No lawyers, journalists or UNHCR. So called human rights groups are still silent.
Australia tortures refugees and the media are complicit.
No news on the progress of the case of the men accused of murdering Reza Berati? Really?
What happened at the PNG Supreme Court this week? [Refugee Action Coalition, Sydney - 18/3/15]:
This morning (Wednesday 18 March), 9.30am, the Supreme Court, Port Moresby, will hold its first directions hearing in a new challenge to the Manus Island detention centre.
The action will seek enforcement of constitutional rights under s57 of the PNG constitution; challenging the constitutionality of the detention centre.
It also raises issues of the breach of asylum seekers’ human rights in detention – seeking redress for their inhumane treatment, torture and the denial of liberty.
What happened to the accused refugees at the Nauru District Court this week? [Refugee Action Coalition, Sydney - 17/3/15]:
An Iranian refugee couple was hospitalised last night (Monday) after being attacked by rock-throwing Nauruans (see photos).
Around 10pm, Nauru time, the married couple was riding their motorcycle past the Menon Hotel when they were hit by a shower of rocks.
The motorcycle crashed after the male driver was knocked unconsciousness when one rock struck him on the head as they rode past the hotel.
The husband had regained re-gained consciousness a couple of hours later in the hospital and was able to talk to other refugees. The full scale of his injuries, and those of his wife are not known.
Ten refugees, including three children are due to appear in the Nauruan district court tomorrow (18 March) following the mass arrests made on 4 March.
Australia tortures refugees.
Peak health bodies release statement re children in detention.
Media blackout continues.
Children in detention: a joint statement from Australia's peak health
professional bodies [RACGP Media Release - 18/3/15]:
Australia’s peak health professional bodies have today joined together to call on the Government to immediately release all children and their families from immigration detention in Australia and Nauru.
Our organisations represent a wide range of health professionals who have seen, first-hand, the devastating impact of detention on the health and wellbeing of children and their families.
Many of our organisations provided input into to the Australian Human Rights Commission National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention. The report, The Forgotten Children, released a month ago, reflects our ongoing concerns.
We believe there is a moral imperative for the Government to implement the recommendations of the report, in particular:
- remove children and their families from detention centres on and offshore and release them into the Australian community, and
- urgently appoint an independent guardian for unaccompanied children seeking asylum in Australia.
In addition we reiterate the need to appoint an independent panel of health professionals to provide advice and oversight of health and healthcare in detention facilities on and off shore, with agreement for the panel to consult with our organisations.
The Government must show leadership on this important issue and act now to prevent further unnecessary and long-lasting harm to children in their care.
The groups making this call are:
•Royal Australasian College of Physicians
•Royal Australian College of General Practitioners
•Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists
•Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
•Australasian College for Emergency Medicine
•Australian Medical Association
•Australian Psychological Society
•Public Health Association of Australia
•Children’s Healthcare Australasia
•Australian Association of Social Workers
•Australian Medical Students for Refugee and Asylum Seeker Mental Health
•Australian College of Nursing
•Australian College of Mental Health Nurses
•Australian College of Midwives
•Maternal, Child and Family Health Nurses Australia
Malcolm Turnbull (and Shorten) about to give Rupert Murdoch 100% control of Australia's news media
News Corp confirms that it will build its investment in APN News and Media to 14.99 per cent, subject to regulatory approval.
APN owns three of New Zealand's top five radio networks and The New Zealand Herald, as well as several major radio networks in Australia and around 20 daily and 80 non-daily newspapers on both sides of the Tasman.
It is also a major provider of outdoor (billboard) advertising in Australia and New Zealand.
It has been reported in the Fairfax press that APN's two largest shareholders - Independent News & Media and Baycliffe, both controlled by Irish billionaire Denis O'Brien - have sold large stakes in a block trade managed by Credit Suisse.
The report that IPN has sold 191 million shares would indicate that it has offloaded its entire shareholding, while Mr O'Brien's investment vehicle Baycliffe's reported sale of 125 million shares would be more than a third of its current 30 per cent stake in APN.
APN is in a trading halt, requested by the company earlier today "pending a potential share sell down by two major shareholders", and was last trading around 94 cents a share.
Fairfax reports that News Corp paid 88 cents a share for a 10 per cent stake, to add to a 4.9 per cent shareholding it had quietly accumulated.
Shareholdings below 5 per cent do not need to be advised to the market as they are below the substantial shareholder threshold.
Australia tortures refugees: Rooftop protest at Yongah Hill concentration camp in WA
A rooftop protest has erupted at Western Australia's Yongah Hill immigration detention centre, according to detainees.
One man housed at the centre, 80 kilometres north-east of Perth, told the ABC more than 20 people had climbed on roofs in all the main compounds.
He said they were protesting against the medical care provided, in particular to a Lebanese man who is now "partly blind" in one eye after allegedly being given the wrong treatment.
The Department of Immigration and Border Protection has been contacted for comment.
The protest follows a disturbance at Sydney's Villawood Detention Centre overnight, which caused property damage.
Earlier this month, a detainee was left in a critical condition after being bashed in Yongah Hill's Falcon compound.
Three other detainees have since been charged with assault occasioning bodily harm in circumstances of aggravation.
Yongah Hill detention centre is now about half full of asylum seekers and half full of people detained for visa compliance breaches.
They include non-citizens who were sentenced to 12 months or more jail in Australia, have served their sentence and now face deportation under section 501 of the Migration Act.
