Muslim Community Rejects Abbott Government’s Demonisation and Condemns Moves to Silence Legitimate Critique
Islam in Australia [19/2/15]:
This joint Muslim community statement expresses our position with respect to the Abbott Government’s ongoing demonisation of Muslims in Australia, their organisations, their leaders and their values.
We – the undersigned Sheikhs, advocates, community leaders, community organisations and student bodies of the Muslim community – make the following points in this regard:
1) We reject the Abbott Government’s predictable use of Muslim affairs and the ‘terror threat’ to attempt to stabilise a fragile leadership and advance its own political agendas.
2) We deplore and denounce the continued public targeting of Muslims through abominable ‘anti-terror’ laws. The laws passed in late 2014 have been used to justify opportunistic raids on Muslim homes, have created media and community hysteria where in the majority of cases no crime was committed, and have created distressing and harmful backlash towards Muslims, especially women and children.
3) We unequivocally reject Prime Minister Abbott’s and his party members’ use of language that portrays Muslims and the Muslim community as a security threat. This narrative threatens social cohesion as it invites suspicion and ill feeling from members of the broader community. The presence of Muslims in Australia as productive contributors to society is not the exception; it is rather the rule.
4) We deplore the undefined and politically expedient use of the words ‘radicalisation’ and ‘extremism’ to criminalise legitimate political discourse and critique of the Government’s policies by members of the Muslim community.
5) We strongly oppose Prime Minster Abbott’s politically convenient threats to ‘tackle’ and ‘crack down’ on Islamic groups such as Hizb ut-Tahrir who disavow and have never supported terrorist acts, and whose only ‘crime’ has been to criticise the Abbott Government’s stance towards Muslims domestically and abroad, as they are well within their rights to do. We also oppose the bullying of Sheikh Dr Ibrahim Abu Muhammad by Mr Abbott for his criticism of Mr Abbott’s attempts to silence individuals’ and organisations’ legitimate criticisms of his policies.
6) We affirm our commitment to robust political and ideological debate and discourse for the betterment of humanity at large. The Abbott Government’s attempts to undermine this brings into question his Government’s commitment to its very own purported values and liberal freedoms.
7) We affirm our concern about peace and security for all. We refuse, however to be lectured on peace-building and harmony by a Government that plays divisive politics, uses fear to elicit uncertainty in the general public, undertakes the oppression of asylum seekers and incarceration of children in detention centres, treats its indigenous population tokenistically, and pledges its explicit support to dictators such as Egypt’s El-Sisi, who continues to brutalise legitimate political opposition to his tyranny.
8) We call on all fair minded Australians, including politicians, journalists, academics, bloggers and others concerned about Australia’s social justice, to continue to scrutinise the Abbott Government’s scare tactics, fear-mongering and political machinations. They do not bode well for societal harmony and only increase the alienation felt and experienced by Australia’s Muslim community.
It is time the Abbott Government stopped diverting the attention of the Australian public away from its disastrous domestic and foreign policies by playing the ‘Muslim’ and ‘national security’ card.
"Never believe anything in politics until it has been officially denied." - Otto von Bismarck ----> "We are not at war with Islam" President Obama [The Indepdendent - 18/2/15]
United States, "allies" continue bombing Iraq and Syria [Al Arabiya - 19/2/15]:
The U.S.-led coalition staged 15 air strikes on Islamic State forces in Iraq and Syria, the Combined Joint Task Force said on Thursday.
Five of the strikes were around the Syrian town of Kobane, where the coalition and Kurdish forces have been pushing back
the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and destroyed eight fighting positions and two checkpoints, as well as hitting tactical units hit.
Two strikes also were staged near Al Hasakah, Syria, the task force said in a statement.
Eight air strikes near six Iraqi towns hit fighting positions, tactical units, a weapon-storage facility, vehicles and buildings.
All the strikes were conducted between Wednesday and Thursday mornings, the statement said.
Rebels capture 32 pro-government forces in Aleppo [Daily Star – 19/2/15]
Syrian Army Makes Advances in Aleppo Offensive [Al Akhbar – 18/2/15
Afhganistan: Kandahar attack leaves 4 dead, 8 wounded [Khaama - 19/2/15]
Qatar recalls ambassador to Egypt over Libya air strikes [France 24 – 19/2/15]
Gulf States Back Qatar in Row with Egypt over Libya [Naharnet – 19/2/15]
S.Sudan Rebel Shelling Kills 6, Wounds 80, Leaves 50 Soldiers Missing [Al Akhbar – 18/2/15]
Argentina: Huge crowd answers call to march in silence in honour of Alberto Nisman
Buenos Aires Herald [19/2/15]:
Silence was broken yesterday by the cry of “justice” and the sound of heavy rain during yesterday’s march to honour late AMIA special prosecutor Alberto Nisman, a month after he was found dead of a gunshot to the head in his apartment in the City neighbourhood of Puerto Madero.
Although slogans against the government were not heard, yesterday’s march — called by a group of prosecutors — was seen as a direct challenge to the Kirchnerite administration.
Nisman’s former wife, San Isidro Federal Judge Sandra Arroyo Salgado, attended the rally along with her ex-mother-in-law, Sara Garfunkel, but kept a low profile as prosecutors took centre stage.
Nisman’s eldest daughter, Iara Nisman, also attended the march.
She was the last member of the family to see Nisman before he left Europe — where he was on holiday celebrating her 15th birthday — to come back to the country to file a writ accusing President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner of seeking to cover up the Iranian masterminds of the worst-ever terrorist attack suffered by the country: the bombing of the AMIA Jewish community centre that killed 85 people in 1994 and that courts have failed to investigate.
Demonstrators of all ages and from middle and labour classes flooded the streets surrounding Plaza de Mayo square.
International financial fascists threaten Greece
The Globe and Mail [18/2/15]
Governments around the world heaped pressure on Greece to drop its tough negotiating stance with the European Union as the deadline to extend the cash-strapped country’s bailout program moved ever closer.
In a call to Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis on Wednesday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew warned that Greece faced a potential economic catastrophe unless the impasse between Greece and its official bailout sponsors is broken quickly.
A statement from Mr. Lew’s office, released after the conversation, said the secretary “noted that failure to reach an agreement would lead to immediate hardship in Greece, that the uncertainty is not good for Europe and that time is of the essence.”
Other government leaders, among then French President François Hollande and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, have also urged Mr. Varoufakis and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to find a compromise that would keep Greece’s funding channel open while it attempts to balance economic reforms with relentless public demands for higher social spending.
Before he entered politics, Yanis Varoufakis, the iconoclastic Greek finance minister at the centre of the latest eurozone standoff, wrote this searing account of European capitalism and and how the left can learn from Marx’s mistakes ... [Guardian - 18/2/15]:
... When I chose the subject of my doctoral thesis, back in 1982, I deliberately focused on a highly mathematical topic within which Marx’s thought was irrelevant. When, later on, I embarked on an academic career, as a lecturer in mainstream economics departments, the implicit contract between myself and the departments that offered me lectureships was that I would be teaching the type of economic theory that left no room for Marx. In the late 1980s, I was hired by the University of Sydney’s school of economics in order to keep out a leftwing candidate (although I did not know this at the time).
‘Stick to Minsk deal’: Russia slams Ukraine idea for EU peacekeepers
Moscow criticized Kiev's plan to invite an EU police force under the EU’s aegis for a peacekeeping mission in war-torn eastern Ukraine, saying the move would undermine the Minsk ceasefire agreement.
