1,000s of refugees are dying in the Malacca Straits.



The Australian political and media establishment are covering this up.





Greens,  crossbenchers ... your ongoing silence makes me sick.




New Australian Border Force strengthens Operation Sovereign Borders [Minister for Immigration Media Release  - 12/5/15]




... The Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton said that with OSB stopping the illegal boat arrivals, once again Australia would be able to offer the majority of spaces in the Humanitarian Programme to those around the world most in need.  ... [Minister for Immigration Media Release - 12/5/15]






The illusion of 'controlled migration' is that you can actually control it [PRI - 11/5/15]:



... And while Betts says all migrants should be given full human rights, the prospect of turning away or regulating refugees is a particular concern.

"The international community created that system, wisely, after the Second World War to protect people fleeing the Holocaust and the early Cold War," Betts says.

"It's as relevant today as it's ever been, and we've got to recognize the distinct population of refugees who are a growing proportion of these people."






Licence to Kill? Australia’s Migration Amendment Bill 2015 [Border Criminologies - 12/5/15]





UNHCR Media Release [12/5/15]:

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at the press briefing, on 12 May 2015, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR is appealing to governments in Southeast Asia to step up search-and-rescue efforts and keep their borders open, amid continuing reports that thousands of people are stranded on smugglers' boats between the Andaman Sea and the Straits of Malacca.

Our partner, the Thailand-based NGO The Arakan Project estimates that several thousand people – believed to be mostly Rohingya, and Bangladeshi nationals – could be adrift at sea as smugglers abandon them to avoid arrest in the wake of recent crackdowns in Thailand and Malaysia.

UNHCR welcomes the rescue of hundreds of people off the coast of Indonesia and Malaysia in recent days. Through various sources we have been alerted that there could be more such boats in the region that still need to be located and assisted.

UNHCR appeals to governments to continue their life-saving operations to find and safely disembark the passengers, many of whom are believed to be in a weakened state after days, possibly weeks with little food and water.

Our staff have been on the ground to talk to the survivors in support of government efforts. In Thailand, where more than 230 smuggling victims have surrendered themselves to the police in recent days after they escaped or were abandoned in smugglers' camps, UNHCR teams are distributing relief items and providing counselling.

In Indonesia, UNHCR has sent a team to Lhoksukon in northern Aceh to assist the Government in interviewing groups rescued by the Indonesian navy over the weekend and provide them with protection.

In Malaysia local authorities say 1,093 people – including many believed to be Rohingya – arrived by boat in Langkawi on Sunday night. Considering their ordeal, in general they are in fair condition and have been seen by doctors. A UNHCR staff member is currently in Langkawi to meet with the authorities and local contacts. We are aware of the challenges of managing such a humanitarian emergency, and we have offered our assistance to the government. We stand ready to participate with the authorities in providing humanitarian assistance.

While those involved include both asylum-seekers and migrants, the first priority is humanitarian relief, followed by the identification of those in need of international protection.

UNHCR urges against indefinite detention of those rescued, who should be given access to basic rights and services including family unification, shelter, healthcare and where possible, the right to work while longer-term solutions are sought.

We stand ready to help address the root causes of the outflow, including the resolution of longstanding citizenship issues for the Rohingya.






Bangladesh detains boat with 116 Malaysia-bound refugees [Naharnet – 12/5/15]





Indonesia navy tows Rohingya refugees boat out of Indonesian waters

Channel News Asia [12/5/15]:

A boat carrying hundreds of migrants from Myanmar and Bangladesh has been towed out of Indonesian waters, a navy spokesman said Tuesday, but it remains unclear where the vessel is destined next.

The vessel arrived off Aceh early Monday with about 400 migrants on board, local authorities estimated, one of a series of vessels to arrive in Indonesia and Malaysia in recent days carrying people from Myanmar and Bangladesh.

But the Indonesian navy confirmed Tuesday it had provided the boat with fuel and towed it out of Indonesian waters, declining to say if it was heading to Malaysia, its suspected destination.

"It was towed out of Indonesian territory," Manahan Simorangkir told AFP.

"We gave them fuel and asked them to proceed. We are not forcing them to go to Malaysia nor Australia. That is not our business. Our business is they don't enter Indonesia because Indonesia is not the destination."

Another boat carrying an estimated 600 migrants from Myanmar and Bangladesh arrived in the north of Aceh, the westernmost province of Indonesia, at the weekend.

Many of those aboard are ethnic Rohingya, considered by the UN to be one of the world's most persecuted minorities.

Buddhist-majority Myanmar views its population of roughly 1.3 million Rohingya as illegal Bangladeshi immigrants, and they have been targeted in outbreaks of sectarian violence there in recent years, prompting many to flee.





A ship carrying hundreds of Rohingya Muslims sent out a distress call asking to be rescued Tuesday, saying they were abandoned by their captain without fuel and have been without food or water for three days.

Chris Lewa, director of the nonprofit Arakan Project, which has been monitoring the movement of fleeing Rohingya for more than a decade, says she spoke by phone with one of the migrants on board the Thai vessel.

