Ian Chappell, Ita Buttrose join campaign to liberate children from Australia's refugee concentration camps

The Age [18/11/14]:

High profile Australian sports stars, actors and media personalities have come together in a slick television and online campaign with a simple message to the Australian government: remove children from immigration detention.

The movement "We're better than this" includes former Wallabies captain George Gregan, former Australian cricket captain Ian Chappell, journalist Ita Buttrose and businesswoman Janet Homes a Court criticising the incarceration of asylum seeker children, particularly in the offshore processing centre in Nauru and the detention centre on Christmas Island.

Actress Deborah Mailman, author Tom Keneally, film critic Margaret Pomeranz, Australian Human Rights Commission president Gillian Triggs and activist Gail Mabo also feature in the short one minute advertisements, while Bernard Fanning from Powderfinger has lent his musical skills to the production.

"I believe every child deserves a safe place to play," Ian Chappell says in the video. "I mean Christmas Island, it's a phosphate mine; it's dangerous and it's dirty and it's got to affect the health of children. We're better than this."

Rosie Scott, an author and the founder of the movement, said she wanted to attract the attention of mainstream Australia through a campaign that could shine a light on the "horrors of children in detention".

"I felt a different kind of approach could be to contact people whose expertise lies in communicating with the Australian public," she said. Every participant gave their time and services for free, she said.

"This is just the beginning."

Booker-prize winning novelist Mr Keneally said he wanted to take a stand against children being innocent objects of the current government's "cruel policy".

"I have never agreed that you can produce a policy outcome by being cruel to people," he said. "It's an insult to our ethos where we try to be as mentally cruel as tyrants are, to keep other people out. We're better than this, most Australians are better than this."

Children kept in immigration detention are shown to suffer from high rates of depression and mental health problems.

In July the government's medical health group the International Health and Medical Service told an Australian Human Rights Commission inquiry into children in detention that the Immigration Department requested they withdraw alarming mental health figures of children in their report.

There are currently 603 children being held in Immigration detention, including on Christmas Island, and 186 children being held in Nauru, according to the Department of Immigration. The average length of detention is currently 413 days.

Exclusive: ARIA Nominees Links to Mistreatment of Asylum Seekers Revealed [Manus Leaks - 14/11/14]

Scott Morrison cuts off access to Australia for refugees in Indonesia [Brisbane Times - 18/11/14]

Afghanistan: 1 civilian killed, 13 others injured in Khost explosion

Khaama [18/11/14]:

A civilian was killed and 13 others were injured following an explosion in eastern Khost province early on Tuesday.

According to local security officials, the incident took place in Bak district, leaving a woman dead and 13 others wounded.

The officials further added that the blast targeted a vehicle carrying civilians.

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

Taliban militants frequently use improvised explosive device (IED) as the weapon of their choice to target Afghan and coalition security forces which normally leads to civilian casualties.

Truck bomb kills two in attack on foreign base in Kabul [Reuters - 18/11/14]

At least 36 Taliban militants were killed and 20 others were injured following counter-terrorism operations in the past 24 hours. ... [Khaama - 18/11/14]

No justification for drone strikes with Operation Zarb-e-Azb underway: UN envoy

Tribune [18/11/14]:

Reaffirming its stand that US drone strikes were counterproductive in combating terrorism, Pakistan on Monday called for an immediate end to such attacks on its soil to avert more civilian deaths and injuries.

“The use of armed drones against Pakistan’s tribal territory violates international law by infringing our sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Ambassador Masood Khan, Pakistan’s permanent representative to the UN, told the General Assembly’s Third Committee, which deals with social, humanitarian and cultural issues.

“Moreover, there is no justification for these strikes because Pakistan is pursuing with full vigour the Zarb-e-Azb operation to take out terrorists and dismantle their networks,” he said while participating in a discussion on the annual report of the Geneva-based Human Rights Council.

The Pakistani envoy said the drone-strikes incite public sentiment and radicalise people due to the number of civilian casualties resulting from it and hence making it counterproductive in the fight against terrorism.

“Armed drone strikes have a devastating impact on individuals, children, families and communities in regard to safety, education, religious and cultural practices,” he added while referring to the resolutions, passed by the Security Council, raising concerns about the use of armed drones. “The fear of secondary or fresh strikes keeps them traumatised.”

Masood Khan urged the Human Rights Council to coordinate with other human rights bodies to protect civilians who were under attack by the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq. In this regard, he said the decision to dispatch a fact-finding Mission was an important step in the right direction.

The envoy also stressed that the Council should ensure its decisions were implemented faithfully and non-selectively.

“In this context, it is important that the Human Rights Council follows through its decisions to protect the rights of Palestinian in the Gaza Strip and other Occupied Palestinian Territories; and the Commission of Enquiry established to investigate human rights violations during the invasion of Gaza is enabled to complete its work.”

‘Deeply troubled’ by Darfur rape allegations, Ban urges ‘unfettered’ access to town

UN Media Release [17/11/14]:

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today that he is deeply troubled about persistent allegations of mass rape in Tabit, North Darfur, and urged Government officials to grant unfettered access to the town so that investigators can verify these reports.

In a statement released by his spokesperson in New York, the UN Chief expressed concern that even after intense consultations with the Government in Sudan and with local authorities in Darfur, authorities investigating the reports were yesterday denied access to the town of Tabit.

Earlier this month, allegations of the mass rape of 200 women and girls in a town in North Darfur raised concerns in the war-torn Sudanese region as the African Union-United Nations hybrid mission pressed ahead with its efforts “to shed light” on what happened.

The African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) first visited Tabit on 9 November. However, the heavy presence of military and police in Tabit made a conclusive investigation difficult.

“Only a full investigation by UNAMID will help shed light over these serious allegations,” the UN chief stressed today, as he urged the Government of Sudan to grant UNAMID unfettered access, without further delay, to Tabit and its population so that these reports can be verified.

At today’s regular briefing at Headquarters, UN spokesperson Farhan Haq announced that UNAMID had again asked for access to Tabit and will deploy a team immediately, once such access has been granted.

Tensions have been simmering across Darfur over the past few months. In October, an attack on UNAMID peacekeepers by armed militants claimed the lives of three peacekeepers.

The UN estimates that some 385,000 people have been displaced by the conflict between the Government of Sudan and armed movements in Darfur since the start of 2014. The world body has repeatedly called on all sides to join negotiations aimed at achieving a permanent ceasefire and comprehensive peace for the people of Darfur, which has witnessed fighting since 2003.

UNAMID, formally established in 2007, has been mandated to protect civilians, support humanitarian assistance, monitor and verify implementation of agreements, contribute to the promotion of human rights and the rule of law, and assist in the political reconciliation following the 2003 civil war between the Government of Sudan and militias and other armed rebel groups.

Cambodia: Five Killed in Fire at Siem Reap Nightclub

Cambodia Daily [18/11/14]:

Five people, including an Australian national, were killed early Tuesday morning in an apparent electrical fire at a nightclub in Siem Reap City, police confirmed.

The fire started in the ceiling of the Hip Hop Club at about 2:50 a.m. and spread quickly, killing three Cambodian women, a Cambodian man and the Australian, said Tith Narong, Siem Reap City police chief.

Two Cambodian women were also seriously injured, he said.

Police identified the Australian as Tom Anthony Ricketson, 32, and said that two of the four Cambodian victims were Prum Phiron, 31, and Cheng Savien, 33.

Mr. Narong said the Hip Hop Club, popular among young Cambodians, had no windows and only one door, hindering escape.

“The nightclub had no windows and it has only one door, and there were too many electrical wires in the ceiling,” he said.

“We used six fire trucks to put out the fire until 5 a.m.”

Boy hit by police car, Gold Coast

Brisbane Times [18/11/14]:

An unmarked police car has hit an eight-year-old boy who suffered a suspected fractured ankle, according to Queensland police.

