Australia's exiled refugees greet Peter Dutton
MP, Minister for Death Camps and Deportation, on his sneaky visit to Nauru
Refugees on Nauru [VIDEO - 18/2/15]:
Peter Dutton is in Nauru just days after the release of the Children in detention report.
"Resettled" refugee men, women and children are chanting and calling out for justice however the Nauruan Police are barely allowing them outside the front of their own accommodation.
Page three of the latest Nauru Bulletin [17/2/15] gives details of folks assisting in the exile of Australia's refugees on Nauru:
Connect Community Engagement manager Nikki Wynne with her team of community engagement liaison workers Fahad Ahmed, Taimur Khan, Adnan Dayre and Mozhdeh Khakbaz
It is no secret, so why the Australian media blackout?
And after everything the Australian government has put them through, Adnan and Maryam would still probably ask Dutton in for a cuppa!
Adnan Shirwani, 36, with his 6-months-pregnant wife Maryam, 33, from the Kurdistan region of Iran. They spent one year in the detention centre and were given refugee status and released to the community based camp in June 2014. ...
Photographed by Vlad Sokhin, October 2014
Pregnant woman spotted outside bus near Darwin concentration camp amid stand-off
... The Refugee Action Coalition has named one of the women as Maryam, who they say was on the bus with her husband Adnan and 10-year-old son Amir. ...
A pregnant woman has been spotted walking beside a bus near Darwin's Wickham Point Detention Centre, where a stand-off has been underway between between guards and two Iranian families protesting against being housed in the facility.
There has been no confirmation as to whether the woman spotted in the video - taken from a helicopter - was one of the heavily pregnant women who has been in the bus since Saturday.
It is understood that while in immigration detention in Nauru, authorities already determined that the women and their husbands were refugees, and the Australian Government told the women they would be taken to Australia to give birth.
They have been refusing to go to the immigration detention centre since they arrived by bus late on Saturday night, according to the Darwin Asylum Seeker Support and Advocacy Network.
Today was 35 degrees at Wickham Point where the 38 weeks pregnant women and husbands and one child are sitting on a bus. ... [30/11/14]
Nauru: Dream Turned Nightmare for Boat Refugees Seeking Asylum in Australia [RIA Novosti - 2/11/14]:
... Amnesty International tried to visit the island state in early 2014. Nauru’s government turned down their request along with a request from UN human rights observers, citing “the current circumstances and incredibly busy time”, as well as “practical difficulties”, Amnesty International said in a news release.
“Nauru’s refusals to allow an independent review of the conditions in the detention centre are another damning development in Australia’s offshore asylum processing system,” said Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director.
Under new regulations, introduced by Kevin Rudd, then prime minister, in July, 2013, asylum seekers, brought to Nauru or the Manus Island, are banned from receiving a refugee status from Canberra and relocating to Australia. If eligible, they can receive refugee status and stay in Papua New Guinea or Nauru.
However, leaving these island nations is just as hard as bringing relatives there. Furthermore, refugees are not allowed to share their stories with the outside world.
Despite apparent attempts to prevent human rights activists and journalists from coming to the island, Russian photographer Vlad Sokhin managed to visit Nauru as a tourist. He has recently shared a heart-breaking account of what it is like to live on the islands as a refugee in Russian Reporter magazine.
“Everyone is spying on us here. Every our step is reported to the police. We are strictly forbidden from talking to foreigners or journalists,” Mujtaba, a Shia refugee from Pakistan, told Sokhin. Mujtaba works at Capelle & Partner, the only supermarket on the island, which makes him one of the few lucky refugees to have work. Unemployment in Nauru is as high as 90 percent.
Mujtaba recalled deplorable conditions in the detention center, where he had spent 10 months. Like other asylum seekers, Mujtaba had to share a tent with 20 people.
“The tents got unbearably hot in the sun; it was extremely hot inside – no fans, no air conditioning. Children and pregnant women had to live under the same conditions. There were eight toilets for 400 people. We were allowed to use shower for two or three minutes if there was water. Sometimes there was no drinking water,” Mujtaba said.
“I think, Australians deliberately forced us to live under such conditions, so that we would spread the word – don’t try to enter Australia illegally, you will go to hell instead.”
Adnan, his wife Mariam and their 12-year-old son fled from Iranian Kurdistan. Adnan’s wife is six months pregnant and in desperate need of medical attention.
“My wife is due soon. But she has pregnancy complications,” Adnan told Sokhin. “She suffered from anxiety when we lived in the detention center as if it were prison.
The doctor at the Nauru hospital is completely incompetent. Several times my wife was prescribed medication contraindicated in pregnancy. There is no ultrasound scan. We cannot buy vitamins here,” he explained.
These are far from being isolated cases. Vlad Sokhin talked to other people, who were trapped on the small island fleeing persecution in countries like Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and Somalia. Following Australia’s agreement with Cambodia, signed last month, they have now an option to settle in the South East Asian nation.
But Papua New Guinea, Nauru or Cambodia hardly compare to a developed country and all the opportunities it can provide to people seeking better life. Yet Australia continues to deny them what the UN considers a basic human right.
Banished to Papua New Guinea [BBC - 18/2/15]:
Australia is one of the most popular destinations for asylum seekers escaping their home countries. But Australia doesn’t want them.
Since 2013, the country has toughened its immigration policy. Any asylum seekers trying to reach Australian shores by boat without a visa will either be turned away by the coastguard or put into detention camps in Papua New Guinea.
The plan is then to “re-settle” them in Papua New Guinea.
Farida Sahraei has been in contact with asylum seekers from Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan for the last two years, including those now locked up in a detention centre on a remote island of Papua New Guinea, one of the poorest nations on earth.
She has heard of terrible conditions, of violence and desperation.
So is Australia’s tough immigration policy a way to stop the people smugglers – or a policy which is breaching human rights?
Australian Psychological Society Media Release [12/2/15]:
The Australian Psychological Society (APS) welcomes the long-awaited release of the Australian Human Rights Commission’s report, The Forgotten Children, from its Inquiry into Children in Detention, and looks forward to the Government’s response.
The APS calls for all children in immigration detention to be released immediately, including those on Nauru, which the report makes clear is a particularly harmful environment.
APS President Professor Mike Kyrios says, “The report makes for distressing reading and catalogues the wide variety of psychological harms detention causes children, as well their parents. Detention is no place for children."
“Psychologists will be extremely concerned at the report’s findings, in particular that 34 % of children in detention centres had mental health disorders of sufficient seriousness that if they were living in the Australian community they would require treatment. Less than 2% of children in the Australian community have such high levels of mental ill-health,” he says.
The APS supports the Commission’s recommendation that children currently or previously detained at any time since 1992 have access to government-funded mental health support. This recognises the significant and ongoing adverse mental health consequences of detention
The report’s other findings included:
Children had been in detention in Australia for 14 months on average. Australia is the only country that detains all children upon arrival, and the only one that keeps them there for extended periods.
The parents of children in detention have high rates of mental illness. 30% of adults in detention have moderate to severe mental health conditions and of those adults who report torture and trauma, 38% had Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in 2014. This in turn affects their ability to parent their children.
The APS recognises that some children are being released into the community in the early months of 2015, but understands that children and adults living in detention in Nauru have no date for release and are suffering extreme levels of physical, emotional, psychological and developmental distress.
The APS recommended to the Commission that all children be processed on the Australian mainland and, pending the outcome of their Refugee Assessment Status claims and security clearances, that they be placed in the community where they and their families could live as close to normal lives as possible. In line with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, children have a right to remain with their parents unless contrary to their best interests.
The APS endorses all the recommendations of the AHRC Report. The Government is obliged by its duty of care and Australia’s human rights laws to ensure the rights and health of everyone, but especially children in our care, are respected.
