Australian media protects Jane Prentice MP (and her government's atrocities against refugees on Manus Island) as she visits PNG to lecture everyone about domestic violence and inspect a private hospital.
... According to the reports, the Cabinet guidelines include three modes of execution: hanging, lethal injection, and firing squad.
Executions will be carried out at a facility built at Bomana Prison, in the capital Port Moresby. ... [PNG Cabinet Approves Guidelines for Implementation of the Death Penalty - Library of Congress - 11/2/15]
Don't get too close to the bed they might give you a midazolam shot. Hypocrite. ---> Inspecting facilities at Pacific International Hospital with PNG Prime Minister Peter O'Neill. Image: @JanePrentice_MP [13/2/15]
An Australian MP is in Papua New Guinea today to see what help can be given to women suffering domestic abuse. ... [Radio Australia - 13/2/15]
They agree beating, "arresting" hunger striking refugees calling for UN intervention and holding them without charge in Bomana Prison is acceptable? ----> @amnestyOz - Amnesty Australia [11/2/15]: @JanePrentice_MP introduces speakers from Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch & ANU at Aus Parliament House
@amnestyOz - Amnesty Australia [11/2/15]: RT @JanePrentice_MP: With colleagues being briefed on the latest news from Indonesia by @amnestyOz [re "#KeepHopeAlive for #Bali2"]
Afghan national found dead in Sidoarjo detention center [Jakarta Post - 10/2/15]:
The Taman sub-precinct police office said an Afghan national was found dead by hanging from an apparent suicide in a cell at the Puspa Agro Immigration Detention Center in Sidoarjo, East Java on Tuesday morning.
“We are still unable to determine the motive for the apparent suicide death of the Afghan citizen whose body has been taken to the Porong Bhayangkara Hospital for an autopsy,” the police's chief Comr. Kusminto said as quoted by Antara news agency on Tuesday.
He said the dead body was found by the victim's cellmate and that no visible signs of torture on the body indicated that the victim committed suicide.
Meanwhile, the head of the Waru Immigration Office in Sidoarjo, Enang Syamsi, said that his team would coordinate with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), which "represented" the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in the handling of Afghan refugees in Indonesia.
“We will coordinate with the IOM and contact the victim’s family in Afghanistan, while we are waiting for further developments in the case,” Enang said.
Mohammad Na’us was one of the most respected men in al Bab. He was the undertaker who washed the bodies of the dead prior to burial, a pious Quranic scholar who issued the sundown call to prayer in the Syrian town near the Turkish border, and for the past year, a seller of bread in his neighborhood.
But on Dec. 28, the bakery’s delivery was late and he missed the prayers at sundown. Religious police arrested Na’us, a father of five in his 50s, and ordered him to spend one night in prison.
It was his last.
At 7:20 p.m., a U.S. airstrike leveled al Bab’s al Saraya government center. Townspeople say dozens of people, including Na’us, died in the strike. U.S. officials, while acknowledging the strike, deny that any civilians died.
... [McClatchy - 12/2/15]
Special Presidential Envoy John Allen Travel to Jordan, Malaysia, Singapore and Australia [US Department of State - 8/2/15]
Australia reins in group aiming bitcoin exchange
Regulators ordered Australia's Bitcoin Group to stop making public statements about its plans to undertake the world's first initial public offering of a virtual currency exchange.
This came after the company approached potential Chinese investors via social media.
Melbourne-based start-up Bitcoin Group said in December it hoped to raise A$20 million on the Australian Stock Exchange and has been seeking expressions of interest from potential investors from the Chinese community through Wechat.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) said on Friday it was prohibiting Bitcoin Group from making any further statements about its planned listing until it had filed a prospectus.
When is it terrorism?
Nine MSN [13/2/15]:
Police have a man in custody after a shopping centre, in Sydney's north, was locked down.
The shopping centre was evacuated about 4.30pm, reportedly after a man walked into the centre and made threats.
Police rushed to the scene and appeared to be leading a man in handcuffs from the centre a short time later.
A short time later the NSW Police Force tweeted: "One man in custody during police operation. No further information available at this time."
Hornsby state Liberal MP Matt Kean told 9NEWS a man walked into a cafe inside the centre and ordered a mineral water. After paying for the water, he told a staff member there was a bomb in his bag, according to Mr Kean.
There were also earlier, unconfirmed, reports a suspicious package was discovered.
Police remain at the scene.
Man arrested at Westfield Hornsby over suspected bomb hoax [Sydney Morning Herald [13/2/15]
Switches caused Galleria shopping centre explosion [WA Today - 13/2/15]:
New safety precautions have been put in place for a type of high-voltage switch involved in a fatal shopping centre explosion in Perth.
An electrician, 30-year-old Irish national Alan Cummins, was instantly killed in the blast on February 3 at the Morley Galleria shopping centre.
One of his workmates, 22-year-old Matthew Hutchins, died hours later in hospital after suffering burns to 80 per cent of his body.
Two of their colleagues were also seriously burnt but survived.
The four workers were carrying out maintenance near an electrical transformer when the explosion occurred.
On Friday, Energy Safety revealed the blast was caused by high voltage oil-insulated combined-fuse switches, produced by Long and Crawford Manchester.