WA police hard at work crushing the underclass
WA Today [19/3/15]:
Criminals who use short-term accommodation to avoid being located are on notice, as police swoop on caravan and camping grounds across the state.
Six arrests were made on Thursday morning as similar crackdowns continue from Esperance to Kununurra.
Police are claiming a major success in tracking down and arresting offenders trying to stay "off the radar".
Residents received an early wake-up call when police cars and vans rolled into caravan parks at Coogee Beach, Dawesville and Champion Lakes while mounted police trotted into Midland Caravan Park.
Up to 10 police were at each address and armed with a list of alleged offenders and persons of interest from recent and old investigations.
Operational commander Superintendent Brad Sorrell said the police presence focused on individuals who used caravan parks to avoid police.
"We know some criminals use caravan parks as safe havens to avoid detection," he said.
Superintendent Sorrell said the police objective was to identify and apprehend individuals suspected of a range of drug-related, property and firearms offences, and other anti-social activities.
Police arrested one person with six outstanding warrants at the Coogee Beach Caravan Park. Another individual was assisting Cockburn police with a hit and run investigation from 2007. Fremantle police made four arrests at a Hampton Road short-term address.
Superintendent Sorrell said police were also working with other agencies like Immigration and local councils.
"For instance, we went down to South Beach and issued infringements for illegal camping and motor vehicle infringements. We're also working with Immigration on another case," he said.
Aside from the arrests, police also issued six infringements, a summons for the seizure of a drug implement, and advanced another hit and run enquiry.
"And that was in just two caravan parks. I believe that is a major success," Superintendent Sorrell said.
How much longer will Australians put up with fascism?
Sunshine Coast Daily [19/315]:
A Golden Beach couple has criticised a "stubborn" bus driver for dragging out a passenger's fare dispute for more than 30 minutes until police arrived.
TAFE student Angela Descovic labelled Sunbus policy "unfair" after she and her partner were caught up in the long delay on Monday.
The 20-year-old student was riding the 609 bus when she noticed a teen trying to board without enough money on his Go Card for the fare.
She said the boy had tried to explain to the driver that he had no money to top up his card and would repay the fare when he arrived at his stop.
Ms Descovic said the driver told the teen to "pay or get off", despite him offering what she felt was a fair explanation.
Sunbus, which owns the 609 bus, states in its policy that passengers must have a valid paper ticket or Go Card to board public transport or they could face an on-the-spot fine of $227 for fare evasion.
Ms Descovic said she had watched on as the teen refused to leave the bus and the dispute unfolded.
She said she had offered to pay the boy's fare so the bus could start moving again, but the driver had refused, instead calling the police after his superiors' instruction.
The couple thought the bus driver could have handled the situation better and avoided calling the police and delaying the ride for all onboard.
"He said he had to call the police because the boy wouldn't get off the bus," Ms Descovic said.
"It was ridiculous. We've all got places to go.
"I understand everyone has to pay but it was unfair to get the police involved.
"I asked the driver what he would do if an elderly woman had no money on their Go Card. He told me he would let her on."
Ms Descovic said that when she questioned the driver about the dispute, they were told the teen had "attitude". But the pair disagreed.
A Sunbus spokesman told the Daily the driver had done the right thing by asking the teen to pay or leave the bus.
"It's an offence for a customer to not comply with a bus driver's reasonable direction, in this case being asked to leave the bus due to fare evasion," the spokesman said.
Despite the couple's criticism of the policy, the spokesman said the driver had followed procedure by contacting the depot which then asked him to call police.
He said the company was committed to cracking down on fare evasion.
ALP votes with Coalition to block Senate motion detailing its failure to return political donations from Santos
Tweed Daily News [19/3/15]:
Labor has voted with the Liberals and Nationals to block a Senate motion detailing its failure to return about $90,000 in political donations from coal seam gas company Santos.
The Greens launched the Federal Senate motion on Thursday after NSW Labor agreed to hand back $2200 in donations from Santos.
The motion by Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon also called for a ban on political donations from mining and coal seam gas companies.
"Labor's failure to return all the money they have received from Santos seriously undermines their credibility on standing with residents opposed to CSG," she said. "They have been left looking insincere and (like) opportunists."
Greens candidate for Ballina Tamara Smith said the decision to block the motion showed Labor was "trying to have it both ways".
"It must stand with local communities to protect our land - or be upfront about its ties to the industry," she said.
Bushfire tears through pine plantation
The small central Queensland town hardest hit by Cyclone Marcia is now under assault by a growing bushfire that has been fuelled by the remnants of the cyclone's destruction.
Residents of Byfield, north of Yeppoon on the Capricorn coast, were ordered to enact their bushfire plans on Thursday afternoon, with many told to evacuate their homes.
While firefighters believed they had the fire contained in the morning, it moved quickly in the afternoon and began to get out of control.
Police began doorknocking residents to the north of Byfield, which is virtually surrounded by a state forest, telling them to immediately leave their homes.
"This fire is moving quickly and firefighters are experiencing difficulty controlling it," the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services said in a statement.
"The fire is expected to impact on the Byfield community and there is a chance that some property may be lost."
Eighteen fire crews and four water bombing aircrafts were working to contain a blaze made worse by scores of fallen trees at a pine plantation flattened by Cyclone Marcia - which hit Byfield before it then progressed south to Yeppoon last month.
About 90 per cent of the pine trees in the plantation had been knocked over, hindering the firefighters efforts, according to acting fire superintendent Ross McRae.
"The problem is a lot of them have fallen over the access tracks," he told AAP.