United States, “allies” air strike kills, wounds “dozens of ISIS militants” in Tikrit
On Tuesday, a local source in Salahuddin province said, that dozens of ISIS militants have been either killed or injured in an air strike that targeted their headquarters in eastern Tikrit.
The source informed IraqiNews, “This evening, Iraqi warplanes conducted an air strike against headquarters for the ISIS group in the area of al-Alam, located in eastern Tikrit,” adding that, “The air strike resulted in killing and wounding dozens of elements of the ISIS group.”
“The headquarters were used by the group
militants to hide in, and have contained loads of weapons and explosives,” the
UN finds 22 percent rise in Afghan civilian casualties [Daily Star – 18/2/15]
Afghanistan: 29 “insurgents “killed in Helmand operation [Khaama – 18/2/15]
Nigeria claims over 300 “Boko Haram fighters” killed in town recapture [Daily Star – 18/2/15]
India was forced Wednesday to deny it deliberately blew up a Pakistani fishing boat after video was released showing a coast guard official apparently boasting about ordering the vessel's destruction. ... [Naharnet - 18/2/15]
Myanmar declares martial law in troubled Kokang region [BBC – 17/2/15]
At summit, Obama aims to broaden world approach to extremism [Salon - 18/2/15]:
... As crises boil over in Yemen and Libya, Obama is asking Congress to take a tough vote backing his military plan to defeat IS extremists in Iraq and Syria. But U.S. military action has so far proven the wrong tool to combat a robust social media and propaganda operation whose success at recruiting fighters and jihadists from western communities like Denver and Chicago has been alarmingly impressive.
With that threat in mind, Obama is hoping to concentrate the world’s focus on the need to combat the underlying ideologies that entice otherwise modern individuals — including many disaffected youth — to behead a non-believer, kidnap a schoolgirl or shoot up a synagogue. During the three-day conference, Obama is working to highlight local models for preventing radicalization that could be replicated in other communities.
An appeals court in Saudi Arabia has upheld a 15-year jail term for a human rights lawyer who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, a watchdog said Wednesday. ... [Naharnet - 18/2/15]
Kuwait's lower court on Wednesday upheld a government decision to
shut leading newspaper Al-Watan which has been highly critical of the
government, a lawyer for the paper said. ... [Naharnet
Obama's defense secretary nominee faces Congress
President Barack Obama's pick to become the next Defense secretary said Wednesday that he's likely to support a push to provide arms to Ukraine's military.
Ashton Carter told the Senate Armed Services Committee during his confirmation hearing that he's "very much inclined" to support giving "lethal" arms -- which could include anti-tank and anti-air systems -- to Ukraine to combat pro-Russian rebels.
"We need to support Ukraine in defending themselves," Carter said.
His comments come amid reports that the White House is considering shifting its approach to the crisis in Ukraine by providing more arms to the government there -- at the risk of escalating a conflict with Russia.
Carter fielded questions from the committee about a broad range of foreign policy challenges, with Republican chairman Sen. John McCain of Arizona, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and others grilling him on ISIS, U.S. troop withdrawal plans in Afghanistan, the influence of Iran in the Middle East and more.
His confirmation -- much like one for Obama's pick for attorney general, Loretta Lynch -- hasn't focused much on Carter's qualifications. He's a former No. 2 official at the Pentagon, well-liked by members of both parties, holds a doctorate degree in physics and has shuffled between the Department of Defense and academia for much of his career.
Instead, senators have turned the hearing into a critique of Obama's policies.
McCain blasted delays in major programs and cost overruns, and said the United States needs to better define its approach to battling ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
"Let there be no doubt: We still do not have a viable strategy to counter ISIL, and if you are not winning in war, you are losing," McCain said.
Graham also laid into the Obama administration for failing to adequately challenge ISIS, which he called a major threat. "They hold a large territory, they're rich, they have a lot of crazy people under their control," Graham said.
He also laid into the sequester, which has axed hundreds of billions of dollars in defense spending -- which gave Carter some common ground with the Republican.
Graham asked Carter if he could explain "why in the hell would the Congress be devastating the military budget?"
Carter responded: "No, I can't," and added that he's "against the sequester."
Democratic Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Claire McCaskill of Missouri prodded Carter about sexual assaults in the military -- including recent Pentagon reports that have indicated many of the victims who report those assaults face retaliation.
Carter didn't commit to any specific changes to Department of Defense policies, but said he appreciates "the heat" lawmakers have brought to the issue.
"This is a crime," Carter said. "And its prevalence suggests we're not doing everything that we can, that we need to do, to root out that crime."
Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) quizzed Carter about Obama's long-standing pledge to close the Guantanamo Bay military prison in Cuba, and extracted a pledge that Carter wouldn't speed up the timetable for transferring or releasing the detainees now held there.
Kiev says troops withdrawn from Debaltsevo, rebels claim military ‘surrender en masse’ [RT – 18/2/15]
US to Allow Export of Armed Drones
Jakarta Globe [18/2/15]:
The United States said on Tuesday that it will allow for the first time the widespread export of armed drones to some allied countries as part of its global counterterrorism fight.
Armed drones are a cornerstone of Washington’s battle against extremists in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria, Iraq and Yemen, although they remain hugely controversial and opponents say they frequently kill or maim civilians.
“The United States is the world’s technological leader in the development and deployment of military Unmanned Aerial Systems [UAS, or drones],” the State Department said in a statement.
“As other nations begin to employ military UAS more regularly and as the nascent commercial UAS market emerges, the United States has a responsibility to ensure that sales, transfers, and subsequent use of all US-origin UAS are responsible and consistent with US national security and foreign policy interests, including economic security, as well as with US values and international standards.”
The statement did not say which countries would be customers, but several allies are eager to get their hands on the hardware, with The Washington Post citing Italy, Turkey and the Persian Gulf.
So far, the United States has sold its armed drones only to close ally Britain, the newspaper said.
“The technology is here to stay,” a senior State Department official told the Post. “It’s to our benefit to have certain allies and partners equipped appropriately.”
Unarmed military drones, used primarily for intelligence, have been sold to a larger number of countries, including NATO allies, the Post said.
Israeli drone maker Elbit targeted as UK activists close second factory [Electronic Intifida - 17/2/15]
Man allegedly stabs two people at Detroit bus stop after asking if they were Muslims
A man allegedly asked two people if they were Muslims before allegedly stabbing them at a suburban Detroit bus stop on Saturday, according to a report from the Detroit Free Press.
One man was stabbed five times and another – who police said tried to intervene – was stabbed in the hand, police said.
The men were treated at the hospital and have since been released.
The alleged attack happened at 10:30 pm on Saturday in Southfield, Michigan, a suburb of Detriot, and police arrested Terrence Lavaron Thomas shortly after.
Mr Thomas allegedly was carrying two knives and some marijuana, and told police he was a Muslim.
Mr Thomas has been charged with two counts of assault with intent to murder, one count of carrying a dangerous weapon and one count of possession of a controlled substance, Southfield Police Chief Eric Hawkins told the Free Press.
The magistrate set Mr Thomas’ bond at $1 million.
Police say Mr Thomas was incoherent when they arrested him. He allegedly asked the men if they were Muslim and when they said they were not, he allegedly began attacking one of the men.
The FBI has started an investigation to see whether Mr Thomas committed a hate crime, which would be a federal crime.
The stabbing comes about a week after a man in North Carolina allegedly killed three Muslims, whose parents say it was a hate crime.
Police have said the incident began over a parking dispute and have not said it was a hate crime. The FBI also is investigating that case.
‘Crackdown’ On Hizb ut-Tahrir and Implications upon the Muslim Community and Wider Society
Dear brothers and sisters,
Hizb ut-Tahrir Australia has organised an urgent Press Conference to address Prime Minster Abbott's recent comments regarding bolstering national security measures and a possible "crackdown" on Hizb ut-Tahrir.
