Suspected US strikes hit Syrian Nusra-held town

Daily Star [19/11/14]:

An airstrike believed to have been carried out by the U.S.-led coalition overnight targeted a town controlled by Al-Qaida militants in northwestern Syria, two activist groups said Wednesday.

The Local Coordination Committees and the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, both of which gather information from local activists, said the strike hit the town of Harem in Syria's Idlib province.

There was no immediate word on casualties.

It also was not immediately clear what was targeted, but Harem is controlled by Al-Qaida's Syrian branch, known as the Nusra Front. U.S. aircraft bombed Nusra militants near Harem last week.

If the latest strike is confirmed, it would mark the fourth time that American aircraft have targeted the Al-Qaida affiliate in the U.S.-led coalition's broader aerial campaign against ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

The U.S. military says the attacks against the Nusra Front have targeted the so-called Khorasan group, which Washington says is a special cell within Nusra that is plotting attacks against Western interests.

Inside Syria, however, activists and rebels dismiss the U.S. attempt to distinguish between the Khorasan group and Nusra, saying they are one entity. Many analysts also question the distinction.

Car Bomb Explodes in Kurdish Regional Capital Erbil

International Business Times [19/11/14]:

A car bomb has exploded in the centre of the Erbil, the Kurdish capital in north eastern Iraq, local media reported.

The bomb went off near the governorate building in the centre of Erbil, Kurdistan TV reported.

On Twitter, local media has reported deaths and casualties.

Bas News English reports that the driver of the car was shot by police attempting to enter the government building.

No Debate: Antiwar Voices Absent from Corporate TV News Ahead of US Attacks on Iraq and Syria

Democracy Now [18/11/14]:

A new analysis of corporate TV news has found there was almost no debate about whether the United States should go to war in Iraq and Syria. The group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting found that of the more than 200 guests who appeared on network shows to discuss the issue, just six voiced opposition to military action. The report, titled "Debating How — Not Whether — to Launch a New War," examines a two-week period in September when U.S. involvement in Iraq and Syria dominated the airwaves. The report also finds that on the high-profile Sunday talk shows, out of 89 guests, there was just one antiwar voice — Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor of The Nation. We speak to Peter Hart, activism director at FAIR.

...

Settler shoots, seriously injures Palestinian teen near Ramallah

Maan [19/11/14]:

An Israeli settler shot and seriously injured a Palestinian teenager Tuesday after a settler demonstration on the outskirts of Beitin village east of Ramallah.

Ibrahim Mahmoud, 16, was shot with a live bullet and taken to Palestine Medical Complex with serious injuries. He is now stable and was placed in the ICU.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said she was looking into the report.

Earlier a Palestinian man was stabbed by a group of Israelis in north Jerusalem.

Fadi Jalal Radwan, 22, was attacked and stabbed by four Israelis while walking in the town of Kafr Aqab, his father said. He was stabbed three times in the legs, and once in the back.

The victim was found bleeding in the street and taken to Hadassah hospital for treatment. Doctors said he was in a serious condition.

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told Ma'an that "an Arab man was approached by three suspects" who asked him for light. They then stabbed him in the leg with a small knife.

Israeli police are looking into the background of the incident, Rosenfeld added.

Report: Israel approves 78 settler units in Jerusalem [Maan - 19/11/14]

Afghanistan: Drone strike leaves four dead in Kunar province

Khaama [19/11/14]:

At least four militants were killed following a drone strike by NATO-led coalition security forces in eastern Kunar province.

According to local government officials, the airstrike was carried out late on Tuesday evening in Ghaziabad district.

Provincial police chief, Abdul Habib Syed Khel said two commanders of the anti-government armed militants were also among those killed in the raid.

The identities of those killed in the airstrike have not been ascertained so far.

The anti-government armed militant groups have not commented regarding the reports so far.

Kunar is among the volatile provinces in eastern Afghanistan where anti-government armed militants are actively operating in its various districts and frequently carry out insurgency activities.

Kunar is also considered to be a hotbed of insurgents both for the Afghan and Pakistani militants, as Kunar province has border with the tribal regions of Pakistan.

The foreign militants including fighters of the Pakistani Taliban group are usually crossing border into Afghanistan and launch attacks on check posts of the Afghan national security forces in Kunar.

This comes as at least five militants were killed and three others were injured following a drone strike in Manogi district earlier this week.

Amnesty reports activists' 'ugly reality' in UAE

Al Akhbar [18/11/14]:

Amnesty International on Tuesday accused the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which is hosting a Formula One race this weekend, of repression it said is the "ugly reality" behind the glitz and glamor of the event.

In a report titled "There is no freedom here: silencing dissent in the UAE," the human rights watchdog speaks of a "climate of fear" and the "extreme lengths" the authorities go to in order to stamp out opposition or calls for reform.

"Millions of spectators from across the world are expected to tune in to watch the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix this weekend – yet most of them will have little clue about the ugly reality of life for activists in the UAE," said Amnesty's deputy director for the region, Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.

"Beneath the facade of glitz and glamor, a far more sinister side to the UAE has emerged showing the UAE as a deeply repressive state where activists critical of the government can be tossed in jail merely for posting a tweet," she said.

On Saturday, the UAE formally designed 86 Islamist groups as "terrorist organizations," in line with a recent federal law on combating terrorism.

The UAE is the third Arab state, after Egypt and Saudi Arabia, to label the Muslim Brotherhood, who were ousted by the military in Egypt last year, a terrorist organization.

Dozens of Emirati and Egyptian Islamists have been jailed after being convicted of forming cells of the Muslim Brotherhood and accused of seeking to overthrow the Gulf monarchies.

Amnesty said more than 100 activists and government critics have been charged or jailed for politically motivated national security or cybercrimes offenses since 2011, and that more than 60 remain behind bars.

"The scale of the crackdown has been chilling and the truth is that the UAE's dreadful treatment of activists critical of the government, and their families, has gone largely ignored by the world," said Sahraoui.

Amnesty said that UAE authorities responded to concerns raised in the report by saying that the promotion of human rights is an "ongoing process."

The London-based watchdog said UAE authorities need to implement "swift and concrete steps" to prove their commitment to protecting human rights.

Moreover, Human Rights Watch (HRW) in October called on the UAE to reform a restrictive visa system and pass a labor law for domestic workers to stop abuses.

Foreign maids from impoverished countries endure physical, sexual and emotional abuse in the UAE, trapped by a system that denies them protection.

Amnesty’s report comes a day after Qatar was ranked fourth in a global ranking of countries where slavery is most prevalent by Australian-based human rights group The Walk Free Foundation.

The oil-rich Arab monarchies of the Gulf, especially Saudi Arabia, have long cracked down on dissent and calls for democratic reform, drawing criticism from human rights groups.

Senate Republicans block landmark NSA surveillance reform bill

Guardian [18/11/14]:

Nearly 18 months after Edward Snowden’s disclosures upended the secret world of US surveillance, the US Senate has rejected the most politically viable effort to rein in the National Security Agency in almost four decades.