The regulator has ordered the switches must be fully disconnected from the electricity supply before anyone opens the switch's lid.
"The type of switch involved allows the three fuses to be changed while the in-coming electricity supply at the base of the tank remains energised," director Ken Bowron said.
"It is unsafe to perform work on any item of electrical equipment while it remains energised, especially high-voltage equipment."
Mr Bowron said many similar Long and Crawford switches, of unknown number and location, were used by private owners.
"The order will be sent to all licensed electrical contractors in WA and property owners likely to have these switches on their property," Mr Bowron said.
The Electrical Trades Union said the order did not go far enough and should extend to all electrical equipment.
"We support the Energy Safety order relating to the high voltage equipment involved in this fatality," branch secretary Les McLaughlan said.
"However, we believe Energy Safety should be directing electrical contractors and property owners to not perform electrical work in any live electrical environment, rather than limiting their order to the piece of equipment involved in this incident.
The funeral for Mr Hutchins is expected to take place on Friday afternoon.
Salmonella death at aged care facility in the Illawarra, nine others hospitalised across NSW, ACT
An investigation is underway into the death of a nursing home patient and the hospitalisation of nine others from salmonella food poisining.
NSW Health says cases of salmonella first appeared in aged care homes on January 21.
An investigation has uncovered 23 cases in 10 facilities across South Eastern Sydney, the Illawarra and ACT.
The Illawarra Retirement Trust says 20 of the cases happened at its care centres.
IRT also runs a food distribution network for other retirement homes.
The aged care provider is defending its food handling procedures, saying it has strict bacteria control procedures in place.
Chief executive Nieves Murray says it is possible pre packaged products supplied by a third party, like salads, are behind the outbreak.
"That is one of the lines of inquiry and we're working very closely with the NSW Food Authority to follow through every line of inquiry, our centre aswell as our third party suppliers as well as our kitchen on site," Ms Murray said.
IRT quality review adviser Reuben Sakey says testing on current food stocks in the central kitchen has come back clear.
"There's been no evidence so far of any contamination or infection at that site, there's been no positive detection at any of the infected care centres either."
Early inquiries show the species of salmonella is associated with manure used in growing salad vegetables, not meat.
Director of the Communicable Diseases Branch of NSW Health, Vicky Sheppeard, says precautions are being taken to minimise the risk.
"Facilities are no longer serving foods considered as likely risks, for example food that is not reheated prior to serving," she said.
The elderly man from an Illlawarra facility who died also had several underlying chronic diseases.
Young mother jailed 18 months for "abducting" her baby from Child Safety
Morning Bulletin [13/2/15]:
… The 22-year-old took her son, eight months, on December 20, 2013, four days after the Department of Child Safety took him from her care.
Crown Prosecutor Megan Jones said during the visit she became verbally aggressive towards staff after asking about medical treatment for her son, who was born with a turned-in foot.
She then walked out of the building with him and was found in NSW 17 days later, where she agreed to hand her son over to authorities.
Yesterday the woman pleaded guilty to abducting a child under 16 and two other summary offences.
The court heard she struggled to cope with her son's condition before the department took him.
ATSILS defence lawyer Maree Willey said the woman's emotions were running high when she abducted her son, now 18 months old.
"There was no malicious intent, she's just a young mother who was finding it difficult to cope and reacted the wrong way," Ms Willey said.
"There is no evidence the child experienced stress or concern over what happened."
The woman has three children; she gave birth to the first when she was 16.
Her other children live with their father's mother in Gympie and Ms Willey said her client's relationship with him was impacted by domestic violence.
Judge Michael Burnett said while he understood the circumstances were personally distressing, her actions were unacceptable.
"Child Safety doesn't take children because they want to, not because it sounds like a good idea at the time, they do it because they are concerned with the welfare of the child," he said.
"If you are unhappy with their decisions you take the matter to court."
She was sentenced to 18 months in prison with a parole eligibility date of May 12, 2015.
"She has the benefit of youth, however personal deterrence looms large in this case," he said.
"You have been afforded a lot of opportunities by the courts to try and rehabilitate you do not seem to take court orders very seriously. You are young, you are not beyond hope and redemption."
A woman accused of defrauding a business of almost $100,000 to fund a luxury cruise is "a small cog in a larger machine", a court has heard.
Maryborough woman Wendy Janine Baulch was granted bail in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on Friday.
The 52-year-old's international trip was cut short on Tuesday when she was arrested as her ship docked in Sydney. ... [Yahoo - 13/2/15]
Why Fifty Shades of Grey won't show at this cinema
A personal message From Kerry Culverhouse, Cinema Roma owner, on her decision not to show Fifty Shades of Grey:
"While I understand that there are some who are interested in the upcoming movie 50 Shades of Grey, I cannot in good conscience support a movie that is highly pornographic and glamorizes violence against women.
"The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) survey estimated that in 2012, 41% of women aged 18 years and over had experienced some form of violence since the age of 15, the majority of whom were assaulted by an intimate partner.
"Rather than support this film I will be donating to the #50dollarsnot50shades campaign, one of many aiming to help raise awareness and desperately needed funds.
"You can find out more about the project in Alice Springs at http://asws.org.au/fifty-shades-of-donations/.
"I admire the passion of the people that are advocating for what they believe is a right.
