... You can beat me and try to break me but still I”ll spit at you
break my spirit even when my body's Black and Blue ...
'Black and Blue', Chain 
free the #refugees
Perth Cultural Centre
Image: @grbradbury [20/2/15]
Maribyrnong: Detention centre sackings follow abuse [Star Weekly - 18/2/15]:
Government-contracted security officers have been investigated over a string of attacks on detainees inside Maribyrnong Immigration Detention Centre, with two guards recently sacked for serious misconduct.
Officers say the violent clashes reflect a growing “culture of excessive force” at Victoria’s main immigration detention centre, which is run on behalf of the federal government by private security firm Serco.
The Commonwealth Ombudsman has launched an investigation into allegations that several officers harmed a detainee, who was handcuffed behind his back and held down on his stomach for 45 minutes.
Serco also confirmed it has sacked two officers over an assault on a Sri Lankan detainee, who was pushed and punched in the face in December. Another reported attack, investigated internally, involved a middle-aged Chinese woman allegedly being kicked in the stomach by a guard.
Dozens of complaints have been lodged by inmates at the Maribyrnong centre in recent years, mostly about staff harassment and bullying. But insiders say the recent allegations of brutality show the centre was being run like a “prison camp”.
“We’ve got detainees who are being literally bashed … viciously assaulted,” one officer said. “If this sort of thing had happened six or 12 months ago, people would not only be sacked but even charged with an offence.”
Pamela Curr, of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, said Serco had transferred a number of “hard-line” managers out of the prison system into the centre late last year.
“Ex-prison guards have a very different culture and mentality to officers who have been trained to guard asylum seekers.”
A spokeswoman for the Immigration Department said all claims of staff misconduct were investigated and the department was co-operating with the ombudsman’s probe into allegations that excessive force was used against a detainee.
“The department expects Serco to take suitable disciplinary action against staff who have been proven to have acted inappropriately,” she said.
“The department takes its duty of care to detainees very seriously and works closely with Serco to ensure standards are met.”
A Serco statement said its own investigations had found “no evidence to substantiate allegations of misconduct” in two incidents, but a third inquiry had resulted in dismissals.
“Our officers are trained to de-escalate incidents and only use approved control and restraint techniques as a last resort,” it stated.
Loddon Campaspe Community Legal Centre [18/2/15]:
This morning a Magistrate at Bendigo found members of the faith-based Love Makes A Way guilty of their trespass charge, but did not penalise the group, after hearing a statement from the group about the reasons for their protest.
Nine church leaders were were arrested in October 2014 following a peaceful sit-in at the offices of Senator Bridget McKenzie, after they had received no response to numerous requests for a meeting with the Senator regarding the detention of asylum seeker children.
This morning a large group of supporters filled Court 2 at the Bendigo Magistrates Court as each member of the group pleaded guilty to the charge.
Spokesman David Fagg read out a statement in court about their commitment to advocating for the release of the detained children, those seeking asylum who have the misfortune of travelling by boat.
He earlier described that "sometimes a particular cruelty is so cruel, its injustice so unjustified, that breaking the law to stand against it is called for."
The group included the Very Reverend John Roundhill, Dean of St. Paul's Anglican Cathedral, the Reverend Gordon Bannon, Uniting Church Minister. The Magistrate cited the group's standing in the community, as well as their motivations, as his basis for finding that the group should be unconditionally dismissed.
Australia's Peter Greste Urges Help for Other Jailed Reporters
Journalists still detained in Egypt should not be forgotten, freed Australian Al-Jazeera reporter Peter Greste said in an address in London on Thursday.
Greste was deported from Egypt this month after over 400 days in jail, accused of supporting the blacklisted Muslim Brotherhood in a case that sparked global outcry and embarrassment for Egypt.
His colleagues, Canada's Mohamed Fahmy and Egyptian citizen Baher Mohamed, were freed last week on bail.
"It bothers me a little bit that so much of the attention has been focused on me, Baher and Fahmy," Greste said after being welcomed with a standing ovation to journalists' group the Frontline Club.
"This is a much wider case than just the three of us and whatever happens we need to bear that in mind."
Nine other reporters are detained in Egyptian prisons, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, which ranks the country sixth in the world for jailing journalists.
Three of those detained are from the critical news site Rassd and have been jailed since summer 2013, according to the CPJ.
Later that year Greste, Fahmy and Mohamed were accused of spreading false news and aiding the Muslim Brotherhood organisation of ousted president Mohamed Morsi.
Their initial trial came against the backdrop of tension between the government of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Qatar, where Al-Jazeera is based.
Greste appeared tired and emotional as he addressed the crowd and paid tribute to the impact of an international media campaign that had called for his release.
He said he dealt with his imprisonment with meditation, running in the morning and even started a master's degree in international relations.
"I have seen quite a few people in prison that were broken by prison. I felt I had to make a conscious decision to stay fit, physically fit, psychologically fit," Greste said.
"The greatest danger is your own mind."
Greste and Fahmy were originally sentenced to seven years each, while Mohamed was given a ten-year sentence.
Three other foreign reporters were sentenced in absentia, while 12 other co-defendants in the case were given sentences of between seven and 10 years, some in absentia.
Greste said he did not feel traumatised or angry and that he hoped the experience would not affect his future reporting.
The three Al Jazeera journalists were awarded a prestigious Royal Television Society prize for their work on Wednesday.
The trial is not over for Greste and his colleagues, as they have not been cleared of the charges and a retrial is impending, but Greste said it was an occasion to remember the importance of a free media.
"We need to recognise that we are a part of society, we are an essential bit of this thing, we are the fourth state," Greste said.
"An attack on journalism, an attack on the freedom of speech is an attack on the wider society."
In his first trip to London after 400 days in jail, Al Jazeera journalist Peter Greste will discuss his relief at being released as well as calling for the unconditional dismissal of the case against colleagues Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fahmy. Peter will also talk about how he managed to get through the ordeal and the wider press freedom campaign. [VIDEO AND AUDIO - Al Jazeera - 19/2/15]
Al Jazeera journalist relishes reunion with family [VIDEO - Al Jazeera - 19/2/15]:
Baher Mohamed, one of three Al Jazeera English journalists imprisoned by the Egyptian government in December 2013, has been released on bail after 411 days pending a retrial.
Mohamed speaks about being reunited with his family, life in prison and his hopes for the future.
No one has gotten to #Milingimbi since #CycloneLam. ABC first chopper in.
Damage in #Milingimbi from #CycloneLam
Image: @james_oaten via @senorschubert - Steven Schubert - Digital Producer, ABC [20/2/15]
@james_oaten - ABC Darwin [20/2/15]: First outsiders into #Milingimbi since #CycloneLam locals hoping we were technical support with power out.
@senorschubert [20/2/15]: "The power is still off, everything is off," says #Milingimbi resident Michael Lewukal after #CycloneLam
Australian fans of the American comedy show 2 Broke Girls responded in uproar over the racist joke about Indigenous Australians, which aired on Tuesday evening.
During the season four episode, titled And the Fun Factory, a male character is shown chatting up an Australian woman online before explaining, "She's part Aboriginal but has a great personality", to a friend.
Social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Reddit have been swamped with angry people, and those defending the racial slur joke. ... [Sydney Morning Herald - 20/2/15]
Fatal traffic crash, Gordonvale
QPS Media [20/2/15]:
A man has died following a two vehicle traffic crash at Gordonvale this morning.
Preliminary investigations suggest around 7.20am, a small white van and a utility have collided head-on on the Bruce Highway.
