wearing navy blue shorts, a red and blue top, white running shoes with green ends on the laces, a polar fleece, and a camouflage rain jacket.
The police helicopter will be searching the area this afternoon.
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.
New search for Queensland murder victims
Authorities have carried out a fresh search to try to find the remains of Queensland murder victim Chantal Barnett.
It's been more than two years since the 27-year-old and her housemate Robert Martinez, 26, disappeared from the Mount Archer area on the outskirts of Rockhampton.
A skull and bones belonging to Mr Martinez, and Ms Barnett's handbag, were found at a Mount Archer property in October last year.
It was the same site where Mr Martinez's car and wallet were found in 2013.
None of the missing woman's remains has been found despite numerous intensive searches.
SES volunteers and police scoured a property on Boundary Road at Parkhurst on Saturday, police told AAP.
Police would not say what prompted the new search, but officers in charge of the murder investigation are expected to address the media on Monday.
Last year, Detective Inspector Darrin Shadlow said he believed he knew who had killed the pair, and that other people knew as well.
Robbery, Mount Ommaney
QPS Media [12/4/15]:
Detectives are investigating following a robbery yesterday afternoon in Mount Ommaney.
At about 5.15pm a man approached a woman who was sitting in her car in a shopping centre car park on Dandenong Road.
He engaged the woman in conversation before attempting to grab the woman’s handbag. A brief struggle followed during which the woman sustained an injury to her arm.
The man then made off with the woman’s handbag which contained a sum of cash.
The woman was treated at the scene for bruising to her arm and shoulder.
The man is described as being in his early 20s, approximately 165cm tall, of slim build with short black hair and is believed to have been wearing a short sleeve, dark coloured shirt.
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.
And when the guy who broke his neck is better we'll charge him with something too
QPS Media [12/4/15]:
Police have charged a man following an evade police incident and traffic crash in Yatala last night.
The 20-year-old male driver has been charged with one count each of wilfully making unnecessary noise or smoke, defective vehicle, unregistered motor vehicle, uninsured motor vehicle, registration offences, urinating in a public place and fail to stop.
The man is due to appear in the Beenleigh Magistrates Court tomorrow morning.
Police are urging anyone who witnessed the incident or has any information which may assist police with their investigations to contact crime stoppers on 1800 333 000.
The Forensic Crash Unit is continuing to investigate the incident.
Police use capsicum spray, shut down large Sydney party for no reason other than it was large?
Nine MSN [12/4/15]:
Two officers were injured and capsicum spray used as police attempted to break up a large party in Sydney overnight.
Police were called to an abandoned industrial area on McPherson Street in Botany Bay at about 10.30pm where about 1000 people were attending a party.
Citing safety concerns, officers attempted to close down the party with the help of the riot squad.
Most people moved on peacefully, however, a number of them allegedly threw glass bottles at officers, prompting police to use capsicum spray.
One police officer was hit by a broken bottle and sustained cuts to his head.
He was treated at the scene and then taken to the Prince of Wales Hospital.
A number of partygoers were also treated at the scene after being sprayed.
A 26-year-old woman was arrested at the scene after allegedly assaulting another officer.
The investigation continues.
Anybody with information about the incident is urged to contact CrimeStoppers on 1800 333 000.
Serious traffic crash, Clagiraba
QPS Media [12/4/15]:
Police are investigating a serious traffic crash that occurred this afternoon in Clagiraba.
Initial information suggests that at around 12.20pm a car and motorcycle have collided at the intersection of Clagiraba Road and Beaudesert Nerang Road.
The 59-year-old motorcycle rider suffered serious internal injuries and was transported to the Gold Coast University Hospital where he remains in a critical condition.
The driver of the car, a 21-year-old man was not injured.
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.
Truck blaze closes Hume Highway
Daily Advertiser [12/4/15]:
A truck driver miraculously escaped injury when the semi-trailer he was driving became fully engulfed by flames, causing serious traffic delays on the Hume Highway.
Cars banked up on the busty stretch from Sydney to Melbourne as six fire crews worked to extinguish the mail truck near Wagga after it caught alight about 2pm Saturday.
A Rural Fire Service spokesman said trucks from Wagga, Tarcutta and Borambola extinguished the fire within two hours.
HAZMAT teams were called in to clear the fuel off the road and the road was opened later that night.
While the cause of the fire remains unknown, duty officer Inspector Mark Murphy confirmed it wasn’t being treated as suspicious.
Miraculously, the driver sustained no injuries.
Unions win High Court case against Newman government changes to Queensland Rail
Brisbane Times [12/4/15]:
Unions have won a High Court bid to have a Newman government decision to exempt Queensland Rail from the federal Fair Work Act struck down on constitutional grounds.
But the Liberal National Party, now in opposition, had no regrets about its actions in light of the legal loss.
The 2012 introduction of the state Queensland Rail Transit Authority Act transferred all QR employees to the new QRTA.
As a consequence, workers were no longer subject to existing enterprise agreements, which the five unions representing QR employees argued was unconstitutional.
QR was, they argued, a "trading corporation" rather than a statutory authority and, therefore, subject to the Fair Work Act.
Last week, the High Court unanimously agreed.
Electrical Trades Union assistant state secretary Peter Ong, whose union was one of the five to launch the High Court action, said the QRTA Act was "anti-worker legislation" that was "explicitly aimed to strip conditions away" from all government employees.
"What (the High Court case) exposed was the fact the Newman government was ideologically driven to attack workers and their conditions," he said.
"In this case, like many of the ideological attacks, they were found wanting."
