Another legal challenge to Australia's offshore refugee concentration camps
Sydney Morning Herald [1/3/15]:
The Abbott government's offshore refugee policy is facing a new legal challenge that seeks to hold the Commonwealth legally responsible for conditions in its overseas detention camps because the decisions to open and operate them were made in Australia.
The Sunday Age understands the claim is an attempt to refute the government's long-standing position that what happens in the camps is the sole responsibility of the governments of Nauru and Papua New Guinea and the private operators that run them.
Law firm Maurice Blackburn is making the argument on behalf of a 36-year-old detainee who is suing the Commonwealth and contractor G4S after losing an eye during the 2014 Manus Island riots [brutal attacks on refugees incarcerated on Manus Island.]
The Abbott government is currently fighting dozens of individual lawsuits brought by current and former detainees over allegations of mistreatment and unlawful incarceration in Australia's extensive camp network. Two class actions – brought against the federal government and the centre operators – are also underway on behalf of more than 1500 detainees on Manus and Christmas Islands.
A spokesperson for Maurice Blackburn declined to comment because the matter involving the unnamed detainee – known as "RN" – is currently before the Supreme Court of Victoria.
But a new statement of claim filed in the proceeding argues that RN was at all time "under the sole and total control of the Commonwealth" regardless of his physical location in PNG.
The Sunday Age understands that Maurice Blackburn will seek access to an extensive list of government documents in a bid to demonstrate the establishment, financing, subcontracting, management and oversight of the Manus camp was directed from within Australia.
"The place where in substance the duty owed by the [Commonwealth] to [RN] arose and the breaches of duty took place or occurred was Australia," court documents allege.
"The law of Australia is the appropriate law to be applied in determining [RN's] claim against the [Commonwealth]."
The claim also notes the contracts with G4S, Salvation Army and others to set up and run the camp at Manus were all signed in Australia.
Although the government has conceded it owes a "duty of care" to those in the camps, its solicitors argue that any physical or psychological injuries sustained by detainees is due to negligence on the part of camp operators or the host country.
But Dr Andrew Morrison, SC, spokesman for the Australian Lawyers Alliance, said that argument was contradicted by the widespread presence of Australian government personnel in the camps.
"To say that they have fully delegated the running of camps to others is simply false," he said.
"Whether the Commonwealth uses G4S or the government of PNG to provide security, if it's done negligently, then the Commonwealth is as liable as if it were one of its own employees that did it because it has a non-delegable duty of care as a matter of law."
The Department of Immigration declined to comment on the lawsuit because the matter is before the court.
Northern Sandblasting Pty Ltd v Harris 
Syrian and Iraqi refugees rescued off Romanian coast
Daily Star [28/2/15]:
Romania's coast guard rescued 70 migrants - mostly Syrians and Iraqis - packed on to a small fishing boat that was in danger of sinking as they attempted to make the crossing to Europe in stormy seas on Saturday.
The Turkish vessel had sailed form Istanbul and was found in trouble about 10 miles (16 km) from the Romanian coast.
The boat, which was crammed with migrants including 20 women and seven children, was helped to safely dock at the port of Constanta, a coast guard spokesman told Reuters.
About 500 migrants have arrived by sea to Romania since the middle of 2013, according to coast guard figures, as they flee war, poverty and human rights abuses in the Middle East and Africa.
That figure is small, however, compared with some other European countries; the U.N. refugee agency says 160,000 people made the sea crossing to Italy between January and November 2014 and a further 40,000 landed in Greece. Thousands have died attempting the journey.
Romanian coast guard spokesman Marius Niculescu said the migrants rescued on Saturday were the first to have attempted to reach Romania by sea this year. He said they were undergoing medical checks and that they could request asylum.
Days after obliteration of antiquities in Mosul, Iraq reopens Baghdad museum
Daily Star [28/2/15]:
Iraq's national museum officially reopened Saturday after 12 years of painstaking efforts during which close to a third of 15,000 stolen pieces were recovered.
The much-delayed reopening was brought forward in what officials said was a response to the destruction of priceless artefacts by ISIS jihadis in the northern city of Mosul.
"We have been preparing to reopen for the past couple of months, the museum should be open to everyone," Deputy Tourism and Antiquities Minister Qais Hussein Rashid told AFP.
"The events in Mosul led us to speed up our work and we wanted to open it today as a response to what the gangs of ISIS did," he said.
On Thursday, the jihadis who have occupied Iraq's second city of Mosul since June last year released a video in which militants smash ancient statues with sledgehammers.
Militants are also seen defacing a colossal Assyrian winged bull in an archaeological park in Mosul with a jackhammer.
The destruction sparked global outrage, calls for an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council and fears over the fate of other major heritage sites in areas under ISIS control.
The Mosul destruction was the worst disaster to strike Iraq's treasure since the national museum in Baghdad was looted in the chaos that followed the U.S.-led toppling of Saddam Hussein.
During the reopening of the Baghdad Museum on Saturday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi made one thing clear: The artwork that epitomizes Iraq's culture and history will not be wiped away by anyone or anything, including ISIS.
"They are trying, with their barbarism and arrogance, to destroy the inheritance of humanity, the inheritance of Iraqi people and their civilization, [the] same way they destroyed humans," al-Abadi said. "I want to send clear message from here in Baghdad, that we will preserve this human civilization and its inheritance, and we will pursue those who are trying to destroy it." ... [CNN - 28/2/15]
Islamic State suicide bombers and fighters struck targets on Saturday in the northern Iraqi city of Samarra, where security forces and their Shi'ite militia allies have been gathering for an offensive against the radical militants. ... [Reuters - 28/2/15]
Dozens dead as Nusra takes US-backed Syria rebel base: activists [Daily Star – 28/2/15]
... Had the Nazis not invaded Europe, Auschwitz and the Holocaust would not have happened. Had the United States and its satellites not initiated their war of aggression in Iraq in 2003, almost a million people would be alive today; and Islamic State, or ISIS, would not have us in thrall to its savagery. They are the progeny of modern fascism, weaned by the bombs, bloodbaths and lies that are the surreal theatre known as news.
Like the fascism of the 1930s and 1940s, big lies are delivered with the precision of a metronome: thanks to an omnipresent, repetitive media and its virulent censorship by omission. ... [Why the rise of fascism is again the issue - John Pilger - 26/2/15]
Sudan's President claims CIA and Mossad 'stand behind' ISIS and Boko Haram
Sudan’s President has claimed the CIA, America’s intelligence agency, and Israel’s Mossad are behind the Islamist militant groups Boko Haram and Isis.
Omar al-Bashir used an interview with Euronews to claim there was a connection between the American and Israeli intelligence organisations and both extremist groups.
