"I have lived like an animal for 18 months and didn't realise anything about being human."
A report from Nauru [Rez Nez Film - 18/3/15]
Two male Nauruans wearing masks, one holding a knife and the other holding a stick have attacked a refugee male in front of his accommodation at Anibare.
The refugee male was with a female when they returned to their accommodation in Anibare when he was attacked.
The refugee male was struck with the stick on the back, and then the locals immediately fled.
Nauruan police were called and spoke to the witnesses then took the refugee male to the police station.
@rranwa - Refugee Rights Action Network WA [18/3/15]: On Tues night IHMS had a system failure on #Manus so no one got their medications even regular ones. So a night in unnecessary pain for many
Demand far outstripping availability at women's shelters
Morning Bulletin [18/3/15]
The Rockhampton Women's Shelter can be forced to turn away 30 women a day living in domestic violence situations.
Beverley Schimke, the manager at the women's refuge, said it was common to have to deny women access to the facility due to the unmanageable demand.
"On-site we can take eight families at a time, and we have three off-site safe houses in the community for the larger families," she said.
"We are constantly at capacity. At the moment we turn away around six a day, but it has been up to 30."
The shelter is the only one in the Rockhampton area, and is expected to service as far out as Longreach.
Ms Schimke said the demand forced staff to determine need based on severity.
"It's exactly like triage. We have to make the assessment based on who needs it the most the assessment goes off a number of factors, including number of dependants, severity of abuse and immediate threat to life."
If women and their families can't be placed in the shelter for care they are instead referred to DVConnect, where they are commonly placed in a hotel to await accommodation placement.
DVConnect told Quentin Bryce's "Not Now Not Ever" report into family and domestic violence that it places between 10 and 20 women in hotels on a daily basis.
Of those placed, it reported that up to 37% returned to the abusive relationship.
The analysis detailed in the report concluded that the returns may be due to a "lack of support networks, counselling and referrals" available in hotels in comparison to a specialised support centre.
There have been no new funded refuges in Queensland in the past 20 years.
Recommendation 84 of the report detailed the need for an additional
two 72-hour crisis centres in Brisbane and Townsville.
Gladstone Men's Shed booming with new members
[Gladstone Observer - 18/3/15]:
Gladstone Men's Shed is booming out of its walls, with new members turning up every month to try their hand at woodwork and metalwork.
On Thursday they welcomed delegates from the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, who presented a cheque for $5000 to the shed.
Shed secretary Ron Steen was grateful for the donation, which he said would go towards buying timber and consumables.
The shed's 60 members have made more than 800 items for preschools and kindergartens through a Communities for Children program, including blackboards, xylophones, easels and wooden trays.
The program was funded by GAPDL and is now being followed by $15,000 from the Gladstone Ports Corporation. ...
Gladstone Ports Corporation's pink dozer an eye catcher [Gladstone Observer – 18/3/15]:
... Hastings Deering mining account manager Peter Kluver said the National Breast Cancer Foundation was close to the heart of their organisation because of the invaluable work it did.
"GPC and Hastings Deering hold a strong working relationship and we are happy to paint our equipment pink to achieve better health outcomes and happier lives for everyone working in our allied industries," Mr Kluver said. ...
Pregnant woman shocked as bar refuses to serve her wine [Sunshine Coast Daily - 18/3/15]
Teenage girl stabbed to death in Doncaster park in Melbourne's east
A 17-year-old girl has been stabbed to death in what appears to have been a random attack after walking in a park not far from her home in Doncaster in Melbourne's east.
Police were called to the Koonung Creek Linear Reserve in Stanton Street in Doncaster at 6:50pm on Tuesday after neighbours heard screaming and saw a man fleeing the scene.
Paramedics were called but were unable to revive the girl, who had been stabbed in the upper body.
Detective Inspector Michael Hughes said the park was very close to her home and the girl was wearing headphones when she was attacked.
He said "every indication at this early stage is that it appears to have been a random attack".
"Here we have the death of a young woman going about her business," Detective Inspector Hughes said.
"We should be able to feel safe in the community and Victoria Police is committed to a safe Victoria and we will throw all our resources behind this to ensure the offender is caught."
Detective Inspector Hughes said police were looking for a man in connection with the incident.
We are certainly looking at a suspect who is a 20-year-old male, thin build, wearing dark clothing," he said.
Gold Coast man had cocaine posted from US: court
A Gold Coast man had high-grade cocaine posted to him from the United States almost a dozen times before authorities cottoned on.
Jason Brookes Taylor, 27, received 11 parcels from California containing the drug over 12 months in 2009 and 2010, the Brisbane District Court heard.
The packages were couriered by FedEx to various addresses and labelled as business documents.
But each held about half to one ounce (14-28g) of the white powder, Crown prosecutor Heather Cunningham said.
"In each case the defendant took steps to avoid detection," she said.
"He had the packages addressed to a false name with a false sender, name and address."
The mail-order drug scam was busted however, when Customs officials intercepted a 12th package in June 2010.
Inside they found 29.3g of cocaine, which testing revealed was 63 per cent pure.
Taylor pleaded guilty to 12 counts of importing controlled drugs on Wednesday.
Ms Cunningham said he hadn't on-sold the cocaine but had consumed it himself or given it away to friends and associates.
"He gave some of the cocaine to them at parties and nightclubs because he enjoyed the attention that it brought him," she told the court.
All up, Taylor transferred just under US$50,000 to his associate in the US, paying about $3000 per ounce for the cocaine.
The parcels were sent to various addresses, including Taylor's own house, an adjoining unit, a colleague's house, and a shop where he had an agreement with the owner.
He was placed on a $1000, two-year good behaviour bond by Judge Deborah Richards, who recorded the conviction.
WA Bikie alleges police assault
WA Today [18/3/15]:
A Rebel bikie member who was allegedly hit on the head with a sub-machine gun while lying face down on the floor during a police raid is lodging a complaint against the West Australian officer.
Lawyer Terry Dobson says his client Rodney Texeira, 30, has been allowed to break the club's code of silence because the December incident was captured on a mobile phone.
In the footage, Mr Texeira can be heard saying he's not resisting arrest before police allegedly push him to the ground, hog tie him, taser him in the back and wrap a pillow case around his mouth.
Jury delivers not guilty verdict in GBH trial
Morning Bulletin [18/3/15]:
Yeppoon's Jonathon Peter Grice has been found not guilty of causing grievous bodily harm to Clay Boyd.
The jury delivered its verdict in the Rockhampton District Court this afternoon following a seven-day trial.
Mr Grice, 23, was accused of king hitting Mr Boyd, 22, and fracturing his nose on the night of December 22, 2012, at the Marsden Hotel in Yeppoon.
Defence barrister Ross Lo Monaco argued throughout the trial that Mr Grice never wanted to be involved in a fight that night and that he acted in self-defence.
CCTV footage from the night was played to the court numerous times, showing Mr Grice punching Mr Boyd in the face in the corridor of the hotel just after 1.30am.
Mr Lo Monaco said that an altercation between Mr Boyd and Mr Grice occurred in the bathroom of the hotel hours before the king hit and that self-defence didn't mean you had to be hit first, it could be pre-emptive.
One killed, 3 injured in highway head-on crash
One person has been killed in a two-vehicle head-on crash on the New England Hwy near Stanthorpe.
The crash was reported to emergency services about 7pm.
Three people were injured in the crash.
Both lanes of the New England Hwy just south of Stanthorpe remain closed.
The forensic crash unit is investigating.
Lockyer Valley man killed in crash near Laidley [Chronicle – 18/3/15]:
... This is the second fatal accident and third serious accident to occur on the road in recent years.
