Manus Island: Two asylum seekers try to kill themselves [ABC – 22/1/15]:

Two men have tried to kill themselves at the Manus Island detention centre but have reportedly survived.

The ABC has received video footage appearing to show two men attempting to hang themselves, but being stopped by others in the centre.

Asylum seekers say the attempted suicide happened in Mike compound.

"Many people have decided to do suicide… our situation is critical," one asylum seeker said.

There are unconfirmed reports two men in Foxtrot compound swallowed nail cutters and another swallowed razor blades in separate acts of self-harm.

...

If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, call Lifeline on 13 11 14

 

 

... "TO AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT. STOP TORTURING US. IF YOU THINK WE DON'T DESERVE AUS. THEN HAND OVER ALL OF US TO THE UN. WE DON'T WANT YOUR HELP!" ... [CNN - 21/1/15]

 



Al Jazeera [20/1/15]:

... She suddenly threw the phone down and screamed. And screamed, and screamed.

As far as I know, Faizal Alzeiny is still in the hospital in Papua New Guinea's capital, Port Moresby, from where he'd talked to his sister.

As far as I know, he is still alive.

As far as know, so are all the other detainees on Manus Island; although many – possibly most - are protesting against their detention, it seems, with a hunger strike. ...

 

 

And you thought that the national broadcaster's so called flagship current affairs program might be asking where the United Nations are.

Nope.

They are too busy creating PR for the demented "stop the boats" ideology - even as hunger striking refugees are being tortured and held hostage by the Australian government in a death camp.  Sick. Twisted. Fuckers.

 

[Asylum seekers to race Sydney to Hobart  - ABC - PM - 20/1/15]:

... FELICITY OGILVIE: And what will the journey look like between now and almost a year's time, when you hope to enter the Sydney to Hobart yacht race?

GREG LAKE: So there's obviously a lot to learn; you have to become a good sailor if you're going to compete in the Sydney to Hobart.

But we're hoping that we'll be able to find a crew of asylum seekers, who have got the energy and the inspiration to do that.

It's been very easy to find keen asylum seekers who want to go and learn these new skills. [<--- And where are these asylum seekers he's teaching to sail?  Why didn't you interview them Felicity Ogilvie?]

And so, for the next 12 months, we'll be training up that crew; probably about eight asylum seeks who'll be, they'll go from never sailing all the way through to being ready to do that Sydney to Hobart, through all of the qualification races, through all of the training that they need to undertake.

And a lot of it will be about building a team of friends, who work together to compete in this race properly.

And I'm looking forward to those new relationships, I'm looking forward to those new challenges, and I'm looking forward to giving them the chance to actually overcome some of those traumatic experiences that they've had.

FELICITY OGILVIE: And how do you think that will happen during the year?

GREG LAKE: I'm hoping that, over the course of the year, we'll meet lots of new people, and we'll be doing a full sailing training program like most of the Sydney to Hobart competitors would do, where you actually plot out and plan your campaign, and these guys will invest themselves in that venture.

I'm very confident they'll be able to do that. So there'll be a lot of work involved for them; they'll have to learn new skills, get fit enough to do the race, learn a lot about racing, but it will be a lot of hard work for them, yes.

FELICITY OGILVIE: You were working on Christmas Island in 2010, when there was the boat disaster and many people died. Has this motivated you to create the Sydney to Hobart challenge?

GREG LAKE: Look, I think what the boat crash did for me was drive home that these boats we're talking about really are very dangerous, and a policy that doesn't address the arrival of boats and the use of boats as a means of getting to Australia is a deficient policy.

It also reminded me that the guys we're talking about, who we're hoping to involve in our sailing, and also in the Sydney to Hobart campaign in general, are people who have overcome that adversity at sea, and many of them have experienced the same kind of trauma or at least come close to that kind of disaster.

The sea is a dangerous place, and overcoming it for yourself is a huge thing for anybody, and especially for these people. ...

 

Where is the United Nations? [Guardian - 21/1/15]:

... Late Wednesday afternoon, two other men were reported to have attempted suicide in Mike compound inside the detention centre on Wednesday afternoon. Pictures – that Guardian Australia has chosen not to publish – appear to show other detainees intervening to stop them.

...

Those on hunger strike say they will continue their protest against being moved. In letters, they have asked to be handed over to the United Nations.

At the same time, the PNG government is seeking to control all communications coming from within the detention centre.

Throughout the protests of the last week, detainees have made regular contact with media, refugee advocates, and their families. They have sent out images and videos of the protests, often to the embarrassment of the Australian and PNG governments who have sought to downplay their seriousness.

Papua New Guinea’s immigration minister, Rimbink Pato, told Radio New Zealand he wanted to restrict all communications with the outside world.

“Nobody has access to the centre except the PNG and the Australian government, so with the internet and all the other access that is available, they’re directly linking in with the asylum seekers, and so how we can control that information is also being addressed by the Australian government and the PNG government so that they will get correct information that is in their best interests.”

The regulations imposed on detainees by Transfield specifically allow them free communication with the outside world.

“You will be able to communicate freely with family, friends, diplomatic or consular representatives, and other representatives,” says the Transfield “rights and responsibilities” document, obtained by Guardian Australia.

Victoria Martin-Iverson from the Refugee Rights Action Network said efforts to silence men who had not committed any crime was a flagrant breach of human rights.

“RRAN is horrified that people being interned without charge or trial may be held incommunicado as well.”

 

@ARMEDpublishing: Activists in Sydney responding to 920 Asylum Seekers on Day 9 Hunger Strike at Manus Island detention #ShutDownManus

 

"Today we are ready to die for our freedom" - #Manus hunger striker on phone link to Melbourne rally. ...

"tweeted" by @AAffinity  [21/1/15]

 

@RadicalWomenMEL solidarity 4 #asylumseekers close #manus #nauru rally #Melbourne

Image: ‏@gayedemanuele [21/1/15]

 

‏@gayedemanuele: Rally 4 #asylumseekers close #Manus #Nauru now! State Library #Melbourne

@AAffinity: No borders - No bosses NO RACIST TOSSERS

 

Rally to support refugees on Manus Island #Melbourne ...

Image: ‏@NicReiss [21/1/15]

 

Manus Island: PNG government contradicts Peter Dutton's comments that protesting asylum seekers used weapons [ABC – 21/1/15]:

... Meanwhile, two refugees have been transferred from the Manus Island detention centre to a transit facility on the outskirts of Lorengau, Papua New Guinea's provincial capital.

A PNG government spokesman said the first men to be transferred as part of the resettlement process were an Iranian engineer and a Pakistani human resources manager. The transfer came a day earlier than scheduled.  ... <--- If this is true, and the men have been released, there is no reason why media can't interview them immediately - unless it's BULLSHIT.

 

 

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum:

… Theresienstadt served an important propaganda function for the Germans. The publicly stated purpose for the deportation of the Jews from Germany was their "resettlement to the east," where they would be compelled to perform forced labor. Since it seemed implausible that elderly Jews could be used for forced labor, the Nazis used the Theresienstadt ghetto to hide the nature of the deportations.

In Nazi propaganda, Theresienstadt was cynically described as a "spa town" where elderly German Jews could "retire" in safety. The deportations to Theresienstadt were, however, part of the Nazi strategy of deception. The ghetto was in reality a collection center for deportations to ghettos and killing centers in Nazi-occupied eastern Europe.

Succumbing to pressure following the deportation of Danish Jews to Theresienstadt, the Germans permitted the International Red Cross to visit in June 1944. It was all an elaborate hoax. The Germans intensified deportations from the ghetto shortly before the visit, and the ghetto itself was "beautified." Gardens were planted, houses painted, and barracks renovated. The Nazis staged social and cultural events for the visiting dignitaries. Once the visit was over, the Germans resumed deportations from Theresienstadt, which did not end until October 1944.

...

 

Gold Coast king tide causes flooding

MYGC [21/1/15]

A king tide is being blamed for flooding several Gold Coast roads.

Wednesday’s high tide peaked at 1.84 metres at 8:50am.

Another is due on Thursday but is not expected to cause the same level of erosion as we saw last year.

Lifeguard Chief Warren Young said colleagues would be keeping a close eye on developments with these to be, the highest tides of the year.

He said we would only see significant erosion if the conditions change and the swell increases.

Thunderstorms are forecast into next week and Mr Young said that did not worry them too much as the tides will return to normal after Thursday.

All Gold Coast beaches are open, Mr Young said “it’s really lovely for a swim between the flags ... at Burleigh it’s about three quarters to a metre of swell it’ll be a bit bigger swell on the northern beaches.”

A Courier called to say that 13 roads through Biggera Waters and Labrador are flooded due to the king tide.

Work begins on seizing more public space, commercialising northern end of Broadwater parklands

Gold Coast City Council Media Release [20/1/15]:

Work has begun to create 3.5 hectares of new recreation space at the northern end of Broadwater Parklands as our city prepares for the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

Mayor Tom Tate says the $10.5 million third stage of the project will be world class, and a significant Commonwealth Games legacy project.

“The City has partnered with the Gold Coast Waterways Authority to deliver this next stage of the development,” the Mayor said.

“It will feature a regional boat ramp and pontoons, extended parking for boaties, additional event space and parklands for our residents and the influx of visitors during the Commonwealth Games.

“The project reinforces our commitment to creating more local jobs, with Gold Coast firms JFM Civil Contractors, Neumann Dredging Contractors and Superior Jettys engaged.

“Construction, which started today, and the dredging which starts in a couple of weeks from now, will be completed in June.”