This Press Conference is OPEN to members of the public, and we warmly invite the Muslim community to attend insha Allah.
Your presence would be a defiant stand in the face of measures that directly target and demonise Muslims.
Also, witness first hand how the media engages Muslims and contributes to an atmosphere of tension as well as how we should respond.
Please make dua that Allah swt assist us in this effort, as all good comes from Him alone.
Details are as follows:
Date: Thursday, 19th February 2015
Time: 6pm for a 6.30pm start
Location: Level 1, KCA Centre, 925 Canterbury Road, Lakemba NSW 2195
PNG: MVIL recovers K42m from Australia
The National [18/2/15]:
The Motor Vehicle Insurance Limited has recovered about K42 million ($A20m) from an Australian company it had invested in six years ago.
Independent Public Business Corporation managing director Wasantha Kumarasiri said Woodlawn Capital Pty Limited was ordered by the Australian Supreme Court to repay the money invested in Woodlawn by the previous management of MVIL.
It had transferred K96 million (about $A43m) to Woodlawn to invest and manage the fund “with the aim of growing the fund over time”.
Kumarasiri said the recovery of the money was a victory for the people of PNG.
“This is the latest outcome in the long-running court case between the parties who are battling over $A26 million (about K53m) still held in bank accounts managed by Woodlawn,” he said in a statement.
The accounts had been frozen by the court since March 20, 2012.
He said the initial transaction was the subject of a challenge in the PNG National Court and Supreme Court by the corporation.
“In relation to the matter in Australia, the IPBC board has approved legal action against those responsible for the losses incurred in the transaction and the establishment of the fund,” he said.
Woodlawn transferred the K42 million to the Gadens Lawyers Trust Account in PNG last December.
The law firm had provided legal representation for MVIL in the matter since 2011.
PNG Minister for Public Enterprise and State Investment: Clean, safe drinking water not available to all Papua New Guineans [EMTV – 17/2/15]:
Water is in abundance but accessibility to clean and safe drinking water is not available to all Papua New Guineans.
Minister for Public Enterprise and State Investment Ben Micah told parliament today that 90 per cent of Papua New Guineans do not have access to clean drinking water.
Mr Micah was responding to questions raised in parliament by Member for Nawae, Gisuat Siniwin, on the plight of his people living in settlements in Lae City.
Siniwin was concerned that people living in Nawae settlements in Lae City have been deprived of these essential needs.
“My people are still drinking unclean water from drums,” he says.
Minister Micah said government agencies are working to ensure all citizens receive clean drinking water.
“It may be a challenge for Eda Ranu in the nation’s capital and Water PNG in other centres to deliver clean and safe drinking water.”
Funding must be made available from the DSIP and PSIP to initiate water projects in areas in the country, Micah says.
Today at the National Press Club, Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson blurted libertarian BULLCRAP spinning the destruction of native title via the spruiking of "property rights".
West Australian [16/2/15]:
Aboriginal patients who sought life-saving treatment in Perth including dialysis and chemotherapy have died from inadequate support, a parliamentary inquiry has heard.
The patients were part of the state government's Patient Assistance Transport Scheme (PATS), which helps people who must travel long distances for specialist health care to pay for their accommodation and transport.
Nyoongar Patrol Outreach Service chief executive Maria McAtackney said while PATS provided essential help for regional people, some were falling through the cracks because of the lack of support they received once they arrived in Perth.
Ms McAtackney said the $60 a night patients received for accommodation was not enough to find a safe place to stay.
Hostels that are available for PATS patients like Jewel House have strict drinking policies and patients with substance abuse problems get evicted and end up homeless, she said.
Ms McAtackney said there was no system in place to assist transient patients back to hospital and those sleeping rough often stopped treatment and didn't return to their community.
At least 40 Aboriginal patients a year were experiencing this situation, she said.
"They're squatting in vacant buildings - they're not going for their dialysis," Ms McAtackney told the inquiry on Monday.
"We've even had deaths in the park as a result of people who have been evicted from their accommodation."
Ms McAtackney said transport was a major issue for patients in Perth because they did not know how the system worked and the transport allowance often did not cover the full cost of journeys.
She said patients also lacked emotional support because they were disconnected from their land and travelled alone.
In cases where patients travel with a carer, it's usually a family member who is battling with their own issues and ends up abandoning the patient.
The inquiry will deliver its findings this year.
Men acquitted of Gold Coast high-rise murder
Nine MSN [18/2/15]:
Two men have been acquitted of murdering a Gold Coast man who plunged to his death from a high-rise apartment in 2012.
A Brisbane Supreme Court jury has found Christopher Cairns and Dion Pydde not guilty of murdering 29-year-old Tumara Cousins at Surfers Paradise in May 2012.
Both men were also found not guilty of manslaughter.
The trial heard Cairns, 27, and Pydde, 29, had visited Mr Cousins at his high-rise unit intending to buy a large quantity of methylamphetamine.
Prosecutors said Cairns and Pydde assaulted Mr Cousins and threatened him with a gun, causing Mr Cousins to fall to his death while trying to escape.
However defence lawyers said it couldn't be proven that Cairns and Pydde were in Mr Cousins' unit when he fell.
The jury returned the verdicts on Wednesday afternoon, after deliberating for just over nine hours.
A charter boat captain has defended the decision to restrain a violent passenger with zip ties in a citizen's arrest that turned deadly.
Father-of-three Amit Kumar lost consciousness and was unable to be resuscitated after being held down by five people during an altercation in a Mooloolaba car park in September 2012. … [Nine MSN – 18/2/15]
Woman held captive for three weeks
Nine MSN [18/2/15]:
A man accused of keeping his ex-girlfriend captive for three weeks in Sydney has pleaded not guilty in court.
The 46-year-old man has been charged with a string of offences after he allegedly detained and assaulted his former partner in his Canley Vale house in Sydney's west.
The man's lawyer claimed his client had a "nice birthday celebration" for the woman's 50th, which her family attended, on February 11.
Great Grandmother dies following Sydney ‘hit and run’
Nine MSN [18/2/15]:
A woman with 21 grandchildren and 28 great-grandchildren has died after being found seriously injured on a road in Sydney's southwest yesterday.
Jean Harrison was found lying badly injured in Shropshire Street, Miller, just before midday yesterday and police suspect she was the victim of a hit and run.
She had cuts to the back of her neck and on her arm but was unable to tell police how she was injured.
Despite being rushed to Liverpool Hospital for treatment she died early this morning.
Investigators are now calling for assistance to help them establish how Harrison was injured.
Fatal traffic crash, Proserpine
QPS Media [18/2/15]:
Police are investigating a fatal traffic crash that occurred north of Proserpine this afternoon.
Around 12.35pm, a four-wheel-drive and a semi trailer have collided on the Bruce Highway faround 25kms north of Proserpine.
A woman in her 50’s and sole occupant of the four-wheel-drive was pronounced deceased at the scene.
The highway was closed, and is currently opened one lane only.
The Forensic Crash Unit is investigating.
Anyone with information which could assist with this matter should contact Crime Stoppers anonymously via 1800 333 000 or crimestoppers.com.au 24hrs a day.
... Mr Garske [Queensland Trucking Association chief executive Peter Garske] has turned attention to the Queensland Government to build the economy.
He said he also wanted the government to ensure trucks had adequate access to road networks.
"The industry today is hamstrung by inadequate [road] access to multiple combination vehicles, to B-Doubles, to what I call A-Doubles," he said. ... [ABC - 18/2/15]
Woman's car runs her down at Warrnambool car wash
A woman in her 60s suffered head injuries after she was run down by her own vehicle at a Warrnambool car wash on Wednesday morning.
A couple was vacuuming their maroon Ford Laser sedan just after noon when the vehicle, which was still running, was inadvertently put in reverse.