Ukraine’s Security and Defense Council said it will call on the UN and EU to deploy a peacekeeping mission as requested by President Petro Poroshenko.
Moscow believes Kiev is trying to sideline the OSCE mission, which was tasked with monitoring the implementation of the Minsk ceasefire agreement.
“I think it’s a little bit disturbing, because they just signed the Minsk agreements on February 12. And the Minsk agreements provide for the role of the OSCE, There is nothing about the UN or European Union,” Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, told RT
“So for them to start talking immediately about something else. I think instead of coming up with new ideas they should really work harder on implementing what they agreed on,” Churkin told RT.
On Thursday, the EU said it was waiting for Kiev to provide concrete terms of the proposed peacekeeping mandate before making further comments.
Poroshenko’s announcement of an EU policing mission comes as a surprise, after a major stumbling block that stood in the way of the implementation of Minsk peace agreements – the encirclement of Ukrainian forces in Debaltsevo, which Kiev denied – was partially resolved.
Earlier on Wednesday Poroshenko confirmed in a video statement that troops have been withdrawing from Debaltsevo.
Refugee resettlement is not possible without the UNHCR.
The entire contents of Dutton's latest statement are a lie.
He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Nauru visit reaffirms regional processing partnership [Media Release – 19/2/15]
The Immigration Minister's fly-in-fly-out visit to Nauru is nothing but window dressing to distract from the shocking Forgotten Children report and the government's own Moss review into allegations of abuse, the Australian Greens have said. ... [Media Release - 19/2/15]
British media report on the Minister for Death
Camps and Deportation's visit to Nauru. ----> [Refugee
protesters on Nauru disrupt visit by Australian immigration minister
- Guardian - 19/2/15]
Australian media blackout continues.
Manus hunger strike largest in detention regime history [Solidarity.net – 19/2/15]:
... All the asylum seekers are now out of jail, but Chauka and Charlie compounds are still being used for “troublemakers”. As Solidarity goes to press, there are still 36 people in Charlie.
Security cameras have been installed in every compound to step up the surveillance. There are still threats that “ringleaders” could be subject to criminal investigation.
The International Organisation of Migration has been trawling the compounds (and the prison) for business—arranging to send asylum seekers back to their home countries. That so few are willing to take payments of up to $10,000 to go home says everything about their real fears of persecution.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum:
… Theresienstadt served an important propaganda function for the Germans. The publicly stated purpose for the deportation of the Jews from Germany was their "resettlement to the east," where they would be compelled to perform forced labor. Since it seemed implausible that elderly Jews could be used for forced labor, the Nazis used the Theresienstadt ghetto to hide the nature of the deportations.
In Nazi propaganda, Theresienstadt was cynically described as a "spa town" where elderly German Jews could "retire" in safety. The deportations to Theresienstadt were, however, part of the Nazi strategy of deception. The ghetto was in reality a collection center for deportations to ghettos and killing centers in Nazi-occupied eastern Europe.
Succumbing to pressure following the deportation of Danish Jews to Theresienstadt, the Germans permitted the International Red Cross to visit in June 1944. It was all an elaborate hoax. The Germans intensified deportations from the ghetto shortly before the visit, and the ghetto itself was "beautified." Gardens were planted, houses painted, and barracks renovated. The Nazis staged social and cultural events for the visiting dignitaries. Once the visit was over, the Germans resumed deportations from Theresienstadt, which did not end until October 1944.
Australia continues refoulement of refugees in breach of international law.
Four Sri Lankan nationals have been returned home after being intercepted by an Australian border protection vessel off the Cocos (Keeling) Islands.
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said the vessel had been detected northwest of the islands on February 9.
They were transferred at sea to Sri Lankan authorities a day later, after being interviewed by border protection officers to determine whether they could be returned safely.
The vessel was never in distress. Mr Dutton said the government was committed to stamping out the people-smuggling trade in the region.
It is the first processing at sea and transfer since the High Court ruled such operations legal in January.
... The decision has no bearing on the lawfulness or otherwise under international law of Australia's interception, detention and removal of asylum seekers.
Australia's international law obligations have not disappeared, but current policy leaves us wide open to breaches. ... Professor Jane McAdam [Our obligations still apply despite High Court win - Sydney Morning Herald - 30/1/15]
The director of the Migrant Offshore Aid Station Martin Xuereb said Libya’s escalating situation is leading to people becoming so desperate to escape that they do so without even considering weather conditions beforehand.
He also said that migration by boat taking place in summer only is a thing of the past as people are leaving, whatever the season. ... [Malta Independent - 17/2/15]
EURO News [12/2/15]:
New data ‘makes a mockery’ of claims Italy’s Mediterranean rescue operation was attracting African migrants to Europe, say campaigners.
Nearly 20,000 migrants arrived by sea in Italy or Malta from November 2014 to January 2015, figures released exclusively to Euronews reveal.
There were 6,214 over the same period a year ago, according to data from the UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR).
It comes after the UNHCR said up to 300 migrants were feared to have drowned this week trying to cross from North Africa to Europe. More than 3,500 migrants are estimated to have died in the Mediterranean last year.
Italy’s extended search-and-rescue operation, Mare Nostrum, was replaced with Triton, a cheaper, less proactive EU alternative on November 1, 2014.
Britain’s Home Office claimed last year “ministers across Europe have expressed concerns search-and-rescue operations in the Mediterranean [are] encouraging people to make dangerous crossings in the expectation of rescue”.
Amnesty International says the data makes a mockery of suggestions the search-and-rescue operation was encouraging migrants to take the dangerous route.
John Dalhuisen, the human rights group’s programme director for Europe, said: “This new tragedy realises our worst fears about the end of Italy’s Mare Nostrum search-and-rescue operation and exposes the predictable consequences of the European Union’s failure to provide an adequate replacement.
“The humanitarian crisis that sparked the need for Mare Nostrum has not gone away. With people continuing to flee war and persecution, EU member states must stop burying their heads in the sand whilst hundreds keep dying at sea.
“It’s a simple equation – as the number of people taking this perilous sea route goes up and the resources put into search and rescue go down, more people will die.”
Nearly 90,000 civilians in northeastern Myanmar are believed to have fled clashes between troops and ethnic rebels, an official said on Wednesday, as sporadic violence hampered efforts to evacuate those still trapped. ... [Channel News Asia - 18/2/15]
Australian government offers corporate welfare to international arms dealers to help kill people and create refugees.
Channel News Asia [19/2/15]:
Australia will hold an open tender for a multi-billion dollar project to replace the army's current light armoured vehicles with a next-generation ground combat system, Defence Minister Kevin Andrews said on Thursday.
The proposed LAND 400 project to replace a fleet of light fighting vehicles could be worth as much as AUS$10 billion, media has reported. The government called it a "multi-billion dollar" project in a statement.
Britain's BAE Systems, which earlier this month won a contract to do heavy maintenance in Australia on Lockheed Martin Corp's F-35 stealth fighters, has been mentioned as a possible contender for the contract.
U.S. defence giant General Dynamics Corp has also been mentioned in Australian media, as well as France's Thales and German technology group Rheinmetall AG.
The contracts will be seen as a boon for Australia's struggling manufacturing industry, which has been battered in recent years by thousands of job losses and the departure of its automotive industry.
At the same time, Industry Minister Ian MacFarlane issued an opaque warning not to view the tender as simply a jobs package and warned that Australian firms that did bid would be held to the highest standards.