The USA Freedom Act, a bill introduced last year that sought to end the NSA’s ongoing daily collection of practically all US phone data, failed to reach a 60-vote threshold to cut off debate and move to passage.

Senators, mostly Republicans warning of leaving the country exposed to another terrorist attack, voted to beat back the bill, which had been warily backed by the Obama administration, technology giants and most civil libertarian groups.

It was the denouement to over a year’s worth of political drama, characterized by shifting alliances and a reduction in ambitions for constraining the NSA, even in a post-Snowden Congress.

Although the domestic phone data dragnet has not thwarted any terrorist attacks, in the lead up to the vote critics savaged the bill as a gift to terrorists.

“God forbid we wake up tomorrow and Isil is in the United States,” said Florida Republican Marco Rubio, using an acronym for the Islamic State.

Afterwards, a downcast and impassioned Senator Patrick Leahy, the Vermont Democrat who sponsored the bill in the Senate, denounced “scare tactics” he said killed the bill.

“Obviously I’m disappointed by tonight’s vote,” Leahy said after the vote, vowing “not to give up the fight.”

The White House signaled its “strong support” for the bill on Monday. But that support came only after administration officials substantially weakened privacy protections and transparency additions in its House counterpart, all after a key House committee approved it.

Both the administration and the intelligence agencies fear that the defeat of the USA Freedom Act will result in the House declining to reauthorize broader domestic surveillance powers for the NSA and the FBI next year. The NSA and its allies accordingly opted to back the bill, despite having publicly expressed their reservations.

...

More bigotry greenlighted by Australia's political and media establishment

Herald [19/11/14]:

A pig’s head has been thrown at a mosque in Newcastle - the second racist attack at the site in less than a week.

The head was discovered by worshippers in the mosque’s courtyard in Wallsend just before midday on Wednesday.

The incident was caught on CCTV.

‘‘It’s a sad incident,’’ Newcastle Muslim Association spokeswoman Diana Rah told AAP.

‘‘It’s not so much the action itself, but it’s the intention and hate behind it.‘‘We’ve got a lot of support from the wider community, so it’s a shame that there are elements in the community who commit these sorts of crimes.’’

Newcastle Superintendent John Gralton would not comment on the motivation behind the attack and has appealed for information from the public.

‘‘This type of incident does not belong anywhere in Newcastle or in NSW,’’ he said.

‘‘The command will use all resources to bring those responsible to justice.’’

Last Wednesday, a Muslim man was punched in the face and racially taunted outside the mosque as he left prayer.

Man dies after plunging more than 10m from crane at North Sydney building site

Nine MSN [19/11/14]:

A man in his 50s has died after falling from a crane in North Sydney.

Paramedics confirmed the man had died after falling more than 10 metres from the crane at a building site near the Pacific Highway about 2pm.

The Pacific Highway is now closed as emergency services arrive at the scene.

Police said the worker died at the scene.

An NSW Ambulance spokeswoman said several ambulances were sent to the scene, including doctors and intensive care paramedics.

"Police have confirmed unfortunately the patient was found to be deceased," she added.

A crime scene has been established and investigations by local police and WorkCover are continuing, a police spokeswoman said.

Bail for Gold Coast man charged with neighbour's murder

Brisbane Times [19/11/14]:

A Gold Coast man who killed his neighbour by putting him in a chokehold has been granted bail because he has a reasonable self-defence case.

Nathan Sanchez, 23, is accused of murdering his neighbour Kane Barry during a fight between the pair outside their Southport apartment complex on September 21.

Mr Sanchez was initially charged with grievous bodily harm, but had that charge upgraded to murder after Mr Barry failed to come out of a coma and his family turned off his life support.

Crown prosecutor Glen Cash opposed Mr Sanchez's bail, arguing Mr Sanchez himself claimed to have Mr Barry in a headlock for up to two minutes and was using "as much force as he can".

"He effectively had won the fight, but carried on with it to such an extent that fatal injuries were inflicted upon the deceased," Mr Cash said.

Defence barrister Rob East said his client was simply defending himself, given Mr Barry had earlier threatened to attack him with a knife.

Mr Barry was also a lot bigger than his client, Mr East said.

Justice James Douglas said Mr Sanchez, who had told police he was "pretty much fighting for his life", had a reasonable self-defence case to put to a future jury.

Justice Douglas said if Mr Sanchez was denied bail, he would likely have to spend up to a year in jail before the charges against him could be tried.

"The strength of the crown case is not such as to justify his incarceration without granting bail in this stage of the proceedings," he said.

Mr Sanchez's matter has been adjourned to the Southport Magistrates Court on December 11.

An intellectually disabled man found inside a sleeping bag wearing several layers of ski clothing accidentally killed himself while conducting "some sort of experiment", a coroner has ruled. ... [Yahoo - 19/11/14]

Fatal traffic crash, Milbong

QPS Media [19/11/14]:

Police are investigating a fatal crash on Ipswich-Boonah Road at Milbong this afternoon.

Initial investigations suggest that shortly after 1pm a vehicle left the road and hit a tree, causing the vehicle to catch fire.

The 30-year old male driver, who was the sole occupant of the car, was confirmed deceased at the scene.

The Forensic Crash Unit is investigating.

Anyone with information which could assist with this matter should contact Crime Stoppers anonymously via 1800 333 000 or crimestoppers.com.au 24hrs a day.

National Stock Exchange of India quizzes Adani on loan for Galilee Basin coal project

Brisbane Times [19/11/14]:

Indian conglomerate Adani has been questioned by the National Stock Exchange of India over claims that the State Bank of India has extended it a $US1 billion ($1.1 billion) credit line to fund its mega coal project in Queensland.

Adani Australia chief executive Jeyakumar Janakaraj said earlier this week that the funding from the Indian government-owned bank was a vote of faith in its huge $16.5 billion coalmine in Queensland's Galilee Basin.

But the NSE on Tuesday asked the company to clarify "in detail" a news report saying the company was lining up the loan with the State Bank, and whether it was aware of any information that should be disclosed under the exchange's listing laws.

It comes as an Indian opposition party demanded the Reserve Bank of India intervene and question the "improper" loan, which it says is unjustified and "does not appear to be above board".

Adani told the exchange operator that the parties had signed a Memorandum of Understanding, where the State Bank of India "has agreed in principle to consider extending financial assistance of an amount up to $US1b for development of Carmichael coal mine".

"This is, however, subject to SBI's due diligence and internal credit approval and also pursuant to the definitive understanding/agreement to be executed between the parties," the company wrote.

The news article in question ran in the Hindustan Times on Tuesday, titled "Adani ties up $1-bn SBI loan for OZ coal venture".

The New York exchange operator queried Adani on whether the claims in the article were true, saying "if so, you are advised to provide the said information along with the sequence of events in chronological order and the material impact of this article on the company".

Fairfax Media also reported on the funding lifeline, and it was understood that Adani founder Gautam Adani, who is a friend of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, signed the funding deal in Brisbane on Monday morning before the Indian leader flew to Sydney.

