High Court win for asylum seekers against relocation argument.

Stop the deportation of Afghan asylum seekers

Refugee Action Coalition, Sydney [12/11/14]:

The High Court finding that the Refugee Review Tribunal had failed to properly consider whether it was reasonable for an Afghan asylum seeker to relocate to Kabul because security for Hazaras was ‘relatively good’ has serious implications for the government’s recent moves to deport Afghan asylum seekers (See the decision here).

“We are calling on the government to immediately halt all plans to remove Afghan asylum seekers and to reconsider Afghan protection applications in light of the High Court finding,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

“The man who was removed to Afghanistan two weeks ago was also a truck driver driving in the same area as the case considered by the High Court in today’s judgement.

“We are calling on the government to urgently arrange for the two asylum seekers forcibly removed to Afghanistan to be brought back to Australia. It is clear that the government has returned those asylum seekers to danger. Their existence in Kabul is precarious.

“There are at least nine Afghan asylum seekers who have been re-detained since Zainullah became the first forced removal to Afghanistan in August this year.”

“The security situation in Kabul and Afghanistan is deteriorating by the day. It was always unsafe to rely on decisions made a year or more ago. Now the High Court has questioned the very basis of many RRT decisions.

“It is time for the government to provide the permanent protection that Afghan asylum seekers need.”

Mortar shell explosion leaves 2 civilians dead in Herat [Khaama - 12/11/14]

At least 21 Taliban militants were killed and 14 others were injured following military operations by Afghan national security forces in the past 24 hours. ... [Khaama - 12/11/14]

First the UN, now lawyers locked out of Manus refugee death camp

Lawyers Weekly [12/11/14]:

The head of the Human Rights Law Centre (HRLC) has revealed that lawyers are battling to access clients on Manus Island as the UN takes aim at Australia’s asylum seeker policies.

Hugh de Kretser , the executive director of the HRLC, told Lawyers Weekly that it is “extremely difficult for lawyers to contact [asylum seeker] clients and properly advise them of their rights.”

He added that the Federal Government deliberately chose Manus Island to make it difficult for the rule of law to reach the asylum seekers detained there.

De Kretser’s comments follow heavy scrutiny of Australia’s asylum seeker policies and counter-terror laws by the UN.

...

In a token move, Rimbink Pato says he will release 10 refugees from Manus death camp and house them in PNG. [Brisbane Times - 12/11/14]:

Almost six months after Prime Minister Tony Abbott predicted it would happen, 10 of the more than 1000 asylum seekers being held in the Manus Island detention centre have been told they "can now call Papua New Guinea their home".

PNG's Immigration Minister, Rimbink Pato, announced the decisions on Wednesday before meeting his Australian counterparts, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Immigration Minister Scott Morrison.

Mr Pato said the 10 would be invited to apply for a visa that would initially extend for 12 months and allow them to live in transit accommodation outside the centre and receive training that would "enable them to live and work in PNG".

He said the 10 came from Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan and Myanmar and included an accountant, engineer, jeweller and a watch maker. "I am confident that employers will want the skills that these refugees offer and that they will make a strong contribution to PNG," he said.

...

The Member of Parliament for Manus province in Papua New Guinea says there is no way asylum seekers will be settled in his province. ... [RNZI - 12/11/14]

Theresienstadt: Detention assurance team to monitor service provider standards [Minister for Immigration Media Release - 11/11/14]

Baby Ferouz, born in Brisbane, marks his first birthday in Darwin immigration facility [Guardian - 12/11/14]

... There were no cakes or candles for Ferouz’s birthday, his father told Guardian Australia, saying it was all he could do to try to raise a smile from his youngest son.

...

From Paul Kelly's memoir 'How To Make Gravy' [2010]:

... A large number of Australians were opposed to the government's refugee policy, and as a result many groups and websites - Rural Australians for Refugees, We are All Boat People, and a host of others - sprang up to mobilise support. Apart from lobbying, protesting and petitions, people sought to create links between the refugees and the outside world in order to soften the effects of isolation - to establish regular visits where practical, or a pen-pal correspondence.

Via my sister Mary Jo, Sian and I got in touch with one such group that sponsored contact between detainees and citizens. In 2002 we were emailed the names of two people inside Baxter Detention Centre and instructions on how to apply for a visit. Baxter was outside the town of Port Augusta in South Australia, about three and a half hours north of Adelaide and a few hours south of Woomera. In October that year, after a family camping trip to the Flinders Ranges, Sian and I drove to Baxter with my two daughters, Maddy and Memphis, aged eleven and nine respectively.

We pulled up at the prison in the afternoon. There is no other word for it. Two tall rows of barbed-wire fencing, one electrified, with a no-man's land of white pebbles in between, surrounded a compound of low-lying, donga-style buildings, some of which in turn had their own fences. We walked to the first gate, pressed the red button, waited for the giant steel door to open, then walked along a mesh-enclosed corridor to the next steel door, which eventually let us into a reception area buzzing with flies. We presented multiple versions of ID, filled in a numerous forms, and were asked to empty our pockets of all personal items and put them in a locker. We'd bought a fresh cream cake in Port Augusta as a gift.

'I'll take that,' said the guard.

'Why?' said Sian.

'Because that's the rule.'

'But what will you do with it?'

'They might take it through tomorrow, if they have time.'

'Why not today?'

'Because that's the rule.'

'So our friends won't be able to eat the cake today?'

'No.'

'So if they get the cake at all, it will be stale?'

He gave us a thin smile. Stale, mate.

We were taken into a nondescript meeting room with a few tables and plastic chairs. Glass doors led into a small courtyard. There were a couple of other groups of detainees with visitors. A door opened and a woman and a man walked in and came to us. The woman kissed us on both cheeks and her eyes lit up at the sight of the children.We introduced ourselves. They were both from Iran.

R was in her mid-twenties, beautiful, dark-haired and petite with flashing dark eyes. Though she struggled with English she spoke it better than we spoke Persian. Conversation was halting. She told us her husband was locked in a separate compound and would not be part of our visit. He'd had 'big problems' in Iran and they'd fled for their lives, first to Indonesia where they waited five months for a boat operated by people smugglers. They'd landed on the remote north-west coast of Australia two years before and had been in detention ever since. She couldn't stop touching the girls, stroking their hair, pinching their cheeks.

T, the man with her, wore a white chef's coat that smelt of fried chicken. He was working eight hours a day in the hot kitchen, earning one point an hour, one dollar a point, to buy phone cards. He'd been in detention a year longer than R and her husband. We said we'd brought cake for them but it had been impounded. She smiled and shrugged. He held up his hands and shook his head sadly. Situation normal, all fucked up.

After a while a third person joined us. He was older, carried a white stick and said little. Twenty-eight days on a hunger strike in Curtin detention centre in Western Australia had robbed him of his sight, and possibly his mind. He was from Iraq. The other led him gently into the courtyard so he could sit with us in the afternoon sun.

Our visit lasted a couple of hours. Despite the language barrier, we learnt a little about them and they about us. Hollywood movies and Persian poetry - Rumi, from the thirteenth century - were touched on. Addresses were exchanged. R showed off her cat, a stray she had managed to claim as her own, to the girls.

As we were about to leave, there was a conference of guards at the exit door, followed by an announcement that the centre was shutting down due to security reasons and none of the visitors would be allowed to leave right now.

'What's the problem?' I asked one of the guards.

'It's a security problem.'

'Oh, what kind of security problem?'

'Can't say.'

'Has something happened?'

'We can't give out that information, sir.'

'Where's the problem?'

'I can't say.'

'Any idea how long we have to stay here?'

'No. It's a security matter.'

We went back to our halting chat but this time there was a new edginess in the room. Was it just our imaginations or did the guards seem pretty pleased with themselves?

Half an hour went by. Sian went to speak to a different guard. Same stonewall response. The children were getting apprehensive.

'Are they going to let us out?' asked Memphis anxiously.

'Yes, they'll have to. Maybe they're having a little fun with us. Perhaps they want do discourage visitors. Anyway, I'm sure they'll let us out before dinner. Otherwise they'll have to feed us.'

Twenty minutes later we got the all-clear. We tried not to show our relief, said our goodbyes, kissed cheeks and went out past reception, where we collected our belongings, through the metal gates, down the mesh-grilled corridor and into the late afternoon. The dimming sky never looked so good.

'You know how we felt for that short little period when we didn't know when we'd get out?' said Sian to the girls as we walked to the car. 'That's how they feel all the time.'

On the drive back to Adelaide the children asked a lot of questions. Some of them were hard to answer.

I don't know what happened to T but we stayed in touch with R through letters and a lawyer. Eventually she was granted a temporary protection visa and released. She left her husband and moved to Sydney to be with a fellow refugee who'd been released before her. They moved in together. She had trouble finding work at first but her English kept improving.

We visited them a couple of times in Sydney and they came to one of my shows at The Metro. They looked us up in Melbourne sometime later and we had a picnic in the park around Christmas time. We haven't seen them for a while but every now and then R and Sian text each other.

Airstrikes kill 865 people in Syria, including 50 civilians, since late September: Observatory

Daily Star [12/11/14]:

Airstrikes by U.S.-led forces in Syria have killed 865 people, including 50 civilians, since the start of the campaign in late September against ISIS militants, an activist group monitoring the war said Wednesday.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the majority of the deaths, 746, were ISIS fighters and said the actual figure could be much higher.

Eight of the civilians were children and five were women, the Observatory said. It said 68 members of Al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front were also killed in the airstrikes, which started early on Sept. 23.

Source deny reports of US strikes on Turkish consulate in Mosul

Hurriyet Daily News [11/11/14]:

A source in Ankara have denied reports claiming that air strikes conducted by the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) on Nov. 11 hit Turkey’s consulate in Mosul.

The strikes targeted many key buildings including ISIL’s central headquarters in the city, the Sharia court, the police post and Turkey’s consulate, which has allegedly been used by the jihadist group for administrative purposes, Iraqi Kurdish online news website Rudaw reported.