He spoke after Isis released a video purporting to show the beheading of 21 Coptic Christians in Libya, an act that prompted Egypt to respond with air strikes avenging the massacre.
Al-Bashir told the broadcaster: “I said CIA and the Mossad stand behind these organisations; there is no Muslim who would carry out such acts.”
Boko Haram abducted 300 girls from a school in Nigeria last year and recently claimed responsibility for the massacre in the north-east Nigerian town of Baga, warning in the video that the killings were “just the tip of the iceberg”.
Isis militants have killed thousands during their bloody insurgency across Syria and Iraq.
He also cautioned against taking violent measures to fight militants, claiming it could lead to an even more severe extremist response.
“Our policy has been largely successful, after we arrest these young people we bring a group of young scholars to engage in dialogue with them about their thoughts, and we succeed to bring a lot of them back from their radical ideas,” he added.
His remarks come after the leader of Lebanon's Hezbollah group also claimed the CIA and Israel's Mossad are behind the extremist group, according to the Associated Press.
In January, Melih Gokcek, the mayor of the Turkish city Ankara, claimed Mossad was involved in the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris, committed by Islamist militants.
Explaining his conspiracy theory, he suggested Israel was behind the mass shooting because it wanted to "boost enmity towards Islam", the Financial Times reports.
The wide-ranging discussion also saw the President challenge a report by Human Rights Watch claiming more than 200 women and girls were raped by Sudanese troops in an assault on the north Darfur town of Tabit, which the group said happened on 30 October.
He dismissed the report as “a radio news item from Radio Dabanga which is hostile to us,” and “opposition-run and Israeli funded”, Euronews reports.
The full interview with al-Bashir will air on Wednesday.
Three people have been killed in a US drone strike in Yemen's Shabwa Province. … [Press TV – 28/2/15]
At least four people have reportedly been in killed in a fresh US assassination drone attack in Afghanistan’s eastern province of Nangarhar. … [Press TV – 28/2/15]
US drone war: Bureau launches new investigation into strikes in Afghanistan [TBIJ – 27/2/15]:
... Graeme Smith, International Crisis Group’s senior analyst in Afghanistan, said: “The problem is that the drones are guided by less and less intelligence as the troops withdraw, pulling out assets such as surveillance balloons, while the reach of the Afghan government erodes.
“We know what happens in those circumstances because most of Waziristan [in Pakistan] has suffered through similar issues for the last decade. At worst, you end up with lawless zones patrolled from the sky by machines that can’t distinguish between war councils and wedding parties.” ...
UK authorities linked 'Jihadi John' to militant killed by US drone [Reuters - 26/2/15]
A three-year-old boy who accidentally shot himself inside a home in northwest Harris County Friday has died, according to the Harris County Medical Examiner's Office. ... [ABC13 - 27/2/15]
UN chief hints Israel deliberately targeted south Lebanon peacekeepers
Daily Star [28/2/15]:
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has hinted that Israel deliberately targeted a UNIFIL base during last month’s hostilities along Lebanon’s southern border which left one peacekeeper dead.
Ban was cited by An-Nahar Saturday as condemning the killing of a Spanish UNIFIL peacekeeper who died during Israeli shelling of Lebanon's southern border last month, saying that “the incident happened at a UNIFIL base which is known perfectly by Israeli forces.”
During Israel’s bombardment, the observation tower of a Spanish UNIFIL position in Abbasieh, one kilometer east of Ghajar, took a direct hit from an artillery shell, killing Cpl. Francisco Javier Soria Toledo.
A report prepared by U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Sigrid Kaag submitted Friday to the U.N. Security Council held Israel fully liable for the death of the peacekeeper, An-Nahar reported.
Last month, Hezbollah attacked a military convoy in the Israeli-occupied Shebaa Farms, killing two soldiers and wounding several others. The attack came in response to an Israeli airstrike on Syria’s Golan Heights town of Qunaitra 10 days earlier which targeted a Hezbollah convoy, killing six party fighters and an Iranian Revolutionary Guard commander.
U.N. members in Lebanon have a long history of coming under attack by Israeli forces. Four U.N. observers were killed in an Israeli air attack on their post in Khiam, southern Lebanon, in the 2006 war. Then-U.N. chief Kofi Annan at the time said the attack appeared "deliberate."
A French U.N. observer was killed in 2005 beside the Shebaa Farms by an Israeli tank round.
The most notorious incident was in April 1996 when Israeli artillery shells hit the Fijian battalion headquarters in Qana, killing 107 civilians.
Russian ambassador to UN accuses US, UK of striving to rewrite Minsk accords
American and British representatives at the UN Security Council are striving to rewrite Mink accords and force the monitoring mission of the European security organization OSCE in Ukraine into performing the functions that stand far outside its scope of powers, Russian ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin told Russian reporters upon the end of a meeting of the UN Security Council.
The meeting was held behind closed doors and the head of the OSCE special monitoring mission, Erturgul Apakan, and the OSCE envoy to the Contact Group for peace settlement in Ukraine, Heidi Tagliavini made a report to the Council members on the current situation and the pullout of armaments from the zone of conflict in war-torn eastern Ukraine.
"We expected the things happening now," Churkin said. "We were not especially enthusiastic about the meeting that was held today because attempts are being made to rewrite the Minsk accords, to preach to the OSCE what they should do and to impose the things standing far outside the mission’s mandate on it.
Demands in that vein were aired by the US and Britain, he said.
Churkin said OSCE representatives were told in the course of the session they should assure control over the entire length of the Russian-Ukrainian border.
"There are the Minsk accords that contain an interpretation of the problem of the state border and there’s an appropriate mandate for it, and so what’s the sense of raising the issue at the Security Council?" Churkin said. "This is done simply to exert some psychological impact and, quite possibly, to divert attention."
OSCE representatives were also asked what resources they needed for efficacious work.
"But it isn’t the Security Council that should decide on the resources because that’s the prerogative of the OSCE Permanent Council," Churkin said.
"That’s total mess. Instead of pressing forward with the demand to stop warring and implement the Minsk accords and fulfill the OSCE mandate, they’re trying to conjure up something vague."
When TASS asked him whether participants in the meeting had voiced any constructive proposals, Churkin said: "Calls for peace and for fulfilling the Minsk agreements were heard, too."
"Along with it, there were provocative escapades that surely aimed to sidetrack the implementation of the Complex of Measures envisioned by the Minsk accords," he said. "They were present in big quantities."
The Security Council meeting behind closed doors was preceded by a briefing where Tagliavini and Alakan said the pro-government troops and self-defense units of the self-proclaimed unrecognized Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics had been taking steps in line with their commitments under the agreements reached in Minsk on February 12.
Both officials pointed out a considerable reduction of combat operations in Donbas and the continuing pullout of heavy armaments from the areas of adjoining the line of contact.