A 33-year-old man and sole occupant of the van was pronounced deceased at the scene.
The male sole occupant of the utility was treated for minor injuries.
The Bruce Highway was shut while emergency services attended the scene, but has since been re-opened to all traffic.
The Forensic Crash Unit investigation is continuing.
Anyone with information which could assist with this matter should contact Crime Stoppers anonymously via 1800 333 000 or crimestoppers.com.au 24hrs a day.
Armed robbery, Jindalee
QPS Media [20/2/15]:
Police are investigating the armed robbery of a fast food restaurant in Jindalee last night.
Initial inquiries indicate around 10pm, a man brandishing a tyre iron approached the drive-through attendant of a Goggs Road establishment.
He made demands from the attendant who closed the window, at which point the man entered through the main door.
He made the same demands for money while armed, before leaving the address with a sum of cash.
Police are appealing for any witnesses who may have been inside the store at the time or in the vicinity and may have noticed any suspicious activity, to contact them.
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.
Two arrested after stolen car smashes into power pole, Harristown
Police have two people in custody in relation to a stolen ute which crashed and brought down power lines in Harristown.
Emergency services were called to Hampton St about 4.40am today.
They arrived to find power lines lying around the ute.
At least one person was helped from the vehicle.
Toowoomba detectives said the ute had been linked to some break and enter offences.
Two people were this morning helping officers with their inquiries.
The impact caused about 2000 residents to lose power.
Operation ‘Mike Manage’ Taskforce Maxima Criminal Economy Team
QPS Media [20/2/15]:
Police from Taskforce Maxima’s Criminal Economy Unit have arrested and charged a 30-year-old self-employed concreter with drug trafficking. This is the latest arrest as part of an ongoing drug investigation called Operation ‘Mike Manage’.
Operation ‘Mike Manage’ commenced in mid-2014 as a result of information obtained during a 2014 multi-million dollar money laundering and investment fraud investigation (Operation ‘Mike Reflective’).
Yesterday the 30 year old man was charged with trafficking in dangerous drugs including Cocaine and Steroids in the Coolangatta and Gold Coast areas between April 2013 and June 2014.
Police will allege that during this period the male person had associations with a number of persons who were members and/or associated with a number of different Gold Coast and Tweed criminal motorcycle gangs.
Detective Inspector Phillip Stevens from the Criminal Economy Unit said the recent arrest demonstrates the Queensland Police Service’s continuing commitment to exposing the totality of crimes being committed by criminal motorcycle gang participants and their associates.
The 30-year-old male is due to appear in the Southport Magistrates Court on 20 February 2015.
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.
Gold Coast utility Jamie Dowling, the grandson of former Dragons and Queensland hooker John Dowling, is the latest footballer embroiled in a drugs bust which has also claimed Titans teammate Beau Falloon and cross-code star Karmichael Hunt. ... [Brisbane Times - 20/2/15]
Victorian couple hit by car as it flips onto Altona Beach
Nine MSN [20/2/15]:
A Melbourne couple suffered serious injuries after being hit by a car that flipped off a road and then rolled into them as they walked along Altona Beach last night.
Police said the pair, both in their 50s, were walking along the beach’s esplanade when two cars travelling in the same direction crashed into each other about 9pm.
One of the cars, a Mitsubishi dual cab utility with a tray, rolled over the seawall and struck the pair before flipping onto its roof and onto the sand.
The man and the woman were rushed to The Alfred Hospital with serious injuries.
A Victoria Police spokesman said four people were inside the utility vehicle when it crashed onto the beach.
Paramedics treated another person, believed to have been a passenger in the Mitsubishi dual cab, for minor injuries at the scene.
The driver of the other vehicle, a 46-year-old Hoppers Crossing man, has been charged with reckless conduct endangering life and will face Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on June 30.
Police spoke with the other driver but released him pending further inquiries.
They are now asking anyone who witnessed the crash or the moments leading up to it to contact them via Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
New Zealand: Northland charter school 'failed experiment'
New Zealand First leader Winston Peters says the Minister of Education Hekia Parata should admit that a $3 million Northland charter school is a failed experiment.
Ms Parata said she has sent Te Kura Hourua Ki Whangaruru a performance notice requiring it to take immediate action on areas of serious concern.
She said she had become increasingly concerned about the cumulative failures in performance at the Whangaruru school.
These included declining enrolments, sporadic attendance and their knock-on effects on educational peformance.
Ms Parata said the Education Review Office (ERO) had found the school was not able to operate without further substantial support.
She said a specialist audit in a month's time would assess progress.
"There's a cumulative set of issues that they really need to turn their attention to, so it's very clear to them what they have to do in the next 28 days, which is demonstrate that they have a remedial plan, and they have the capability to execute it."
The school is funded for 70 students and opened last year on isolated farmland 60 kilometres north of Whangarei.
Mr Peters, who has whanau links to the area, said the school was a mistake from day one.
"They've spent millions and millions of dollars. If you compare it with the surrounding schools here in the north, the expenditure per student is massive.
"All because of a political arrangement between the National party and the Act party, who insist upon charter schools.
"And here's an example, another example, of one going wrong."
Mr Peters said it was allowed to open without a proven need, a strong structure or the right staff, and was a frustrating example of what could happen when blind ideology takes over from common sense.
He said the Minister of Education was now trying to cover up the fact that the school was not working.
The Northland Principals Association said Ms Parata should cut to the chase and close a failing charter school before it sucked any more money out of the education budget.
The president of the Tai Tokerau Principals Association Pat Newman said the Minister had until now batted away teachers' concerns about the school, but they had proved valid.
He said the children going to the kura had been victims of an unfortunate experiment and the several million dollars spent on it would have been more effectively used in existing Northland schools.
Mr Newman said the board and principal of any state school that was as dysfunctional as Whangaruru would have been sacked long before now.
Coca-Cola caught up in southern Mexico protest, 10 injured
Jakarta Post [20/2/15]:
Protests in the southern state of Guerrero around the disappearance of 43 students have meant regular blockades and attacks and robberies of vehicles delivering everything from milk to snacks in recent months.
But the conflict reached a new level late Wednesday when protesters temporarily detained employees of Coca-Cola Co., igniting anger in a business sector already frustrated by struggles to operate in the social turmoil.
Ten people were injured during what police described Thursday as an attempt to attack Coca-Cola's offices in the state capital of Chilpancingo.
The demonstrators briefly took two company employees hostage and the protesters, including teachers' college students and unionized teachers, threw gasoline bombs that resulted in burns for a state police officer, the state government said in a statement. Three other policemen, two journalists and four protesters also were injured.
A teachers' union group maintaining a sit-in in Chilpancingo and whose members participated in the confrontation at the Coca-Cola offices disputed the state's version.
Josefina Sauceda, a member of the group, told The Associated Press that nobody looted or stole any trucks and said that five demonstrators were wrongly arrested to pressure the group to withdraw from the state capital. She said the protesters then took the two Coke employees to exchange for their peers.
Femsa, the largest Coca-Cola bottler in Mexico, told The Associated Press that its employees had been released and were in good condition.
"We are currently evaluating the viability of our operations, with the primary consideration being the safety of our personnel," the company added in a brief statement.
The incident gave a close look at how social unrest after the disappearance of the 43 students in September has paralyzed Guerrero, with teachers and students taking over highway toll booths and robbing and hijacking delivery trucks for money to support their extended protests. The students disappeared at the hands of local police working with a drug cartel, which killed the young men and burned their bodies, the federal attorney general has said.