But a source who formerly worked at the consulate denied the report, saying the strikes hit another building next to the Turkish mission.

ISIL abducted 46 Turkish citizens after storming the consulate on June 10 following its capture of Mosul. The hostages were freed after 101 of captivity on Sept. 20 at the end of a long process of negotiation.

Meanwhile, Lebanon-based Al-Monitor website cited Iraqi officials as saying the consulate was used by ISIL as its main headquarters in the city. The allegations were not confirmed by Ankara, but prompted the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) to file a parliamentary question to the government.

Rudaw also claimed that a large number of ISIL militants were killed and injured as a result of the strikes.

US Drone strike kills at least four in northwest Pakistan

Reuters [11/11/14]:

A U.S. drone strike killed at least four suspected militants in northwest Pakistan on Tuesday, security officials said, the nineteenth such strike reported this year.

The strike hit a house and a vehicle in Datta Khel area of the North Waziristan tribal area near the Afghan border, three security officials said.

The Pakistani government sent a protest to the U.S. government over the strike.

The officials gave death tolls varying from four to seven. Exact death tolls are often hard to get because the Taliban often cordon off areas where drones have struck.

One official said that the truck had foreign fighters in it and that some had jumped out just before the strike.

...

'Dozens' Killed in Yemen Bomb Attack on Huthis [Naharnet - 12/11/14]

Saudi Calms Sectarian Tensions after Deadly Attack [Naharnet - 12/11/14]

Israeli settlers torch mosque in Ramallah-area village

Maan [12/11/14]:

A group of Israeli settlers set fire inside a mosque in the Palestinian village of al-Mughayyir near Ramallah early Wednesday, locals told Ma'an.

Worshipers said that when they went to the mosque to perform dawn prayer around 4:30 a.m., they saw smoke smoke and flames coming from the first floor of the two-story building.

The first floor was seriously damaged, and the second floor was lightly damaged, they said.

They said the settlers left behind racist slogans in Hebrew on the outer walls of the mosque.

The same mosque has been targeted by Israeli settlers before, locals told Ma'an.

"Every time the mosque is torched, the (Israeli) occupation police conduct an investigation just for show, and never arrest a single settler," one resident said.

Locals say Israeli forces have confiscated more than 75 percent of the village's lands for settlements, military bases, and natural reserves.

Israeli settler violence against Palestinians and their property is commonplace but is rarely prosecuted by Israeli authorities.

Hong Kong protesters plan to occupy British consulate

Channel News Asia [12/11/14]:

Students in Hong Kong plan to occupy roads surrounding the city's British consulate in anger at a lack of support from London for their pro-democracy movement, as authorities ramp up pressure on protesters to go home.

The city's government has urged protesters to leave the main rally sites after more than six weeks of demonstrations that have brought parts of Hong Kong to a standstill. Police were authorised Monday to back up bailiffs charged with clearing barricades.

They are expected to start the operation in the next few days, with thousands of officers put on standby over the weekend according to local media. But seemingly undaunted, activists have put up large posters around the protest areas announcing the consulate occupation on Nov 21 and a Facebook page for the event has more than 700 likes.

Organisers say they want to show their anger at Britain for not standing up to China over "breaches" of the agreement the two countries made before Hong Kong was handed back to China by Britain in 1997, designed to protect Hong Kong's social systems and way of life.

"We are angry at the way that the British government has for many years denied that China has actually breached the declaration by interfering with Hong Kong politics," Anna-Kate Choi, the coordinator for the Occupy British Consulate group told AFP.

"They have the responsibility to make sure that the joint declaration has been implemented properly and that democracy and the high degree of autonomy of Hong Kong has been protected," Choi said.

She hoped for a turnout of hundreds "maybe even thousands", with secondary school pupils spearheading the protest. The British consulate said they had no comment.

...

Obama denies US role in Hong Kong protests [Al Jazeera - 12/11/14]

Man dies after setting himself on fire in Tokyo's Hibiya Park

Japan Today [12/11/14]:

A man committed suicide by setting himself on fire in Tokyo’s Hibiya Park on Tuesday night.

Police said the incident occurred just before 7 p.m. A park visitor called 119 to report that a man had set himself on fire. The man was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead shortly afterwards.

The man left a note addressed to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the heads of both houses of the Diet in which he criticized a resolution to remove a ban on Japan’s right to collective self-defense and the plan to relocate the U.S. air base at Futenma to Henoko, NHK reported.

The man had also set up a video camera on a nearby park bench to film his self-immolation.

In July, Abe’s cabinet announced it had loosened restrictions on the military in a highly controversial shift for the nation’s post-World War II pacifist stance.

Ahead of that announcement, another man railed against the policy as he set himself ablaze on a pedestrian walkway in Shinjuku, one of Tokyo’s busiest districts, while passers-by looked on in horror.

The bespectacled man, who appeared to be in his 50s or 60s, reportedly survived his apparent suicide attempt but authorities have not released details about his present condition.

Under the new interpretation, Japanese troops will be able to come to the aid of allies—primarily the United States—if they come under attack from a common enemy, even if Japan is not the object of the attack.

Minor demonstrations have been carried out against the changes, mainly in Tokyo.

15 Global Firms Hit by Russia's Law Limiting Foreign Ownership of Media

The Moscow Times [29/9/14]:

Russia's law limiting foreign ownership of media in Russia to 20 percent will overturn the country's media scene.

Foreign companies have been at the forefront of developing media in Russia since the early 1990s. They own stakes in hundreds of newspapers, magazines and television stations.

Under the law passed by Russia's parliament on Friday, they will be forced to sell part or all of their holdings by 2017.

The Moscow Times examined who owns what on Russia's media landscape to show the scale of the market reshuffle coming down the line.

Newspapers and Magazines

Sanoma (Finland)

Publishes: Vedomosti, The Moscow Times, The St. Petersburg Times.

Cosmopolitan, Harper's Bazaar, Harvard Business Review Russia, Men's Health, National Geographic Russia, Robb Report Russia, Popular Mechanics Russia.

Finnish media company Sanoma in 2005 bought Independent Media — Russia's first independent publishing house, founded in 1992 by Dutch media entrepreneur Derk Sauer. Today, Sanoma Independent Media, or SIM, is one of the largest foreign-owned media holdings in Russia and operates several publishing houses.

Its largest source of revenue is Fashion Press, which is owned equally by SIM and American media group Hearst. Fashion Press is the local publisher of Cosmopolitan, Esquire, Harper's Bazaar and others.

SIM owns one-third of Vedomosti, one of Russia's most respected business dailies, and 100 percent of The Moscow Times and The St. Petersburg Times.

Vedomosti is considered by many to be one of the main targets of Russia's foreign media ownership law.

Last year Sanoma announced it would sell its Russian assets to reduce its debt levels. Potential buyers submitted their bids this summer to Citibank, which is managing the sale. According to media reports, some of the bidders are foreign entities. The new law is likely to complicate the sale.

News Corp (U.S.)

Publishes: Vedomosti

Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. owns one-third of Vedomosti via Dow Jones, publisher of The Wall Street Journal.

News Corp. entered the Russian market in 1999, the year that Vedomosti was launched. Its other major project was outdoor advertising operator News Outdoor Russia. News Corp. sold the billboard company off in 2011, when it was the largest advertising operator in Russia, to a buyout consortium led by state-owned bank VTB for a reported sum of $270 million.

In an interview with The Financial Times in 2008, Murdoch said News Corp. should get rid of the advertising asset before it would be "stolen" as the investment climate appeared to worsen.

...

Pizza shop worker accused of funding terror 'no threat,' court hears

The Age [12/11/14]:

A Melbourne man accused of sending money overseas to fund terrorist organisations worked in his family's pizza shop and was no threat or danger to anyone living in Australia, a court has heard.

Defence lawyer Stewart Bayles said Hassan El Sabsabi, 23, who appeared in the Supreme Court on Wednesday for a bail application, was opposed to the Assad regime in Syria but had not expressed any anti-Australian or anti-American sentiments.

Mr El Sabsabi, 23, was arrested on September 30 during a raid on his Seabrook home and charged with seven counts of making funds available to terror groups.

One charge related to funding the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, while the others involved sending money to another terrorist group, Jabhat al-Nusra. The charges each carry a maximum penalty of 25 years' jail.

Prosecutor Krista Breckweg told the court the Crown case against Mr El Sabsabi was strong and it was clear from all the evidence that he knew he was sending money to a member of the terrorist organisations.

Ms Breckweg said Mr El Sabsabi had been motivated by a powerful ideology to help these terrorist organisations and had expressed a desire to go to Syria to fight.

She said Mr El Sabsabi had sought financial assistance from others on Facebook to donate to the cause in the name of Allah.

"It's serious offending and he doesn't think it's a crime," the prosecutor said. "He says to police, 'You think it's a crime but I don't."'

Ms Breckweg said Mr El Sabsabi had known Jabhat al-Nusra was a terrorist group because when police seized his phone after his arrest they found he had accessed the Australian National Security website, which lists Jabhat al-Nusra as a terrorist organisation.

Justice Bernard Bongiorno said there was no doubt the charges Mr El Sabsabi was facing were serious but he had sent about $15,000 overseas, not millions of dollars, over a 15-month period before his arrest.

"It's not somebody providing tanks and guns is it?" the judge said. Mr Bayles said there was no allegation that Mr El Sabsabi posed any physical threat to anyone in Australia.

Mr El Sabsabi was recently married, had no relevant prior convictions, it was his first time in custody and he had strong family support.

He was being held in the Metropolitan Remand Centre's maximum protection unit and could be there for more than two years before his trial began.

Mr Bayles said Mr El Sabsabi had made comments against the Assad regime, Shia Muslims and the Alawi people in Syria but expressed no anti-Western sentiments.

Mr Bayles said Mr El Sabsabi's actions had to be viewed in the context of the three-year civil war in Syria and how the Jabhat al-Nusra group had evolved out of this conflict.

The US government had supported a number of opposition groups fighting the Assad regime and Jabhat al-Nusra was one of these groups.