"It does take a long time to get in there."
Excavators and bulldozers were being used to clear the way for fire crews working to strengthen containment lines.
Mr McRae said the sheer volume of pine needles on the ground also meant there was a lot of fuel to feed the flames.
The bushfire continued a crazy day of weather events for Queensland with Cyclone Nathan bearing down on the far north coast and a heatwave affecting the south and west of the state, which saw a record March temperature of 46.5C in Birdsville.
There were also record 40-plus temperatures in Mt Isa and Injune, while Gatton reached 38.2C.
TC Marcia damages 80% of pine tree plantations in Byfield [Morning Bulletin – 19/3/15]
CFMEU loses appeal against former union boss
Morning Bulletin [19/3/15]:
The CFMEU has lost an appeal against a compensation claim by a former Central Queensland union boss who made allegations of dirty tricks, guerrilla-style tactics and corruption in the organisation.
Brisbane-based union boss and whistleblower Stuart Vaccaneo launched his compensation bid in 2011 after he quit the organisation following a serious breakdown from what he said was workplace stress and bullying.
Mr Vaccaneo told a Q-Comp hearing in 2013 he was the subject of defamatory emails and a guerrilla campaign following his criticism of the sector at the height of the 2009 global financial crisis.
Mr Vaccaneo at the time was highly critical of BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance's decision to slash 1000 jobs from its suite of mines in the Bowen Basin near Mackay and Rockhampton.
He subsequently won his battle after Q-Comp found there was overwhelming evidence Mr Vaccaneo suffered an injury and a breakdown after being subjected to union attacks, but stopped short of saying it was targeted.
He was awarded an undisclosed compensation amount, but the CFMEU appealed the decision to the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission.
Last year during a hearing the commission was told Mr Vaccaneo been diagnosed with a serious psychological disorder as a result of his treatment at the hands of the union.
The commission heard that one of four stressors Mr Vaccaneo's case relied on was a series of emails sent in December 2008, including several that Mackay-based union boss Steven Smyth sent, raising concerns about a product being used in underground coal mines.
In the emails the external company and its executives were referred to as low life scabs, dogs, grubs and Judas.
The company the emails were about obtained them, thus exposing the union to defamation proceedings in court.
Mr Vaccaneo claimed the emails, especially the use of the word scab, was highly derogatory and offensive.
In order to be successful in its appeal, the union had to prove that Mr Vaccaneo's injuries were not caused at work but rather were caused externally.
It failed to do so.
Industrial Commissioner Graham Neate, in dismissing the union's appeal, said the evidence supported a finding that Mr Vaccaneo's injuries arose out of, or in the course of, his employment and that his employment was a significant contributing factor to the development of his injury.
Commissioner Neate further ordered the union pay Mr Vaccaneo's costs.
70-year-old cyclist dies after being hit by car, Bargara
News Mail [19/3/15]:
Emergency services are at the scene of a crash at Bargara where a man has died.
Queensland Ambulance Service senior operations supervisor Steven Bechley confirmed a man, believed to be 70-years-old, has been killed after being struck by a car.
"There's been a tragic accident today where a car has struck a push bike rider and unfortunately the push bike rider has been killed instantly on impact," he said.
QAS received a call at approximately 5.30pm of the accident on Grimwood St, near the Sandhills Sports Club (formerly the Bargara Bowls Club).
Tourist charged over fatal road crash near Stanthorpe
A German tourist has been arrested and charged after a fatal car crash on the Granite Belt in southern Queensland.
Police allege the 21-year-old man had been driving on the wrong side of the road on the New England Highway, south of Stanthorpe, just before 7:00pm (AEST) last night, when his car hit another car.
A 44-year-old woman in the other car died.
The accused man is due to appear in the Warwick Magistrates Court today, charged with dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death.
Sudden death, Logan Central
QPS Media [19/3/15]:
Police are seeking public assistance following the death of a man in Logan Central this morning.
Around 9.30am, there was an altercation between a 24-year-old man and a 63-year-old man at a shopping centre car park on Wembley Road.
Shortly after the altercation, the 63-year-old man collapsed and was transported to the Logan Hospital where he was pronounced deceased.
Police are seeking assistance from anyone that may have been in the area and witnessed this to contact them via Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
Investigations are continuing.
Chardon's rape trial to stay in Southport
Gold Coast man John Chardon has failed in a bid to have his rape trial either moved to Brisbane or decided by a judge instead of a jury.
The husband of missing woman Novy Chardon is facing a charge of rape and three counts of indecent treatment of a child.
The charges are not related to Mrs Chardon's disappearance in February 2013.
Chardon's lawyers argued last month the extensive publicity around the case would deprive him of a fair trial if it was held before a jury in Southport.
Chief Judge Kerry O'Brien rejected the application in the Brisbane District Court on Thursday.
He said that after examining media reports submitted by Chardon's lawyers he didn't see the publicity as being so prejudicial that it would risk a fair trial in Southport.
"I see no reason to have other than confidence in the ability of 12 citizens to judge this case according to its merits," he said in a written judgment.
Chardon has previously been named as a person of interest in his wife's disappearance but denies involvement and has never been charged.
His case is due to be mentioned in the Southport District Court on Tuesday.
Former Bronco Chris Johns faces court
Former rugby league international Chris Johns has appeared in court over an incident near a Brisbane hotel.
The Broncos Hall of Fame player fronted the Brisbane Magistrates Court on Thursday charged with committing a public nuisance on February 20 outside the popular Caxton Hotel, near the club's home ground at Suncorp Stadium.