Over 3,000 square metres of seagrass has just been transplanted in preparation for the dredging and reclamation works to ensure the ongoing preservation of the surrounding marine environment.

This follows the successful transplanting of 500 square metres of seagrass during Stage 1 in 2009, which has now spread to over 5,000 square metres.

Gary Baildon, Chairman of the Gold Coast Waterways Authority said that $4 million of the total cost of the works will come from the Authority.

“This funding will be used for the dredging of the navigation channels, providing the reclaimed land for the park and also constructing the new boat ramp, rock retaining walls, floating walkways and a pontoon,” he said.

“The project will provide significant benefits for commercial and recreational boating in the Broadwater, and the new 4 lane public boat ramp will help meet the demand across the city, replacing the smaller ramp that was closed for redevelopment of the aquatic centre.”

Martin Brady from the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland said the project reflects how well the City’s Local Procurement Policy is working.

“As a result of the City’s initiative this project will deliver 30 local full time jobs, which otherwise may have gone outside our area,” he said.

Saving the little Aussie battler

UQ News [20/1/15]:

Efforts to save the koala should focus on the availability of habitat and food resources under a changing climate, according to a University of Queensland researcher.

UQ Global Change Institute researcher Dr Christine Hosking has found that areas where koalas are likely to exist will shift considerably, mostly eastwards towards coastal regions where clashes with development, traffic and domestic animals pose a threat.

Dr Hosking said climate change was causing a double whammy for koalas, affecting the animals themselves, as they aren’t able to cope with extreme temperatures, and also reducing the number of food trees.

“There are more than 800 species of eucalyptus in Australia, but koalas are very selective and only use a small number of those for food and moisture,” she said.

“The geographic range of food tree species that are favourable to koalas is shifting and decreasing owing to the increasing severity and frequency of heatwaves and drought.”

The study demonstrated that conservation efforts should include areas in which suitable habitat and food trees might thrive under a changing climate, and these areas should be protected or rehabilitated with suitable tree species.

Dr Hosking’s research indicates the top-ranked priority areas for conservation across eastern states, based on predictions of where both koalas and suitable vegetation will be most likely to persist.

•Queensland should focus koala conservation efforts generally within about 150km of the coast, such as the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast hinterlands.

•In NSW the focus should be on areas within about 150km of the coast, such as the Richmond Range National Park.

•In Victoria the focus should be north east of Melbourne.

According to Queensland Parliamentary Papers from 1928, more than 500,000 koalas were killed in just one month during Australia’s fur trade final open hunting season.

Research published in the Australian journal of Ecology suggest that koala populations crashed by up to 80 per cent due to drought and heatwaves in the Mulgalands area in the 1980’s.

More recently, around Brisbane’s Koala Coast in south-eastern Queensland, there has been a 51 per cent drop in koala numbers in less than three years due to urban development, according to a 2009 Queensland Government report.

Koalas are listed as vulnerable throughout Queensland, NSW and the ACT under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

“If we are to safeguard this national icon from further decline we must identify priority conservation areas where koalas are most likely to persist and where there is likely to be suitable habitat under a changing climate,” Dr Hosking said.

“This is a vital koala conservation planning step that should be used to inform future policy and development decisions.”

 

Rude Mermaid Ray Stevens MP implodes over Cableway questions [VIDEO - Independent Australia – 20/1/15]:

After IA editor David Donovan interviewed Mermaid Beach candidates Alex Caraco (PUP) and Gary Pead (ALP) outside a pre-polling booth about the proposed controversial Gold Coast 'Skyride' Cableway, sitting LNP MP 'Mermaid' Ray Stevens explodes and implodes when being asked about his involvement and potential conflicts of interest.

Mermaid Beach MP implodes at Nobby’s Beach over Cableway [Independent Australia - 21/1/15]

 

LNP's comments on Winton Last Stand meeting "shameful", says Katter

KAP Media Release [21/1/15]:

KAP Leader and Federal Member for Kennedy Bob Katter has today slammed comments made to the media by Senator Barry O’Sullivan that Mr Katter and other key speakers of Winton's Last Stand rural debt summit held in December had ruined the reputation of Winton by misrepresenting numbers of foreclosures in the area.

“This is shameful. This is their answer to the rural debt crisis, to accuse us and to say there’s no real problem.

“Our figures came from the Catholic Priest in Longreach, Father Matthew Moloney, who said there were 46 families being sold up in the greater Longreach area alone.

“The now famous and revered Charlie Phillott personally told me of another 12 stations that were being sold up, in the process of being sold up, or already gone.

“A month ago seven key people whose opinions I trust told me that 60 per cent of stations were in serious trouble and would find it very difficult to survive. I had difficulty in believing the first one who told me 60 per cent, but after all seven quoted me the same figure, I did believe”.

Mr Katter said any figures the LNP are quoting are coming from the banks.

“They’re out there as spokespeople for the banks, not the people. Unlike Senator O’Sullivan, who wouldn’t know anyone on the land in these areas except his LNP flunkies who will tell him what he wants to hear, I know what I’m talking about.

“You can believe the banks’ figures or you can believe the Catholic Priest, the Charlie Phillots and every other cattleman stretching from the Gulf to Cape York to Central Queensland.”

Mr Katter said you only had to have attended the Winton Last Stand Meeting to see the size of the problem.

“Alan Jones was there, farmers from all across Australia were there. I’m sure that none of them would be too happy about the Senator’s comments. I think you’d better take him back to Brisbane.”

Mr Katter said he had also consistently heard Minister Joyce say he couldn’t get the Liberals in Cabinet to agree to any substantial packages for rural Australia.

“What Minister Joyce is effectively saying is that his job is more important than your survival. The Country Party walked out of the Coalition three times, they sacrificed their jobs for the survival of their people. Let there be no doubt that KAP is now the Country Party,” Mr Katter said.

The Katter’s Australian Party announced last week that it intends to transition the existing Queensland Rural Adjustment Authority (QRAA) into a Queensland Industry Development Bank (QIDB) so that regional businesses, land owners and local industries will have access to much needed finance, loaning at concessional government set rates.

“We want a State Bank to take over the bad debt, to write off a percentage of the debt and loan it back to farmers at around two per cent interest. In that case over 90 per cent of those at risk will pull through,” Mr Katter said.

 

Why is @PalmerUtdParty's Queensland leader @JohnBjelkePUP not included in the Qld election debate? ...

"tweeted" by @CliveFPalmer [21/1/15]

 

@CliveFPalmer: The great no debate… @LNPQLD & @QLDLabor are one in the same, both want to sell assets so they will debate about nothing ...

 

Palmer United will upgrade Nambour Hospital [PUP Media Release - 21/1/15]:

Palmer United Party Candidate for Buderim for the 2015 Queensland State Election, Tess Lazarus, today confirmed Palmer United will improve the health, aged care and hospital system across the Sunshine Coast.

“The Sunshine Coast is a fast growing area and it has outgrown the current health care system,” said Ms Lazarus.

The Nambour Hospital is run down. Currently, many local residents with chronic illnesses including cancer have to travel to Brisbane to see specialists and undergo treatment. This is unacceptable.

For too long, the Sunshine Coast has been taken for granted. This needs to change.

Palmer United will:

•Upgrade the Nambour Hospital and ensure that it offers a broad range of general and clinical services

•Establish an Allergy Centre on the Sunshine Coast. The Sunshine Coast has one of the highest levels of asthma in the country and the people of the Sunshine Coast need immediate and local support

•Ensure the Sunshine Coast Public Hospital due to open in 2016 is not sold off or privatised in any way and that local people are given the opportunity to secure local jobs at the new hospital before overseas or interstate people

•Expand ambulance services on the Sunshine Coast

•Implement new minimum ‘nurse to patient’ ratios to improve the level of care provided across the health and aged care sector

•Expand aged care services across the Sunshine Coast

All residents on the Sunshine Coast need access to a quality hospital and this is why it is imperative that Nambour Hospital is upgraded to ensure all areas of the coast have access to a decent hospital system. Residents of Gympie and surrounding areas will benefit from an upgrade to the Nambour Hospital.

Many locals were born at Nambour Hospital and it is important that this facility is upgraded to continue to provide a maternity centre for all areas of the Sunshine Coast.

Palmer United is committed to improving the health care and hospital system across the Sunshine Coast and ensuring all local residents have access to the services they need on the Sunshine Coast.

Queensland nurses will today launch an advertising campaign to expose the life-threatening impacts of close to 5000 LNP hospital and health job cuts. … [QNU Media Release – 21/1/15]

Local jobs lost in north-west Queensland copper mine closure

ABC [21/1/15]:

Cloncurry company Copper Chem locked up its open cut mine this week after trucking out the last load of ore.

Mt Colin mine, in north-west Queensland, supplied the company's processing plant with 450,000 tonnes of copper over the last twelve months.

Copper Chem regional general manager Doug White said about 80 jobs have been lost since mining started to wind down in November.

...

Cloncurry Shire Council CEO David Neeves said the job losses were disappointing.

The country town relies heavily on the mining industry for employment.

Mr Neeves said there were still plenty of skilled workers in Cloncurry to take up work in mining.

"I think there's a certain skill set in our community targeted towards mining companies, so whenever these smaller mines do operate, and those smaller mines do have a time limit, those skill sets are in the community and hopefully they can be picked up at other projects around the place," he said.

"The softening of the market has impacted on people, particularly contractors who would be servicing the mining industries.

"People are resilient. They'll find alternate ways to make a living and I think that, when the mining industry softens, there will be other areas and other work around that they will be able to pick up."