Justice Bongiorno agreed to grant Mr El Sabsabi bail but with strict conditions, saying the earliest he could expect to go to trial would be in mid-2016 which meant he would have been in jail for up to two years before the matter was finalised.

Mr El Sabsabi's bail conditions included a $250,000 surety, reporting daily to Werribee police station, surrendering his passport and not applying for a new one, not leaving Victoria, not communicating with the man known as 'Z' who he had been sending money to overseas, and not sending any money overseas to anyone else.

Mr El Sabsabi was also ordered not to access the internet to use social media and not contact any prosecution witnesses.

Justice Bongiorno told Mr El Sabsabi he had come as close as anyone to having bail refused and although he was facing serious charges, he was innocent until proven guilty but was still "under a cloud".

The judge said if Mr El Sabsabi breached any of his bail conditions, he would be back in jail so fast his feet would not touch the ground.

Man arrested after woman's body discovered in park, NSW Central Coast

Nine MSN [12/11/14]:

A mother of four has been found dead in a reserve on the NSW Central Coast just hours after cooking dinner for her children, a friend says.

A 66-year-old man has been arrested after police stopped the car he was in at Cardiff, near Lake Macquarie.

He is being questioned at Charlestown Police Station.

A passerby called police after finding the woman's body in Bangalay Reserve in Windale this morning.
Inspector Steve Gallagher said the woman suffered injuries.

"The injuries do suggest she has met foul play," he told reporters.

Another crime scene has been set up at a nearby unit.

Insp Gallagher said police didn't know if the death occurred at the park or somewhere else.

Dylan Granger, who is friends with the woman's son, said she was just wearing boxers and a baggy t-shirt.

"She had to go to work and was in the middle of cooking dinner for her little kids," he told the ABC.

The woman was believed to be in her 30s.

Homicide detectives are helping with the investigation.

Mayor calls for calm as police hint Moama murders were targeted

Nine MSN [12/11/14]:

A town the NSW-Victoria border is on edge this evening, after a young couple was executed inside their car.

Paramedics were called to a car accident on Old Deniliquin Road, Moama, just before 9:30am, but what they discovered was far more sinister.

Inside the white Toyota Camry were the bodies of a man and a woman.

Both had been shot.

Police are yet to reveal the identity the victims but they are believed to be aged in their thirties and from nearby Echuca.

Confirmation a weapon was not found at the scene prompted fears a killer is on the loose.

But Murray Shire Mayor, Thomas Weyrich, is working to allay those fears, claiming police told him the attack was targeted.

"I have spoken with police and asked if I should be concerned and they said no," he told AAP.

He added Moama, like other regional towns, has a problem with drugs.

A strikeforce, including specialist officers from Sydney, has been established to investigate the deaths, which are being treated as murder.

Superintendent Paul Condon urged locals with information to contact Crime Stoppers.

"This crime has occurred in your community and we are sure people have knowledge of what happened here and why," he said.

Adelaide prison guard given suspended sentence for filming jail visitors on the toilet

Nine MSN [12/11/14]:

An Adelaide prison guard who hid a camera in the visitors toilet has been fined and given a suspended sentence.

Andrew Michael Jelly, 49, has pleaded guilty to six counts of indecent filming, one relating to a minor, and to delivering a prohibited item to a prisoner.

He was given a suspended one-year sentence with a five-month non-parole period in the Adelaide Magistrates Court today.

He was also fined $2800 for having a key ring with a digital recorder hidden in it and porn mags and DVDs in his work locker.

The 28-year corrections veteran was arrested in September last year after young mother Tiniesh Hibbert discovered the self-powered USB camera in the visitors toilet at the Adelaide Remand Centre.

Jelly's lawyer argued that because she was not recorded by the camera, she did not fit the legal definition of "victim".

SA Police accused of racial profiling over wrongful arrest of Aboriginal couple

ABC [12/11/14]:

Independent MP John Darley has accused South Australian police of racial profiling over the arrest of an Aboriginal couple for a robbery they did not commit.

Virginia Umala, who was about eight months pregnant at the time, and her husband Johnno Tunkin were arrested at the Findon Hotel in Adelaide's west in late May.

Police considered them suspects in a robbery at Seaton and held them overnight.

However Mr Darley told State Parliament the couple had been out celebrating Ms Umala's birthday.

"After having a nice dinner at their local pub, they were fortunate enough to win a bit of money on the pokies before they were approached by a number of police officers," Mr Darley said.

"The couple were taken down to the Port Adelaide police station on suspicion of having committed a robbery which had occurred on the same night about four kilometres away."

Mr Darley said when released on bail the next morning their belongings, including Mr Tunkin's clothes and the money he had won, were held as evidence and police drove him home in his underwear.

He said the charges were withdrawn less than a month later and before the matter went to court.

"In normal circumstances their belongings would have been returned to them within approximately two weeks," Mr Darley said.

"However it took over a month to have their clothing and money returned.

"To make matters worse the couple were denied interpreters once they were at the station despite making a request as they did not speak English."

Mr Darley said he believed the couple had been a victim of racial profiling.

"As a result of his experience with SAPOL (SA Police) both Virginia and Johnno are now fearful and do not trust the police," he said.

"The manner in which they have been treated is appalling regardless of who they are but made even worse by the fact that all this occurred seemingly because of the colour of their skin."

The arrest is being investigated by the Police Complaints Authority.

Man injured after bouncers threw him out of Gladstone hotel [Gladstone Observer - 12/11/14]

Toowoomba man pepper sprayed, charged for spitting on police officer [Chronicle - 12/11/14]

A 22-year-old station hand bit an off duty police officer who tried to restrain him during a brawl at the Camooweal Hotel, the Mount Isa Magistrates Court heard. ... [North West Star - 11/11/14]

Yesterday the UN Committee Against Torture expressed distrust at the logic of constitutional recognition.

Where is Australia's Bill Of Rights? Mick Dodson argues for minimalist approach to indigenous constitutional recognition [Brisbane Times - 12/11/14]:

... He criticised the Abbott government for contributing to a "discourse of negativity" about Aboriginal people and accused it of seeking to undermine the Northern Territory Land Rights Act.

"I think the present government is picking fights on a number of fronts that don't help reconciliation and certainly aren't conducive to an atmosphere that would enable a successful referendum," he said.

He said the government's focus on child protection, community safety and employment in indigenous affairs emphasised failure.

"The negativity actually makes people sick. If you're constantly told you're useless, black and we've got to fix you, it makes you sick.

"It's not just the white folks who are saying this. Some of our own prominent individuals are joining in like a cheer squad."

Professor Dodson said the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, of which he is chairman, was not receiving enough government funding to preserve its vast collection of artefacts and audio and visual recordings, nor to travel to communities to collect items.

He said the institute needed additional funding of between $45 and $50 million over the next four years to do this work.

This is genocide. [ABC - 12/11/14]:

... Premier Colin Barnett revealed plans to close between 100 and 150 of the 274 remote communities in WA, saying they can no longer continue to service them.

...

Bella Brohpo, who lived in the Swan Valley community, warned at Wednesday's protest that further closures would be devastating.

"Closing down these communities will only make more people homeless and despair," she said.

"The way we choose to live, it should be our choice and we shouldn't have domination of Government people telling us how to live or where to live.

"The [former Labor] Geoff Gallop Government and today Colin Barnett don't care a damn."

Serious assault charge, South Brisbane

QPS Media [12/11/14]:

Police have charged a 41-year-old man following a serious assault that occurred yesterday afternoon in South Brisbane.

Police will allege around 1pm the man approached a carpark boom gate at the Cultural Centre and pushed the gate off its hinge and onto the ground.

It will further be alleged he then walked into a stairwell connected to the carpark where he caused damage to property and gardens.

When approached by a female security guard who was on duty for the purpose of conducting G20 duties, it will be alleged the man threw plants at her before punching her in the face.

The woman sustained minor injuries.

A man was located a short time later and was taken into custody.

A 41-year-old Yarrabah man has been charged with one count of assault occasioning bodily harm and three counts of willful damage. He is due to appear in the Brisbane Magistrates Court (G20) today.

The offence location is in a Declared Area as prescribed under the G20 Act.

The impact of the G20 on businesses in the Brisbane CBD will potentially be as bad as that experienced during the 2011 floods, Queensland's Chamber of Commerce says. ... [ABC - 12/11/14]

Man charged after woman mugged at Miami shopping centre car park

MYGC [12/11/14]:

A young man will front Southport Magistrates Court today, accused of violently mugging a 58-year-old woman in the car park of a Gold Coast shopping centre yesterday.

The woman was reportedly unloading items into her car at a Miami shopping centre on the Gold Coast Highway around 1.45pm when she was attacked.

It’s alleged a 22-year-old Palm Beach man crept up behind the woman, knocked her to the ground and violently snatched her handbag from her shoulder.

Police said witnesses chased the man and detained him on Mountain View Ave where he was arrested by an off-duty officer.

The woman sustained an injury to her shoulder and bruising to her head and arms and was treated at Robina Hospital.

The man is due to face Southport Magistrates Court today, charged with one count of robbery.

Grievous bodily harm incident, Logan

QPS Media [12/11/14]:

Logan police have charged a 32-year-old man with one count of acts intended to cause grievous bodily harm following an incident that occurred in Logan yesterday evening.

It will be alleged that around 8.30pm at a sporting business on Railway Parade in Logan Central, an altercation occurred between two men during which time one man received a stab wound to the neck.

A 36-year-old Coomera man was transported to the Princess Alexandra Hospital with what are believed to be non-threatening life injuries.

The 32-year-old man is due to appear in Beenleigh 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.

Sea World trainer injured by sea lion

Yahoo [12/11/14]:

A sea lion has attacked an animal trainer at Gold Coast theme park Sea World, leaving him with a gash to his arm.

The 28-year-old was treated by paramedics on Wednesday morning before being taken to Pindara Private Hospital.

Sea World said the trainer had received a minor laceration during training with the sea lion.

Woman transported with possible head injury after crash

Daily Mercury [12/11/14]:

A 23-year-old woman has been transported to Mackay Base Hospital after a crash in Andergrove.