The case has caused anger nationwide and abroad, but nowhere more so than Guerrero.
Since the young men disappeared Sept. 26, Coca-Cola has lost 250 trucks to robberies or attacks, said Jaima Nava, president of the Employers' Confederation of Mexico in Guerrero. Protesters have also attacked other big companies, such as Comercial Mexicana department stores, Oxxo convenience stores and trucks for the Lala dairy and Bimbo, one of the largest food conglomerates in the world.
"These acts of blackmail and kidnappings tell us simply that there is a vacuum of power, a total violation of the rule of law," Nava said.
Coca-Cola has faced previous problems in Guerrero, which is known for widespread social unrest as well as drug activity.
In August, the company closed a distribution plant in Arcelia after receiving threats and seeing attackers burn four delivery trucks in an area known for gang battles. Femsa did not specify the nature of the threats, but said they were directed at delivery personnel.
In 2012, the Knights Templar drug cartel in neighboring Michoacan state burned five warehouses and dozens of vehicles owned by the Sabritas snack company, a Mexican subsidiary of PespsiCo.
Gang members said they believed Sabritas had let law-enforcement agents use its trucks for surveillance. The company denied that.
In a move to maintain access to clean water, the Constitutional Court has revoked a law that had allowed the private sector to monopolize water resources.
The landmark decision puts an end to the 2004 Water Resources Law, which paved the way for concessions of water resources by companies that sold packaged tap water.
While delivering the verdict on Wednesday, the panel of justices argued that the law contravened the Constitution, which stipulates the right to water as a basic right and mandates the state to control and regulate water resources.
The judges later decided that the private sector could not be granted exclusive rights to water resources, such as rivers, springs, lakes and swamps, but may apply for licenses to sell a specified amount of water that would be decided by the government and local residents. ... [Jakarta Post - 20/2/1]
Marcia Marcia Marcia!
Burleigh - just like a chocolate milkshake (yes
that is a surfer - there were a few dozen out there!) [20/2/15]
Sightseeing and rubbernecking at Point Danger [20/2/15]
Amazed the mean Councillor Chris Robbins hasn't removed these love mementos.
Greek proposal for loan extension to be discussed in Brussels amid tensions
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras spoke with German Chancellor Angela Merkel Thursday evening after a day of tense efforts aimed at securing a compromise between Greece and the eurozone ahead of a Eurogroup summit Friday where Greece’s proposal for extending its loan agreement with creditors is expected to be discussed.
Tsipras and Merkel spoke for just under an hour in a conversation that the Greek premier described on his Twitter account as being “in a positive climate” and showing “interest in finding a mutually beneficial solution for Greece and the eurozone.”
Tsipras also spoke with French President Francois Hollande, sources said.
The exchanges followed hours of tensely-worded statements after the Greek government sent its keenly-awaited proposal to Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem.
The request was for a six-month extension of Greece’s loan agreement but under different conditions, government officials said in the morning.
Later in the day, Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis’s letter to Dijsselbloem was leaked to the media, indicating that the government recognizes the country’s existing bailout program as the legally-binding framework for the next six months though the document did not include the words “memorandum” or “program,” which the leftist-led government rejects.
It also remained unclear which of the measures linked to the bailout program the government would commit to enforcing.
The response from Germany was fast with the country’s Finance Ministry rejecting the Greek proposal outright. Germany’s Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel said it was important to determine which reforms Athens was prepared to implement but appeared to strike a more conciliatory tone. “The letter can only be the start of negotiations,” he said.
But the initial negative vibes from Berlin appeared to rattle the Greek government.
‘“A part of the German government is against the Greek people, and this is due to Mr Schaeuble,” a government source remarked.
Another official provided details of what was supposedly an intervention by a German Finance Ministry official at Thursday’s Euro Working Group summit in Brussels.
The official was quoted as describing the Greek proposal as “a Trojan horse, intending to get bridge financing and in substance putting an end to the current program.”
Officials in Brussels Thursday stayed up until late in a bid to draft the basis for a joint statement that satisfies all sides.
Statements by top government officials Thursday pointed to a split, with some – Germany, Finland and Slovakia – taking a hard line towards Greece and others – including France and Italy – appearing more open to the Greek proposal.
Australia rules out Sweden for $39 billion submarine contract [Reuters - 19/2/15]
The Great SIM Heist:
How Spies Stole the Keys to the Encryption Castle
American and British spies hacked into the internal computer network of the largest manufacturer of SIM cards in the world, stealing encryption keys used to protect the privacy of cellphone communications across the globe, according to top-secret documents provided to The Intercept by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.
The hack was perpetrated by a joint unit consisting of operatives from the NSA and its British counterpart Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ.
The breach, detailed in a secret 2010 GCHQ document, gave the surveillance agencies the potential to secretly monitor a large portion of the world’s cellular communications, including both voice and data.
The company targeted by the intelligence agencies, Gemalto, is a multinational firm incorporated in the Netherlands that makes the chips used in mobile phones and next-generation credit cards.
Among its clients are AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint and some 450 wireless network providers around the world. The company operates in 85 countries and has more than 40 manufacturing facilities. One of its three global headquarters is in Austin, Texas and it has a large factory in Pennsylvania.
UK: Jury told not to watch BBC documentary on Royals and the Press
Hacking Inquiry [19/2/15]:
A jury was told not to watch a TV programme and a journalist agreed he didn’t think it mattered that a source was a serving soldier at London’s Old Bailey today.
Mr Justice Saunders, who is presiding over the trial of four Sun journalists, an army officer and his wife, told the jury that if they watched a BBC documentary about the media and the royal family they could be held in contempt of court and potentially be sent to prison.
The programme “Reinventing the Royals” being broadcast on BBC 2 on Thursday is billed as a “two-part series about the twenty-year battle between the monarchy and the media over personal privacy and public image”.
This has caused concern in the court room as at it coincides with evidence being given by Sun royal editor Duncan Larcombe, who is facing charges over allegations that he paid an army officer for information about and pictures of Princes William and Harry while they were cadets at Sandhurst military college.
The judge told the jury that although he had not seen the documentary there was a chance that matters relating to the trial might be discussed.
As there would be no possibility of the defence challenging anything said on television in court he had to take the matter very seriously.
He therefore gave the jury a written direction not to watch the programme, avoid any media coverage of it and inform the bailiff if any of their number admitted they had watched it.
Later in the day Larcombe gave evidence in his own defence, and asked if it mattered that his source for a number of stories was a serving soldier replied “not in my mind, no”. He also testified that “If you were a source for the Sun you were always taking a risk”, saying people could be shunned or sacked for speaking to the paper.
He also denied that he ever thought Hardy was committing a criminal offence or obtaining the picture was a betrayal of his public duty as he believed all of the information obtained, including a picture of Prince William in a bikini was “in the public interest”.
Appearing in court with Larcombe are former Sun chief reporter John Kay, army officer John Hardy, his wife Claire, Sun deputy editor Geoffrey Webster and executive editor Fergus Shanahan.
All of the defendants deny all of the charges, the trial continues.
Santos posts $935m loss on massive writedowns; flags job cuts
Oil and gas producer Santos has tumbled to a full-year $935 million loss with a massive writedown in assets taking its toll.
The result is a $1.4 billion reversal on last year's $516 million profit.
The loss was not unexpected with a $1.6 billion impairment - relating to oil producing assets in the Cooper Basin and exploration licences near Gunnedah, in New South Wales - being reported to the market earlier this month.
Some analysts expressed surprise that the value of the company's 30 per cent interest in its major growth asset - the GLNG project in Queensland - did not also suffer a writedown.