A 65-year-old Laidley man was killed after he suffered a medical condition and was involved in a head on collision on November 5 last year.
On October 8, 2013 a 27-year-old woman was airlifted to hospital with serious injuries after her car ran off the road.
Snr Sgt McDonald said although the accidents occurred within a short
period of time, the engineering aspects of the road and environment were not
"On each occasion it was driver error or a medical condition," he said. ...
Paralympian killed in quad bike accident in central-west Queensland
A western Queensland paralympian has been killed in a quad bike incident on a property in the state's central-west.
Police have confirmed 59-year-old Ashley Adams from Blackall died yesterday, about 40 kilometres north-west of the town.
The cattle grazier had represented Australia at several Paralympics and world titles in shooting events.
Senior Sergeant Graham Seabrook said investigations were underway and a report was being prepared for the coroner.
"Police received advice from people on the property there had been an incident involving a quad motorcycle," he said.
"Police attended and confirmed a male person - Ashley Adams - has been involved in an incident on his property where he has fallen from his quad motorcycle and tragically deceased."
Senior Sergeant Seabrook said Mr Adams had been working on his property when he left other workers for another site after 4:45pm.
"He hadn't returned - one of those workers went on to search the property and Mr Adams was located at approximately 6:30pm."
Police attended the property last night and also forensic crash investigators and Workplace Health and Safety were looking into the incident.
Brisbane's Airport Link reopens after fire
Brisbane's Airport Link tunnel has reopened after a fire closed tunnels in both directions ahead of peak hour.
The van caught alight about 3:15pm in the eastbound tunnel about 50 metres from the Kedron exit.
Smoke filled the tunnel and the westbound lanes were also evacuated and closed as a precaution.
Three fire crews controlled the blaze and two people were treated at the scene for smoke inhalation.
Queensland Police said the tunnels reopened just before 6:00pm.
Switch off of copper phone network continues
Daily Mercury [18/3/15]:
The National Broadband Network will begin switching off the copper telephone network for more than 2300 Mackay homes and businesses this weekend.
NBN Co is urging residents and businesses which have not already placed an order for services over the NBN to contact their preferred internet service provider or phone company as soon as possible.
Affected areas include the Mackay city centre from George Street to the Pioneer River and Brisbane Street to the Bruce Highway.
NBN Co spokesperson Matthew Horan said:
"The move to the NBN is not automatic. If the remaining residents and businesses in the affected areas wish to continue using their landline phone and internet services, they need to place an order with their preferred service provider to move these services over to the NBN. They have a choice whether to switch across or to make do with mobile solutions.
"We are committed to ensuring no one gets left behind and are particularly urging people with special equipment including EFTPOS terminals, and medical and security alarms which operate using a landline phone connection to contact their preferred phone company and internet service provider immediately."
You can find out whether you are eligible to connect to services over the NBN as well as more information about the areas scheduled to complete the transition to the NBN by going here.
Food-related deaths and illnesses to no longer be reported to the ACCC [Sydney Morning Herald – 18/3/15]
Large bushfire headed for central Queensland town
Brisbane Times [18/3/15]:
A central Queensland community still recovering from Cyclone Marcia is now being warned to evacuate homes as a large bushfire hurtles their way.
Seven fire crews and aerial support are working to contain the blaze at Waterpark Creek.
However, the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services says the blaze is moving fast in the direction of Byfield, north of Yeppoon and is calling on residents to enact their bushfire plans.
"Residents are advised that if their plan is to relocate or they do not have a plan then they are advised to relocate now," the QFES warning said.
"Leaving well ahead of a fire is the safest option for survival."
The fire is moving in a south-south westerly direction and is expected to spread to Oakey Creek Road, Byfield Road, Yaxleys Road and Castle Rock Road within the next two to four hours.
More fire crews are being dispatched.
Cyclone Marcia: Washed away Kroombit Tops Farmstay near Biloela to permanently close
An award-winning holiday business washed away during Cyclone Marcia will permanently close at the end of the month.
The Kroombit Tops Farmstay near Biloela, in central Queensland, was washed away by a wall of water from the cyclone's heavy rain last month.
Huts were washed from concrete piles and torn apart.
A conference hall was ripped off its stumps and went downstream.
Glenn Churchill from Gladstone Promotion and Development said the farmstay was built with years of hard work and Kroombit's family owners were devastated.
"In Alan and Carol's words, it's taken them 21 years to establish a wonderful tourism facility and an absolutely awesome farmstay - award winning," he said.
"Twenty minutes of fury from the uncertainty of Cyclone Marcia [is all it] has taken to destroy their operations.
"There's an emotional plight to this, not only myself but many have seen what the Sandilands family have done over those 21 years to develop a wonderful tourism facility.
"It's the end of an era and it can be quite emotional - extremely emotional for them, and heart wrenching for those who recognise the wonderful contribution they made to the region."
PNG: Thousands stranded after landslides
The National [18/3/15]:
Thousands of people in Chimbu have been affected after landslides cut off the road from Kundiawa to Salt-Nomane.
The road to the people in the Gumine and Salt-Nomane district had been cut off in the past two weeks after heavy rain caused many landslides.
Simbu provincial works officials said traffic had been disrupted in Gumine and Salt-Nomane.
Four major landslides occurred at Gaima, Tagla, Omkolai and Sible.
There are minor ones between those places.
The Simbu provincial administration and disaster office are working with Works officials in clearing the landslides.
The Doliba High School, Gumine Secondary School, Boromil Technical High School, Dirima Vocational, primary schools and elementary schools, health centres, aid posts and 2000 public servants were affected.
Sun source called detainee a “scummy Afghan” court told
Hacking Inquiry [18/3/15]:
An immigration detention officer who claimed he had sold information to The Sun for the benefit of foreign detainees called one a “scummy Afghan” and said he hoped another was “having a good time in Somalia”, a court heard yesterday.
Mark Blake, 42, who received thousands of pounds from News International for stories about Colnbrook Immigration Detention Centre, told an Old Bailey jury that everything he did was in the “public’s interest” and he was motivated not by money but by a desire to improve conditions for staff and inmates.
He accused Serco, the private company running the centre of giving Muslim detainees food containing pork during Ramadan, covering up instances of male rape and allowing inmates to “groom children” over the internet. However he admitted that he had never passed any of these allegations to the newspaper claiming that he feared for his safety if he done so.
He also agreed he had called one inmate a “scummy Afghan” in a police interview after his arrest, and that on the witness stand he had said he hoped that a former detainee was now “having a good time in Somalia”.
Blake is standing trial at London’s Old Bailey alongside three journalists from The Sun and one from the Daily Mirror over charges relating to allegedly corrupt payments to public officials, which they all deny.
The jury were shown the articles from The Sun which were based on Blake’s information including stories about “foreign criminals” having Christmas parties and access to games consoles, and getting special diets and massages.
The former immigration officer said he did not regard himself as “corrupt” as the money he was paid was from The Sun and not “public money”.
He agreed he had destroyed the receipts from the paper so no-one would have found out he was the source of the leaks, but said this was to stop his employer finding out as there was a culture of “backstabbing” at Colnbrook.
In a serious of sharp exchanges prosecution barrister Stuart Biggs suggested to the defendant that he was “making it all up” and his only reason for leaking information to the newspapers was to help with the serious financial problems he had encountered after Blake’s wife had left the family home.
The accused agreed that the money was welcome but said he believed that some of the Serco management at the centre must have known he was the source of the stories in the paper, saying “they knew it was me leaking information from Colnbrook, maybe the directors wanted me to do it?”.