The woman was smashed by the passenger door as the car careered backwards, knocking down a steel post in the car wash garden before crashing through a brick fence and finishing at the neighbouring motel office door.
Warrnambool police Sergeant Dale Barclay said the couple was vacuuming the vehicle at the business, just east of the intersection of Raglan Parade and Jamieson Street, when the car was knocked into gear and spun around in a semi-circle.
"The woman was flicked back by the door and has suffered head injuries," he said.
Witness Rebecca Medley said she was walking down the street when she saw the vehicle crash through the brick fence.
"It was a bit surprising. I hope the woman is all right. She wasn't moving much," she said.
Down Town Motel owner Anthony Purcell said he and his wife Glynis were out the front of the motel only minutes before the accident as staff knocked off work.
"Then we were out the back when I heard this almighty bang. I thought the bins must have been getting emptied," he he said.
Ambulance officers and police arrived on the scene after and the woman was taken to hospital.
A driver and his teenage passenger have been charged after allegedly leading police on a high speed chase through Perth's southern suburbs. ... [West Australian – 18/2/15]
Attempted armed robbery, Durack
QPS Media [18/2/15]:
Police are investigating the attempted armed robbery of a man in Durack today.
Initial inquiries indicate at about 1pm, a man approached another man at a bus stop on Durella Street.
The man threatened the second man with a knife while making demands for his mobile phone but he kicked the potential thief and managed to run away.
Officers would like to speak to a man described as of Pacific Islander descent, approximately 185 centimetres tall with light brown hair, who may be able to assist with investigations.
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.
QPS Media [17/2/15]:
Police have released an image of a man who may be able to assist them with their enquiries, following the robbery of a fast food business in Strathpine early this evening.
At around 6.00pm a man entered the business on the corner of Gympie Road and Bells Pocket Road, producing a white-coloured bag and demanding money from a female employee.
The woman complied with the man who then left the premises on foot with a sum of cash.
The man is described as being Caucasian in appearance, aged in his mid-20s or early 30s, approximately 170cms tall, of solid build with a goatee.
He was last seen wearing a black singlet, black shorts, a white baseball cap with sunglasses and white running shoes.
Investigations are continuing.
Anyone with information which could assist with this matter should contact Crime Stoppers anonymously via 1800 333 000 or crimestoppers.com.au 24hrs a day.
Public servant accused of licence fraud
A former public servant is facing 62 charges of corruption after allegedly fraudulently issuing and upgrading Queensland drivers' licences.
The 33-year-old woman from Upper Coomera was employed as a casual customer service officer at the Department of Transport and Main Roads between November 2012 and December 2013 when she allegedly carried out the fraudulent transactions.
The Crime and Corruption Commission alleges the woman, who was the key target of their 12-month investigation, was paid between $150 and $1500 for each licence or upgrade she provided.
The CCC is also alleging that the woman tried to encourage colleagues to become involved with the fraud.
She will appear in the Southport Magistrates Court on March 11.
Two other people have already been arrested for their alleged involvement in the scheme, with a further 42 people charged over allegedly paying for the fraudulently issued licences.
The CCC says it expects to lay further charges in the coming weeks.
Drug investigation, Clear Mountain [QPS Media – 18/2/15]
Anti rights arrests, Aspley [QPS Media - 17/2/15]
Liverpool Plains farmers call for Barnaby Joyce to intervene on Shenhua coalmine
Northern Daily Leader [17/2/15]:
Liverpool Plains farmers are calling for Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce to use his clout and convince the federal government to stop the Shenhua Watermark coalmine.
About 40 farmers and supporters gathered outside the New England MP's office in Tamworth on Tuesday morning to express their opposition to the project.
Mr Joyce was not at the office at the time of the protest, but a member of his staff took receipt of a letter outlining the farming community's concerns on his behalf.
The group's spokesman Hugh Price said Mr Joyce must ensure Environment Minister Greg Hunt rejects the mine under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC).
"We are here today to make sure that federal cabinet and Mr Joyce prevent this mine from irreparably damaging the Liverpool Plains and the productive aquifers underneath it," he said.
Only an unfavourable ruling under the EPBC Act will prevent Shenhua from forging ahead with the $1 billion mine after the independent NSW Planning Assessment Commission approved it last month.
Mystery chemical triggers massive fish kill in Georges River [Sydney Morning
Herald – 18/2/15]
Lyssavirus bat infections: Spike in sick and dying bats sparks health concerns in Broome [ABC - 18/2/15]
QNU’s response to the ALP’s 'Refresh Nursing' policy announcement
Queensland Nurses Union Media Release [27/1/15]:
We welcome any announcement that brings attention to this incredibly important issue. There is such a different approach towards new graduate employment from each Hospital and Health Service, and a greater focus on central coordination and funding is required to ensure a consistent approach across Queensland.
Far too many new graduates are still finding it extremely difficult to find employment. Many are employed in temporary positions for a few shifts per week. They are a precious resource and need to be viewed as this, not a budget liability.
The QNU has been very aware for some time of this totally unacceptable situation regarding new graduate employment, and has been actively campaigning for appropriate attention to be given to new graduate unemployment and under-employment.
Although this announcement is welcomed, there is more work to be done. We believe a comprehensive workforce plan must be developed to assist graduates with securing permanent employment, not just contracts. New graduates aren’t a short-term cost but a long-term commitment to the health system.
We also need a workforce plan that focuses on retaining our existing nurses and midwives – those who are more experienced and have higher skill levels, and who can support and mentor those entering the health profession for the first time. It’s critical that we have a health system that has the right skill mix levels, and combines experience with the newly educated.
Australian sadists who sleep like babies: ... Even when he held my hand a lady said to us, 'No contact'. ...
Hunger-striking asylum seekers in Darwin told by Department of Immigration staff they will be transferred to Nauru or PNG [ABC - 18/2/15]:
... Adam, which is not his real name, worked in a meat factory for the two years he lived in Melbourne.
"He paid taxes, he had no problems, he had friends and me. He's a very nice guy", his partner Elli said.
Elli last spoke to Adam, who remains on hunger strike at Wickham Point, two days ago.
"He said Immigration told another guy there, it is possible they will send him to Nauru or Manus Island if he doesn't agree to go back to Iran," she said.
Elli flew to Darwin three weeks ago to visit Adam in Wickham Point.
"I saw him four hours in the morning, then five hours in the afternoon," she said.
"It was very hard. Even when he held my hand a lady said to us, 'No contact'.
"I argued with that lady that it was too hard. I said, 'why do you embarrass me like this?' She said, 'this is the Immigration policy, I can't do anything for you'.
"There are not any choices for us."
Vigil to end the Death Penalty in Indonesia – 6 PM 18th Feb, King George Square - Brisbane [Australians Against Capital Punishment]
Adelaide lawyers stand against death penalty, and support Bali 9 condemned ...
Image: @TimNoonan7 - journalist - Channel 7 [18/2/15]
Ballarat lawyers will be among thousands attending a mercy vigil in Melbourne on Wednesday, urging Indonesian president Joko Widodo to show Bali nine pair Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran clemency. ... [Courier - 18/2/15]
Technical glitch, mental illness delay executions [Jakarta Post - 18/2/15]:
The Attorney General’s Office (AGO) has decided to briefly postpone the execution of an entire group of 11 convicts on the notorious and remote prison island of Nusakambangan in Central Java due to a lack of infrastructure and a need to confirm reports that one death-row convict is mentally ill.
AGO spokesman Tony Spontana said on Tuesday that Nusakambangan prison-island management had informed the agency that its isolation chamber could not accommodate more than five death-row convicts.
“The prison management will need time to expand the capacity of the isolation chamber. That’s why we’ve delayed the transfer of the death-row convicts to Nusakambangan from this week to probably next week,” said Tony.