The underlying profit - excluding one-off items such as impairments - was up 6 per cent to $533 million on the back of higher production and sales revenue, and was roughly in-line with analysts' forecasts.
Production rose 6 per cent to 54.1 million barrels, while sales revenue grew 12 per cent to a record $4 billion, with the start up of the PNG LNG partially offsetting lower oil prices.
"Capital expenditure in 2015 is forecast at $2 billion, 44 per cent lower than 2014, and we expect to reduce production costs per barrel by 10 per cent," chief executive David Knox told shareholders.
"Costs will be tightly managed as we work through the current oil price environment."
Mr Knox said these cost reductions will include further staff cuts, but declined to put a figure on the job losses.
PNG: Possibility of chemical spillage by Sinivit mine
PNG Loop [20/2/15]:
Mining Minister Byron Chan says his department believes there is a possibility of a spillage of chemical by Sinivit Gold Mine.
He says an investigative team from the Mineral Resources Development Corporation was sent last week to carry out investigations.
Chan says Sivinit has also lodged an application for the renewal of its mining license, however the department is hesitant because of the current situation.
A report of the damages to environment is expected to be presented to the minister next week.
PNG Loop has reported that the East New Britain Provincial Executive Council has declared a State of Emergency on Sinivit gold mine to look into the possible environmental damage from cyanide leakage in the area.
The PEC has directed the provincial administration to release K300,000 to address immediate dangers of the environmental damage and has endorsed a submission to Mineral Resource Authority (MRA) to put a stop to any negotiations with investors regarding the mine.
Chairman of Finance, Planning and Administration and Governor Ereman ToBaining Jnr said the SOE was issued recently by the director for environment from the Department of Environment and Conservation.
This follows concerns from provincial authorities and landowners on the threat of a potential cyanide spillage into the river systems due to the unattended vatting system since the Canadian developer, New Guinea Gold, ceased production last September.
ToBaining Jnr said there is a clear observation of chemical spillage into the river system mainly in Rapmaringa and Nengmutka that feeds Warangoi River.
“The vegetation is already drying affecting flora and fauna and the colour change in the nearby river system has already affecting river life which has got a potential to destroy marine life along our coastal communities,” he said.
ToBaining Jnr said some vats were in grave danger of collapsing due to landslip about two metres away and the presence of heavy cyanide smell meant that the chemical level in the vats was rising due to heavy rainfall.
He said the developer has not complied with environmental requirements in building a barricade around the heaps to contain the spillage that is flowing directly into the river streams.
A technical team comprising officers from DEC,
MRA and the provincial administration were expected to collect water samples at
the Rapmaringa and Nengmutka rivers. They will send the samples to the
laboratory in Lae to verify existence of cyanide.
Manus Island message to people of Australia
Refugee Action Coalition, Sydney [20/2/15]:
The Refugee Action Coalition has received the message below signed by hundreds of asylum seekers in Delta and Fox compounds, on Manus Island.
The message was written the day of the memorials to Reza Barati held in all in the compounds of the Manus detention centre.
To the people of Australia:
We are the asylum seekers on Manus Island who have been forcibly relocated to Manus Island because we entered Australian territory by boat, seeking safety and protection, after we fled our countries because of civil war that threatens our families.
We were desperate to come to Australia by boat because we don’t have any other option; only to jump on a piece of wood to cross the ocean.
We came to Australia legally. We have no other reason [to come] except to seek safety. We are not criminals as some people say.
We are human beings like you. We have parents, kids and wives, who we had to leave behind and who are in danger of civil war and persecution. We hoped to assist them, but unfortunately we can’t even release ourselves from this prison.
We have been in hell in detention for more than 20 months. The treatment that we face is worse than the way you would treat an animal. We face the spectre of a sort death here once again.
Two of us lost their lives and some of us have mental problems and permanent injury because we are seeking freedom. We were sent to jail because of the hunger strike. When we were in the prison, we were beaten like dogs and torture us as if we were criminals and they told us ‘go back to your country; what do you want from PNG?’
The suffering has ended for those [of us] who have lost their lives, but ours still continues. Everyday we receive threats from the local people but some of us prefer to risk death in Manus than to go back to our homelands.
We cannot go back to our homelands because of [the danger] we have faced [there] in the past to ourselves or other people.
We appreciate the efforts of those who are supporting our case and standing with us.
If it becomes a crime to seek asylum, refugees will be a shame on the community. And the law will be deaf and blind.
Signed: asylum seekers – Delta and Fox compounds
@paddygibson [20/2/15]: Kellie West from Doctors for Refugees speaks at Sydney Town Hall rally to remember Reza Berati #ShutDownManus
@ShoebridgeMLC - Davd Shoebridge - NSW Greens MP [20/2/15]: Sydney refugee rally - standing in solidarity with Reza Barati's family - 12 months after he died in detention #manus
@shanebazzi [20/2/15]: At the Sydney vigil for Reza Barati #ShutDownManus
Refugee Action Collective Gold Coast: Due to TC Marcia the Vigil for Reza Berati has been postponed to next Friday 27 February, 7~8 pm at Surfers Paradise Beach Market. ...
"We were under fire in our rooms. They were asking people if they were Iranian. Those who said yes, were beaten."
An eye-witness describes the violence scenes at a Papua New Guinea (PNG) asylum seekers' detention centre, in which his friend was killed. ... [BBC - 19/2/15]
Why is it the British and Russian media can report on Nauru and Manus but the Australian media can't?
If the Australian media are being prevented from reporting the truth about Manus and Nauru they should cut the crap and tell us.
Human rights abuses on Manus continue.
An Iranian asylum seeker has been thrown in jail - by Transfield - for trying to email a lawyer.
"tweeted" by @JulianBurnside [20/2/15]
Australian media attempts to present a human rights abuser as nice man.
Image: @gembath - Gemma Bath - 2GB reporter [ 20/2/15]
What the? Friday.
Italian police take legal action for reputational damage after Roma take movie set police car for a spin! [ANSA.it - 19/2/15]
Roma 'Volante' guidata da giovani rom [VIDEO - TG1 - 19/2/15]
Gold Coast kids dodge cyclone waves at former Jack Evans Porpoise Pool site, Snapper rocks [Nine MSN - 20/2/15]
Turtles in Trouble [20/2/15]:
#TCMarcia is washing away nesting beaches at Mon Repo. Qld Parks and volunteers are working hard to save and relocate hatchlings and eggs. ...
Urgent action to stop asylum seeker deportation
Refugee Action Coalition, Sydney [20/2/15]:
An emergency protest has been called at the Air China Sydney office at 1:30pm, (20 February), Air China Sydney Office, 25/123 Pitt Street Sydney (near Wynyard Station).
Wei Lin, the Chinese asylum seeker whose deportation was stopped in December last year, when passengers on the Air China Flight refused to fly until Wei was taken off the plane, is again being removed by the government.
The Refugee Action Coalition is concerned that the Chinese government may have an even greater interest in Wei given the passengers’ action on the Air China flight last December.
The Refugee Action Coalition is calling on the government to halt the deportation and for Air China to refuse to carry asylum seekers being forcibly returned to China.
Remember Reza Barati: Close Manus Island and Nauru
A protest vigil will be held this afternoon (Friday, 20 February) at 5.00pm at Sydney Town Hall to mark the anniversary of the brutal killing of Iranian asylum seeker, Reza Barati on Manus Island.
Speakers will include a relative of Reza’s family, other Iranian refugees, The Greens and the Refugee Action Coalition.