In a letter to the ETU, QR chief executive Helen Gluer said QR respected the court's decision.
"We are currently considering the full implications of the decision for Queensland Rail," she wrote to ETU state secretary Peter Simpson.
"...(We have) already advised our employees that there will be no change in their pay and conditions as we work through the implications of this decision.
"I want to reassure you that we will be approaching any changes arising from this case in a measured, methodical and calm manner."
Greyhound industry voices anger at Queensland racing body [Brisbane Times - 12/4/15]
Woman who sent her boss a text calling him a 'complete dick' loses unfair dismissal claim [Sydney Morning Herald - 12/4/15]
Research offers migraine treatment hope
Researchers have made a discovery they believe could mean more effective pain relief for migraine sufferers.
The debilitating attacks are difficult to treat and affect nearly two in 10 women and about one in 10 men.
Associate Professor Debbie Hay from the university's School of Biological Sciences said her team had discovered a new way to potentially block migraine pain.
It has been known for about 20 years that those who suffer migraines have higher levels of the hormone CGRP in their blood.
Many researchers had been struggling to block the effects of CGRP by using small molecule drugs targeting its pain receptor with limited success, said Professor Hay.
The Auckland Universtiy team had discovered another receptor on the surface of pain sensing nerve cells.
"We think that actually CGRP has two receptors ... we've discovered a second receptor called AMY1, and we think that we need to block both receptors to stop migraine pain," she said.
"We'd have a good chance of stopping the pain phase which is really the most debilitating thing for many sufferers and with more research we might find that CGRP is involved in the other debilitating effects such as aura, sensitivity to light.
"Other drugs on the market are a little bit different, but the chances are this is all linked together."
Professor Hay said the discovery did not mean that a new drug was around the corner, but it may fast-track the process to producing effective drugs to combat migraines.
And it might go some way to allay fears that what had been seen as the great hope for migraine sufferers, the original discovery of the hormone, might not lead to a cure.
"We may have it working after all. It means there is hope for migraine sufferers."
Rosamund Hill, a neurologist, said the discovery was significant and filled in part of the jigsaw in the search for a cure.
"We are desperate to understand some of the underlying root causes of migraines, so I think this is a very exciting discovery, and hopefully it will lead to some therapeutic options for patients with migraines."
Dr Hill is recruiting people in Auckland and Christchurch for the second phase of an international drug trial for patients who suffer from migraines between 15 to 25 days a month. The trial was closely linked to the work being done at Auckland University, she said, as the treatment blocked the hormone that causes migraines.
She said the trial was now in its second phase, after having been proven to be effective on people who get five to 15 migraines a month.
"There's already been a published study in late 2014 of patients with up to 14 days of migraines a month, showing that the treatment causes no side effects and can be very effective in some people."
Dr Hill said now that the drug had been found to be safe and effective, the organisation trialling it, Auckland Clinical Services, would test it on people who had more frequent and more severe migraines.
"It is a single infusion and is exciting because it treats the root cause of migraines."
She said they would continue recruiting people for the study until September.
People who wish to take part in the trial can contact Dr Hill on email@example.com
For profit professional sporting team receives $15 million from Australian government
Gold Coast FC Media Release [12/4/15]:
The Australian Government will provide $15 million towards the construction of a permanent training and administration base for the Gold Coast SUNS in the Metricon Stadium precinct.
The Minister for Sport, Sussan Ley, joined the Member for Moncrieff, Steven Ciobo, to announce the funding prior to the GC SUNS’ first home game of the season.
A former Tax Office employee has told the Senate inquiry into corporate tax avoidance that the ATO is giving up billions of dollars in revenue as it rushes to settle claims against big companies, often before it's even consulted its own lawyers. ... [Sydney Morning Herald - 10/4/15]
National broadband network: More than 11,000 NSW homes and businesses facing copper line disconnection [Sydney Morning Herald – 10/4/15]
Scott "Fluffy" Morrison is a liar and human rights abuser.
Only a a fucking moron would believe he cares about their children.
Joined the PM this morning in Sylvania for our no jab no pay announcement
Image: @ScottMorrisonMP [12/4/15]
Morrison - and his ALP and media friends - have nothing to offer Australia but austerity, punishment culture, dogwhistling and divisive wedge politics.
Joint Media Release with Prime Minister the Hon Tony Abbott MP [12/4/15]:
The Commonwealth Government will end the conscientious objector exemption on children’s vaccination for access to taxpayer funded Child Care Benefits, the Child Care Rebate and the Family Tax Benefit Part A end of year supplement from 1 January 2016.
Parents who vaccinate their children should have confidence that they can take their children to child care without the fear that their children will be at risk of contracting a serious or potentially life-threatening illness because of the conscientious objections of others.
From 1 January 2016, ‘conscientious objection’ will be removed as an exemption category for child care payments (Child Care Benefit and Child Care Rebate) and the Family Tax Benefit Part A end of year supplement.
Immunisation requirements for the payment of FTB Part A end-of-year supplement will also be extended to include children of all ages. Currently, vaccination status is only checked at ages 1, 2 and 5 years.
Existing exemptions on medical or religious grounds will continue, however a religious objection will only be available where the person is affiliated with a religious groups where the governing body has a formally registered objection approved by the Government.
This means that vaccine objectors will not be able to access these government payments.
The new policy will tighten up the rules and reinforce the importance of immunisation and protecting public health, especially for children.
Australia now has childhood vaccination rates over 90 per cent, from one to five years of age, but more needs to be done to ensure we protect our children and our community from preventable diseases.