The incident happened about 3pm on Tuesday on Bridgewater Drive, Varsity Lakes, on the Gold Coast.

Based on initial investigations, police believe the unmarked police car was conducting patrols in the area when the boy ran into the path ot the car.

The boy suffered a suspected fractured ankle and was treated on the scene before he was taken to hospital.

Investigations are continuing.

Toowoomba murder trial aborted due to jury tampering

Chronicle [18/11/14]:

Inappropriate contact with a juror has caused a Toowoomba Supreme Court murder trial to be aborted.

The jury had only heard the first day of evidence into the trial of Brian Frederick Pearson, 35, who is accused of murdering his wife Delarece Ann Pearson, 35, at an Oakey residence on the afternoon of June 26, 2011.

The Crown claimed Mrs Pearson had been stabbed in the face and back, the latter wound severing her aorta and she had died at the scene.

Brian Pearson had pleaded not guilty to the charge of murder.

However, before the second day of the hearing got underway yesterday, a juror alerted trial judge Justice Alan Wilson of having received a phone call earlier in the morning from someone trying to influence her verdict in the case.

Before the trial had begun on Monday, Justice Wilson had stressed to the jury members that they must not be swayed by any outside influences and to report any outside interference, which is what the juror did.

Crown prosecutor Vicki Loury and defence barrister Julie Sharp agreed that the trial should be stopped out of caution.

Justice Wilson therefore discharged the jury, explaining to the jury members that it was by no fault of theirs that he had to take such a course of action.

The trial has been set down for rehearing on Monday next week.

Tostee bail decision adjourned until Wednesday

Yahoo [18/11/14]:

Gable Tostee has pledged to stay off dating website Tinder and abstain from drinking alcohol if granted bail on a charge of murdering a New Zealand tourist.

Lawyers for the 28-year-old appeared at a bail hearing in the Supreme Court in Brisbane on Tuesday, three months after Tostee was charged with killing Warriena Wright.

Ms Wright, 26, plunged to her death from Tostee's Surfers Paradise apartment in the early hours of August 8, hours after meeting him on social dating website Tinder.

Defence barrister Soraya Ryan QC said Tostee's primary risk of reoffending stemmed from excessive alcohol consumption, which was linked to his Tinder use, and he would abstain from both if granted bail.

Ms Ryan said while Tostee would abide by a 6pm to 6am curfew, the publicity surrounding his case would make it near impossible to flee.

"At the heart of the applicant's intentions is the stated desire to clear his name," she said.

"That is the principal reason for remaining in the jurisdiction, and not fleeing."

The court also heard Tostee has been diagnosed with social anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder and alcohol use disorder and would seek entry to a treatment facility if granted bail.

However, crown prosecutor Ben Power said a minimum of 20 years' imprisonment for murder created a strong incentive for the accused to flee.

Mr Power said Tostee's own audio recording showed he assaulted his terrified victim before shoving her onto his high rise balcony where there was no sensible escape route.

"He had a choice of whether to allow the victim to leave. She was pleading with him to let her go," Mr Power told the court.

"He through that act deprived her of her liberty."

The remorseless Tostee had committed a dangerous act that threatened human life and was akin to locking someone in a trunk where they could suffocate, the prosecutor said.

Justice Debra Mullins conceded it wasn't a straightforward case of murder. She adjourned her bail decision until 9.15am on Wednesday.

Students lay tribute at slain Sydney woman's home

Nine MSN [18/11/14]:

Dozens of students have made a moving tribute to a Sydney woman who died outside her home yesterday, as her husband remains in jail charged with her murder.

More than 50 students from a local high school in Casula walked to the family home of 49-year-old Vesna Crnobrnja, who died there just over 24 hours ago.

There were sombre scenes as the students left floral tributes on the fence.

One student said an impromptu prayer, observed by students with bowed heads.

It came after CCTV emerged showing the moments immediately after Mrs Crnobrnja's death.

Police were called to a house in Flame Tree Street, Casula about 12.20pm yesterday after reports of a loud argument.

When officers arrived they found the body of Mrs Crnobrnja in the front yard.

According to police, the woman appeared to have suffered extensive facial and head injuries but a post mortem examination was required to determine the exact cause of death.

CCTV footage obtained by 9NEWS shows Mrs Crnobrnja's husband, Goran, 51, talking on his mobile phone shortly after the alleged murder.

He is then seen driving away before returning minutes later when he was arrested by police.

Early today, Mr Crnobrnja was charged with his wife's his murder.

"Police have been to the house in the past and the man is known to police," Detective Inspector Dean Johnson said.

"This appears to be a domestic violence incident."

Mr Crnobrnja stayed in the cells as his solicitor represented him at Liverpool Local Court today, where bail was formally refused.

His next appearance is scheduled for December 3rd.

The couple's three children - two adults and a 17-year-old boy - are now staying with family friends.

Appeal for people involved in search at Eungella Dam

QPS Media [18/11/14]:

Police are appealing for members of the public involved in the search for a man reported missing after his kayak capsized on November 15 at Eungella Dam to please contact their nearest police station.

A number of persons searched the area for the missing man in their private watercraft before emergency services arrived on scene on Sunday.

Members of the police dive squad located the body of a 49-year-old Mackay man on November 17.

Police would like to thank members of the public for their assistance and understanding while the search was conducted over the weekend.

A section of the dam was restricted during the search, and the co-operation of the public during that time was greatly appreciated.

Police are preparing a report for the coroner in relation to the incident, and would like to speak to anyone involved in the search.

Woman dead after car reverses over her in Herne Hill

WA Today [18/11/14]:

An 88-year-old woman has died of injuries sustained after being trapped under a car in Herne Hill, north-east of Perth.

Police said the woman became trapped just before 11am on Tuesday after the vehicle reversed over her on a driveway.

She was freed by emergency services and rushed to hospital in a critical condition.

She died shortly after admission.

The incident is being investigated by the Police Coronial Investigation Unit.

Kuluin man, 33, killed in crash, Gympie

Sunshine Coast Daily [18/11/14]:

Gympie police are still investigating a horrific crash that killed a 33-year-old man in Gympie early Sunday morning.

The driver, a Kuluin man, was heading north along the Bruce Hwy in a Ford Falcon XR6 ute when it ploughed into the back of a stationary truck and trailer, parked off the road, just south of Nicks Readymix.

Gympie Fire and Rescue station officer Cam Nichol said his team was called to the scene just after 1am.

When they arrived they found the driver dead at the scene and his car wedged under the back of the bulk cement dust carrier.

The force of impact was so severe it snapped the rear axle bolts off the trailer and pushed the engine of the ute into the cabin.

Mr Nichol said it took Gympie Fire and Rescue officers more than an hour to cut the body from the car.

Fatigue was thought to have been a contributing factor in the accident.

...

Corrections officer forged reports for sentencing of Canberra criminals

Canberra Times [17/11/14]:

A rogue Corrective Services officer forged a string of reports used to sentence Canberra criminals, including notorious double murderer Scott Alexander McDougall.

Corrections worker Leslie Owen Brien, 54, faked the signatures of his superiors in 13 separate cases over almost a year to get his assessments of criminals before magistrates, judges, and the Sentence Administration Board.

The forgery was discovered mainly on pre-sentence reports, which are designed to help judges gain an insight into criminals before they decide their fate.

In the most serious case, Brien faked his boss' signature on a report on a man who killed two people with a meat cleaver before burning down the Downer house in which their bodies lay.

His forged report was used by Justice Malcolm Gray in condemning the killer, Scott McDougall, to two life sentences in 2011.

Brien is now facing criminal charges for his conduct, and pleaded guilty in the ACT Magistrates Court on Thursday .

An internal audit of his work has revealed that, despite the fake signatures, the contents of Brien's unvetted assessments were not false.