His Name Was Reza Barati
Former Guantanamo guard Brandon Neely 'ashamed' of Hicks treatment [Canberra Times - 29/2/15]
Dutton's statement is one big lie and the Australian media won't hold him to account. ----> [Asylum seekers free to come and go on Nauru - Canberra Times - 19/2/15]
You cannot resettle refugees without the UNHCR.
Go to Nauru. See for yourself.
Russian photographer reports from 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.
"Evil banks kill farmers" painted outside Darling Downs' banks
Police are currently investigating a series of graffiti attacks on a major bank branch at Oakey and Pittsworth over the past two months.
On each occasion the offenders spray painted derogatory words on the footpath in front of each bank with pink and yellow paint.
Police understand a person may have issues with a bank from time to time but advise people to use other methods to lodge a complaint rather than damaging public property.
Anyone with information which could assist with this matter should contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000, Oakey Police Station on 4691 1020 or Pittsworth Police Station on 4693 1122.
Tweed police seek man after elderly woman injured
Tweed Daily News [20/2/15]:
Tweed Heads police have appealed for help finding a man over an alleged hit and run.
Police said Andrew James Smith, 24, had four outstanding warrants for his arrest.
Smith could be able to assist with enquiries into a fail-to-stop car incident, where an elderly woman suffered serious injuries, police said.
Anyone with information about the whereabouts of Smith can contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000, use the Crime Stoppers online reporting page: https://www1.police.nsw.gov.au/, or call Tweed Heads Police directly on 0755360999
Senate Hearing: Clean Air Queensland calls for law reform to protect community health
Lock The Gate [19/2/15]:
Clean Air Queensland (CAQ) today told a Senate hearing at Toowoomba that Australia needed an overhaul of clean air laws to protect communities impacted by coal dust.
CAQ Coordinator Michael Kane addressed the Senate Select Committee hearing into Certain Aspects of Queensland Government Administration related to Commonwealth Government Affairs.
Mr Kane said industry and politicians knew that current Australian pollution standards were an inadequate regulatory tool to prevent serious impacts on community health.
“But because of the extra cost of adequate pollution mitigation like covering coal trains the industry finds it cheaper to commission inadequate government-sanctioned research or provide generous political donations to make the problem go away, as has been the case in Queensland in recent times,” he said.
Previous governments failed to be transparent in their regulatory process, he said.
“The Queensland coal industry, the Queensland Resources Council and the Queensland State Government are cooperating to apply a dangerously lax regulatory frame work for the massive expansion of the coal industry which potentially has widespread and severe health implications for the residents of many heavily populated centres, towns and rural communities.”
“The federal government should legislate that the Australian coal industry immediately implement best practice dust and pollution mitigation practices for the production, stockpiling and transport of coal particularly when situated close to established residences and population centres.
Currently the QLD coal industry is moving about nine million tonnes of uncovered coal by train through Oakey, Toowoomba, Ipswich and Brisbane on its way to the Port of Brisbane.
Around 40,000 children go to school or day care within one kilometre of the south east Queensland coal corridor.
Mr Kane called for:
A wide ranging royal commission into political donations in Queensland, particularly in relation to the approval of stage three Acland coal mine project.
No federal government environmental approval processes or powers to be handed back to the QLD government.
The upper house or a proportional voting system to be restored in Queensland.
Community Recovery Hotline open
Minister for Communities, Women and Youth, Minister for Child Safety and Minister for Multicultural Affairs Media Release [20/2/15]:
In the wake of Tropical Cyclone Marcia crossing the Queensland coast, the Community Recovery Hotline 1800 173 349 has been activated.
Communities Minister Shannon Fentiman today said, while financial assistance has yet to be activated, the Hotline still provided useful information about other available assistance.
“If people are in a life-threatening situation, they should call 000 or if they need emergency storm and flood assistance, they should call the SES on 132 500,” Ms Fentiman said.
Gold Coast bracing for storm surge [West Australian - 20/2/15]:
The Gold Coast is bracing for beach erosion amid fears it could see a storm surge associated with Cyclone Marcia.
"At this stage, we're worried about the storm surge," Mayor Tom Tate said at a briefing on Friday morning.
"Those beaches that are north-facing are going to get hit hard."
He said rainfall in the last 24 hours was between 50 and 99mm, with the heaviest falls in Upper Springbrook.
There had been a number of road closures already, mostly in the hinterland and western suburbs, he said.
Mr Tate said the worst conditions would be felt on the Gold Coast on Friday night and Saturday morning. T
he local disaster management group is meeting throughout Friday.
The Gold Coast Airport remains open.
The cyclone has been downgraded to a category four, but it is still unleashing very destructive winds on central Queensland.
It made landfall at Shoalwater Bay, about 100km north of Yeppoon, on Friday morning before tracking southward.
Cyclone Marcia has ploughed ashore with wind gusts that peaked at 285km/h, battering towns along the Capricornia coast, as Arnhem Land residents emerge from shelters to assess the damage from Cyclone Lam. ... [West Australian - 20/2/15]
Eight dams overflowing in South East Queensland [Yahoo - 20/2/15]:
Eight dams in southeast Queensland are overflowing due to heavy rain from Cyclone Marcia.
Four dams on the Sunshine Coast, three in the greater Brisbane area and one on the Gold Coast are over capacity, according to Seqwater.
Also, water is being released from Somerset Dam, northwest of Brisbane, downstream into Wivenhoe Dam, which is at 77 per cent capacity.
Marcia crossed the coast north of Yeppoon just after 8am on Friday, and its effects - including unrelenting rain - are being felt much further south.
A Seqwater spokeswoman said overflowing dams were normal during heavy rain ... Seqwater does not expect to release water from Wivenhoe Dam, but there is a slight possibility it will have to if rainfall reaches the maximum 500mm that has been predicted.
"A judgment will be made over the coming 24, 48 hours," the spokeswoman said.
"If a gate release is required depending on the amount of water that is released, there may be some roads or low-lying bridges affected."
The dams that were spilling on Friday morning included Ewen Maddock, Borumba, Lake MacDonald, Wappa, Enoggera, Gold Creek, Leslie Harrison and Little Nerang.
See the Queensland Premier and authorities chastising Royal Carribean for irresponsible actions during an extreme weather event?
No. You don't.
A cruise ship in the area where Cyclone Marcia is pounding the Queensland coast is being closely monitored but its itinerary has not changed.
Royal Caribbean's Rhapsody of the Seas is on an 11-night east coast sailing tour that departed Sydney on Tuesday and was scheduled to stop at destinations including Willis Island, Airlie Beach and Cairns. ... [Yahoo - 20/2/15]
Central Highlands prep for #CHMarcia [CQ News – 20/2/15]:
Eastern parts of the Central Highlands Regional Council area could be inundated by heavy rainfall as Cyclone Marcia collapses inland as a category 2 storm.
The CHRC Local Disaster Management Group met this morning and deputy mayor Gail Nixon said residents of Duaringa, Dingo, Bluff and Blackwater could experience very strong winds during the afternoon and into the evening.
The Bureau of Meteorology is providing hourly updates on the progress of TC Marcia to the LDMG.
"While the threat in our region has eased there is still potential for very heavy rainfall, particularly in eastern parts," Cr Nixon said.
"Impact in the eastern parts of the Central Highlands (east of Duaringa) is expected at around 6pm.
"This may include Category 2 cyclone wind gradings and significant rainfall.
"We do not expect any disruption to essential supplies."
Cr Nixon urged residents to ensure any loose items around properties were secured, and to stay indoors.