Blake then told the jury “I’m a caring person, I’m sure you can see, I worry about people’s feelings. I’m the sort of person who would talk to anyone” adding “it kills me that I cannot go up and talk to the jury outside and say ‘oh you’ve changed your hair’”. He said that while “the money was lovely” it was not his primary motivation and he would have supplied the information he did “even if he was not paid for it”.
The prosecution also challenged Blake’s testimony that a 2009 massage session for inmates had degenerated so much that staff were called it “50 Shades of Grey day” pointing out that the book of that name had not been released until 2011. Judge Marks also questioned the assertion that some detainees in Colnbrook were leaving the centre with £25,000 in cash as they were only given £1 per day in cash to buy goods from the inmates’ store. Blake however insisted his testimony was truthful.
Blake was also asked why he contacted The Sun and said that although he read the Daily Mail he thought “The Sun is the newspaper the ordinary bloke reads”.
He continued “The Sun newspaper has a way of reporting we all know and we all love”; and said he did not take his information to the Daily Mail as he did not think they would report it properly.
“Not because you were paid?” the prosecutor suggested.
“All publications pay” the defendant replied, noting that he had once written an article for a fishing magazine and received a sum of money for it.
The trial continues.
#Blockupy "capitalism sucks", meint Christine, 44, aus Berlin ...
Image: @carlaneuhaus [18/3/15]
@hanvoi [18/3/15]: (0752) Danziger Platz: Italienische Autonome mit Regenbogen-Vermummung. Alles ruhig. #Blockupy
Violence broke out on Wednesday morning during protests against the opening of the new European Central Bank (ECB) building. Follow the latest updates here. ... [The Local - 18/3/15]
Die Demonstranten blockierten unter anderem einen wichtigen Verkehrsknotenpunkt im Osten der Stadt. In der Nähe der Europäischen Zentralbank (EZB) im Frankfurter Osten stand ein Polizeiwagen in Flammen, vermummte Demonstranten wurden beim Weglaufen gesehen. ... [Bild - 18/3/15]
health bodies call for release of children from immigration detention
PHAA Media Release [18/3/15]:
The Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) has joined with 14 other peak health bodies calling on the Government to immediately release all children and their families from immigration detention in Australia and Nauru.
The Coalition’s calls align with the recommendations of the Australian Human Rights Commission’s recent Forgotten Children report.
The Coalition’s joint statement on children in detention – released today – calls on the Government to implement the recommendations of the report, in particular:
remove children and their families from detention centres on and off shore and release them into the Australian community, and
urgently appoint an independent guardian for unaccompanied children seeking asylum in Australia.
The joint statement also highlights the need to appoint an independent panel of health professionals to provide advice and oversight of health and healthcare in detention facilities on and offshore.
“PHAA believes that in the wake of the Commission’s findings urgent action is required to protect the innocent children who continue to suffer lifelong damage as a result of Australia’s immigration detention policies. The report provided unprecedented first-hand evidence of the impact that prolonged immigration detention has on the mental and physical health of children. It also identified the impact of detention on the key developmental stages of children as infants, pre-schoolers, primary aged children and teenagers,” said Michael Moore, Chief Executive Officer of PHAA.
Mr Michael Smith, Co-Convenor of PHAA’s Mental Health Special Interest Group, added: “According to the report, 34% of children detained in Australia and Christmas Island have a mental health disorder of such severity that they require psychiatric support and will continue to require ongoing psychosocial support, while the proportion in the general community is less than 2%. Disturbingly, the Commission believes the rate to be possibly even higher in Nauru. Children are reported to be self-harming in detention at very high rates, with a significant number of incidents of voluntary starvation involving children also observed. The Inquiry also found evidence that children have been exposed to unacceptable levels of assault, including sexual assault and violence in detention.”
“These are horrific findings and we’re certain that Australians would be appalled and distressed that these shocking incidents of harm are happening to children in our care. The personal stories of horror and hardship experienced by children in the Commission’s report are heartbreaking – and yet when these vulnerable children arrive on our shores from situations of protracted conflict seeking our help, we lock them up offshore and fail to protect them from further abuse. PHAA - and the 14 other peak health bodies - are calling on the Australian Government to heed the findings of the report and implement its recommendations as a matter of urgency,” said Mr Moore.
The joint statement is available on the PHAA website at www.phaa.net.au and there will be a related Twitter conversation under the hashtag #HealthOrgsUnite .
Kindness Learned At A Young Age – The Best Kind
Daily Kindly [18/3/15]:
... The professional school counselor in training for Washington Elementary, Michelle Hofstetter, said: “The students were given a list of 50 acts of kindness that they could try to accomplish. I stressed to all the students that it was not a competition to complete the most acts for an earned ‘prize.’ For the students the ultimate prize is the focus on treating others as they deserved to be treated, and the respect they will receive in return.”
The acts varied from entertaining someone with a happy dance to inviting a new friend to play or hang out. The students were given a checklist and tried to accomplish all 50 tasks within the week. Another act was to write a thank you letter. The students chose to write to Sedalia School District 200 Superintendent Brad Pollitt.
Australia tortures refugees.
... “I go to PNG jail and over there PNG police say they will take my eyes off my head and take my head off my body and [that] we asylum seekers are pigs and dogs.”
... “We have patients as well in jail, when we ask for treatment they start beating people and abuse us. In front of us they beat people like animal.” ...
A detention centre guard on Manus Island has been sacked for reportedly assaulting asylum seekers while they were handcuffed.
Several asylum seekers made formal complaints against the Wilson Security guard: one reported that the guard grabbed him in a chokehold around the throat and threatened to kill him, while two others said he slapped them as they sat, handcuffed, on a bus, according to Transfield Services documents from Manus.
Guardian Australia has seen feedback and complaints forms filled out by several asylum seekers, and statements by a witness, in English and Farsi, which describe the incidents.
Guardian Australia has been told the guard’s name, but has chosen not to publish it.
The complaints were investigated by Wilson Security, the security subcontractor on Manus, following protests earlier this year.
A spokesman for Transfield Services, the company contracted by the Australian government to run the Manus Island detention centre, said the guard’s employment was terminated and he was taken from the island after the investigation.
“All complaints are thoroughly and promptly investigated. As a result of this complaint and investigation an employee was dismissed.
“Wilson Security has a strongly reinforced code of conduct. Any conduct falling outside of this is investigated thoroughly and will not be tolerated.”
Nauru denies accusations of abuse, but won't allow journalists, UNHCR and lawyers access.
The Nauru government has dismissed claims two refugees were badly hurt by stone throwing locals, saying their speeding motorcycle crashed.
In a statement the government says the two Iranians may have been under the influence of alcohol.
It says organisations like the Refugee Action Coalition are trying to trash Nauru's name.
The Coalition's Ian Rintoul reported on Tuesday the married couple were riding a motorcycle late on Monday night when they were hit by a shower of rocks thrown by Nauruans.
But the government says this is a complete fabrication, the couple were speeding and that police have Nauruan witness statements that there was no stone throwing.
Spain: Supreme Court questions police use of firearms at immigrant holding centres
El Pais [17/3/15]:
Spain’s Supreme Court on Monday questioned the government’s decision to allow law enforcement personnel to carry firearms while on duty inside the country’s immigrant holding centers (CIE).
In a ruling that strikes down various articles in the CIE regulations book, the court’s administrative chamber said it was “not appropriate” for security officials to be walking around with weapons “under normal circumstances” inside the centers. But the court stopped short of banning them from bearing firearms altogether.