Emergency services rushed to the crash scene which occurred at 5.45am on Keeleys Rd.

The woman was transported in a stable condition with a possible head injury.

Possible guilty plea over Melbourne wall collapse

West Australian [12/11/14]:

A company related to building giant Grocon is willing to plead guilty over the fatal Melbourne wall collapse that killed three people, a court has heard.

Prosecutors told a committal hearing that Grocon Victoria Street Pty Ltd has indicated it is willing to plead guilty over the collapse that killed three people in March last year.

Prosecutors have made a summary jurisdiction application to have the matter heard in the Melbourne Magistrates Court.

The Victorian WorkCover Authority charged three Grocon entities and sign builder Aussie Signs Pty Ltd with failing to ensure a safe workplace after the collapse.

In their application on Wednesday, prosecutors told the court the Victorian WorkCover Authority will put the case as one of risk, rather than causation.

Teenage siblings Alexander and Bridget Jones, of Melbourne, and Dr Marie-Faith Fiawoo, 33, of France were killed when a 15-metre-long section of the brick wall fell onto Swanston Street in the city centre.

The hearing continues.

Thousands of workers on the $US54 billion Gorgon project could strike for a new contract that would give them more time off but leave them thousands of dollars a year worse off. ... [West Australian - 12/11/14]

Mine worker loses discrimination case against Newlands Coal [Daily Mercury - 12/11/14]

A decision on whether charges relating to the death of 21-year-old Sean Scovell will be "struck out" has been reserved until January 30.

Mr Scovell died about 7.10pm on June 5, 2012 after he became entangled in a conveyor belt, the Daily Mercury reported previously ... [Daily Mercury - 12/11/14]

20 cancer cases close to two Brisbane asbestos factories: expert

Brisbane Times [12/11/14]:

Eight men who lived within 1.5 kilometres of the old asbestos factory in Gaythorne have contracted the asbestos-related disease, mesothelioma, since 1982, Queensland Health has confirmed.

In addition, 12 further cases of mesothelioma – 10 men and two women – have been verified for people living within 1.5 kilometres of a second former asbestos factory in Doggett Street at Newstead.

Gaythorne's Wunderlich asbestos factory operated from 1936 to 1983 and was closed after being taken over by James Hardie.

The Newstead site was also operated by James Hardie.

Queensland Health's executive director of the Health Protection Unit, Sophie Dwyer, confirmed the "raw data" from the Queensland Cancer Registry showed 20 people who had contracted mesothelioma lived within a 1.5-kilometre radius from the two plants.

However, the risk from asbestos from Gaythorne's former asbestos history is now low, according to Ms Dwyer.

She confirmed that "sheets" of old asbestos were being found in a creek leading into Kedron Brook.

However, Ms Dwyer told residents at a public meeting at the Gaythorne RSL on Tuesday night that the risks from asbestos had declined since the plant closed.

"People should be aware that the site has not been used as an asbestos factory for over 20 years, so any general ambient contamination outside buildings is likely to have washed away with subsequent rain and flood events," Ms Dwyer said.

"The greatest risk would have occurred when the factory was in operation and during close-down and clean-up."

Ms Dwyer said Queensland Health was more than aware of public concerns in the two areas of Brisbane because there was a "30 to 40-year latency period" for asbestos-related diseases, between exposure and the emergence of mesothelioma.

On Wednesday morning Ms Dwyer said there were many variables that had to be cross-checked before the significance of the cancer disease close to the two asbestos factory sites could be classed as "significant".

She said that included whether those people who contracted asbestos-related diseases had moved recently to the locations, whether they had worked at the factories, or whether the sufferers were the partner of a person who worked at either of the factories.

That research was part of a four-pronged study now underway into cancer-related diseases at Gaythorne, Mitchelton and Newstead, Ms Dwyer said.

She said the raw data was "important" but it was too early to tell if the asbestos-related disease statistics were "significant".

Three Queensland Government departments – Environment, Health and Occupational Health and Safety with the Attorney-General's department – and Brisbane City Council have been drawn into a multi-agency investigation.

Ms Dwyer said teams were doing inspections of dump sites being notified by residents, talking to James Hardie about the operations of the two plants and trying to locate former staff and management of the Wunderlich factory.

"Queensland Health is working with other agencies to determine whether there are any current health risks for residents living in close proximity to the former plant."

This review will include tests of asbestos that has been found and checks of results found by a private company employed by a Brisbane media outlet.

"An environmental sampling program of the area surrounding the former Wunderlich factory will incorporate recognised testing standards and sampling methods," Ms Dwyer said.

"If significant, above-background levels of contamination are detected as part of this investigation, then recommendations relating to health protection or mitigation measures to manage ongoing risks to the community will be provided to the appropriate agencies."

Amanda Richards, general manager of Queensland's Asbestos-Related Disease Society, on Tuesday said northside residents were now worried after several "dumps" of old asbestos sheeting were found.

"Every day we are getting more phone calls from people who lived in the area or who worked at the factory," Ms Richards told Fairfax Radio 4BC.

Common breast implant linked to rare cancer

Nine MSN [11/11/14]:

A popular breast implant, used by surgeons across Australia, has been linked to a rare cancer.

Macquarie University’s Australian School of Advanced Medicine has released a new study, which shows an infection on the surface of textured breast implants may increase a woman’s risk of developing the newly-designated “Breast Implant Associated Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma” or BIA-ALCL.

Bacteria growing on the implant can cause capsular contracture – the hardening of the surrounding tissue.

This can become infected, prompting white blood cells to mutate and attack the body.

To date, 170 cases of BIA-ALCL have been diagnosed worldwide.

Prior to undergoing breast augmentation, women must choose between smooth or textured implants.

Most opt for the textured variety because they attach to the surrounding tissue and are less likely to move around inside the body.

However, textured implants have been shown to accommodate more bacteria growth than the smooth option.

A previous study, also by Macquarie University has found within 24-hours of being exposed to bacteria, 72 times more bacteria will be attached to a textured implant than the smooth one.

Professor Anand Deva, who led both studies, has published a 14-point guide for surgeons to help reduce the risk of infection. In the past year alone, these principles have cut the incidence by a factor of ten.

McDonald's breaks promise again by giving fast food vouchers to children

Obesity Policy Coalition [11/11/14]:

For the second time in just a few months McDonald's has been found to be in breach of its commitment to refrain from marketing products to children that are not healthy choices after another complaint was upheld by the Advertising Standards Board (ASB).

Vouchers for Happy Meals, which include a cheeseburger, Coke and fries, were given to children as young as seven as part of a team spirit award at the University of Sunshine Coast Basketball Club competition in Queensland.

The Happy Meal shown on the voucher contains 2,678kJ, 7.7g of saturated fat, more than 900mg of sodium and more than 30g of sugar. In July a similar complaint was upheld by the ASB after McDonald's was found handing out vouchers for small fries to children at KidsTown Adventure playground near Shepparton in Victoria.

Executive Manager of the OPC Jane Martin says the repeated instances of irresponsible marketing cast serious doubt over McDonald's "commitment" to the health of Australian children.

"McDonald's is seriously lacking team spirit by offering free Happy Meals to children. To promote products that are very high in fat, sugar and salt at junior basketball sends mixed messages and is unfair on Australian children and families. Kids should be able to learn a lifelong enjoyment of sport in an environment free from marketing or junk food." she says.

"This is the second time in just a few months that McDonald's has put the promotion of its salty, energy dense products ahead of its commitment to market responsibly."

Research shows that exposure to the promotion of unhealthy food influences what children eat, what they want to eat and what they pester their parents to buy.

"With poor diets now a major contributor to the burden of disease in Australia, protecting children from junk food marketing has never been so important," Ms Martin says.

The full determination from the ASB is available on request.

Laundry pods pose serious risk to young children, study says [CBC - 10/11/14]

Nurses play vital role in care of terminally ill patients

UQ News [10/11/14]:

A University of Queensland study has found nurses play a crucial role in decisions surrounding treatment of terminally ill patients.

UQ School of Social Science Associate Professor Alex Broom said dying patients who were told further treatment would be futile often turned to nurses for emotional support.

“The transition to end-of-life care has traditionally been the doctor’s decision,” Dr Broom said.

“The study shows how important nurses are in decisions about when life-prolonging treatments should end and in supporting patients and families in the process of accepting that they are dying.

“Nurses often bear the brunt of patient and family grief as the end of life nears.

“Nurses spend so much time with patients that they are often in a better position than doctors to know how patients are really coping with often highly toxic, technically life-prolonging treatments.

“The study found that patients would often put on a brave face when their doctor was present and then ask the nurse to tell the doctor they’d had enough.

“This can put the nurse in a difficult position professionally, placing them as mediator between doctor, patient and often-panicked family members.”

Nurses in the study said communicating with patients and families was much easier when doctors had already spoken openly and honestly with patients about the fact that it was time to stop active treatment.

“A major problem for nurses is that some doctors avoid difficult conversations; even continuing patients on active treatment, while others were rushed or blunt, leaving the nurse to explain the situation and provide emotional support to patients and their families,” Dr Broom said.

The study involved 20 Australian nurses from Brisbane hospitals, mostly consisting of cancer nurses.

The study explored their experiences of caring in the context of medical futility.

Nurses in the study emphasised the emotional toll of caring for patients and families at the end of life, the need to balance caring with protecting themselves from burnout, and the fact that there was very limited debriefing or counselling provided.

“It’s not uncommon for a nurse to have to walk out of a room where a patient they have known for months or years has just died, straight into a finance meeting or to treat another patient, without five minutes to themselves to reflect on the previous patient’s death,” Dr Broom said.

While the nurses discussed the rewards of being involved in the transition to end-of-life care, they emphasised the mounting pressures on the nursing profession to engage in technical, task-orientated work and how this could compromise their capacity to support patients nearing the end of life.

“The results of the study show that nurses play a much greater role than previously thought in decisions about medical futility, and that their role as a crucial mediator and support provider in this context is increasingly challenged by the growing unrealistic expectations placed on nurses working in Australian hospitals,” Dr Broom said.