"I too am a passionate person and support many just causes with my whole heart.
"Another cause our family business is currently working to improve includes our brands of coffee, chocolate and tea, industries that are also heavily tainted with the physical and sexual abuse of women and children.
"We look forward to introducing our new fair trade lines in the near future.
"We sincerely appreciate the feedback we have received and the awareness generated through discussions.
"If you would like to speak to someone regarding domestic violence or sexual abuse, please contact the Domestic Violence Hotline on 1800 010 120 or at www.dvconnect.org."
Protective family, who harboured a wanted man, avoid jail [Daily Mercury - 13/2/15]:
Two Melbourne police officers charged with drug trafficking, possessing proceeds of crime [Sydney Morning Herald - 13/2/15]
The major parties represent an ideology that is opposed to efficient, accessible and properly maintained public transport – especially if it's free.
There have been calls for an audit of Brisbane’s river transport network after revelations passengers have been left stranded abroad vessels that have been stricken by engine failure.
7News has learned of a string of incidents involving the ageing fleet of City Hoppers. ... [Yahoo - 13/2/15]
Downer EDI contracted to overhaul Queensland's tilt trains [Gladstone Observer – 13/2/15]
Crews rush to man jammed between truck and fence, Bundaberg
News Mail [13/2/15]:
Emergency crews rushed to numerous Triple Zero calls after a man became stuck between a truck and a fence on Goodwin St.
The accident, which happened around 1.30pm, is believed to have happened after the man exited his truck without putting on the handbrake, resulting in him pinned between the vehicle and the fence when he left the truck.
The man was transported to Bundaberg Hospital.
A fence and tree had to be removed to free the man.
Truck and postie collide in Walkervale
News Mail [13/2/15]:
An Australia Post delivery man has been transported to Bundaberg Hospital with minor injuries after his motorcycle collided with a truck on the corner or Maynard and Maryborough Sts this morning.
Shortly before 10am emergency services were called to the scene and the 50-year-old postie was transported by the Queensland Ambulance service with superficial injuries.
Emerald's Pines Takeaway - taken away
CQ News [10/2/15]:
Am Emerald institution closed its doors last week to make way for bigger business.
The Pines Takeaway has served locals for generations, but will be made over in bright orange and red when Golden Fried Chicken takes over the site.
The Pines owner and manager Brittany Rebetzke ran the business for one month before the 20-year-old underwent nine months of rehabilitation following a car crash in May last year.
She returned recently to discover she could no longer lease the site and has spent the past few weeks stripping the shop and selling off stock.
"We just have to move out, that's it," she said.
"I found out through Facebook really, word got around town real quick.
"I can move The Pines somewhere else, but not really sure yet.
"Not too sure of anything really."
Miss Rebetzke said when she received the official notice to vacate she was hurt, but is trying to stay positive.
"The staff have already said that they aren't working here anymore," she said.
"Everyone's hard work has all gone downhill, but that's all right.
"I'll go onto something bigger and better now."
A Golden Fried Chicken spokesman said the completion date for the new cafe was uncertain, but would be opened by a couple who have moved up from the Sunshine Coast.
"They started off with a mobile food van and they decided they wanted to get a store going because it was going really well," he said.
Sydney students pepper-sprayed at protest against Australian government's education policy
A group of university students protesting at a speech by Education Minister Christopher Pyne have been pepper-sprayed by police in Sydney.
Some demonstrators were pepper-sprayed when about 40 of them tried to enter the Sydney Masonic Centre just before 11:00am.
Police pepper-sprayed a number of the protesters who managed to get into the foyer of the building and were then escorted out.
Mr Pyne was inside the centre delivering the inaugural Hedley Beare Memorial Lecture to educator groups on the future of teacher education in Australia.
The address was the Government's response to the Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group report which was released earlier on Friday.
The group of protesters outside the building were demonstrating against university deregulation.
ABC footage of the incident showed protesters surging into the building chanting "no cuts, no fees, no corporate universities".
As they were removed from the building, they continued to chant: "This is not a police state, we have the right to demonstrate."
Ridah Hassan from the National Union of Students said the behaviour by police was disgraceful and the students should be able to protest.
"We were pushed by police and I was pepper-sprayed right in the face, my face is on fire," Ms Hassan said.
Supporters poured milk over the faces of some of those injured by the pepper spray.
"Why can't Chris Pyne face up to the fact that students are against his higher education reforms?" Ms Hassan asked.
"We are determined to fight them and we are going to come out on March 25 to protest in our numbers to make sure they're defeated for good.
"This is an absolute disgrace by the NSW police."
A male protester said the incident escalated quickly.
"I was maced in the face for demonstrating peacefully," he said.
"It was confusing, but next minute, the police just maced us in the face, it was horrible and it still burns."
NSW Police have been contacted for comment.
Governments must not delegate responsibility of basic education to private sector, United Nations expert says [Media Release - 12/2/15]
Australia should impose trade sanctions against Malaysia
PUP Media Release [13/2/15]:
The federal leader of the Palmer United Party and Member for Fairfax, Clive Palmer, has called on the federal government to impose trade sanctions against Malaysia.
Mr Palmer said the Malaysian government was behaving like a dictatorship and was silencing political critics by putting them in jail.