The LDMG has been stood up.
The SES is on standby and ready to respond. Please call 13 2500 if you require assistance as a result of flooding or wind damage.
Remember in an emergency to contact 000.
The Disaster Coordination Centre in Emerald is now open. The number is 1300 242 686.
The LDMG will meet again at 2 pm to further assess the situation.
Isaac Local Disaster Management Group (ILDMG) Chair and Mayor Anne Baker praised coastal communities, Police, SES and Council Officers who worked through the night to prepare for Category 5 Tropical Cyclone Marcia.
"Isaac coastal residents who self-evacuated can now make their way safely back to their homes."
"Isaac LDMG is standing down and seven Isaac SES members, two vehicles and storm damage equipment have been volunteered to deploy and assist the Capricorn coast."
"A flood watch is still current for the coast and a high tide of 6.9m predicted at Clairview at 12.13pm today."
People living in areas likely to be affected by this flooding should take measures to protect their property as much as possible and be prepared to follow instructions regarding evacuation of the area if advised to do so by the authorities.
"As part of our preparations two emergency SES and voice alerts were issued to residents, and SES, Council and Police Officers door-knocked residents through the night."
"Three SES crews were ready to respond to calls for assistance, a fourth unit was on standby and 3700 sandbags were ready to deploy.
"Our thoughts are currently with those on the Capricorn coast and further inland in the path of Tropical Cyclone Marcia."
CSG wastewater fears dismissed by Metgasco [Tweed Shire Echo – 20/2/15]:
Mining company Metgasco has dismissed claims that ponds containing coal seam gas wastewater in the region could overtop with the extreme rainfall expected in the next few days.
Lismore Greens candidate for Lismore Adam Guise this morning called on Metgasco and the NSW Government to verify the integrity of holding ponds.
‘Metgasco has coal seam gas wastewater storage ponds dotted over our region, particularly around Casino,’ Mr Guise said.
‘These ponds are open topped and risk overflowing with the extreme rainfall of 300mm or more predicted over the next few days.
‘Back in 2012, Metgasco allowed its Shannon Brook wastewater ponds to reach excessively high levels, which may have overflowed during heavy rainfall and wind.
Metgasco chief executive Peter Henderson said Mr Guise’s statements demonstrated a ‘complete lack of knowledge about Metgasco and the gas industry, and a disregard for the truth’.
‘Metgasco no longer has any holding water ponds,’ Mr Henderson said in a statement.
‘Three ponds were completely decommissioned and the sites rehabilitated in 2013, with landholder and government sign-off of the decommissioning and rehabilitation programs.
‘Three other ponds have been handed back to the landholders. A thorough environmental and veterinarian study demonstrated that the CSG water in the ponds was not toxic, just a little more salty (1/10 of the salt in sea water) and that it was suitable for stock watering use.
Mr Henderson said the government had approved the landholder’s right to use the water for this purpose.
Mr Guise claimed that the Shannon Brook wastewater ponds sit on farmland that drains in the Bungawalbyn wetlands.
‘In light of BTEX chemicals being found in the wastewater of AGL’s fracking operations in Gloucester, allowing exposed open-topped holding ponds pose a real threat to our water and farmland,’ he said.
‘Metgasco has no safe way of disposing of the coal seam gas wastewater.
‘The fact that AGL has just recently been refused disposal of its fracking wastewater in Gloucester, shows that this industry has no viable wastewater disposal methods.
‘This ongoing saga of Metgasco shows that coal seam gas operations are incompatible with the northern rivers climate, where extreme rainfall events often occur.
‘It is absolutely ludicrous that the Liberal-National party government has allowed open-topped wastewater ponds in our region.
‘To ensure the protection of our farmland and water, this industry needs to be shut down and licences across the northern rivers cancelled.’
As we wait for Category 5 Tropical Cyclone Marcia to cross the coast further north, the rain continues to fall here on the Gold Coast.
All that water is already causing some major issues on local roads.
Below is a list of the roads already experiencing some issues.
900 homes without power on the Gold Coast [MYGC – 20/2/15]
The City of Gold Coast Disaster Hotline is 1800 606 000
State Emergency Service (SES) on 132 500.
Logan City Council [20/2/15]:
A statement from City of Logan Mayor and Logan Local Disaster Management Group Chairperson, Councillor Pam Parker:
As of 9.30am Friday, predictions are for strong, gusty winds, possible tree damage and power outage so be prepared.
If you need SES assistance for property damage call 132 500.
Heavy rain is our biggest threat with local floods, in low lying areas.
So far we have distributed more than 10,000 sand bags. Residents can access bags from SES depots at 26-36 Winnetts Rd, Daisy Hill, until 5.30pm today and 1464 Waterford-Tamborine Rd, Logan Village, from noon to 5.30pm. Please note residents will need to fill their own sandbags. If this is not possible, please contact the SES on 132 500 to make alternative arrangements.
With heavy rain upon us, we encourage residents minimise non-essential travel.
Logan City Council has received reports of water over the road at the intersection of German Church Road and Erwin Road, Carbrook.
Stay tuned to Council's Facebook page for updates (www.facebook.com/logancitycouncil)
If you have to go out be aware of the changing road conditions. Damage will occur with ongoing rain, so please drive carefully.
Stay indoors, look after your neighbours, especially the elderly in your neighbourhood.
Please refer to www.logan.qld.gov.au for the latest information.
Queensland Times [20/2/15]:
The Somerst Regional Council report that Kilcoy Creek on the D'Aguilar Highway at Kilcoy is rising and is currently about one to one and a half metres under the bridge.
Based on predicted rainfalls over the coming hours, Council expects the bridge to close at some stage.
Council encourage residents to factor this into their travel plans and monitor Council's flood cameras at www.somerset.qld.gov.au.
UPDATE, 9AM: Based on current forecasts the Bremer River and associated creeks may inundate a number of roads and some public infrastructure however private property inundation in Ipswich is unlikely.
Advice on specific road closures will be provided as they occur.
SEQWater have advised that there is no dam releases planned at this stage.
Rises in the Brisbane River are likely to be below minor levels and as such will not impact on public or private infrastructure within Ipswich.
Seqwater CEO Peter Dennis said Seqwater was closely monitoring all dam levels, rainfall and potential consequences of inflows into the dams.
"Based on the 'average estimate' forecast from the Bureau of Meteorology, gate operations at Wivenhoe Dam or North Pine Dam are not currently planned. Seqwater is releasing water from Somerset Dam into Wivenhoe Dam to manage inflows," Mr Dennis said.
Destructive winds are not expected, however winds may be sufficient to cause vegetation damage given the ground may be saturated as the event proceeds.
Council's Flood Monitoring Team will continue to operate 24/7 until the key risks have passed.
Sandbag distribution points are operating and will continue to operate throughout the day until 7pm tonight.
The locations are:
• Limestone Park - Car Park next to the Netball Courts, Salisbury Rd, Ipswich;
• Goodna SES Group HQ - 120 Willow Rd, Redbank Plains and;
• Rosewood SES Unit - 14 Rosewood - Warrill View Rd, Rosewood.
News Mail [20/2/15]:
Swift Water Rescue crews are on standby in Gin Gin. The crew will remain in town until Sunday, though that could change depending on how Tropical Cyclone Marcia develops over the next few days. As reported by the NewsMail earlier, the Local Disaster Management Group has some concern minor flooding may eventuate from the system and associated rain. If the system stops over the catchment area and downgrades to a Tropical Low, there is potential for heavy falls that could result in flooding. Similarly there is a possibility the region will escape with only localised flooding. The NewsMail will continue to update when details come to hand.