Freeport Indonesia, the local unit of US mining giant Freeport-McMoRan, is on the brink of losing its permit to export copper concentrate from its Indonesian mine in West Papua, Indonesia’s energy and mining minister said on Tuesday, unless it can prove progress in building the requested new copper smelter this week. ... [Jakarta Globe – 20/1/15]

Not bikies: Drug supply arrest, Gold Coast

QPS Media [21/1/15]:

Investigators from the Gold Coast Major and Organised Crime Squad arrested a Mermaid Waters man overnight in relation to supplying cocaine and possession of a dangerous drug.

The arrest is as a result of a joint Crime and Corruption Commission and Queensland Police Service investigation targeting a criminal syndicate trafficking and distributing cocaine to the Gold Coast and South Eastern Queensland.

Detective Inspector Scott Knowles from the Gold Coast Major and Organised Crime Squad said: “This arrest highlights the continuing focus of the Queensland Police Service and Crime and Corruption Commission on those individuals and criminal syndicates who focus their trafficking dangerous drugs on the Gold Coast. This investigation remains ongoing with further arrests expected.”

“This arrests follows officers from the Major and Organised Crime Squad seizing over 200 grams of cocaine with a value of approximately $80,000 from another offender in October 2014 and comes as a result of the hard work of our forensic officers identifying this offender” Detective Inspector Knowles said.

A 49-year-old Mermaid Waters man has been charged with supplying a dangerous drug and possession of a dangerous drug. He is expected to appear in the Southport Magistrates Court on February 6.

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.

Teenager dies in car and truck crash, Warwick

Yahoo [21/1/15]:

A teenager has been killed after the car he was driving smashed head on into a truck in southeast Queensland.

The 18-year-old was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash, which happened near Warwick on Tuesday night.

The truck's driver, a 51-year-old man, was taken to hospital to be treated for shock.

Meanwhile, a woman involved in a car and ute collision in Hatton Vale, also in southeast Queensland, last week has died in hospital.

The woman, the front-seat passenger in the car, was airlifted to hospital in a critical condition following the accident on January 15.

Police reported her death early on Wednesday.

Fatal traffic crash, Chinchilla

QPS Media [21/1/15]:

An 86-year-old man has died following a single vehicle traffic crash that occurred on January 19 in the Chinchilla area.

Around 2pm, a car travelling north along D McIntyre Road at Chinchilla, left the roadway and collided with a tree.

The crash resulted in serious injuries to the man however, his condition deteriorated and he succumbed to injuries today.

Police will investigate whether the man suffered a medical condition at the time of the crash.

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.

Five injured in explosion at Outback At Isa

North West Star [20/1/15]:

The five people taken to hospital for chemical burns have now been released after a breathing apparatus erupted at Outback at Isa.

Mount Isa Police Sergeant Brad Inskip said a breathing apparatus full of potassium superoxide erupted at the tourism hotspot.

“The five people at the hospital have now been released and received prophylactic treatment post exposer,” he said.

“They didn’t actually receive burns they just went through the procedures after being exposed to a chemical.”

Mount Isa Police, Queensland Fire Services and Queensland Ambulance Service responded to the popular tourism hotspot around 2pm today.

Further investigations will be undertaken by Workplace Health and Safety.

Traces Of Oil Found In Montana Town's Water Supply After Spill

NPR [20/1/15]:

Officials in Montana say they have detected traces of oil in the water supply of the town of Glendive, days after up to 50,000 gallons of oil spilled from a break in a pipeline along the Yellowstone River.

NPR's Kirk Siegler is reporting on the story for our Newscast unit. He says:

"The EPA and other emergency responders are having bottled water shipped to Glendive. Preliminary tests have indicated that some traces of oil have entered Glendive's water supply. There have been no reports yet of injuries, but the damage assessment is ongoing and everything is being hampered by the fact that parts of the Yellowstone River are frozen this time of the year."

Elevated levels of benzene, a cancer-causing compound, were found in samples taken from a water treatment plant that serves the community of about 6,000 people.

Dawson County, Mont., in a statement on its website said, "While the elevated levels are above the level for long-term consumption, the scientists who reviewed the data at the Centers for Disease Control [and Prevention] have told the Unified Command that they 'do not see that domestic use of this water poses a short term public health hazard.' "

The pipeline is owned by Bridger Pipeline Co. of Wyoming, which says it has no timeline to reopen the pipeline.

Reuters reports that the pipeline is part of the 42,000 barrel-per-day Poplar pipeline system that carries crude oil from producers in eastern Montana and North Dakota.

Saturday's spill is the second involving the Yellowstone River since 2011. An ExxonMobil pipeline broke in July 2011, sending 63,000 gallons of oil into the river.

Canada: Dying With Dignity loses charitable status after political-activity investigation

CBC [20/1/15]:

Dying With Dignity Canada is losing its coveted charitable status, the first such group to be deregistered since the Canada Revenue Agency launched a series of controversial political-activity audits almost three years ago.

The small Toronto-based group said it received the bad news Friday in a letter from the CRA that said government officials made mistakes in 1982 and 2011 when they formally conferred and confirmed charitable status.

Dying With Dignity Canada bills itself as a health and education charity that, among other things, lobbies for terminally ill patients to have a choice about physician-assisted dying.

The Stephen Harper government began its special audits of charities' political activities in 2012, under an $8-million program that initially targeted environmental groups, then expanded to human rights, poverty, religious and other charities. Some 60 such groups are to be audited by 2017.

So far, only one other charity is known to be under imminent threat of losing its charitable registration.

Montreal-based Alternatives, which funds Third World health and education projects, was told in August that officials also made an error with its initial charitable registration years ago. However, Alternatives spokesman Michel Lambert said his group is now in discussions with the CRA about ways to retain its status, allowing it to continue to issue tax receipts to donors for the time being.

Wanda Morris, CEO of Dying With Dignity, said the group accepts it will lose its charitable status and is converting to non-profit status after about Feb. 15, when the CRA ruling takes effect.

The agency's letter said the group does not conduct "any activities advancing education in the charitable sense."

Morris said the conversion to non-profit status will free it from the tangle of rules on political activities, allowing Dying With Dignity Canada "to focus on political advocacy without constraints."

The charity received about $300,000 in donations in 2013, and says it spent about $35,000 on political activities, an amount representing about nine per cent of all spending. Charities are not permitted to spend more than 10 per cent of their resources of political activities, but definitions are often unclear.

Another charity, Toronto-based Environmental Defence, is also under threat of losing its charitable status, but is currently in a formal appeal process with the CRA.

Critics have charged that the political-activities audits are politically motivated, with the Harper government especially targeting charities that oppose its energy and pipeline policies. Some have said the audits are creating a so-called advocacy chill, as some charities self-censor so as not to provoke the auditors.

But Revenue Minister Kerry-Lynne Findlay said the agency works at arm's length from the government, making its own decisions about what groups to audit without political direction.

New Democrat MP Murray Rankin, the party's critic for the Canada Revenue Agency, called the stripping of Dying With Dignity's charitable status an "outrage."

"I think this is just part of a pattern where the Conservatives have been targeting groups who they don't agree with," he said from Victoria.

"It's chosen birdwatchers in the past. It's chosen those of us fighting pipelines. The latest casualty is now Dying With Dignity, whose apparent views are different than those of the Conservatives."

Conservative MP Steven Fletcher, who supports the group's goals, said the decision to deregister was not political.

He added that the organization's changed status will likely not hurt donations.

"I think this issue is so personal and such a unique area of public policy that when people are dealing with life and death issues, they're not thinking about their tax receipt," he said in an interview.

 

Amid outcry, News-Press is adamant on provocative term for immigrants [LA Times - 19/1/15]:

A few decades ago, it wasn't unusual for American newspapers to refer to people living in the United States without legal permission as "illegal aliens," or even "illegals.".

Those terms were criticized as offensive and eventually gave way to "illegal immigrant," a label that itself was jettisoned by most outlets two years ago, when the Associated Press banned the term from its stylebook in favor of language that more precisely describes a person's immigration status.

That approach — adopted by The Times in 2013 — seemed to have taken root and defused the criticism in most places. But the local newspaper's decision to call such immigrants "illegals" has turned idyllic Santa Barbara into an unlikely flashpoint in the nation's immigration battles.

The News-Press ran the headline "Illegals Line Up for Driver's Licenses" on Jan. 3, prompting protests and a message painted in red on the wall of the newspaper's offices. The paper used the term again last Friday in another front page story: "Driving Legal Opens Door to Illegals' Past."

...

 

 

... Asked why he doesn't volunteer to leave, the transferee texts: "I will die if I go back."  [Australian asylum seeker hunger strike 'not over' on Manus Island - CNN - 21/1/15]

 

Manus Island protests: let’s hear from refugees as well as the minister, Melissa Phillips [The Conversation - 21/1/15]

 

Got anything to say about this AMA, Nurses unions? [RNZI - 21/1/15]:

... "They've set a makeshift field medical centre, they've converted a kitchen into a medical centre and yes, they're obviously overwhelmed, people are left lying on the ground outside the tent that they're using. So there's a very dangerous medical situation on Manus, the medical staff had been promised reinforcements last week but no one's arrived."