“Our Foreign Minister Julie Bishop should be taking strong action against Malaysia with trade sanctions,” he said.
“They use their courts to crackdown on dissidents and throw them in jail with politically motivated charges.
“The authorities in Malaysia over the past year have made increasing use of a draconian Sedition Act to target journalists, politicians and academics for criticising the government.
“These types of undemocratic practices must be stopped immediately.
“Australia must use its influence in the region to act against this unjust behaviour from the Malaysian government.
“Imposing trade sanctions would be a good place to start to remind the Malaysian government that Australia is a country that strongly values and upholds the rights to freedom of speech and democracy.”
Call to ease pressure on NZ Post
The Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union says Government pressure on New Zealand Post to return a profit should be eased.
Yesterday, the State Owned Enterprise announced 400 redundancies as part of its five-year plan to adapt to the decline in letter volumes.
Standard mail will only be delivered every second day progressively from July, for cities and towns.
An EPMU organiser Joe Gallagher said the Government should not place such a high demand on the company, so it can grow.
"They Government could use that money they're potentially going to throw at SkyCity, perhaps they could give that to New Zealand Post to grow Kiwibank."
However, New Zealand Post said the Government's requirement to return a profit was not connected with the redundancies.
Mail and communications chief operating officer Ashley Smout said the Government had no involvement in company's operations, but it was interested in the outcomes.
"The Government has expectations that all of its state owned enterprises will make an acceptable return, from New Zealand Post's perspective we've got a lot of work to do to reach that point."
Mr Smout said New Zealand Post was still a relevant company for the Government to invest in.
Meanwhile, the company has rejected an EPMU claim it is moving towards having contractors rather than employees deliver mail.
The union believes that if a pilot scheme using contractors due to start in New Plymouth in May is successful, there is a possibility all postie positions could be contracted out.
But Mr Smout said New Zealand Post was still working out the most flexible delivery model.
"The mix is changing, mail is declining with the internet and parcels are increasing with the increase in online shopping.
"We've got these twin dynamics to work through, but we have no preconceived idea of employee versus contractor model."
Italy: Municipal police strike in solidarity with colleagues
Municipal police across Italy went on strike Thursday and thousands attended a rally in Rome in solidarity with colleagues caught up in a row over alleged mass absenteeism in the capital on New Year's Eve.
A huge furore exploded when the city of Rome said over 80% of the municipal police called to duty on the last night of 2014 failed to turn up to work, although unions representing the officers dispute the figures.
The protest was organized to "remove the mud slung at the entire category", Stefano Lulli, the leader of the Roman chapter of the OSPOL union, said.
Thursday's strike and rally led to traffic congestion in the capital.
Lulli said around 10,000 officers had shown up for the demonstration.
"The turnout is very good despite the incomprehensible and hostile strategies of the other unions," he said.
Now the government has to listen to us," he continued amid growing complaints by municipal police officers over cutbacks and working conditions.
"Municipal police have been agitating for some time because they are considered municipal employees when we should be treated like the other police forces," said OSPOL President Luigi Marucci.
"We are asking to be likened to them," he continued, adding that "the local police force is healthy and must be respected by everyone". However the strategies used by the police unions were questioned by other labour organizations on Thursday.
Italy's largest trade union confederation CGIL distanced itself from the strike, saying that "on December 31, Rome municipal police got it wrong".
"The situation still needs to be clarified, but even if it was just one worker, that worker must pay," said Rossana Dettori, secretary-general of the public-sector branch of the CGIL.
"It is unacceptable that a worker should use battle instruments not contemplated by the unions that create problems for all public employees while we are discussing public administration reform," she continued.
Earlier Civil Service Minister Marianna Madia said protests by Rome police, including the alleged mass absenteeism on New Year's Eve, would be used in framing new rules for Italy's public administration particularly concerning mass and reiterated abstention from work, including "concrete disciplinary measures".
"I believe the right to strike must be fully respected, just as the petitions brought by today's strikers must be fully honoured," Rome Mayor Ignazio Marino said.
"However, a distinction must be made between the right to strike and situations that I can only describe as anomalous, such as absence due to illness of almost 85% of Rome municipal police on the night of December 31," he added.
‘Drastic decline’ in press freedom across the globe
France 24 [12/1/15]
Information wars in conflict zones, reprisals against journalists by terrorist groups like the Islamic State and censorship on religious grounds contributed to a “drastic decline” in press freedom in 2014, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has warned.
According to the Paris-based watchdog’s latest World Press Freedom Index, published Thursday, two-thirds of the 180 countries surveyed performed less well than in 2013, while there was an 8 percent increase in the number of violations of freedom of information in 2014 compared to the year before.
“Beset by wars, the growing threat from non-state operatives, violence during demonstrations and the economic crisis, media freedom is in retreat on all five continents,” said RSF.
Conflicts in places like Ukraine, Syria and Iraq had a big impact on press freedom, it said, with all parties waging a “fearsome information war”.
“The media, used for propaganda purposes or starved of information, became strategic targets and were attacked, or even silenced,” it said.
Non-state actors such as the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria and Boko Haram in Nigeria, as well as criminal organisations such as Latin American drug traffickers and the Italian mafia, have also sought to repress media freedom, it said.