"The government’s broader policy settings are focused on building on our strengths and maximising opportunities for investment and job creation," MacFarlane said in a statement.
"Australian industry must continue to demonstrate that it can be competitive, and can be a vital, long-term contributor to supply chains and support strategies."
The current fleet of light fighting vehicles would reach its end of life around 2021, the Defence Ministry said.
The project will likely include a suite of next-generation vehicles including an infantry fighting vehicle, a manoeuvre support vehicle, and an integrated training system.
The announcement is likely to be welcomed by state governments and organised labour in Australia, which have been at loggerheads with the conservative federal government over the procurement process to build a next-generation submarine.
Sources have said Australia is strongly considering buying a version of the 4,000-tonne Soryu-class submarine built by Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Kawasaki Heavy Industries to replace its ageing Collins-class fleet.
But Prime Minister Tony Abbott's government earlier this month pledged something closer to a tender process for the project, worth as much as AUS$40 billion (20 billion pounds), which could see more of the manufacturing work done in Australia.
RI will never bow to Australia, says analyst
Jakarta Post [19/2/15]:
An international law analyst has slammed Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott for what the former says is the politicization of Australia’s post-tsunami aid to Indonesia, so that two Australians facing death row execution in Nusakambangan, Central Java, can be saved.
Hikmahanto Juana of the University of Indonesia stressed on Thursday that aid given by Australia to tsunami victims in Aceh in the past would never make Indonesia dependent on Australia, but was being used as political leverage to press the Indonesian government to not execute the two Australian convicts.
“Tony Abbott’s recent statement is regrettable,” Hikmanhanto said as reported by Antara news agency.
Australian media outlets recently reported that Abbott had called on the Indonesian government not to forget all the aid given by Australia to Aceh during and after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that killed thousands of Acehnese. He hoped Indonesia would cancel the executions in its response to Australia’s assistance.
Previously, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop also criticized the Indonesian government’s double-standard policy, which she said made every effort to save its citizens facing death row overseas, despite pushing ahead with executing foreign criminals at home.
The two drug Australian convicts have been moved from Kerobokan prison to a prison in Nusakambangan before facing a firing squad in the near future.
Hikmahanto said Abbott gave the impression that Indonesia was dependent on Australia because of tsunami aid given.
“The humanitarian relief was given to make Indonesia dependent on Australia and at present, Australia is using this dependency to save the two Australians, but Indonesia will never depend on Australia,” he said, adding that Abbott’s statement would create a bad public image of Australia in Indonesia.
Hikmahanto added, however, that Abbott had made the controversial statement as a last ditch effort to save the two Australians, as well as to show to his party and the Australian people that he was working tirelessly to protect Australians overseas.
Abbott had previously threatened to boycott Indonesia and ban Australians from visiting Indonesia, especially Bali.
President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, Vice President Jusuf Kalla, Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna H. Laoly and Attorney General HM Prasetyo have recently insisted that despite increasing calls from the UN and foreign countries for Indonesia not to proceed with the executions, the government would still execute the 11 death row convicts, eight of whom were foreigners sentenced to death for drug trafficking.
New Zealand: Fruit fly crackdown continues
Traps have been set, thousands of pamphlets delivered and hundreds of bins are being rolled out as part of a biosecurity crackdown after the discovery of a Queensland fruit fly in Auckland.
A zone surrounding the property in Grey Lynn where the male fly was found on Monday is in lockdown for at least two weeks while officials see if more flies have established themselves.
Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) staff are today setting more traps in the control zone which includes parts of Grey Lynn, Western Springs, Mt Albert, Ponsonby and Kingsland. Taking fruit and some vegetables out of the zone is banned.
Growers say a fruit fly outbreak could destroy their businesses immediately and force them to lay off thousands of workers around the country. It would also stop many of the country's 5500 commercial growers from moving produce inside and outside New Zealand.
Secretary of the Auckland Fruit Growers Association, Monty Neal, said he was just days away from harvesting apples and restrictions would hamper deliveries.
New Zealand's horticulture industry body HortNZ is blaming the incursion on Australia's inability to control the pest and wants a return to x-ray screening of all baggage at international airports for fruit.
Chief executive Peter Silcock said tighter border controls were needed, given this was the fourth time in three years one of the pests had been found in traps.
Mr Silcock said the move away from x-raying all luggage at airports should be reversed.
"We know that the x-ray is very good at picking up pieces of fruit and that's how this would come in, in a passenger's bag with a piece of fruit or two."
Mr Silcock said relying on pheromone traps to lure male fruit fly as a last line of defence is not good enough.
He said the distribution of the fruit fly in Australia was expanding rapidly and the country appeared to be unable to control the pest.
"It's effectively out of control there, I think. They are having incursions down into South Australia and Adelaide, so that's a real concern for us."
Murdered man didn't deserve to die: court
A Gold Coast man allegedly beaten to death in a savage attack "wasn't a very nice person" but that didn't justify his death, a court has heard.
The prosecution closed its case in the murder trial of Dean Mark Wills in the Brisbane Supreme Court on Thursday.
Wills, 40, has pleaded not guilty to murdering 31-year-old Darren Britza, whose remains were found under a bridge at Boyland in 2008.
The crown says Wills and his friend Shane Hansen beat Mr Britza to death, and possibly stabbed him, in a bloody attack at a Southport panel beating shed in March 2001.
Wills' then girlfriend Jade Clarke allegedly watched the savage beating and helped bury the body.
In his closing address, prosecutor Michael Cowen QC said a possible motive could have been payback for Mr Britza being "a sexual predator".
Mr Britza had been heard saying he'd had sex with Wills' girlfriend, and his attackers were heard shouting "you rapist dog", Mr Cowen said.
Wills and Mr Hansen were allegedly heard threatening serious harm to Mr Britza just before he vanished.
"He wasn't a very nice person but that doesn't justify what happened to him," Mr Cowen said of Mr Britza.
"Being an ordinary person doesn't ordinarily carry the death penalty."
Mr Cowen said Wills later incriminated himself in a telephone conversation with Ms Clarke about the discovery of Mr Britza's body.
However, defence barrister Ron Frigo argued there was no evidence connecting Wills to the panel beating shed, and it was likely Wills did not even know Mr Britza.
In his closing address, Mr Frigo also cast doubt on the reliability of a key witness, whose memory, the barrister said, was probably altered by drugs.
Mr Frigo is expected to close the defence case on Friday.
Man found guilty of secretly filming stepdaughter in bathroom
A Tasmanian man has been found guilty of planting a secret camera in a bathroom where his stepdaughter was preparing to take a bath.
Hobart Magistrates Court heard the 36-year-old stepdaughter of Phillip Wayne Jones, 55, had undressed for a bath and was using the toilet in the Margate home where her mother and Jones lived when she saw flashing lights in a pot plant.
She told the court she looked closer and found a pen-like device that apparently had a camera.
"It looked like a fountain pen but I pulled it apart and realised it had a USB stick," she said.
The woman said she plugged the USB stick into a computer and found a recording of herself inspecting the device just moments earlier.
The woman said when she confronted her stepfather about the camera he snatched the camera and refused to give it back.
She said she later heard what sounded like a CD being pulled apart and then the toilet flushed.
The court viewed a police interview with Jones in which he admitted owning the device and acknowledged it was capable of recording, images, audio and video.
"It was a stupid thing to do," Jones said in the interview in which he admitted flushing the camera down the toilet before police arrived.