 

Several hundred men remain on hunger strike across the Australian-run detention centre as protests continue for eighth day. ... More than 250 of the men on Manus have been in detention there since August 2013, according to immigration department staff on the island. … [Guardian – 21/1/15]

 

 

 

I'm on a hunger strike because we need UN intervention on Manus

via @AusResistance [20/1/15]

 

 

 

Greens MP David Shoebridge: we will win the struggle for a humane refugee policy

"tweeted" by @MaxChalmers90 -  - journalist - New Matilda [21/1/15]

 

@ShoebridgeMLC is the only politician at the #Manus Sydney protest

Image: ‏@shanebazzi [21/1/15]

 

@MaxChalmers90 [21/1/15]:

Woman who has brother on #Manus is now in tears: 'I ask Immigration, please take him off there'

A message being read from a worker on #manus: 'The Aus government are lying about the conditions here'

 

Happening now in Sydney.SHUTDOWN #Manus  ...

Image: ‏@CharlieOneTime [21/1/15]

 

Lunch time rally at Dept of Immigration. #Manus #Sydney

Image: ‏@chrisjackis [21/1/15]

 

@MaxChalmers90 [21/1/15]: I'd put Sydney #manus rally at about 150. NTEU, MUA, United Services Union flags here

 

Yesterday's protest in Brisbane [Refugee Action Collective, Queensland 20/1/15]

 

Worker dies during exploration activities at Woodie Woodie mine in Pilbara

ABC [21/1/15]:

A man has died during exploration activities at the Woodie Woodie mine in Western Australia's Pilbara region.

The incident happened on Tuesday afternoon south of the main mine site, which is about 400 kilometres south-east of Port Hedland.

The mine is owned by Consolidated Minerals.

In a statement, the company said the relevant authorities, including police and the Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP), had been contacted and there would be a full investigation into the incident.

Police would inform the family of the deceased, the statement added.

The DMP also issued a statement, saying the incident occurred on a mining exploration lease that is part of the Woodie Woodie mine.

"The accident involved a fitter who was working a dozer being used to clear land for exploration drilling," the statement said.

It said two DMP inspectors were sent to the site immediately and two more inspectors would be travelling there today to investigate.

Consolidated Minerals' managing director Paul Muller said the company's thoughts go out to the family, friends and workmates of the person involved.

In 2006, Andrew John Morton, 43, died when he was crushed in a rockfall on Consolidated Minerals' Beta Hunt nickel mine, near Kambalda.

Crane topples on Gina Rinehart's Roy Hill mine site during inspection [ABC – 21/1/15]

 

United States continue bombing Iraq and Syria

Centcom [20/1/15]:

On Jan. 19, U.S. and Coalition military forces continued to attack ISIL terrorists in Syria, using attack, bomber, and fighter aircraft to conduct 10 airstrikes.

Separately, U.S. and Coalition military forces conducted nine airstrikes in Iraq, using attack, fighter, and remotely piloted aircraft against ISIL terrorists. All strikes took place between 8 a.m., Jan. 19, and 8 a.m., Jan. 20, local time.

The following is a summary of the strikes conducted since the last press release:

Syria

* Near Kobani, nine airstrikes struck seven ISIL tactical units and destroyed four ISIL staging positions, five ISIL fighting positions, four ISIL vehicles, and an ISIL mortar system.

* Near Al Hasakah, an airstrike destroyed an ISIL bunker.

Iraq

* Near Al Qaim, two airstrikes destroyed two ISIL armored vehicles.

* Near Al Asad, two airstrikes destroyed two ISIL fighting positions and two ISIL supply caches.

* Near Mosul, two airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units and destroyed two ISIL mortar systems.

* Near Sinjar, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL fighting position.

* Near Kirkuk, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit.

* Near Ramadi, an airstrike struck a large ISIL unit and destroyed three ISIL buildings and two ISIL heavy weapons.

Airstrike assessments are based on initial reports. All aircraft returned to base safely.

...

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi revealed that, the ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi wounded in an Iraqi strike western Anbar had managed to “narrowly escape.” Abadi also stated he doubted the former vice-president of the Revolutionary Command Council Izzat al-Duri is present in Iraq.

... [IraqiNews.com - 21/1/15]

Coalition warplanes kill dozens of "ISIS militants" in Kirkuk [IraqiNews.com - 20/1/15]

Suicide bombing kills, injures 21 in Ramadi [IraqiNews.com - 20/1/15]

Chilcot Inquiry into Iraq war 'will not report before election'

Independent [20/1/15]:

The six-year British inquiry into the 2003 Iraq invasion and its aftermath, which completed its last hearing in February 2011 with the promise to report back in “some months”, will now not be published before the general election in what has been called a “betrayal of the British public”.

The chairman of the Iraq Inquiry, Sir John Chilcot, is expected to set out his reasons for the further delay in an exchange of letters with David Cameron on Wednesday, government sources said.

The inquiry was set up in 2009 by the Prime Minister at the time, Gordon Brown, and took public evidence from its last witness in 2011.

The former minister Norman Baker, who has led calls for it to be published, told The Independent: “This is a shocking development. It is a betrayal of the British public who are entitled to see this report before the election. It is now six years since Sir John started and he finished taking evidence a long time ago. You have to ask what are the reasons for this delay.”

The former shadow Home Secretary, David Davis, said: “Frankly this isn’t good enough … It is incomprehensible as to why this is being delayed. We need to know why.”

Much of the most recent delay was understood to be down to protracted disagreements between Whitehall and the US State Department over declassifying communications between George W Bush and Tony Blair before, during and after the Iraq war. But at the start of this year the Government admitted that talks over the publication of the gist of those conversations were now complete.

It is understood the publication date of the inquiry was discussed by the UK and American delegations when Mr Cameron met Barack Obama at the White House last week. But the threat of a Commons vote will have added urgency to the issue.

Earlier this month Lord Hurd of Westwell – who was Conservative Foreign Secretary from 1989-95 – said the delay has gone beyond “questions of mere negligence” and was now a “scandal” with dangerous implications.

Mr Blair has insisted he is not the culprit behind the delay in publication; his allies have suggested the blame lies with the Civil Service and sensitivities about the relations between the UK and US intelligence agencies.

Mr Cameron has said he has no control over when the Chilcot report will appear after previously urging the inquiry to publish before Christmas.

The report is understood to be over a million words long and will contain details of discussions of more than 200 cabinet meetings.

Today the US attorney Nancy Hollander joined the voices from across the Atlantic calling on the British people to “continue to advocate” for its publication.

Amnesty International urges Europe to come clean in CIA terror cooperation [RT - 20/1/15]

Houthi coup plunges Yemen into anarchy

Daily Star [21/1/15]

Defiant Shiite militiamen seized control of Yemen’s presidential palace and attacked President Abed Rabbou Mansour Hadi’s residence Tuesday in what officials said was a bid to overthrow his embattled government.

As the U.N. Security Council began an emergency meeting to condemn the attack and back Hadi, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he was “gravely concerned” and called for an immediate halt to the fighting.

Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, leader of the militia that bears the name of his late father, was defiant, warning that “all options” were open against the president, whom he accused of supporting the “fragmentation” of the country.

He also said his movement was ready to stand up to any measures the Security Council might adopt.

In a statement adopted by the 15 members, the council said Hadi “is the legitimate authority” and that “all parties and political actors in Yemen must stand with President Hadi, Prime Minister [Khalid] Bahah, and Yemen’s government to keep the country on track to stability and security.”

The council called for a full cease-fire and a return to dialogue to resolve differences, but there was no threat of sanctions.

U.N. special envoy Jamal Benomar was headed to Sanaa from Doha after briefing council members by videolink.

Benomar told the council that the Houthi fighters had launched a “massive attack using heavy weapons” on the palace, a diplomat present at the closed meeting said.

Violence has escalated in the capital, raising fears that Hadi, a key U.S. ally in its fight against Al-Qaeda, would fall and the country would descend into chaos.

Information Minister Nadia Sakkaf said the militia had launched an attack on Hadi’s residence in western Sanaa, after witnesses reported clashes in the area.

Hadi was earlier reported to have been in the building meeting with advisers and security officials.

...

Roadside Bomb Kills Eight Afghan Civilians

Naharnet [20/1/15]:

At least eight civilians including women and children were killed when their van struck a roadside bomb in southern Afghanistan on Tuesday, officials said.

The incident occurred in the Jaghuri district of Ghazni province, Deputy Provincial Governor Mohammad Ali Ahmadi told AFP.

It comes weeks after the NATO combat mission which began in 2001 was downgraded to support and training duties to help the Afghan army and police.

"Eight civilians, including one woman and a child, were killed in this morning roadside blast. One child and one woman were wounded," he said, adding that the injured child and woman were taken to the hospital in critical condition.

Asadullah Safi, the deputy police chief of the province told AFP that four of those killed belonged to one family.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack but roadside bombs have been the Taliban's weapon of choice in their war against foreign and Afghan security forces, now in its fourteenth year.

The bombs also increasingly kill and wound civilians.

According to a U.N. report released in December, civilian casualties hit a record high in 2014, with 3,188 civilians killed and 6,429 injured by the end of November, a 19 percent jump compared to the year before, making 2014 the deadliest year for non-combatants.

Last year also saw a 33 percent rise in casualties among children and a 12 percent increase among women.

While ground fighting between troops and insurgent groups as well as improvised explosive devices (IEDs) remained leading causes of deaths and injuries, the Taliban were responsible for 75 percent of all civilian casualties, according to the U.N. report.

About 17,000 foreign soldiers, most of them from the U.S., will still be deployed in Afghanistan this year.

But U.S. troop numbers are set to halve within 12 months and fall to almost nothing in two years.

More than 135 Afghans rounded up in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa [Pajhwok - 20/1/15]:

More than 135 Afghan citizens have been detained during search operations in Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, a media report said on Tuesday.