"They asked to be urgently rescued," she said, adding there were an estimated 350 people on board, 50 of them women.

"They are not sure exactly where they are, possibly near Langkawi," Lewa said, of the Malaysian resort island that has been the dropoff point in recent days for more than 1,000 Rohingya and Bangladeshis.

"They say they can see shore."  ... [ABC News - 12/5/15]




Bangladeshi blogger hacked to death by masked men [The Hindu – 12/5/15]






Teen blogger Amos Yee Pang Sang was on Tuesday found guilty and convicted of two charges - one for making offensive or wounding remarks against Christianity and another for circulating obscene imagery.

He had pleaded not guilty to both charges on May 7. No witness took the stand during the trial. Defence lawyer Alfred Dodwell said that Yee’s police statement is sufficient in explaining Yee’s stance.

A third charge, for the 16-year-old's statements on the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew in a YouTube video, was withdrawn. ... [Channel News Asia - 12/5/15]





Freed Al Jazeera journalist Fahmy sues his network, seeks $100 million [CNN - 12/5/15]





Murdoch lies again.




Public transport should be free - especially for kids and pensioners.




Brisbane Times [12/5/15]:



The bus company accused of leaving a girl at a Gold Coast bus stop last week claims its internal investigation does not corroborate the version of events the girl's father gave to media.

A spokesman for Surfside Buslines said the company had made several unsuccessful attempts to contact Dean Bleakley, who has claimed his daughter Lucinda, 12, was left stranded at a bus stop when her Go Card failed to work and the bus driver would not permit her to board.

He said a detailed review of the company's operating systems, including CCTV footage, timetables and card reader information, as well as an interview with the bus driver, found the claims Mr Bleakley and his daughter made were not supported.

The spokesman said attempts to contact Mr Bleakley to further investigate had so far been unsuccessful.

"Surfside's General Manager has attempted to contact the father of the student a number of times to discuss the findings of the investigation, as the information obtained does not support the events reported in the media," he said in a statement.

"Surfside would like to speak with the father to ensure there is no additional information that may assist with our investigation."

Lucinda Bleakley told News Corporation she attempted to board the 713 southbound bus in Labrador about 8am Friday but was left beside the road when her Go Card failed to scan.

Queensland Transport Minister Jackie Trad said she was "outraged" by the allegations, saying had the driver done what had been claimed, they had contravened the state's No Child Left Behind policy, implemented following the abduction and murder of Sunshine Coast schoolboy Daniel Morcombe.

The Surfside Buslines spokesman said any driver found to have left a child behind would most likely be sacked.

"Surfside takes these types of allegations very seriously and supports TransLink's Code of Conduct for School Children Travelling on Buses and Safe Travel of School Students Guiding Principles," he said.

"Although information obtained to date does not support the allegation, if any Surfside driver were found to have refused boarding to a child this would amount to serious misconduct and result in disciplinary action.

"It is highly likely that drivers found to have engaged in this conduct would have their employment terminated."


Woman, child sustain critical burns in disturbance at Red Hill property



Canberra Times [12/5/15]:



A woman and a young child have been taken to hospital with critical burn injuries after an incident at a house in Red Hill which police are treating as arson.

Police were called to the La Perouse Street property about 9.40am Tuesday after reports of a disturbance and a house fire.

Tim Baxter ran out of the office of a design firm nearby when he and his colleagues heard screams just after 9am.

"We heard screams up the road and there was a dog going nuts," he said.

"There was already a fair few people up there... I didn't know what was happening. I assumed they were running after the dog but it was obviously a lot more than that.

"I couldn't see any smoke. I went out again about 10 minutes later and there was a police car, fire truck and ambulance there."

Police, forensics, the criminal investigations unit all responded to the incident and firefighters extinguished the fire.

Station Sergeant Joanne Cameron said there was a woman and four children in the house at the time of the fire, and police believe they are the residents of the house.

​"We believe that fire was suspicious and that is what the basis of our arson investigation now relies on," Sergeant Cameron said.

"The welfare of those other people in the house is being taken care of as we speak.

Police have said there were no ongoing public safety concerns. A crime scene has been established with a number of road blocks in place.

Sergeant Cameron said the investigation was confined to one house and did not appear to have affected Red Hill Primary School across the road.

She would not say if police were searching for or speaking to any persons of interest or witnesses, or whether the house was known to police.

"I am very confident that in the next few days as this investigation continues we'll be able to release that information to the public," she said.

"It relates to this one residence in La Perouse Street. There are no concerns any members of the public should have in relation to what's happened here today."

Sergeant Cameron said the fire was inside the house but would not comment on how the fire started or the extent of the damage.

"All those inquires about who lives here, how the fire started today, the suspicious nature, all of those questions are part of our investigation and I won't be able to comment further," she said.

La Perouse Street was still closed between Dalrymple and Fortitude Street as of 3pm, but was expected to re-open late Tuesday afternoon.