"I just got rid of it. I flushed it. I broke it up.
"I was disgusted with myself, actually. What was I thinking?"
The woman told the court that up until that point her relationship with her stepfather had been good and he had been her father figure for 25 years.
Jones had denied one count of observation or recording in breach of privacy but Magistrate Glenn Hay found him guilty and adjourned his sentencing until May.
Riot Squad raids homes in Sydney's west following Downing Centre operation
Nine MSN [19/2/15]:
Two houses have been raided by the Public Order and Riot Squad this afternoon following the massive police operation focused on the Downing Centre court building earlier today.
Police, including officers from the Riot Squad and the State Crime Command, raided the two homes in Merrylands about 3.30pm.
Police vehicles blocked off both ends of Lockwood Road while at least one PolAir helicopter hovered overhead.
Another raid occurred in a home on Blackwood Street.
The raids follow a massive police operation around the Downing Centre in Sydney's CBD this morning.
Armoured vehicles and tactical officers swarmed the central court building on Liverpool Street in relation to an ongoing armed robbery trial.
A police spokeswoman confirmed this afternoon's operation in Merrylands was the result of an "ongoing operation".
Police remain at the scene.
Police said the raids are not terrorism-related.
Two charged after sawn-off firearm seized
Tweed Daily News [19/2/15]:
A man has been charged and a woman imprisoned after a search warrant was executed in Banora Point on Tuesday.
Tweed-Byron Local Area Command police had been investigating a home invasion which took place in Kingscliff last week.
About 11am Tuesday, they searched a home on Terranora Rd.
Police allegedly found a sawn-off firearm at the premises.
A man, 38, and a woman, 39, were both interviewed and charged by detectives.
The man was charged with possessing a shortened firearm without authority.
He was granted conditional bail to appear in Tweed Heads Local Court next month.
The woman was charged with an outstanding warrant for driving whilst disqualified.
She was refused bail to appear before Murwillumbah Local Court on Wednesday.
She was sentenced to four months' imprisonment.
Pedestrian taken to Canberra Hospital after being hit by car in Reid
Canberra Times [19/2/15]:
A 44-year-old woman was taken to Canberra Hospital on Thursday morning after she was hit by a car on Constitution Avenue in Reid.
The woman sustained minor injuries and was taken to the hospital in an ambulance in a stable condition, emergency services said.
The collision occurred at about 8.55am outside the St John the Baptist Church.
Truck leaves road south of Childers
News Mail [19/2/15]:
Emergency services are at the scene of a truck which has left the road just south of Childers.
The driver is being treated at the site by ambulance officers, but his injuries are unknown at this stage.
Childers firefighter Anthony Garrett said it was a timely reminder for drivers to take care on the roads with the wet weather.
SES are controlling the road as one lane is blocked.
Family loses everything in house blaze
A Pittsworth family has lost everything in a house fire.
Emergency services were called to the Tews Rd property, north of Pittsworth at Springside, at 9.40am.
Resident David Anderson was resting at home after an early morning work shift when he heard an explosion.
He tried valiantly to put flames out in the kitchen but they took hold and he had to remain outside.
Fire crews also did their best but only a charred shell remained by the time the flames were extinguished.
Mr Anderson's wife Tanya and their two sons were not home when the fire started.
Police are not regarding the cause as suspicious.
QANTAS flights cancelled
News Mail [19/2/15]:
Due to Cyclone Marcia, QANTAS have suspended all flight operations into Bundaberg and Hervey Bay for the remainder of the day.
The operations team will continue to monitor weather conditions in the region to assess when flights can be re-established.
QANTAS apologise for the inconvenience and customers are advised to check Qantas.com for the latest updates.
In total, 16 flights have been cancelled which are made up of three return services between Brisbane and Hervey Bay, three return services between Brisbane and Bundaberg and two return services between Brisbane and Rockhampton.
All Virgin Australia flights remain scheduled but customers have been advised to check the status of their flights as the weather worsens.
A Virgin Australia spokesperson said customers will also be notified by text message and email if any cancellations occur.
Privatise the assets and profits, socialise the liabilities and losses: Construction begins on Woolworths' Wynuum Library [Brisbane Times - 19/2/15]:
... Construction to begin on Wynnum's self-funded library Wynnum's new library, expected to be open by February 2016, will be built on the former Wynnum Central State School site.
Construction begins this month. The funding model for the library will see the city's so-called future fund, the City of Brisbane Investment Corporation, combine with Woolworths to deliver the project.
Clarke and Dawe - Democracy. From the Greek ‘Demos’ and ‘Crassy’
Al Jazeera 'three' awarded British television prize
"This was about the universal principals of the freedom of expression. Of the right to know."
Al Jazeera [19/2/15]:
Three Al Jazeera journalists who were in an Egyptian jail for more than 400 days have been awarded a prestigious British journalism prize .
The Royal Television Society on Wednesday presented its Judges' Award to Peter Greste, Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fahmy in recognition of an outstanding contribution to the advancement of television journalism.
"Tonight the RTS recognises the three 'brothers' as Peter has called them. The released one and two on bail; Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed.
"Men who conducted themselves with enormous dignity and courage in the face of continued uncertainty about their fate. And we also recognise the commitment of the people who have campaigned and continue to campaign for the release of the two on bail.”
The trio were put in prison by the Egyptian authorities on 29th December 2013. Greste was only finally released earlier this month, while the ordeal for Mohamed and Fahmy continues - they were bailed last week pending retrial.
Accepting the award on behalf of all three, Greste thanked his fellow news professionals.
"I'd be willing to bet this award that journalists have never united around a single common cause in the way that they have ours. I know how important it has been.
"For us, in prison of course we knew a bit about it. We were aware of some of the demonstrations; we'd heard about the zip-the-lips campaign and the letters.
"At the personal level, it was hugely empowering. It helped put rods of steal into our spines, because we came to understand that this was about something far bigger than the three of us alone. It was about the universal principles of freedom of expression, about the public's right to know. And we knew you were right there with us."
Stewart Purvis, Chair of the RTS Television Journalism Awards, said: "I think I am right in saying that this is the first time that the judges have sat down and decided to choose a group of individuals who were, at the time, in prison.
Two seats were left empty at the ceremony for Mohamed and Fahmy as they could not attend due to the bail conditions. They will be back in court on Monday 23 February.
Freed Al Jazeera journalist Peter Greste picks up RTS Award for him and his two colleagues in Egypt [Media Release – 18/2/15]
Out on Bail, Al Jazeera Journalist Mohammed Fahmy Speaks from Cairo [The Intercept - 18/2/15]
All this was discussed at today's Toowoomba hearing of the Senate Inquiry into the Newman Government, which was again "a bit too newsy" for the ABC i.e. it puts a human face to the suffering caused by Queensland's corrupted democratic process. ---> [Santos LNG expansion: Independent Expert Scientific Committee report sounds warning over Queensland coal seam gas plans - ABC - 19/2/15]
Grey day, Marine Stadium
Gold Coast Spit [19/2/15]
Business as usual on the Gold Coast with smooth transition from one bunch of crooks back to the other bunch
Minister for Education and Minister for Tourism, Major Events, Small Business and the Commonwealth Games Media Release [19/2/15]:
The Palaszczuk Government has confirmed its commitment to the Gold Coast’s tourism and major events industries, promising to collaborate with local stakeholders on priorities for the key region.