Peshawar police conducted search and strike operations in different parts of the city, arresting 253 suspects, The Express Tribune reported. As many as 522 houses and 249 hotels were searched.

Seventy-eight Afghans were detained in Peshawar and 59 others in different districts for not having legal residency documents. Several Afghans were rounded up in Mansehra and Mardan districts.

Security forces also conducted a search and clearing operation in Landikotal bazaar and residential areas. Five suspected Afghan nationals were arrested and shifted to the army garrison.

Close French embassy or protests will continue: Maidan Wardak residents [Khaama - 20/1/15]

Palestinians in Israel declare nationwide strike after Bedouin killings

Daily Star [20/1/15]:

Leaders of Israel's 1.7 million Palestinians declared a general strike throughout the country on Tuesday in protest at the recent police killings of two Bedouin men.

Former member of parliament Taleb al-Sana, chairman of an umbrella organization of Palestinian-Israeli groups, said that schools and businesses would close from the Galilee in the north to the Negev desert in the south.

"The general strike today is to send a strong message that the entire Arab community strongly protests the murders of two citizens of the state of Israel whose only crime is being Arab," Sana, who is himself Bedouin, told Israeli army radio.

Sami al-Jaar died of a gunshot wound last week during a police drug raid on the Negev Bedouin town of Rahat.

Police have opened an enquiry to determine if the shot was fired by officers or townspeople.

During Jaar's funeral on Sunday, Sami al-Zayadna, 47, died of a heart attack during clashes in which police fired tear gas.

Following Zayadna's burial on Monday, angry protesters -- some of them masked -- hurled stones at the Rahat police station, police said.

Police statements said that five suspected stone-throwers were detained and that more arrests were expected.

Rahat residents have been on strike since Sunday.

Ministry: Gaza Bomb Hits Car of Hamas Security Official

Naharnet [20/1/15]:

Unidentified assailants blew up the car of a Hamas security official in Gaza during the night, the interior ministry said Tuesday, in a sign of increasing instability in the Palestinian territory.

"A home-made bomb damaged a car belonging to a military police officer which was parked in front of his house in Gaza City, without causing casualties," Gaza interior ministry spokesman Iyad al-Buzum said in a statement.

Witnesses said the car belonged to Helmi Khalaf, administrative and financial manager of the Hamas-run military police.

It was unclear who carried out the alleged attack.

It came after Hamas police on Monday arrested several dozen hardline Islamist protesters who tried to storm the French cultural center in Gaza City, threatening the lives of staff and chanting slogans against satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

A series of explosions in November targeted officials of Hamas's rivals Fatah, which is headed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, but caused no injuries.

Observers have warned of the dangers of Hamas losing control inside Gaza to more radical Islamists including salafists with whom it has clashed in the past.

A 50-day war in Gaza between Hamas and Israel last year killed more than 2,200 people, destroyed tens of thousands of homes and left more than 100,000 people homeless.

Anti-Muslim Attacks Soar in France After Paris Attacks

Al Akhbar [20/1/15]:

The number of anti-Muslim incidents in France has soared since the attacks in Paris two weeks ago, an organization that tracks Islamophobia said Monday.

The National Observatory Against Islamophobia said 116 anti-Muslim incidents had been reported to authorities since the January 7-9 shooting spree by three French jihadists that killed 17.

The two-week tally was more than double the number of incidents recorded for the full month of January 2014, the observatory said, reporting 28 attacks on places of worship and 88 threats.

The observatory's president, Abdallah Zekri condemned the "acts of hatred towards French people of the Muslim faith, the immense majority of whom respect the values of the Republic and secularism."

"This situation is unacceptable and we're asking the authorities to go beyond the reassuring speeches and act to put an end to this scourge," he said.

Growing anti-Muslim sentiment has reinforced fears that France, home to an estimated six million Muslims, and other European Union countries will witness an increase in the popularity of already prominent far-right political movements and their Islamophobic discourse.

Several mosques have been attacked since the Charlie Hebdo events. In several towns shots have been fired at mosques and racist slogans daubed on their walls. In Corsica, a pig's head was hung on the door of a prayer hall.

On Friday, 47-year-old French Muslim Mohammed al-Makouli was killed in southern France by one of his neighbors, who shouted "I am your god, I am your Islam" before stabbing Makouli 17 times.

Makouli’s 31-year-old partner tried to save him, and suffered wounds to her hands, before fleeing with their young child to call the police, officials said.

Observatory president Abdallah Zekri condemned the attack "as a horrible Islamophobic attack" and claimed that the victim's partner was very clear about what the man shouted. "She is sure of what he (the attacker) said," he told AFP.

French authorities were investigating the case to determine whether it constituted an Islamophobic act.

French President Francois Hollande and his government have repeatedly warned against tarring all Muslims with the extremist brush.

In a speech last week Hollande reiterated that "Muslims are the main victims of terrorism."

The Committee against Islamophobia in France (CCIF) said that anti-Muslim attacks and insults have risen steadily in France in recent years “as some politicians and media increasingly present Islam as a problem for French society.”

...

German police seize items in anti-terror raids in Berlin

Deutsche Welle [20/1/15]:

Police have conducted searches at a number of premises in Berlin as part of an investigation into an alleged Islamist logistics cell. The flats belong to alleged associates of two suspects arrested last Friday.

Police said on Tuesday that they had searched 12 apartments in and around Berlin as well as another in the eastern state of Thuringia. Around 200 police officers were involved in the operation, as well as a special forces unit.

A police spokesman told the DPA news agency that the residences searched belonged to alleged associates of two suspects, aged 41 and 43, who were arrested in Berlin on Friday. According to police, the 41-year-old suspect is thought to have actively recruited students as supporters of the "Islamic State" militant group in Syria.

The spokesman said the residents of the flats in question were not being treated as suspects at this time, but that various objects, including computer hard drives had been confiscated.

He also said there was no evidence at this time that the group was planning attacks in Germany.

The raids come amid heightened security in Europe, following the recent deadly attacks on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket in Paris almost two weeks ago, as well as a series of police raids in Belgium late last week, which police said had foiled a major terrorist attack.

Monday evening's march of supporters of the anti-Islamization group PEGIDA in the eastern German city of Dresden was banned after the authorities received information indicating that there could be an attack on one of its leaders.

Kremlin says Kiev's actions damage prospects for Ukraine summit: RIA

Reuters [20/1/15]:

The Kremlin said on Tuesday increased military activity by Ukrainian government forces had undermined hopes of arranging a four-way summit on the conflict in east Ukraine, Russia's RIA news agency reported.

Western leaders say the efforts to bring together the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France are being hampered by Moscow's failure to implement a ceasefire agreement reached more than four months ago.

"The renewal of hostilities on the part of the Ukrainian authorities, of course, seriously undermines the potential effectiveness of preparations for a meeting in the Normandy format," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told RIA.

The Normandy format refers to meetings of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Attempts to hold a summit last week in Kazakhstan failed after violence increased in eastern Ukraine, with government forces and the separatists they are fighting blaming each other for the renewed hostilities.

The four countries agreed on Jan. 12 that insufficient progress had been made at preparatory talks for the summit to go ahead. They said a "contact group" comprising Russia, Ukraine, the OSCE security body and the separatists in east Ukraine should meet to try to resolve remaining differences.

Kenyan children tear-gassed while trying to reclaim playground

France 24 [19/1/15]:

Police in the Kenyan capital Nairobi fired tear gas at a crowd of primary school students on Monday morning as they tried to take back their playground, which was claimed by a private developer last month.

Several children had to be taken to a nearby clinic for treatment.

School officials and local politicians claim the land was seized illegally in mid-December when a wall was built overnight between Langa’ta Road Primary School and the field that used to serve as its playground.

Last week, a Nairobi senator filed a petition in court asking for the land to be returned to the public school. The land sits on prime real estate, adjacent to a high-end hotel and opposite an airport.

According to Nairobi County Governor Evans Kidero, public schools are easy targets for land-grabbers because many of them have difficulty producing the deeds to their lands.

...

Guatemala ex-police official convicted in 1980 embassy siege

UT San Diego [19/1/15]:

A Guatemalan court has sentenced a former police official to 90 years in prison for the killings of 37 people more than three decades ago when the Spanish Embassy burned down during this Central American nation's bloody civil conflict.

The court on Monday found Pedro Garcia Arredondo, a former special investigations chief for the Sixth Commando of the National Police, guilty of homicide and crimes against humanity for ordering officers to keep anyone from leaving the diplomatic mission as it burned.

Among those killed in the blaze was Vicente Menchu, father of 1992 Nobel peace laureate Rigoberta Menchu.

Menchu applauded the ruling. "We need to create hope and justice, even if just a drop of it, and this is an example that shows we can go to the justice system and work with it," she said.

Protesters from Indian, student, peasant, labor and other groups had taken over the embassy to call attention to massacres during the 1960-96 civil war. Police surrounded and sealed the facility.

Arredondo had proclaimed his innocence.

At least 245,000 people died or disappeared in Guatemala's 36-year armed conflict, according to a U.N. report.

US 'tapped N Korea computers in 2010' report claims

BBC [19/1/15]:

The US knew North Korea was behind the Sony Pictures hack because it had secretly infiltrated the country's computer networks in 2010, according to the New York Times and Der Spiegel.

The newspapers cited US officials and leaked documents from the National Security Agency.

The New York Times said hidden software had alerted US intelligence services to North Korean hacking activity.

North Korea has consistently denied involvement in the security breach.

American investigators believe the hackers spent two months building up a map of Sony's systems before the hack took place, the papers say.

November's attack on the company saw the leak of sensitive documents including salary details and confidential emails between executives.