The woman and child remained in a critical condition in hospital on Tuesday afternoon.




Broadbeach tapas bar table tip over police summons slammed

Yahoo [12/5/15]:

A request by lawyers representing an alleged Queensland bikie gang member to search over 600 police notebooks has been slammed by a magistrate as an abuse of process.

Lawyers for alleged Bandido Peter Mauric, who is on trial for his alleged involvement in a brawl at Broadbeach, had wanted to review the official notes of over 80 police officers dated from the day of the brawl on September 27, 2013 until today.

They had also issued a summons in an attempt to get Queensland Police commissioner Ian Stewart to provide all notebooks, camera footage and running sheets from every officer involved in the incident.

Mauric's defence team suggested they would be seeking Mr Stewart's arrest if he didn't comply with the summons.

A Queensland Police Service spokesman told the court the notebooks contained sensitive information such as victim contact details, which would be revealed by the search.

Magistrate Michael Quinn set aside both applications saying it was not appropriate "for there to be a trawling through of notes unsupervised and unrestricted".

But he did order all notes between September 27 and the next entry relevant to the incident be disclosed.

The trial continues with final prosecution witnesses to face court on Tuesday before the defence presents its case.


Burglary, Bundamba

QPS Media [12/5/15]:

Police are seeking assistance to locate a car stolen during a burglary last night from a residence in Bundamba.

Initial investigations indicate that around 8.00pm three me wearing balaclavas and armed with firearms entered a dwelling on Videroni Street, demanding money and property.

Three occupants inside the dwelling at the time co-operated and provided the men with wallets, mobile phones and keys to a car. The men left in the stolen car.

The car is described as a silver Holden Calais with Queensland registration 090VAO.

Nobody was physically injured during the incident.

Anyone who may observe the car is advised not to approach it and to call police. Anyone with information about the crime is asked to call Crimestoppers.

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.


Drug arrest, Labrador

QPS Media [12/5/15]:

Two people have been charged with a number of drug offences after officers allegedly located drugs, cash and chemicals in a car during a traffic stop at Labrador last night.

Police from the Gold Coast Rapid Action and Patrols intercepted the vehicle on Government Road around 7.30pm with police alleging they located a small amount of cannabis and methylamphetamines, a quantity of cash, three 20 litre tubs of chemicals, as well as other drug paraphernalia and knuckledusters.

A 41-year-old Nerang woman was arrested and charged with four counts of possessing a utensil, and one count each of supplying dangerous drugs, possessing dangerous drugs, possession of anything used in connection with the commission of a crime as defined in Part 2 of the Drugs Misuse Act 1986, and unlicensed driving.

A 25-year-old Nerang man was arrested and charged with two counts each of possession of dangerous drugs and possessing utensils, and one count each of possession of instructions for producing dangerous drugs and unlawful possession of a weapon.

Both were due to appear in the Southport Magistrates Court today.

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.

Man extradited from WA to face armed robbery charge, Caloundra




QPS Media [12/5/15]:

A 29-year-old Sunshine Coast man will appear in the Maroochydore Magistrates Court tomorrow after Maroochydore detectives successfully applied for his extradition from Perth, Western Australia.

The man will appear in court charged with armed robbery following police investigations into the robbery of a Landsborough Drive, Golden Beach supermarket on July 12, 2013.

A 22-year-old Woodford woman was charged at the time with armed robbery.

Anyone with information which could assist with this matter should contact Crime Stoppers anonymously via 1800 333 000 or crimestoppers.com.au 24hrs a day.


Armed robbery charge, Petrie

QPS Media [12/5/15]:

Detectives have arrested two women following an alleged armed robbery in the car park of a fast food restaurant on Anzac Avenue in Petrie at about 6.45pm, last night.

Police will allege a 38-year-old woman was grabbed from behind, before being threatened with a knife. The woman complied and was not physically injured during the incident.

A 21-year-old woman from Kingston has been charged with armed robbery and remanded in custody. She is due to appear in Pine Rivers Magistrates Court on May 19.

A 20-year-old woman from Raceview was arrested and is assisting police with their enquiries.

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.



Eurogroup sees progress on Greece but wants more, soon


ekathimerini.com [11/5/15]:


There were no positive or negative surprises at Monday’s Eurogroup for Greece as eurozone finance ministers confirmed in writing that there had been progress in talks between Athens and its lenders but that intensive work needs to be done over the next few days.

“We welcomed the progress that has been achieved so far,” said the ministers in a joint statement after the meeting in Brussels.

“We note that the reorganization and streamlining of working procedures has made an acceleration possible, and has contributed to a more substantial discussion,” they added in reference to recent changes in Greece’s negotiation team and its style.

“At the same time, we acknowledged that more time and effort are needed to bridge the gaps on the remaining open issues,” the statement added, calling for an acceleration in the Brussels Group negotiations.

The euro-area finance ministers also made it clear that more loans would be disbursed to Greece only if there is a “staff-level agreement” on the conclusion of the program review.

Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem indicated in comments afterward that Greece’s lenders might agree to break up the 7.2 billion euros in bailout funding into smaller tranches based on the gradual implementation of whatever is included in any final agreement.

“There are time constraints and liquidity constraints and hopefully we will reach an agreement before time runs out and before money runs out,” said Dijsselbloem.

Speaking in a separate news conference, Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said he felt there has been “considerable convergence” between Athens and its creditors and that they would try to wrap up an agreement in the next couple of weeks, before the government’s liquidity problems become “binding.”

The Greek minister said there had been “substantive progress” in talks on issues such as settling nonperforming loans (NPLs), reforming value-added tax (VAT) and bolstering the independence of Greece’s tax authority. However, he suggested that there were still differences over pension and labor reforms. “Just cutting pensions is not a reform,” he said.

Varoufakis confirmed that Greece would today meet a repayment of around 750 million euros to the International Monetary Fund.

He also insisted that his relations with German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble are excellent.

 “Our meetings are always friendly, particularly interesting and constructive,” said the former economics professor.

“Today we had our friendliest meeting yet,” he added.

Ahead of the meeting, Schaeuble suggested that he would support Athens if it decides to hold a referendum on any deal agreed with creditors.

“If the Greek government thinks it must hold a referendum, then let it hold a referendum,” he said.

“That might even be a helpful measure for the Greek people to decide whether it is ready to accept what is necessary, or whether it wants something different.”






Pilbara mine death: worker dies in state's North West [WA Today – 12/5/15]




Mining services firm Hastings Deering is laying off about 100 workers in Queensland. ... [Yahoo - 12/5/15]



‏@JonathanHair - ABC journalist [12/5/15]: @HastingsDeering workers told 45 positions in Mky, Rocky and Bris will be axed via text message yesterday afternoon. ...



Alcoa has announced it will close the Anglesea coal mine and power station near Geelong, costing 85 jobs. ... [Mining Australia - 12/5/15]




Vietnam given approval to export lychees to Australia [ABC – 12/5/15]:




... Head of Australia's Lychee Growers Association, Derek Foley, from Electra, Queensland, said he was not worried about Vietnamese imports competing with local fruit.

"We're not against the import of lychees, it won't clash with our season, which is Christmas (time)," Mr Foley said.

"Australian lychee growers would like to see good quality lychees coming into Australia."

Mr Foley said the reputation of lychees had been spoilt when China exported vapour heat treated lychees to Australia in 2005.

"Vapour heat treatment is not kind to lychees, and it came by boat.

"Unfortunately the whole trade collapsed because of the vapour heat treatment and Australia is still trying to get access to China.

"We're asking if the protocol can be irradiation, and reciprocal arrangements."

Australia's lychee industry is worth $20 million annually and the industry exports irradiated fruit to New Zealand and has recently been granted access to the United States. ...





Chronicle [12/5/15]:




A pair of illegal Vietnamese immigrants have been busted by Goondiwindi Police after a random vehicle stop on the Leichhardt Hwy.

The two Vietnamese immigrants, who were passengers in the car intercepted by police last week, fled into nearby bushland.

A 44-year-old Vietnamese man driving the car was arrested for possessing 28 grams of marijuana.

One of his passengers was later detained by police, while the other was found by a local resident later in the day.

As the person could not speak English the resident brought the person to the Goondiwindi Police Station.

During their investigations police discovered the two Vietnamese passengers of the vehicle were illegal immigrants.

Goondiwindi Police liaised with the Immigration Department to have the persons escorted to the Department's care.







Proserpine residents will have access to recycled water thanks to a $6 million State Government funding contribution for a waste water treatment plant.

State Development Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said Whitsunday Regional Council would receive $6 million to construct a new waste water treatment plant.  ... [Daily Mercury - 12/5/15]





Sydney Morning Herald [28/3/15]:



Santos Energy is seeking approval for a new waste treatment plant at its controversial pilot coal seam gas field in northern NSW without identifying how it will dispose of the briny and potentially toxic end product.

The Santos venture at Narrabri, which has already cost the company about $1.2 billion, was drawn into the state election campaign when Opposition Leader Luke Foley declared a Labor government would not allow the gas field's exploration licence to be converted to a production licence if it won office.




Bundestag Inquiry into BND and NSA

WikiLeaks [12/5/15]:

Today, Tuesday 12 May, WikiLeaks releases ten months of transcripts from the ongoing German Parliamentary inquiry into NSA activities in Germany.

Despite many sessions being technically public, in practice public understanding has been compromised as transcripts have been withheld, recording devices banned and reporters intrusively watched by police.

WikiLeaks is releasing 1,380 pages of transcripts from the unclassified sessions, covering 34 witnesses – including 13 concealed witnesses from Germany's foreign intelligence agency, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND). The transcripts cover from the start of the inquiry in May 2014 through to February 2015.

WikiLeaks has also written summaries of each session in German and English as the inquiry, due to its subject matter, is of international significance.