Indian political party the Aam Aadmi Party called for the country's banking regulator to review the loan, which it says is "nothing but a sweet deal for the Adani group".

"Details of the MoU continue to be a closely guarded secret, but can the finance ministry deny a fact that many global banks had refused to extend the credit facility for this venture due to environmental reasons?" the party said in a statement.

"Can the ministry deny that the SBI has been pressurised to bail out the Adani Group in a difficult venture the returns of which are uncertain ?"

Adani has yet to make final decision on the mega project, called Carmichael, which is hoped to export up to 60 million tonnes of coal each year.

Anglo-Dutch energy giant Royal Dutch Shell has won a multi-million dollar court battle against Indian authorities, marking a significant victory for multinationals involved in tax wrangles in the country.

The Bombay High Court ruled in favor of Shell, whose Indian unit had been accused of under-pricing shares issued to its parent firm by about 180 billion rupees ($3 billion). ... [Naharnet - 19/11/14]

NSW Resources Minister Anthony Roberts tells Parliament no 'short cuts' to covering Hunter coal trains [Herald - 19/11/14]

Queenslanders reminded yet again that their health problems are their own fault

North West Star [19/11/4]:

North West residents are twice as likely to die from an avoidable death compared with the Queensland average.

Alarming figures for the North West Hospital and Health Service - detailed in the Health of Queenslanders report by the state’s chief health officer - also show nearly one in every three North West residents are obese (29 per cent).

In statistics that are equally concerning, the region ranks as the worst in the state in three out of 12 categories detailed in the report.

The region also ranks second worst in another category, and third worst in three other categories.

NWHHS ranks in the top 10 best performers from the 16 Queensland regions in only two of the 12 health categories.

It is also one of the worst three regions in seven of the 12 overall health indicators. It is ranked worst in the state for avoidable death rates, cardiovascular disease rates and cancer rates.

State member for Mount Isa Rob Katter says “third world statistics” were outlined for the North West in the Chief Health Officer’s Health Report.

Mr Katter said the report was “disturbing” but reminded the state government that they cut the Public Health Unit from Mount Isa in 2012, and a large number of jobs were lost.

“We lost several nutritionists and dieticians who had been running free weight loss programs which were considered vital to the health and well-being of this area,” Mr Katter said.

Mount Isa Mines donates wheelchair-accessible tables to special school [North West Star - 18/11/14]

Blue-green algae bloom prompts swimming warning for NT beachgoers

ABC [17/11/14]:

... The Northern Territory's Environmental Protection Authority (NTEPA) said the green blue-green algae floating in the water off the coast of Darwin's foreshore area was a natural phenomenon, but that it should not be ignored.

Over the weekend, concerned residents contacted the Pollution Control Hotline reporting what appeared to be an extensive oil slick, with a bad smell, in the water off the Nightcliff foreshore.

...

Revealed: Keystone company's PR blitz to safeguard its backup plan [Guardian - 18/11/14]

The Sun’s reporters called readers ‘plebs’, court told

Independent [18/11/14]:

Reporters at The Sun referred to their readers as “plebs”, a court has heard.

The Old Bailey trial of senior reporter Nick Parker, who denies charges of paying public officials, was given details of internal emails relating to a Sun story concerning the arrest of Chelsea footballer John Terry’s mother for shoplifting in 2009.

In seeking to establish the credibility of PC Alan Tierney, who had contacted the newspaper after being involved in the case, Mr Parker wrote to his Sun colleague John Sturgis asking for details of the car driven by Susan Terry’s accomplice Susan Poole, the footballer’s mother-in-law.

The email read: “great stuff – could u ask him if he knows the reg of Poole’s silver Beetle or could he tell us their addresses (stuff a pleb who’s read the papers would never know) – that will help corroborate. Will he speak to me in confidence? Does he want a bung?”

Michael Parroy QC described the email as “very revealing” and said it showed that Parker was prepared to pay a police officer for information. “Mr Parker’s main interest is to confirm the provenance of Tierney and make sure the emails are not from one of The Sun readers, or in his word ‘plebs’,” he said.

The use of the word is damaging to the newspaper, which is currently fighting the “Plebgate” libel action against Tory MP Andrew Mitchell.

Mr Mitchell is suing publishers News Group Newspapers over an article in The Sun which alleged that he told police officers at Downing Street: “Best you learn your f***ing place… you don’t run this f***ing Government, you’re f***ing plebs.”

This is BULLSHIT ---> Nauru's hefty visa fee keeps journalists out of country

It is the media outlets who aren't letting journalists travel to Nauru that is leading to the deficit in reporting

RNZI [19/11/14]:

The Nauru goverment has confirmed that no journalist has applied for a visa to enter the country this year after the government hiked its non-refundable application fee by almost 4,000 percent.

Nauru raised the non-refundable fee from 200 US dollars to more than 7000 dollars in January.

The increase has been widely criticised as a move to ban foreign journalists from reporting on the Australian-run asylum seeker detention camp on the island.

In February, Nauru's home affairs minister, Charmaine Scotty, accused foreign media of inflicting significant damage on Nauru through negative reporting about the island.

But the media organisation, Reporters Without Borders, has said Nauru is violating its own constitution and the fee is nothing less than a ban on foreign media visits.

Nauru: Dream Turned Nightmare for Boat Refugees Seeking Asylum in Australia [RIA Novosti - 2/11/14]:

... Amnesty International tried to visit the island state in early 2014. Nauru’s government turned down their request along with a request from UN human rights observers, citing “the current circumstances and incredibly busy time”, as well as “practical difficulties”, Amnesty International said in a news release.

“Nauru’s refusals to allow an independent review of the conditions in the detention centre are another damning development in Australia’s offshore asylum processing system,” said Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director.

Under new regulations, introduced by Kevin Rudd, then prime minister, in July, 2013, asylum seekers, brought to Nauru or the Manus Island, are banned from receiving a refugee status from Canberra and relocating to Australia. If eligible, they can receive refugee status and stay in Papua New Guinea or Nauru.

However, leaving these island nations is just as hard as bringing relatives there. Furthermore, refugees are not allowed to share their stories with the outside world.

Despite apparent attempts to prevent human rights activists and journalists from coming to the island, Russian photographer Vlad Sokhin managed to visit Nauru as a tourist. He has recently shared a heart-breaking account of what it is like to live on the islands as a refugee in Russian Reporter magazine.

“Everyone is spying on us here. Every our step is reported to the police. We are strictly forbidden from talking to foreigners or journalists,” Mujtaba, a Shia refugee from Pakistan, told Sokhin. Mujtaba works at Capelle & Partner, the only supermarket on the island, which makes him one of the few lucky refugees to have work. Unemployment in Nauru is as high as 90 percent.

Mujtaba recalled deplorable conditions in the detention center, where he had spent 10 months. Like other asylum seekers, Mujtaba had to share a tent with 20 people.

“The tents got unbearably hot in the sun; it was extremely hot inside – no fans, no air conditioning. Children and pregnant women had to live under the same conditions. There were eight toilets for 400 people. We were allowed to use shower for two or three minutes if there was water. Sometimes there was no drinking water,” Mujtaba said.