While vaccination rates in Australia had increased since the Childhood Immunisation Register was established by the Howard Government in 1996, vaccine objection rates for children under the age of seven had also increased steadily, especially under the conscientious objector category.
The vast majority of FTB families meet the current immunisation requirement at relevant age points (around 97 per cent).
However more than 39,000 children aged under seven are not vaccinated because their parents are vaccine objectors. This is an increase of more than 24,000 children over 10 years.
The Government is extremely concerned at the risk this poses to other young children and the broader community.
The choice made by families not to immunise their children is not supported by public policy or medical research nor should such action be supported by taxpayers in the form of child care payments.
For more information on child care assistance and family payments, visit www.humanservices.gov.au
Rich suburbs have low immunisation rates, research shows [Sydney Morning Herald – 27/3/14]
We thought Australians were in favour of torturing the vulnerable: Tourists charged after allegedly attempting to burn Quokka on Rottnest Island
Two French tourists have been charged with animal cruelty after allegedly attempting to burn a quokka on Rottnest Island, off Perth.
Police allege that two men ignited an aerosol spray with a lighter, and the flame made contact with a quokka.
The marsupial was singed in the incident on April 3.
Detectives questioned two men on Rottnest Island yesterday and seized video evidence.
Police said both men were evicted from the island.
An 18-year-old man and a 24-year-old man have each been charged with a count of animal cruelty.
They will appear in Fremantle Magistrates Court later this week.
Police said video of the incident would not be released to the public.
Quokkas are small, endangered marsupials protected under state and federal legislation.
They are almost exclusively found on Rottnest Island after numbers on the mainland dwindled following European settlement.
There are still some small populations on the mainland.
In February, five quokkas were found dead on Rottnest, and their heads had been stuffed into plant protectors.
In 2007, the Western Force rugby club fined two of its players $11,000 and $5,000 each after mishandling quokkas on the island.
US Capitol reopens after “social justice” sign carrier commits suicide
The U.S. Capitol building reopened after being locked down following what police called a suicide by gunshot wound, on a day when the city was thronged with tourists viewing Washington’s famous cherry blossoms.
A sign-carrying man, whose name hasn’t been released pending further investigation and notification of next of kin, took his life on the West Front of the building, Capitol Police Chief Kim Dine said Saturday. There is no connection to terrorism, Dine told reporters in a briefing.
Authorities investigated a roller suitcase and a backpack belonging to the shooter. Dine declined to describe the contents of either and said the man’s sign related to “social justice.”
Eyewitnesses described seeing the man near the Capitol building, which houses the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, shortly after 1 p.m.
Robert Bishop of Annapolis, Maryland, who estimated he was 20 feet to 30 feet (6 to 9 meters) away when the incident occurred, said an “older gentleman” was wielding a sign.
An off-duty Capitol Police officer moved people away from the scene after a shot was heard in a crowd, he said.
“Everyone just sort of started scrambling,” Bishop said. The man “hit the ground and stayed there.”
The Capitol building was closed for more than an hour after the shooting. Lawmakers have been on recess for two weeks and weren’t meeting at the time.
Capitol Police were assisted by multiple law enforcement agencies, including the District of Columbia Police Department, which is now taking over the death investigation, the D.C. Fire Department, the FBI and the Secret Service.
The incident came as tens of thousands of visitors flocked to the annual Cherry Blossom Festival Parade, one of Washington’s largest spectator events.
Iraq's prime minister will seek President Barack Obama's help to acquire billions of dollars in drones and other U.S. arms to fight Islamic State during a U.S. visit next week but wants to defer payment for the purchases, a senior Iraqi official said. ... [Reuters - 11/4/15]
Imaginary Australian journalist to Abbott: Cut the crap and misinformation about Iran - when are you going to allow the UNHCR access to refugees on Manus Island and Nauru?
The Supreme Court of Papua New Guinea is being challenged by a group of asylum seekers who say their detention is a breach of their constitutional rights.
The 25 asylum seekers were detained on suspicion of encouraging protests at the Australian-run detention centre on Manus Island in February.
They are now being represented by human rights lawyer, Ben Lomai, who is preparing an application for release and seeking compensation for breaching their constitutional rights.
The lawyer is now in the province to obtain statements from his clients.
The asylum seekers involved are from Iran, Myanmar, Pakistan, Syria and Lebanon.
Ben Lomai, who was granted entry to the facilities by the Supreme Court, arrived in the province on Sunday with lawyer Greg Toop and a team of paralegals and support staff to interview and prepare affidavits to be filed in court.
Lomai told EMTV News that he will be preparing an application to release the detainees and seek redress for breach of their constitutional rights.
The team commenced their interviews on Monday at the East Lorengau Transit facility.
Lomai says they have spoken to 11 refugees so far, residing at the East Lorengau Transit Centre, who have been processed and are awaiting resettlement in PNG.
There are currently 1,004 asylum seekers detained at the Australian-run detention centre with reportedly more than 80 who have been processed, however only 11 are currently residing at the transit facility.
Due to limited time, Lomai says he does not expect to interview all refugees, however he will be asking the courts to grant him more time to return and finish interviewing the remaining refugees.
Mr Lomai said immigration officers including the Chief Migration Officer, their lawyers and staff on ground at the detention centre have been very helpful in terms of logistics, and hopes this continues for the duration of the period it takes to finish interviewing his clients.
The team of lawyers are expected to conclude their interviews on the 17th of this month, and appear before the Supreme Court in Port Moresby on 22 April, with their findings.
Italy rescues around 1,000 refugees at sea, one dead
Italian and merchant ships rescued around 1,000 migrants from three overcrowded skiffs near the coast of Libya and found one dead body, Italy's coast guard said.