The BND is referenced 1,782 times, the NSA 1,671 times, the CIA 179 times, Edward Snowden 204 times and German Chancellor Angela Merkel 14 times.

Julian Assange, WikiLeaks publisher, said:

"In this important Bundestag inquiry, the German and international public is the injured party. The purpose of this inquiry, properly stated, is to discover who is responsible for the injury of a great many people's rights and how these violations were committed. As the injured party, the public has a right to understand this inquiry's work. It is only through effective public oversight that this inquiry's stated objectives of transparency and justice will be met."






... What is especially disturbing about this constant call to become a citizen informant is that it directs our eyes away from what we should see—the death of our democracy, the growing presence and omnipotence of the police state, and the evisceration, in the name of our security, of our most basic civil liberties.

Manufactured fear engenders self-doubt. It makes us, often unconsciously, conform in our outward and inward behavior. It conditions us to relate to those around us with suspicion. It destroys the possibility of organizing, community and dissent. We have built what Robert Gellately calls a “culture of denunciation.”  ... [A Nation of Snitches, Chris Hedges - Truthdig - 10/5/15]







Prison bashing victim housed with sentenced inmates, lawyer alleges

Canberra Times [12/5/15]:


A detainee who was viciously bashed just hours after being remanded in custody was housed with sentenced prisoners, his lawyer has alleged.

Steven Freeman, 24, on Tuesday made a third attempt for release from the Alexander Maconochie Centre, where he was attacked late last month.

The bashing could have killed him, but for the efforts of guards and medical staff at Canberra Hospital. He was placed in an induced coma for about a week, and may have suffered permanent brain injury.

Freeman was assaulted hours after being denied bail in the ACT Magistrates Court on April 28.

His lawyer on Tuesday told the court that Freeman, an unsentenced prisoner, had been housed in the same area as sentenced inmates.

The ACT government's vision was for the jail to be human-rights compliant, and the separation of unsentenced and sentenced prisoners was considered fundamental to that aspiration.

But territory courts, in unrelated cases, have previously heard that overcrowding and a lack of available beds at the AMC have made separation all but impossible to achieve.

Staff are said to be prioritising the safety of detainees above keeping sentenced and unsentenced prisoners apart.

The allegations about Freeman's placement within the jail were made during his third attempt at bail on Tuesday.

Freeman was charged with additional offences on Tuesday, and police told the court more are likely in relation to 19 stolen cars.

Before applying for bail, Freeman was required to demonstrate circumstances had changed since his last attempt for release on Thursday, something he achieved through the offer of a surety of $1000 from his mother.

The prosecution maintained its opposition to Freeman's release, and called evidence from Detective Constable Gary French.

The officer said police held fears Freeman would reoffend.

The court heard that Freeman was involved in an altercation with a guard while in hospital receiving treatment for his injuries.

Police were required to assist the guard and Freeman was then handcuffed to his hospital bed.

Magistrate Peter Dingwall told the court he wanted to see medical reports on Freeman before deciding on the bail application.

The hearing was adjourned until later this month and Freeman remains in custody.

He was marked as a prisoner-at-risk.



Book project offers a little more insight into Queensland's frontier wars


North West Star [9/5/15]:

Dugalunji Aboriginal Corporation representative Sally Sheldon’s voice cracked with emotion as she read a particular story from a booklet revealing the stories of Indigenous history in Camooweal.

She read stories from two booklets called Stories from the Camooweal Caves launched at the Dugalunji Camp recently.

The first story was called Violence on the Frontier, collected by interviewing local Ruby Saltmere who recalled the story of how her grandmother – who lived in the Lawn Hill area - survived a massacre caused by Native Mounted Police troopers.

“All armed, you know, guns, pocket guns and everything,” Mrs Saltmere said.

“And they shot all the people while they were still in bed some of them.

“But Gran and another old lady [then a girl] survived all night.

“The dog nearly gave them away because the little dog knew where they were, under the bushes.”

Ms Sheldon read a lighter story which told how Phyllis King once came to own Crocket’s Café.

A publican asked her former waitress Mrs King to run an old café next to the pub.

“I said ‘Me? I’m only a bloody waitress!” Mrs King said, but decided to buy the café through instalments, and once it was paid off her husband built her another.

Mrs King died before her interview was published but her sister Carol attended the launch.

After the launch, Ms Sheldon said the corporation wanted to collect all types of material that brought the community together.

“It was very important to us because that’s how people remember the history of the area.’’

She said the booklets could be distributed to tourists at Outback at the Isa.

Myuma Manager Tanya Willis said the books were funded through the Australian Government’s Your Community Heritage Grant.






... If there ain't no justice, then there ain't no peace ...




Rolling Stone [11/5/15]:




Two weeks after protests in Baltimore brought national attention to the death of Freddie Gray while he was in police custody, Prince came to town for a "Rally 4 Peace" – a surprise concert that turned into an epic two-and-a-half-hour jam session with a dream set list and appearances by Doug E. Fresh, Estelle, Miguel and State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby.