In 2013, the Council of Europe criticized the prison-like conditions at various centers and noted the frequent use of rubber bullets by the Catalan police to quell protests inside the facilities.
Nevertheless, the court stated that the National Police, who are in charge of the centers, cannot be prohibited from carrying firearms, because the ruling made by the judges does not strike down any of the law enforcement body's regulations.
“The decision to put the National Police (CNP) in charge of security at CIEs could be considered mistaken. But now that it has been established, it is not contrary to their right to provide service with their regulation firearms,” the sentence reads in part.
In January, three NGOS – Andalucía Acoge, SOS Racismo and Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos de Andalucía (APDHA) – filed a challenge with the Supreme Court over various sections of the CIE regulations, including the possession of firearms.
According to the organizations, the use of weapons should be limited to situations when serious altercations break out at the centers, as is the procedure in prisons.
The court did throw out some sections of the CIE rules, including those that allowed the authorities to separate families at the centers; gave judges the power to send people back to a CIE for the same violation committed against Spain’s immigration laws; and allowed body searches without proper justification.
NGOs have long criticized the treatment of people held at CIEs, claiming that police and guards harass women and mistreat mothers who try to breastfeed their children.
UNHCR begins relocation of 50,000 South Sudan refugees in Ethiopia before the rains come [Media Release – 17/3/15]
Penis jacket: The depth of media literacy and analysis in Australia.
Daily Mail [18/3/15]:
The phallic shaped neckline on Network 10 presenter Natarsha Belling’s green jacket took the internet by storm this week but she wasn’t the first to don the unfortunate look.
The jacket, designed by Australian label Scanlan Theodore, was previously worn by Channel Seven’s Melissa Doyle in a fetching cream shade.
And the ‘Crepe Knit Double Peplum Jacket’, costing $550 is still available to buy on Scanlan Theodore’s website, after Doyle wore the design five days ago.
However, Nine News Brisbane reporter Eva Milic appears to be the original trendsetter, wearing a maroon jacket with the much talked about neckline, clinched at the waist by a belt, back in May.
Japan: Two utilities set to scrap five aging nuclear reactors
Japan Today [18/3/15]:
Three aging nuclear reactors in Japan will be decommissioned due to the high cost of upgrading them in line with tougher safety standards set after the Fukushima disaster, their operators said on Tuesday.
Another two reactors were also likely to be scrapped, local media reports said, with announcements expected later in the week.
The moves are the first concrete sign that Japan’s nuclear industry is heeding a government request to shut down older reactors that are considered more vulnerable to natural disasters in the hope that it will ease public concerns about a restart of other reactors.
All 48 of Japan’s nuclear reactors were taken offline after an earthquake and tsunami set off meltdowns at Tokyo Electric Power’s Fukushima Daiichi plant in 2011.
As many as two-thirds of the country’s reactors may never return to operation because of high costs, local opposition or seismic risks, a Reuters analysis showed last year.
Kansai Electric Power, which depended on its nuclear fleet for nearly half of its total power output before 2011, said on Tuesday it would scrap its Mihama No. 1 and No. 2 reactors in Fukui Prefecture. Japan Atomic Power said it would decommission its Tsuruga No. 1 reactor, also in Fukui.
Kyushu Electric Power and Chugoku Electric Power are both expected to announce their plans to scrap two old reactors on Wednesday.
The five reactors are among Japan’s oldest, ranging in age from 39 to 44 years, and have relatively low generating capacity of up to 559 megawatts each.
It is the first time utilities have opted to close older reactors to comply with new safety standards set after the Fukushima disaster that limits a nuclear reactor’s lifespan to 40 years unless it can clear tough rules for a one-time extension. The deadline to apply for that extension is July 2015.
Japan’s trade ministry has been pushing nuclear operators for a quick decision on scrapping aging reactors that are too costly to upgrade, promising financial support for a smooth decommissioning.
Japan has revised accounting rules to allow utilities to spread the write-offs for reactor closures over 10 years and to pass on some of the cost to ratepayers.
For Japan’s newer plants, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said his government will restart reactors that have won approval from the nuclear regulator.
So far, Kyushu Electric’s two-reactor Sendai plant and Kansai Electric’s No. 3 and No. 4 Takahama reactors have cleared initial safety checks.
Vietnam and Australia called on Wednesday for "self-restraint" in the South China Sea and warned against the unilateral use of force, an obvious reference to China's increasingly aggressive presence that has stirred concerns across the disputed region.
Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung met Australian counterpart Tony Abbott in Canberra, where they will sign a deal on issues including security and climate change. ... [Japan Today - 18/3/15]
Xi meets with Kissinger, calls for more trust between China, US [Xinhua – 17/3/15]
Undetonated one-ton US bomb found near downtown Osaka [Japan Today - 18/3/15]
Monsanto: Pay for damaging San Diego
San Diego Reader [16/3/15]:
The City of San Diego and San Diego Unified Port District want chemical agricultural giant Monsanto to pay for its role in polluting San Diego's bay and tidelands with polychlorinated biphenyls, commonly known as PCBs.
On March 16, the municipal agencies sued Monsanto for concealing the hazards associated with PCBs, despite being aware of the health risks associated with ingesting and inhaling the chemical compounds since the 1930s.
According to the lawsuit, the risks did not deter Monsanto from trying to protect profits and prolong the use of PCB compounds such as Aroclor, as shown in a report from an ad hoc committee that Monsanto formed in 1969. The following is an excerpt from the internal Monsanto report:
"There is little probability that any action that can be taken will prevent the growing incrimination of specific polychlorinated biphenyls as nearly global environmental contaminants leading to contamination of human food (particularly fish), the killing of some marine species (shrimp), and the possible extinction of several species of fish eating birds.
“Secondly, the committee believes that there is no practical course of action that can so effectively police the uses of these products as to prevent environmental contamination. There are, however a number of actions which must be undertaken to prolong the manufacture, sale and use of these particular Aroclors as well as to protect the continued use of other members of the Aroclor series."
The use of the chemical compounds increased and eventually were involved in the manufacture of household products as well as in shipbuilding and electrical components.
In 2012, the San Diego Regional Water Control Board found the city and port responsible for pollution of San Diego Bay, namely in what has become known as the Shipyards Sediment Site. In 2014, the City of San Diego agreed to pay $949,634 in fines for permitting the dumping of hazardous chemicals into the bay. The city also allocated $6.45 million to clean the Shipyards Sediment Site. The fine and the remediation amount resulted in several lawsuits brought by the port and city against shipbuilding giants BAE and NASSCO.
Attorneys from the city and the port lay some of the blame on Monsanto and see the lawsuit as a viable means of recovering costs.
From the March 16 complaint: "PCBs manufactured by Monsanto have been found in Bay sediments and water and have been identified in tissues of fish, lobsters, and other marine life in the Bay. PCB contamination in and around the Bay affects all San Diegans and visitors who enjoy the Bay, who reasonably would be disturbed by the presence of a hazardous, banned substance in the sediment, water, and wildlife.
"PCBs were not only a substantial factor in causing the City and Port District to incur damages, but a primary driving force behind the need to clean up and abate Bay sediments. In addition, fish consumption warnings are posted at locations in and around Bay tidelands warning the public that fish within the Bay may contain contaminants and directing consumption limitations."
The complaint seeks to recoup the costs to not only remove PCBs from the Bay but also pay for the loss of natural resources.
Banco de Madrid ceases operations and requests a creditors’ meeting
El Pais [16/3/15]:
An interim team appointed by the Bank of Spain to manage Banco de Madrid has decided to cease all operations and request a meeting of creditors, according to the industry watchdog.