US court stops Dotcom fighting asset seizure
A United States court has ruled the Internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom is not entitled to fight the seizure of his assets, because he is a fugitive facing extradition.
The Eastern District Of Virginia Federal Court released the ruling overnight, barring Mr Dotcom and five others facing charges over the Megaupload site from defending the seizure of their assets in Hong Kong and New Zealand.
Mr Dotcom's American lawyer Ira Rothken said the US court was taking a very aggressive position, given his client was involved in a legal extradition process.
Mr Rothken said the decision set a terrible precedent and would mean more legal battles.
"The United States is going to try to go ahead and take this order that they got at a US court, and try to exercise it in New Zealand, to see whether or not a New Zealand court will honour it.
"And that's what we're going to have, another litigation battle, as to whether New Zealand courts think this passes muster."
Mr Rothken said an appeal was being considered.
Australian killed in Thailand identified as Bitcoin CEO [Canberra Times – 28/2/15]
suspected murder in Calwell
Canberra Times [28/2/15]:
A man is assisting police with enquiries after a woman was found dead in a Calwell house on Saturday afternoon.
ACT Policing said they were called to a disturbance about 4.40pm at an address in Duggan Street and found a dead woman.
A man found at the scene is assisting police with their enquiries, however no charges have been laid.
Police have cordoned off an area in the complex with 10 townhouses.
It is unclear what the relationship is between the man and woman, or if the woman was a resident at the property.
Police have also not released the age of the woman or any other details about her.
Police are urging anyone with further information to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or at act.crimestoppers.com.au.
QPS Media [28/2/15]:
Detectives have charged a man following a suspicious death in Cairns.
Police were called to the intersection of Spence and Taylor streets, Parramatta Park at about 3.25am on February 26 after a 27-year-old man was located deceased on the footpath.
A 21-year-old Edmonton man has been charged with one count of accessory after the fact to murder.
He is due to appear in the Cairns Magistrates Court on March 16.
Investigations are continuing and there is no further information available at this time.
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.
Balcony fall, Darnley
Island (Torres Strait Island)
QPS Media [28/2/15]:
Police are investigating an incident in which a man received serious injuries at Darnley Island early this morning.
Police and emergency services attended an address on Margau Road around 9.45am after receiving reports of a man falling approximately five metres from a balcony.
The 28-year-old suffered serious head and spinal injuries. He has been flown to the Thursday Island Hospital and remains in a critical condition.
Detectives from the Thursday Island Criminal Investigation Branch are conducting investigations, and a number of people who were in the vicinity at the time of the incident are currently speaking with police and assisting with their enquires.
Investigations to determine the cause of the incident 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.
Suspicious car fire, Zillmere
QPS Media [28/2/15]:
Police are investigating after a vehicle was damaged by fire in Zillmere last night.
At about 10.20pm a fire damaged a sedan which was parked in a common parking area of a unit complex in Pretoria Street.
Police are treating the fire as suspicious and are appealing for anyone who may have witnessed suspicious behaviour to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or Policelink on 131444
QPS Media [27/2/15]:
Police are investigating a serious two-vehicle traffic crash at Minden this afternoon.
Initial information indicates around 4.15pm a utility collided with a motorcycle at the intersection of Tellegalla Road and the Warrego Highway.
The male motorcycle rider sustained serious fractures and abdominal injuries and was transported to the Princess Alexandra Hospital.
Westbound lanes of the Warrego Highway were closed while crews attended the scene.
The Forensic Crash Unit is investigating.
Anyone with information which could assist with this matter should contact Crime Stoppers anonymously via 1800 333 000 or crimestoppers.com.au 24hrs a day.
Container ship runs
West Australian [28/2/15]:
A container ship had to be pulled free by tugs this morning after running aground in Fremantle.
The Maersk Garonne was entering Fremantle’s inner harbour about 5am when it became stuck in soft sand about 500m off South Mole.
Tug boats pulled free the vessel about 8.30am.
The Maersk Garonne would go to anchor in Gage Roads to be assessed by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, a Fremantle Ports spokeswoman said.
Initial reports from the container ship indicated that there were no injuries or damage to the vessel, she said.
Authorities would conduct a full investigation into the incident.
accidents in south-east Queensland
A helicopter has crashed onto a beach at Deception Bay, north of Brisbane, hours after another chopper flipped on its side south of the city.
The crash occurred just after 1:00pm near Captain Cook Parade.
Ambulance officers were called to the scene and treated the pilot.
No one else was on board.
The Queensland Fire and Rescue Service said the helicopter was leaking fuel and the area had been closed to the public.
This morning, in an unrelated helicopter accident at the Archerfield Airport, an aircraft flipped onto its side, but there were no reports of injuries.
QFRS said it was not yet known whether the helicopter crashed while taking off or landing.
One fire crew went to the scene to deal with a small fuel leak.
Queensland Police said it was unclear how many people were onboard.
Work place health and safety officers are investigating.
Near in-air collision due to flight map confusion [Daily Mercury – 26/2/15]
Novartis Japan hit
with suspension failing to report drug side effects
Japan Today [28/2/15]:
Japanese health authorities said Friday that they have ordered the local unit of Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis to temporarily suspend its operations for failing to report drug side effects.
The health ministry’s 15-day suspension—reportedly a first for a pharmaceutical firm operating in Japan—means the company will not be able to sell most of its drugs during that period, which is to start from March 5.
Tokyo-based Novartis Pharma KK in December admitted it failed to promptly report more than 3,000 cases of adverse effects from about two dozen company drugs.
Drugmakers are required to report serious side effects to the ministry within 15 to 30 days.
The Novartis unit declined to comment when contacted by AFP on Friday.
The penalty marks the latest headache for the drugmaker in Japan.
In July it was handed a business improvement order for failing to properly report side effects of two leukemia drugs.
Also in July prosecutors laid charges against the unit over claims that falsified data were used to exaggerate the benefits of a popular blood-pressure drug.
They also indicted a former employee, Nobuo Shirahashi, alleging he manipulated the data in clinical studies that were later used in marketing the drug Diovan. The drug’s generic name is Valsartan.
Refugee concentration camp operator Transfield criticised by major shareholder for rejecting $1 billion takeover offer [Sydney Morning Herald - 26/2/15]
Nation that hosts one of Australia's concentration camps and torments exiled refugees gets a bank branch
Nauru's government says Australia's Bendigo and Adelaide Bank has signed a deal to set up an agency on the island.
The finance minister, David Adeang, says it's a major step forward for Nauru, a country heavily reliant on cash.
The agency will open in Nauru's Revenue Office when logistical issues and staff training are addressed.