Johns, 51, did not enter a plea and no details of the charge were read out.
Lawyer Angelo Venardos requested a one-week adjournment.
He said there were "significant discrepancies" between the documented police allegations and CCTV footage of the alleged incident.
"We want some further opportunity to have some discussions with police about those," he told the magistrate.
The case will return to court on March 26.
Johns, who played 245 top-grade matches, began his rugby league career with St George in 1984 before becoming a foundation player for Brisbane in 1988.
He retired in 1996 after playing 10 Origin matches for NSW and nine Tests for Australia.
Johns, who lives in Brisbane, worked as a top official for both the Broncos and Melbourne Storm following his retirement.
Arrest for 2012 armed robbery and shooting, Gailes
QPS Media [19/3/15]:
Today, detectives from the Organised Crime Investigation Unit, State Crime Command charged a 27-year-old man following the 2012 armed robbery of a pharmacy at Gailes.
During this incident a 47-year-old local resident gave chase to the offender and after tackling him was allegedly shot in the leg.
The proprietor of a local hardware store witnessed the incident and rendered first aid to the man until the arrival of emergency services.
After a lengthy investigation by the Organised Crime Investigation Unit and the Yamanto Criminal Investigation Branch, a 27-year-old man was charged today with armed robbery, grievous bodily harm and the unlawful possession of a concealable firearm.
During this investigation police recovered a .32 calibre handgun which has been allegedly linked to the crime scene through scientific analysis.
“We are pleased to have progressed this investigation through to the charging of the alleged offender for this armed robbery today. The investigation of this serious incident has been challenging for all the investigators involved,” Detective Senior Sergeant Jason Hindmarsh of the Organised Crime Unit said.
The man is due to appear in the Brisbane Magistrates Court this afternoon.
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.
Prominent Yemeni journalist and Houthi activist killed
Assailants on a motorbike on Wednesday shot dead one of Yemen's top journalists, Abdul Kareem al-Khaiwani, who is also an activist close to the country's dominant Houthi group, police sources said.
The group's television channel al-Maseerah said al-Khaiwani, who had served as a delegate for the group in a national dialogue conference on Yemen's future, was "martyred in a criminal assassination" near his house in the center of the capital Sanaa.
The killing ends a relative lull in bombing and shooting attacks in the capital since the Houthis ousted the government in January.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, though Sunni Muslim al Qaeda militants have claimed several previous attacks on the Shi'ite Houthis, whom it regards as heretics.
Yemen is torn by a power struggle between the Iranian-backed Houthis in the north and the U.N.-recognized President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who has set up a rival seat in the southern port city of Aden with Gulf Arab support.
Khaiwani's editorials were once the scourge of Yemen's veteran autocrat, former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, and he accused the ruler of 33 years of styling his son to succeed him.
Growing closer to the Houthi movement when Arab Spring protests ousted Saleh in 2012, Khaiwani was among several delegates who represented the group at the talks, convened to map out reforms to be incorporated into a new draft constitution before the Houthis captured Sanaa in September.
But the liberal writer earned the ire of activist allies when he backed the group's dissolution of parliament in February - which critics called a coup - but was remembered fondly for his muckraking past.
"He was one of the godfathers of Yemen's tradition of saying no to those in authority," said his friend, Yemeni writer Farea al-Muslimi.
"His death is a new wound in an already bloody experience for Yemen. It's truly depressing and frightening," he added.
Yemen's lively press and civil society has been struck hard by political tension, and rights group Amnesty International last month accused the Houthis of abducting and torturing those opposed to their rule.
Indonesia: No executions of foreigners in near future
Jakarta Post [19/3/15]:
High-ranking government officials said on Wednesday that no executions of drug convicts would take place in the next few months, as the country’s judiciary was still processing their appeals and case reviews.
Attorney General M. Prasetyo said that although all preparations for the drug convicts’ executions had been completed, prosecutors were still waiting for the final verdicts on their appeals.
Prasetyo went on to say that all death-row convicts in the second batch had to be executed simultaneously, including Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso of the Philippines and French inmate Serge Atlaoui, whose case reviews are now being handled by the Supreme Court.
“If they were not executed simultaneously, it would create further problems for us,” Prasetyo said at the State Palace on Wednesday before a Cabinet meeting presided over by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo.
Prasetyo claimed the AGO had no deadline for the executions, adding that it was waiting for the ongoing legal proceedings to wrap up.
“There are several ongoing legal proceedings. We must wait for them [to reach their conclusion],” he said, adding that the appeals and case reviews included those filed at the Jakarta State Administrative Court (PTUN) by two Australian drug smugglers on death row, Andrew Chan, 31, and Myuran Sukumaran, 33.
Prasetyo maintained that the executions’ delay was not due to foreign pressure.
Vice President Jusuf Kalla backed up the attorney general’s remarks, saying that the government was unlikely to execute the death-row convicts for weeks or even months, until the courts ruled on their last-minute legal appeals.
Kalla was quoted by Reuters as saying, “We’re waiting for the decision of the courts,” adding that it could take “weeks or months”.
Kalla also said that Indonesia was being especially careful with the legal appeals in light of diplomatic efforts to save the prisoners.
“We will always hear and consider opinions not only from Australia but also France and Brazil,” he said.
“That is why we are very careful in [...] following the process of the law,” he explained.
Four death-row inmates have appealed against their sentences after the President rejected their clemency pleas late last year.