The decision comes less than a week after the lender’s entire board of directors walked out as a result of an incipient investigation into suspicious transactions, leading to a run on the bank.
This Bank of Spain probe was in turn triggered by the US authorities’ actions against Banco Madrid’s parent company, Banca Privada d’Andorra (BPA), for suspected money-laundering activities.
“This decision is caused by Banco de Madrid’s significant financial deterioration as a result of major fund withdrawals by clients and by recent events that have affected its ability to meet its obligations in a timely manner,” said sources at Spain’s central bank.
By filing for a creditors’ meeting, deposit holders receive the same legal status as Banco de Madrid’s other creditors. Clients’ deposits are guaranteed up to €100,000 per account holder by the industry-funded Deposit Guarantee Fund.
Meanwhile, the police operation against managers at parent company BPA, in the Pyrenean principality of Andorra, remains open. Prosecutors have ordered two more managers arrested after the bank’s CEO, Joan Pau Miquel Prats, was sent to preventive prison on Friday.
On Monday, the government of Andorra decided to place a €2,500 limit on withdrawals at BPA, despite assurances issued on Friday by the Andorra National Finance Institute (INAF) that things would go back to normal early this week. The announcement caused lines of up to an hour in front of BPA’s offices in Andorra la Vella.
In contrast, no clients were in sight outside Banco de Madrid’s headquarters in the capital’s Plaza de Colón at noon on Monday. The offices remained closed and two signs hung on the front door: one warning clients that nobody would be in the office on Monday, and providing a telephone number to call with queries (902 42 33 33); the other sign, stuck on the glass, was a statement by the Bank of Spain announcing the decision to cease all operations at the BPA affiliate.
A police squad showed up at the bank at 1.44pm, and two officers asked to be allowed inside the building, Ignacio Fariza reports. These were finally let in through a side door by security personnel, and left the premises again seven minutes later.
The chain of events was triggered on Tuesday of last week, when the US Treasury’s anti-money-laundering unit, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), announced that BPA was “a primary money-laundering concern” and that high-level officials there allegedly helped Russian, Chinese and Venezuelan clients channel money from their criminal activities.
BPA entered the Spanish market after purchasing Banco de Madrid from Kutxabank in 2011 for €100 million.
The profile of a typical Banco de Madrid client is a high-earner with savings of over €500,000 who likes to invest in funds. Banco de Madrid controls 88 SICAVs – public limited companies that invest in financial assets and benefits from generous tax rates – with €856 million of funds under management at the close of 2014.
Until the US Treasury got in its way last week, the lender had plans to grow 33 percent in the next few months, and had hired 20 new executives just a few weeks ago.
Manhunt for CBA executive over bribery claims
West Australian [18/3/15]:
Authorities are hunting for a former Commonwealth Bank executive who left the country after learning an investigation was under way into his allegedly receiving kickbacks.
The New Zealand national may have escaped police for now, but a former colleague wasn't so lucky.
A 61-year-old man was arrested in Sydney on Tuesday, months after his employer, the Commonwealth Bank, noticed suspicious payments made into his bank account.
The US national, who police allege was trying to flee the country when he was arrested, is accused of being in a corrupt relationship with an overseas company that was providing IT services to the CBA.
The man was allegedly receiving kickbacks from a not-for-profit organisation, set up as a shell company to launder the payments from the US-based IT company.
Police allege the man and the other banking executive granted the IT company a lucrative contract without putting it to public tender and in exchange the managers received kickbacks.
The US national, who was fired from the bank late last year, is due to face a Sydney court on Wednesday.
He is charged with two counts of bribery.
The other executive is believed to be in the US, police say, but a warrant hasn't been issued for his arrest.
NSW Cybercrime and Fraud Squad boss Detective Superintendent Arthur Katsogiannis said the executive fled the country when police froze $US1.5 million ($A1.96 million) in suspected corrupt payments.
"We believe there was more money, some of that money is no longer there," he told reporters.
Det Supt Katsogiannis said the alleged fraud was at "the top echelon".
The two individuals, who were already on substantial salaries, were probably the most senior executives that have been caught out for this offence, he said.
The bank contract awarded to the US-based IT company was worth tens of millions of dollars, police allege.
A Commonwealth Bank spokesperson confirmed it was the institution that reported the matter to police.
"We have no tolerance for illegal activity by any employee and we take every situation seriously," the spokesperson said.
"We confirm that no customer has been affected by this matter."
Turkey: 6 refugees die, 55 rescued as boat sinks near Mugla province
Anadolu Agency [17/3/15]:
… According to initial reports, the vessel carried Syrian and Iraqi immigrants that sank during its journey between Mugla’s Bodrum district as it proceeded towards the Greek coastal island of Kos.
State hospital sources confirm that the death toll in the incident has now reached six.
Earlier in the day, Turkish Coast Guards rescued eight migrants after fishermen spotted the boat sinking off Kara Island, 3.2 kilometers (2 miles) away from Bodrum.
According to the Mugla Governorate’s statement, apart from the eight, rescue teams later also saved the lives of 47 other migrants, three of whom were women and four were children.
Earlier, it was believed that the migrants were about 15, but as rescuers started to look for survivors, it became evident that the numbers were much higher.
Search-and-rescue teams backed by helicopters were on going to look for more survivors..
Afghanistan: 26 killed in military operations
26 insurgents have been killed in separate military operations across the country in past 24 hours, statements issued on Tuesday morning by the Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Interior state.
According to the statement issued by the Ministry of Interior states that 19 insurgents were killed in the operations conducted by Afghan National Police with the assistance from the Afghan National Army and personnel from the National Directorate of Security (NDS).
The statement issued by the Ministry of Defense states that seven insurgents were killed in Operation Zulfiqar in southern Helmand province.
Operation Zulfiqar was launched by hundreds of Afghan National Security Forces last month to cleare target areas in Helmand province where more than 200 insurgents have been killed so far.
The operation began from Sangin District, one of the restive Districts in Helmand province, but later extended to other Districts within Helmand.
Ministry of Defense statement also states that 62 different types of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) were also discovered and defused.
After taking the full responsibility of the security from NATO forces at the beginning of this year, Afghan National Security Forces have conducted, with some still ongoing, large scale operations.
Officials of the Ministry of Defense say that Afghan National Security Forces are successfully running these operations.
Darfur security, humanitarian situations ‘deteriorated significantly’ – UN peacekeeping chief [Media Release – 17/3/15]:
... Around 450,000 people in total were displaced over 2014, as a result of violence, which Mr. Ladsous said was a higher volume in any single year since the peak of the conflict in 2004. At least 300,000 of those remain displaced, mostly in camps for internally displaced persons, with the total number of displaced persons in Darfur now totalling 2.5 million. ...
Former lawyer for doctor who ran vaccination campaign as CIA cover killed in Pakistan
Al Jazeera [17/3/15]:
Police say a former lawyer for the Pakistani doctor who helped the US find Osama bin Laden has been killed by armed men in the country's northwest.
Shakir Khan, a senior police officer, said unidentified assailants shot and killed Samiullah Khan Afridi on Tuesday in Peshawar before fleeing.
The killing comes just months after he announced that he will no longer be representing Dr Shakil Afridi, who was convicted in May 2012 of "conspiring against the state" by giving money and providing medical treatment to fighters, not for helping the CIA track down bin Laden.
The lawyer left Pakistan in November after receiving threats from fighters.
Khan said the lawyer recently came back from abroad.
Ahsanullah Ahsan, a spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban-linked Jamaat-ul-Ahrar group, claimed responsibility for Tuesday's killing in an emailed statement to Pakistani news media and in a telephone call to the Associated Press news agency from an unidentified location.