Results of this study were published in the journal Qualitative Health Research in October.

Philip Nitschke: politicians out of step with public's attitude to euthanasia [Guardian - 9/11/14]

The Global Problem With Overdiagnosis and Overtreatment

TIME [15/9/14]:

We’ve heard the overdiagnosis argument in the U.S. before, especially surrounding breast cancer; in 2009, the United States Preventive Services Task Force recommended against annual breast cancer screening starting at age 40 and instead advised women get mammograms starting at age 50.

Now, two new studies published Monday in the medical journal The BMJ highlight the global problem with overtreatment in both breast cancer and heart disease.

In a new analysis report, a team of researchers conclude that hypertension is being overtreated in people with mild cases of the disease.

The researchers write that about 40% of adults worldwide have hypertension, and more than half of those people have mild cases of the disease (meaning they’re low risk and don’t have existing cardiovascular disease).

But more than half of people with mild hypertension are being treated with blood pressure-lowering drugs–even though the research on whether this reduces cardiovascular-related disease and death is not established. The researchers argue that the practice is unnecessary and costs $32 billion each year in the U.S. alone.

Instead of recommending lifestyle modifications proven to work, like cutting back on alcohol and exercising more, many doctors opt for drugs because they want to do something right away without having to rely on the often-unhealthy environment beyond their office walls, says study author Vikas Saini, president of the Lown Institute.

“[Doctors] need the confidence that we have systems in place that encourage a healthy lifestyle,” he says.

“Most doctors feel a little under siege; they see blood pressure rising and weight going up and they want to do something, but they know they have huge headwinds,” says Saini. “Prescribing a pill is the path of least resistance, but it’s a lot of money.”

According to the researchers, the clinical treatment for mild hypertension needs to shift away from a heavy emphasis on drugs.

The second study adds to a growing body of research that supports later initiation into breast cancer screenings. The study authors argue that screening older women over age 70 for breast cancer doesn’t offer enough benefit to be worth it.

In 1998, the upper age limit for breast cancer screening in the Netherlands was extended from age 69 to age 75. The researchers wanted to see if the change actually resulted in fewer late-stage cancers among 70 to 75 year olds, so they looked at about 25,500 new breast cancer patients in a Dutch cancer registry between 1995 to 2011.

What they found was that early-stage breast cancer in women 70 to 75 rose sharply after the screening recommendations changed, and while the number of new cases of advanced-stage breast cancer fell significantly, the absolute decrease of those cases was small. For every advanced-stage cancer detected by screening among women over age 70, about 20 “extra” cases were also diagnosed, the researchers concluded.

“Those numbers need to be told to women,” says study author Gerrit Jan Liefers, a surgical oncologist at Leiden University Medical Centre.

“We are not voting against screening, but you should individualize your screening to women. To use it as a population-wide tool is wrong. You end up screening women who would never be affected by the cancer.”

The message both studies send to doctors is that physicians need to consider each patient individually and inform men and women of their options.

The two studies are part of the 2014 Preventing Overdiagnosis Conference in Oxford.

The BMJ has also launched a “Too Much Medicine” campaign you can follow here.

International nurses travel 16,000km to visit Gold Coast

Queensland Nurses Union Media Release [12/11/14]:

Australian and international nurses and nursing officials have travelled a total of more than 16,000km to arrive on the Gold Coast today.

The Gold Coast is the final stop in the Australian and international nurse contingent’s G20 road trip - with some members coming from as far away as Maryland, USA for the event.

The road trip started in Wollongong, more than 900km south of Surfers Paradise, while American nursing officials involved flew more than 15,500km to campaign Down Under.

The New South Wales Nurses and Midwives’ Association (NSWNMA) organised the bus tour to highlight the importance of public hospital and health services for all in the lead up to the G20 summit in Brisbane this week.

NSWNMA General Secretary Brett Holmes said the road trip shone a light on growing concerns for the future of essential Australian public health services such as Medicare.

Mr Holmes said it was feared the introduction of the Abbott government’s proposed $7 GP co-payment could threaten Medicare and start an increased schedule of fees for hospital and health services currently funded with taxpayer dollars. He called on the Commonwealth to consider alternatives to the co-payment.

“Recently, we’ve had prominent Australian economists identify a revenue problem in our economy rather than a so-called budget emergency,” Mr Holmes said.

“Instead of shifting our public health services further down the track of an Americanised, two-tier health system, we suggest a Financial Transactions Tax, also known as the Robin Hood tax, would help fund the continued delivery of equitable universal public healthcare for all Australians.”

Mr Holmes said the NSWNMA was advocating the implementation of a modest levy, between 0.005 and 0.05 per cent, on the trading of financial instruments such as stocks, bonds, derivatives, futures, options and credit default swaps. This would not impact significantly on ordinary Australians’ personal savings or everyday consumer activity such as paying bills online or using ATMs.

Instead, the levy would target finance companies engaging in financial transactions at high speed and frequency.

“Given the turnover of our financial system in 2013-14 was $125 trillion, there is a large proportion of revenue to be levied from a Robin Hood tax, depending on its size and the exclusions,” Mr Holmes said.

“Importantly, it could be implemented in a way that ensures low and middle income Australians are shielded from any adverse impact, no matter how small, through other taxation changes.”

Nurses have spent the last nine days on the road discussing the importance of universal or tax-funded healthcare for all – no matter how much they earn.

International nursing officials, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) and the Queensland Nurses’ Union (QNU) are part of Global Nurses United (GNU) – an organisation which campaigns for quality healthcare for all and represents nursing and midwifery unions from 14 nations.

Public Services International (PSI), a global trade union federation whose members deliver public services such as healthcare, also joined the NSWNMA road trip.

Queensland Nurses’ Union (QNU) and ANMF Queensland Branch Secretary Beth Mohle will welcome the nurse contingent outside the Gold Coast University Hospital and host tomorrow’s G20 International Conference at QNU headquarters in Brisbane.

The conference will cross live to front line health workers in Ebola-torn Liberia. The workers will personally call on Mr Abbott and 25 other world leaders in Brisbane for G20 for immediate help.

Ms Mohle said the nurses were committed to ensuring access to high quality public health and hospital services for people the world over.

“I am very happy to welcome nurses from around Australia and the world to Queensland for G20,’’ Ms Mohle said.

“With the eyes of the world on us, we want to highlight the importance of universal health care for people the world over. There are great disparities around the globe between those who can access appropriate health care and those who can’t.

“We would also like to address issues threatening public health services and hospitals at home such as the Abbott government’s proposed GP co-payment.

“We fear the co-payment could be the first of many health-related fees and could stop some people receiving the health care they require.

“Under Medicare we all pay tax and all receive treatment from a world-class hospital and health system – why jeopardise that system?’’

The NSWNMA and QNU will tonight host a G20 Q and A forum to discuss the Robin Hood Tax, the protection of Medicare and other health issues at the Arts Centre Gold Coast, 135 Bundall Rd, Surfers Paradise between 6pm and 8pm.

JP Morgan Chase cost US taxpayers millions, had them pay for settlement - Matt Taibbi [RT - 12/11/14]

G20 nations spend $88 billion a year propping up the fossil fuel industry [Salon - 12/11/14]

Turkey: Justice for olive trees blocks coal plant plan

Hurriyet Daily News [11/11/14]:

Villagers in a small Aegean town who resisted but could not stop the cutting down of around 6,000 olive trees by an energy company for a coal plant construction are celebrating the Council of State’s decision halting construction in the area.

The Council of State canceled the rapid expropriation decision in the Yirca village of Manisa province a few hours after the Kolin Insaat company felled around 6,000 olive trees and its security officers beat up villagers who resisted the expropriation.

In its reasoning, the Council of State said it halted both the Cabinet’s rapid expropriation decision and the construction of the coal plant in the area. Its ruling - which was only published on Nov. 10, after the trees were cut down - made clear that the verdict could not be appealed and said there was no public interest in building the power plant on the olive grove.

The first move of the company after the ruling was to lay off some 100 personnel, half of whom were security officers and half of whom were construction workers, after meeting with the construction site head and the chief of the security team.

The security officers claimed that the company had offered them lifelong job security and retirement packages if they attacked the villagers who opposed the construction.

“They made us come here by giving us a guarantee of work and even retirement. They made us attack the villagers. We were used [by the company]. Now we will stay here until we get fair [treatment],” one of the security officers reportedly said, while refusing to leave the site.

After the halting decision, the construction workers have been removed from the area.

Meanwhile, a senior government official has issued a controversial statement on the “problems caused by the large amount of olive trees” in Turkey.

“There are olive groves all over the country thanks to the incentives our government has provided. Even mountains and high plains are full of olive trees. Those trees have created a lucrative industry, but Turkey needs energy too,” Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arinç said after a Cabinet meeting late on Nov. 10.

“It’s our duty to make sure that the court decision is implemented,” he added.

However, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli said the cutting down of olive trees stems from the government’s unprincipled economic policies, which favor the interests of companies that support it over those of the citizenry.

According to MHP head Devlet Bahçeli, “opportunist” companies have grown thanks to “state tenders” granted by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government, setting their eyes on resources from which citizens earn their living.

“Incidents that took place in the Yirca town of Soma last week have revealed the level of unlawfulness and tyranny,” Bahçeli said on Nov. 11, while addressing a regular meeting of his party’s parliamentary group.

The Kolin Group, one of Turkey’s largest conglomerates, uprooted the trees on Nov. 7 to make room for a coal power plant in the Soma district of Manisa, where locals had been guarding the grove for more than 52 days.

Clashes erupted after security guards for the company tried to remove the protesting villagers from the olive grove.

“The Kolin Group, which is a partner of the consortium that won the tender for the third [Istanbul] airport, not only cut down 6,000 trees but also seized the hopes of local people,” Bahçeli said.