It also resulted in Sony film The Interview, a comedy about an assassination attempt on North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, being briefly shelved and then released online.

The US Office of the Director of National Intelligence said the intelligence community was fully aware of North Korean attempts to infiltrate US commercial networks, tracking them routinely.

"While no two situations are the same, it is our shared goal to prevent bad actors from exploiting, disrupting or damaging US commercial networks and cyber infrastructure," said spokesman Brian Hale.

When it becomes clear that cyber criminals have the ability and intent to do damage, we work cooperatively to defend networks."

Cyber-security expert Dr Steven Murdoch, from University College London, said it was likely that the NSA had at least tried to access North Korean networks before.

"I'm almost certain they were doing it long before 2010," he told the BBC.

"North Korea has been a target for the US for quite some time."

Dr Murdoch said that if the NSA had been aware of the hack before it had happened, it may have chosen not to warn Sony for its own security reasons.

"One possibility is that they didn't know how damaging the attack was going to be, and didn't want to risk revealing their sources by mentioning it to Sony," he added.

"Or maybe they did know [how harmful it was] but it wasn't that damaging by intelligence community priorities - this was very damaging to Sony but in terms of national security it's not as significant."

At least the Spanish media report when their politicians crawly bum lick in Washington

El Pais [16/1/15]:

Spanish Socialist Party leader Pedro Sánchez on Thursday explained his “proposals for radical democracy” to former and current US government officials.

On day two of his trip to Washington, D.C., Sánchez told former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright about his plans to address Spaniards’ disaffection with their political class.

In statements to the press following the meeting, which took place at the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, Sánchez said the goal of the event was to “talk about democracy and about the democratic reforms that many European countries need to improve their democratic participation.”

Sánchez’s goal was to explain his party’s“alternatives” to “the misunderstood austerity” applied in Spain.

The Socialist leader detailed some of his party’s proposals, including “a limit on the prime minister’s terms in office, open voting lists and an overhaul of the entire voting system.”

Also on Thursday, Sánchez and two economic aides met with leaders of the Center for American Progress (PAC), a think tank with ties to the Democrats.

“It is important to introduce Pedro so they will get to know him personally and also get to know his economic proposals,” said Juan Moscoso del Prado, the Socialist speaker on economic affairs in the Spanish Congress, who traveled with Sánchez to Washington.

Although Thursday’s visits concentrated on politics, the main focus of the two-day trip was economic issues. Sánchez’s goal was to explain the Socialist Party’s “alternatives” to “the misunderstood austerity” that has been applied in Spain and other European countries in recent years.

The day before, Sánchez met US President Barack Obama’s chief economic advisor, Jason Furman, and International Monetary Fund head Christine Lagarde.

The Socialist leader also visited Spanish scientists at Georgetown University and discussed economics and politics with a group of Latin American political science students who bombarded him with questions about Podemos, Spain’s new anti-austerity party that is threatening to take votes away from both the Socialists and the ruling conservative Popular Party.

“Podemos is a lesson that I know very well,” said a smiling Sánchez. The party, he said, feeds off “the disaffection and indignation” of Spanish society, but “has yet to turn that disaffection into proposals.”

“The only party that can guarantee a change in Spain is the Socialist Party,” he ended.

Sánchez said he was coming away from the trip with “a very good feeling.”

“They listened to what we had to say,” he said. It remains to be seen whether Washington bought into his message.

Bahraini activist Nabeel Rajab sentenced to 6 months in prison for a tweet

IB Times [20/1/15]:

World-renowned Bahraini activist Nabeel Rajab has been sentenced to six months in prison over a tweet that alleged some of the Gulf Kingdom's soldiers had defected to Islamic State (Isis).

Rajab, who is president of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) was freed in May 2014 after serving two years in prison for his role in the pro-democracy uprising. He was arrested again last October and charged with publicly "insulting a public institution" on the microblogging site.

The Bahraini ministry of interior said they summoned Rajab "to interview him regarding tweets posted on his Twitter account that denigrated government institutions".

The tweets related to an article published on Global Voices about alleged Bahraini recruits to Islamic State who featured in a video threatening to overthrow the al-Khalifa regime which rules Bahrain. The activist commented:

The video included Lieutenant Mohamed Isa Al-Binali, who had defected from the army.

The ruling comes after the signing of a £15m deal between Bahrain and the UK to open a British naval base in the tiny Gulf kingdom.

Within two years Britain will open its first permanent base since it pulled out from the Gulf in 1971, with the aim to expand its military presence in the country. Rajab criticised the move claiming the British base is a "reward for UK silence on human rights violations" in the country.

Rajab spoke to IBTimes UK in July about his time in prison and accused the British government of supporting the bloody al-Khalifa regime in the Gulf Kingdom despite daily human rights violations because of business interests.

He said that the Bahraini government "have bought the silence of the British government by increasing the business" since the start of the crackdown on peaceful protesters in 2011.

"The arms trade has increased, the business between the UK government and Bahrain has increased after the crackdown over 30%," he said. "That's why you see not only silence in the British government but also harassment to human rights defenders and even to the people living in this country and who came seeking asylum from Bahrain."

Rajab, one of several pro-democracy campaigners arrested in the regime's clampdown, was considered a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International.

Tunisian Blogger Jailed for Defaming Army

Naharnet [21/1/15]:

A Tunisian military court sentenced blogger Yassine Ayari to a year in prison Tuesday for defaming the military, in a case that has been criticized by human rights groups.

The 33-year-old was arrested on December 25 on his return from Paris, following an initial three-year sentence handed down the previous month in his absence.

Ayari told the court before the new ruling that the charges were a "settling of scores against me for criticizing officers in the army."

He had accused officers and defense ministry officials of financial abuse.

Dozens of protesters gathered outside the court demanding Ayari's immediate release, saying the conviction was a violation of freedom of expression.

The demonstrators chanted "Down with military trials" and "No return to dictatorship".

The defense team said it planned to appeal.

"Freedom of expression is the only benefit of the revolution and today we see a blogger sentenced harshly by a military court for criticizing the army," said lawyer Malek Ben Amor.

Ayari was also an activist during the regime of dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who was ousted in a 2011 uprising that triggered the Arab Spring revolts.

In recent months, he had published blogs critical of the Nidaa Tounes party, which won Tunisia's first-post revolution parliamentary elections in October.

New York-based Human Rights Watch has described the case against him as "not worthy of the new Tunisia".

It has urged parliament to reform laws that lead to imprisonment for defaming or insulting state institutions, and to remove jurisdiction of military courts over civilians.

UK: Former prison support worker pleads guilty to misconduct over News International payment

Hacking Inquiry [20/1/15]:

A former prison support worker has pleaded guilty to misconduct over a payment he received from News International for information about a jailed child murderer.

David Hobbs, 67 was charged last year after emails given to the police by News International’s management and standards committee identified him as being the recipient of a payment for intelligence about Jon Venables, one of the two murderers of toddler James Bulger.

Venables had earlier been released under licence and given a new identity but was re-arrested over the possession of child pornography, leading to huge media interest.

Another prison officer, Scott Chapman was sentenced to three and half years in December for selling stories about Venables to a number of newspaper including The Sun, The Daily Star and the now defunct News of the World.

After the plea the presiding judge, Mr Justice Saunders gave Hobbs unconditional bail while reports were prepared for the court, but advised him not to take that as a sign that he would avoid imprisonment.

The former prison employee is expected to be sentenced in February.

Top bomb disposal expert “shocked” and upset” at Sun story [Hacking Inquiry - 20/1/15]

City of Paris Threatens to Sue Fox News Over False Report [Rolling Stone - 20/1/15]

 

... They want the United Nations to find another country for them if Australia will not take them. ...

 West Australian [21/1/15]:

 

Forget that the Australian government is torturing and holding refugees hostage as they plead for the United Nations -  Fairfax reports that "ringleaders" had "weapons" says source.  Hmm would that be a "well placed source" in Peter Dutton's office?

In any case, what would you do if you were a refugee penned into a death camp with goons prowling around outside?

 

... the reality is that there are today around 10,000 men, women and children detained indefinitely, without hope of release unless they agree to return to the countries they risked their lives to flee in the first place. Just under half that number are being held in squalid detention centers in Papua New Guinea (PNG) and the South Pacific island of Nauru that are breeding grounds for rape, rioting, malaria and mental illness, and that bear the look and feel of concentration camps. ... [TIME - 6/3/14]

 

Hitler's war on women: The story of Ravensbrück concentration camp  [Independent - 20/1/15]

 

Serious incidents in Australian-run detention centres – including self-harm, assaults and infectious medical conditions – have risen sharply, with hundreds of injuries sustained by staff and asylum seekers reported to the federal workplace authority.  ... [Guardian - 21/1/15]

 

PNG hospital runs out of oxygen [PNG Loop - 20/1/15]:

The Mendi General Hospital in Southern Highlands has run out of concentrated oxygen forcing patients to follow manual procedures.

A local Southern Highlander, Mathew Lappa, told PNG Loop that the hospital’s supply ran out this morning.

He said instructions and oxygen pumps were given to patient carers to manually pump oxygen to their sick patients.

Mathew’s brother, Kenneth, who works at the Gobe Oil Fields and was airlifted to Mendi after falling ill, had been on an oxygen concentration machine since last Wednesday until this morning. Mathew said he and his family were taking turns to manually pump oxygen for Kenneth, who is in a critical condition.

“As a concern brother, I am appealing to authorities to [provide] enough stock off oxygen. Intensive care unit(s) should not be running out of very lifesaving equipment or drugs.