“[M]otives may vary but their modus operandi is the same – the use of fear and reprisals to silence journalists and bloggers who dare to investigate them or refuse to act as their mouthpieces.”
While the index does not take into account the recent attack on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, in apparent revenge for publishing cartoons of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed, RSF also highlighted the threat of censorship on religious grounds to press freedom.
“The criminalisation of blasphemy endangers freedom of information in around half of the world’s countries,” it said, adding that religious extremists “sometimes take it upon themselves to remind journalists and bloggers what they may or may not say”.
US Drops to 49th in World Press Freedom Rankings, Worst Since Obama Became President [Intercept – 12/2/15]
... To explain the latest drop for the U.S., the press group cited the U.S. government’s persecution of New York Times reporter Jim Risen, as well as the fact that the U.S. “continues its war on information in others, such as WikiLeaks.”
Also cited were the numerous arrests of journalists covering the police protests in Ferguson, Missouri (which included The Intercept‘s Ryan Devereaux, who was tear-gassed and shot with a rubber bullet prior to his arrest).
A press freedom advocate -- and husband of an American servicewoman -- went to the U.S. embassy in Azerbaijan, fearing for his life. But he was turned away. ... [Foreign Policy - 11/2/15]
Rupert Murdoch, Prince Al-Waleed and the wolves at News Corp's door [Australian Financial Review - 13/2/15]
New Zealand: Mass pilot whale stranding at Farewell Spit
Nearly 200 pilot whales have stranded in Golden Bay at the top of the South Island.
Department of Conservation staff have gone to the area near Farewell Spit after being alerted by a member of the public.
DoC spokesperson Mike Ogle said 198 whales are involved in the stranding and 24 have already died.
He said there were more whales than people at the moment so DoC could do with some help from local residents.
Mr Ogle said he was hopeful this afternoon's high tide would result in a successful refloat.
"They're in reasonable condition most of them, their skin is looking pretty good, and there's not that many have died, relatively."
Argentina oil company leaves Peru town after protests
An Argentine oil company says it will withdraw from an area of the Peruvian Amazon where it has been prospecting for gas deposits.
The company, Pluspetrol, was asked to leave by the government after the death of a demonstrator in Junin province, during four days of violent protests.
The demonstrators, mostly indigenous people, accused the company of contaminating local rivers and soil.
Pluspetrol denied causing any environmental damage.
It said it had met all legal requirements for exploratory work, including getting consent from more than 2,000 farmers in the area.
The company said it would remove its remaining equipment from the area, known as Block 108, near the municipality of Pichanaki in the coming days.
A spokesman denied the company was being forced to leave, saying it was going because it had finished its work in the area.
He said the company had met all legal, environmental and social requirements for exploratory work in the block, including securing consent from farmers and communities.
Pluspetrol started exploratory activities in Block 108 last year with the approval of the government.
Energy and Mines Minister Eleodoro Mayorga said he believed the company had complied with its contract but was asking it to leave the block so that the government could evaluate its activities.
On Tuesday, a crowd of protestors stormed a military base being used by Pluspetrol as a storage area.
They were driven back by police firing tear gas but a 25 year-old man was killed and 20 injured, police say.
Reuters news agency says the interior ministry is investigating the illegal use of firearms by police during the demonstrations.
Pluspetrol is also struggling to end conflicts in the northern Amazon, where indigenous protestors have taken control of oil wells and stopped output in the country's biggest oil block.
Protests and demonstrations have continued for a decade in Peru in many areas of the country where foreign oil companies are prospecting and mining for oil and minerals.
Hey Greens - nice one putting all your efforts into getting the ALP back into government in Queensland!
[New Matilda - 13/2/15]:
The Federal Labor Party has joined with the Coalition to vote down a Greens’ motion calling on the government to investigate the ownership and corporate dealings of Australia’s largest ever proposed coal development.
Indian company Adani is planning to build the Carmichael coal mine in the Galilee Basin, and the associated mega-port at Abbot Point.
The company came under increased scrutiny earlier this week following a Fairfax investigation which revealed what Greens’ environment spokesperson Senator Larissa Waters described as “uncertain ownership and tax arrangements”.
“In an attempt to secure Labor’s support, we have submitted a more targeted motion referring only to Minister Hunt’s powers, for a vote on Monday March 2,” Waters said.
Pre-inquest hearing to be held into electrocution of Jason Garrels in Clermont
A pre-inquest hearing will be held in Mackay today into the death of a central Queensland man.
Jason Garrels, 20, was electrocuted on a construction site in Clermont in February 2012.
In November, company Daytona Trading was fined $80,000 over the incident but no conviction was recorded.
Coroner David O'Connell is investigating the death and will hold a pre-inquest hearing in Mackay, in north Queensland today.
The inquest will consider a number issues, including whether the site where Mr Garrels died complied with safety regulations, whether changes were made to it between the electrocution and the arrival of electrical safety officers and whether the individual responsible for the electrical installations should be subject to immediate licence suspension.
The inquest is set down for February 27.
Man charged over Broome death
West Australian [13/2/15]:
A 39-year-old man has been charged over the death of a woman in Broome yesterday.
At about 3.45am yesterday police located a 36-year-old woman on Male Oval.