“I think, Australians deliberately forced us to live under such conditions, so that we would spread the word – don’t try to enter Australia illegally, you will go to hell instead.”

Adnan, his wife Mariam and their 12-year-old son fled from Iranian Kurdistan. Adnan’s wife is six months pregnant and in desperate need of medical attention.

“My wife is due soon. But she has pregnancy complications,” Adnan told Sokhin. “She suffered from anxiety when we lived in the detention center as if it were prison. The doctor at the Nauru hospital is completely incompetent. Several times my wife was prescribed medication contraindicated in pregnancy. There is no ultrasound scan. We cannot buy vitamins here,” he explained.

These are far from being isolated cases. Vlad Sokhin talked to other people, who were trapped on the small island fleeing persecution in countries like Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and Somalia. Following Australia’s agreement with Cambodia, signed last month, they have now an option to settle in the South East Asian nation.

But Papua New Guinea, Nauru or Cambodia hardly compare to a developed country and all the opportunities it can provide to people seeking better life. Yet Australia continues to deny them what the UN considers a basic human right.

News from Nauru

Refugee Rights Action Network WA [19/11/14]:

Here are extracts from an email received from a detainee in Nauru. I wonder how many Australians could read this and feel proud to be part of Team Australia.

From Julian Burnside:

"i felt so terrible about the situation here in Nauru compare to Christmas Island .there was very big difference.i could not believe that people can live here. i do not know really how to explain to you the life condition here in Nauru. but i will try to explain as much as i can . as you asked about the condition we have been held here?

1. living in tent and 30 to 40 people in each tent with 3 ceiling fans that from 10am to 5 pm is like hell inside tent and sweating

2. no safety in terms of cleans around the camp ,...

3. the camp's ground is rough cover with white and sharp stones, when is sunny day the sun light is reflex to our eyes and im of the victim ,when i arrived here after few weeks i found that i can not read and i went to IHMS they put me in waiting list to see optometrist but until now no call for it....

4.i have knee problem and i had from Christmas island and the just got x-ray from my knee and they told me there is nothing wrong with my knee and they just gave me cream to put on it to relief the pain.if its nothing but why i can not run with my right leg and night time i always have pain and need put cream on it and scrub it. ... here every where you step is sharp stone and hard to walk.

5. food is terrible but if they know there is someone is coming to see and check then that the time fruits and food quality will get good

6. there are so many different insets around and inside tents marching without any problem.i mean no pest contol

7 i have medical problem a: my right knee B: my eyes vision ...

8. i have been visiting psychologist due to my situation back home and life condition here and illness i have gave me so much stress ..."

Fascism 101: Pretend the human rights atrocity doesn't exist

A sea of red crabs has started taking over Christmas Island as the annual breeding migration gets underway.

Rain has triggered the start of the season, and over the coming weeks millions of red crabs will move from the island's forest to the coast, to mate and spawn.

Christmas Island Tourism Association marketing manager Linda Cash said it was an extraordinary sight. ...

[ABC - 19/11/14]

Phosphate hill family camp, Christmas Island

Image: @KayeBernard

Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has failed to offer an adequate justification for the ongoing detention of children on Christmas Island and Nauru, the Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) said today.

At a public hearing for the Australian Human Rights Commission’s inquiry into children in detention earlier today, the Minister acknowledged that the indefinite detention of children was not intended to act as a deterrent but argued that it was a “consequence” of the Government’s policy of offshore processing. ... [Refugee Council of Australia Media Release - 22/8/14]

Serco Use force training diagram applied in practice for restraining kids in detention

Image: @KayeBernard [22/8/14]

Radio Australia [8/9/14]:

Vietnamese asylum seekers at the Christmas Island Immigration Detention Centre say members of the group were bashed and injured during a targeted attack on Friday night.

Three separate sources told the ABC they were contacted by Vietnamese asylum seekers on the island, who said they were mobbed by a group of Iranian detainees.

The Darwin Asylum Seeker Support and Advocacy Network (DASSAN) said two Vietnamese asylum seekers from the centre contacted it in separate private messages on Facebook the next day.

One of the asylum seekers told the advocacy group up to 30 people were beaten.

...

Guardian [31/7/14]:

The immigration department has attempted to cover up statistics showing alarming rates of children’s mental health problems in detention, the Australian Human Rights Commission’s inquiry into children in detention has heard.

Doctors who worked on Christmas Island also recounted shocking details of medical neglect, including stripping asylum seekers of basic medication when they arrived.

Dr Peter Young, the former medical director for mental health for IHMS - the private healthcare provider in immigration detention – was compelled to attend the public hearing in Sydney, where he said a set of data presented to the department within the past two weeks had received a “negative” response and that the department “reacted with alarm”.

Parents of traumatised child incarcerated in Christmas Island refugee concentration camp seek damages from Australian government [Nine MSN - 15/8/14]

Bushfire burning close to Northam refugee concentration camp contained

ABC [17/11/14]:

Firefighters have contained a bushfire burning near an immigration detention centre in the Western Australian town of Northam.

The Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) downgraded their warning to an advice alert for the area around the Northam Army Training camp, the site of the Yongah Hill immigration detention centre, near the Great Eastern Highway.

The fire was reported at 3:08pm (AWST).

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

A detainee at the Yongah Hill immigration detention centre told the ABC the bushfire got within 400m of the perimeter fence.

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

Turkey fears influx of 2-3 million more Syrian refugees

Hurriyet Daily News [18/11/14]:

Turkey could face an influx of 2-3 million more Syrian refugees if President Bashar al-Assad's forces or Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) insurgents advance around Aleppo, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavusoglu said on Nov. 18.

"Right now who is filling the void left by ISIL as a result of the coalition's air attacks? It is the regime," Çavusoglu told a news conference in Ankara. "But there is not that much difference between the ISIL and the regime. Both kill cruelly, especially civilians. And neither hesitate to use whatever weapons are available to them."

U.S. warplanes have been bombing ISIL forces in parts of Syria, but Assad's military has intensified its campaign against some rebel groups in the west and north that Washington sees as allies, including in and around Aleppo.

Rebels and Syrian government forces hold parts of Aleppo, Syria's most populous city before the war. ISIL has seized territory from rival Islamist groups in a belt of territory north of Aleppo, threatening rebel supply routes. It also holds large sections of territory elsewhere in the wider Aleppo province.

Turkey has been a staunch supporter of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), an umbrella term for dozens of armed groups fighting against both Assad and ISIL. It has also been pushing for the U.S.-led coalition to broaden its campaign to also tackle al-Assad.

"A weakening of the moderate opposition, the FSA backed by the coalition, will make the adverse situation in Syria worse and more unstable," Çavusoglu said.

"Fearful civilians are fleeing from areas where ISIL, terrorist groups and the regime are gaining ground. A possible advance in Aleppo would mean the influx of two to three million people to the Turkish border to seek asylum."

The Syrian civil war has killed close to 200,000 people and forced more than 3 million refugees to flee the country, according to the United Nations.