"I am your servant tonight, Baltimore," Prince told the Royal Farms Arena crowd, much of which was wearing gray as instructed by the concert poster. "We are your house band."

After blasting off with favorites "Let's Go Crazy," "Take Me With U" and "Raspberry Beret," Prince launched into "Baltimore," a song about the city's struggles that he had released just over 24 hours earlier. "Does anybody hear us pray?/For Michael Brown or Freddie Gray," Prince sang. "Peace is more than the absence of war."


"The system is broken," he said. "It's going to take young people to fix it. We need new ideas, new life. Most of all, we need new piece. And the kind of piece I'm talking about is spelled 'P-I-E-C-E.' Next time I come to Baltimore, I want to stay in a hotel owned by one of you. I want to play in a building owned and operated by one of you – I'm talking to the young people now."

Again the band left the stage, and this time the crowd chanted "No curfew!" for several minutes. When Prince finally returned, he said, "You better get me a house here someplace quick. A brother could get used to this," then launched into a thrilling cover of Michael Jackson's "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough." ...






Hear Prince's New Tribute Song, 'Baltimore' [AUDIO - NPR - 9/5/15]




NZ troops on ground in Iraq – Australians missing in action?

RNZI [12/5/15]

The New Zealand Defence Force training mission contingent is in place at Taji Military Complex in Iraq.

Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant General Tim Keating confirmed the team was on the ground and preparing to train Iraqi Security Forces.

That training would include basic weapons, operation planning, medical and logistics support to operations.

The Building Partner Capacity mission is a non-combat mission for a two-year period, with a review to be conducted after nine months.

As well as a main body contingent in Taji, which includes soldiers for force protection, the New Zealand army has several officers in other locations in Iraq.





Hollywood Actor Michael Enright joins "fight against ISIS" [Daily Sabah - 11/5/15]





The two-state solution is the only way to achieve lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians, German President Joachim Gauck told visiting Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Monday.

Rivlin, an outspoken opponent of the two-state solution, met Gauck on the first day of his official visit to Germany, which marks 50 years of diplomatic ties between the two countries. ... [Anadolu Agency - 11/5/15]







Senior PLO official Saeb Erekat has urged the French government to end a national telecom company's involvement with its Israeli partner over mass violations of Palestinian rights in the occupied territories.

Last Thursday, the PLO official wrote to France's Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius to express concern over Orange's involvement with Israel's military occupation, illegal settlements and the deadly war on Gaza last year. ... [Maan - 11/5/15]





Arrests during Widodo's PNG visit [RNZI – 12/5/15]:

Reports from Papua New Guinea say seven people were locked up in police cells for demonstrating for West Papua at the start of a visit of the Indonesian president, Joko Widodo.

NBC reports that they were held for six hours after they waved placards and the West Papuans' Morning Star flag.

Indonesia has banned the flag and some people have been jailed for several years for displaying it.

President Widodo arrived from West Papua where he at the weekend released five political prisoners, who had been jailed since 2003.

He also said he would open the area to foreign media.






Journalists gathered for a second straight day of protests in Jayapura, the provincial capital, on Tuesday to denounce an assault on a reporter by the head of Biak Numfor district. ... [Jakarta Globe - 12/5/15]






The National [11/5/15]:



One of the largest marine products trading company will be landing its first load of tuna in Wewak, East Sepik, for processing.

The Fong Chun Formosa Fishery Company Ltd has more than 30 subsidiaries, fishing bases and shipping agents in the world to handle the service needs of its customers.

The load of skipjack tuna was harvested from Parties to the Nauru Agreement waters and certified by the Marine Stewardship Council. ...







CIA’s Jeffrey Sterling Sentenced to 42 Months for Leaking to New York Times Journalist [The Intercept - 11/5/15]





... “We’ve seen a lot of decomposing bodies floating in the sea since the war in Libya, and I think there’ll be more to come,” said Lt. Mosaad Abichou, the ship’s commander.


“I’d rather be jailed in Italy than free in Nigeria,” said Mohamed Eddy, 25, who queued for a plate of lentils cooked by a neighbor.

After lengthy talks with a representative of the International Organization for Migration, Gary Yari, 16, rescued by fishermen as he tried to reach the Italian island of Lampedusa from Libya, reluctantly signed papers for his voluntary return to Mali. ...  [Tunisia battles against the odds to rescue refugees – Daily Star – 12/5/15]







Australian media suddenly interested in trivial, quirky Facebook stories and stowaway cats. 




What are the Australian media - and our politicians - covering up on Nauru?





Refugee Council of Australia Media Release [8/5/15]:




... Paul Power CEO of the Refugee Council of Australia said: “The serious ongoing concerns regarding the safety and protection of asylum seekers, particularly children and women have not been adequately investigated nor addressed on Nauru.

“The widely documented sexual, physical and psychological abuse in detention and for asylum seekers on Nauru, including the government’s own investigation collated in the Moss review, illustrate that there are enormous problems and the people who are suffering have no recourse to justice.