“I am asking you, [Prime Minister Ahmet] Davutoglu, as you say on every occasion that you stand against brutality: Isn’t what happened in Yirca tyranny and banditry?” he asked, while recalling that just hours after the confrontation, Turkey’s Council of State threw out a decision permitting Kolin Insaat to seize control of the grove.

Although the Council of State made its related decision on Oct. 28, it was released too late, only “after the massacre of the trees,” Bahçeli said, stressing that the controversy should be resolved by the justice system.

Main opposition Republican People’s Party leader Kemal Kiliçdaroglu also accused the government of favoring certain energy firms at the expense of local environments.

“They decided [to have rapid expropriation] for businessman who works for the ‘pool media,’” said Kiuliçdaroglu during his own party’s group meeting, referring to government-linked media groups. A group of villagers from Yirca was also in attendance at the CHP’s group meeting.

US to deliver F-16 fighter jets to Iraq

IraqiNews.com [11/11/14]:

On Tuesday, the US Department of Defense ‘Pentagon’ announced that Iraqi F-16 fighter jets will be sent to an air base in Arizona to train the Iraqi pilots.

The jets were scheduled to be delivered to Iraq earlier this year but were delayed due to security concerns.

The ministry said in a statement reported by Reuters and followed by IraqiNews.com, “The Iraqi fighter jets F-16 will be sent to an air base in Arizona to train the Iraqi pilots in order to maintain their skills,” indicating that the first three F-16 fighter jets will be delivered in December. Additional F-16 fighter aircrafts will be sent every month until May.

The Pentagon added, “The Iraqi pilots will start flying with the Iraqi F16 fighter aircrafts at the International airport of Tucson, located in the state of Arizona, in December,” pointing out that the US officials decided to allow the Iraqi pilots to use these fighters to help them maintain their skills after the training.

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

Salah-il-Deen: The air force of government's army has shelled civilian neighbourhoods in Beshkan in... http://fb.me/43IbsVjg8

Anbar: The air force of government's army has shelled the civilian homes in Amiriyat Al-Fallujah...... .... http://fb.me/1JAfe8JtW

Suicide bomber kills eight in northern Iraqi city Baiji [Rueters -11/11/14]

"This is Crazy": Ex-State Dept. Official Matthew Hoh Blasts Obama’s Doubling of US Troops in Iraq [Democracy Now - 10/11/14]

US backed Jabhat al-Nusra blows up Armenian church in Deir el-Zour: A savage blow that echoes through Armenian history [Independent - 10/11/14]

UNHCR warns of winter crisis for almost 1 million displaced Iraqis and Syrians

UNHCR Media Release [11/11/14]:

The UN refugee agency on Tuesday warned that a US$58.45 million funding shortfall, coupled with this year's sharp recent growth in internal displacement, could leave up to 1 million Syrians and Iraqis without proper help as winter approaches.

"The shortfall affects our winter preparedness programmes, although we have already invested US$154 million on winter aid for Syrian and Iraqi refugees and internally displaced, and means that UNHCR is having to make some very tough choices over who to prioritize," chief spokesperson Melissa Fleming said in Geneva.

"Factors we are considering include the elevation of refugee settlements, the composition of the family unit (e.g. number of children and female-headed households), family health concerns, new arrivals, available family resources, shelter conditions and other considerations. For those we're unable to prioritize, the conditions could nonetheless be very tough," she added.

"I wish we could support everybody and I wish we could give everybody more. The reality is that the population moved and continues to move quickly in 2014 and the funding continues to trickle in slowly," added Amin Awad, director of UNHCR's Middle East and North Africa Bureau.

While the problem is most acute in Iraq and Syria, there are also needs in other parts of the region. This will be the fourth winter away from their homes for many Syrian refugees and the first for the 1.9 million Iraqis who have become internally displaced this year.

In the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq, winter has already arrived in Dohuk governorate. By December, temperatures can range from +5 degrees Celsius in more temperate areas to minus 16 degrees Celsius in the mountains.

"But protecting people from cold costs money. Right now, we estimate the overall winter shortfall for UNHCR's programme alone to be at least US$58.45 million for some 990,000 people – mainly newly internally displaced people [IDP] in Iraq and Syria [including a gap of US$27.4 million for internally displaced people inside Syria, and US$25 million for internally displaced in Iraq]," Fleming said.

In Iraq, the needs are massive but funding has not kept pace with the new displacement. With 1.9 million IDPs and 225,000 refugees – and 300-500 more arriving daily in northern Iraq from the Syrian border city of Kobane – UNHCR is deeply concerned about the ability of the international community to meet urgent winter needs.

Approximately 800,000 people are in need of shelter assistance, while 940,000 lack basic winter household items. With current funding, UNHCR expects to reach only 240,000 displaced Iraqis with winter aid instead of the 600,000 planned under an inter-agency effort.

New and multiple displacement inside Syria – with people having to move several times inside the country in search of safety – has fuelled an increase in the need for winter aid. Here, as part of an inter-agency effort, UNHCR is focusing on providing relief items including thermal blankets, winter clothing, extra plastic sheeting and reinforcing collective and private shelters currently housing thousands of displaced families.

Priority areas for distribution of these items are in Aleppo and northern parts of the country as they are the coldest. UNHCR was planning to help 1.4 million people with winter aid but only has enough funds to provide kits for 620,000 people through December.

In Lebanon, meanwhile, UNHCR and its partners estimate some 132,000 refugee households (660,000 people) are in need of some kind of assistance during the winter to keep them warm and dry. With refugees scattered across 1,700 localities throughout Lebanon, providing that assistance is a huge undertaking.

Vulnerable refugees living at cold, higher elevations are given precedence. UNHCR's US$42 million winter programme consists of a variety of activities and aid items. These include ensuring that sub-standard shelters are sealed off against the elements; and provision of high-thermal blankets, stoves, fuel vouchers and cash to purchase fuel and other items refugees need to stay warm.

This winter, UNHCR plans to provide weatherproofing kits for some 37,200 households (186,000 people) living in sub-standard dwellings and in improvised, informal settlements. Monthly fuel vouchers of US$100 will also be provided to 34,000 vulnerable families living above 1,000 metres. The programme also aims to provide blankets for up to 84,000 families (420,000 people), as well as stoves for up to 18,000 families (90,000 people) living above 900 metres.

In Jordan, meanwhile, UNHCR's US$16.5 million winter programme in Jordan for some 240,600 refugees requires another US$5.5 million, primarily to cover cash assistance in January and February next year, for about 55,000 people. The programme consists of four main components: supplemental cash for Syrians in urban areas; camp winterization; financial assistance to non-Syrians; and contingency stocks for new Iraqi arrivals.

In Azraq and Za'atari camps, work will include provision of concrete floors in 6,480 shelters in Azraq; distribution of 10,000 plastic sheets for better insulation in Za'atari; provision of 50,000 high-thermal blankets in both camps; distribution of 4,000 gas heaters and refill tanks.

In urban areas, cash assistance averaging US$360 per family is to be provided to 27,800 of the most vulnerable Syrian families to cover winter needs. Only half of the US$10 million required has been received.

Also in urban areas, 2,200 non-Syrian vulnerable refugee families (mainly Iraqis but also Somalis and Sudanese) already receiving monthly cash assistance will get an additional $360 to cover winter needs.

Egypt's refugee population is almost entirely urbanized. The winterization effort in Egypt will focus on cash assistance, with commodities available locally. Since early November, UNHCR has started receiving calls from refugees requesting assistance to purchase warmer clothes and blankets for their children. A total of approximately 56,000 Syrian refugees (40 per cent of the registered population), are in need of such assistance.

Due to funding shortfalls, UNHCR will only be able to reach 38,000 of the most vulnerable refugees – or 60 per cent of those in need of winterization assistance. Each refugee will receive US$28 with a maximum ceiling of US$168 for families with six or more members.

In Turkey, UNHCR Turkey is providing winter support to both camp and vulnerable non-camp refugees.

UNHCR will provide winter assistance to all Syrian refugees living in camps in Turkey, about 220,000 people. The assistance will include: two high-thermal blankets per person; three plastic mats per family; anoraks; and high-thermal top and bottom clothes. UNHCR will also provide winterization assistance to some 120,000 of the most vulnerable Syrian refugees living outside camps.

Boko Haram attacks in Nigeria force 13,000 to flee to Cameroon

UNHCR Media Release [11/11/14]:

The UN refugee agency on Tuesday reported that thousands of people continue to flee to Cameroon to escape attacks by Boko Haram insurgents in north-east Nigeria.

"According to Cameroonian authorities, some 13,000 Nigerian refugees crossed from Adamawa state after insurgents attacked and captured the town of Mubi in late October. The refugees fled to the towns of Guider and Gashiga in the North region of Cameroon and to Bourha, Mogode and Boukoula in the Far North," UNHCR said in a press release from Geneva.

UNHCR cited local authorities in Cameroon as saying the "vast majority" of these 13,000 Nigerians had returned to Nigeria, saying that their final destination was Yola, the capital city of Adamawa state, about 200 kilometres south of Mubi.

In the days immediately following the attack on Mubi, it was reported that refugees arrived in Cameroon in more than 300 vehicles – including many personal vehicles, as well as some trucks and rented cars. The Cameroonian authorities reported that they facilitated onward transit movements and provided escorts to ensure the safety of those transiting through Cameroonian territory.

On the Nigeria side, a UNHCR team confirmed that thousands of Nigerians were now being hosted at Girei (Gombe State) and at the National Youth Service Centre in Yola (one of five sites in Adamawa state hosting internally displaced people). The new arrivals were receiving assistance.

In Yola, UNHCR has interviewed some of the people who transited through Cameroon before re-entering Nigeria. "The vast majority of them are women and children. They told our teams that many families were forced to flee on foot, taking few belongings with them and walking tens of kilometres before finding safety in Cameroon," the UNHCR press release said.

It added that UNHCR was also examining claims that some of these refugees may have been forced to return to Nigeria. "We are seeking assurances from both Nigeria and Cameroon that the return of these people was done on a voluntary basis." Cameroon is hosting thousands of refugees from Nigeria and the Central African Republic. UNHCR urged Cameroon to maintain an open door for refugees.