Turkey already hosts more than 1.5 million refugees and has been pushing the United States and its allies to create a safe haven for displaced civilians on the Syrian side of its border.

ANA PRESS [18/11/14]:

#Aleppo #Syria: at least 14 civilians were killed in the Qabr al-Inglizi area of Aleppo, near Kafar Hamra, after Syrian warplanes dropped two barrel bombs on Tuesday; among the victims also children, and about 40 people were also reported wounded.

UNHCR Media Release [18/11/14]:

The UN refugee agency on Tuesday expressed deep concern about the "catastrophic" humanitarian situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo's Katanga province, which has displaced hundreds of thousands of people.

Violence in the south-eastern province has forced some 400,000 people to flee their homes since the end of 2012, bringing the total number of internally displaced people in the province to nearly 600,000.

During the last three months alone, more than 71,000 people have been newly displaced.

...

UNHCR Media Release [18/11/14]:

The UN refugee agency has begun relocating nearly 15,000 South Sudanese refugees who had been stranded for a few months at a way station in western Ethiopia after the refugee camp where they were due to live was flooded.

A first group of 125 refugees left Matar Way Station on Monday and headed along the Baro River to the Itang Transit Centre, where they spent the night before resuming their journey on Tuesday by road towards Pugnido Refugee Camp, some 300 kilometres away.

They were expected to reach the camp, home to some 45,000 mainly South Sudanese refugees, later on Tuesday. A further 29 refugees with special needs, including pregnant women, lactating mothers, the blind and older people will be flown to Pugnido on a helicopter.

Two boats were chartered by the International Organization for Migration for the maiden relocation voyage – one for passengers and the other for luggage.

...

10,000 Iraqis killed, 20,000 injured since beginning of 2014 says UN

IraqiNews.com [18/11/14]:

On Tuesday, the United Nations revealed that over 10,000 Iraqis have been killed and 20,000 others have been injured since the beginning of this year.

The UN expressed its willingness to send a commission to Iraq to investigate the crimes of the so-called Islamic state in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

High Commissioner for Human Rights in the United Nations, Prince Zeid Ben Ra’ad Al-Hussein said in a speech during a Security Council session on the situation in Iraq — followed by IraqiNews.com, “The ISIS organization committed crimes that are indescribable and undeniable,” adding that the crimes committed in Iraq are nothing but a genocide where 10,000 Iraqis were killed and 20,000 others were wounded.

Hussein added, “Murder, abuse, rape and sale of women and young girls and children are some of the crimes ISIS committed.”

“Girls aged no more than 12 years old were sold and children were forced to witness executions and fight with terrorists” he said. “ISIS intentionally violated the rights of minorities and denied all fundamental human rights.”

@IraqiSMCEn - Iraqi Spring Media Center [18/11/14]:

Baghdad center for human rights :117 persons of 150 detainees have been executed ,more than 4000 persons expelled ,and 3000 homes and two masjids blazed................

4 persons were killed as a roadside bomb exploded at Jamhouriya Street in the middle of Baghdad........

Baghdad: Agencies/security source :6 persons were killed and wounded as a roadside bomb exploded in Sadr city east of Baghdad today....

The government's air force has targeted by missiles the civilian homes in Maslaha village in Beiji in Salah-il-deen......

Blair 'has seen Chilcot findings': Letters detailing conclusions of public inquiry into Iraq war are sent to main participants [Daily Mail - 18/11/14]

US Approves $188 Million Deal to Maintain Greek F-16 Fleet: Defense [Sputnik News - 18/11/14]

Ten people including women and children were killed in Egypt's restive Sinai Peninsula on Tuesday when a rocket struck their home, security and medical official said. ... [France 24 - 19/11/14]

At least 18 people have been killed in two separate US-led airstrikes in the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar. ... [Press TV - 18/11/14]

Germany and Italy to keep up to 1,350 soldiers in Afghanistan [Reuters - 18/11/14]

A powerful blast ripped through a crowd watching a buzkashi competition in northern Baghlan province on Tuesday afternoon, injuring 20 people, including three children, police said. ... [Pajhwok - 18/11/14]

Mob Kills 'Would-be-Bomber' in Northeast Nigeria [Naharnet - 18/11/14]

Journalist Killed in Somalia, The Third This Year

Naharnet [18/11/14]:

A Somali journalist working for a London-based television station became the third reporter to die in the war-torn country this year after he was killed Tuesday in the semi-autonomous Puntland region, police said.

Abdirisak Ali Abdi, who worked for Radio Daljir in Puntland and London-based Horn TV, was shot by a group of unidentified attackers in the town of Galkayo in the Mudug region.

"The assailants have escaped after the shooting but the police are still in pursuit of the perpetrators," said Hashi Dhaqane, a police official in the town.

The Somalian journalists' union said the father-of-two was shot "in cold blood" and said three other reporters had been wounded in the capital Mogadishu in the last two months.

His colleagues Nuh Muse said: "Armed men opened fire on him. I don't know why they targeted him. He was a brilliant guy who loved his work."

Africa Stop Ebola - Tiken Jah Fakoly, Amadou & Mariam, Salif Keita, Oumou Sangare and others [VIDEO]

Buy the song on iTunes: ALL PROFITS go to Medecins Sans Frontiers/Doctors without Borders MSF

A collective of African musicians have come together to record a song to help raise awareness about Ebola in Africa. The song, entitled “Africa Stop Ebola”, features the singers Tiken Jah Fakoly, Amadou & Mariam, Salif Keita, Oumou Sangare, Kandia Kora, Mory Kante, Sia Tolno, Barbara Kanam and rappers Didier Awadi, Marcus (from the band Banlieuz'Arts) and Mokobe, and also includes the musicians Sékou Kouyaté (electric guitar, bass, electric kora) et Ludovic N’Holle (drums).

The song is a message to citizens about what they can do to help stop the spread of Ebola in Africa. The song is performed in French and vernacular languages widely spoken across the region to ensure that the message is understood regardless of the level of literacy and education of the population.

Thanks to Cheick Tidiane Seck for his active participation in this project.

Clashes in Hong Kong between protesters and police

Channel News Asia [19/11/14]:

At least three people have been arrested in Hong Kong after dozens of pro-democracy protesters clashed with police early on Wednesday, reported the South China Morning Post.

According to the South China Morning Post, a group of masked people used metal barriers and broken bricks to try to crack open the glass doors at the Legislative Council complex in Admiralty at about 1am on Wednesday.

Police officers – who were armed with shields and pepper spray – then stopped the group from charging.

The police guarded the building after the crowd retreated, and the stand-off continued for hours, reported the newspaper.

The protesters clashed with police again at 4.30am as they regrouped outside the Legislative Council, reported the South China Morning Post. Officers used pepper spray and batons on the crowd and dozens of them fled to Tamar Park nearby.

The violence took place less than a day after bailiffs cleared barricades at the edge of a main protest camp in Admiralty district. The protesters were reportedly furious with the clearance operation.

"We want to use this action to pass on our voices, across onto those over on the other side of the glass," South China Morning Post quoted a protester as saying.