“The situation for children, women and men in detention on Nauru is like ‘Lord of the Flies’, particularly at night time when the sense of lawlessness is at its worst. There must be accountability for the children and adults affected by this abuse and importantly, the Australian Government’s culpability needs to be urgently investigated by an independent body.  ...





Nauru Facebook blackout enters 12th day


The Journal [1/5/15]:



The broadcast of an RTÉ story about Denis O’Brien’s will be delayed until at least 12 May when a full court hearing will take place.

O’Brien is seeking an injunction to stop RTÉ airing a story which he says is about his private finances.

RTÉ has said that the report relates to money owed by O’Brien to IBRC.

The High Court heard today that IBRC will also be seeking an injuction in relation to the report.

On foot of this, the parties agreed on an adjournment until 12 May with affidavits to be submitted next week.

RTÉ has undertaken that it will not broadcast of the story ahead of that date.



Mediterranean crisis demands ‘intensive dialogue’ among UN and regional actors, Security Council told

UN Media Release [11/5/15]:

The Mediterranean migrant crisis calls for collective action focused on the immediate need to save lives or else it will represent “a moral failure of the first order,” one that undermines international law and security, a top United Nations migration official warned today.

As the Security Council gathered to discuss cooperation between the UN and regional organizations, Peter Sutherland, the UN Special Representative for International Migration briefed on the refugee and mixed migratory crisis in the Mediterranean, where in the first 150 days of 2015 alone, some 1,800 people drowned attempting escape to Europe from their own strife-torn homelands.

He outlined priorities for the collective response to the situation, including through an urgent focus on saving lives, boosting law enforcement against smugglers, increasing safe avenues for refugee resettlements, greater solidarity with countries closer to conflict, and intensifying efforts to end conflicts that are driving people away.

“The situation in the Mediterranean represents – first and foremost – a security crisis for the hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants in harm’s way: those risking their lives to cross the seas, those trapped and abused in transit countries, those fleeing conflicts, natural disasters, and other threats to their lives and livelihoods,” Mr. Sutherland told the 15-member Council.

The Security Council also heard from representatives from the European Union and African Union ahead of this week’s meeting of the European Commission that aims to approve an agenda on migration.

Spotlighting the breadth of the challenge, he said the 1,800 deaths on the Mediterranean in the first month of the year represent a 20-fold increase over the same period last year – and at this pace, between 10,000 and 20,000 migrants would perish by autumn. About one third of those crossing the Mediterranean are Syrian refugees. Thousands more are from Eritrea, Somalia, Afghanistan and other nations.

In a single weekend in April, 900 people died attempting to cross the Mediterranean.

“It is a collective responsibility to act,” said Mr. Sutherland, who a month ago was appointed to an informal group tasked with UN’s response to the migratory crisis.

The European Union has recently pledged to triple its resources and must commit to search-and-rescue as its first priority, he said, calling on Europe and Africa to develop a common strategy to deal with smugglers and traffickers.

“This will not be easy,” he said. “It demands better governance and coordinated law enforcement efforts along the entire routes of migratory movements.”

The stakes are high for organized crime – moving people illegally across borders is today more lucrative than the sale of illicit arms and drugs. All enforcement measures will have to adhere to international human rights, humanitarian, maritime, and refugee law, Mr. Sutherland said.

He called for more attention to the challenges of small countries like Lebanon and Jordan, which are together hosting more than 1.8 million refugees from Syria. In Lebanon’s case, this represents almost a quarter of its population and half of the refugees are children, a majority of whom are not in school. The burden cannot fall on the few.

“We need more resettlement countries. We need larger resettlement quotas. Only half of the 28 EU Member States are resettlement countries,” he urged.

Mr. Sutherland also spotlighted the responsibility of those countries where inequality, dysfunctional governance and poverty drive people to migrate. “They need to be accountable toward their own citizens and create conditions where everyone can benefit from economic and social advancement,” he said.

In the meantime, the international community needs to offer far more aid to countries close to conflict zones, to ensure the safety of refugees and migrants, educate their children, and offer real hope for the future.

Mr. Sutherland urged the need to address the larger problems we gave including the root causes –‘conflict that go on for years on end, authoritarian governments that abuse their citizens, demographic challenges that seem to grow exponentially.”

While it is easy enough to turn away from troubles that seem intractable – “every problem, broken down, can be ameliorated.”

At the most basic level, he said, there is a need to engage in a systematic, intense dialogue among countries of origin, transit, and destination. He also emphasized the need to include migrants and refugees in the post-2015 UN development agenda.

EU asks UN for help with migrant crisis [Al Jazeera – 11/5/15]





United States, “allies” continue bombing Iraq and Syria

Centcom [11/5/15]:

Coalition military forces continued to attack ISIL terrorists in Syria and Iraq between 8 a.m., May 10, and 8 a.m., May 11, local time.

In Syria, coalition military forces conducted nine airstrikes using attack, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft.

Separately in Iraq, coalition military forces conducted nine airstrikes approved by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense using attack, bomber, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft against ISIL terrorists.