“I have tried to approach the hospital CEO for help but he is not around. Right now we are just praying that this manual pump will help,” said Mathew.

PNG Loop managed to speak with Mendi Hospital Director of Corporate Services, Ban Walom, who said that a vehicle had already been dispatched to Mt Hagen to pick up oxygen supplies from a contractor.

He said the hospital relied on contactors to provide supplies from Mt Hagen in Western Highlands. Walom said the next batch of supplies was not delivered by the contractor.

Rumour is that an accident occurred between Mt Hagen and Mendi forcing the contractor to turn back. Walom, however, said a vehicle was dispatched to Mt Hagen which is a three hour drive.

He said they would return later tonight or tomorrow, Wednesday 21 January. Mendi General Hospital, labelled as a five star hospital, has operated since 1974 and is the only referral hospital in the Southern Highlands Province.

Several years back the hospital was operating under tight financial situations and was using old equipment.

Mathew said it was quite embarrassing to see a five star hospital run out of oxygen where lives were at risk.

 

ExxonMobil has signed and agreement with the Papua New Guinean Government to expand its PNG LNG project and PRL 3 in the country. ... [Australian Mining - 19/1/15]

US Embassy, Port Moresby  | Caddell Construction:

Construction of a new U.S. Embassy compound.  Scope of work includes a main office building, a compound access control facility, a service building, support annex, extensive recreational areas, and perimeter wall and fence.  This project presented a significant logistical challenge due to the remote location, competition for port and general project support resources with a Mobile Oil Refinery mega-project underway, political instability, and a very high crime rate in this small capital city.  $50.2M

US Congressman Jason Chaffetz visited Port Moresby on Saturday, February 15 to see the progress of the new U.S. embassy construction in Harbour City, Port Moresby.  ... [U Embassy, Port Moresby - February 2014]

 

If we don't save these men, and others incarcerated in Australia's refugee gulag archipelago, we are all doomed

Image: @AusResistance [20/1/15]

 

‏@AusResistance: #supportmanushungerstrikers #auspol #freetherefugees [20/1/15]

Australian Activists Join Manus Island Refugee Hunger Strike [teleSUR -20/1/15]

UN Refugee Agency ‘Concerned’ About Refugee Situation on Manus Island [Sputnik – 20/1/15]

Manus Island refugees declare hunger strike will not stop, two more asylum seekers swallow razor blades [Refugee Action Coalition, Sydney – 20/1/15]

 

PNG's Immigration Minister wants to be able to torture and kill refugees held hostage by the Australian government on Manus Island without anyone seeing. [RNZI - 20/1/15]:

..."Nobody has access to the centre except the PNG and the Australian government, so with the internet and all the other access that is available, they're directly linking in with the asylum seekers, and so how we can control that information is also being addressed by the Australian government and the PNG government so that they will get correct information that is in their best interests."

Manus refugee arrested for hunger striking and communicating plight to the world. [ABC - 20/1/15]:

... "Right now we are 58 people inside the PNG jail and PNG police squad they beat [us] ... they are torturing us in here and they put us here without any judge warrant," said a man who said he was among those detained. ...

 

Encourage all Australian politicians and media to go and READ ---> Magna Carta to go on display at House of Lords [London Evening Standard - 19/1/15]:

The four remaining manuscripts of the Magna Carta will go on display at the House of Lords as part of commemorations to mark the 800 anniversary of the document.

They will be on public display in the palace of Westminster for just one day only on February 5, with tickets allocated to children and young people from across the UK.

The manuscripts - two held by the British Library and one each by Lincoln and Salisbury Cathedrals - laid the foundations of the rule of law.

The event marks the start of a programme of events commemorating the sealing of the Magna Carta at Runnymede on June 15 1215 as well as the 750th anniversary of the De Montfort parliament which brought together for the first time representatives of the shires and towns of England.

They include a Magna Carta and Parliament exhibition in the Queen's Robing Room at the Palace of Westminster - running from February 9 to 26 - featuring historic documents including the Petition of Right (1628), Habeas Corpus Act (1679), the Bill of Rights (1689), the Great Reform Act (1832) and the Human Rights Act (1998).

The Speaker's Art Fund has commissioned nine artists to create a series of banners marking landmark events in the history of Parliament which will go on display from tomorrow in Westminster Hall.

Commons Speaker John Bercow said: "Over the past eight centuries the public and their Parliament have shaped society and changed the way we live our lives.

"The sealing of the Magna Carta in 1215 and the Montfort parliament of 1265 marked the start of the journey towards modern rights and representation, paving the way for the House of Commons and democracy as we know it today."

 

Seminar with Dr Alison Mountz: Island Detentions and the Erosion of Asylum in the Enforcement Archipelago [Border Criminologies, Oxford University]:

This talk will explore struggles over access, entry, exclusion, and detention of migrants and asylum-seekers on islands. The islands are located along the peripheral edges of sovereign territory where migrants try to land, work, and seek asylum. Far from peripheral, migration-related activities offshore are central to understanding dynamic configurations of sovereignty and asylum in the interplay between geography, law, and jurisdiction. Their location is also significant for border enforcement authorities, raising issues surrounding legality and legal status, precarity, governance, and the shifting global landscape of asylum.

Tue 20 Jan 2015 17:00 – 18:00 London

Seminar Room A, First Floor, Manor Road Building, Manor Road, University Of Oxford, Oxford, OX1 3UQ (map)

 

Woman tortured before throat slit: court

Yahoo [20/1/15]:

A woman was repeatedly raped, assaulted and tortured over a number of days before her throat was slit by a far north Queensland man, a court has heard.

The man, who can't be named for legal reasons, appeared in the Innisfail Magistrates Court, south of Cairns, on Tuesday afternoon where he denied the string of charges against him.

He faces an attempted murder charge, two counts of rape, as well as multiple deprivation of liberty and assault charges.

Police allege the woman was attacked at a fruit farm between January 15 and 18 near Tully, south of Cairns.

The 32-year-old woman is being treated at Cairns Base Hospital for severe cuts to her throat.

She is in a serious but stable condition.

A bail application by the man's solicitor, Tom Eckersley, was denied by Magistrate Janelle Brassington after a brief appearance in court by the accused on Tuesday afternoon.

 

"Put the LNP last"  = a vote for the ALP

Queensland has Optional Preferential Voting

This means you can send the fascist major parties (their stooge media and the neoliberal ALP lite Greens) a message on 31 January by not giving any of them your vote if you want

 

Queensland election 2014: Vote Compass finds voters uneasy about bikie sentencing laws [ABC - 21/1/15]

More than 60,000 people have explored their political options through Vote Compass, a joint project by the ABC, Vox Pop Labs and the University of Queensland.  ... [UQ News - 20/1/15]

 

Queensland Election Campaign Launch Speech by John Bjelke-Petersen. 18 January 2015 [Palmer United Party Media Release]:

Men & Women of Queensland,

Across this state, Newman is allowing them to poison the water table, to destroy the future of regional Queensland, because Newman and his henchman don’t care about what happens in the bush!

COAL SEAM GAS

Coal Seam Gas extraction could poison our water table. Coal Seam Gas needs to stop right now, until proper safeguards and procedures can be put in place to ensure the safety of everyone and the welfare of our children. Their lives must come before anything else. What is the point of destroying the land and its’ ability to hold livestock for just a 30 years short term gain? Palmer United stands for the people of Queensland. Any government we serve in will put the interests of all Queenslanders and their children before a fast buck for others.

ASSET SALES

Many people have forgotten how and why the Newman government was elected in 2012. It was because the Labor Party wanted to sell our assets. That’s right! The Labor Party now attacks Newman for following their policy! There is no difference between Labor and the LNP. They both want to sell Queensland’s hospitals, ports and schools.

It has taken over 150 years for successive Queensland Governments to build up our assets so that each of us could enjoy the benefits we have now living in Queensland. Successive generations have toiled, passing down from one generation to the next, building on what’s been achieved in the past for all of us, so that we can be secure in the knowledge that in the future our children and our grandchildren will have an even better future. Now Newman wants to privatize Queensland’s assets. If he can’t manage our assets and make them work, why doesn’t he just resign now? The answer is because Newman knows the people who support him can make a lot of money from the sales of our hospitals, schools, ports and power stations.

If you think you’re paying a lot for electricity now – imagine what you will pay if Newman has his way. The agents, lobbyists and other consultants, friendly to the LNP, can make a killing and in the process Newman will kill the Queensland economy. No one buys anything unless they can make a profit from it. Business will only buy Queensland’s assets if they can make more money out of it. That will happen by charging you, the people of Queensland, more.

After spending tens of millions of taxpayer dollars, Newman found out 86% of Queenslanders did not want to sell their assets, so he devised a scheme to privatize them. The arrogance Newman demonstrated by these actions prove, once and for all, that he doesn’t care what the people think. Absolute power corrupts and corrupts absolutely. Newman has used that power against the very people who supported and elected him. Now, more than ever, we have to move to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.

UPPER HOUSE in GOVERNMENT

Palmer United will use its seats in Parliament to achieve the re-establishment of an Upper house in Queensland so we can ensure checks and balances are in place for all legislation.

REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT – Zonal Taxation

We need to prioritize regional development in Queensland. Through the PUP senators we will push for the reintroduction of a zonal taxation system so there is incentive for people and businesses to move to regional areas.

REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT – First Farm Buyers Grant

Under Newman, regional Queensland has suffered, families have lost their farms and the suicide rates have increased due to the lack of government support. There are many people on the ground working hard to support these farmers but there needs to be more.