Minister for Tourism, Major Events, Small Business and the Commonwealth Games, Kate Jones told tourism and Commonwealth Games representatives the Government wants to work collaborative with them to drive tourism growth.
Speaking at the Gold Coast’s iconic Q1 building, Minister Jones said, “I come to the Gold Coast with one clear message: the Palaszczuk Government is committed to driving tourism growth.”
“I want our partners and the Gold Coast community to be assured that enhancing the Gold Coast’s reputation as a premier tourism and events destination is a key priority for this government.”
Minister Jones said she believes collaboration is critical for the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games (GC2018) and that it was a unique opportunity to reinforce the Gold Coast’s reputation as a major event and tourism destination and to realise lasting benefits for business, industry, sporting and community groups.
“Today I am committing to you that I will be a regular face on the Gold Coast. I believe that the strength of tourism on the Gold Coast is vital to the strength of Queensland and I want to work with you to grow it,” she said.
Chair of Gold Coast Tourism Corporation Paul Donovan said he was delighted that in her first week of office, the Minister was visiting the Gold Coast to meet with everyone.
“Anyone in that position who can pick up the phone on day three of the job and call me, a regional partner, shows the kind of commitment I’m looking for," he said.
“Today is an appreciation of the importance of the Gold Coast market to the Queensland tourism industry. I’m excited about the future.”
Visit www.aheadofthegames.embracing2018.com (external site) for the inside story on GC2018 preparations.
Queensland government reassures mining industry as cyclone approaches - lectures citizens about taking personal responsibility for extreme weather events.
Minister for State Development and Minister for Natural Resources and Mines [Media Release - 19/2/15]:
... Dr Lynham said
there were existing contingency plans that allowed, if necessary, a
controlled release of pit water where environmental conditions were right.
“The Mount Morgan Mine Site Contingency Plan allows for a controlled water release if there are sufficient water flows in the Dee River and appropriate pH levels to significantly dilute pit water and minimise any environmental impacts downstream.
“A Dee River Alert Notification would be issued to downstream landholders and relevant stakeholders prior to any controlled release of pit water.”
@AnnastaciaMP - Premier of Queensland [19/2/15]: Remember if it is flooded, forget it. It is vital that everyone remains safe, if you don't need to be outside, don't go out. #TCMarcia
The role of government is to protect people, good land and water.
People are not being heard ...
Dr Mark Copland, Executive Officer - Social Justice Commission
Concerns surface at Senate Inquiry in Toowoomba [Chronicle – 19/2/15]:
Environmental groups [farmers and landholders] voiced their concerns about the former Newman-led Queensland Government at a Senate inquiry in Toowoomba today.
Nikky Laws from the Oakey Coal Action Alliance was among people who gave evidence at the inquiry.
Ms Laws said she raised concerns about "huge" political donations to the Liberal Party.
"We don't know what the implications of that are but we assume it gives (mining companies) permission to do what they like," she said.
"We're concerned some of these companies have special arrangements with the Queensland Government regarding dust and noise."
Ms Laws and other environmentalists [farmers and landholders] spoke about the impacts of coal mining in general on communities, water supplies, health and farmlands.
She said the inquiry committee appeared to be moved by testimony given by Acland resident Glenn Beutel on the impacts of New Hope Group's New Acland coal mine.
"They asked good questions and listened intently," she said.
Ms Laws is hoping the inquiry will bring an end to the "revolving door" between governments and the resource industries.
"Communities have been forgotten about and big business rules Queensland. Things have to change because we're all reliant on the important eco-systems of water and air"
Former Acland resident Aileen Harrison attended the inquiry because she was interested to see the process.
"Hopefully (the committee) may take it further and give us a chance to have our side of mining heard against the governments and they will start to look after agricultural land," she said.
Clean Air Queensland, Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland and the Social Justice Commission were among other groups to make submissions at the inquiry.
Suicidal farmers, landholders, depleted water table, air/noise pollution and poisoned livestock of no interest to the Queensland political and media establishment.
I am absolutely horrified at what I am hearing here today.
1. The election is over.
2. They think anyone living outside Brisbane is just a stupid "one nation voter".
3. They're too busy cosying up to each other at the media parliament love in.
Media & Parliament Panel Discussion. Panel includes @gbreusch & @ShaneDoherty9. [and the ABC's Chris O'Brien]
Image: @JimMaddenALP [19/2/15]
AURIZON COAL TRAIN 19 Feb at Morningside, Brisbane [AUDIO]
Nurse says profit based aged care model is broken
Gladstone Observer [19/2/15]:
An open letter penned by an aged care nurse gives a stark account of a broken industry model focused more on maximising profits than on care outcomes for its patients.
The letter is a cry for help to the Federal Government to reform a profit based structure that is failing the most vulnerable elderly people in our communities.
She said people were paying thousands and thousands of dollars to be cared for, and they were not getting what they were paying for.
"It is all about the bottom line," she said.
She believes that many carers did not report incidents because it could mean the end of their careers.
She writes about unrealistic time constraints on carers, and cases of incontinence pads being re-used.
She said carers were supposed to get a patient undressed, washed, re-dressed and to the table for breakfast, and make the bed, in four-and-a-half minutes.
The nurse said they needed to scrap the whole system and start again.
"There's a lot of funding in aged care and who knows where the money is going.
"The system has to be looked at - it's not working."
Four hurt as trucks sandwich car, Bruce Highway
Sunshine Coast Daily [19/2/15]:
Up to 100 litres of fuel threatened to trickle into Coochin Creek after a car was sandwiched between two trucks on the notoriously bad strip of the Bruce Highway near Roys Rd yesterday.
Traffic banked up for several kilometres in the northbound lanes of the Bruce Hwy from about 1pm when emergency services were called to the scene.
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services North Coast region acting inspector Jon Webb said slippery and greasy roads and wet weather did not help when a car veered into the path of a truck.
"A semi-trailer was sitting at Roys Rd waiting to turn on to the Bruce Hwy minding its own business," Mr Webb said.
"The sedan in the right-hand lane has come across in front of a prime mover which was in the left lane, which didn't have a trailer attached.
"The prime mover has tried to stop and in that it has spun around and collected the sedan and come across and the sedan slammed into the stationary truck and the prime mover has come in behind.
"They were very lucky, it was probably head-on and the impact was taken at the front, side-on crashes do not end well."
The front of the sedan slammed into the fuel tank of the stopped truck, sending diesel spilling on to Roys Rd.
Goldings Construction company workers, who were on the Bruce Hwy project just metres up the road brought down their machinery and material to build a dam wall in the gully to assist firefighters in stopping the fuel progressing any further.
The Environmental Protection Agency was also called to assess the situation.
The four people in the car were taken to Nambour General Hospital in a stable condition. A 68-year-old man had leg injuries, a 66-year-old woman had cuts to her face, a 41-year-old woman had arm injuries and a 15-year-old boy had back pain.
The Gladstone Port has been closed to entering vessels and at least 34 others have been told to pull anchor and head out into deeper water by the end of today.
The scheduled departures began at 6am on Thursday, ahead of Cyclone Marcia making landfall on Friday morning. ... [Gladstone Observer - 19/2/15]
Hundreds queue for sandbags on Gold Coast
More than 4000 sandbags have already been distributed to residents across the Gold Coast as the city braces for heavy rainfall and flash flooding.
Widespread 24hr rainfall totals of 200-400mm are expected, starting overnight tonight and lasting through until late tomorrow.