“Our strikes in Syria are having a significant effect on Daesh forces,” said Col. Wayne Marotto, CJTF-OIR chief of public affairs. “These strikes represent increased pressure against Daesh leadership, and result from Daesh repeatedly ceding territory to Kurdish forces.”

The following is a summary of the strikes conducted since the last press release:


- Near Al Hasakah, six airstrikes struck one large and one small ISIL tactical unit, destroying three ISIL fighting positions, three ISIL vehicles, two ISIL mortar positions, four ISIL heavy machine guns and an ISIL supply point

- Near Ar Raqqah, one airstrike destroyed two ISIL vehicles.

- Near Kobani, two airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroying an ISIL mortar position and an ISIL vehicle.


- Near Bayji, two airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units, destroying an ISIL vehicle.

- Near Fallujah, two airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units, destroying four ISIL fighting positions and an ISIL vehicle.

- Near Haditha, one airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroying two ISIL fighting positions.

- Near Mosul, two airstrikes struck an ISIL fighting position and struck land features denying ISIL a tactical advantage.

- Near Ramadi, one airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroying an ISIL fighting position.

- Near Sinjar, one airstrike struck an ISIL large tactical unit, destroying four ISIL buildings and three ISIL heavy machine guns.

Airstrike assessments are based on initial reports. All aircraft returned to base safely.







Saudi air raid on arms depot claims 11 lives in Yemen’s capital [Press TV – 11/5/15]



US drone kills 4 in Yemen [Press TV – 11/5/15]






South Sudan: heavy fighting and reported ‘atrocities’ in northeast force UN to evacuate staff [Media Release – 11/5/15]



NAPLAN does not have the write stuff




The Age [11/5/15]:

NAPLAN's persuasive writing tasks do not showcase the skills teachers value nor those students need to master.

Benjamin Franklin wrote that there are two certainties in life: death and taxes. For teachers, there are two other certainties that we face each year: reports and the NAPLAN.

As I begin writing this article to persuade readers of my views on this test, I am aware that I am mirroring a task that students in years 3, 5, 7 and 9 will most likely be undertaking this week: persuading readers with their opinion on an issue (the other option is a narrative piece).

Unlike the NAPLAN writing task though, my writing has a context and a real-world purpose. The NAPLAN does not.

When it comes to the NAPLAN, the same criticisms seem to be levelled at it year after year: that it encourages teaching to the test, that its high-stakes nature has resulted in schools advising some students not to sit the test or even assisting students with answers, that the high-pressure environment it creates negatively impacts on students' wellbeing, and that it has not been culturally and linguistically appropriate for Indigenous and EAL (English as an additional language) students, and students from low socioeconomic backgrounds.

One thing that hasn't been considered though is how this test is shaping curriculum. The instigation of this national literacy test in 2007 preceded Australia's first National Curriculum (which is still under review). What this effectively means is that Australian school students were being tested on material long before there was any agreement as to what that material should actually be.

In the absence of a national literacy policy, the NAPLAN tests seem to be acting as an authority on what we should value most in terms of school students' literacy and numeracy skills.

This is an issue, especially for the teaching of writing. Why? The NAPLAN writing test is an assessment of a particular type of writing, and not the sort of writing that English teachers value.

As a timed test, it cannot account for the need to plan, draft and rewrite a composition – an essential skill for writers; nor does it help students prepare for the real-world writing they will engage with outside school. So it's an unauthentic writing task, and one that brings considerable nervousness to students and teachers alike.

As our education system moves towards an increasing system of high-stakes testing and accountability, opportunities for risk-taking and creativity diminish. Imagination is the casualty of these testing regimes.

Continuing with the persuasive writing test as an example, we know that effective persuasion can be found in a variety of forms, from opinion articles and speeches, to advertising and even poetry and stories.

Yet students reading the NAPLAN writing tests are informed that a persuasive text is something that has an introduction, body paragraphs and conclusion, and the publicly available marking guide shows a wide variety of these model generic essays that students continue to emulate each year. In fact, the marking guide shows that students will lose marks if they deviate from this generic structure.

Teachers eager to help students perform well on these tests understandably try to provide students with a template and sentence starters to approach the task, with the result that markers encounter hundreds of papers that begin with the words, "I strongly believe that…" followed by paragraphs structured by "Firstly", "Secondly" (and sometimes eventually "Seventhly", "Eighthly", and "Ninthly").

Most NAPLAN essays make for boring reading – they're not that persuasive at all. The lesson that students learn from the NAPLAN is how to produce a generic essay in a short space of time, and this "skill" comes at the expense of weeks (and sometimes months) of class time that would be much better spent elsewhere.

NAPLAN might be a certainty, but it's certainly not a test that fosters best writing practice. And as the government moves to align this test even closer to the curriculum that teachers must deliver, I'm not persuaded that this is in the best interests of anyone.

Emily Frawley is a Melbourne-based secondary teacher undertaking a PhD in writing at The University of Melbourne







12 May 2015