His forgeries were eventually uncovered by a fellow staffer who was surprised by a decision of the sentencing board to release an ACT prisoner on parole in January 2012.

A Corrective Services team leader looked at the pre-release report completed by Brien, her junior, only to discover that it had been endorsed by her and signed in her name.

She reported Brien's forgery, and a short time later he appeared in the office.

According to court documents, he said:

"I owe you an apology. I was really stuck for getting a report vetted and I signed it in your name.

"Will you accept my apology?"

The decision to grant the prisoner parole was overturned after the board was alerted to the forged report.

Brien was reported to police, while an internal audit of all his work began.

That audit found Brien had forged signatures on 13 reports, 11 used by the ACT Magistrates Court and ACT Supreme Court in sentencing, and two by the sentencing board for parole decisions.

Most of the unvetted reports were referred to by judges or magistrates in the sentencing decisions in each of the 11 cases between March 2011 and January 2012.

Brien resigned in February 2012, and accepted responsibility for what had happened in an email to his superior.

"You claim the number of reports in question is at 13, when I read this I was dismayed at the number, but as I cannot remember actually doing this and given my health at the time I reluctantly accept your claim," he wrote.

Brien is now facing sentencing for the crimes.

Ironically, a pre-sentence report on Brien will need to be completed, meaning he will need to be interviewed by corrections staff.

But the court heard last week that conflicts of interest in the ACT and Queanbeyan, where he has also worked, require it to be done elsewhere in NSW.

The court heard Brien has no criminal history.

He is expected to reappear in the ACT Magistrates Court in February.

Queensland mine law will affect billions of litres of groundwater

Lock The Gate [18/11/14]:

A Queensland parliamentary committee today recommended the passing of a controversial new piece of legislation that will allow coal mining companies to remove billions of litres of groundwater without having to buy licences or adhere to caps.

The Water Reform and Other Legislation Bill gives mining companies a statutory right to take so-called “associated water” with no limit, no need to buy licences, and no right of appeal for affected landholders and communities.

Coal mines need to remove large volumes of water from the ground in order to access coal, since coal seams are themselves generally groundwater aquifers. In the Galilee Basin, the five mines already approved may need to remove as much as 1,354GL[1] of groundwater over the life of their mining activities.

Most of this water will be removed from region aquifers that feed towns, cattle stations and the tributaries of the Belyando River, but some will also be diverted from recharging the Great Artesian Basin.

Under the current system, the companies would have to purchase licences for this water under a Water Resource Plan that caps overall water removal. This new law removes that need, and gives coal mining companies a statutory right to take so-called “associated water”

This is a privilege already enjoyed by coal seam gas companies in Queensland. The Committee heard of the terrible experiences landholders in the Surat Basin have had negotiating with gas companies over “make good” provisions for the impacts of large-scale groundwater removal on their bores and farms.

This experience now looks set to be repeated with coal mines in Central Queensland.

Lock the Gate said, “The largest coal mining projects ever attempted in Australia are now approved for construction in the Galilee Basin in Central Queensland. These mines will need to remove billions of litres of groundwater from their combined 34 open cut pits, including water diverted from Australia’s greatest underground water resource, the Great Artesian Basin. The list of concessions being offered to the companies behind these mines is out of all proportion with the economic benefits they offer.
The Committee admitted there were problems with the make good arrangements in place for the gas industry but failed stand up for landholders against this extraordinary water-rights grab.

“Queensland can scarcely afford to deplete its groundwater sources so recklessly. For the wealthy, short-term mining industry to be given huge quantities of groundwater in regions where Queensland farmers and graziers depend utterly on their bores is unacceptable. Groundwater is our most precious resource, and for Queensland to prosper, its use must be sustainable in the long term.

“This reckless action by the Queensland parliament doesn’t just affect Queensland. The Great Artesian Basin is an irreplaceable asset for inland Australia, and one state should not be allowed to jeopardise it in this way, just to fix water scarcity problems faced by their mining mates.”

[1] Draining the Lifeblood. Lock the Gate 2013.

Keystone XL pipeline vote in Senate expected to be tight [CBC - 18/11/14]

Mental Health services funds switched to Anglicare

Morning Bulletin [18/11/14]:

Queensland Health released a statement to The Morning Bulletin yesterday to explain why funding for the adolescent counselling program at Carinity Wahroonga has been cut.

A spokesperson for the Minister for Health told the Bulletin the Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research undertook a review of community managed (non-government) mental health services in 2013 which recommended the provision of funding for services.

"Based on the findings, the recent tender process did not provide specific funding to support young people under the age of 18 years," the spokesperson said.

"However, organisations who had previously provided programs designated to a younger age group were invited to include this age cohort in their offer, and provide a rationale for inclusion."

They said Carinity Wahroonga provided a submission for two specific target populations aged 18 to 64 in the CQ Hospital and Health Service area and statewide services for people with eating disorders. The 13 to 17 year age group was included in their offer.

Carinity's offer was unsuccessful and approximately $1,054,640 in annual funding has been allocated to Anglicare CQ as the sole provider for the Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service.

The spokesperson said transitional funds were provided to Wahroonga between July and September to enable the transition of existing clients to other services.

In January 2014, a Headspace Centre opened in Rockhampton, funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health.

"We've seen in the comments that have been made by the clinicians who believe that we can cater for the high demand of youth who need these services. This program supports young people in the 12-24 age group dealing with issues and provides a confidential service delivered by qualified professionals."

The spokesperson also stated that the closure of the Barrett Centre in Brisbane was the beginning of a new look into mental health care facilities and that the closure needed to happen.

"And as for the tragic deaths of three people who were former patients of the centre who had taken their own lives, there are investigations in place to find out what circumstances led to their death and whether there is any learning from that."

Metro dumps contract with transport tycoon accused of ripping off workers

The Age [17/11/14]:

Rail operator Metro has terminated lucrative contracts with a transport tycoon who allegedly cheated his workers out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in wages and entitlements.

Embattled businessman Ray Evans has been hit with a Federal Court lawsuit over large-scale workplace law violations concerning multiple labour-hire firms he controlled.

Mr Evans owned or directed at least three companies understood to have supplied specialist diesel train drivers to Metro to carry out track maintenance for the past four years.

Fairfax Media has confirmed that Metro had formal contract deals with two of his companies, but the deals have since been dumped by the rail operator.

Staff were allegedly ripped off more than $200,000 during the course of their employment with Mr Evans' companies and were made to perform the same work despite being shifted from one entity to another.

The drivers had their jobs transferred from Regional Port Enterprises to Railway Employment Co, both wholly owned by Mr Evans, in June last year.

Regional Port Enterprizes then went into liquidation and the workers were never paid entitlements they were owed, it is alleged.

Court documents claim Mr Evans tried to transfer the workforce to a third company, Masked Fox, earlier this year, on reduced wages.

But when several workers refused the conditions of the new deal, Mr Evans allegedly stopped paying their wages and terminated their employment.

"They wanted us to work at 20 per cent less overnight," former employee Richard Ackland told Fairfax Media.

"We were treated extremely poorly and, worst of all, we were lied to, cheated, and done out of our just entitlements."

Another ex-employee, John Atkinson, said Mr Evans' transfer of assets and employees from one company to the other was a deliberate attempt to avoid paying creditors and entitlements.

"It was the same job, run by the same people, but under a different banner," he said.

Five of the drivers are being represented in civil proceedings on foot in the Federal Court.

Industrial law associate with Maurice Blackburn, Enrico Burgio, said Mr Evans' "pattern of corporate scheming" had cost drivers hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost wages, superannuation, salary sacrifice, leave entitlements and redundancy pay.

"We are seeking full compensation and significant penalties both against the companies and Mr Evans personally," he said.

Mr Evans previously ran national freight carrier El Zorro Transport before it collapsed in 2013 and failed to pay out employees' superannuation. The company's workers had to access the federal government's superannuation guarantee scheme.