Flash flooding will be likely and rivers may rise above minor flood levels.
Volunteers from the Gold Coast SES have spent the past two days shoveling sand and filling bags from their Southport HQ.
At one point, the queue of vehicles waiting for sandbags stretched 400m.
Weather GC [18/2/15]:
The Gold Coast SES at 195 Queen St, Southport are continuing to provide sandbags today between 8am to 6pm to residents who need them.
They are likely to be "FIY" (fill it yourself) bags, so bring your own shovel just in case!
As demand is high, before heading off check with the SES on 132 500 or the City of Gold Coast Disaster Hotline on 1800 606 000 to see if they've got any left.
Residents urged to prepare homes for heavy rain [Gold Coast City Council – 18/2/15]
Man charged over torture Currumbin
QPS Media [19/2/15]:
Detectives from the Southern Investigative Group of the Gold Coast CIB have charged a man following the alleged assault and torture of another man on the Gold Coast last Saturday night.
It is alleged a 29-year-old man was forcibly taken to a remote location at Currumbin where one of his fingers was removed.
A 26-year-old man was arrested last night by detectives and has been charged with acts to cause grievous bodily harm, torture, deprivation of liberty, treats and stealing.
He is due to face Southport Magistrates Court this morning.
Anyone with information which could assist with this matter should contact Crime Stoppers anonymously via 1800 333 000 or crimestoppers.com.au 24hrs a day.
Assault charges, Ebbw Vale (Ipswich)
QPS Media [19/2/15]:
Police have charged a 52-year-old man after an alleged incident in Ebbw Vale early this morning.
Around 2.45am a man attended a residence on Phillips Street and allegedly engaged the 57-year-old male resident in an argument before climbing through a window into the house and punching the resident in the head.
Police will further allege the man made threats to the man and a female occupant, stole some property and damaged a window. He was located a short time later by police.
The 57-year-old man received minor injuries to his face.
A 52-year-old Ebbw Vale man has been charged with two counts of threatening violence and one count each of enter dwelling with intent, assault occasioning bodily harm, stealing, wilful damage and possessing dangerous drugs.
He is due to appear in the Ipswich Magistrates Court today.
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.
Armed robbery charges, Bray Park
QPS Media [19/2/15]:
A 34-year-old man has been charged following the alleged armed robbery of a service station in Bray Park last night.
Police will allege that around 11pm, a man entered a service station on Kensington Way armed with a gun and demanded money from the male shop attendant.
It is further alleged the man then fled the scene on foot with a sum of cash to a residence on Sovereign Avenue, where a stand-off has ensued after threats were made towards police.
Specialist police attended the scene and around 1.55am this morning the man voluntarily surrendered to police without further incident.
A 34-year-old Strathpine man has been charged with one count each of armed robbery and entering a premises with intent to commit an indictable offence.
The man was also charged with three counts of fraud and one count each of burglary, unlawful use of a motor vehicle and possessing tainted property. These charges were unrelated to the alleged armed robbery.
He is due to appear in the Pine Rivers Magistrates Court today.
Anyone with information which could assist with this matter should contact Crime Stoppers anonymously via 1800 333 000 or crimestoppers.com.au 24hrs a day.
QPS Media [18/2/15]:
Police are investigating the unarmed robbery of a man in Durack this afternoon.
Initial inquiries indicate at about 4.55pm, a man was reportedly struck from behind and held on the ground by another man whilst walking through parklands near Durang Street.
The man’s mobile phone was stolen by the other man before he fled the scene on foot.
The man is described as being skinny build with a dark complexion, short hair and wearing shorts and t-shirt.
Police seizures have little impact on methamphetamine market, AIC report
Sydney Morning Herald [19/2/15]:
An increasing number of methamphetamine seizures have had little impact on market supply or availability, according to an Australian Institute of Criminology report.
The report, which was released on Thursday, surveyed 375 methamphetamine users across Australia and is the first detailed study of how a reduced drug supply may affect consumption habits among police detainees.
More than 30 per cent of detainees reported an increase in the supply of methamphetamine in the previous three months, while only 14 per cent said the drug had become harder to find.
"A significant proportion of detainees reported never experiencing a shortage of methamphetamine," the report said.
"This indicates that methamphetamine has remained readily available across Australia, despite an increased number of seizures by law enforcement."
According to the Australian Crime Commission, police seized 21,056 amphetamine-type stimulants during 2012/13 which represented 24.2 per cent of seizures, second only to cannabis.
The number of clandestine laboratories detected was the second highest on record, having more than doubled over the last 10 years, with the majority producing amphetamines.
Of the 375 detainees who supplied a urine sample, 33 per cent tested positive for methamphetamine use which was 10 per cent more than 2012 figures and 21 per cent more than in 2009.
Detainees reported little recent fluctuation in the methamphetamine market across Australia despite police seizures, with the drug readily available.
However, the report said "over 30 per cent of detainees reported an increase in the price of methamphetamine in the last three months".
"It is not clear whether law enforcement efforts could produce a substantial methamphetamine shortage, such as that seen for heroin, as the methamphetamine supply is supported by both domestic production and importation.
"Detainee reports on the current state of the methamphetamine market indicated that across Australia, there had been little movement in methamphetamine availability in the three months prior to interview."
Mt Isa water inquiry launch
North West Star [18/2/1/15]:
State member for Mount Isa Rob Katter has confirmed he has made preliminary inquiries into a Crime and Corruption Commission investigation regarding Mount Isa’s water situation.
Mr Katter said he was following up discussions with a Mount Isa man who had made a request to the CCC for a full investigation into the city’s water problems.
Mount Isa resident Neil Ning has accused the Mount Isa Water Board of lying to the city’s residents over who was responsible for the demise of the natural filtration system of Clear Water Lagoon.
“The Mount Isa Water Board has lied to Mount Isa about who is responsible for the contamination of Clear Water Lagoon,” he claimed.
“They have denied liability and flicked the costs back onto ratepayers.”
Mr Ning attempted to gain support a CCC inquiry in August last year but his attempt was knocked back.
In a letter notifying Mr Ning his attempt for an inquiry had been unsuccessful, the CCC stated his concerns about “alleged conduct of some employees of the Mount Isa Water Board” and management and administration of the water filtration system were “largely speculative and hearsay”.
“The information that you have provided is not sufficiently detailed to satisfy the element of “corrupt conduct” (as defined in the Act),” the letter stated.
Mr Ning then spoke to Mr Katter who told him he would make “his own submission to the CCC”.
Mr Katter confirmed he was yet to lodge a formal submission for an inquiry but he had made initial inquiries.
“I’m obligated as the state member to consider all matters brought to me by constituents and educate myself before pursuing them,” he said.
Take some personal responsibility for Mt Isa's alarming bowel cancer rate [North West Star - 19/2/15]
United States, "allies" continue bombing Iraq and Syria
On Feb. 17, U.S. and Coalition military forces continued to attack ISIL terrorists in Syria, using fighter and bomber aircraft to conduct two airstrikes.
Separately, U.S. and Coalition military forces conducted 14 airstrikes in Iraq, using attack, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft against ISIL terrorists. All strikes took place between 8 a.m., Feb. 17, and 8 a.m. Feb. 18, local time.
The following is a summary of the strikes conducted since the last press release:
* Near Al Hasakah, an airstrike struck multiple ISIL oil pump jacks.
* Near Kobani, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed five ISIL fighting positions.