Bendigo Bank's executive of community engagement, Robert Musgrove, says Nauru has been without banking services for 15 years and it's especially pleasing to be able to offer them.
Nauru's President, Baron Waqa, says the government has provided the infrastructure and underwritten the costs of operating the agency, but has no input or control over business operations.
PNG court quashes death sentence
PNG Loop [27/2/15]:
The Supreme Court has quashed the death sentence of a man and replaced his sentence to 30 years imprisonment instead.
Ambros Lati was convicted for the willful murder of his adopted son and sentenced to life imprisonment however he appealed against his sentence on three grounds.
One was that his sentencing failed to follow Supreme Court guidelines on categories of cases in which the death penalty should be imposed, another was finding without sentence that the killing was premeditated and planned, and thirdly that regarding the death penalty as mandatory and failing to appreciate the discretion to impose a lesser sentence.
A Supreme Court five judge bench consisting of Justices Bernard Sakora, Catherine Davani, Panuel Mogish, David Cannings and George Manuhu in a 27 page decision today reduced that sentence of life imprisonment to 30 years imprisonment.
Lati was convicted after trial of one count of wilful murder and sentenced to death.
He was convicted of the wilful murder of his adopted son Jumbo Ambros where he shot Ambrose, aged 22, at close range on the 25th March 2004.
Ambrose was shot in the back yard of his house in Beat street in Wabag at 4:30am.
The trial judge found that Jumbo Ambrose and other local residents came out of their houses in the middle of the night as another resident raised the alarm when she discovered criminals were attempting to steal her family’s motor vehicle.
He also found that Ambros Lati came out of his house which was opposite the deceased’s and went to the deceased’s house where he fired three shots from a police-issued shotgun in the late Jumbo’s direction.
However the five judge bench upheld one ground against his sentence and found that the trial judge made an identifiable error.
“In our opinion a less severe sentence is warranted on law and should have been passed. We would quash the sentence imposed by the National Court and pass in substitution the sentence of 30 years imprisonment,” they said.
A warrant of commitment was also issued by the National Court to be revoked and substituted by a fresh warrant of commitment reflecting the new sentence.
Let’s hear from refugees as well as the minister, Melissa Phillips [The Conversation - 21/1/15]
... There are Nauruan refugees also willing to be interviewed. ... [Hundreds of refugees protest on Nauru - Refugee Action Coalition - 28/2/15]
Australian media blackout on Nauru continues.
With the unstoppable Joan at the rally for #KidsOut. Grandmothers against kids in detention ...
St Paul's Cathedral, Melbourne
Image: @JJ_JuliaJacob [28/2/15]
'This is extraordinarily vicious, to make
someone wait for death instead of freedom'
Jakarta Globe [27/2/15]:
The death penalty is an inhuman form of punishment and not effective in deterring crime, the Indonesian Bishops Conference (KWI) said on Friday, ahead of the pending execution of 11 drug convicts.
“Apart from moral considerations, we deem the death penalty ineffective and inhuman,” Pastor P.C. Siswantoko, the executive secretary of the KWI’s Commission for Justice and Peace, said at a discussion on Friday.
The pastor said that to tackle drug-related crime, consistency in the rule of law should be the government’s priority.
“Crime, especially the problem of drugs, will not decrease as long as law enforcers are not even-handed in carrying out their duties,” Siswantoko said.
He added that the government should also try to make the market for drugs smaller — by developing strategies to prevent youths from falling prey to substance abuse — instead of merely trying to cut supply.
The religious leader also described capital punishment as a violation of human rights that causes immense suffering and amounts to torture of the convict, citing in particular the long wait before execution.
“This is extraordinarily vicious, to make someone wait for death instead of freedom,” Siswantoko said, mentioning also the possibility of convicts becoming the subject of political maneuvers or the fatal victims of miscarriages of justice.
A total of 11 drugs convicts, including two Australian ringleaders of the so-called Bali Nine gang, are awaiting imminent death by firing squad.
A date for their execution has not been publicly announced but Joko as well as other senior state officials have been adamant that the killings would go ahead despite mounting international pressure.
The Australians have been on death row since 2006. Six people, five foreigners and one Indonesian national, were already executed last month.
The pastor said the KWI had asked President Joko Widodo to reconsider his decision to proceed with the executions.
Anis Hidayah, who heads Migrant Care, said at the same discussion on Friday that her advocacy group absolutely rejects the death penalty, citing the right to live and flaws in the Indonesian legal system among the reasons for the group’s position.
She added that the president’s refusal to grant drug convicts clemency also hampered the work of her organization.
“In the years 2004-14, three Indonesian nationals have been executed abroad. Another 360 could face the death penalty and 17 among those have already been convicted,” Anis said.
“If Indonesia applies the death penalty, that means negotiations with other countries [to prevent Indonesian migrant workers from being killed] will be more difficult.”
“Jokowi shouldn’t look at this purely from a legal perspective, but also value the lives of people who are set to be executed, both here and abroad.”
Myuran Sukumaran has been awarded his associate degree in fine arts, a cause for joy in his darkest days on death row.
His mentor and friend, Archibald prize winner Ben Quilty, announced news of the degree from Curtin University on Friday. ... [West Australian - 28/2/15]
Darwin groom tries to headbutt, choke bride on way home from reception, police say
A Darwin groom who tried to headbutt and choke his bride in the car ride home from the reception has spent his wedding night in custody, police say.
Police were called after neighbours intervened in a fight between the man and the wife at their home in Fannie Bay that night, Duty Superintendent Louise Jorgensen said.
They found the groom, 29, in his wedding clothes spattered with blood from a bleeding nose.
The man had allegedly thrown the woman, 28, to the ground and kicked her.
"It's anticipated charges will be laid and a domestic violence order obtained," Duty Superintendent Jorgensen said.
"We're all appalled by the situation, and of course it doesn't bode well for any ongoing relationship."
She said the groom had been drunkenly arguing with his new father-in-law during the reception at a commercial premise in central Darwin.
"The antagonism started because of that argument," she said. The alleged violence was a reminder of the prevalence of domestic violence in the community, she said.
"It happens to the rich and the poor, the old and the young, those newly married and those who have been together for a long period of time," she said.
Domestic violence: One of Australia's most enthusiastic militarists shows how to maintain the status quo
You could immediately fund shelters/refuges, counselling, financial and legal support, and work on resolving the root causes (eg inequality, societal glorification of war and the bullying of the weak, domination and aggression, misogyny, objectification etc.)
Or you could use domestic violence as an excuse to further undermine the rule of law by removing rights.
West Australian [28/2/15]:
… The report - Not Now, Not Ever: Putting an End to Domestic and Family Violence in Queensland - was handed to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on Saturday.