Cyclone forces cancellation of outpatients across Wide Bay [News Mail - 20/2/15]
Road closures across the Bundaberg region [News Mail - 20/2/15]
ROAD CLOSURES: Bruce Highway is closed at Marlborough [Morning Bulletin - 20/2/15]
Toowoomba on high alert as heavy rain, wind pound city [Chronicle - 20/2/15]
... SES crews in Toowoomba have been activated due to worsening weather.
SES South West regional manager Robert Bundy said a co-ordination centre had been set up in the old TAFE building on Hume St.
"We have been handing out sandbags to members of the public that have requested them," he said.
"If they need them they should call the 132 500 phone number and go through that process," he said.
Closed: Complete list of Sunshine Coast road closures today [Sunshine Coast Daily - 20/2/15]
Sunshine Coast Daily [20/2/15]:
Workers should seriously consider leaving for home early this afternoon ahead of expected heavy rainfall as Cyclone Marcia makes its way south down the Queensland coast.
Noosa Council disaster coordinator Fox Rogers said the levels of creeks and stream would rise rapidly with another 200m of rain expected on top of the 150-160mm that fell on the northern Sunshine Coast overnight.
Lake McDonald began spilling last night and as a consequence Six Mile was coming up, Mr Rogers said, putting pressure on Loui Bazzo Drive, the main connection to Boreen Point.
The bottom of Hill Street Pomona was also flooding.
"We are in the lull but that will change later today,'' he said.
"Hydrologists are predicting minor to moderate flooding but if the system stops or comes across the back of us and we get 400-500m instead of another 200mm we will be in trouble.''
Mr Rogers urged people to stay at home where possible and if at work to return home early.
"Creek and stream levels will rise quickly this afternoon. If it starts to really rain hard around 3-4pm levels will rise quickly on top of the water already in the system.
"Tell people to stay at home and I'd encourage people to get home early today rather than late.''
School closures: 130 Qld schools close due to Cyclone Marcia [Daily Mercury - 20/2/15]
Here we go again: Accusing people of driving around in an extreme weather event 10 times in the one speech is not leadership - it's breathlessly playing a role in a reality drama.
"Evacuations have been undertaken in the most respectful way." says the Premier. <---- Evidently they haven't.
In the face of an increasing threat of more and more climate change related extreme weather events, Australian politicians have done nothing but blame the victims and encourage personal responsibility for things that are beyond their control.
The abandonment of the citizenry and lack of a co-ordinated response raised during the Queensland Flood Inquiry has still not been addressed.
After Yasi, a handful of cyclone shelters were built up north by the Saudis.
Safe and secure in their Brisbane HQ ivory tower with no idea what it is like living in the bush having to secure your property- or having no choice but to go out in bad weather to pay the rent - all our so called leaders and authorities and media can do is shake their fists at the citizenry.
After Marcia has hit, the political and media establishment will not inform the public about what is going on, or give basic information about support services.
Social media will again fill the void as politicians, media and authorities predictably concoct lies about folks driving through flooded roads, looting and rubbernecking.
This will excuse further lashing out and the punishment of helpless people.
We wrote this in 2013. It is just as applicable today.
There Are No "Rubbernecking Sightseers" Or "Curious Residents" Hampering Emergency Rescue Efforts, But There Are An Awful Lot Of Personal Responsibility Crusaders Who Have Learned Nothing From The 2010/2011 Queensland Floods
Reportage of the current extreme weather event in Queensland appears to indicate media, politicians and some authorities have learned nothing.
Do you understand that mixed messages, withholding of vital information, fear mongering and beatups (eg broadcasting extensive footage of canoeists in Bundaberg) are intended to provoke anger, keep you confused and deflect attention from who the real fraudsters, vultures, looters, scammers, rumour mongers, profiteers and rubberneckers are?
Are you fooled by politicians making strong warnings
about driving through flooded roads and swimming in stormwater drains as they
sell off your schools, hospitals and underfund emergency services?
If you can get people to hold two contradictory ideas in their head (eg when a media outlet says send us your images/videos and stories then says don't go anywhere, stay at home, 'rubber-neckers' are evil), you can get people to believe anything.
You can get them to hate their neighbours and you can get them to support wars of aggression on a lie.
If you practise logical consistency, you might start demanding logical consistency from your politicians and they might have to start governing rather than managing.
A well informed, united and unafraid electorate is the enemy of the neoliberal juggernaut.
Are you going to allow Queensland's politicians and media continue their war on rationality and the ability of the citizenry to critically analyse?
Chilling triple zero call heard at flood inquiry [Nine MSN VIDEO - 19/4/11]:
April 19, 2011: A recording of a triple zero call from Donna Rice, who was swept to her death during the Queensland floods, has been played at the flood inquiry today.
Triple-0 operator chastises flood victims [ABC - 19/4/11]:
ALI MOORE: The Queensland flood inquiry has heard a triple-0 operator chastised a mother and her son, shortly before they were swept to their deaths.
Two emergency calls made by Donna and Jordan Rice were played to the inquiry as their family wept quietly in the courtroom.
Francene Norton reports from Toowoomba.
FRANCENE NORTON: Survivor Blake Rice and his father John Tyson were surrounded by family, as they prepared themselves to hear the final recordings of their loved ones.
The calls were made on the 10 January as floodwaters swept away their car in Toowoomba's CBD. In the first call, the police operator demanded three times: "Why did you drive through floodwaters?"
"You shouldn't have driven through floodwaters in the first place."
The family of Donna and Jordan Rice wiped away tears as they listened to the rising panic in the second emergency call. In the background, Donna Rice could be heard yelling at her sons to jump on the roof, while Jordan Rice pleaded with the operator to hurry up because they were about to drown.
The female operator shouted: "If you don't tell me where you are we can't help you."
"Tell the woman beside you to stop yelling."
Donna Rice's widower John Tyson read a statement to the court about the impact the tragedy has had on his family's lives. And in response to the triple-0 calls, Mr Tyson said: "I fail to see what part of the call wasn't panic."
"What gave someone the right to decide that I have to bury half my family?"
Earlier the court heard from the chief executive officer and Mayor of Toowoomba Regional Council about whether an SMS alert to residents before the flash flooding hit would have helped. Both told the inquiry that given the waters rose so quickly, an SMS may have created more panic.
KEN GOULDTHORP, TOOWOOMBA COUNCIL CEO: Would they have rushed outside? Would they have jumped into their cars and drive home? Would that have made it more dangerous?
PETER TAYLOR: We want to hear all of the good ideas that might come out of such a commission inquiry.
FRANCENE NORTON: The inquiry heads to Dalby tomorrow.
Francene Norton, Lateline.
Five New Orleans policemen were sentenced Wednesday to prison terms in connection with a shooting in the days after Hurricane Katrina which left two civilians dead and four others injured, prosecutors said.
The sentencings in New Orleans conclude the prosecution in the so-called Danziger Bridge incident in the chaos that followed Hurricane Katrina, in which police opened fire on a group of residents on September 4, 2005, and then covered up the incident.
The Justice Department said federal Judge Kurt Englehardt ordered a sentence of 65 years for officer Robert Faulcon, one of the policemen who opened fire with assault rifles and a shotgun at an unarmed family walking on the east side of the bridge and later shot a man running from the scene.Sergeants Kenneth Bowen and Robert Gisevius were sentenced to 40 years in prison and officer Anthony Villavaso was sentenced to 38 years. They were all accused of direct involvement in the shootings.