Australia has made repeated calls for mercy on behalf of Sukumaran and Chan but Jokowi has refused to budge, turning down offers of a one-off prisoner exchange and to have the Australian government bear the cost of the convicts serving life sentences.
Kalla said relations with Brazil had been harmed and Indonesia was now reviewing all its military contracts with Latin America’s largest economy.
“We’re not reviewing contracts with other countries because Australia and the Netherlands did not harm our diplomatic relations like Brazil,” he said, referring to Brazil’s refusal to let Indonesia’s envoy take part in a ceremony.
Brazil and the Netherlands recalled their ambassadors in January after Indonesia executed a group of six drug offenders, including citizens of those two countries.
A Brazilian national is also among a second group of 11 prisoners due to be executed. Rodrigo Gularte’s family has pleaded for clemency on the grounds of mental illness.
Others facing imminent execution on the prison island of Nusakambangan include citizens of France, the Philippines, Ghana, Nigeria and Indonesia.
A delegation of Australian Muslim leaders led by the Grand Mufti of Australia has used a visit to Jakarta to appeal for clemency for Andrew Chan and Myurun Sukumaran. ... [SBS - 17/3/15]
Brisbane's rally against the closure of Aboriginal Communities #noconsent #sosblackaustralia
Image: @Jyllden [19/3/15]
@Jyllden [19/3/15]: #sosblackaustralia
Bernard Tomic to meet Novak Djokovic in Indian Wells quarter-finals
Bernard Tomic's solid form will be put to the test when he meets world number one Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals of the Indian Wells Masters event.
Tomic advanced to the last eight when he edged out fellow Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis in three tight sets, winning 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.
The 35th-ranked Tomic's winning run at Indian Wells follows his two victories in Australia's triumphant Davis Cup tie against Czech Republic, as well as his appearance in at least the quarter-finals of five earlier tournaments this year.
Djokovic took another step towards defending his Indian Wells title with a hard-fought 6-4, 7-6 (7-5) win over American John Isner.
What about freedom of speech in a surveillance state Mr Palmer?
Clive Palmer Saddened by Arrest of Ms Nurul Izzah [Media Release – 19/3/15]:
Federal leader of the Palmer United Party and Member for Fairfax, Clive Palmer, said from Tokyo today that he was saddened to hear of the arrest of Nurul Izzah Anwar, the eldest daughter of Malaysia’s jailed opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim.
Mr Palmer is currently in the Japanese capital meeting with former US President Bill Clinton, US Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe. He said they too, had expressed their disapproval of Ms Nurul Izzah’s arrest for alleged sedition.
“Ms Nurul Izzah was arrested for making a speech in parliament last week where she criticised the judiciary for her father’s arrest,’’ Mr Palmer said.
“Her stance was simply one of freedom of speech which should exist in all democracies.”
Mr Palmer has called on Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop to make a stance in protest to the arrest.
“A great man once said – an injustice to a man anywhere is an injustice to all men everywhere.
“I call on all politicians to make a stand and protest to the Malaysian embassy,’’ Mr Palmer said.
Soft (yet competing) diplomacy for US empire and TPP with Kennedy, Clinton and Michelle Obama?
On March 18, 2015, the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation will host its first international symposium, The Torch Has Been Passed: JFK’s Legacy Today, at Waseda University in Tokyo.
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton will deliver
the keynote address and Caroline Kennedy, U.S. Ambassador to Japan, will provide
“JFK’s Three Legacies and Japan”: Address by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at "The Torch Has Been Passed: JFK's Legacy Today", a Symposium Jointly Organized by Waseda University and the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation [18/3/15]
Michelle Obama blamed attitudes toward women for a global failure to educate girls as she promoted her Let Girls Learn initiative in Tokyo on Thursday.
“This is truly a crisis,” the U.S. first lady, dressed in a red and white floral suit, said in a speech alongside her counterpart Akie Abe, U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy and an audience of mostly female students. “Sixty-two million girls worldwide are not in school.”
The U.S. will cooperate with Japan, including by forging a partnership between the U.S. Peace Corps and Japan’s International Cooperation Agency, according to a statement issued by the U.S. Embassy. Abe, the wife of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, has been involved in the construction of schools in Myanmar.
On Okinawa, US Marines Raise Tensions With Accusations and Arrests of Peace Campaigners [Truth Out – 10/3/15]
Swedish police and press reports say several people have been fatally shot inside a restaurant in the city of Gothenburg.
Police said in a statement that an automatic weapon was believed to have been used in the shootings late on Wednesday. One Swedish press report listed the toll as at least two dead and eight injured, and said the number of fatalities might rise. ... [Guardian - 19/3/15]
The United Arab Emirates confirmed on Wednesday that the country has recalled its ambassador to Sweden, citing Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström's public criticism of its neighbour Saudi Arabia. ... [The Local - 18/3/15]
At least 21 people, including 17 foreign tourists, have been killed during a security operation at a museum in Tunisia's capital after a deadly hostage siege. … [Al Jazeera – 18/3/15]
Five civilians injured by three blasts in Egypt's Fayoum [Ahram - 18/3/15]
At least 12 militiamen in Libya were killed Wednesday in clashes with jihadists of the Islamic State group near the central city of Sirte, sources said. ... [The Guardian - 18/3/15]
Pakistan says 34 militants killed in 'precise' strikes in northwest [Reuters – 18/3/15]
United States, "allies" continue bombing Iraq and Syria
On March 17, U.S. military forces continued to attack ISIL terrorists in Syria, using fighter and attack aircraft to conduct two airstrikes.