It is believed she was the victim of an assault by the alleged offender.
Saint John Ambulance took the woman to Broome Hospital but she died a short time later.
The man has been charged with acting to endanger a life and he is due to appear in the Broome Magistrate's Court today.
A group has gathered outside Southport Court calling for a review into domestic violence deaths
Image: @dominiqueloudon - Nine Gold Coast News court reporter [13/2/15]
@ash_stevenson10 - ABC journalist [13/2/15]: People gathering outside Southport court to honour domestic violence victim Fabiana Palhares ...
Man dies after being hit by a car/truck? Surfers Paradise
A man has been killed in a fatal accident on the Gold Coast this morning.
Police have confirmed a man, believed to be aged in his 60’s, was struck by a car on the corner of Gold Coast Highway and Admiralty Drive at Surfers Paradise around 9am.
An unmarked police vehicle has also become wedged in raised tram tracks, whilst allegedly rushing to investigate the fatality.
All Tram services have been suspended in both directions between Surfers Paradise North station to Southport with alternative transport being arranged for customers.
Motorists have been advised to avoid the area.
The man involved in the fatality was hit by a truck in Admiralty Drive in Surfer's Paradise about 9.15am. He died at the scene. ... [Brisbane Times - 13/2/15]
@MatthewamHoward - journalist, Channel 10 [13/2/15]: ... Another car stuck on tram tracks shutting down the #GoldCoast light rail network.
Person struck, killed by light-rail train in downtown Denver [Denver Post - 12/2/15]
Surfers Paradise URGENTLY needs traffic calming
The pedestrian overpass on Surfers Paradise Boulevarde prior to its demolition 
Tourists critical after being hit by car in Surfers Paradise [MYGC -
Brisbane CBD 40kmh limit hailed a success [Brisbane Times - 19/11/14]
House fire, Ashmore
A house fire has been put out in Ashmore.
Crews were called to a two storey brick home just before 10:00am, two crews went to the property on Darel Drive.
The flames were extinguished within 14 minutes, while crews say the fire started in lower level corner bedroom.
No one was injured and the cause will be investigated.
Assault occasioning bodily harm charge – Aurukun
QPS Media [12/2/15]:
Police have charged a 36-year-old Aurukun man with assault occasioning bodily harm whilst armed with an offensive instrument following the alleged assault of a man at Aurukun this afternoon.
It will be alleged that a 36-year-old Aurukun man was struck in the head with a hammer during a disturbance at a Kor Street home around 2.30pm today.
He has been transported to Cairns Base Hospital for treatment to a serious but non-life threatening head injury.
The charged man is due to appear in the Aurukun Magistrates Court tomorrow morning.
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.
Anti rights raids, charges, South East Queensland [QPS Media – 13/2/15]
Australian Bar Association Media Release [12/2/15]:
The Australian Bar Association (ABA) has welcomed the Australian Human Rights Commission Report on children in detention, tabled in Federal Parliament last night, and urged the Federal Government to act upon the key recommendations to release children and their families from immigration detention in Australian and in Nauru.
“This Report, The Forgotten Children, was the result of a National Inquiry commenced in February 2014. It considers the laws, policies and practices concerning the mandatory detention of children in immigration detention under successive governments and thoroughly documents the grave impact upon the well-being and development of those children over the last ten years.” said ABA President, Fiona McLeod SC.
“The Report is supported by expert medical assistance and establishes that long periods of mandatory detention have had a significant impact on the well-being and development of these vulnerable children,” she said.
“We welcome the progress made by the Australian Government to date - most of the 1138 children detained at the start of last year have now been released into the community or into community detention. However, the fact that more than 200 children remain in detention in Australia and a further 120 are held in Nauru exposed to the risk of further harm is a matter of grave concern.”
“The detention of these children for indefinite periods breaches our international obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child and cannot go on. We have a responsibility to these children in our care.”
“We urge the Australian Government to act quickly upon the Report’s two key recommendations – to release the children still kept in detention into the community with their families and to amend the Migration Act to strictly limit the period of time children and their families can be detained for the purposes of health, identity and security checks” Ms McLeod concluded.
... What is this place? ...
Samar Alzeiny, sister of refugee incarcerated at
Australia's refugee death camp on Manus Island.
... When planes started arriving with transferees we were not allowed to go to the airport, and to this day we are not allowed to go into the centre, and we don't know what is actually happening there. ...
Ruth Mandrakamu - Mayor, Lorengau, Manus Island
Strangers in Paradise [VIDEO - East 101 - Al Jazeera - 24/10/14]
Manus death camp goon squad moves to different lodgings.
Media blackout on refugees continues.
The Australian Government is refusing to pay the hotel bill for a Papua New Guinea police unit guarding the Manus Island detention centre after it moved to more expensive accommodation owned by the brother of a former police commissioner. ... [ABC - 13/2/15]
PNG "scores better" on press freedoms [PNG Loop - 13/2/15]. But what has become of these men?
Reporters Without Borders condemns Papua New Guinea’s decision to temporarily ban visits by foreign journalists wanting to cover Australia’s plans to reopen an old detention centre on Manus Island – an island belonging to PNG that lies off its northern coast – and use it for processing asylum seekers.