The migrants sent out a distress call by satellite phone on Friday and were being taken to ports in Sicily, the coast guard added in a statement, without giving details of their nationalities.
Two other inflatable boats carrying 73 people -- identified as Syrians, Kurds and Somalis -- were intercepted by police off the Italian coast near Puglia, according to a separate statement from the police. Two Albanian smugglers were arrested in the operation.
Three vessels from Italy's navy and coast guard and three merchant ships took part in Friday's rescue mission about 30 miles from Libya's coast, according to the coast guard statement.
Around 1,500 people were picked up from five boats near the Libyan coast last week.
IS attack Iraq's largest oil refinery
Islamic State militants on Saturday launched suicide attacks against the Baiji oil refinery, Iraq's largest, a senior army officer said.
The jihadist group claimed it broke in but the Iraqi army said the site, which has been the scene of fierce battles since IS swept across the region last year, remained under its control.
"Today Daesh (an Arab acronym for IS) launched an attack against the Baiji oil refinery," said a major general from Salaheddin province, in which Baiji is located.
He described the attack on the refinery, which lies around 200 kilometres (120 miles) north of Baghdad, as "the fiercest since we broke the siege a few months ago."
The officer and other military sources said the attack was launched around 7:00 am (0400 GMT) and led to clashes.
He said IS militants attacked the large complex from three fronts: Al-Bujwari village to the south, the housing compound for refinery employees to the west and one of the smaller plants producing derivatives to the east.
"Three suicide attackers were able to reach the entrances of the refinery. Two were killed but one managed to blow himself up," the army officer said.
He said that the Iraqi forces protecting the refinery regained control of the entrances and that the entire site was now under government control.
Saudi airstrikes hit two markets in northern Yemen
Press TV [11/4/15]:
Saudi fighter jets have carried out airstrikes against two markets near Sa'ada in northern Yemen, as Saudi Arabia continues its illegal military campaign against its impoverished neighbor.
Saudi bombers targeted two populated marketplaces in Sa’ada on Saturday killing at least two civilians and inflicting damage on the city’s infrastructure.
The attack on Sa’ada came after Saudi ground forces allegedly fired mortar shells at the border area near the city earlier in the day.
There were also unconfirmed reports of at least three fatalities in Amran, a city south of Sa’ada, where Saudis launched a massive raid.
Other areas across Yemen came under similar attacks, with warplanes targeting al-Dailami airbase near the capital Sana’a. There were no reports of casualties.
At least three people were killed in another aerial attack in the capital earlier on Saturday while 14 other people were injured in an airstrike on a football stadium.
The Saudi fighter jets also attacked a remote district in the northern Jawf Province. Several government buildings along with a football stadium and a school in the western city of Hudaydah were also hit by Saudi bombers.
Sources close to the ruling Ansarullah movement say at least 1,000 people, including 200 children, have been killed in Yemen since the Saudi aggression against the Arabian Peninsula state began on March 26.
Rebels bomb Syria’s government-held Aleppo killing 8, trapping dozens
Al Arabiya [11/4/15]:
Insurgents bombarded a government-held part of Syria’s second city Aleppo overnight, killing at least five people, a group monitoring the war said.
State TV broadcast pictures showing heavily damaged buildings and streets strewn with rubble in the Suleimaniyah district of Aleppo, a city near the border with Turkey which is split between government and rebel control.
State media put the confirmed death toll at eight and said dozens more people were trapped under rubble.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based organisation that tracks the war, said the number of dead was likely to increase.
Syria’s Grand Mufti Ahmed Badr al-Din al-Hassoun, speaking on state TV, urged the complete destruction of insurgent-held areas from which shells were being fired.
“We inform the civilians there, be they supporters (of the insurgents), or not, to leave the area. Every area from which a shell is fired, should be completely destroyed,” he said.
Aleppo is a major front line in the Syrian war. Insurgent groups in and around the city have repelled repeated attempts by the Syrian military and militia fighting alongside it to cut supply lines from Turkey to the rebels.
State news agency SANA described the insurgents behind the attack as hardline Islamist militants “linked to the Erdogan regime”, a reference to Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan who wants to see President Bashar al-Assad removed from power.
Pro-government forces repelled an attack on a key Syrian military airport by Islamic State group affiliated militants, losing 20 fighters but killing almost as many jihadists, a monitor said Saturday.
"Militants who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group attacked the outskirts of the Khalkhalah military airport in Sweida province on Friday," said Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The forces loyal to President Bashar Assad had been able to maintain control over the airport and its surrounding areas despite losing 20 fighters. At least 15 IS jihadists were killed. ... [Naharnet - 11/4/15
Pakistan dam builders shot dead in Balochistan [BBC – 11/4/15]:
... Senior Balochistan official Akbar Hussain Durran told the AFP news agency that the labourers were lined up and shot at point blank range after identifying themselves.
He said that paramilitary troops guarding the labourers fled when confronted by such a large number of armed attackers. ...
At least nine people have been killed and dozens more injured in renewed clashes between Al-Shura Council fighters and General Khalifa Haftar's forces in al-Hawari area, west of Benghazi.
Local sources said on Saturday morning the fighting continued for hours and heavy and medium weapons were used.
The clashes erupted when the Haftar forces advanced toward the area controlled by the Al Shura council fighters in the Mediterranean city of Benghazi. ... [Al Jazeera - 11/4/15]
Five Abducted Afghan Aid Workers Found Dead in Uruzgan
Five Afghan aid workers from the organization Save the Children, who were abducted about 40 days ago by the Taliban in central Uruzgan, have been found dead.