It lists 140 recommendations, including trialling GPS monitoring of high-risk perpetrators and introducing a special domestic violence court, to help put an end to the social problem.
But Dame Quentin, who chaired the Special Taskforce on Domestic and Family Violence that completed the report, says central to the 359-page document is a focus on supporting victims and holding offenders to account for their actions.
She says society and victims themselves often, incorrectly, feel the onus is on victims to stop the violence.
"We recommend conditions that require a perpetrator to leave the home to keep the victim safe," Dame Quentin said.
"We recommend wider use of perpetrator intervention programs, stronger penalties for offences that relate to a domestic and family violence incident.
Sydney Morning Herald [26/4/12]:
Governor-General Quentin Bryce has made a surprise visit to Australian troops in Afghanistan on Anzac Day.
Ms Bryce addressed several hundred soldiers at the dawn service at Tarin Kowt base in the Oruzgan province.
The 32 Australian soldiers who lost their lives in Afghanistan, were commemorated during the ceremony with poppies.
Ms Bryce, and her husband, Michael, dined in the mess hall with troops and spent the morning at the base before meeting Afghan President Hamid Karzai and presenting him with a toy kangaroo.
Ms Bryce paid tribute to the ''modern Anzacs'' fighting in Afghanistan and the 32 Australian soldiers who lost their lives there. ''[Their loss] reaches into all of our hearts,'' she said.
She said it was an enormous privilege to attend the dawn service with serving soldiers at the military base.
Law Enforcement Today [16/9/13]:
Some victims of domestic violence have been feeling safer recently, thanks to expanded use of GPS monitoring as a tool for supervising defendants. Massachusetts, Tennessee, and Connecticut already have successful GPS programs in place, and the Pennsylvania legislature is considering instituting a program.
A Department of Justice study released in June 2012 shows that GPS monitoring is an effective way to protect victims of domestic abuse. No victims in the study group suffered abuse during the study period, and a year later defendants from the GPS study had fewer program violations than defendants not using the devices.
The study included extensive interviews with victims, defendants, and criminal justice professionals that offer provocative insights into what works and what doesn’t in the ongoing battle against domestic violence.
GPS monitoring has been a feature of some pretrial release programs for domestic violence defendants since 1996. While awaiting trial, selected defendants are allowed to avoid jail and return to their communities if they agree to undergo continuous GPS monitoring.
Those who enter the program are issued a GPS device that sends a warning signal to the supervising agency if they enter a “safe zone”—the area around a victim’s home, workplace, or other designated area that a victim visits frequently.
For example, a defendant might be forbidden to enter a neighborhood where his alleged victim is serving as a caregiver for an elderly family member. Defendants pay a fee to cover agency supervision and use of the technology, and they must keep the device charged and stay within range of the electronic signal.
The GPS program offers defendants much more freedom than they would experience in jail or under traditional house arrest. Defendants can continue to work and meet financial obligations to their victims and children. Defendants are free to visit friends and relatives, attend church, pursue sports and hobbies, and enroll in school as long as they respect the safe zones programmed into their devices.
The DOJ study testifies to the effectiveness of GPS monitoring: Victims, defendants, and supervising officers listed numerous benefits, and statistics bear out their positive impressions. But the study also uncovered areas of misunderstanding—and, in some cases, dangers—that courts and agencies need to recognize.
Victims report many benefits: They feel safe and experience freedom they may not have enjoyed in a long time. Victims can shop, work, see friends, and move within their safe zones with more confidence. Before GPS monitoring, their attackers were able to harass, intimidate, and abuse them almost at will. “He got away with everything,” one victim complained—until he enrolled in the monitoring program.
But GPS monitoring doesn’t work for everyone. The device won’t stop an offender who’s determined to harm an ex-lover, especially if he (or she) is willing to risk a return to jail.
The safe zones (which, paradoxically, are not always shared with the defendant) sometimes decrease victims’ security, since a defendant can work the GPS system to discover where a victim is living or a child has been hidden.
And, in an ironic twist, the technology can increase a victim’s anxiety. When a defendant cooperates fully with the program, the warning system may be silent for weeks at a time. That silence can be unnerving, victims say.
How can they be sure the technology is still functioning?
Most seriously, some GPS programs are run by officials who have a dismissive attitude towards domestic violence and view GPS monitoring primarily as a substitute for jail.
The DOJ study included interviews with officials who cynically believe most victims will eventually recant—and that many of them are secretly meeting their alleged attackers outside the safe zones. Those officials say that there’s no reason to set up notification systems to warn victims that a safe zone has been violated.
Those officials sometimes employ a kind of tunnel vision when a defendant violates a safe-zone boundary. Officials may accept a defendant’s excuse without checking his or her story—and without notifying the victim about the violation and subsequent danger.
In one case, a defendant claimed that his job delivering mail required him to enter a safe zone repeatedly.
No one checked to see if he was really working for the post office. And in several jurisdictions, no one notified victims that the defendants they feared had been released from the GPS program. The victims continued to believe they were protected by a warning system that had been terminated without their knowledge.
Clearly GPS monitoring isn’t the perfect solution to domestic violence. Still, the DOJ study (and subsequent data) show that victims are much safer when their alleged attackers enter a GPS program.
And—surprisingly—many defendants were grateful for the program because it provided the incentive and accountability they needed to restructure their lives. Because they could no longer fill their empty hours with harassment and abuse, they had to find new ways to use their time. Forbidden to enter safe zones to return to old hangouts, and aware that their whereabouts were constantly monitored, some defendants enrolled in school or entered treatment programs.
Many defendants mentioned a program supervisor who provided valuable counseling and encouragement.
Some also said that GPS monitoring provided objective, unarguable proof that they were indeed honoring their pretrial agreement. Victims could not lie about unauthorized visits or harassing behavior.
But a number of defendants also complained that GPS monitoring violated the “innocent until proven guilty” principle that is supposed to be the cornerstone of American justice. Program participation is usually limited to defendants awaiting trial, and the DOJ study showed that almost half of all GPS clients’ cases were dismissed, suggesting that enrollment guidelines may need to be revisited and revised.
Some problems center on the technology. Devices can lose contact with the signal in some locations, such as rural areas and workspaces deep inside large buildings. Batteries need frequent recharging, and electronic noises from devices can create awkward moments and raise uncomfortable questions at school, work, and social situations. Clearly the devices and monitoring technology need improvements.
Despite the negative factors, the evidence in favor of GPS monitoring is impressive. Perhaps the most valuable input was provided by criminal justice professionals who work with defendants and victims. When used properly, GPS monitoring can have an unexpected benefit: Victims protected by the program are more likely to appear in court and testify, according to the DOJ study. The accountability built into a GPS program reassures victims that the criminal justice system is committed to helping them. As a result, they’re more likely to cooperate with prosecutors.