"It is vital that journalists should be able to cover this kind of development, especially when it concerns such as sensitive subject as refugees," Reporters Without Borders said. "We urge the PNG government to lift this ban at once so that reporters can cover the reopening of the centre." ... [RSF Media Release - 30/8/12]
A daily search of Senate Hansard appears to show that this has not happened. ----> Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, 22 January 2015: ... “That is why when Parliament resumes I will be moving for the media to have access to all Australian funded detention centres and will move to provide protections to people inside to speak freely about what is really happening behind the gates. ...
Australia Detention Profile [Global Detention Project]:
The Labor government of Prime Minister Paul Keating (1991-1996) saw the introduction of a number of reforms that restricted the access of both immigrants and asylum seekers. Mandatory detention of “unlawful immigrants,” which remains the official policy of Australia (as of mid-2008), was introduced in 1992, with passage of the Migration Amendment Act, which received bipartisan support. The policy was the product of mounting concerns over the growing numbers of asylum seekers arriving in Australia during the previous two decades, which the government argued had undermined the country’s ability to protect its borders (Stevens 2002). The amendment made detention mandatory for all unauthorized boat arrivals. Migrants, including their children born in Australia, who arrived after November 19, 1989, and before December 1, 1992, were detained. The maximum length of detention was established at 273 days, and could be prolonged because of legal procedures and appeals (Stevens 2002). Additional immigration detention centres were established during the 1990s in remote areas of Australia, with heightened security. ...
Australia's founding father of indefinite mandatory detention [ABC - 11/11/11]
UNHCR calls for more robust search-and-rescue operation on Mediterranean [Media Release – 12/2/15]
The UN refugee agency on Thursday called on the European Union (EU) to urgently change its approach to dealing with irregular crossings of the Mediterranean Sea and make saving lives the topmost priority.
"There can be no doubt left after this week's events that Europe's Operation Triton is a woefully inadequate replacement for Italy's Mare Nostrum," said UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres, referring to the death of at least 300 people who were trying to reach Europe from Libya on four dinghies.
"The focus has to be about saving lives. We need a robust search-and-rescue operation in the Central Mediterranean, not only a border patrol."
Last year, the number of people risking their lives to cross the Mediterranean on smugglers' boats rose dramatically and many of them were fleeing conflicts or persecution in Syria, the Horn of Africa and other parts of sub-Saharan Africa. In all, at least 218,000 people crossed the Mediterranean and 3,500 lives were lost.
Italy, following heavy loss of life in two incidents on the high seas in October 2013, launched the Mare Nostrum operation – rescuing tens of thousands of people. UNHCR has repeatedly expressed concern about the ending of Mare Nostrum late last year without a similar European search-and-rescue operation to replace it. Last November, the EU border agency Frontex launched Operation Triton, which focuses on border surveillance but can contribute to rescue efforts.
Concerned that Europe's response to such tragedies is not to step up its rescue efforts, but to phase them out, Guterres called on the EU to urgently establish a search-and-rescue operation similar in scale and reach to Mare Nostrum. "If not, it is inevitable that many more people will die trying to reach safety in Europe," he warned.
UNHCR has called repeatedly on European governments to address the problem of people fleeing wars and trying to reach Europe across the Mediterranean, with a view to reducing losses of life at sea via improved surveillance and better search and rescue.
It has also encouraged more focus on addressing the root causes of the population movements including more emphasis on political solutions to conflict, better opportunities for refugees in countries neighbouring conflict zones, the provision of safe and legal alternatives to dangerous boat journeys, and strengthened systems for disembarkation and for identifying those who are refugees and those who are not.
Amid a dangerous political and humanitarian crisis and a seething secessionist movement, Yemen sits on the brink of collapse, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned the Security Council today, reminding the international community of its “solemn obligation” under the UN Charter to help the country prevent an escalation of the conflict and re-launch its political process. ... [UN Media Release - 12/2/15]
At least seven people have been killed by a female suicide bomber who blew herself up at a crowded market in northeast Nigeria, according to witnesses and officials.
The mid-afternoon attack on Thursday in Biu, 180km south of the Borno state capital Maiduguri, is the latest in a spate of similar attacks in the region.
This was the first bombing in the area, which came before a visit
by the former governor to Biu, according to a witness who is a member of the
Civilian Joint Task Force (JTF). ... [Al
Jazeera - 12/2/15]
Saudi Arabia on Thursday beheaded a convicted Pakistani drug smuggler, bringing to 29 the number of executions in the first six weeks of the year. ... [Naharnet - 12/2/15]
PNG: Illegal maritime arrival arrested for possessing firearm after police search his boat following assault claim
The National [13/2/15]:
Police in Madang have arrested an Australian for allegedly possessing an unlicenced firearm and ammunition.
They believe that he illegally entered the country last year.
Madang Police Station Commander Sylvester Kalaut said police and Customs officers had searched his boat at the Madang club waterfront and found a rifle and live ammunition.
Kalaut claimed the man from North Queensland brought the rifle from Thursday Island last November.
He visited Port Moresby and Milne Bay before sailing to Madang.
“His next destination is Samoa but because of engine problems, he continues to stay here,” Kalaut said.
He said Customs officers discovered that his passport did not show that he had been cleared to enter the country.