* Near Al Asad, three airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit, and destroyed an ISIL mortar tube and an ISIL staging area.
* Near Al Qaim, three airstrikes destroyed an ISIL checkpoint, an ISIL bulldozer and an ISIL vehicle.
* Near Bayji, an airstike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL building.
* Near Kirkuk, three airstrikes destroyed an ISIL armored vehicle, an ISIL heavy machine gun, an ISIL vehicle and two ISIL excavators.
* Near Mosul, two airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit, three ISIL fighting positions and destroyed an ISIL excavator and an ISIL vehicle.
* Near Tal Afar, two airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL buildings and an ISIL heavy machine gun.
Airstrike assessments are based on initial reports. All aircraft returned to base safely.
One of the Government's allies has come out strongly against plans to send troops to help train the Iraqi army in its fight against the Islamic State.
United Future leader and Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne said the proposed intervention would only make matters worse.
Few political parties, apart from National, now support the idea of sending troops to Iraq.
Mr Dunne said to go simply because it meant being part of the Western club was wrong.
He said Western nations had repeatedly intervened in the Middle East in their own interests.
"All they've done is create an ongoing festering sore which is now rampant, if you like, right through the Middle Eastern region and I just think this sort of attitude that we know best or that we can sort this out. I mean it didn't work in the Crusades and yet these are the modern day versions of that."
Mr Dunne said if troops went they would be inevitably drawn into the wider fight against Islamic State fighters.
He said the Government should instead look at providing more humanitarian aid and helping develop civil society in Iraq.
The Cabinet will decide on Monday whether troops will be sent to train the Iraqi army.
With Libya in ‘imminent danger,’ UN envoy urges support for push to end political, security crisis [Media Release – 18/2/15]:
... “Defeating terrorism in Libya can only be achieved through the political and institutional determination of a united Libyan Government, which will need the strong and unequivocal support from the international community in confronting the myriad challenges facing Libya,” he said, also emphasizing the international community’s shared responsibility to build consensus among the Libyan counterparts.
“It is crucial for the international community as a whole to maintain a unity of purpose, through coherent messaging and actions. Our efforts to counter terrorism in a sustainable manner cannot be a series of isolated acts and we should not allow terrorism to disrupt the political dialogue.”
UN political chief warns of ‘increasingly toxic’ Gaza; calls for new talks, international support [Media Release – 18/2/15]
Settlers destroy 500 newly planted olive trees [Maan - 18/2/15]
Israeli forces open fire at farmers near Gaza border [Maan - 18/2/15]
Explosion and fire at Exxon refinery in California
An explosion and fire ripped through a gasoline processing unit at an Exxon Mobil Corp refinery near Los Angeles on Wednesday, leaving California with the threat of higher gasoline prices.
Investigators were trying to determine the cause of the blast in Torrance, California, which occurred shortly before 9 a.m. PST (12 p.m. ET).
Four contract workers were injured and sent to Long Beach Medical Center for evaluation. Exxon said late on Wednesday that three of the workers had been released.
The company said it was operating units that had not been affected by the explosion at its 155,000 barrel-per-day refinery.
Torrance Fire Captain Steve Deuel said a small ground fire that followed the explosion had been quickly extinguished. He said firefighters and refinery crews also contained a gasoline leak that had been caused by the blast.
Deuel said there was no evidence of foul play.
The California Department of Industrial Relations opened an investigation into the blast, agency spokeswoman Julia Bernstein said.
The workplace safety agency issued an order forbidding Exxon Mobil from operating the 100,000-barrel-per-day fluid catalytic cracker, a central gasoline-producing unit, until the investigation has been completed, Bernstein said.
The department said the shutdown of the unit could last up to six months. It is the second refinery shutdown in recent days.
The price of gasoline in Los Angeles surged to its highest level in about 18 months after the explosion on fears that local supply would tighten in the coming weeks. Shorter supply could mean higher pump prices just as Californians and other U.S. motorists are benefiting from a slump in crude oil prices.
The fluid catalytic cracker is the facility’s main gasoline producing unit. Tesoro Corp recently shut its nearby 240,000-barrel-per-day refinery in Martinez after United Steelworkers union members walked out.
The two events sent February deliveries of California gasoline, known as CARBOB, as high as 40 cents above futures.
On the New York Stock Exchange, Tesoro shares rose 5 percent to close at $87.09. The company has three California refineries and may benefit from the incident. Exxon Mobil's shares closed down 2.2 percent at $91.01 on the NYSE.
Never speak to a Murdoch employee.
They don't care about you or the truth.
The Intercept [18/2/15]:
On the moning of June 11, 2009, James Rosen stepped inside the State Department, scanned his building badge and made his way to the Fox News office in the busy press room on the second floor. It was going to be a hectic day. Like other reporters working the phones that morning, Rosen was looking for fresh news about the latest crisis with North Korea.
Two weeks earlier, North Korea had conducted a nuclear detonation that showed the rest of the world it possessed a functioning bomb. The United Nations was on the verge of a formal condemnation, but no one at the U.N. or inside the U.S. government knew how North Korea’s unpredictable regime would respond and whether things might escalate toward war.
Rosen called Stephen Kim, a State Department expert on rogue nations and weapons of mass destruction. Kim, a U.S. citizen who was born in South Korea, spoke fluent Korean and had worked at one of America’s nuclear-weapons labs. He probably knew more about what was going on in Pyongyang than almost anyone else in the building.
The call, according to metadata collected by the FBI, lasted just half a minute, but soon afterward Kim called Rosen and they talked for nearly a dozen minutes. After that conversation, they left the building at roughly the same time, then spoke once more on the phone after they both returned.
A classified report on North Korea had just begun circulating, and Kim was among the restricted number of officials with clearance to read it. He logged onto a secure computer, called up the report at 11:27 a.m., and phoned Rosen 10 minutes later. A few minutes past noon, he left the building again, and a minute later Rosen followed. The destruction of Kim’s life would center on the question of what the two men discussed during that brief encounter outside the State Department.
“How does something immoral, when done privately, become moral when it is done collectively? Furthermore, does legality establish morality? Slavery was legal; apartheid is legal; Stalinist, Nazi, and Maoist purges were legal. Clearly, the fact of legality does not justify these crimes. Legality, alone, cannot be the talisman of moral people.”
― Walter E. Williams, All It Takes is Guts: A Minority View
Nauru refugee protest disrupts Dutton dinner [Refugee Action Coalition, Sydney – 19/2/15]:
A government dinner for Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, hosted by the President of Nauru, was disrupted after refugees discovered Dutton at the restaurant adjacent to one of the refugee camps.
Alerted to Dutton’s presence, refugees began a spontaneous demonstration, chanting, “Freedom,” Justice,” “shut down offshore.”
As the word spread more refugees came from other camps including the more remote Fly camp for single male refugees.
The protest lasted from around 8pm to 10pm.
“None of them enjoyed their dinner,” one of the refugees told the Refugee Action Coalition.
Dutton had earlier arrived on a private jet.
Last Wednesday night, a eight months pregnant Somali refugee attempted suicide by drowning. Her requests to be taken to Australia to have the baby had been turned down.
There were no indication that Peter Dutton was scheduled to meet any of the refugees or asylum seekers that Australia has transported to Nauru.
The Human Rights Commission report, The Forgotten Children, has damned the conditions in which children and their families are held in detention on Nauru.
The plight of refugees on Nauru also grows more desperate day by day. Nauru will not allow “resettlement” of refugees, so there are hundreds of refugees now living temporarily outside the detention camp.