Still, officials warn, GPS devices are not a one-size-fits-all solution to domestic violence.
“Mismatching”—hooking up defendants who don’t belong in a GPS program—sets up defendants for failure and strains caseloads. For example, a first-time offender might need an anger-management class rather than a GPS program. And officials must be careful not to be lulled into overconfidence. All victims should be taught how to make and carry out a safety plan, and they may also need to learn how to keep children and pets safe.
GPS monitoring has proven its effectiveness, and its usefulness can be expected to grow as the technology improves. We can expect to see more jurisdictions adopting GPS technology soon.
Ankle-monitoring faces budget, privacy concerns [Yale Daily News - 13/9/13]
Sex offender policies: Considering unanticipated consequences of GPS sex offender monitoring
Katharine Mieszkowski , Salon [19/12/2006]:
It's not every Election Day that voters can cast a ballot to banish thousands of people to the hinterlands, but Californians did just that last month, and eagerly so. Seventy percent voted to ban registered sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of a school or park, effectively outlawing them from many residential areas in the state.
Known as "Jessica's Law," after a 9-year-old Florida girl who was kidnapped from her home, sexually abused and murdered by a registered sex offender, the California proposition swept in a myriad of punitive changes. The crackdown on residency applies to all registered sex offenders, including those convicted of a misdemeanor, such as indecent exposure. Most notably, felony sex offenders will now be tracked 24 hours a day, seven days a week, via GPS (global positioning system), even after they're out of prison and off parole. The state senator and advocates behind the proposition call the GPS devices a necessary and vital tool to control sexual criminals.
The California measure makes no distinction between habitual offenders at high risk of striking again, worth having their every move tracked electronically once they're out of prison, and the felons who have served their time and present no apparent threat to public safety in the eyes of the court. Just put a GPS device on all of them, voters said, forever. Now, the state's government and the courts are puzzling out how to bring the voters' sweeping mandate to life.
The broad California measure is symptomatic of a national tide of fear about sexual predators lurking in the bushes by the playground, at the mall, just on the other side of the elementary school fence, and skulking about on MySpace. A sort of boogeyman come to life, sex predators even have their own gotcha TV reality show masquerading as a news program, Dateline's "To Catch a Predator." Every state in the nation now has a sex offender registry, tracking where offenders live. But Virginia, for one, is taking the fight to cyberspace, considering legislation to have offenders register their e-mail addresses and instant-messenger handles, so the Internet can be cleaned up, too.
But as states rush to impose harsher penalties on sex criminals, critics -- legal and criminal analysts, and even some victims of sex crimes themselves -- state that the punitive new laws violate civil liberties and are ineffective. And while a technological fix like fastening GPS devices to former felons may make the public feel safer, it will do little to protect the children who are the victims of most sex crimes. ...
... Critics say that beyond the legal issues, the draconian new laws, and in particular the GPS ankle bracelets, will have little impact on preventing crimes against children, who are the victims of most sex crimes. Two-thirds of the victims of sex crimes are under age 18, and 58 percent of those underage victims were under age 12, according to the Department of Justice. Yet the majority of those victims aren't preyed on by strangers but know their attacker.
Pamela D. Schultz, a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, is skeptical that broad application of GPS technology will do anything to prevent crimes like the one she suffered as a girl, which was committed by a neighbor. Now an associate professor of communications at Alfred University, a private school in western New York, she is the author of "Not Monsters: Analyzing the Stories of Child Molesters." Schultz is also a mother of two, who has a daughter in the second grade and a 21-month-old son. Regarding the new California laws, she says, "I think it's another example of feel-good legislation to get communities to feel that actual action is being taken to stem the problem. GPS monitoring and residency requirements are not going to do anything with the vast majority of offenders. They're just not."
As the state of California's own sex offender registry Web site attests, 90 percent of child victims know their attacker. And almost half the time that person is a family member. "The vast majority of offenders abuse kids who they know," says Schultz. "They have close relationships with the children and the children's families."
Niki Delson, a social worker who is the spokesperson for the California Coalition on Sexual Offending, which opposed the California proposition, says that GPS monitoring will serve no purpose in most of these cases. "The problem with using GPS for people who committed incest is you can't establish a zone which would make a child safe," says Delson. In fact, many sex offenders continue to be acquainted with their actual victims after the crimes occurred, according to Coombs of the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault. "That person doesn't stop being a father or a brother, and in many cases, is brought back to the family. GPS doesn't fix that," he says.
In fact, many sex crimes, notably those committed by family members or acquaintances, go unreported. Schultz fears that residency requirements and GPS tracking will have the unintended consequence of making victims of these crimes less likely to turn an attacker over to authorities. "When the bulk of abuse happens within families and close relationships, there is going to be less of a tendency to report those crimes," she says. "If something happens inside your family, and you report that, it's going to be plastered all over the place. Not only is the offender under public scrutiny, so are the families of the victims." For these types of offenses, adding GPS monitoring and strict residency requirements into the mix adds "another level of pressure into silence."
Schultz would rather see the tens of millions of dollars California is about to spend monitoring felony sex offenders be poured into counseling for victims of sex crimes and into programs for offenders that aim to prevent recidivism.
"As a society we need to become less hysterical and more informed about sexual abuse," she says in an e-mail. "When we demonize the offenders, we're pretty much feeding the crime. We further isolate and alienate the offenders, which is a precipitating factor in many offenders' impulses to act out. We're so focused on the minority of offenders who seem to fit our skewed perceptions of what sexual abuse and sexual abusers should be, we fail to recognize that the crime actually occurs closer to home.
Controversial security giants G4S and Serco are to lose contracts tagging criminals for the Ministry of Justice, following an overcharging scandal.
However, the companies will continue to be paid public money for key roles in the Scottish justice system, including electronic monitoring and running Kilmarnock prison.
G4S also remains a leading contender for lucrative contracts with Police Scotland during the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, despite failing to provide enough security personnel for last year’s London Olympics and having to be bailed out by the Army and police. ... [Scotsman - 13/12/13]
Myths of domestic violence
There are many myths surrounding domestic violence. By believing them we allow the problem to continue.
Myth: Alcohol and drugs make men violent.
Many men are violent when they are stone-cold sober. Many men who drink never lay a finger on their partner.
Blaming drink or drugs is an excuse, a way of denying responsibility. Both may be the trigger for a particular attack, but they are not the underlying cause.
Myth: It only happens in poor families on council estates.
Anyone can be abused, no matter where they live or how much money they have. Abused women come from all walks of life. You only have to think of the celebrities we hear about in the papers to realise that money cannot protect you from domestic violence.
Men who abuse women are as likely to be lawyers, accountants and judges as they are milkmen, cleaners or unemployed.