Protesters have blocked Hong Kong's main thoroughfares for more than a month to demand civil nomination for the city's Chief Executive candidates. But Beijing has insisted that candidates have to be vetted by a committee.

Ireland: More than just about water, protests are a new type of active citizenship [Irish Examiner - 19/11/14]

... In this context, last year’s Anglo Tapes added to people’s growing sense of injustice. The people were taking all the pain while being made fools of, and the banking and political elite remained protected.

So it is clear that the water charges protests didn’t suddenly emerge out of nowhere. They came from the small left-wing groups, communities, anti-partnership trade unions, and individuals who have been protesting and organising at grassroots level for years with little recognition from the media or political establishment.

They were wrongly ignored and written off.

They also come from a fracturing of the social contract that has underpinned the Republic since its foundation.

The protests are a new type of active citizenship politics in Ireland. The Irish are turning to a more European-style citizenship, or social movements. This involves regular protests that express a refusal to accept injustices and new forms of democratic self-empowerment.

It is a logical response when the system fails you.

...

This is not the legacy of riots. This is the legacy of apathy and abandonment, which has harmed St. Louis more than looting ever has. ... [The real reason Ferguson is boarding up its storefronts - Quartz - 17/11/14]

Japan to dissolve parliament, hold snap elections after news of recession

CNN [18/11/14]:

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has called for snap parliamentary elections for next month, following news that the country had slipped into a recession.

Abe also announced an 18-month delay in a controversial sales tax hike during a press conference Tuesday.

The prime minister said he will dissolve the parliament's lower house on Friday.

The Japanese economy slipped into recession in the third quarter.

Gross domestic product shrank by an annualized 1.6% in the three months ended September, Japan's Cabinet Office said Monday. The result was much worse than the 2.2% expansion expected by economists.

On a quarterly basis, Japan's GDP declined by 0.4% as business investment slipped. Economies are commonly described as being in a technical recession after two straight quarterly contractions.

Japan has more government debt that any other nation, a top concern for supporters of the tax rise. Critics say Tokyo must find ways to generate solid growth before turning to fiscal matters.

Rainstorms wreak fresh havoc in flood-battered northern Italy

South China Morning Post [18/11/14]:

Torrential rains have again drenched northern Italy, causing deadly floods and landslides. In one region alone, the damage exceeds €1 billion (HK$9.7 billion).

In Sesto Calende, a small town near Lake Maggiore and the Swiss border, the central square resembled a giant pond, a handful of sandbags doing a poor job of preventing the water from soaking the ground floors of houses and businesses.

"It is a nationwide problem caused by decades of neglect and poor governance," said one resident, Mauro, with a resigned shrug.

Twelve people have died in weather-related accidents in northern Italy since mid-October. Among three killed at the weekend were a pensioner and his granddaughter who were buried alive when a landslide hit their house on the shores of Maggiore in the early hours of Sunday morning, the third tragedy of its type in less than a week.

Claudio Burlando, the president of the Liguria region, which includes the entire Italian Riviera, said the damage incurred on his patch alone in the last month now exceeded €1 billion.

Apart from the clean-up costs, millions of euros worth of crops have been destroyed and many fields rendered unsuitable for grazing or planting, while motorways and other infrastructure, including a Genoa cemetery where zinc coffins were washed away at the weekend, will have to be repaired at public expense.

Carabinieri divers and fire brigades at work during the search operations for a missing person after torrential rain in Serra Ricco', near Genoa, Italy. Photo: EPAMost costly of all, the water-management systems which have proved incapable of dealing with exceptional conditions will have to be upgraded.

Forecasters said there would be no let-up until today, raising fears that Liguria's main river, the Po, could burst its banks.

CSG study finds elevated methane levels near gas fields [Sydney Morning Herald - 19/11/14]

Senate Narrowly Defeats Keystone XL Pipeline [New York Times - 18/11/14]

Finland to Continue Purchasing Russian Gas: Foreign Minister [Sputnik News - 18/11/14]

BP Tries To Pay Less For The Gulf Oil Spill, Again [Think Progress - 17/11/14]

Germany government reiterates its ban on fracking [Reuters - 17/11/14]

An Italian Greenpeace activist was hurt on Saturday in a confrontation with the Spanish navy that intervened during fresh protests against a controversial oil exploration project in waters off the Canary Islands. ... [The Local - 16/11/14]

New domestic violence legal service for the Gold Coast

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Media Release [19/11/14]:

... Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Jarrod Bleijie today welcomed the establishment of a new Southport Domestic Violence Duty Lawyer service, operated by Legal Aid Queensland.

...

Legal Aid Queensland CEO Anthony Reilly said domestic violence had a devastating effect on families, children and communities.

“The duty lawyers provide free legal information and advice, help clients to fill out forms and documents needed for that day in court, discuss the clients’ eligibility for ongoing support from legal aid in the domestic violence matter and other related legal problems, and provide referrals to appropriate support services,” Mr Reilly said.

“In limited circumstances, the duty lawyer may also appear in court on the client’s behalf for their domestic violence matter.”

“This new duty lawyer service is an example of Legal Aid Queensland’s commitment to partnering with private law firms and community support services to ensure people can access free legal help quickly to help address and resolve their legal issues.”

The Southport Domestic Violence Duty Lawyer Service is available from 10am each Monday and Tuesday at the Southport Magistrates Court. The service is delivered by private law firms in the region on Legal Aid Queensland’s behalf.

All Queenslanders can get free legal information and advice from Legal Aid Queensland by calling 1300 65 11 88 (local call cost if you are calling from a landline in Australia) from anywhere in the state.

Gold Coast City Council announces cutting edge flexible parking plan i.e. increases parking fees

More flexible parking to keep city moving [GCCC Media Release - 19/11/14]

Why has the carpark on the corner of Surfers Paradise Boulevard and View Street been closed for the past few weeks?

Seven injured in high-speed police pursuit, Perth

WA Today [19/11/14]:

Seven people have been hospitalised after a stolen car crashed into another vehicle during a high-speed chase on Tuesday night.

Police said traffic officers first tried to stop the stolen Holden Calais near the intersection of Honeywell Boulevard and Boyare Avenue, Mirrabooka, about 11pm on Tuesday.

The driver failed to stop and sped away, with police losing sight of the vehicle on Marangaroo Drive and aborting the chase.

About 40 minutes later, Morley police saw the same stolen car in Leederville and tried to stop the vehicle again.

The driver sped away but crashed into a Hyundai Accent at the intersection of Vincent Street and Loftus Street.

Four women in the Hyundai suffered minor injuries and were treated at the scene by St John Ambulance paramedics before being taken to Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital.

Two were discharged from hospital overnight, while the other two were kept in hospital for observation.

The three men in the stolen vehicle, aged 18, 25 and 36, were taken to Royal Perth Hospital under police guard.

They are all in a stable condition.

Inquiries are continuing, including whether the stolen car was linked to an aggravated burglary at a residence in Camillo on Tuesday morning.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Ex-Victorian police officer used job to steal drugs

West Australian [19/11/14]:

A former Victorian police officer who turned to the drug ice to get him through the day has pleaded guilty to theft, drug and misconduct charges.