“But regardless of the infrastructure problem, the executions will be carried within this month,” he said.
Tony also explained that there was a request from the management that the prisoner transfer to Nusakambangan take place no later than three days prior to the execution date.
The AGO has listed 11 prisoners for the upcoming batch of executions.
They include Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, Brazilian Rodrigo Gularte, Filipina Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso, Frenchman Serge Areski Atlaoui, Ghanaian Martin Anderson, Nigerian Raheem Agbaje Salami and four Indonesian convicts — Syofial alias Iyen bin Azwar, Zainal Abidin, Sargawi alias Ali bin Sanusi and Harun bin Ajis.
Six inmates from Malawi, Brazil, Nigeria, Vietnam, the Netherlands and Indonesia were executed by firing squad last month for their involvement in drug trafficking.
Despite the looming executions, Tony said that the AGO would need more time to clarify the mental state of Gularte, whom the prison management suspected of being mentally ill, although existing laws do not prohibit the AGO from carrying out the execution of a convict confirmed to be suffering from such an illness.
Tony also said that the funds for the execution had already been disbursed, with the cost for the execution of each convict amounting to around Rp 200 million (US$16,000).
Meanwhile, Vice President Jusuf Kalla said the government had never seriously considered a threat of repercussions expressed by Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop in response to the planned execution of their two citizens.
“We’ve taken into account the suggestions from the Australian government, but we’ve never included their threats in the equation,” said Kalla.
“We cannot make everyone happy. The law has mandated us to carry out the executions,” he said. Abbott has warned about the potential for diplomatic fallout while Bishop has suggested that tourists could boycott Indonesia if Jakarta executed the two Australians.
Despite the warning, tourism businesses in Bali remain upbeat that the boycott campaign will not affect the island as a prime destination for visitors from Down Under.
According to I Gusti Ngurah Rai Suryawijaya of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI) Bali chapter, businesspeople remained optimistic that many Australians would continue to visit the island despite the boycott threat.
“Choosing a vacation destination is an individual right that cannot be controlled by the government. We’re sure that most Australian tourists will still consider Bali their favorite destination, even their second home,” Suryawijaya said.
Learning from the fact that Australian visitors had never been deterred by previous travel advisories and warnings issued by their government, he added, tourism businesses on the island were not worried.
Australia has long been Bali’s largest source of tourists, with 895,069 Australians visiting the island between January and November last year, an increase of 18.7 percent from 754,049 people recorded in the same period of 2013.
“Our government shouldn’t be influenced by the threat and should go ahead with the executions to uphold the rule of law. Drug smuggling is an extraordinary crime that is totally unacceptable,” Suryawijaya noted.
Fiji Times [16/2/15]:
An Indonesian human rights advocate who campaigns to save domestic workers sentenced to death overseas has warned her government its new appetite for executions will backfire.
Jakarta stands accused of gross hypocrisy for paying to free its own citizens from death row abroad, while ignoring pleas from governments on behalf of citizens like Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.
It's possible Indonesia could execute the pair within the week, after dismissing repeated appeals for mercy.
Anis Hidayah, of Migrant Care, advocates for millions of poor Indonesians who work abroad to support their families, who are often exposed to exploitation, abuse and rape.
Migrant Care also helps those who are convicted of crimes and sentenced to death in countries like Malaysia and Saudi Arabia.
Indonesia is ramping up its efforts to assist them, this week announcing they should be given the maximum legal and consular assistance.
But Ms Anis fears all of that is imperilled by Indonesia's recent return to practising the death penalty at home.
Amnesty International has welcomed Fiji's repeal of the death penalty, but a number of other Pacific countries still have the death penalty on their books. ... [Radio Australia - 13/2/15]
Child abuse investigation into Victorian Catholic school
Nine MSN [18/2/15]:
Boys who lived at a regional Victorian Catholic boarding school in the 1970s and 80s say they were sexually abused.
A number of men, aged 11 to 15 at the time, have reported the allegations to Victoria Police's Sano taskforce into historical sexual abuse.
The allegations centre around St Patrick's College in Sale, in eastern Victoria.
Detective Inspector Stephen Dennis has urged anyone who went to, or worked at, the school to come forward if they knew anything.
"We suspect there may be other victims out there who have not come forward," Det Insp Dennis told reporters on Wednesday.
He said the alleged offences happened at the school.
Det Insp Dennis would not confirm the number of alleged offenders or their roles.
"There is certainly offenders who have worked at various places, various schools in the area, and that's something we're keen to explore," he said.
Det Insp Dennis said the complaint was made in the past 12 months.
When asked if the suspects were still alive, he said: "It's a live investigation."
Det Insp Dennis said childhood sexual abuse affected people in different ways.
"It is a very difficult situation for people who were victims, but we'd certainly encourage them to come forward," he said.
Detectives from the Sano taskforce will be in Sale this week to investigate.
Australia's Prime Minister visits Bravehearts on the Gold Coast to use child abuse as an excuse for mass surveillance
Prime Minister Minister Tony Abbott has met with child safety advocate and Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnson on the Gold Coast this morning, to discuss to governments metadata retention legislation.
The pair held a brief meeting, along with local MP Stuart Robert and members of the Australian Federal Police, to discuss the importance the laws may have in protecting children.
While originally brought in as part of the government’s crackdown on terrorism, both Mr Abbott and Ms Johnson are hopeful the new legislation will also help to pedophiles and child abuse.
The new powers will force telecommunications companies to store metadata for two years.
“The cost of losing this data is an explosion in unsolved crime,” Mr Abbott told reporters.
Mr Abbott insisted the changes will help authorities track terrorists, corporate fraudsters and pedophiles.
The highest cost estimate of retaining the data was only one per cent of the $40 billion telecommunications sector, Mr Abbott said.
“It seems like a small price to pay to give ourselves safety and freedom,” he said.
Hetty Johnston said data retention was a “no-brainer” to help authorities find children being harmed and offenders.
Labor has not confirmed whether it supports the bill and has raised concerns about cost to telcos and the public, and implications for press freedom.
... MATT WORDSWORTH: And of course you came into contact with Tim Carmody's work through his inquiry into child sexual abuse. What was your impression of him from that?
HETTY JOHNSTON: I've known Tim Carmody since the late 1998 or so when he did Project Axis, when he was the Crime Commissioner. He and I worked together on an inquiry that looked at child sex offences and I've been in touch with him on and off through the years. I think he's an exceptionally intelligent man, highly ethical. He's a real problem solver. He's not quick to a decision, he's very considered and I trust him. I trust that he makes I don't always get the answer I want from Tim over the years. I don't get what I, you know, what I want to hear sometimes but I know that whatever I get from Tim Carmody is honest and it's true and well considered and so I think that's all we can expect. That's all we, you know, we look for that in everybody that we have to deal with.
MATT WORDSWORTH: Now, he was on the Family Court before this, he was a justice there. You've got some issues with the Family Court at the moment. What are you doing?
HETTY JOHNSTON: Look, we've received some funding, private funding to actually have a look at the Family Court and do a study so we're asking people to contact us if they have had a complaint around child sexual assault that's been brought to the attention of the family law court and they've been unhappy with the outcome. Over the many, many years, 18 years that I've been doing this work at Bravehearts, there's been many occasions when we've had allegations of judges or courts sending children to live with registered sex offenders and so it goes on. I mean these decisions are being made, some of these decisions are absolutely horrific and in terms of child protection the Family Law Court and other courts that deal with children are probably some of the most dangerous decisions being made in this country around the protection of children, particularly in relation to child sexual assault. So it's definitely on our radar. We were very disappointed when the Royal Commission didn't include it and we can't let this opportunity go. We've got a country for the first time we're looking at this issue in depth, we're looking at it and it's just terrific and to leave this out would be a real shame. So there's not much we can do about that but what we can do is that we can collect these stories from these people, these people now adults who were children and sent to live in unpleasant and very dangerous situations and some of their parents and we can deliver them to the Royal Commission and to the Prime Minister and that's what we're going to do and also a public de-identified copy.