In other areas in the Far North region that border Nigeria's Borno state, Cameroonian authorities continue to report regular attempts by insurgents to carry out incursions into Cameroonian territory, frequently launching attacks from their strongholds on the Nigerian side of the border. Before the latest attacks in Mubi, Cameroonian authorities had confirmed that more than 43,000 Nigerians had sought refuge in Cameroon, of whom close to 17,000 are living at Minawao refugee camp, which is managed by UNHCR and other humanitarian agencies.

Meanwhile in Niger, at least 1,000 people have arrived in the Bosso area, in the south of the country, following the capture by insurgents last week of the garrison town of Malam Fatori. The Nigerian town is located only a few kilometres from the border with Niger.

The new arrivals in Bosso say that Malam Fatori is now almost empty, as most inhabitants have fled without taking any belongings with them. Children show signs of trauma. At this point, it is difficult to know exactly how many people have arrived in the past few days.

The crisis in the north-east of Nigeria has led to the flight of more than 100,000 people to Niger since May 2013 (both Nigerian refugees and citizens of Niger), according to the local authorities, as well as 2,700 refugees to Chad. At the same time, over 650,000 people are displaced within Nigeria's six north-eastern states.

Afghanistan: Senior education official shot dead in Kandahar province

Khaama [11/11/14]:

A senior education official was shot dead by unknown gunmen in southern Kandahar province of Afghanistan on Tuesday.

According to local government officials, the incident took place early on Tuesday in Kandahar city.

Acting provincial governor spokesman, Samim Khpolwak said Wahidullah Ahmadzai was shot dead while he was on his way towards Haji Mirwais high school.

Khpolwal further added Ahmadzai was a senior education official and principal of Haji Mirwais high school.

No group including the Taliban militants has so far claimed responsibility behind the incident.

Kandahar is among the volatile provinces in southern Afghanistan where anti-government armed militant groups are actively operating in a number of its districts and often carry out insurgency activities.

At least 19 Taliban militants were killed and 11 others were injured following military operations in the past 24 hours. ... [Khaama - 11/11/14]

Mortar attack leaves 1 dead, 3 injured in Jalalabad city [Khaama - 11/11/14]

UN: Indications of war crimes in Libya

Al Jazeera [11/11/14]:

The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has said that there were indications of war crimes being committed in Libya, warning that the strife-torn country was "on the wrong path".

Fatou Bensouda told the UN Security Council on Tuesday that the violence in Libya had worsened over the past six months with the country now split between two governments and two parliaments vying for control.

"There are, indeed, indications that crimes that fall within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court are being committed," Bensouda told the council.

The chief prosecutor also expressed his concern over an ongoing spate of assassinations in Benghazi, Libya's second city, threats to journalists, human rights activists and women in particular as well as to prosecutors, judges and lawyers.

"These troubling developments are clear signs that Libya is descending on the wrong path on its transition to what was hoped would be a peaceful country that respects and pays homage to the rule of law, justice and accountability," she said.

Fighting between rival militias has flared since the 2011 overthrow of former leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Fighters seized the capital city of Tripoli in August, forcing the internationally-recognised government and parliament to move to the east of the country.

Despite the growing concern over alleged mass crimes, Bensouda said that her office had been forced to scale down investigations in Libya due to lack of resources.

Libya to resume oil production after attacks [Daily Star - 11/11/14]

US-Saudi Conspiracy Keeps Oil at $70-80 a Barrel: Ex-CBR Deputy Chairman [Sputnik News - 11/11/14]

Israeli forces kill Palestinian in West Bank, detain dozens

Al Akhbar [11/11/14]:

Israeli Occupation Forces shot two young Palestinians, killing one and leaving the other in critical condition in the West Bank, medics said Tuesday, amid heightened tensions between Palestinians and Israelis across the region.

According to Ma'an news agency, 21-year-old Mohammed Imad Jawwabra was shot in the chest during clashes in al-Arrub refugee camp north of Hebron in the occupied West Bank.

Medical sources at al-Mizan hospital said Jawwabra arrived at the hospital in critical condition and was declared dead shortly afterwards.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said a "violent riot of 200 Palestinians" was taking place in the area, claiming that the armed soldiers were “defending themselves.”

Meanwhile, Tuesday, Israeli troops shot and seriously injured a young Palestinian man near the southern West Bank town of Khursa, Israeli media reported.

The news site Ynet said the Palestinian was taken to an Israeli hospital.

Reshset Bet, another Israeli news site, said some 150 Palestinians gathered near an intersection in Khursa and threw stones at Israeli settler vehicles, injuring a settler.

Clashes broke out between Palestinians and Israeli forces in Beit Furik village east of Nablus, in the town of Tuqu near Bethlehem and in Beit Ummar in northern Hebron.

Local sources told Ma'an that Israeli forces shot live fire, stun grenades, tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters near the Beit Furik school, leaving two Palestinians injured.

Medics of the Palestinian Red Crescent told Ma'an that two injured, Ali Naji Haneni and Moaed Khataya, both 16, were taken to the Rafeda hospital for treatment where their wounds were described as light to moderate.

Meanwhile, Israeli forces carried out multiple predawn raids across the West Bank, Jerusalem and Occupied Palestine and detained 24 young Palestinian men.

A statement by the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society Tuesday morning said that the detentions were in Hebron, Nablus, East Jerusalem and Ramallah.

In the West Bank, eyewitnesses said four of the 24 detainees were relatives of Noureddine Abu Hashiyeh, who stabbed and killed an Israeli soldier in Tel Aviv on Monday.

According to the witnesses, the Israeli army stormed the Askar refugee camp in the northern city of Nablus and detained four members of Abu Hashiyeh's family, including his father.

The Israeli government has already decided to demolish Hashiyeh's home, Israel's Ynet news quoted a cabinet official as saying.

Five other Palestinians were detained in the southern city of Hebron, including two brothers of another Palestinian who stabbed three Zionist settlers, killing one, in the West Bank's Alon Shvut settlement on Monday.

...

Scores killed in Pakistan bus crash

Al Jazeera [11/11/14]:

At least 56 people, including 18 children, have been killed after a passenger bus collided head-on with a lorry carrying goods in southern Pakistan, officials said.

The accident happened on Tuesday near the city of Khairpur, 450km north of Karachi, the capital of southern Sindh province.

"The Karachi-bound passenger bus, which was coming from northwestern city of Swat went on the wrong side of the road and collided head-on with a goods container, killing 56 people," senior local police official Nasir Aftab told the AFP news agency.

He said 18 passengers were injured in the accident, adding that those killed in the crash included 17 women and 18 children. The rest were men.

A senior doctor at the Khairpur civil hospital confirmed the death toll and said the condition of three of the injured was critical.

Pakistan has an appalling record of fatal traffic accidents due to poor roads, badly-maintained vehicles and reckless driving.

The emergency services' recovery equipment is basic and when crashes happen away from major towns, as they often do, rescue efforts can take some time, reducing injured passengers' chances of survival.

In April, a bus smashed into a tractor-trailer in a high speed collision in Sindh, killing 42 people, while in March a horrific crash between two buses and a petrol tanker left 35 dead, with many burned alive when the fuel ignited.

The mountainous areas of Kashmir and the north, where drivers career around narrow hairpin bends over deep ravines with scant regard for safety, are particularly prone to accidents.

Three crashes in the space of 10 days in March in Kashmir and the northwest left a total of 46 people dead.

Poland's independence march turns violent

BBC [11/11/14]:

Polish police have used water cannon to disperse hundreds of masked men during march marking National Independence Day in the capital, Warsaw.

The clashes began as some of the marchers - said to be members of far-right groups - broke away from the main rally and started to throw stones and flares at the police.

Several people were arrested, and there were reports of injuries.

It is the fourth year in a row that violence has erupted during the march.

Last year, a group of protesters tried to attack the Russian embassy.

The violence broke out when a group of people - many of them wearing masks - broke away from the main rally.

They hurled rocks, flares and paving slabs at police, who responded with water cannon.

One man was seen with blood coming from a wound to his head, according to Reuters news agency.

Earlier in the day, President Bronislaw Komorowski led official celebrations in the capital.

The march commemorates the day Poland regained its independence at the end of World War One in 1918.

Before that, Poland had been carved up between Russia, Prussia and the Austro-Hungarian empire.

Queensland Police: To reiterate, there was no security scare, we are just protecting Brisbane G20 delegates from freedom of speech

Yahoo [12/11/14]:

Police have downplayed the first security scare of the G20 leaders summit, saying there was never any threat to public safety.

Police found two projectors, disguised as security cameras, inside a security zone at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, where the summit of world leaders is being held.

Deputy Commissioner Ross Barnett said police found the devices on Sunday morning, before the BCEC precinct was put into lockdown.

"The area was still accessible at the time these devices were put up," he told the ABC.

He said the devices were designed to project "political messages" up onto the wall of a building.

"Nothing more sinister than that. There was no threat whatsoever to safety."

Police say they're still trying to find out who planted them.

Residents woken by 'deafening' G20 helicopters at 1am [Sunshine Coast Daily - 12/11/14]

Feel safe Australia?: Sharrouf-linked money transfer firm shut down [Brisbane Times - 10/11/14]

Pope Francis in a letter addressed to Prime Minister Tony Abbott warned that a “mindset in which individuals are ultimately discarded will never achieve peace or justice”. ... [Catholic Leader - 12/11/14]

Homeless tell senators of rough life

West Australian [12/11/14]:

Emotions ran high yesterday as a group of Rockingham's homeless people testified at a Senate committee hearing.

The opportunity was sparked by homeless man Jonathan Shapiera, who put in a submission to the economics references committee inquiry into affordable housing. The committee sat in Perth yesterday.

The loss of his friend Michelle, who died in a Rockingham park from a diabetic coma, spurred Mr Shapiera to band other homeless people together to make a stand.

The five speakers raised problems including not knowing where to turn, mental health and suicide issues, fears when sleeping rough, public housing waiting lists and the cost of living.