David James Branov, 42, of Mill Park, used his position as a senior constable with Victoria Police to access information in exchange for drugs and to corruptly steal money from drug dealers.

He coerced a co-worker into giving him the password to a police database he was not authorised to access and then passed on that information without considering the consequences, the Victorian County Court heard.

Branov on Wednesday pleaded guilty to 14 charges, which included aiding and abetting drug trafficking and perverting the course of justice.

His defence barrister Stewart Bayles said the reason Branov offended was to fund his drug addiction.

"He was using methylamphetamine regularly on a daily basis throughout the offending behaviour," Mr Bayles told the plea hearing.

"He was turning to the drug ice to get him through the day."

Mr Bayles said Branov was remorseful and had lived a crime-free life before joining Victoria Police aged 36.

He began offending in 2010 to furnish his drug habit, Mr Bayles said.

Branov had always wanted to be a police officer but a history of depression and drug use that combined with the stress of the job led to him using ice more heavily, which is why he was offending, Mr Bayles said.

Mr Bayles said Branov was not a high ranking police officer and was not involved in high level operations.

Branov was arrested in April this year while he was on bail for charges including perverting the course of justice laid a year earlier.

Sleeping man bashed, Gympie

Yahoo [19/11/14]:

A Queensland man is facing an attempted murder charge after allegedly bashing a sleeping victim with a blunt object in Gympie.

The victim, 59, called police on Monday, telling them he'd been bashed as he slept at his home.

A man, also 59, from Toowoomba, was later arrested on the Sunshine Coast.

He's been charged with attempted murder, acts intended to cause grievous bodily harm and entering a dwelling with intent. He will face the Maroochydore Magistrates Court later on Wednesday.

Victorian police investigated for telling grandmother she 'has no rights'

Nine MSN [19/11/14]:

Victorian Police officers who said a grandmother who recently suffered a heart attack was a "f---ing nutcase" and told her she had no rights will be investigated.

Three police officers chased down and surrounded the car of Linda Milazzo in a video recorded by a police officer's vest-mounted camera, accusing her of attempted murder for clipping another police officer.

The officers screamed at the grandmother as they reach through the window of her car, grabbing her arm in attempt to remove her from the vehicle despite her protestations that she was experiencing a heart attack.

Ms Milazzo, who was 63 at the time and suffered a heart attack one month before the incident, clutched her chest only to be told by Senior Constable Kael Oostuizen: "You don't look like you're having a heart attack."

Ms Milazzo was also told "you haven't got any rights at the minute" when police tried to make the arrest.

Video also shows two police referring to the grandmother as a "f---ing nutcase" after she became hysterical during the arrest.

The video of the incident was presented in Melbourne's Country Court in what Judge John Carmody said would be compared to a "full court press" in basketball, the The Age reports.

During the arrest, Ms Milazzo claimed she was "allowed to do a runner," wrongly referring to a court case she said entitled her not to stop for "blue lights".

The court also heard that despite a few minor traffic infractions, Ms Milazzo was a "warm-hearted grandmother" who behaved in a "highly unusual fashion".

Ms Milazzo, who works for several charitable organisations, was making a delivery of ironing to an elderly person at the time.

She was placed on a 12-month good behavior bond obstructing police, fined $1000 and had her license suspended for six months.

Tostee granted bail

Brisbane Times [19/11/14]:

Accused killer Gable Tostee will be a free man until he is tried for murder, with the Brisbane Supreme Court having accepted his application for bail.

Mr Tostee, 28, is charged with murder over the death of New Zealand tourist Warriena Wright, who fell from the 14th-floor of a Gold Coast apartment building.

Police are expected to finalise their brief of evidence against Mr Tostee by April next year, however a trial is likely to take place in 2016.

...

Homicide Squad called in after 25-year-old woman found dead in motel room, Gunnedah

Standard [19/11/14]:

Homicide squad detectives have arrived in Gunnedah to help investigate the death of a young woman found in a motel room on Tuesday morning.

The body of Rebecca Perkins, 25, was found in a room at the Overlander Motel shortly after 9am.

Detectives from Gunnedah and Tamworth established a crime scene in the room while forensics officers from as far as Dubbo and Inverell were called in to examine the scene for clues.

Late yesterday, Oxley Local Area Commander Superintendent Clint Pheeney confirmed to The Leader that police were treating Ms Perkins' death as suspicious.

He said a man was assisting police with their investigation late yesterday.

Strike Force Neweena has been established to investigate the case.

"The whole circumstances surrounding her death are some what suspicious," Superintendent Pheeney said.

"Police are currently interviewing witnesses and are very keen to speak to any person in Gunnedah who has had recent contact with the deceased.

"We did speak to a male person and no charges have been laid at this point in time. He's been spoken to by local police and is assisting them with their inquiries."

Superintendent Pheeney said Ms Perkins was staying at the motel at the time and all circumstances surrounding her death would be under the microscope.

"All the resources of Oxley LAC Detectives are engaged in this inquiry at this point in time," he said.

Anyone with information is urged to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Man's body found in Dandenong Park

Standard [19/11/14]:

A man's body has been found in a suburban park in Melbourne's south-east.

Homicide detectives are at Dandenong Park on Pultney Street where the man's body was found about 4.30am.

An off-duty Protective Service Officer happened upon the man's body while walking his dog, police said.

"The circumstances surrounding the death are unknown and investigators have set up a crime scene while they work to establish what has occurred," police said in a statement.

The man has not yet been identified.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Royal Commission hearings in Hobart

Nine MSN [19/11/14]:

Tasmania's Anglican bishop will be among the witnesses giving evidence at the state's first public hearing of a royal commission into child sexual abuse.

Bishop John Douglas Harrower is one of 11 people - including former students and past and present staff from private Hobart boys' school, Hutchins - named on the witness list ahead of Wednesday's opening hearing.

The hearings will spend eight days looking at how the school and the Anglican diocese responded to allegations of sexual abuse against former headmaster David Lawrence and teacher Lyndon Hickman, both now dead.

The alleged abuse dates back to the 1960s.

Current Hutchins headmaster Warwick Peter Dean is due to answer questions at the hearings, along with four former students.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has met in Hobart previously behind closed doors.

There have been hearings held in each state and territory, with the commission receiving reports of child sexual abuse in more than 1000 institutions across the nation.

Fifth NT road train accident in one week as ammonium nitrate truck catches fire on Stuart Highway, NT

ABC [19/11/14]:

A road train carrying ammonium nitrate, a material used in explosives, caught fire on the Stuart Highway at Ti-Tree about 200 kilometres north of Alice Springs last night.

It was the fifth road train accident in the Northern Territory in six days, after a truck carrying hot bitumen rolled yesterday, a truck of cattle tipped the day before and two other accidents the previous week.

The fire was extinguished and a one-kilometre exclusion zone established, police said.

Residents were evacuated to a nearby school, until the exclusion zone was removed about 2:00am.

No one was injured and police said the fire was not suspicious.