Marc Marotta, the state locomotive division secretary of the Rail, Tram and Bus Union, said government regulators and lax corporate laws had failed Mr Evans' employees.

"We see this too often in other industries, but this is the first time we have seen this behaviour from these sorts of enterprises in Victoria," Mr Marotta said.

"All our members have ever wanted is to be treated with respect and to be paid for the labour they provide."

Mr Evans refused to respond to questions when contacted by Fairfax Media.

Metro spokeswoman Larisa Tait said it could not comment on the case because legal proceedings were underway.

The Electrical Trades Union and The Services Union have accused the state government of blatant political interference in enterprise bargaining negotiations, after it announced a one-off employment security offer for electricity workers in Energex, Ergon and Powerlink. ... [North West Star - 18/11/14]

President of Argentina praises 'anti-vulture' message in G20 summit

Buenos Aires Herald [17/11/14]:

President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner reappeared on social network Twitter, where the head of state wrote a series of messages highlighting the importance of the inclusion in G20 final statement of a passage reflecting Argentina's fight against holdout investors.

Cristina had been out of the public eye for over two weeks following a spell in hospital to treat a bout of sigmoiditis. After leaving the Otamendi clinic, she was advised to continue her convalescence in the presidential residence located in Olivos, and is yet to return to official duties.

"For the first time in the history of the G20 the issue of debt restructuring has been put into the final statement. Argentina's case has already proved effective in changing the story of the emission of sovereign debt," CFK said today via the social network.

The president, however, also included some strong words for US counterpart Barack Obama.

"It seems outrageous, these are the same policies that Argentina has been proposing since the first G20 summit in Washington back in 2008. George Bush was in charge," she fired.

"The world has changed so little, how sad."

The head of state concluded her message with praise for the efforts of the Argentine delegation in Australia, headed by Economy minister Axel Kicillof and Foreign minister Héctor Timerman in Cristina's absence.

"The Argentine delegation returned to the country with the satisfaction of having contributed not only the Argentine experience to the G20 summit, but also openly and clearly condemning the vulture funds' conduct, something which we believe should be taken up politically by the leaders of those countries," she explained.

United States continue bombing Syria, Iraq

Centcom [17/11/14]:

U.S military forces continued to attack ISIL terrorists in Syria Nov. 14-17 using fighter and bomber aircraft to conduct eleven airstrikes.

Separately, U.S. and partner nation military forces conducted 20 airstrikes in Iraq Nov. 14-17 using attack, bomber, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft against ISIL terrorists.

In Syria, nine airstrikes near Kobani destroyed seven ISIL fighting positions, suppressed another ISIL fighting position, destroyed four ISIL staging areas, and struck one tactical ISIL unit. Two airstrikes near Dayr Az Zawr struck an ISIL crude oil collection facility and destroyed one ISIL tank.

In Iraq, four airstrikes near Ar Rutbah destroyed nine ISIL trucks, two ISIL excavators and one ISIL front-loader, and damaged one ISIL vehicle.

Three airstrikes near Fallujah destroyed two ISIL vehicles, one ISIL bulldozer and one ISIL front-loader.

One airstrike southwest of Mosul Dam destroyed one ISIL bulldozer and struck one tactical ISIL unit. Two airstrikes west of Mosul struck two ISIL tactical units and destroyed one ISIL vehicle and an ISIL fighting position.

Three airstrikes near Kirkuk struck one tactical ISIL unit, and damaged one ISIL tank and destroyed another.

One airstrike southwest of Al Qaim destroyed one ISIL vehicle. One airstrike in Tel Afar struck one tactical ISIL unit.

Five airstrikes near Bayji struck two tactical ISIL units and one large ISIL unit and destroyed one ISIL tank, one ISIL vehicle, and four ISIL fighting positions.

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

...

@IraqiSpringMC - Iraqi Spring Media Center [17/11/14]:

Anbar-Fallujah: Fallujah Hospital has been shelled by 4 missiles........

A roadside bomb was exploded at Street 40 in Saidiya hay west of Baghdad resulted in wounding of one civilian .......

Baghdad/agencies: 3 persons were killed as a roadside bomb exploded at Adan intersection in Sha'ab last night.......

Salah-il-deen : The aircrafts have shelled Shurqat near Sakaniya village resulted in killing of 3 civilians......

Two bombings killed 5, injured 20 civilians in Baghdad [IraqiNews.com - 17/11/14]

Hong Kong authorities begin clearing part of main protest camp

The media at this point seem to be doing more to obstruct the bailiffs than anyone else. #OccupyHK

Image: @mprobertson [18/11/14]

Channel News Asia [18/11/14]:

Authorities in Hong Kong on Tuesday cleared a small part of the city's main pro-democracy protest camp, the first of several planned evictions to shrink mass sit-ins that have blocked major thoroughfares for seven weeks.

There was no resistance from demonstrators as workers dismantled metal barricades blocking access to a skyscraper opposite government headquarters, on the edge of the sprawling camp in the central Admiralty district.

Dozens of police and bailiffs stood guard as staff removed the barriers from outside the 33-floor CITIC Tower office block, enforcing a court injunction won by the building's owners.

But an argument broke out as the workers removed several more fences from a nearby roundabout, with protesters shouting that the area did not fall under the injunction.

"This is unacceptable to the protesters," pro-democracy lawmaker Albert Ho shouted at the bailiffs through a loudspeaker.

The court order affects only the immediate area around the skyscraper, leaving a long section of a multi-lane highway still under occupation, and filled with hundreds of colourful tents.

Protesters have been camped on three major Hong Kong thoroughfares since Sep 28, demanding that Beijing grants free leadership elections to the semi-autonomous Chinese city.

Beijing has said it will allow a public vote to elect Hong Kong's next leader in 2017 - but it insists the candidates must be vetted by a loyalist panel, which the protesters say will ensure the election of a pro-Beijing stooge.

Tuesday's operation stems from the first of three injunctions sought by private companies and associations in a bid to shrink the protest areas. Bus companies and taxi drivers' groups are pursuing two similar court orders to clear other blocked roads in the city, saying business has taken a heavy hit from weeks of traffic disruption.

A second injunction seeks the clearance of roads in the Mongkok district, home to the second-largest protest camp, while court proceedings are continuing over other parts of the main camp at Admiralty. The third protest site is in the busy shopping district of Causeway Bay.

The dark shadows behind the power of Narendra Modi and Xi Jinping [Sydney Morning Herald - 18/11/14]

Greece: 20,000 join annual protest to US Embassy

Yahoo [17/11/14]:

Protesters clashed briefly with riot police during an otherwise peaceful rally of 20,000 people in Athens Monday to mark the 41st anniversary of a deadly student uprising against the country's former dictatorship.

Police used tear gas and stun grenades to disperse a few dozen demonstrators who were breaking up paving stones to throw at officers, but no injuries or arrests were reported. Minor clashes between police and anarchists broke out later Monday in another part of Athens after the end of the march.

The annual march ends at the U.S. Embassy in protest of American backing for the 1967-74 dictatorship.

This year it was policed by some 7,000 officers, deployed to prevent a potential repeat of violence seen in previous years. In recent rallies, protesters have also voiced anger at harsh austerity measures meant to shore up the battered economy.

The 1973 Polytechnic Uprising challenged the dictatorship, and police and the army responded by opening fire against demonstrators and bystanders around a central Athens campus. The regime collapsed the following year.

What exactly are people with ALP links promoting when they appear in racist, bigoted and anti-refugee Murdoch publications (such as the 'Adelaide Advertiser')?