Kalaut said the man was released on K2000 bail. He is expected to appear in court today.
Police were forced to search his boat when investigating a complaint that he had assaulted a club manageress.
Meanwhile, police confiscated a pistol from a man from Gumine, Simbu, travelling on a PMV bus from Madang.
He said the pistol belonged to police officers in Madang.
Kalaut said police confiscated a pistol from a Kubalia man from Yangoru in East Sepik.
Police arrested the man while he was trying to sell the pistol for K2500 in town.
US backed Venezuala coup plot thwarted
The Venezuelan government detained several people Wednesday and Thursday, including civilians and officials with the Venezuelan armed forces in connection to a coup plot, Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro announced.
In a televised address, President Maduro stated that the plot was hatched from within the United States, with the detained being paid in U.S. dollars and one of the suspects even being granted a visa to enter the United States should the plot fail.
Maduro stated that the coup plotters already had a “transitional” government and program ready once the acts – which included bombings in Caracas in other places as well as assassinations of members of the opposition, Maduro and othere – was carried out.
According to Maduro, one of the suspects was already under surveillance and had been suspected of plotting against the constitutional government last year but was not charged, only to turn around and continue plotting against the government.
Maduro stated that the plot was uncovered after loyal officials who denounced it to authorities.
German Embassy Releases “Alarming” Declaration to Residents in Venezuela [Venezualan Analysis – 11/2/15]
Oliver Stone documentary - South of the Border - Hugo Chavez Biography 
S. African President's parliamentary address descends into chaos
South African security forces were on Thursday called in to eject a group of radical lawmakers from parliament after they caused chaos during President Jacob Zuma's annual state of the nation address.
The members of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), led by populist firebrand Julius Malema, had created an uproar as they demanded that Zuma repay millions of taxpayers money spent on his private residence.
The ejection of the EFF members led the official opposition Democratic Alliance party to walk out of the chamber.
Malema had warned in advance that he would not allow Zuma to speak until he had answered the question of when he would refund some of the money, as demanded by the national ombudsman.
When Malema made good on his threats the EFF members were evicted by a large force of security officials.
The official television feed from parliament focused only on Speaker Baleke Mbete as sounds of scuffles could be heard.
Shortly afterwards the opposition Democratic Alliance walked out after demanding to know whether it was police or parliamentary officers who had evicted the EFF.
"You can't send police into parliament," Democratic Alliance parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane said as he led his party out after the eviction of the smaller Economic Freedom Fighters party.
Zuma then resumed his annual state of the nation address to a partly empty house and to a nation transfixed by the unprecedented scenes in parliament.
Spain: Chemical plant blast cloaks towns in toxic cloud
A blast at a chemical plant cloaked a region in northern Spain in a huge orange toxic cloud on Thursday, according to local reports.
Three at the plant some 30 miles from the city of Barcelona were injured in the explosion, which also forced some 60,000 people in the surrounding communities to remain confined indoors for hours, La Verdad newspaper reported.
The explosion at the installation owned by Simar — which distributes and stores chemicals, according to its website — occurred at 9:45 a.m. (3:45 a.m. ET), the newspaper reported. Company officials were not immediately available for comment.
Officials ordered school and university students to remain indoors and said parents should not pick them up, news website 20 Minutes reported. Pregnant women, children, the elderly and those with respiratory problems were told to remain indoors even after the general warning was lifted, according to La Verdad.
The blast appeared to have been caused by two chemicals coming into contact during delivery to the plant, the regional government of Catalonia said in a statement, Reuters reported.
United States, "allies" continue bombing Iraq and Syria
On Feb. 11, U.S. and Coalition military forces continued to attack ISIL terrorists in Syria, using fighter aircraft to conduct three airstrikes.
Separately, U.S. and Coalition military forces conducted 12 airstrikes in Iraq, using fighter, attack, bomber and remotely piloted aircraft against ISIL terrorists. All strikes took place between 8 a.m., Feb. 11, and 8 a.m., Feb. 12, local time.
The following is a summary of the strikes conducted since the last press release:
* Near Al Hasakah, an airstrike struck multiple ISIL oil pump jacks.
* Near Kobani, two airstrikes destroyed six ISIL fighting positions.
* Near Al Asad, an airstrike struck an ISIL mortar position.
* Near Kirkuk, three airstrikes struck an ISIL large tactical unit, an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed three ISIL heavy machine guns, six ISIL buildings, an ISIL vehicle, an ISIL VBIED, an ISIL bulldozer and an ISIL trailer.
* Near Mosul, four airstrikes struck an ISIL large tactical unit, an ISIL tactical unit, an ISIL staging area and destroyed two ISIL bulldozers, two ISIL vehicles, an ISIL armored vehicle, an ISIL building and an ISIL heavy machine gun.
* Near Fallujah, two airstrikes struck ISIL earthen berms used to control water.
* Near Makhmur, an airstrike struck an ISIL large tactical unit.
* Near Tal Afar, an airstrike struck an ISIL large tactical unit.
Airstrike assessments are based on initial reports. All aircraft returned to base safely.
Iraq mission changing under Canadians’ noses [Toronto Star - 12/2/15]
GPs call for end of mandatory detention for asylum seekers [Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) Media Release - 13/2/15]
13 February 2015