When a truck carrying ammonium nitrate exploded in Queensland in September, the blast was so powerful it destroyed two firefighting vehicles.

Fatal traffic crash, Oxenford

QPS Media [18/11/14]:

Police are investigating a fatal crash that occurred on Entertainment Drive, Oxenford this evening.

Initial investigations suggest just before 6pm a vehicle travelling north on Entertainment Drive has collided with another vehicle exiting a theme park at a controlled intersection.

The drivers and sole occupants of both vehicles were treated at the scene and transported to the Gold Coast University Hospital.

A 52-year-old Highland Park woman was pronounced deceased later at the hospital.

The Forensic Crash Unit is investigating.

Anyone with information which could assist with this matter should contact Crime Stoppers anonymously via 1800 333 000 or crimestoppers.com.au 24hrs a day.

Serious traffic crash, Railway Estate

QPS Media [19/11/14]:

Police are currently at the scene of a single vehicle traffic crash in Railway Estate, Townsville.

Just before 2.50am, police were notified that a vehicle had collided with a pole on Boundary Street.

Two people have been injured as a result of the crash, one with critical injuries and the other with severe injuries. Both have been transported to the Townsville Hospital for treatment.

Boundary Street is closed to traffic and police advise motorists to seek an alternate route.

Forensic Crash Unit investigations will continue, and at this stage there is no further information.

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.

... We are better at keeping kids in jail than in school ...

Indigenous Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda

NIRS [19/11/14]:

There are mixed results in efforts to reduce Indigenous disadvantage, according to a major new report by the Productivity Commission.

The Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage report finds despite overall improvements in health, employment and education, justice outcomes continue to decline.

It's found imprisonment rates of Indigenous adults increased by 57 per cent between the year 2000 and 2013.

In good news, the proportion of adults whose main income was from employment increased by nine per cent in the 10 years to 2012, while the life expectancy gap narrowed from 11.4 to 10.6 years for males.

There was no change in literacy and numeracy, family and community violence rates and chronic disease.

But mental health remains a significant concern, with a three per cent increase in adults reporting high levels of psychological distress.

Hospitalisations for self-harm increased by almost 50 per cent.

Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage 2014

Palm Island death in custody 10 years on: Alec Doomadgee calls on police to reflect [NIRS - 19/11/14]

Police covered their tracks on Palm Island in 2004: Lex Wotton [NIRS - 19/11/14]

MPs call on Spain to recognise Palestine

The Local [18/11/14]:

The Spanish parliament on Tuesday passed a non-binding motion calling on the government to recognize the state of Palestine.

The unanimous vote came on the same day that two Palestinians armed with a gun and meat cleavers burst into a Jerusalem synagogue and killed six Israelis in the bloodiest attack in the city in years.

The motion, proposed by the Socialists, calls on the Spanish government to "recognize Palestine as a state", according to the text presented by the Socialists.

It also urges Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy "to promote in coordination with the European Union the recognition of the Palestinian state as sovereign, contiguous, democratic and independent which lives in peace and security with the state of Israel."

"It is not binding, it does not set a timeline for the recognition, it gives the government the margin to proceed with the recognition when it feels it will be opportune," Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel García-Margallo told reporters of the motion in Brussels on Monday.

"If we want to be effective this recognition must be done in coordination with the European Union," he added.

Israel's ambassador to Spain Alon Bar said on Monday he was satisfied "in principle" with the Spanish foreign minister's announcement that any recognition of Palestine would always dependent on peace talks with Israel.

The Spanish parliament's motion follows moves in other European countries intended to increase pressure for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Britain and Ireland approved similar motions last month. Sweden's new left-leaning government went a step further and officially recognized a Palestinian state on October 30th, prompting a strong protest from Israel, which swiftly withdrew its ambassador from Stockholm.

Sweden has since announced it does not plan to open an embassy on Palestinian soil.

The efforts in Europe reflect growing international impatience with Israel's nearly half-century control of the West Bank, east Jerusalem and its blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Settlers attack Palestinian school near Nablus [Maan - 18/11/14]

Palestinian stabbed by Israelis in northern Jerusalem [Maan - 18/11/14]

Even the slightest diversity - from the dominant political duopoly - can force politicians to defend policies that are against the citizens' interest

Brisbane Times [19/11/14]:

The Abbott government has been dealt a major body blow. Its plans to wind back financial advice laws are in tatters after controversial senators Jacqui Lambie and Ricky Muir decided to band together and support a move against them.

The debate to remove regulations that were introduced by the government to water down the former Labor government's Future of Financial Advice (FOFA) reforms will begin this morning.

Announcing the plan, senator Nick Xenophon said there would be no time limit on the debate. "There will be no gag on this," he said. He called on the Minister for Finance senator Mathias Cormann to sit down and come up with a compromise.

At a press conference this morning agri business Timbercorp victim Naomi Halpern was rolled out to symbolise what can go wrong with shoddy financial planning and why Australians need to be protected.

Halpern was a victim of her adviser, Peter Holt, who was banned for three years. She was given bad advice and was unable to sue him because he filed for bankruptcy. Holt earned more than $7 million in commissions from Timbercorp and many victims ended up with loans they didn't know they had signed.

If the disallowance motion is passed it will have significant repercussions on the big banks, which have lobbied hard to have amendments made to the FOFA reforms.

The original FOFA reforms were introduced by the former Labor government in July 2013 in response to a series of scandals including Storm Financial and Trio which highlighted the problems with conflicted remuneration structures, influencing the behaviour of financial advisers.

When the Coalition won office it said it would amend some of the reforms to reduce red tape, a move they argued would save the industry $190 million a year in compliance costs.

Almost a year later, the proposals have been savagely criticised by consumer groups as a series of financial planning scandals, including the Commonwealth Bank, Macquarie Private Wealth, Timbercorp and the life insurance industry, caused a crisis in confidence in the financial planning sector.

The decision by Lambie and Muir means the original FoFA reforms will remain intact, including the requirement for financial planners to act in their clients' best interests and that advisers have to sign a new contract with clients every two years and disclose the fees they charge each year.

It also removes a number of loopholes which would allow the payment of commissions, bonuses, incentives and other benefits based on the amount of products sold. Most of all it removes sales bonuses on general advice when complex products are sold.

Jacqui Lambie Removed as Deputy Senate Leader

PUP Media Release [19/11/14]:

The Palmer United Party’s parliamentary party has voted to remove Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie from her party positions of Deputy Leader of the Senate and Deputy Whip, effective immediately, the party’s federal leader Clive Palmer says.

Mr Palmer said Senator Lambie has also been suspended from attending any parliamentary meetings of the party.

“Jacqui Lambie has failed to attend the last three parliamentary party meetings,” he said.

“As a consequence, the party has removed her from her position as Deputy Leader and Deputy Whip and suspended her rights to attend future party meetings.

“This will be enforced until such time she gives an undertaking to cease personal attacks on party members and to follow major decisions of the party room.

“At no time has Jacqui Lambie ever brought a resolution to the party meeting in relation to Tasmania or veterans.”

19 November 2014

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