A protest vigil to mark one year since Reza Barati’s death and to call for an end to offshore processing will be held on Friday, 20 February, 5.30pm at Sydney Town Hall.
Speakers will include a relative of Reza’s family, other Iranian refugees, The Greens and the Refugee Action Coalition.
@ozmigr4refugees [17/2/15]: The Hague, 17 February 2015 #LightTheDark #ShutDownManus #NothingLikeAustralia ...
Australia's 'beautiful prison' in Papua New Guinea, Fariba Sahraei [VIDEO – BBC – 18/2/15]:
... "Imagine a large and real cage in the most isolated island, surrounded by ocean and jungle and tall coconut trees," says Omid, a 25-year-old Iranian.
"No doubt our prison is the most beautiful prison in the world."
Omid is not exaggerating. Manus Island, in Papua New Guinea (PNG), is small and rugged, covered in thick jungle, and the coastline is stunning.
It's home to around 50,000 islanders - but also to about 1,000 detained asylum seekers who never wanted to be here and are mostly desperate to get out and go anywhere except back where they came from.
Until mid-2013, Omid was a journalist in Iran. He fled the country under the threat of arrest, paying traffickers a small fortune to take him to Australia.
Like many asylum seekers setting off from Indonesia, Omid headed for Christmas Island, a tiny Australian territory much closer than the mainland.
Despite reaching Australian borders, he was relocated to an overcrowded detention centre on Manus Island, where he has been stuck for the last 18 months.
A Catholic health worker in Papua New Guinea says the fight against tuberculosis in Western Province urgently needs more resources. ... [RNZI - 19/2/15]
Australian David Hicks overturns US terrorism conviction
An Australian former Guantanamo Bay detainee has had his terrorism conviction overturned in the US.
David Hicks, 39, pleaded guilty at the base in Cuba in 2007 to providing material support to terrorism.
But a US court has struck down the conviction, on the grounds the charge was not a war crime and so should not have been heard at a military court.
Hicks was captured in Afghanistan in 2001, where he attended al-Qaeda training camps and met Osama Bin Laden.
A Pentagon spokesman said the US will not appeal.
The unanimous ruling, by the US Court of Military Commission Review, reverses what had been one of the few successes in prosecuting Guantanamo detainees.
"David is aware of the decision and he is thrilled,'' Hicks' lawyer Wells Dixon said. "He is free to live his life without this conviction hanging over his head.''
"It's been a long road which has finally now come to an end," his father told ABC. "It's pretty hard to take in at the moment."
Hicks travelled to Pakistan in 1999, joined the Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group the following year and took part in an attack on Indian forces, according to court documents.
He then went to Afghanistan where he was captured by the Northern Alliance and handed to the US in late 2001.
He spent more than five years at Guantanamo, where he says he was tortured.
His guilty plea was part of a plea bargain which shortened his seven-year sentence and allowed him to return home.
Prosecutors had argued his conviction should have stood as he agreed not to appeal as part of the plea bargain.
Damning report on NT juvenile detention reveals 'climate of daily crisis'
A damning review of the Northern Territory juvenile detention system has revealed that training for staff is grossly inadequate and they have been operating in a “climate of daily crisis”.
The government commissioned the report after a number of high-profile breakouts and riots, peaking in August when the dog squad was called in and tear gas was used on one boy.
Reviewer Michael Vita found that was “justifiable”.
But he found there was a lack of training for staff across the board, with an uncoordinated case management system, “non-existent, outdated and inadequate” detention centre procedures and a lack of consistency and direction in managing adolescents often suffering from trauma, foetal alcohol syndrome, ADHD and mental health problems.
Staff were trained for only four days, compared with 11 weeks for adult prison officers and 30 weeks for their NSW counterparts, which Vita said was “grossly inadequate”, especially considering the special demands posed by dealing with young detainees.
“I have no doubt that the lack of appropriate training has contributed to poor decision making during recent incidents,” he said.
In the five years to September 2014, there were nine escapes, seven attempted escapes, six alleged detainee-on-staff assaults, seven alleged staff-on-detainee assaults, four riots or disturbances, six instances of damaging government property, and four cases of detainees climbing onto the facilities’ roofs.
Vita said staff relied too much on confining troublemakers, and said in some cases detainees’ basic rights were withheld for too long, which did not help with behaviour management.
He found that none of the programs currently provided would be sufficiently intensive to change the behaviour of the highest risk offenders.
NT corrections minister John Elferink said the review was “not a clean bill of health”, and was commissioned in October to specifically examine how the department could improve.
All 16 recommendations would be taken on, he said, and staff retraining would begin “as soon as possible”.
It will be extended to an eight-week regime from March.
Farmer George Bender wrote a letter to his local MP Howard Hobbs raising concerns about the health ramifications and impact to livestock of CSG [pigs dropping dead]. Hobbs wrote back "contact Lifeline".
Farmer Joe Hill giving evidence: We call them LIARS, CHEATS AND THIEVES. .... My forebears, brothers fought for this country ... they're [multinational companies] taking it off us ...
85 bores, water has gone near Hopeland and Walloon aquifer no longer viable due to CSG . Mr Bender ... No one cares! ...
Water. Bores have gone , only methane now- all caused by CSG industry. No ifs no buts. Mr Bender says ...
Mins co's lie to residents about health effects. No one will speak up & do anything to protect people
Queensland ALP carries on with business as usual as media blackout on Senate Inquiry continues
... A regulatory free for all ...
Michael Kane, Clear Air Queensland
What happens when you have "a regulatory free for all" and no journalism holding the corrupt ALP and LNP to account?
Miner's widow: 'Families suffer for the rest of their lives' [Daily Mercury - 17/2/15]
Cancer cases in Queensland triple in the past 30 years, statistics show [ABC - 16/2/15]
Rail freight firm Aurizon doubles profits to $308m [ABC - 16/2/15]
Lock The Gate Media Release [19/2/15]:
The Senate hearings in Queensland are a wonderful opportunity for the new State Government to learn from past mistakes and avoid the LNP’s ‘coal and casinos’ approach to economic development.
Lock the Gate Alliance’s President, Drew Hutton said the Senate hearing in Toowoomba today would hear from landholders and communities “devastated by” inappropriate coal and coal seam gas developments or proposals.
“The State Government may have changed in Queensland but the injustices of the former LNP administration still need to be revealed for the sake of the farmers, landholders and communities that bear the brunt of unfair decisions.
“So many Queenslanders have been hurt by the previous LNP government that took away their democratic right to object to mines and trashed our foodlands and water supplies to make way for mining projects,” he said.
“The ALP must listen and learn from the evidence given at these hearings and right the wrongs done by the LNP.
“The previous powers of the Crime and Misconduct Commission must be restored to discourage dodgy dealings between politicians and big business.
“People power proved Queenslanders will not stand for lack of transparency and being treated like mugs. Lock the Gate will monitor the current government to make sure our new politicians stand up for the people over the monied and powerful.”
Individuals and groups to give evidence today include:
Dr Nicki Laws, Oakey Coal Action Alliance
Glenn Beutel, Acland resident
Michael Kane, Clean Air Queensland
Rosewood District Protection Organisation
Wildlife Preservation of Qld
Darling Downs’ farmers - The Benders, The Hills, The Dahlheimers, The Plants
Basin Sustainability Alliance
Social Justice advocates
19 February 2015