Mr Shapiera, Mervyn York, Bevan Cumming and supporters Owen Farmer and Salvation Army Lt Darrell Wilson called for a protocol to allow the homeless to stay at carparks without being moved on, harassed or fined.

They also want more services to help those on the "bottom rung" get into emergency housing and, eventually, affordable homes.

They hoped for land with basic amenities they could use to avoid being pushed from "pillar to post".

Mr Shapiera, who has been homeless almost two years and has fibromyalgia, was emotional when speaking of the consequences of being homeless on his 19-year-old son's mental health, including three suicide attempts.

"Living in a car is agonising," he said.

"I have been strong enough to get through a lot of it, but to try and support your kids without accommodation, you go as a father from hero to zero."

He hoped for more services to help those with mental illness.

Mr Wilson said the Salvos in Rockingham had helped more people than ever this year, including families with young children.

Artists against starvation

Surfers Paradise [12/11/14]

War mongering Australian political and media establishment lie about MH17 and President Putin to deflect their deep unpopularity and obsequiousness to Washington

Sputnik News [12/11/14]:

The UN Security Council will hold an Open Session on Wednesday in order to discuss the situation in Ukraine, the press service of the Australian permanent mission to the UN told RIA Novosti Tuesday.

"The meeting was requested, it will take place at 15.30 and will be open," the mission confirmed.

No official message about calling for the UN Security Council session has been published yet.

Australian permanent representative Gary Quinlan will stand in the head of the UN Security Council in November 2014.

According to UN data, as of October 31, the number of victims of Ukraine’s conflict reached 4,035, with 9,336 people wounded.

Russia Preparing New Humanitarian Aid Delivery for East Ukraine: Ministry [Sputnik News - 11/11/14]

No 'Harsh Words' Between Putin, Australia's Abbott During Beijing Meetings [Sputnik News - 11/11/14]

Putin’s shawl chivalry gets blanket coverage from Western media, Chinese censors [RT - 11/11/14]

MH17 investigators look for answers as Ukraine ceasefire crumbles [Deutsche Welle - 11/11/14]

Australian journalist Peter Greste holding up well in jail: parents

Nine MSN [11/11/14]:

The parents of imprisoned Australian journalist Peter Greste have paid tribute to their "strong" son.

Juris and Lois Greste told a Sydney media conference on Tuesday that Peter was forced to live in a hot, dirty and cramped Egyptian cell alongside five other prisoners, but was doing "incredibly well" under the circumstances.

He and fellow al-Jazeera colleagues Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fahmy received lengthy jail terms after being convicted in June on charges linked to aiding the Muslim Brotherhood, which the Egyptian government declared a terrorist organisation following the ousting of President Mohamed Morsi.

Mohamed faces 10 years in prison while Greste and Fahmy each received seven-year sentences.

The journalists have repeatedly said they are being punished for doing their jobs.

Mr Greste said the "truly humbling" support from other journalists and members of the public around the world was a source of great strength for his 49-year-old son.

An appeal hearing is set for January 1 next year, but is only the first step in what could be a very long process towards his release.

"Generally speaking, it has been very difficult to get close to the high levels of authority in Egypt," Mr Greste told the media conference at the State Library of NSW.

"This is a case where someone's got it terribly wrong, and that's not only the opinion of the family - that's the opinion of hundreds if not thousands of senior jurists around the world."

Mr Greste sat beside another of his three sons, Mike, who said he could not wait to give his brother a "massive hug" when he was released.

The Brisbane couple said Peter was trying to make the best of the situation by carrying out a university course in international development from his cell.

 

... The trouble for us journalists is that there is no neutral turf, no safe ground from which to report. As much as we abhore and condemn the executions of James and Steven, it was George Bush who set the ground rules in the wake of 9/11 when he declared that you’re either with us or with the terrorists. That single statement made it impossible for reporters to hold to the principles of balance and fairness without being accused of acting as an agent for the enemy.

Al Jazeera learned that to its cost when the US hit its offices in Baghdad during the invasion to oust Saddam. And in Afghanistan one of its camermen, Sami al Haj, was arrested. He spent seven years in Guantanamo Bay before being released without charge.

Since the War on Terror began, all manner of abuse of journalists and attacks on human rights and press freedoms have been excused as necessary evils, and by governments across the globe. It almost feels like a kind of globalised McCarthyism, where simply invoking terrorism is enough, in some cases, to get away with murder. ...

Peter Greste’s Keynote Speech for the Frontline Club 2014 Awards Ceremony [16/10/14]

 

GM to shed over 500 jobs in US

France 24 [12/11/14]:

General Motors, under investigation because of defective ignition switches linked to at least 32 deaths, is to cut more than 500 jobs at two plants in the United States.

Approximately 160 employees will be laid off during 2015 at a factory in Orion, Michigan to "better align with market demand," the company said in an email to AFP, and a plant in Lansing, in the same state, will eliminate 350 of its 1,500 positions for the same reason.

"GM is committed to a strong and lasting presence in Lansing," a spokesman said, adding that the US auto giant had pledged $281.5 million in investment for Lansing-based facilities since 2013.

General Motors last month reported lower third-quarter earnings on weakness in some international markets.

GM is under investigation by Congress, regulators and the US Justice Department over why it waited more than a decade after first uncovering the ignition-switch problem to start recalling cars.

Department of Immigration and Border Protection unlawfully disclosed personal information of asylum seekers

OAIC Media Release [12/11/14]:

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) has been found in breach of the Privacy Act 1988, by failing to adequately protect the personal information of approximately 9,250 asylum seekers. They have also been found to have unlawfully disclosed personal information.

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) was notified by the Guardian Australia on 19 February that a ‘database’ containing the personal information of 'almost 10,000' asylum seekers was available in a report on DIBP’s website. DIBP removed the report from its website within an hour of being notified. The report was available on DIBP’s website for approximately eight and a half days.

The categories of personal information compromised in the data breach consisted of full names, gender, citizenship, date of birth, period of immigration detention, location, boat arrival details, and the reasons why the individual was deemed to be ‘unlawful’.

‘This incident was particularly concerning due to the vulnerability of the people involved,’ said Australian Privacy Commissioner, Timothy Pilgrim.

The breach occurred when statistical data was mistakenly embedded in a Word document that was published on DIBP’s website. The report was accessed a number of times, and was republished by an automated archiving service.

Mr Pilgrim said that OAIC’s investigation found that DIBP was aware of the privacy risks of embedding personal information in publications, but that DIBP’s systems and processes failed to adequately address those risks. This meant that DIBP staff did not detect the embedded information when the document was created or before it was published.

‘This breach may have been avoided if DIBP had implemented processes to de-identify data in situations where the full data set was not needed,’ he said.

This data breach also demonstrates the difficulties of effectively containing a breach where information has been published online, and highlights the importance of taking steps to prevent data breaches from occurring, rather than relying on steps to contain them after they have occurred.

‘I have made a number of recommendations about how DIBP could improve their processes, including requesting that they engage an independent auditor to certify that they have implemented the planned remediation. I have asked DIBP to provide me with a copy of the certification and the report by 13 February 2015’, Mr Pilgrim said.

The OAIC is still receiving privacy complaints from individuals affected by the breach. The OAIC has received over 1600 privacy complaints to date, and these complaints are on-going.

...

Courage

ABC [12/11/14]:

Two people were arrested at a protest at Villawood in Sydney over the transfer of immigration detainees to Western Australia.

The pair were taken into custody after refusing police orders to move on, but have since been released without charge.

The student-based protest group believes about 65 detainees are due to be taken, against their will, from Villawood Detention Centre to the Northam Detention facility in Western Australia.

...

Students Thinking Outside Borders spokeswoman Sonia Feng said the transfers were part of a deliberate strategy by the Federal Government.

"Transferring all these asylum seekers, silencing them and moving them away from the public eye is indicative of how much they want to hide the issue of refugees," she said.

"And how contentious it is and how much actual public support there is for refugees."

Senator Lee Rhiannon [12/11/14]:

This morning, activists took direct action to disrupt the forced transfer of refugees, asylum seekers, and stateless people from Villawood to Yongah Hill, a remote WA detention centre.

Locking up refugees and vulnerable men, women and children is cruel and degrading. Moving refugees away from the communities who care about them adds another layer of sadness and hardship to their lives.

Well done to Students Thinking Outside Borders for leading this action.

#UNCAT asks Aus if the Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights is merely an “institutional adornment”?

"tweeted" by @madelinegleeson - Lawyer, international refugee and human rights law. Research Associate, Andrew & Renata Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law [11/11/14]

Guardian [12/11/14]:

... Sophie Nicolle from Amnesty International Australia said the government’s response to the committee on asylum policy was a “B-grade attempt to explain away” flagrant breaches of international law.

“On everything from offshore detention conditions to complementary protection, they dodged the committee’s questions and attempted to deny the obvious: that the Australian government is responsible for multiple serious violations of international law which are causing immense suffering to people seeking our protection.”

...

You can watch recordings of Australia's appearance at the UN Committee Against Torture [UNCAT] here (unfortunately the video recording of Day 2 is incomplete, but the audio is accessible via media player - download by clicking the FLV button beneath the display box).

The Committee's report on Australia is due on 28 November.

Australia's response to Cardinal George Pell queried by UN Committee Against Torture [Sydney Morning Herald - 12/11/14]

Australian government tells UN violence against woman isn't torture [Daily Life - 12/11/14]

#villawood protesters arrested and manhandled by cops for #refugee action

Image: @STOB4Refugees - Students 4 Refugees [12/11/14]

@STOB4Refugees direct action at #Villawood prison to stop detainees being transferred to remote Australia. [65 in total to Curtin including tomorrow and Friday]

Image: @leerhiannon - Senator Lee Rhiannon [12/11/14]

... Even in the Australian zoo, animals have some level of privilege and are given special treatment by workers and veterinary nurses. ...

#Curtin : A guard dragging one of the detainees.

Image: @riserefugee



#Curtin : A guard stands over one of the detainees.

Image: @riserefugee

 

12 November 2014

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