Sergeant Arthur Kaufman, a supervisor who was not involved in the shootings, but who helped the other officers cover up what they had done, was sentenced to six years in prison.
"We hope that today's sentences give a measure of peace and closure to the victims of this terrible shooting, who have suffered unspeakable pain and who have waited so patiently for justice to be done," Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Thomas Perez said.
"The officers who shot innocent people on the bridge and then went to great lengths to cover up their own crimes have finally been held accountable for their actions. As a result of today's sentencing, the city of New Orleans can take another step forward."
Bowen, Gisevius, Faulcon and Villavaso were convicted in connection with the shootings of multiple victims, including 17-year-old James Brissette and 40-year-old Ronald Madison, who died on the bridge.
Those four officers and Kaufman also were convicted of obstructing justice during the subsequent investigations.
Five other officers pleaded guilty before trial and cooperated with the investigation.
According to prosecutors, police gunfire struck the victims multiple times, wounding a New Orleans couple, their daughter, and their nephew, and killing family friend Brissette.
A second shooting occurred several minutes later, when officers traveled to the other side of the bridge to chase two men, brothers Lance and Ronald Madison.
Evidence indicated Faulcon used a shotgun to shoot Ronald Madison in the back as the man with severe mental and physical disabilities was running away.
Hurricane Katrina smashed through the city's poorly maintained levees on August 29, 2005, causing Gulf of Mexico waters to flood in. Eighty percent of the city was under water at the height of the storm, and thousands were stranded on rooftops.
Reports of widespread looting and armed gangs roaming the city shifted the government's already botched response to the disaster from humanitarian aid to a military operation.
The Looting Lie
Generation Progress [16/1/10]:
By Cord Jefferson
It’s been three days since an earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale devastated the small island nation of Haiti, leaving tens of thousands dead and many survivors homeless. Sadly, the images and stories emerging from the disaster—including dead children and aid shortages—are all too reminiscent of those that followed Hurricane Katrina. So is an unfortunate media talking point: looting.
Already, tales of “machete wielding gangs” looting Haiti’s rubble are widespread, from news outlets on the left and the right. Similar stories surfaced after Hurricane Katrina, but we now know of a large body of evidence proving that the media greatly exaggerated reports of post-Katrina New Orleans being overrun with violence and theft.
To discuss this troubling media phenomenon, and to better understand what happens in the immediate fallout of massive natural disasters, Campus Progress spoke with Dr. Kathleen Tierney, professor of sociology and behavioral science and director of the Natural Hazard Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Campus Progress: Can you give some background on the history of disaster reporting?
Kathleen Tierney: Social scientists began studying disasters in the late 1940s and early 1950s. A lot of this research was sponsored by the military and defense establishment, and the kinds of things they wanted to know about were related to nuclear war. They wanted to know how people would behave if Russia dropped the bomb on us—would they panic; would they engage in criminal behavior; would they engage in antisocial behavior; would they be able to pick themselves up and rebuild society? So, from the very beginning, researchers put a lot of emphasis on crime, deviance, looting—that sort of behavior—because that’s what their funders cared about. And there was a lot of field work done in disasters, where researchers go out in disaster areas and take a look at what’s happening.
And what did the early research discover?
If you go back to the 1950s and you look at some of those writings, a lot of it’s about disaster myths—what people say happens in disasters versus what really happens. What these researchers discovered was that the media—even way back in the 1950s and 1960s—approached huge disasters with certain frames. When the media reports on disasters, they’re inevitably going to focus on the dramatic and antisocial, even if it’s one percent of the population committing these acts. And even back then, the looting myth always came to the fore of media reports.
As it has in Haiti.
Yes. For example, the day after this earthquake in Haiti, it was reported that a prison had collapsed and prisoners had gotten away—the presumption being that they had escaped to go and loot. The prisoners didn’t go to check on their mothers or their sisters, they went to loot. And we presumably know this, because they’re bad people, they’re criminals. The bad people frame reached its nadir with Katrina.
Do you think that because the victims of both Haiti and Katrina were poor and black, the media approached the stories with a certain perspective?
Definitely. There is an institutionalized racism in the way these poor black disaster victims are treated. The victims of Katrina were treated with so much presumption, as if you could assume they were going to loot, because they were black. Just like we know that the people in Haiti are bad because they’re black. Black men especially are demonized. During Katrina, the media picked up on every rumor—whether it was raped 4-year-olds in the Superdome or people shooting each other. Actually, for a paper me and a couple of my graduate students wrote called “Metaphors Matter,” we found some transcripts of TV programs in which members of the media expressed regret. They were saying, “We really blew it during Katrina; we acted on all of these rumors.” I myself was on Jim Lehrer’s show, where they were asking about the looting [in Katrina], and I got into it with a police officer, and he ended up agreeing with me that it was a myth. It’s not real. I thought the media would have learned something after Katrina, but evidently they haven’t. Here we go again.
One article I was reading reported that people were “stealing rice.” And I thought, even if these people were prepared to pay money for that rice, how would they? I’m sure the store owners are gone trying to help their families. I’m sure the electricity is down, meaning cash registers may not be working properly.
I think there are two things that are important to emphasize: The first is that when we look at footage of someone carrying something around or taking something, it is impossible to know the circumstances under which they got those things. Is it their stuff that they’re carrying? Did someone give them something? Did a store owner say, “Go to my store and take some stuff, because what good is it to me now? Money is meaningless for now.”
I mean, perhaps these so-called looters left money at the counter for the rice. A greater question is why are people so quick to demonize people who are living in abject poverty, people whose everyday life is a disaster. And now that they’ve experienced a new catastrophe, why are we focusing on this? It’s incomprehensible to me.
The way that highfalutin academics talk about it is that there are changes in societal norms about property in very, very severe disasters. For example, I was watching CNN, and there was a CNN reporter that was talking about a Haitian hotel that brought a hose out for people to take water from if they came by. Were those people looting water? I’d say no. The norms changed. What if people are together in a group and they decide that they need to go get some rice. Is it looting to get rice and feed your family in desperate situations? No. It’s a new norm developing in the midst of a very extreme situation.
And perhaps we shouldn’t care if they are stealing. I think I might do the same in such a scenario.
Exactly. And that store from which you steal rice could collapse tomorrow, because of aftershocks. And then what do we have? A whole bunch of wasted food that could have been used for good. What if you didn’t know if help was coming? What if you were starving? I have no idea why it’s so hard for the viewers and the media to put themselves in these situations. This is an absolute low point in disaster reporting. This is as low as you can get without being Rush Limbaugh and Pat Robertson. So if these media organizations want to descend to that level, at some point they have to be held accountable.
When is it appropriate for a news organization to call what’s happening in a disaster “looting”?
Why don’t they just call it surviving? Appropriating goods to survive, maybe. Otherwise, it’s just victim blaming. It’s picking on the poorest people in the Western Hemisphere, who also happen to be black.
And what’s to be said of the people you see in these disaster areas who aren’t taking rice, but instead taking TVs and DVD players?
Again, norms of various kinds emerge in disaster situations, sometimes antisocial norms. But to report these incidents as if they’re common—without nuance—it’s a departure from journalistic integrity, and they should be called out on it. I’ve seen these Twitter postings saying, “We’re all Haitains.” And the thing is, no, we’re not all Haitians, and to say that is offensive. It is impossible for those of us in the United States to understand what it’s like to live in Haiti, and to pretend that we do, especially with such lazy journalism, is wrong.
20 February 2015