Myth: More women would leave if the abuse was that bad.
It can be extremely difficult to leave an abusive partner. The abused woman may fear what her partner will do if she leaves, particularly if he has threatened to kill her or her children. She may believe that staying with him is better for the children.
There are also practical considerations to take into account. She may not have access to money, or anywhere to go. She may not know where to turn for help, particularly if English is not her first language. If she is emotionally and financially dependent on her partner, she may be very isolated.
Women from different cultures can find it particularly difficult to leave an abusive man as this would bring shame on both themselves and their family. They may feel like they are betraying their community if they contact the police.
An abused woman’s self-esteem will have been steadily worn down. She may not believe she will manage on her own, or that she has any other options. She may feel ashamed of what has happened and believe the abuse is her fault.
She may hope that her partner will change. She remembers the good times at the start of the relationship and hopes they will return. In emotional terms she has made a huge investment in the relationship and she wants it to work.
Myth: Abusers grow up in violent homes.
This is not true. Growing up in a violent home is a risk factor and some children who experience abuse do go on to be abusive in their relationships. But many do not. Instead they are repelled by violence because they have seen the damage it causes. They would not dream of hitting their partner.
Abusers learn to be violent from the society they grow up in. Inequality between the sexes means that men have more power than women – inevitably some of them abuse or exploit that power.
People who blame violence on their childhood experiences are avoiding taking responsibility for their actions. Violence is a choice an abuser makes.
Myth: Some women like violence.
Women do not enjoy violence, or find it a turn-on. Most abused women live in fear and terror.
This is a way of blaming the victim for what is happening.
Myth: Women ask for it. They deserve what they get.
Women are often attacked by their partner for no apparent reason. Even if a woman has behaved appallingly, she does not deserve to be beaten. Violence and intimidation are not acceptable ways to solve conflict in a relationship.
Again, this is a way of making excuses for the abuser’s behaviour. It allows a violent man to avoid responsibility for his actions.
Myth: Abusive men have a mental illness.
The vast majority of men who abuse women are not mentally ill. Research shows that the proportion of abusers with mental health problems is no higher than in society as a whole. And if an abusive man were mentally ill, why is it that he only abuses his partner – not his colleagues, strangers or friends?
Myth: He only hit her because he was under stress.
Some men who abuse their partners do suffer from stress. Again, this is a factor – not the underlying cause of the abuse. Many men who are stressed are never abusive. Similarly, many men who do abuse their partner cannot claim to be under stress.
Women experience stress too, yet they rarely beat or abuse their partners to the extent that men abuse women.
Myth: He loses his temper sometimes, that’s all.
People argue that an abusive man “loses his temper”, or is “out of control”. The truth is that he is very much in control.
Abusers are usually selective about when they hit their partner, e.g. in private or when the children are asleep. They choose not to mark her face or other parts of the body which show. They never “lost their temper” with other people. This suggests they are very aware of what they are doing.
Many men abuse their partners emotionally and psychologically, without ever using physical violence. This shows the extent of their control.
Myth: Domestic violence is a private matter, you shouldn’t get involved.
For too long domestic violence has been allowed to happen behind closed doors. People think what goes on in the home is private, and not their problem.
Domestic violence is a crime. It is against the law.
We are all affected by domestic violence, and we all have a responsibility to speak out against it. Only then will it end.
Allison Baden-Clay's life insurance to go to trust
Murdered Queensland mother Allison Baden-Clay's life insurance payout will be held in a trust pending her husband's murder conviction appeal.
Ms Baden-Clay had two life insurance policies worth about $800,000.
The total will now be held in a trust, pending an appeal, before being awarded to his wife's family.
Last June, Gerard Baden-Clay was found guilty of murdering his wife in April 2012 and sentenced to life in prison.
He will not be eligible for parole until 2027.
His lawyers filed an appeal in July last year, claiming the verdict was unreasonable.
The body of Allison, a mother of three, was found on the bank of Kholo Creek at Anstead in the city's west 10 days after Baden-Clay reported her missing from their home in Brookfield.
Justice John Byrne said it was likely Baden-Clay had smothered his wife and scratch marks on his face were likely to be signs of a struggle.
Last day of summer
Water temperature 26 degrees.
Australia needs a SYRIZA style party.
It can only happen with the people.
SYRIZA had 22 days to make history. This is how they did it. -----> Greece: The End of Austerity? 
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras set out on Friday his government’s immediate legislative plans, while at the same time insisting he would continue to pursue debt relief and refuse to sign a third bailout for Greece.
“Some have bet on a third bailout, on the possibility of a third bailout in June. I’m very sorry but once again we will disappoint them,” he said in a televised speech to his cabinet.
“Let them forget a third bailout. The Greek people put an end to bailouts with their vote,” added the prime minister, who said his government would continue to press for Greece’s next agreement with its lenders to include debt reduction measures.
However, the bulk of Tsipras’s speech was focused on outlining what legislation his government plans to bring to Parliament next week.
The prime minister said that the first bill would introduce measures aimed at tackling the “humanitarian crisis,” including the provision of free electricity to 300,000 households living under the poverty threshold.
“Our first task is to assist a society that has been suffering for the past five years,” said Tsipras.
The second bill relates to the introduction of a new payment plan for overdue taxes and social security contributions. The scheme is set to allow applicants to pay in up to 100 installments and will mean that anyone owing up to 50,000 euros cannot be arrested over their debts.
The third draft law will protect primary residences with a taxable value of up to 300,000 euros from foreclosures.
Finally, the government also intends to introduce legislation next week that would pave the way for public broadcaster ERT, shut down in June 2013, to be reopened. Tsipras stressed that this would not burden the public budget.
A Metron Analysis poll to be published in today’s Parapolitika newspaper showed that more than two in three Greeks were satisfied with the way the government was negotiating with EU partners while 76 percent were positive about the government’s overall performance so far.
It also put support for SYRIZA on 47.6 percent, compared to almost 36 percent that the leftists won in the June 25 elections. New Democracy was second with 20.7 percent.
Greece to rehire dismissed workers at state broadcaster [Ahram - 27/2/15]
Thousands of students have poured into the streets of the Spanish capital, Madrid, and the city of Barcelona to protest against planned government education “reforms”. … [Press TV – 26/2/215]
Spain: Podemos criticises Rajoy’s ‘useless’ government in alternative state-of-the-nation address [EURO News – 26/2/15]
Much of Spain was on high alert on Thursday as parts of the country were battered by high winds, heavy rains and rising rivers. ... [The Local - 26/2/15]
Neos Kosmos [27/2/15]:
The recent pledge to close the Amygdaleza detention centre in Northern Athens indicates a vast differentiation between Greek and Australian detention policies.