The five aid workers were abducted in Trinkot, the provincial capital, and were found dead in Chanarto district, a spokesman for Provincial Governor Dost Mohammad Nayab said.
"The abductees were shot dead and their bodies were found in the Chanarto district," he said, adding that "the families of these aid workers have said that the Taliban had demanded the release of some of their prisoners in exchange for them."
However, the Taliban have not yet commented on the killings.
A large number of people on Saturday once again rallied in southern
Ghazni province to ask the government to take effective steps for safe release
of the 31 kidnapped passengers in neighboring Zabul province. ... [Pajhwok
Drone strike kills 10 in Ghazni [Pajhwok – 11/4/15]
At least 11 people, including three local policemen, were injured in a mine blast in northern Parwan province on Saturday, local officials said. ... [TOLOnews.com – 11/4/15]
19 killed in "anti-insurgent" operations [TOLOnews.com – 11/4/15]
Somalis Badly Burned in S. Africa Anti-Foreigner Violence
Two Somali nationals suffered serious burns when their shop in a South African township was set alight by a mob, police said Saturday, as violence against foreign immigrants spread.
The men were in the shop in Umlazi, south of Durban, when it was petrol bombed on Friday night.
"The two Somali men suffered severe burn wounds and are being treated in hospital," police spokesman Thulani Zwane said.
Zwane said three people including one foreigner had been killed so far -- two on April 5 and a third on Friday -- in violence between residents and foreign nationals that has been raging for the past two weeks in townships south of Durban.
"The situation is still tense in all affected areas, and police are out in force to prevent further clashes," Zwane said.
Police said 17 people had been arrested for various acts of violence in the eastern port city.
The violence has seen over a thousand mostly African foreign nationals flee their township homes.
Several mini grocery shops owned by foreign nationals in Isipingo and Chatsworth, where the unrest began two weeks ago, had been looted and vandalised.
Clashes had now also spread to KwaMakhutha and Umlazi, also in the south of Durban.
Those fearing violence and intimidation who had fled their homes were currently being housed in community halls and tents pitched in sports grounds.
Police on Wednesday broke up an illegal march by a group of foreign nationals who were protesting against the violence, firing water canon and tear gas.
Clashes between immigrants and locals often flare in South Africa, as impoverished residents accuse them of taking their jobs.
Foreign business owners in black townships are increasingly under attack from local residents.
Early this year, foreign shopkeepers in and around Soweto, south of Johannesburg, were forced to vacate their premises after violence and looting broke out.
In 2008, 62 people were killed in Johannesburg townships.
Somali Refugees Flee Yemen Fighting to Return to War-Torn Home [Naharnet - 11/4/15]
Egypt confirms death sentence of Brotherhood leaders
Al Jazeera [11/4/15]:
An Egyptian court has confirmed the death sentence given to Mohamed Badie, leader of the now-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, and 13 other members of the group for "inciting chaos and violence", and has given a life term imprisonment to a US-Egyptian dual citizen for having alleged "ties to the Brotherhood".
The men sentenced on Saturday were among thousands of people detained after Mohamed Morsi, the nation's first democratically-elected president, was overthrown in 2013 by the military under Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who is now president.
Sisi describes the Brotherhood as a major security threat and has pledged to "eradicate" the group. The group says it is committed to peaceful activism and has nothing to do with violence in Egypt since the coup, which followed large-scale protests against Morsi.
Egypt's mass trials of Brotherhood members and people accused of links to the group, as well as its tough crackdown on Islamist and liberal opposition alike, have drawn international criticism of its judicial system and human rights record.
The sentences, pronounced at a televised court session, can be appealed before Egypt's highest civilian court in a process that could take years to reach a final verdict.
US-Egyptian dual citizen Mohamed Soltan, who has been on hunger strike for over one year, was sentenced to life in jail for allegedly supporting the movement and transmitting false news. He is the son of Brotherhood preacher Salah Soltan, who was among those sentenced to death.
Soltan's family called for Mohamed's immediate release in a statement after the verdict, charging that there was no evidence against him. A website calling for his release says he was not a member of the Brotherhood, describing him as a US-educated peace activist who was involved in youth events and charities.
The website shows pictures of him lying emaciated on a stretcher while in detention.
The US embassy, in a statement, said it was "gravely concerned" about Mohamed Soltan and would "continue to monitor his case closely and to provide him with all possible support."
Mohamed Abdel-Mawgod, one of the defence lawyers, condemned the verdicts. "The court did not differentiate between the defendants and put them all in the same basket," he told reporters at the courthouse. None of the defendants were present during the hearing.
Badie is the Brotherhood's General Guide and has already been sentenced to several death and life sentences. His deputy Khairat El-Shater was given a life sentence on Saturday.
Saturday's case was known in local media as "The Rabaa Operations Room" trial. This is in reference to a sit-in at Rabaa square in 2013 in which hundreds of people protesting the military coup were killed when security forces tried to clear the area by force.
Rights groups say Egypt is now cracking down on all dissent. Sisi says stability is needed to revive the shattered economy.
Rights advocates have criticised a US decision to end a freeze on military aid to Cairo, saying Washington is putting human rights on the backburner. The United States has said the decision to end the freeze was in the interest of national security.
Canada to send troops to Ukraine ‘in non-combat role’ - report [RT – 11/4/15]
India orders 36 French-made Rafale fighter jets, PM Modi says [France 24 - 11/4/15]
Up to 150 dolphins die after being stranded on beach in Japan
Up to 150 dolphins stranded on a beach in Japan are feared dead after a day of frantic efforts to keep them alive failed.