Separately, U.S. and Coalition military forces conducted 11 airstrikes in Iraq, using attack, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft against ISIL terrorists.
All strikes took place between 8 a.m., March 17, and 8 a.m., March 18, local time.
The following is a summary of the strikes conducted since the last press release:
o Near Al Hasakah, an airstrike struck an ISIL fighting position and an ISIL tunnel system.
o Near Kobani, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL fighting position.
o Near Al Asad, an airstrike denied ISIL an avenue of approach.
o Near Al Qaim, an airstrike struck an ISIL rocket storage facility.
o Near Fallujah, an airstrike destroyed an ISIL remotely piloted aircraft and an ISIL vehicle.
o Near Kirkuk, an airstrike destroyed two ISIL excavators.
o Near Mosul, two airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units and destroyed six ISIL excavators and an ISIL vehicle.
o Near Ramadi, five airstrikes struck two ISIL bridges, an ISIL tactical unit, an ISIL excavator and destroyed an ISIL sniper position and an ISIL vehicle.
Airstrike assessments are based on initial reports. All aircraft returned to base safely.
Use of chlorine in an attack on a village in Northern Syria [Médecins Sans Frontières Media Release – 19/3/15]
On Wednesday, the Iraqi Air Force planes dropped leaflets in the province of Nineveh to alert citizens that the zero hour is very near and they should prepare for it.
State television said in breaking news followed by IraqiNews.com, “The Air Force planes have dropped leaflets in Nineveh warning its citizens that the zero hour is near.”
A source within the Kurdish Peshmerga forces said on March 10th that the international coalition aircrafts dropped leaflets in central Mosul to warn its residents of being near ISIS headquarters, explaining that those leaflets emphasized that the date of Mosul’s liberation is near.
It is noteworthy that the city of Mosul has been under the ISIS group’s control since June 10, 2014.
It is suffering a great security and humanitarian crisis due to the terrorist group imposing its extreme vision on all aspects of life in the city.
@IraqiSMCEn – Iraqi Spring Media Center [18/3/15]:
Anbar: The aircrafts have shelled some neighbourhoods in Ramadi...........
Human Rights Watch : Shia militias and security forces have committed violations against civilians after controlling the areas in which they fight ISIL.........
Baghdad: Agencies: 9 persons have been killed and wounded as a roadside bomb has exploded in Hamamiyat area in Taji north of Baghdad.....
Baghdad: Agencies/security source: A person has been killed and two wounded as a roadside bomb attached to civil car has exploded in Arba'a Shaware'e area in Yarmouk ......
Mass grave found in army base northeast of Baquba [IraqiNews.com – 18/3/15]
One killed, five wounded in shooting spree in Phoenix suburb
A gunman opened fire inside a motel room in the Phoenix suburb of Mesa on Wednesday, killing a man and wounding two women, then shot three more people as he sought to elude an exhaustive manhunt that ended in his capture, police said.
Officers using a stun gun subdued the suspected gunman at a vacant condominium where he had taken refuge, some four hours after the initial shooting, Mesa police spokesman Esteban Flores told reporters.
"At this time we believe he is responsible for each and every one of these shootings," Flores said. Police said the motive for the rampage was still unclear but that the initial gunfire erupted following an argument at the motel.
"Everything else seemed to be random at that point," Flores said. "We believe his motive at the other locations was robbery and carjackings and just trying to get away."
Local NBC affiliate 12 News showed the man being led out of the residential complex in a white full-body suit, his wrists shackled, and taken to a local hospital.
"That is something investigators use if they’re going to be protecting his clothing for evidence," Flores said of the suit.
The suspected gunman was not publicly named by authorities, but the Arizona Republic newspaper identified him as Ryan Elliot Giroux, citing an unnamed Mesa police source.
Anti-hate group the Southern Poverty Law Center, citing a retired Mesa police detective, identified Giroux, 41, as a member of skinhead and white supremacist groups who had served prison time for burglary and marijuana possession and attempted aggravated assault.
The violence began at the Tri City Inn when the gunman opened fire on a man and two women following some kind of altercation, then fled to a nearby restaurant where he shot and wounded a student while carjacking the man's vehicle, Flores said.
The suspect then drove to two nearby apartment complexes, shooting one person at each, Flores said. The man shot at the motel died.
One of the surviving victims was listed in critical condition at a Phoenix-area hospital. Authorities did not immediately release information on the remaining victims.
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey said in a statement he had spoken to the mayor of Mesa and offered resources, including from the Department of Public Safety.
9 injured as Israeli forces open fire on protest at Jalazun camp
Nine Palestinians were injured Wednesday afternoon after Israeli forces opened fire on protesters at al-Jalazun refugee camp north of Ramallah.
Israeli soldiers shot 20-year-old Palestinian named Ali Mahmoud Safi in the chest with a 0.22 caliber bullet during the protest.
The bullet exited his body through the back, and the youth was in serious condition as of Wednesday evening.
Locals said three other protesters were struck by live bullets, and five by rubber-coated steel bullets.
The protest reportedly began after locals gathered in opposition to the construction of a wall between the refugee camp and the nearby Jewish-only settlement of Beit El. Beit El is strategically located on a hill at the northern edge of Ramallah, blocking free movement for local Palestinians to and from the city through a checkpoint.
The most direct road north, meanwhile, is off-limits to Palestinians.
An Israeli military spokeswoman confirmed the shooting.