Great to walk with @JasonClareMP [ALP Blaxland] with the banner for @welcome2aussie this afternoon - here post-walk #WalkTogether

Image: @timsout - Tim Soutphommasane - Race Discrimination Commissioner [24/10/14]

Bible Society [8/12/13]:

... Brad Chilcott is a pastor in Adelaide and founder of Welcome To Australia, a movement encouraging Australians to actively welcome asylum seekers, refugees and other migrants.

Chilcott also acted as an advisor to former Immigration Minister, Tony Burke, during the Minister’s three-month stint in the role, tasked with helping the Department release as many children as possible from detention.

409 unaccompanied children were released in that period. In the increasingly hostile politics surrounding asylum seekers, perseverance from the church is needed until change comes, he says.

“We might feel that we can’t change what our leaders are doing but we can continue to befriend and welcome asylum seekers.”

...

Tony Burke imprisoned Reza Barati on Manus Island. [Grenfell Record - 8/8/13]:

Tough policies preventing settlement in Australia appear to be deterring asylum seekers, with signs of boat arrivals tapering off and reports of people demanding refunds from people smugglers.

Immigration Minister Tony Burke said on Wednesday that large numbers of asylum seekers who had paid upfront for passage to Australia were demanding their money back from smugglers.

And a senior Defence source said that arrivals appeared to be tapering off since Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced his hardline solution of sending asylum seekers to Papua New Guinea. The highly placed source noted that poor weather was also a factor but was unlikely to account for the extent of the downturn.

With the two major parties set to keep slugging out the immigration battle throughout the election campaign, Mr Burke said there was ''no doubt that the message is getting through'' that asylum seekers would go to PNG rather than be settled in Australia.

The news of a slowing of arrivals comes as the Department of Immigration and Citizenship says via Twitter that another group of asylum seekers, the fourth, has been transferred to Manus Island, bringing to 158 the total number of people taken to detention in PNG since the hardline stance was announced.

One asylum seeker in Indonesia told Fairfax Media that people smugglers could now find ''hardly any'' people willing to board their boats.

Boat arrivals have been down about a quarter since Mr Rudd announced the PNG plan. But that includes a massive spike in the week after the plan was announced, with about 1250 arrivals in those seven days, including six boats with nearly 500 passengers in one day.

The following week there were fewer than 400 arrivals and in the six days since then there have been about 360 arrivals.

The total number of asylum seekers to arrive since Mr Rudd unwound the tough Howard-era policies has now topped 50,000, which Opposition Leader Tony Abbot branded a ''terrible milestone''.

''This has been an absolute disaster for our country,'' he said.

But Mr Burke said the government's hardline policy was getting through, with reports that asylum seekers were demanding their money back from people smugglers en masse in Indonesia.

He said he could not offer more details about the situation in Indonesia because he had only ''specific clearance'' to release some information.

''There is no doubt that the message is getting through. For everything that's been attempted in the past with people smugglers, it's become clear that the only way to affect them is to take their product away and to take their customers away. When I say the demands for money back are widespread, they are absolutely widespread.''

A senior Defence source said there did appear to be a slowing of arrivals, although poor weather to Australia's north was likely having an influence.

''There is an apparent slowing of current vessels but weather and sea states are also impacting on their transits, so a better understanding of the impacts of current policies might be available once the weather clears,'' the source said.

Iranian asylum seeker Bizhan Jahangir reported that people smugglers operating out of Indonesia were already feeling the pinch.

"I know some smugglers here, and they want to find customers, [but] there are no customers now,'' he said.

''They can find hardly any customers, refugees, to go in this situation.

"About three days ago a boat left for Australia, illegally, with only about 30 passengers. You know the capacity of one boat is at least 100 passengers. The smugglers know that from now it will be hard to find new customers."

But it is not only Australia's new policy that is having an impact on the flow of refugees passing through Indonesia. It seems visa restrictions are making it harder for Iranian refugees, at least, to use the country as a staging post on their route to Australia.

"Iranians are finding it hard to get Indonesian visas. They have to come to Indonesia illegally. They have to fly first to Malaysia, then perhaps get a boat to Indonesia. It's very hard for Iranians. Iranians don't want to come to Indonesia. They will find other ways to go to other countries, not Australia.''

Coalition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said: ''Minister Burke will talk and talk, but at the end of the day the arrangement that he's agreed with Papua New Guinea doesn't back up his big, bold claims.''

Israel razes Bedouin village for 78th time, detains 4 minors in Jerusalem

Al Akhbar [17/11/14]:

Israeli Occupation Forces on Monday razed the Bedouin village of al-Araqib in the Negev Desert for the 78th time in four years, local residents said, while four Palestinian minors were detained in Jerusalem.

An Araqib resident who asked to remain anonymous told Anadolu news agency that "dozens of Israeli forces backed by five bulldozers stormed the village at dawn today and began demolishing homes and other structures."

"The soldiers were heavily armed. They drove us out under the rain before they demolished our homes for 78th time in four years,” he added.

The village was demolished for the first time in July 2010, before being rebuilt with metal and wood.

The Israeli government classifies approximately 40 villages in the Negev Desert as "unrecognized," arguing that the roughly 53,000 Palestinian Bedouins living there cannot prove their ownership of the land and are hence living there “illegally.”

Dozens of Palestinians with Israeli citizenship living in Araqib say that they have owned the land since before Israel came into being in 1948.

Mohammed Abu Fireh, one of the Araqib villagers whose houses were demolished, told Anadolu that he will rebuild his house immediately.

“I have seven members in the family. I will rebuild my house immediately or they will die from the cold," Abu Fireh said.

"They can’t remove us from our land. This has been our land for hundreds of years, and it will be our sons' land as well," he said.

...

UN official calls on Israeli, Palestinian leaders to make ‘difficult compromises’ for peace [UN Media Release - 17/11/14]

The European Union said Monday it deplored Israeli plans to build new settlements on occupied Palestinian territory but denied outright that it planned sanctions against Israel as a result. ... [Naharnet - 17/11/14]

Colombia talks on hold after general snatched

Al Jazeera [17/11/14]:

Authorities in Colombia have launched a massive search and rescue mission for an army general who they suspect was taken captive by FARC rebels, prompting the government to suspend critical peace talks.

General Ruben Dario Alzate and two civilians were abducted on Sunday afternoon while travelling by motor boat along a remote river in western Colombia to survey an energy project.

A fourth soldier managed to flee the ambush and reported that the captors were members of a FARC brigade.

FARC has not commented on the allegations.

"Negotiations with FARC are suspended until the facts of the kidnapping of general Alzate are clarified," Colombia's Ministry of Defence said in a tweet citing President Manuel Santos Santos, following a meeting between the president and military leaders.

"If confirmed, it would be the first time in a half-century of conflict that the rebels have taken an army general hostage, Colombian media reported.

It also comes as frustration with two-year-old peace talks between the rebels and the government is building due to an apparent refusal by the guerrilla fighters to wind down attacks in areas where they remain dominant.

Al Jazeera's Lucia Newman, reporting from Chile, said Santos was under huge pressure from "millions of Colombians hoping the negotiations would put an end to the longest-running internal conflict in the western Hemisphere."

"In the short term this is a really serious setback for peace talks which had been the cornerstone of Santos' administration," Newman said.

...

Americans Suspected of Trying to Ship Baby Body Parts Flee Thailand: Police

Jakarta Globe [17/11/14]:

Thai police said on Monday two Americans suspected of trying to send infant and adult body parts in parcels to the United States had fled the country.

A baby’s head, a baby’s foot sliced into three parts, a heart and a “sheet of skin” with tattoo markings were found in parcels on Saturday after staff at a shipping office in Bangkok scanned the packages, police said.

The parts were stored in plastic containers filled with formaldehyde and the packages were destined for an address in Las Vegas.

“X-rays showed there were contents similar to human body parts. From our investigation of three parcels we found human body parts in five plastic containers,” Police Lieutenant General Ruangsak Jaritake, assistant to the National Police Commissioner, told reporters.