The pod of melon-headed whales, members of the dolphin family, were beached on Friday along six miles of sand in Hokota, north-east of Tokyo.
Television showed dozens of rescuers and locals pouring buckets of seawater over the creatures and covering them with wet towels as they became weaker and weaker.
The dolphins, between two and three metres long, were scratched badly and bleeding from deep gashes in their skin, possibly caused by writhing on the sand.
Some were carried back into the water but pushed back by the tide soon after being released into the ocean.
The coast guard and police patrol boats transported three dolphins that were in relatively good health offshore and released them successfully but little hope was held for the rest.
Those that die were to be buried. Dead dolphin being loaded onto a digger this morning (AFP/Getty Images) Dead dolphin being loaded onto a digger this morning (AFP/Getty Images)
Tadasu Yamada, a cetacean expert at the National Museum of Nature and Science, told Japan's NHK public television station that the dolphins may have had a physiological or psychological problem and faced an unknown threat and panicked, driving them to the shore.
Smaller beachings have occurred around Japanese coasts, including some 50 dolphins on a nearby beach in 2011.
Melon-headed wales, also known as blackfish or the electra dolphin, are amongst the most common species involved in mass beaching. Residents attempt to save melon-headed whales beached on the shore of Hokota city, northeast of Tokyo on April 10, 2015. Mo Some dolphins taken into the sea were washed back up by the tide
They are extremely social creatures and can live into their 30s, according to the Whale and Dolphin Conservation charity, swimming in tightly packed herds of between 100 and 500 animals.
West Papua: abuse video released by rights group
PNG Loop [11/4/15]:
New video footage showing the bloody aftermath of the Paniai massacre in West Papua highlights the urgent need for Indonesia to hold an independent and transparent investigation into the tragedy, Minority Rights Group International (MRG) said today.
In December 2014, four unarmed Papuan teenagers were killed and 17 more Papuans were injured when the Indonesian army and police opened fire on a group of peaceful protesters in Paniai.
They had gathered to protest an earlier incident of violence by the Indonesian security forces.
The four-minute video, shot by citizen journalists and released publicly for the first time today, includes first-hand testimony from survivors of the massacre as well as graphic footage taken in the immediate aftermath.
“This film gives a disturbing insight into the Indonesian military’s casual disregard for the lives of Indigenous Papuans,” said TAPOL coordinator Esther Cann.
“The protesters had gathered peacefully to challenge the beating of a young boy the previous day by Indonesian security forces and they were greeted with bullets.”
Both the National Human Rights Commission and the Indonesian police have launched investigations into the incident, known as the Paniai massacre.
However the police — who initially blamed the shooting on armed ethnic Papuan rebels — have been accused of stymying the investigation.
The massacre is one of the worst acts of state violence in Indonesia in years, casting doubt on President Joko Widodo’s commitment to human rights in the region.
More than six months after President Widodo was sworn into office pledging to “give special attention to West Papua”, there has been little change on the ground.
Despite recent efforts by Jakarta to improve delivery of basic services like health and education, the Indonesian government continues to crack down on peaceful protestors, silence critical civil society voices and shut out members of the international media.
Reports of extrajudicial killings, torture, arbitrary arrests and detention of indigenous activists are common.
“President Widodo has left a trail of broken promises on West Papua,’ said Claire Thomas, deputy director of MRG.
“If he is serious about implementing political reform in Indonesia, he needs to ensure that the military is open to public scrutiny and state actors perpetrating abuses against Papuans are held to account. The investigation into the Paniai massacre will be a crucial test of Widodo’s commitment to human rights in West Papua.”
Since the annexation of Papua to Indonesia in May 1963, the human rights of indigenous Papuans has been under sustained attack. Widespread violations – including extra-judicial killings, torture, disappearances, and arbitrary arrests and detentions – have been consistently perpetrated by Indonesian security forces.
The resource-rich region has been systematically exploited by Indonesian and international business interests at the cost of climate change and the indigenous population.
Thousands of indigenous people have been evicted from their lands as a result of large-scale development projects implemented without obtaining their free, prior and informed consent.
Indonesia is currently serving its fourth consecutive term as a member of the UN’s Human Rights Council.
Indonesian Films Set to Make a Mark on Melbourne Screens
Jakarta Globe [11/4/15]:
The recent Indonesian film “Tiga Nafas Likas,” or “Likas’s Three Breaths,” starring Atiqah Hasiholan and Vino G. Bastian, kicked off the 10th edition of the Indonesian Film Festival on Thursday at the Australian Center for Moving Image in Melbourne.
Atiqah said it was a “happy and proud” moment as she returned to the festival as part of the cast.
“I went to Monash [a university in Melbourne] to study media and psychology, and I also attended the very first Indonesian Film Festival 10 years ago,” said Atiqah at the opening night.
Likas Tarigan, wife of the late army general Jamin Ginting, is a character close to her North Sumatran descent.
In the film, which had its run in Indonesian theaters October last year, Atiqah gives a broad range of performances as she portrays Likas at various ages. Director Rako Prijanto (“Sang Kiai,” “Malaikat Tanpa Sayap”) said he chose Atiqah to play Likas because he needed an actress with real sensitivity to the role.
The Likas movie is produced by Jamin’s second daughter, Riahna Jamin Ginting.
The “Three Breaths” in the title refers to three important people in Likas’s life: her mother, brother and husband, all of whom died before her.
Likas is 90 and currently lives in North Sumatra.