Children's advocate group Bravehearts can continue its efforts to protect and support some of the State's most vulnerable and at risk children, thanks to a further $2.38 million in funding from the Newman Government.
Child Safety Minister Tracy Davis said Bravehearts would receive $792,492 per annum over three years from 1 January 2013. ... [Minister for Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services Media Release - 1/1/13]
The man accused of killing Goondiwindi mother Alexis Jeffery has had his case adjourned for another two months. ... [Chronicle - 18/2/15]
Sex assault charges against Toowoomba man adjourned [Chronicle – 18/2/15]
An older more senior employee had pressured an under age girl co-worker to perform a sex act with him in the workplace, it was claimed in Toowoomba District Court yesterday. ... [Chronicle - 17/2/15]
Police don't shoot a man during standoff at Australia Fair, Gold Coast
A two hour standoff between police and a distressed man who locked himself in a bathroom at a Gold Coast shopping centre and claimed to be armed with a pistol has ended peacefully.
Police swooped on the Australia Fair Shopping Centre at Southport shortly after 8pm on Tuesday after a man reportedly locked himself inside a toilet and threatened to shoot himself.
Officers evacuated the immediate area and managed to isolate the incident to a bathroom.
A negotiator was called in to try and talk the man out of the bathroom and shortly after 10pm, he surrendered without incident.
Fortunately, no one was injured and no weapon was found.
If you’re struggling to cope and need help, call Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14.
An elderley man has been taken to hospital after his car crashed into a shopfront on the Gold Coast.
The small white car smashed into a wall at the Runaway Bay Shopping Centre about 11am.
A man believed to have been the driver of the vehicle suffered only minor injuries. ... [MYGC - 18/2/15]
Popular Dreamworld ride closed due to safety concerns [MYGC - 18/2/15]
Stanthorpe State Primary cleaner bashed in violent early morning attack [Chronicle - 17/2/15]
Armed robbery, Camp Hill [QPS Media - 17/2/15]
Update: Deprivation of liberty and torture, Bundaberg [QPS Media - 17/2/15]
Assault and attempted robbery charges, Mermaid Beach [QPS Media - 16/2/15]
Detectives arrest men after tourist bag snatch, Helensvale [QPS Media - 16/2/15]
Rail workers plan 24-hour stoppage
Gladstoone Observer [18/2/15]:
Aurizon rail workers will hold a 24-hour stoppage on Friday in Bluff (near Blackwater), Stanwell, Callemondah (Gladstone) and Pring (near Bowen) depots.
Two more stoppages will take place on February 23 in Jilalan, near Sarina, and Coppabella, west of Mackay, depots.
Rail Tram and Bus Union Queensland state secretary Owen Doogan said the workers were campaigning for a fair deal from the company.
In the event of something happening to me,
There is something I would like you all to see.
It's just a photograph of someone that I knew.
Have you seen my wife, Mr. Jones?
Do you know what it's like on the outside?
Don't go talking too loud, you'll cause a landslide, Mr. Jones. ...
'New York Mining Disaster 1941', Bee Gees 
Miner's widow: 'Families suffer for the rest of their lives' [Daily Mercury - 17/2/15]:
Pam MacDonald, whose husband was killed after a tyre exploded at a mine site, is shocked by the death of another mine worker under similar circumstances.
One man died after a tyre exploded at the Dawson mine, 30km south-east of Moura, about 4.30am.
Another man, believed to be 21, was airlifted to a Brisbane hospital with fractures to the shoulder and upper-arm.
"I can understand how his family is feeling, the pain that they must be going through at this moment," Mrs MacDonald said.
Wayne MacDonald was killed by the air blast of a 22.5 inch truck tyre he'd just finished changing when it exploded as the vehicle was lowered to the ground on December 18, 2010 at Anglo American's Foxleigh mine.
Mrs MacDonald's thoughts went out to the families of the workers killed and seriously injured yesterday morning at Dawson Coal Mine, also owned by Anglo American, just outside Moura.
Last year Coroner David O'Connell made a number of recommendations after an inquest into Mr MacDonald's death.
Mrs MacDonald said she was frustrated and emotional that there had been another incident.
"It's been four years since my husband's accident. It never goes away. And each time there's fatalities in the mine, I relive it all over again," she said.
"Families suffer for the rest of their lives."
CFMEU Mining Division Queensland president Stephen Smyth yesterday called for a thorough investigation into the number of deaths at Anglo American mines in Central Queensland after a third fatality in the last 12 months occurred yesterday.
Mr Smyth said there had been a pattern of tyre-related incidents at Anglo American open cut coal mines.
Yesterday's tragedy was the third fatal tyre-related incident for the company in the past few years, he said.
Beyond Blue has still not condemned Jeff Kennett's irresponsible, hateful tweets about refugee children.
Today the Murdoch Press has given him a forum.
Refugee Action Collective Queensland to Beyond Blue [17/2/15]: A formal retraction of your director's victim shaming in regards to children held in immigration detention is needed urgently.
Blue Ribbon donates to Beyond Blue [QPS Media - 17/2/15]:
At a ceremony in Brisbane today, Commissioner Ian Stewart presented a cheque for $9,000.00 to Beyond Blue Chairman Mr Jeff Kennett.
During 2014, as part of National Police Remembrance Day commemorations, the Queensland Police Service Blue Ribbon Committee agreed that a portion of the proceeds of donations from the annual distribution of blue ribbons would be donated to Beyond Blue.
Appointment of Julia Gillard to Beyond Blue [Minister for Health Media Release - 18/12/14]
Joint statement by Australian organisations and community groups [Uniting Justice - 13/2/15]:
After the Commission’s 2004 report into the detention of children, the Australian Government pledged that children would be detained only as a last resort.
As the Commission’s new report clearly shows, such non-binding political promises are meaningless.
We urge the Australian Parliament to:
1. Introduce legislation to prevent children from being detained for immigration purposes in the future.
2. End the offshore processing of asylum claims and return all asylum seekers currently subject to offshore processing to Australia, prioritising children and their families.
3. Refer allegations of child sexual abuse in Australian-funded detention centres to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
As the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has ruled, “the detention of a child because of their or their parent’s migration status constitutes a child rights violation and always contravenes the principle of the best interests of the child.”
So long as Australia continues to detain children as a measure of first rather than last resort; so long as our laws fail to protect children against prolonged indefinite detention; so long as any child remains in detention as a result of Australia’s actions, we will be failing in our duty to protect the best interests of children in our care.
1000s of Canberra phone lines to be disconnected as Telstra tells old farts to take some personal responsibility. [Canberra Times - 18/2/15]
Senate Inquiry into Queensland Government: Third public hearing to be held in Toowoomba on Thursday
Palmer United Party Media Release [18/2/15]:
Palmer United Senator for Queensland and Leader of Palmer United in the Senate, Glenn Lazarus, today released information regarding the third of several public hearings to be held in 2015 for the Senate Inquiry into aspects of the Queensland Government Administration. Senator Lazarus is the Chairman of the Senate Inquiry and the spokesperson for the Inquiry Committee.
“Despite the change of Government in Queensland, the Senate Inquiry is still moving forward and will continue to deal with hundreds of submissions which have been received from people and organizations across Queensland,” Senator Glenn Lazarus said.
“The Senate Inquiry is giving Queenslanders a voice and the opportunity to have their issues heard under Parliamentary Privilege.
“It is imperative that every submission is considered and people are heard.
“Many submissions allege corruption and poor and questionable decision making by the Newman Government, which has hurt everyday Queenslanders.
“These issues need to be ventilated so they can be addressed.