“The packages were marked ‘children’s toys’ but x-rays showed they were not children’s toys.”

Police named the two suspects, aged 31 and 33, and said they were being “monitored”, but did not say how.

Both men fled Thailand on Sunday through a checkpoint in the east of the country, Ruangsak said.

He said the heart had stab marks and belonged to an adult while the sheet of skin with tattoo markings also belonged to an adult.

“As soon as we have results, we will contact the FBI,” he said.

In 2012, Thai police arrested a British citizen of Taiwanese origin after discovering six human foetuses which had been roasted and covered in gold leaf stuffed into travel bags at a hotel room in Bangkok’s Chinatown.

Thai detectives said they believed the corpses were due to be sent to Taiwan to be used as part of a black magic ritual.

US style police killing of civilians becoming commonplace in Australia

Co-incides with pro police PR campaign [VIDEO - Queensland Police Union - October 2014]

Brisbane Times [18/11/14]:

A man has been left "pretty devastated" after his room mate was shot dead by police, saying he "saw it happen".

Adam Sant said police came into his room about 12.50pm on Tuesday and woke him up, asking to see his room mate of two months.

Police were called to the home on Elizabeth Avenue in Kippa Ring about midnight, after receiving several hoax calls.

"I told them I could go and get him for them and they were like 'yep, that's fine'," Adam told Fairfax Radio 4BC.

"So I went and knocked on his door and got him up and he opened the door and I said 'the police are here for you' and something happened then.

"And then I turned around and looked at the police, you know just to see if I have to move away then or anything.

"And I turned back around and he had a knife in his hand trying to rush them and stuff.

"And I've tried to stop him from doing it and I actually ended up getting pepper sprayed instead of he did. I've dropped to the ground and he's gone to rush them so they have shot two bullets and actually hit him in the chest."

Superintendent Mick Brady said the man lunged at the officers with a knife, prompting police to open fire.

The 33-year-old man died after being shot twice.

...

Brisbane man wakes from coma after being shot in the head by police [Brisbane Times - 3/11/14]:

A Brisbane man has woken from a coma after he was shot in the head by police two weeks ago.

It is understood 29-year-old Mitchell Jovic emerged from his coma early Sunday at the Princess Alexandra Hospital, but remains in the intensive care unit in a serious condition.

It was feared Mr Jovic would most likely remain in a vegetative state after being shot in the head by police during an incident reportedly sparked by a stolen ride-on mower.

Two police officers visited a Priestdale Road property at Rochedale in Brisbane's south where they allegedly found the stolen mower in a trailer attached to a four-wheel-drive on October 21.

It is believed Mr Jovic was sitting in the 4WD and sped towards the two constables when they arrived.

The officers fired up to five shots at Mr Jovic, who was hit in the head and arm.

A second man who was in the 4WD was not injured and was arrested.

...

The incident is being investigated by the Queensland Police Service's internal Ethical Standards Command.

It is understood Mr Jovic is now under police guard in hospital.

Mystery delegate from G20 is holidaying on Hamilton Island

Daily Mercury [18/11/14]:

A mystery G20 delegate is holidaying on Hamilton Island.

VMR Whitsunday was asked by Water Police to transfer a protection officer to Hamilton Island on short notice, as they were already occupied in the search for the missing kayaker in Eungella.

The officer had to meet an incoming flight carrying the VIP.

VMR posted on its Facebook page "We could tell you who (it is), but then we would have to shoot you".

Queensland police kick and hit disabled man and his carer at Sunnybank shopping centre

Yahoo [18/11/14]:

A disabled Brisbane man has been repeatedly punched by police in an arrest that's sparked an outpouring of anger on social media.

Police say they are looking into the circumstances of the arrest after footage of the weekend incident at a Sunnybank shopping centre was posted online.

The footage shows police pinning an agitated disabled man, who has no legs, to the ground and one officer punching him at least four times in the head.

It also shows a woman screaming at police that she is the man's carer, and putting her body between police and the man. [Police then smash her against a chair and to the floor.]

The pair are shown screaming at the three officers involved to get off them.

The footage has sparked outrage about how police dealt with the man in the middle of the shopping centre's crowded food court.

Queensland police say they are aware of the incident and are looking into the circumstances, but could not say if an ethical standards investigation had been launched.

Police also said the man and woman are facing a range of charges, including entering a premise with intent, stealing, seriously assaulting police and obstructing police.

Hit and run, Redbank Creek

QPS Media [18/11/14]:

Police are investigating a traffic incident on the Esk Hampton Range, Redbank Creek between Slaughter and Regent Roads which left a man with serious injuries on Sunday, 16 November.

At around 10:15am witnesses observed a motor vehicle and caravan travelling westbound on Esk Hampton Road collide with a motorcycle travelling in an easterly direction, towards Esk.

The motor vehicle towing the caravan failed to remain at the scene.

The rider of the motorcycle was airlifted to Princess Alexandra Hospital for treatment of serious leg injuries.

The motor vehicle is described as a white coloured Toyota Land Cruiser towing a twin-axle, white coloured, late model caravan with a distinctive grey stipe along the side.

Debris located at the scene suggests there will be damage to the cowl cover of the caravan’s gas heater.

Smashed red and orange lights also found at the scene suggest there may be damage to either the motor vehicle or caravan.

Investigations are underway to locate the driver of the Land Cruiser and caravan to assist with investigations into the cause of the crash.

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.

Eight people injured, car set on fire after truck veers into oncoming traffic on Gold Coast

ABC [18/11/14]:

Eight people have been injured after a truck veered across a median strip on the Pacific Motorway on the Gold Coast and struck four cars, leaving one of them on fire.

Police, ambulance and fire crews were called to the scene in the northbound lane at Coomera earlier just after 9am (AEST).

The Queensland Ambulance Service said on Twitter a total of eight patients were taken to hospital.

One of them, a woman, was in a serious condition with lower leg and chest injuries.

She was taken to Gold Coast University Hospital in Southport.

Three more patients - two women and a child - were taken to hospital in a stable condition.

One of the women had a wrist injury and the other had a cheek injury.

The child was taken to hospital as a precaution.

Two men with lacerations to their arms were taken to the Robina Hospital in stable conditions.

Delivery driver Andan Ansari was heading towards the Gold Coast when he saw one of the cars involved in the incident on fire in the median strip.

"From the distance I thought it was a bushfire. I thought it was something like that," he said.

"When I got closer I realised it was a very terrible accident."

The crash occurred directly opposite the Coomera Police Station in the northbound lane, which is currently blocked.

Traffic is backed up about six kilometres.

Motorists travelling north could divert off onto the service road and return to the motorway at Days Road at the BP, Queensland Police Service said on Facebook.

"Motorists travelling southbound should travel at normal speed and not slow down to avoid causing delays," police said.

The traffic and travel information website 13 19 40 said long delays were expected on the M1 at Coomera.

Traffic cameras in the areas show a lengthy build up of vehicles heading north passed Helensvale.

Fatal traffic crash, Charters Towers

QPS Media [17/11/14]:

The Forensic Crash Unit is investigating a fatal crash that occurred this afternoon near Charters Towers.

Initial information suggests that around 3.45pm, a woman located a utility off to the side of Sandy Creek Road, approximately 10km west of Charters Towers.

A 77-year-old Southern Cross man was found trapped in the driver’s seat of the vehicle.

He was transported to the Charters Towers Hospital, where he was pronounced deceased a short while later.

There is no further information available at this stage. 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.

Today I visited a slum where low paid workers in Phnom Penh live on a rubbish dump. #FactFindCambodia

Image: @sarahinthesen8 - Senator Sarah Hanson-Young [17/11/14]

Senator Sarah Hanson-Young [17/11/14]:

It's the first day of #FactFindCambodia - my trip to one of the poorest nations on Earth, to see what awaits the refugees Tony Abbott wants to dump there.