"There was a riot of 50 Palestinians in Jalazun," she told Ma'an, adding that "rioters hurled rocks at the soldiers and they responded with riot dispersal means."
"Upon their refusal to vacate the area and refrain from further violence, they fired a .22 caliber round toward the main instigator," she said.
"A hit was confirmed."
The spokeswoman refused to comment on how the protest had begun or why the soldiers were in the area immediately beside the camp.
Israeli forces on Wednesday evening uprooted 300 olive trees and destroyed more than 5,000 meters of stone barriers belonging to Palestinians in the village of Majdal Bani Fadil south of Nablus. ... [Maan - 18/3/15]
Jewish settlers on Wednesday forcibly took over a Palestinian building and two plots of land in the Silwan neighborhood of East Jerusalem, a local group said. ... [Maan - 18/3/15]
Israel Firm Announces Gas Deal with Egyptian Company [Naharnet – 18/3/15]
Aboriginal Australian communities announce a global call to action
Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance Media Release [15/3/15]:
Kimberley Aboriginal communities have declared a GLOBAL CALL TO ACTION to stop the forced closure of Aboriginal communities within Western Australia amidst the growing campaign by State and Federal Governments to withdraw their support and remove Aboriginal people from their traditional homelands.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott has whipped up a great amount of fear, anxiety and doubt amongst the already marginalised First peoples of this nation when he said that “What we can’t do, is endlessly subsidise choices, if those lifestyle choices are not conducive to the kind of full participation in Australian society that everyone should have”.
Abbott’s statement was in support of the declarations made by Premier of Western Australia, Colin Barnett in a press statement released 12 November 2014, suggesting that the State could no longer support 150 Aboriginal Communities, flagging the prospective removal by the end of 2015.
We who live in the remoter areas of Australia do not believe it is a lifestyle choice but an intrinsic fundamental human right to live in our own communities and our own country. We hold significant cultural obligations to our Ancestors to maintain Sovereign ties to our lands. After successive breaches of Human Rights conventions and the forced removal of the Aboriginal Community of Oombulgurri in 2014, we maintain a vote of no confidence in both the incumbent State and Federal Governments in their actions toward Aboriginal people.
On Thursday 19th March 2015, Australians across the Nation are being asked to celebrate Close the Gap Day – but for many of our countrymen the gap has been significantly widened placing increasing pressure and trauma on our people.
Starting in the Kimberley at 10am, we will march not for this Government agenda, but instead to show our objection to the threatened proposed closures to Aboriginal communities.
We stand in solidarity with all other regions in Western Australia and South Australia who have the veil of threatened remote community closures hanging over their lives and understand that the precedent for a National attack by Government toward Aboriginal people living on their homelands, has already been set in the Oombulgurri closure.
We ask the National and International community to stand with us in this action, and the subsequent actions that will ensue as we mobilise effective campaigns to secure our cultural right and entitlement.
@clayton_dixon [19/3/15]: Aboriginal Provisional Government calls on artists to send in designs for revamped #AboriginalPassport
... Tony Abbott and Labor have done a back-room deal on Internet and smartphone surveillance laws and are saying to the public and the parliament, "Just trust us. It will be alright." ...
Adam Bandt MP - ABC News Mornings [19/3/15]
@mearesy [19/3/15]: Minister Turnbull and Shadow A-G Dryfus voted together to defeat Adam Bandt's amendments to the Data Retention Bill
@ellinghausen [18/3/15]: Greens MP Adam Bandt and Independent MP Andrew Wilkie during the debate on the Data Retention bill
@mpesce [19/3/15]: Did the entire Federal Labor house caucus vote in favour of the bill? Asking for a very pissed off friend.
@sluthy [19/3/15]: ----> @mpesce everyone in the House except Bandt, Wilkie, Katter and McGowan.
"Journalists information warrant"? Only a propagandist could possibly believe they will be protected. [ABC - 19/3/15]:
It will be harder for security agencies to access journalists' phone and internet records, under new measures negotiated by Labor and the Government in their wrangling over contentious data retention laws.
Not only will security agencies need to get a warrant to access journalist's metadata, but they will be fighting a presumption that the need for journalist's confidentiality — to protect their sources — outweighs any public interest. ...
Adam Bandt MP's question to the Minister for Communication re who is covered by the definition of journalist goes unanswered.
... A decision has obviously been taken to try and shove metadata through before question time. Turnbull is doing that right now. Adam Bandt’s very pertinent definitional questions about who might be covered by the regime are not going to be answered in this chamber. This legislation will more than likely very shortly clear the Reps. ...
Mall of America Security Catfished Black Lives Matter Activists, Documents Show [The Intercept - 18/3/15]:
Documents obtained by The Intercept indicate that security staff at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota used a fake Facebook account to monitor local Black Lives Matter organizers, befriend them, and obtain their personal information and photographs without their knowledge.
Evidence of the fake Facebook account was found in a cache of files provided by the Mall of America to Bloomington officials after a large Black Lives Matter event at the mall on December 20 protesting police brutality. The files included briefs on individual organizers, with screenshots that suggest that much of the information was captured using a Facebook account for a person named “Nikki Larson.” ...
UN adds weight to case against Australian government at the Hague
Andrew Wilkie MP Media Release [19/3/15]:
The Independent Member for Denison, Andrew Wilkie, and eminent human rights lawyer Greg Barns will be available to discuss the most recent correspondence with the International Criminal Court in regard to Australia’s non-compliance with the Rome Statute and crimes against humanity against asylum seekers.