“It is more important than ever, now the Newman Government has been voted out, that the new Labor Government is made aware of these issues so they can be fixed.
“The issues being uncovered by the Senate Inquiry are shedding light on the questionable actions of the Newman Government and will assist the incoming Government to put in place measures to prevent these types of issues ever happening again.
“To date, a number of public hearings have already been held. Further hearings have been scheduled for 2015 including a public hearing in Toowoomba.
“The Inquiry forums are public forums and members of the community are able to attend.
“Members of the community and organizations who have lodged submissions as well as others who have expressed a desire to raise issues at public hearings have been invited to participate in the public hearing on Thursday.
“Thursday’s hearing in Toowoomba will cover environmental, human rights and legal issues and issues surrounding Queensland Government decision making in relation to major projects.
“I strongly urge all media to attend to cover the hearing also.
“Further information regarding the Senate Inquiry can be found at www.aph.gov.au/qga.”
Date: Thursday 19 February 2015
Time: 9am – 5.00pm
Tabletop Room, Picnic Point Toowoomba
164 Tourist Drive
Toowoomba, QLD 4350
Hepatitis A Outbreak Shows Need for Better Food Labelling: Clive Palmer [Media Release – 18/2/15]
The coroner has found nothing suspicious about the deaths of two residents at a Queensland nursing home at the centre of an abuse probe.
The Office of the State Coroner said that over the past year it received reports about two deaths at the Kepnock Grove home at Bundaberg, which is run by Carinity Baptist Community Services.
But the coroner's office has told the ABC both deaths were from natural causes, and there was no evidence of wrongdoing. … [Yahoo – 18/2/15]
Woodside Petroleum has all but shelved the Sunrise LNG project because of the stalemate between the Australian and East Timorse governments on regulatory and fiscal regimes covering the massive gas-liquids field.
The WA-based oil and gas producer also announced plans this morning to cut 320 jobs this year. ... [West Australian - 18/2/15]
The captain of a Chinese coal ship has been fined several thousand dollars, after entering a no go zone in the Great Barrier Reef without a pilot on board. ... [ABC - 18/2/15]
Darrell Lea workers win sweet victory over redundancy payments [ABC – 18/2/15]
The husband of missing Gold Coast woman Novy Chardon has appealed against his conviction for child sex offences dating back to the 1990s. ... [ABC - 18/2/15]
Despair of the women inside Western Australia's most overcrowded prison [Guardian - 17/2/15]:
... He said many women in Bandyup were not dangerous and would not be there were it not for the state’s tough-on-crime laws.
Guardian Australia has been told of one woman, a homeless amputee, who was charged with assaulting the police officer called to “calm her down” after someone let down the tyres of her wheelchair. Under WA law she was sentenced to a mandatory 12 months in jail for assaulting a public officer.
A police officer installed a tracking device on a woman's car illegally to detail her movements, a magistrates court in Perth has been told. ... [ABC - 17/2/15]
Tributes have flowed for Ernest Henry Mine worker Jason Braid, remembered as a proud rugby league fan and father of two children.
The 46-year-old died on Friday, it is believed a blood clot formed while he was in the rehabilitation stage of his recovery from an underground incident at the Glencore-operated Cloncurry mine.
The Cairns-based FIFO worker was involved in the mining incident on February 1 at Ernest Henry Mine. … [North West Star – 17/2/15]
Melbourne woman hit and killed by garbage truck [Yahoo – 17/2/15]:
... Earlier a man died after being hit by a west-bound truck on Geelong Road at Brooklyn at 1.45am.
The deaths take the state's road toll to 42, three more than the same time last year.
No Time for Games in Europe
New York Times [16/2/15]:
I am writing this piece on the margins of a crucial negotiation with my country’s creditors — a negotiation the result of which may mark a generation, and even prove a turning point for Europe’s unfolding experiment with monetary union.
Game theorists analyze negotiations as if they were split-a-pie games involving selfish players. Because I spent many years during my previous life as an academic researching game theory, some commentators rushed to presume that as Greece’s new finance minister I was busily devising bluffs, stratagems and outside options, struggling to improve upon a weak hand.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
If anything, my game-theory background convinced me that it would be pure folly to think of the current deliberations between Greece and our partners as a bargaining game to be won or lost via bluffs and tactical subterfuge.
The trouble with game theory, as I used to tell my students, is that it takes for granted the players’ motives. In poker or blackjack this assumption is unproblematic. But in the current deliberations between our European partners and Greece’s new government, the whole point is to forge new motives.
To fashion a fresh mind-set that transcends national divides, dissolves the creditor-debtor distinction in favor of a pan-European perspective, and places the common European good above petty politics, dogma that proves toxic if universalized, and an us-versus-them mind-set.
As finance minister of a small, fiscally stressed nation lacking its own central bank and seen by many of our partners as a problem debtor, I am convinced that we have one option only: to shun any temptation to treat this pivotal moment as an experiment in strategizing and, instead, to present honestly the facts concerning Greece’s social economy, table our proposals for regrowing Greece, explain why these are in Europe’s interest, and reveal the red lines beyond which logic and duty prevent us from going.
The great difference between this government and previous Greek governments is twofold: We are determined to clash with mighty vested interests in order to reboot Greece and gain our partners’ trust. We are also determined not to be treated as a debt colony that should suffer what it must. The principle of the greatest austerity for the most depressed economy would be quaint if it did not cause so much unnecessary suffering.
I am often asked: What if the only way you can secure funding is to cross your red lines and accept measures that you consider to be part of the problem, rather than of its solution? Faithful to the principle that I have no right to bluff, my answer is: The lines that we have presented as red will not be crossed. Otherwise, they would not be truly red, but merely a bluff.
But what if this brings your people much pain? I am asked. Surely you must be bluffing.
The problem with this line of argument is that it presumes, along with game theory, that we live in a tyranny of consequences. That there are no circumstances when we must do what is right not as a strategy but simply because it is right.
Against such cynicism the new Greek government will innovate. We shall desist, whatever the consequences, from deals that are wrong for Greece and wrong for Europe. The “extend and pretend” game that began after Greece’s public debt became unserviceable in 2010 will end. No more loans — not until we have a credible plan for growing the economy in order to repay those loans, help the middle class get back on its feet and address the hideous humanitarian crisis. No more “reform” programs that target poor pensioners and family-owned pharmacies while leaving large-scale corruption untouched.
Our government is not asking our partners for a way out of repaying our debts. We are asking for a few months of financial stability that will allow us to embark upon the task of reforms that the broad Greek population can own and support, so we can bring back growth and end our inability to pay our dues.
One may think that this retreat from game theory is motivated by some radical-left agenda. Not so. The major influence here is Immanuel Kant, the German philosopher who taught us that the rational and the free escape the empire of expediency by doing what is right.
How do we know that our modest policy agenda, which constitutes our red line, is right in Kant’s terms? We know by looking into the eyes of the hungry in the streets of our cities or contemplating our stressed middle class, or considering the interests of hard-working people in every European village and city within our monetary union. After all, Europe will only regain its soul when it regains the people’s trust by putting their interests center-stage.
Yanis Varoufakis is the finance minister of Greece.
Rebekah Brooks’s Promises to PCC over Sun’s cash payments “were never implemented” – court hears
Hacking Inquiry [17/2/15]:
Reforms to the Sun’s system of cash payments pledged to the Press Complaints Commission by Rebekah Brooks “were never implemented,” the deputy editor of the newspaper has said.
Geoffrey Webster, who is standing trial over allegations of corrupt payments to public officials, was shown the 2009 letter, from Brooks to the then PCC head Baroness Buscombe in which it was said “new protocols” had been put in place at all News International publications.
Webster told the court he had never seen the letter before, adding “we were never asked to carry out these actions.”