I met Tayab, a refugee from Myanmar, who lives in Phnom Penh. He struggles to survive on $5 a day with no citizenship, family reunion or official ID.

No Australian media outlet will send a journalist to Nauru, Manus to verify what is going on?

Evidently they prefer that the Minister for Immigration, Murdoch Press and Ray Hadley control the narrative

Urgent: Vigilantes attack Nauruan refugees – one man blinded [Refugee Action Coalition, Sydney - 18/11/14]

How can Lateline report "Tension on Nauru" without talking to the refugees? If they are scared of government repercussions, why not say?

Refugees told by locals to leave Nauru or face ‘bad things happening’ again [Guardian - 17/11/14]

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.

Refugees a threat to PNG

Letter to the Editor, The National [18/11/14]:

As a citizen of a country rich in resources, minerals, wildlife species and non-poisonous atmosphere, I am deeply worried about the well-being and security of my country. I oppose Foreign Affairs Minister Rimbink Pato’s decision in allowing the asylum seekers at Manus to have work permits after learning English, Tok Pisin and our native cultures. The first ten refugees to undergo the training were mostly from Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan. This is a one-sided decision because they hold their Islamic and Hindu belief systems and have war experiences. I do not want to see explosions, nuclear threats or suicide bombings in my peaceful country. I love my native lifestyle and do not want to live in terror. Please, minister, think about tomorrow, not today.

Justin Yorkie
Lae

... What is this place? ...

Samar Alzeiny, sister of refugee incarcerated at Australia's refugee death camp on Manus Island.

... When planes started arriving with transferees we were not allowed to go to the airport, and to this day we are not allowed to go into the centre, and we don't know what is actually happening there. ...

Ruth Mandrakamu - Mayor, Lorengau, Manus Island


Strangers in Paradise [VIDEO - East 101 - Al Jazeera - 24/10/14]

Knight’s tribunal begins

PNG Loop [17/11/14]:

The three-day leadership tribunal for Manus MP Ronny Knight began today, as misconduct in office allegations against him are determined.

The Port Moresby hearings of the tribunal will continue until Wednesday where evidence and witnesses will be brought in to testify.

Following the three day hearing, dates will be set for hearings in Manus.

The appointment of the leadership tribunal follows a request by Public Prosecutor Pondros Kaluwin on Sept 30, 2014, under section 27 (2) and (7)(e) of the Organic Law on the Duties and Responsibilities of Leadership.

The tribunal members are Judge Salatiel Lenalia as chairman, and senior magistrates Ignatius Kurei and Rosie Johnston.

Bushfire burns close to Northam immigration concentration camp, WA

ABC [17/11/14]:

A bushfire is burning out of control near an immigration detention centre in the Western Australian town of Northam.

The Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) has issued a watch and act alert for the area around the Northam Army Training camp, the site of the Yongah Hill immigration detention centre, near the Great Eastern Highway.

The fire, which was reported at 3:08pm (AWST), was moving south-east at about 300 metres per hour, according to the department.

Aerial water-bombers have been sent to assist firefighters on the ground.

A detainee at the Yongah Hill immigration detention centre said the bushfire was burning about 400m away from the fence.

The detainee, who did not want to be named, said firefighters were battling the flames and water-bombing helicopters and planes were flying overhead.

He said detainees were not being evacuated.

"The flames are coming our way," he said.

"I am worried, but there is nothing we can do."

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection has been contacted for comment.

Asylum Seekers Not Provided With Full Details Of Data Breach [New Matilda - 17/11/14]

Philanthropist couple who saved 3,000 migrants at sea appeal for funds

Reuters [17/11/14]:

A philanthropist couple who saved 3,000 lives at sea after investing in a ship to rescue migrants from rickety boats in the Mediterranean are appealing for funds to relaunch their mission next year.

Malta-based Christopher and Regina Catrambone launched the Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS), the first privately funded migrant rescue service, at the end of August and carried out three 20-day missions at sea.

They stopped sailing at the end of September due to the 400,000 monthly cost of running the rescue operation, but are now raising funds to return to action in March and "give thousands more people a new shot at life".

As of September this year, a record number of 3,072 migrants had drowned trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea, up from 2,360 last year, according to the International Organisation for Migration.

"I was particularly struck by the men and women who had to drop everything and sell all their belongings to take their families on this journey," Christopher Catrambone told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Recalling an elderly Syrian couple who had to leave their hometown, Christopher said it was difficult to comprehend the desperation that would have driven them to undertake such a dangerous journey.

"Yet in a way these are the lucky ones, who had the financial means to fund the trip. It saddens me to think about the hundreds of thousands stuck in refugee camps in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan."

...

Yarl's Wood: Undercover tour of detention centre with dreadful reputation for its treatment of asylum seekers [Independent - 16/11/14]

Afghanistan: US drone strike kills 5 in Nangarhar

Khaama [17/11/14]:

A senior Taliban commander was killed following a drone strike by NATO-led coalition security forces in eastern Nangarhar province.

According to local security officials, the airstrike was carried out late on Sunday night in Haska Meena district.

Provincial police chief, Fazal Ahmad Sherzad said at least four Taliban militants were also killed following the airstrike.

Sherzad further added that the Taliban commander was identified as Aimal who was involved in major terrorist activities in Haska Meena district.

According to Sherzad, commander Aimal was also involved in closing schools in this district.

The Taliban militants group has not commented regarding the report so far.

Nangarhar is among the relatively volatile provinces in eastern Afghanistan where anti-government armed militant groups are actively operating in a number of its remote districts and frequently carry out insurgency activities.

The Taliban militants closed at least 28 schools and educational institutes in Deh Bala district of Nangarhar province last week after Afghan forces arrested a number of their group members in this district.

At least 20 Taliban militants were killed and 22 others were injured during military operations by Afghan national security forces in the past 24 hours. ... [Khaama - 17/11/14]

One Dead, 200 Arrested as Kenya Police Raid Mosques

Naharnet [17/11/14]:

One man was killed Monday as Kenyan security forces arrested over 200 people and seized weapons in raids on mosques accused of links with Somalia's Al-Qaeda affiliated Shebab militants, police said.

Security forces began the operation in the early hours of Monday morning, targeting the Masjid Musa and Sakina mosques in the port city of Mombasa.

"We had information that the group has been planning an attack, and that is why the raid was conducted," Mombasa police chief Geoffrey Mayek said, adding that 201 people had been arrested.

A 20-year-old man was shot dead by police during the raid in the Musa mosque after he tried to throw a grenade at officers, Mayek said.

"As we entered the mosque, one youth armed with a hand grenade attempted to hurl it at our officers who quickly shot him," he told reporters.

Hand grenades and a pistol were seized.

Several Islamic preachers have been shot dead in Mombasa in recent years in alleged extra-judicial killings by security forces and power struggles between rival Muslim factions. Churches have also been attacked.

Hussein Khalid, from the Mombasa-based civil society group HAKI Africa, condemned the raids, warning that "force will only act to heighten tension in what is already a volatile situation."

Western nations have warned their nationals to avoid all but essential travel to Mombasa, a key transport hub as well as an important tourist center for the country's Indian Ocean coastline.

The city has been hit by bombings and shootings since Kenya invaded Somalia in 2011 to attack the Shebab, later joining an African Union force battling the Islamists.

The Shebab carried out the September 2013 attack on Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall, killing at least 67 people as a warning to Kenya to pull its troops out of southern Somalia.

UN Human Rights Council hears testimony of Palestinian families

Maan [17/11/14]:

The investigation committee of the UN Human Rights Council has listened to testimonies of victims’ families and civil society organizations, the representative of Palestine to the HRC said Saturday.