In essence Mr Wilkie, in cooperation with Mr Barns, has drawn the Prosecutor’s attention to the damning findings in this month’s United Nations Report of the Special Rapporteur, Juan Méndez, on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
He has also highlighted that the Prime Minister and his Cabinet have also repeatedly rejected the findings by the UN Human Rights Committee that the continued detention of refugees subject to adverse security assessments constitutes arbitrary detention.
Extracts of Mr Wilkie’s letter
``I wish to draw your attention to the findings contained in the United Nations Report of the Special Rapporteur, Juan Méndez, on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. The Report was released in Geneva by the Human Rights Council on 6 March 2015.
``In particular I respectfully draw the attention of the Office of the Prosecutor to the conclusions of the Special Rapporteur about the ongoing detention of 203 Sri Lankan asylum seekers and their incommunicado detention. I also note the Special Rapporteur’s conclusions about the impact of legislation drafted and introduced in the Australian Parliament by the members of the Cabinet of Prime Minister Tony Abbott. The Migration and Maritime Powers Legislation Amendment (Resolving the Asylum Legacy Caseload) Bill 2014 and the Migration Amendment (Character and General Visa Cancellation) Bill 2014 are now Australian law.
``The Special Rapporteur concludes that the above legislation violates the rights of a group of persons, namely asylum seekers and migrants, to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.
``I would also like to take this opportunity to draw your attention to the Prime Minister’s response to this Report. In a public statement he said that “Australians are sick of being lectured by the United Nations, particularly given that we have stopped the boats and by stopping the boats we have ended the deaths at sea”.
``It is respectfully submitted that the Prime Minister’s comments in relation to the Report indicate a state of mind that is, at the very least, reckless as to whether or not breaches of the Rome Statute are occurring as a consequence of his and the Cabinet’s policies. The issue of intent is of course one for your office.
``The Prime Minster and his Cabinet have also repeatedly rejected the findings by the United Nations Human Rights Committee that the continued detention of refugees subject to adverse security assessments constitutes arbitrary detention.
``For instance recently their government failed to comply with, and missed by almost a year the 180-day deadline to respond, the Committee’s July 2013 ruling regarding more than 30 recognised refugees. These people were subject to indefinite detention without trial and the Committee recommended they be released and compensated.’’
Australia proud of torturing refugees and repudiating the UN Refugee Convention.
House of Representatives Hansard [18/3/15]:
Mr VARVARIS (Barton) (14:55): My question is to the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection. Will the minister update the House on the success of Operation Sovereign Borders over the last 18 months, and what effect the government's policies has had on the insidious people-smuggling trade?
Mr DUTTON (Dickson—Minister for Immigration and Border Protection) (14:55): Thank you very much, Member for Barton. Like all people on this side of the House, he is absolutely determined to make sure that we can keep our borders safe and secure.
Today marks the 18-month anniversary of Operation Sovereign Borders, and I would praise the leadership of the Prime Minister, Minister Morrison and all of those people within my department who have contributed to an amazing success story. At the last election, people wanted a government that could secure our borders and they took a decision to toss out Labor and elect this government, because they knew that this Prime Minister had the ability to make the tough decisions to stop the boats.
Bear this figure in mind: over the course of 18 months under Labor, 534 people-smuggling ventures carrying over 35,000 illegal maritime arrivals entered Australia—534 in an 18-month period. Do you know how many have arrived over the course of the last 18 months under the coalition government, under Operation Sovereign Borders? One—one people-smuggling venture has arrived in our country compared to 534.
On the weekend, the deputy leader of the Labor Party said that she would oppose the policy at the core, at the heart, of Operation Sovereign Borders, which has led to this success. What has the Leader of the Opposition done? What leadership has he shown since those words were uttered by the deputy leader? There has not been one word to repudiate the suggestion by the deputy leader of the Labor Party that she would rip the heart out of Operation Sovereign Borders.
Today we are very proud of the success that we have had under Operation Sovereign Borders, and I look back at some of the achievements of Labor ministers when it came to boats, when they were in government. I thought, 'We're celebrating 18 months of success under Operation Sovereign Borders. What would the Labor Party have celebrated?' I look to the member for McMahon's success—he had 24,000 people arrive under his watch; there is not much you could trumpet out of that, but I guess it was not 25,000. If you look to the member for Gorton, he had 12½ thousand people. The member for Watson is my favourite: he had 5½ thousand people but he was only in that position from July to September. He had cause for some celebration, because he got to day 5 and no boats had arrived. There was lots of excitement in his office, as I understand it, because they had drafted a press release. They thought: on the Sunday, on the seventh day, we will issue a release saying, 'We have been able to stop boats for seven days.' Can you imagine their despair when on Saturday, on the sixth day, the first boat arrived under his watch. They could not go six days without a boat arriving. Labor is hopeless when it comes to border protection, and this Leader of the Opposition has no capacity to lead this country when it comes— (Time expired)
Mistreatment of refugee brought from Nauru for treatment [Julian Burnside QC - 18/3/15]:
… At that time one of the Serco officer shoved me in my chest with his hand and struck me my back with his knee. They dragged me and put on handcuffs I saw my kids with some of the Serco officers and they twisted my kids’ hands around their back. This scene made me heart broken. They forced me onto the air plane. I saw a male Immigration officer standing by the door. When I was in the air plane, I asked if they could take off the handcuffs and was told “NO”. I said you people treat me like North Korean and Burmese soldiers some of the officers laughed sarcastically. ...
19 March 2015