The statement said: "The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Jamaat ur Ahrar accepts responsibility for the attack on Samiullah, the lawyer of Shakil Afridi, who was co-operating with the killers of Sheikh Osama bin Laden. The enemy should remember that we will kill each and every one of the killers of each of our brothers."
Dr Afridi ran a vaccination campaign in the northwestern city of Abbottabad as a cover for a CIA-backed effort to obtain DNA samples from a home where bin Laden was later killed during a 2011 raid by US navy SEALs.
In an earlier incident on Tuesday, also in northwestern Pakistan, armed men killed two female polio workers and a police guard.
Police said two attackers fired at the workers as they gave polio drops to children in the mountainous Sheikhabad area, 60km northeast of the city of Mansehra.
"The two-member team was administering polio drops in an Afghan refugee camp and its surrounding areas when two gunmen opened fire on them, killing one lady worker and a policeman and wounding another lady worker and a passer-by," Muhammad Ejaz Khan, local police chief, told AFP news agency.
He said the second woman polio worker later died of her wounds.
Akhtar Hayat, another senior local police official, confirmed the incident and casualties.
Pakistan is one of only three countries where polio remains endemic.
Attempts to eradicate it have been badly hit by attacks on immunisation teams that have claimed 77 lives since December 2012.
The attackers claim the polio-vaccination drive is a front for espionage or a conspiracy to sterilise Muslims.
Last year the number of polio cases recorded in Pakistan jumped to 306, the highest in 14 years.
Egypt demolishes 1,020 Rafah homes for Gaza buffer zone
The Egyptian army demolished 1,020 houses in the border city of Rafah as part of the second stage of the establishment of a buffer zone along the border with the Gaza Strip.
Egyptian security officials told a Ma'an reporter in El-Arish city on Tuesday that 200 more houses would be demolished to create a no-go zone extending 500 meters from the border fence.
Families evacuated from the properties have already been reimbursed, the official said, adding that the Egyptian government had paid some 150 million Egyptian pounds ($19.7 million) in compensation to evacuated families.
The governor of the North Sinai district, Abd al-Fattah Harhour, said in January that each family would receive 1,500 Egyptian pounds ($209) to rent apartments for three months, in addition to 1,200 pounds ($167) for every square meter of cement and 700 pounds ($97) per square meter of the demolished home based on the bearing wall system.
In a separate incident on Tuesday, Egyptian security services announced that three gunmen were killed when a booby-trapped vehicle accidentally exploded in Sheikh Zuweid city in North Sinai.
Egyptian army helicopters subsequently targeted hideouts of gunmen in Sinai Peninsula, killing nine.
The North Sinai has seen prolonged violence since the ousting of Egypt's first democratically elected president, Muhammad Morsi, in 2013, with Egyptian security forces battling various armed groups supporting the ousted Muslim Brotherhood.
After a bombing killed more than 30 Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai in October 2014, the military stepped up the campaign to build the buffer zone amid accusations of Hamas support for the group that carried out the attack, which Hamas has strenuously denied.
Both sides of the border are densely populated as the city of Rafah originally extended in both directions, a growth that was the result of the Israeli occupation of the Sinai Peninsula for more than a decade following the 1967 war.
In the early 2000s Israeli authorities demolished thousands of homes in Palestinian Rafah in order to create a 300-meter buffer zone on the Egypt border, but after the pull-out in 2005, many moved back into the area.
The Egyptian government, which has actively destroyed smuggling tunnels underneath the border and directly targeted Hamas since the 2013 military coup, has now promised to uproot as many as possible to ensure the creation of a buffer zone on its side.
The border area used to be host to hundreds of tunnels which Gazans used to import goods to get around the seven-year-old Israeli siege of the territory.
US Supreme Court denies execution reprieve for Missouri inmate
News Advance [17/3/15]:
Missouri's oldest death row inmate was scheduled to be executed Tuesday for the 1996 shooting death of a sheriff's deputy after the state's governor and the U.S. Supreme Court denied last-minute appeals to spare his life.
Attorneys for 74-year-old Cecil Clayton had argued that Clayton has brain damage from a 1972 sawmill accident and worsening dementia.
Clayton was convicted of fatally shooting Christopher Castetter, a sheriff's deputy in rural southwest Missouri's Barry County. Castetter, then 29 and a father of three, was investigating a suspicious vehicle near Cassville on the night before Thanksgiving in 1996 when he was shot in the forehead while he was in his car.
His vehicle was found against a tree with the engine racing and wheels spinning. Castetter died at a hospital the next day.
Clayton's attorneys argued that he suffers from lingering effects of the sawmill accident in which a piece of wood shot through his skull. Surgeons removed about 8 percent of Clayton's brain, including one-fifth of the frontal lobe that governs impulse control and judgment.
His lawyers said Clayton has an IQ of 71 and that psychiatric evaluations indicate he doesn't understand the significance of his scheduled execution or the reasons for it, making him ineligible for execution under state and federal law.
Clayton's attorneys appealed the case to the U.S. Supreme Court and asked the Missouri governor for clemency, insisting that the inmate's deteriorating mental health has left him convinced his conviction was a plot against him.
They argued that Clayton also believes God will rescue him at the last minute, "after which time he will travel the country playing the piano and preaching the gospel."
In part because of his dementia, his attorneys said in their appeal, the lethal injection would or would likely cause Clayton "excruciating or tortuous pain and needless suffering" and allow the state to use him as an experiment of its execution protocol on someone with severe brain damage.
The state countered by saying Clayton would be executed "rapidly and painlessly" in accordance with the constitutional protections against cruel and unusual punishment.
A divided Supreme Court denied the appeal Tuesday evening, saying four justices would have granted a stay.
Benghazi committee extends deadline on Clinton's emails [Reuters – 16/3/15]
Canada Denies Asylum for ex-Tunisian President's Brother-in-Law [Naharnet – 16/3/15]
Police have reportedly been allowed to use live rounds as tensions flare in the eastern Ukrainian town of Konstantinovka, where an eight-year-old girl was killed in a hit-and-run accident by a Ukrainian forces’ armored vehicle. ... [RT - 16/3/15]
Syrian, Iraqi Christians plead for international assistance
Syrian and Iraqi Christians are pleading for more international assistance after fleeing attack by militants from the Islamic State group.
They spoke Tuesday in two Beirut churches where they lined up to receive food baskets and other humanitarian assistance from a non-profit organization called In Defense of Christians (IDC), whose mission is to protect Christians in the Middle East.
IS overran a cluster of Assyrian Christian villages in Syria's Hassakeh province last month, taking at least 220 Christians hostage.
Thousands of Christians have trickled into Lebanon in recent years from Iraq and Syria after being forced by the Islamic State group to choose between leaving, facing death or paying a traditional non-Muslim tax.
Around 240 more Assyrian Christians have fled to Lebanon since their
villages were overrun last month.
Bosnia donates 550 tonnes of arms to Iraq, more may follow – minister [Reuters – 16/3/15]
United States, “allies” continue bombing Iraq and Syria
On March 16, U.S. military forces continued to attack ISIL terrorists in Syria, using fighter, attack, bomber and remotely piloted aircraft to conduct seven airstrikes.
Separately, U.S. and Coalition military forces conducted 12 airstrikes in Iraq, using attack, fighter, bomber and remotely piloted aircraft against ISIL terrorists.
All strikes took place between 8 a.m., March 16, and 8 a.m., March 17, local time.
The following is a summary of the strikes conducted since the last press release:
Near Al Hasakah, two airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units and destroyed two ISIL vehicles.