Young Queenslanders have lost the ability to purchase a farm, to get a start and provide the export income and food security the state desperately needs to sustain all of us. Palmer United will seek to introduce a First Farm Buyers grant, which will provide a capital contribution equivalent to the first Homebuyers grant, but at a concessional interest rate loans for the first five years. This will act as a catalyst to allow the state’s agriculture to get going again and create real demand in country towns.

HEALTH CARE

We cannot tolerate Australians dying in the corridors of our hospitals. Health care is declining in every hospital of the state. We all know our healthcare workers such as nurses are doing the very best they can do under the circumstances. We know that the medical staff are overworked and capital infrastructure is not up to projected increases of our aging population. Why do patients, like those suffering from diabetes, have to travel such far distances for basic weekly treatment? This should be available in our regional hospitals! We will never demolish a hospital and sell the land off to property developers like the Newman government is doing. Palmer United will demand that in any government of which I am a member will not sell any school, hospital or police station.

Palmer United will prioritize upgrades of our hospitals in all areas of Queensland, which have been neglected for many years. The Maryborough hospital has been significantly downgraded and needs to be restored to its’ former capability. We need to review medical care throughout Queensland as a whole. The Kingaroy hospital, for example, was established in the Second World War. It is aged and falling apart in many areas. Health care workers in regional Queensland are over worked and understaffed. We need to carry out an urgent review to ensure people are not dying because the government has turned a blind eye to the needs of the people.

EDUCATION

We need to provide more funding to education in this country. As Clive palmer said, “A free nation can rise no higher than a standard of excellence set in the schools and colleges.” Ignorance, illiteracy, unskilled workers and school dropouts – these are the failures of an educational system in the past that also breeds failures in our social and economic system. Delinquency, unemployment, chronic dependency all result in a waste of human resources, a loss of productivity and an increase in tax supported benefits.

The cost of only 1 year’s income due to unemployment is more than the total cost of 12 years education. Failure to improve our education performance is not only poor social policy it is poor economic policy. At the start of the last century, only 10% of our adults had a high school education or a university education. Today, such an education has become a requirement for an increasing number of jobs.

Palmer United believes we must inject extra funds into the education system. It’s time to invest in ourselves. If we don’t have confidence in ourselves, who will have confidence in us? We must educate our children, our most valuable resource. We must make it possible for those with talent to go to university, no matter where they live or under what circumstances they live. This is why our ability to compete internationally and to expand our export capabilities is so important. Our universities must be given incentives to compete internationally. They were once one of Australia’s key exports and they can be again.

Palmer United believes Queensland needs more doctors, nurses, teachers and police and once in government, we will set about the important task of restoring government to be able to provide the level of service necessary for all Queenslanders, regardless of where they live.

INCREASE BUSINESS INCENTIVES

For too long, Queenslanders have lacked incentive and confidence in the economy but we want to change that. We know that all of us can make Queensland a better place if we pull together.

We find that Queenslanders are limited in what they do because of the burden of taxation and the high cost of living. Incentive has been lost and, with no activity, there’s no growth in our economy. Our economy continues to decline and revenue shrinks, and before we know it, the Government wants to close our schools and privatize our hospitals.

The lack of incentive is a behind the problems we face in Queensland today. Business happens because of networks. Queensland needs to encourage business leaders and Queenslanders to interact and come up with ideas to make the most of our commercial opportunities. We in the Palmer United Party want to maximize this because it creates jobs, opportunity and boosts the economy. Let’s face it – we are all investors as Queenslanders.

PAYROLL TAX

When my father was Premier this state was the number 1 state in Australia. Everyone wanted to live in Queensland! It had the strongest, most vibrant economy. We have to create more jobs and economic activity and we have to realize Queensland competes with all other states. My father’s government abolished death duties and as a result people and investment flowed into Queensland and the State boomed. There were jobs, jobs, and more jobs for all Queenslanders. Queensland needs to take the lead again.

Palmer United will abolish payroll tax in Queensland and when we do this our state will become the powerhouse of the nation. Companies will move their offices and their activities from Sydney and Melbourne. Queensland will boom! There is no better way to create employment in Queensland than to offer real incentive for people to do business right here in Queensland. If we want to make a difference, support me in bringing about that change and our children will be the winners. Such a change will allow Queensland to address the real serious problems that all Queenslanders and businesses face.

COST OF ELECTRICITY

Our high cost base and high cost of living, which has grown under the Newman Government has been brought about primarily by poor government decisions and policy. Firstly, the cost of electricity in Queensland is at its highest ever and this is at a time when world coal prices are at their lowest for a decade – in real terms this illustrates more than anything how incompetent the Newman government is. We can bring down the cost of electricity and Palmer United will do it by taking control of the network that currently charges more than the cost of generating power to all Queenslanders.

NORTH QUEENSLAND

Townsville is a long way from Brisbane. Cairns even further! There needs to be a Minister for North Queensland in the cabinet from the north, who will be vocal in representing the views of our northern neighbours in all critical decisions of Government. This will ensure all areas of Queensland are working together as one and supporting each other. Too many times North Queensland has been forgotten by previous governments.

TOURISM

Here on the Sunshine Coast we can do so much more. Palmer United will support the development of the Maroochydore airport into an international airport. I will work with Senators Lazarus and Senator Wang and the local member of the House of Representatives Clive Palmer to achieve Commonwealth support for such an airport. Together we will boost our tourist industry, create jobs and this will result in many construction projects. The Gold Coast, the Barrier reef, Western, Central and North Queensland can offer so much to the world! Queensland must be actively promoting the state internationally and within Australia, rather than having a Tourism minister, like in Newman’s government, that rarely leaves the state – unless she is on holidays!

ROADS & FUEL

Maintenance of roads is now, under the Newman government, carried out by contractors. This has put Queenslanders lives at risk. Palmer United will restore the maintenance of main roads to the Department of Main Roads. Abbott, along with Newman’s support, has increased the cost of fuel by raising excise taxes. This penalizes Queensland as the most major decentralized state. We will use our numbers in the Senate to reverse this decision.

INDEPENDENCE OF THE JUDICIARY

Palmer United believes in the independence of our judiciary and of the police. Under Newman, the Queensland Police force has become the LNP enforcer of Newman policy. Last week we saw the arrest of an individual because of the message he wore on his t-shirt. The Queensland Police need to stay out of the political debate.

“THIS IS THE TIME”

There are a few times in history when a generation has an opportunity to make a difference to their lives, to shape the destiny of their community. This is such a moment and for that reason, I am here, leading a strong team that can make a difference to our state and its prosperity. However you may have voted in the past, now more than ever, it’s important to think before you vote. To mindlessly cast a vote without accepting real responsibility is an insult to democracy.

If you are happy with all that is being done now, happy with Abbott and Newman, if you think what’s being done now is enough, is sufficient for your future and your families, then go Newman’s way. But if you believe, like I do, that there is so much more we can achieve together then put your support behind Palmer United and make Queensland all it could be.

When my father was first elected to government his neighbor called him the next morning and said ‘Well Joh, yesterday you were my neighbor and friend and today you are my servant.’ I know these people sitting with me here today, as the candidates for Palmer United Party, are ready to serve you, the people of Queensland.

Together we can, and we will, achieve the extraordinary. God Bless Queensland.

Palmer United Party Supports Solar in Queensland [Media Release - 21/1/15]

Farmer fears mine expansion will ruin livelihood [Chronicle - 16/1/15]:

Dairy farmer near the New Acland Mine, Noel Wiecks, fears for the viability of his businesses after an environmental assessment of the mine's Stage 3 Project revealed almost 200 privately-owned bores could be affected by water aquifer drawdowns.

Chance to meet Mackay pollies at forum [Daily Mercury - 16/1/15]:

Want to find out what they are really like?

If you want the opportunity to meet the region's candidates face-to-face, make sure you attend the Daily Mercury's Meet the Candidates on January 29.

Consider this your formal invitation.

The forum won't be a debate where pollies waffle on amongst themselves - the host, our editor Meredith Papavasiliou, will keep them in line so your questions get answered.

If you can't make it, send your questions to news@dailymercury.com.au.

And don't forget, the forum will be live streamed at http://www.dailymercury.com.au for those at home.

The event will be held at the Mackay Entertainment and Convention Centre from 6pm and everyone is welcome to attend.

Speed problem at fatal tanker crash: court

Nine MSN [16/1/15]:

Skid marks at the scene of a fatal tanker crash on Sydney's northern beaches show the truck driver was going too fast, a court has heard.

Shane Day, 47, is charged with multiple offences, including two counts of dangerous driving occasioning death, after the tanker rolled on its side, burst into flames and collided with several cars in Mona Vale in October 2013.

Two people were killed and five were injured.

During a brief hearing on Friday, Day's lawyer Rajiv Baldeo questioned the evidence of a crown witness who used GPS to determine Day's speed at the time of the crash, saying there was a "clear problem" with how that data was retrieved.

"Without the prosecution being able to prove the speed of this vehicle, the crown case fails," he said.

Mr Baldeo said there were also defects with the Cootes truck's brakes.

But although prosecutor Mark Finlay conceded there was a problem with the brakes - describing them as "worn" and in need of adjustment - he said they were able to work.

"Analysis of skid marks also show he was driving too fast," Mr Finlay submitted.

Day was also in too high a gear at the time, the court heard.

Magistrate Janet Wahlquist granted Mr Baldeo's application to cross examine a number of crown witnesses during a committal hearing later this year, saying there was a "live defence".

Day did not appear in court.

 

21 January 2015

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