Greece's humanitarian stance towards asylum seekers is drawing attention to Australia's own stance on the issue.
Greece's government has pledged to end a number of issues faced by asylum seekers in Athens, including inadequate food supplies, over crowding, hunger strikers, riots and even the deaths of four people since the centre's opening in 2012.
Deputy Interior Minster Yannis Panousis' decision to close the centre came after a visit to the centre revealed the tragedy that lay within.
Mr Panousis expressed his "shame, not as a minister, but as a human being" at the condition of the centre.
"We are done with detention centres," Panousis affirmed as he made an urgent call for centres to be closed "immediately".
While Greece was working on changing its human rights record, Australians marked the year anniversary of the death of 23-year-old asylum seeker Reza Berati in the Australian run Manus Island detention centre.
Prime Minster Tony Abbott reiterated that all asylum seekers without proper documentation will have their claims for refuge rejected.
Police say unidentified attackers have hacked a prominent US blogger to death in Bangladesh's capital, Dhaka.
Police on Friday said that Avijit Roy, a Bangladesh-born US citizen, known for this writing against religious fundamentalism, and wife Rafida Ahmed, were attacked after a visit to a book fair at Dhaka University. ... [Al Jazeera - 27/2/15]
Opposition politician Boris Nemtsov died in the center of Moscow after he was shot at four times.
A number of leading figures from all sides of political spectrum called his murder a "provocation". … [RT – 27/2/15]
Thousands of supporters of former Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed have marched in the capital, Male, to protest against his detention on terror charges. … [Al Jazeera – 27/2/15]
DR Congo Army Launches New Offensive against Rwandan Rebels [Naharnet – 27/2/15]
Egypt Refers 271 Muslim Brotherhood Supporters to Military Court [Al Akhbar – 27/2/15]
Israeli forces suppress West Bank demonstrations
Israeli forces on Friday fired live bullets and tear gas canisters at Palestinians demonstrating against the Israeli occupation in the West Bank.
Three Palestinians were injured by live bullets and dozens suffered excessive tear gas inhalation during a protest in the city of Hebron, locals said.
Local sources told Ma'an that Israeli forces suppressed a demonstration of Palestinians who were demanding Israeli authorities reopen Shuhada street, once a major thoroughfare in Hebron's Old City.
The three who were shot with live bullets were identified as Abd al-Majid Amro, Issa Mahmoud Amro, and Anas Amro.
Israeli soldiers also arrested three youths, one of whom was identified as Hijazi Obeido.
The march was called for by popular committees and various Palestinian factions across the West Bank, just days after the 21st anniversary of the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre.
Protesters chanted slogans against the Israeli occupation and settlements, and against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's upcoming visit to Hebron and the Ibrahimi Mosque.
Shuhada street, which runs through the Old City to the Ibrahimi Mosque, was shut down after the massacre of February 1994 in which an extremist American-born Jew, Baruch Goldstein, opened fire at Muslim worshipers killing 29 and injuring more than 120.
The Ibrahimi Mosque -- known to Jews as the Cave of the Patriarchs -- is believed to be the burial place of the prophet Abraham.
Italian lawmakers urge recognition of Palestinian state [Daily Star – 27/2/15]
Federal Judge Daniel Rafecas has dismissed the accusation made by a state prosecutor that claimed President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and top government officials conspired to cover up Iran’s alleged role in the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community centre. … [Buenos Aires Herald – 26/2/15]
Sao Paulo hit by floods [IOL – 26/2/15]
Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich, who had recently launched a Republican campaign for governor, fatally shot himself Thursday in what police described as an “apparent suicide” — just minutes after inviting reporters to his suburban St. Louis home for an interview. ... [MSNBC - 27/2/15]
7 fatally shot, gunman dead in southeastern Missouri [Yahoo – 27/2/15]
@nine11inreverse: "post-9/11 Islamophobia news algorithm..."
The U.S. military has begun vetting a group of Syrian rebels eligible for training and assistance in the fight against Islamic State militants, a step that paves the way for training to begin in weeks, the Pentagon said on Friday. ... [Reuters - 27/2/15]
ANA PRESS [27/2/15]:
12 people were killed and dozens were wounded by a car bomb blast near Bilal mosque in the Dmeir suburb of Damascus as worshippers were leaving Friday prayers this afternoon.
Meanwhile another car bomb exploded in front of Al Salam mosque in the Al Nasriyeh suburb followed by a second car bomb that exploded during the aid of those injured; dozens of people were reported wounded as a result.
At least 7 people were killed and dozens injured by renewed air strikes carried out by Syrian Air Force on the Marj Al Soltan and Nashabiyeh areas of Damascus on Friday.
Also the Duma suburb witnessed today an air strike by Syrian forces in addition to mortar shelling.
Furthermore heavy shelling targeted the Sultana, Hmaret, Tal Mari and KafarNasej areas in Damascus western countryside, while rocket shelling is targeting tonight the Tadamon area and the Yarmouk refugee camp of Damascus.
Australia's Prime Minister travels to New Zealand to officially declare another war on Iraq
The Australian prime minister, Tony Abbott, says an announcement on a joint mission with New Zealand to Iraq could be made as soon as Tuesday.
Mr Abbott and John Key have just held a news conference in Auckland. Mr Abbott said there were still some processes that needed to be finalised before Australia could formally committ to the mission.
He welcomed New Zealand getting involved in fight against Islamic State.
Belgium will send around 35 soldiers to Iraq to help train the Iraqi army in the fight against the Islamic State jihadist group. ... [3News - 28/2/15]
Eight killed in Baghdad bombs and rocket fire [Daily Star – 27/2/15]
Six members of a displaced Sunni family -- a father and his five sons -- were found dead north of Baghdad Friday with bullets to their heads, security and medical sources said. ... [Naharnet - 27/2/15]
... ZAINAB BAHRANI: Well, it’s a form of ethnic cleansing because this is a region of the world—Mesopotamia has always been a multicultural, mutli-ethnic, multilinguistic and multireligious community, the entirety of the country. And what’s happening now is that diversity is being wiped out. So when you wipe out people’s monuments and heritage, you erase any record of their ever having been there. And it’s a way of creating a terra nulla, if you will, a kind of an empty land that you can conquer and then claim that there was nothing there before.
So it’s a general erasure and rewriting of history of Mesopotamia. ...
And I think too many people have forgotten that all of this actually began a long time ago. Of course, the scale now is far greater, and the slaughter that’s taking place of human beings is truly horrendous, but the rewriting of Iraq’s history and the erasure of its past actually started with the 2003 war, if not even with the earlier one. ... [Antiquities Scholar: Islamic State’s Destruction of Museum and Library is Cultural and Ethnic Cleansing - Democracy Now - 27/2/15]
28 February 2015