Near Kobani, five airstrikes struck an ISIL large tactical unit, four ISIL tactical units and destroyed five ISIL fighting positions.
Near Al Qaim, an airstrike destroyed an ISIL checkpoint.
Near Fallujah, five airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units, an ISIL weapons storage facility, two ISIL crossing points and destroyed two different ISIL crossing points.
Near Hit in Al Anbar Province, an airstrike had inconclusive results.
Near Kirkuk, two airstrikes struck an ISIL large tactical unit, an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed eight ISIL vehicles, three ISIL buildings and an ISIL heavy machine gun.
Near Mosul, two airstrikes struck an ISIL staging area.
Near Ramadi, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit.
Airstrike assessments are based on initial reports. All aircraft returned to base safely.
US loses drone over Syria, which claims to have brought it down [Reuters – 17/3/15]
Targeted killings have been a central part of U.S. national security strategy for more than a decade, but the American public still knows scandalously little about who the government kills, and why.
Today we're filing a new lawsuit in our continuing fight to fix that. ... [ACLU Media Release - 16/3/15]
US Air Force veteran accused of trying to assist Islamic State [Reuters – 17/3/15]
NZ PM defends deployment amid war crime allegations [RNZI - 17/3/15]:
Prime Minister John Key has been forced to defend sending troops to Iraq to train local forces following allegations of war crimes.
There have been reports that US-trained military units and Shiite militias are being investigated for possible war crimes, including the torture and execution of Sunni prisoners.
During question time in Parliament, Mr Key confirmed the Iraqi Government was investigating the allegations but said the New Zealand mission would not be put off.
More than 140 New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel are due to leave for Iraq in May to train soldiers in Taji, north of Baghdad.
Labour leader Andrew Little asked the Prime Minister whether he still stood by his decision.
"Does he still believe that people who oppose the deployment of New Zealand soldiers to train Iraqi Government forces need to get some guts and join the right side?
"In light of widespread evidence that Iraqi Government forces are committing war crimes?"
Mr Key said the right side was the international coalition of more than 60 countries who were campaigning against Islamic State (IS). He said IS was a brutal threat.
"I'm advised that the Iraqi Government is investigating allegations of abuses by Shiite militia and individuals with the Iraqi security forces," he said.
"We share the concerns of other partners about these allegations and we'll ensure our view is communicated to the Iraqi Government."
Mr Little said no one was arguing that IS was anything but evil.
He asked what the Government was doing to make sure that New Zealand soldiers would not be helping any Iraqi units that may have committed war crimes.
"How is it gutsy to force young New Zealanders to train an army guilty of many of the same crimes as IS?"
Mr Key said New Zealand would set the terms of the mission, including who would be trained, how they would be trained and when they would be trained.
But Mr Little asked for an assurance that New Zealand soldiers would not be helping Iraqi units that have committed war crimes.
Mr Key said the Iraqi forces must act consistently with the law.
He said the Government was committed to troops being in Iraq for two years.
… My friend says we're like the dinosaurs
Only we are doing ourselves in
Much faster than they
Ever did ...
'Pets', Porno for Pyros 
Eastern Water Dragon, Brisbane [17/3/15]
Native animals as pets [Liberal Democrats (Australia) - VIDEO - 18/3/15]:
In your home among the gum trees, would you prefer a native Australian animal as a pet to a cat or dog? Senator David Leyonhjelm explains why keeping native animals as pets is often a good idea.
Vanuatu's Tanna Island: Blacked-out and broken by Cyclone Pam
Residents of Vanuatu's Tanna Island are still largely cut off from the world five days after the eye wall of the category five storm shredded through.
A twisted wasteland of browns and grey, blacked-out and broken by Cyclone Pam, the entire landscape has been shorn of trees. Those still standing look like their branches have been sawn off.
Eight people have been confirmed dead on Tanna, which has a population of over 35,000, but counting continues.
The official count doesn't include those killed indirectly by the cyclone.
The most recent was 20-year-old local man Eddy Willy, who died of an unknown illness because both Lenakel and Port Villa hospitals were damaged by the storm and unable to treat him.
Family and neighbours from his home village of Ituga wailed, screamed and clawed at his coffin when a ute brought in his body from the airport.
Just down the road, local police officer John Maeke says two women - one aged in her 50s, the other older than 70 - died when they were crushed by the brick wall of their house.
Officer Meake says another man was crushed to death by a falling tree limb when he tried to rescue his mother, who also died when she was struck by a piece of corrugated iron roofing.
"There was nothing anyone could do, no one has seen a storm like this," he told AAP.
"This is the worst storm of our generation, no one remembers anything worse."
Lishie Rossie, who works for Australian charity Live and Learn, said Pam probably hadn't finished killing people.
All medical facilities on Tanna are closed and the local government has advised all patients, no matter what their emergency, to stay home.
"There is no way to treat anyone, Tanna no longer has a hospital," Mr Lishie told AAP.
Only bore water is drinkable, flowing water sources are far too contaminated.
Even though locals stockpiled some food, he said they will soon start running out.
"We need to get them food, time is running out," Mr Lishie said. ...
One Tuvalu island evacuated after flooding from Pam
The entire population on one of Tuvalu's islands has been evacuated due to flooding caused by Tropical Cyclone Pam.
More than 400 people from the island Nanumaga have been moved as well as another 85 families from Nukulaelae.
Tuvalu's Disaster Coordinator says a rapid assessment team is still making its way to the remaining outer islands but they have begun distributing aid to those affected.
Suneo Silu says their priority island is Nui where water supplies were contaminated after the island was covered by a large swell.
"The worst island - that's Nui and then coming down to Vaitupu and Nukufetau. All islands were flooded. The three northern islands were badly affected by flooding and the central island as well."
Health officials in Tuvalu are expecting an outbreak of disease on the islands.
Mr Silu says Nui is a priority because remnants of graves have been washed up as the graveyard was flooded and septic tanks are also damaged.
"So we need to deliver water as soon as possible. We are mindful that there will be an outbreak soon - some sanitary disaster. So the health team were there to advise the people to use boiled water. Not to use the contaminated water," said Suneo Silu.
Newsport Daily [18/3/15]:
The latest Bureau of Meteorology forecasts put Cyclone Nathan on a collision course with Cooktown, continuing a prediction trend of northerly movement for the system.
TC Nathan is currently a Category 1 several hundred kilometres out to sea but is expected to intensify to a Category 3 by the time it arrives at the coast on Friday morning.
Yesterday BoM had TC Nathan picked to cross the Queensland coast directly over Cape Tribulation, with earlier forecasts pegging the cyclone to hit Port Douglas dead-on.
Residents between Cape Melville and Cardwell are still urged to prepare for storm conditions, particularly to make contingencies for flash flooding.
A very high tide on Friday may coincide with storm surges and cause inundations throughout coastal areas, including Port Douglas.
Douglas Shire Council has sandbags and other equipment available and will be releasing an update from their Local Disaster Management Group (LDMG) later this morning.
Warm water channel found under one of Antarctica's largest glaciers
Scientists have discovered two pathways that are likely channelling warm ocean water under a massive Antarctic glacier, which could contribute to rising global sea levels, a study revealed on Tuesday.
The 75 mile-long Totten Glacier, more than 18 miles wide, is the largest in East Antarctica and melting more quickly than others in the area.
Research published in the journal Nature Geoscience showed that a trough just under three miles wide has formed as a gateway deep underneath the glacier, along with another tunnel.
These could allow warmer sea water to penetrate the glacier base, the researchers said.