Rako said it was the Gintings’ intention to tell the story from their mother’s perspective.
As a filmmaker, Rako felt it was the right decision because the female perspective has led to much success in local cinemas.
“Most Indonesian box office hits, such as ‘Ada Apa Dengan Cinta’ and ‘Petualangan Sherina,’ are all told from the female perspective,” he said.
For Said Fakri and Urianto Al Himawan, who attended the opening night, the film festival brings a piece of home to their new routines as students at Monash University in Melbourne.
“Because it is held in Melbourne, and seen by both Indonesians and foreigners, this film festival can strengthen relationship between Indonesia and Australia,” Said said.
“[Likas] is certainly a kind of story that I like from Indonesian films, it’s quite emotional and full of life lessons, from parenting, child education and relationship between husband and wife,” Urianto said.
The film festival brings 10 Indonesian films for its 10th anniversary. After “Likas,” moviegoers in Melbourne will be treated to recent films such as “Di Balik 98,” “7/24,” “Kapan Kawin,” “Siti,” “Tes Nyali,” “Tabula Rasa,” “Love & Faith,” “Angker” and the award-winning documentary “Jalanan” as the closing film on April 18.
Indonesian consul general Dewi Savitri Wahab said contemporary Indonesian films are interesting as they reflect the impact of economic growth in Indonesia.
“For example, in the movie ‘Kapan Kawin,’ marriage is no longer a priority for independent Indonesian women,” she said.
Among the festival guests are notable Indonesian actors Lukman Sardi, Chelsea Islan, Feby Febiola and Laura Basuki.
The festival is organized by the non profit IFF and the Indonesian Student Association (PPIA). The festival also hosts acting classes and meet and greets.
The film festival is one among many activities for the Indonesian community in Melbourne.
PPIA is known for its cultural agenda, from the occasional food market and rock concert to traditional dance shows.
British comedian Russell Brand has tweeted his support for saving Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran from an Indonesian firing squad.
Saturday's tweet from Brand (@rustyrockets) reads: "These Aussie blokes are going to be killed soon for a bit of daft drug smuggling (they've done 10 yrs already) HELP! info.mercycampaign.org/watch/."
The tweet includes a link to the website of the campaign for mercy for the convicted drug traffickers, where video interviews of the pair can be viewed and a petition signed.
Brand is well known for his outspoken views on politics and human rights and in February blasted Australia's policy of using offshore migrant detention centres. ... [Sydney Morning Herald - 12/4/15]
London exhibition of death row art by Australian facing imminent execution in Indonesia [Amnesty - 9/4/15]
Frackman the Movie: If Mark Latham pans it in the Australian Financial Review, it's definitely worth seeing!
I wish I was dreaming but this is what the left has become: an anxiety-riven, pill-popping collection of oddballs whose funk is broken only by the sight of media personalities campaigning against the byproducts of capitalism. Their latest hero is Dayne Pratzky, the star of the Screen Australia-funded Frackman – a cinematic rant about coal seam gas (CSG). ... [Australian Financial Review - 8/4/15]
Frackman is like no other Australian film. It aims to spark a broad national conversation about the risks of our headlong rush into massive coal seam gas development.
Five years in the making, it not only entertains and engages, it also gives audiences the tools to get involved in what is becoming the largest social movement our nation has seen in decades.
It’s a deeply political film, but not the old style that is so badly failing us.
This is the New Politics, bringing together old and young, city and country, conservative and progressive in a shared effort to prevent an environmental catastrophe. ...
Apr 12 6:00 PM GOLD COAST The Arts Centre
Apr 13 6:30 PM BRISBANE PREMIERE Event Cinemas Indooroopilly
Glenn Lazarus [11/4/15]:
Today I met with a Queensland family who have been devastated by CSG mining - the Haeusler Family (Kylie, Emma, Sophie and Max).
The Haeusler family are homeless.
This is their story - as told by Kylie Haeusler.
... In 2006 the Haeusler family bought 220 acres at Tara, west of Brisbane.
In 2008, QGC put in a test well on their property and 'promised to never do anything more' to the land.
In 2011, QGC put in another gas well on their property.
In 2012, QGC put in a pipeline on their property.
With all the promises and compliance regulations in place, QGC didn't honour the terms of their agreement.
In 2012, with the kids getting sick, the fish in the pond dying and the family vegetable crops dying, the family repeatedly asked QGC to test the water quality.
Finally, tests were done. To date, the family has never seen the results.
The family were then subjected to further threats and bullying.
QGC tried to fine them $50,000 for failure to provide access to the family's property. The family home was originally valued at $320,000. The family was recently forced to sell the property and received a sale price of $156,000. This left the family devastated with outstanding debt.
The family has been in touch with every Queensland state and federal member as well as Senator Canavan for legal support and assistance without success.
Kylie spoke face to face with the Hon. Lawrence Springborg MP and he did nothing.
Interestingly with all the properties around Mr Springborg’s property, it appears there is no mining tenament on the total 23,000 acres.
Kylie Haeusler Chinchilla
If you feel like I do, that we must stop treating the people of Queensland in this way, then please SIGN my petition on change.org Help me 'HELP' the people of Queensland and the rest of Australia affected by CSG mining. The health of our people, our environment, our future - depends on how we respond today. ... Establish a Royal Commission into the Human Impact of CSG mining
Police pursuit (following "covert hooning operation" in Yatala) ends in serious crash, hospitalisation
Mining companies, banks, media organisations and security firms are among a raft of sponsors behind almost $475,000 in donations to the Queensland Police Service last financial year. ...