Speaking to Ma’an, Ibrahim Khreisha said the committee, which has been tasked to investigate possible crimes by Israeli forces in the Palestinian territory, spent a week in Jordan after Israel denied its members entry to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

In Jordan, he said, the committee members listened to testimonies given by families of Palestinian victims, representatives of Palestinian civil society organizations and UN officials based in the Palestinian territory.

The committee consists of 15 human rights experts, investigators and technical teams. Experts will each return to his or her country, while the technical team will head to Geneva where they will study the testimonies collected in Jordan.

Khreisha denounced Israel for denying the committee members entry to Palestine and added that he considered it another Israeli violation of Palestinian rights.

The committee will use videoconference technology this week to listen to testimonies of as many bereaved Gaza families as possible. The team was supposed to enter the Gaza Strip via Egypt, but the security conditions in Sinai Peninsula have prevented that, added Khreisha. He said that the team is scheduled to visit Gaza in January.

The investigation committee is required to submit its final report to be discussed during the regular session which starts on March 1, 2015.

“Only representatives of Palestine and Israel would be allowed to see the final report 48 hours before it’s submitted to the regular session,” Khreisha added.

He said that the report would be different in form and specifications from the so-called Goldstone report of 2009 as the new report will include possible Israeli crimes from Jun 16, 2014 until the day the report is submitted.

Palestinian driver found hanged inside Israeli bus [Maan - 17/11/14]

Israel bans Colombian Foreign Minister from entering West Bank [Al Akhbar - 16/11/14]

US State Department network shut amid reports of cyber breach

Channel News Asia [17/11/14]:

The US State Department had to shut down its unclassified computer network over the weekend after evidence emerged that it could have been hacked, the US media reported late Sunday.

The State Department said in an email late Friday that the shutdown came as scheduled routine maintenance to its main unclassified network, and would impact email traffic and access to public websites. But on Sunday reports emerged that there was evidence a hacker may have breached the security in portions of the system handling non-classified emails.

A senior official told the Washington Post there had been "activity of concern" but that none of the departments classified systems had been compromised. If hacked, the State Department would be the latest in a series of government agencies to face cyber security breaches - though it is not clear if there is any link between the incidents.

Last week, the US Postal Service said hackers stole sensitive personal information from its employees in a large data breach this year, and got some customer data as well. A USPS spokesman said the breach affected as many as 800,000 people who are paid by the agency, including employees and private contractors.

The statement said hackers also penetrated payment systems at post offices and online where customers pay for services. The agency was working with the FBI and other law enforcement in an investigation. And last month, the White House reported an intrusion in its unclassified computer network.

In the course of addressing the breach, some White House users were temporarily disconnected from the network, an official said, but the computers and systems were not damaged. The Washington Post quoted sources as saying hackers believed to be working for the Russian government were believed to be responsible.

Moscow Expels Polish Diplomats in Spying Row [Naharnet - 17/11/14]

Modi, Abbott sign pacts on social security, narcotics, transfer of prisoners - seek closure on uranium deal

NDTV [18/11/14]:

India and Australia signed a series of agreements on Tuesday after the summit-level talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Australian counterpart Tony Abbott.

Prime Minister Modi, who was earlier given a ceremonial reception, is also to address the Australian Parliament.

Here are the latest developments in this story:

The five memorandums signed between the two countries were in the areas of social security, transfer of sentenced prisoners, combating narcotics trade, arts and culture and tourism.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi also sought an early closure of India-Australia nuclear deal to facilitate the import of uranium. The two countries had sealed a landmark civil nuclear deal that will facilitate sale of uranium to India during the visit of Mr Abbott to New Delhi in September.

Australia has about 40 per cent of the world's uranium reserves and exports nearly 7,000 tonnes of yellow cake annually. India and Australia had commenced negotiations for the sale of uranium in early 2012.

In his statement after the signing of the agreements, PM Modi said, "This is a natural partnership. Huge opportunities of partnership in every area we can think of."

"The economic climate in India has changed it will be easier to change opportunities into outcomes," the PM said, announcing that India will hold a Make in India show in 2015.

Australia will hold a business week in India in January.

Mr Abbott, who referred to the Indian PM by his first name, said, "Trade means jobs, trade means prosperity, we both need more jobs and prosperity. There are two 'can-do' prime ministers in this chamber today. We can make it happen."

Before the signing of the statements, the Prime Minister had tweeted, "I feel my friendship with @TonyAbbottMHR will further strengthen India-Australia ties in the years to come."

Mr Modi had reached Canberra late in the night and in a departure from protocol, was received by Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop. On Tuesday morning, he visited the Australian War Memorial with Mr Abbott.

The visit comprises the third leg of the PM's Australian tour - the first by an Indian Prime Minister in 28 years. He has been to Brisbane, where he attended the G20 summit, and Sydney, where he addressed a 20,000-strong crowd from Olympic Park.

The Prime Minister is expected to leave Canberra for Melbourne around 12.30 pm local time.

After his four-city visit to Australia, he will visit Fiji, before returning to India.

Australia and India to start uranium sale talks [The Age - 7/3/13]

Fukushima nuclear cleanup stymied by water woes

Japan Today [17/11/14]:

More than three years into the massive cleanup of Japan’s tsunami-damaged nuclear power plant, only a tiny fraction of the workers are focused on key tasks such as preparing for the dismantling of the broken reactors and removing radioactive fuel rods.

Instead, nearly all the workers at the Fukushima Daiichi plant are devoted to an enormously distracting problem: a still-growing amount of contaminated water used to keep the damaged reactors from overheating.

The amount has been swelled further by groundwater entering the reactor buildings.

Hundreds of huge blue and gray tanks to store the radioactive water, and buildings holding water treatment equipment are rapidly taking over the plant, where the cores of three reactors melted following a 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Workers were building more tanks during a visit to the complex last Wednesday by foreign media, including The Associated Press.

“The contaminated water is a most pressing issue that we must tackle. There is no doubt about that,” said Akira Ono, head of the plant. “Our effort to mitigate the problem is at its peak now. Though I cannot say exactly when, I hope things start getting better when the measures start taking effect.”

The numbers tell the story.

...

Fukushima radiation reaches California coast in tiny doses [UT San Diego - 15/11/14]

What's missing from this story is what on earth the making of hoax calls to Triple 0 have to do with police shooting this man

Police shoot man dead north of Brisbane [Brisbane Times - 18/11/14]:

A man has been shot dead by police north of Brisbane.

Superintendent Mick Brady said the man lunged at the officers with a knife, prompting police to open fire.

The man died after being shot twice, he told ABC radio.

Police cordon off the scene after a man was shot by officers at Deception Bay. Photo: Johanna Marie/4BC

Police were called to the home on Elizabeth Avenue in Deception Bay about midnight, after receiving several hoax calls.

Superintendent Brady said the officers were in shock after the shooting.

"This is traumatic for all those involved," he said.

Police are interviewing other people who were in the house at the time.

The Police Ethical Standards Command and the Crime and Corruption Commission is investigating.

More bigotry greenlighted by Australia's political and media establishment

ABC [18/11/14]:

Police are investigating an attack on a mosque at Rockingham, south of Perth.

White paint was splattered over the front doors, verandah and car park of the Ar-Runkun Islamic Mosque in Attwood Way.

Police believed the mosque was targeted some time between Sunday night and yesterday afternoon.

There were five canisters of white paint used.

A senior police spokesman said there was no graffiti sprayed on the building.

...

The attacks follow a number of incidents against other mosques and temples.

A Sikh temple in Perth's east was vandalised with anti-Islamic slurs last month.

The newly-built temple in Bennett Springs, near Beechboro, was painted with the words "Aussie pride" and "go home" as well as more obscene messages. Security cameras were also damaged.

Temple pastor Satjit Singh said the vandalism was very upsetting and the damage could cost up to $50,000 to repair.

The incident followed the targeting of two Perth mosques and an Islamic school earlier that month, which were painted with slogans including "ban Islam".

 

18 November 2014

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