"The Totten Glacier is the most rapidly thinning glacier in East Antarctica and this melt has the potential to drive substantial regional ice loss," said Jason Roberts, an Australian Antarctic Division glaciologist.
"The study identifies direct pathways for warm ocean water to reach under the glacier; a likely reason for the observed thinning."
Impotent: Unable to take effective action; helpless or powerless.
West Australian [18/3/15]:
Indonesian president Joko Widodo granted clemency to a double murderer and two convicted killers, but refused to show any mercy to Bali Nine ringleaders Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.
Dwi Trisna Firmansyah was one of three men that took part in a double murder. He had his death sentence overturned.
According to media reports, soon after the president granted Firmansyah clemency, he denied the same for Chan and Sukumaran.
Firmansyah, 28, was one of three killers involved in the robbery and planned murder of a shop owner and his son in April 2012, The Jakarta Post reported.
On April 16, 2012, Firmansyah and two other men broke into a man's shop and assaulted him with a bat. The trio also killed the man’s son when he tried to help his father, the Daily Mail reported.
ABC reported that two other murderers had been granted clemency by the president.
Indonesia's Foreign Ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir defended the president’s choice, stating it was decision to make and that drugs had a wider effect on society.
'Indonesia as nation is not taking pleasure in punishing anyone with the death penalty,' he said.
Chan and Sukumaran may have to wait months to face firing squad after it was revealed the duo will be executed at the same to time as other foreigners on death row. This means the pair will have to wait while the other convicted drug smugglers exhaust all their appeals.
The pair’s last appeal was adjourned till March
Jokowi fulfils clemency request of death row murderer in Pekanbaru Rizal Harahap [Jakarta Post - 15/3/15]
Brazil and Netherlands recall Indonesia ambassadors over drug executions [Guardian - 18/1/15]
Australian Federal Police are ultimately responsible for the Bali Nine ringleaders being on death row and must join a last ditch effort to save them, a lawyer says.
Bob Myers, the barrister and family friend who represented Bali Nine member Scott Rush, says the AFP must break a decade of silence to support ringleaders Myuran Sukumaran, 33, and Andrew Chan, 31, from an Indonesian firing squad.
He says the men are only on death row because the AFP tipped off Indonesian police about the 2005 plot to smuggle heroin from Bali to Australia.
The tip off meant the nine were arrested and prosecuted in Indonesia, where the death penalty applies, instead of being nabbed on their planned return to Sydney.
"For almost a decade now the AFP has never acknowledged the part they played," Mr Myers told AAP on Friday.
With the executions of Sukumaran and Chan now imminent, possibly within the next fortnight, Mr Myers said the AFP must join Australia's clemency efforts.
He said the AFP must publicly admit the "betrayal" it carried out 10 years ago and appeal, through Prime Minister Tony Abbott to the Indonesian government, for the men to be spared.
"The AFP must admit it made a grave error, a complete and utter misjudgment, in doing what we did. None of the Bali Nine would ever have been apprehended in Indonesia if it had not been for the AFP," Mr Myers said.
"The prime minister is quoted this morning as saying he'll leave no stone unturned (to save the men). Well this is a stone I've been trying to have turned over for 10 years and no one will do it."
In 2006, the Federal Court found the AFP had not technically breached a guideline preventing it from co-operating with requests from other countries in cases that could expose Australians to the death penalty.
But Mr Myers argues the AFP was cleared on the basis of a loophole - that the AFP had voluntarily passed information about the Bali Nine to Indonesia, rather than having been asked for it.
"It was so close to illegal activity. The AFP must stand up and say this was our fault," he said.
"It sickens me to think that the very organisation charged with our protection can betray nine young Australians the way they did."
AAP has contacted the AFP for comment.
Former AFP commissioner Mick Keelty has previously used international co-operation in the war on drugs as a justification for the provision of information to Indonesia police.
Senate calls on Attorney-General to table overdue report into warrantless metadata access
Greens Media Release [17/3/15]:
The Senate has called on Attorney-General George Brandis to table an overdue report into authorities warrantless access to metadata by Thursday.
"This report contains critical information on law enforcement access to Australians' telecommunications data which is directly relevant to the Parliament's consideration of the government's data retention bill. It is an indictment on the Government that it is yet to be tabled," Senator Scott Ludlam, Australian Greens communications spokesperson said today.
"Under the Act Attorney-General George Brandis is required to prepare a report in relation to the act at the end of each financial year. For the past three years, this report has been tabled in Parliament during November or December, but the most recent report is nowhere to be seen.
"Withholding the report reduces the ability of the Parliament to properly assess the Government's data retention regime.
"This invasive regime will see metadata for every person held for two years. It is crucial to the assessment of this legislation to know who is accessing this data and for what purposes.
"This is yet another example of the Government's complete failure to follow due process, and is another signal that the Parliament is not ready to vote on this Bill.
"The Senate has demanded the Attorney-General to table this report on Thursday 19th March, and I call on Senator Brandis to respect the will of the Chamber," Senator Ludlam concluded.
Bipartisan = stitchup
A set up, a trick. If someone stitches you up, then they're playing you for a fool. ...
In the House of Representatives [18/3/15] ALP MP Terri Butler criticised the government for not passing data retention laws earlier.
Adam Bandt MP [VIDEO - 18/3/15]:
Anyone who cares about an individual’s right to some kind of privacy and anyone who does not believe that every individual should be treated as a suspect, you should vote this bill down. #StopDataRetention — at Parliament House, Canberra.
Wilkie to oppose dud metadata bills [Media Release - 18/3/15]
Last day to catch the Academy Awarding winning CITIZENFOUR at Dendy Portside, Brisbane.
... Informant-led sting operations are central to the FBI’s counterterrorism program. Of 508 defendants prosecuted in federal terrorism-related cases in the decade after 9/11, 243 were involved with an FBI informant, while 158 were the targets of sting operations. Of those cases, an informant or FBI undercover operative led 49 defendants in their terrorism plots, similar to the way Osmakac was led in his.
In these cases, the FBI says paid informants and undercover agents are foiling attacks before they occur. But the evidence suggests — and a recent Human Rights Watch report on the subject illustrates — that the FBI isn’t always nabbing would-be terrorists so much as setting up mentally ill or economically desperate people to commit crimes they could never have accomplished on their own. ... [The Intercept - 16/3/15]
Former Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao knew Australia spied in East Timor [The Age - 17/3/15]
PNG Supreme Court challenge to Manus Island refugee death camp begins today
Refugee Action Coalition, Sydney [18/3/15]:
This morning (Wednesday 18 March), 9.30am, the Supreme Court, Port Moresby, will hold its first directions hearing in a new challenge to the Manus Island detention centre.
The action will seek enforcement of constitutional rights under s57 of the PNG constitution; challenging the constitutionality of the detention centre.
It also raises issues of the breach of asylum seekers’ human rights in detention – seeking redress for their inhumane treatment, torture and the denial of liberty.
“Asylum seekers on Manus Island have been systemically denied due process of law and been denied the protection of their rights under PNG law,” said Ian Rintoul, for the Refugee Action Coalition.
The action alleges that the conditions in the detention centre are sub-standard and inhuman.
The legal action is seeking the release of all asylum seekers in Manus detention and ultimately the closure of the detention centre.
The lawyer for 25 asylum seekers detained on Manus Island, Ben Lomai, will seek orders from the Supreme Court to gain access to the detention centre to take full statements from asylum seekers incarcerated there.
Initial instructions from the asylum seekers to Lomai lawyers to take the Supreme Court action against the PNG government was obtained when 58 asylum seekers were held in Lorengau prison during the January mass hunger strike.
18 March 2015