Police Minister Jo-Ann Miller said she was "happy to consult with the community to ensure Queenslanders were seeing the benefits of sponsorship arrangements and that they are in step with the community's expectations"
[Queensland police received $15,000 from Rupert Murdoch's 'Courier-Mail' - ABC - 7/4/15]
QPS Media [12/4/15]:
Police are investigating after a vehicle allegedly evaded them and later crashed in Yatala following a targeted hoon operation late last night.
At around 11:15pm police were conducting a covert hooning operation with the assistance of Polair when a vehicle was allegedly observed driving dangerously on Stanmore Road.
Police closed in on the vehicle after it drove into a small residential street and pulled over.
As police entered the street to intercept the vehicle, the Holden Commodore sedan allegedly drove onto the grass curb and around a police car to evade them.
The Commodore then allegedly evaded police a second time when an officer stood on the roadway and gave the driver a direction to stop.
Polair continued to track the Commodore as it continued along Stanmore Road at high speed, allegedly travelling through a red traffic light and almost crashing into another vehicle.
The vehicle has then collided with a pole, flipping the vehicle onto its roof before catching on fire.
The 20-year-old male driver and a 17-year-old female passenger suffered shock and bruising.
A 19-year-old male passenger suffered a broken neck. All three were taken to the Princess Alexandra Hospital in a non-life threatening condition.
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.
Melbourne: Police shoot man with "bean bag rounds", don't kill him [West Australian - 11/4/15]
Serious Traffic Crash, Gootchie
QPS Media [11/4/15]:
Police are investigating a serious four vehicle traffic crash that occurred in Gootchie earlier today.
Investigations suggest around 10.30am, a sedan was travelling southbound along the Bruce Highway, 20km south of Tiaro before it crossed to the other side of the road before hitting a second sedan.
As a result of the collision, the second sedan collided with a guard rail and then ricocheted to the opposite side of the road before colliding with the rear of a trailer being towed by a truck and then head-on into a third sedan.
The 48-year-old male driver of the second sedan was taken to Gympie Hospital in a serious condition while the 45-year-old female passenger was flown to the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital in a critical condition.
A 16-year-old female passenger of the third sedan was flown to Nambour Hospital in a serious condition while a 17-year-old female passenger was transported to Gympie Hospital with minor injuries.
The Bruce Highway at the incident location was closed for approximately four and a half hours.
Investigations into the crash are continuing.
Fatal traffic crash, Yarrabilba
QPS Media [11/4/15]:
A man has died following a single vehicle traffic crash at Yarrabilba this afternoon.
Initial information suggests around 3.30pm a motorcycle was travelling on Waterford Tamborine Road when the rider lost control and collided with a tree.
The rider, a 46-year-old Ormeau man, died at the scene.
The Forensic Crash Unit is investigating.
Four fire crews extinguish mail truck fire on Hume Highway [Canberra Times - 11/4/15]
Doctors call for Fiona Stanley Hospital Serco investigation
West Australian [11/4/15]:
WA doctors want the State Government to launch an immediate review of all Serco contracts at Fiona Stanley Hospital.
Australian Medical Association WA president Michael Gannon said a separate inquiry was needed into who awarded the company the sterilisation contract when it seemed to have no experience in the area.
"If there is any doubt about Serco's expertise or experience in this area, the contract should be cancelled immediately," Dr Gannon said.
"If the minister decides to cancel the sterilisation contract and hand responsibility to the Health Department and Fiona Stanley Hospital, he would have the AMA's strong support."
Several Serco-run services, including sterilisation and orderlies, have been plagued with problems since the hospital opened last year.
"Public confidence about the standard of health care of FSH is being weakened by the performance of Serco and this cannot be allowed to continue," Dr Gannon said.
Earlier yesterday, the father of a Perth man who died in the hospital said health chiefs had admitted the death was the result of poor medical treatment.
Phillip Olsen received an apology at a meeting with hospital management on Thursday, after it was revealed his son Jared was prescribed a potent drug and discharged without being properly monitored.
The drug mercaptopurine proved fatal because blood testing, needed to ensure the 41-year-old had a specific enzyme, went unchecked.
"Those results confirmed Jared did not have the enzyme and should not have been taking those drugs," Mr Olsen told 6PR radio. "Unfortunately, very regrettably and tragically when the results came back no one did anything about it."
On March 5, three weeks after being prescribed the drug for inflammatory bowel disease, Jared died from organ failure.
The hospital has launched an internal inquiry.
UN to give houses to ex-Guantanamo inmates in Uruguay
The United Nations refugee agency will provide homes to six former detainees of the US military prison in Guantanamo who have struggled to resettle in Uruguay, the country's president said.
"Each one of them will have a home," President Tabare Vazquez told Uruguayan media after meeting US President Barack Obama at the Summit of the Americas in Panama.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, he said in televised remarks, has "the necessary resources to attend to the needs of the (former) prisoners."
Before his meeting with Obama, Vazquez said he would ask Washington for help to care for the six men, who arrived in Uruguay late last year with the status of refugees.
Uruguay took in the six in December to help Obama fulfill his long-delayed promise to close the prison, located in a US naval base in Cuba, that was set up to hold terror suspects after the September 11, 2001 attacks.
The former prisoners -- four Syrians, a Palestinian and a Tunisian -- arrived in Uruguay on December 6 after more than a decade in detention.
They were never charged or tried.
Since arriving in Uruguay, which promised they would have the same rights as any other resident, they have been taking Spanish classes and living in hotel rooms and a house provided by a local labor union.
But officials have expressed concern that they are having trouble adapting.
12 April 2015