The deputy editor, who has been suspended since his arrest in 2012, told the jury that “all kinds of people” would be paid by the Sun for information, including “politicians who wanted something placed in the paper”.
He told the court there could be a “social stigma” for being known as someone who had tipped off a newspaper so people “from all walks of life” would ask for cash payments.
Cash payments, the court was told, were so common that News International had held discussions with the Inland Revenue which led to an arrangement where the media company was paying 23% tax on each one.
He also told the jury that there were no guidelines, written or otherwise, about who it was legal to pay for information at the Sun or at any other newspaper he had worked at.
Earlier the court was read an interview with another defendant, Sun executive editor Fergus Shanahan, conducted by legal firm Linklaters, employed by News International.
During the meeting Shanahan had said that while “You cannot pay the police for stories from time immemorial reporters had gone drinking with police and this was not corrupt just normal contact.”
Appearing in court with Webster and Shanahan are former Sun chief reporter John Kay, royal editor Duncan Larcombe and army officer John Hardy and his wife Claire.
All of the defendants deny all of the charges, the trial continues.
Some Gold Coast beaches closed
Rough conditions have forced the closure of several Gold Coast beaches on Wednesday morning.
Warnings have been issued for severe weather, strong winds, abnormally high tides and dangerous beach conditions.
Chief Lifeguard Warren Young is out there and said the flags have been taken down at beaches from Burleigh to the Seaway.
He has predicted that they will stay closed for all of today, due to the rising swell.
Lifeguard Young said southern beaches were open at last check but that could be revised during the day.
Shark nets have been removed from Gold and Sunshine Coast beaches ahead of forecast wet and wild weather.
As a result of the looming weather event, Manager of Fisheries Queensland Shark Control Program Jeff Krause said a total of ten nets on the Sunshine Coast, Rainbow Beach and the Gold Coast were removed.
“As a precaution, we’re removing nets before they become a potential hazard in the water,” Mr Krause said.
“Gear that is loose in the water can be a danger to swimmers, especially if someone becomes entangled.
“While every effort is made to anchor the gear, high seas caused by strong winds can cause some gear to become adrift.
“If the weather is rough, we encourage people to take advice from the lifesaving service as to whether it is suitable to be swimming at all.”
The nets will be returned to the water when conditions improve.
A second foreign tourist has died in reef waters off Queensland in as many days. ... [Yahoo - 18/2/15]
“Human rights that do not apply to everyone are not human rights at all.”
'Beyond human rights to exercising freedoms': Tim Wilson - Human Rights Commissioner to speak at the National Press Club [18/2/15]
Do you seriously think a government that is getting away with exiling refugees to island death camps will stop there?
Victims of Greek Purges Seek Island Prison Memorial [LA Times – 6/6/1999]:
… Still, a decade after Makronisos was declared a historical monument, little has been done to preserve the place where an estimated 50,000 people were imprisoned between 1947 and 1953.
Those suspected of communist sympathies were confined in six to eight camps on the island, about 30 miles southeast of Athens. Women were segregated in one camp, and teenage prisoners had their own. There also was a traditional prison where some soldiers were kept.
About eight miles long and a mile wide, Makronisos is a short boat ride from the mainland. But strong currents made it dangerous for prisoners to attempt escape.
Hundreds reportedly died as a result of brutality and illness. Former inmates speak of severe beatings, being dunked in the sea until nearly drowned, and intense pressure to denounce communism.
"They made cages of barbed wire like this," said former inmate Dimitris Mouratidis, pointing to a large, tangled bale of rusting wire. "You couldn't stand up in them. Like cages for animals."
About 250 reserve army officers who persistently refused to sign anti-communist declarations were taken to a sunbaked gully, where they lived in tents surrounded by barbed wire, survivors say. Stavros Avdoulos, now 81, spent more than two years in the gully, which was known as "the wire."
"Life here was unbearable, and yet it became our home," Avdoulos said.
The civil war was characterized by atrocities on both sides. But Makronisos is one of the few tangible reminders of the political persecution that continued long after the war. It was only in 1989 that the government finally destroyed files kept on Greeks considered "a threat to the state."
A Greek leftist holds two red flags as he walks toward a memorial erected at the site of a former prison camp on the Greek island of Makronisos on May 25, 2008, where over 100,000 suspected Communists were incarcerated from 1947-1957 in one of the darkest chapters of modern Greek modern history. The prison camp is in ruins, but hundreds of former inmates come to the island every year to pay homage to Communist comrades who were tortured and died there, many by execution. - AFP PHOTO / Aris Messinis / Getty Images
Outsourcing is best: Australia’s Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson said there was “no cause for governments to kill people". -----> Execution plan gets mixed reactions in Australia, says RI envoy [Jakarta Post - 3/2/15]
We think the price is worth it: $437.562 million is what it costs Australia to deny refugees on Manus Island access to the United Nations, as they shit in a bucket and wait to die.
"We are 58 people, they beat the shit out of all of us" #Manus
Are hunger striking refugees calling for the United Nations, Red Cross and Human Rights Commission "expressing an opinion" Professor Triggs, Commissioner Wilson?
Do they deserve punishment?
Peter Greste release: journalists must be free to criticise [Australian Human Rights Commission Media Release – 2/2/15]:
... “Mr Greste was sentenced to seven years imprisonment for doing his job as a journalist. We welcome his release,” said Commission president, Professor Gillian Triggs.
Human Rights Commissioner, Tim Wilson, said Peter Greste’s experience is a clear reminder of why no one should face jail for expressing opinions or reporting news.
“At the Commission's free speech symposium last year, Peter's brother, Andrew, gave a powerful address about his brother's plight and the situation that resulted in him being jailed,” Commissioner Wilson said.
“When we talk about free speech we often get caught in theory. Peter Greste's situation demonstrates why free speech matters in practice.”
Professor Triggs said freedom of speech is a fundamental pillar of democracy.
“Journalists must be free to report news and criticise governments without fear of punishment,” Professor Triggs said.
Australians and Allies Overseas For Refugees — Belfast, 17 February 2015
@trefusis: Vigil at Australia's Geneva consulate by Aussies & allies against detention #ShutDownManus #LightTheDark #RezaBarati
@pamelacurr: Australians in The Hague standing up for #Reza Berati and all the guys on #Manus
@pamelacurr: Leaving a message for #Australian Embassy tonight in The Hague
Should Tony Abbott Feel Guilty About Child Abuse? Russell Brand The Trews (E258) [VIDEO - 17/2/15]
An Australian's [Kitty Thatcher] Response to Russell Brand on Refugees [VIDEO - 9/2/15]
Open Letter to Russell Brand on Refugees [Australians Overseas For Refugees - 9/2/15]
... It turns out Australians and their friends in New York weren’t the only ones protesting outside of Australia, or the only ones ready to.
The protest you saw in London is one of a wave of international demonstrations held in New York, Cambridge, Leeds, Brussells, Berlin, San Francisco, Boston, Santiago (Chile) and The Hague. With more planned.
We are now are active in 16 cities across four continents. We are Australians and Allies Overseas Against Mandatory Detention.
Russell, there is a media blackout in Australia, not only in our Australian detention Centres, but on mainstream media where whatever happens in the detention centres, is justified based on the bizarre idea that we somehow stop asylum seekers drowning at sea by punishing those that do make it to our shores, thus deterring future refugees.
But the boats haven’t stopped, and nor should they be, because human rights abuses elsewhere hasn’t stopped and they have a right to seek asylum. ...
Dying for a Better Life [Documentary - BBC World Service - to be broadcast on 21 February 2015]:
Asylum seekers dreaming of a new life in Australia are being sent to detention camps in Papua New Guinea. Fariba Sahraei from the BBC's Persian Service travels to the region to investigate the human cost of Australia's controversial "re-settlement" policy.
18 February 2015