US troops will deploy to Iraq without congressional approval: Pentagon
Al Akhbar [21/11/14]:
... Officials initially indicated they needed to get lawmakers to approve the funding for the troops deployment before the Pentagon could start the mission, but General Lloyd Austin, the head of US troops in the Middle East, recommended starting the effort using resources already available to him.
"The commander can reallocate resources inside his theater as he deems fit. So he is going to try to get a jump start on this program," Kirby told reporters, adding that congressional approval of the $5.6 billion was still needed to carry out the "more robust program."
The Pentagons announcement came just days after US officials said some 50 troops had been sent to Ain al-Asad air base in Anbar province in Iraq to establish an operation to advise and train Iraqi troops.
Kirby said Austin thought that starting the expanded mission sent a message both to Iraqis and other coalition partners.
"It sends an important signal about how seriously we're taking this," Kirby said. "The sooner we get started, the sooner Iraqi units will improve and the sooner we'll get coalition contributions to that particular mission."
US President Barack Obama, who was elected in 2008 largely due to his promises to exit Middle Eastern military entanglements especially in Iraq and avoiding new ones, announced plans last week to double the number of American troops in Iraq, approving an additional 1,500 forces to establish sites to train nine Iraqi military brigades and three Kurdish peshmerga brigades.
The move came almost three years after US troops completed their withdrawal from Iraq after a nine year occupation that left the country in turmoil.
Iraq ranked first out of 162 countries on the Global Terrorism Index, the Australia and US-based Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) said in a report published Tuesday, giving the country a score of 10 out of 10.
According to the report, 80 percent of the lives lost to terrorist attacks in 2013 occurred in just five countries Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria and Syria.
United States continues bombing Iraq and Syria, killing civilians and creating more refugees
An Islamic State leader has been killed in an air strike in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, residents and a local medical source said on Thursday.
Radwan Taleb al-Hamdouni, whom the sources described as the radical militant group's leader in Mosul, was killed with his driver when their car was hit in a western district of the city on Wednesday afternoon.
The ultra-hardline Islamic State swept through northern Iraq in June almost unopposed by the Iraqi army, consolidating gains made in the country's Sunni heartland region of Anbar.
Hamdouni was buried later on Wednesday. Large numbers of supporters, some carrying black Islamic State flags, attended the funeral, one source said.
Two U.S. officials said they were unable to confirm whether Hamdouni had been killed.
RAF fighter bombers have taken part in a major coalition air strike against an Islamic State bunker complex in northern Iraq, the British Ministry of Defence has said.
Warplanes from seven nations took part in a comprehensive and closely co-ordinated attack on the target around 20 miles north west of the city of Kirkuk.
The site described as a well concealed network of fighting positions and underground facilities had been under surveillance after IS fighters withdrew to the area in the face of advances by Kurdish peshmerga forces.
Security source assured for IraqiNews.com, The security forces imposed the curfew on Heet district of western Anbar in order to facilitate chasing the terrorists of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.
The source added, The security forces urged the citizens of the district to stay at their homes to avoid armed clashes which erupted in the district.
Iraqi Spring Media Center [20/11/14]:
The air force of government's army shelled by two missiles at least Mutasim nahiya southern east of Samarra few minutes
Baghdad: Agencies/security source: Two persons were killed and 8 wounded as a roadside bomb exploded in Suleikh north of Baghdad today night......
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Baghdad: Agencies/security source :8 persons were killed and wounded as a roadside bomb exploded near a restaurant in Turath hay south of Baghdad today night.......
IS Claims Suicide Bombing in Iraq's Arbil [Naharnet - 20/11/14]
Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported on Wednesday that at least 396 civilians were killed over the last month by Syrian air forces air strikes.
The Britain-based group, which monitors the Syrian conflict using sources on the ground, said that the Syrian government launched some 1,592 airstrikes across Syria, which also wounded at least 1,500 people. ... [TELEsur - 20/11/14]
Two shells fired from the Syrian side of the border landed Thursday in the Lebanese southern town of Shebaa, in the first incident of its kind since the eruption of the Syrian conflict. ... [Naharnet - 20/11/14]
At Least 45 Dead in Suspected Boko Haram Attack in Nigeria [Naharnet - 20/11/14]
A bomb hit a passenger train in the restive southwestern Pakistan province of Baluchistan Thursday, derailing it and wounding three passengers, officials said. ... [Naharnet - 20/1/14]
UAE says groups may appeal against terrorist designation [Daily Star - 21/11/14]
Arms dealers are setting up shop in Australia. There's still time to reject these merchants of death [Guardian - 21/11/14]:
Its a good time to be in the weapons business.
Three of the leading US defence contractors, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin, are all making unprecedented profits.
In December, Northrop will host an event at the Australian War Memorial to mark the companys expansion into the Asia-Pacific region. It will be launched by Federal defence minister David Johnson.
Its a curious location because, as Crikeys tipster drily noted, without the endeavours of arms companies stretching back centuries, thered be significantly fewer Australians for the War Memorial to commemorate.
Russia, Syrian Opposition Leader Urge Nationwide Peace Talks [Sputnik - 20/11/14]
to host Ukrainian leader, open embassy in Kiev now that the government is run
by US backed neo fascists [Sydney Morning Herald - 21/11/14]
Russia warns US against supplying lethal defensive aid to Ukraine [RT - 21/11/14]:
Moscow has warned Washington a potential policy shift from supplying Kiev with non-lethal aid to defensive lethal weapons, mulled as US Vice President visits Ukraine, would be a direct violation of all international agreements.
A Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson said that reports of possible deliveries of American defensive weapons to Ukraine would be viewed by Russia as a very serious signal.
We heard repeated confirmations from the [US] administration, that it only supplies non-lethal aid to Ukraine. If there is a change of this policy, then we are talking about a serious destabilizing factor which could seriously affect the balance of power in the region, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Lukashevich cautioned.
His remarks follow US deputy National Security Advisor Tony Blinken Wednesdays statement at a hearing before the Senate Committee for Foreign Affairs, in which he said that Biden may offer the provision of lethal defensive weapons as he visits Ukraine. Lethal assistance remains on the table. It's something that were looking at, Blinken said.
We paid attention not only to such statements, but also to the trip of representatives of Ukrainian volunteer battalions to Washington, who tried to muster support of the US administration, Lukashevich said.
The Ministry made it clear that such a move by Washington would violate a number of agreements.
This is a very serious signal for several reasons. First of all, this is a direct violation of agreements, including the ones achieved in partnership with the United States. I mean the Geneva Declaration from 17 April, said the Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko requested lethal aid from the US during a visit to Washington in September.
The American Vice President who has arrived in Kiev late Thursday has not yet made any official announcement, but Reuters sources point to the possibility that US might increase a non-lethal aid package to Kiev instead of opting to supply arms.
One Refugee camp with families on Nauru has had no power for 5 days, no showers, no fans, no washing. In 40 degree heat.
Accomodation site with no power for 5 days is called "Anibare lodge"
Please spare a thought for the 167 children still imprisoned on Nauru, we won't forget you.
Image: @HelpRefugeesOZ [21/11/14]
Fascism 101: Ignore the human rights atrocity ---> Malaysia Airlines offers charter flights to Christmas Island [The Malay Mail - 20/11/14]
Manus locals protest Australia's exiled refugees
Refugee Rights Action Network
Word coming in that locals on Manus have gathered at the new accommodation and protested the potential resettlement of refugees.
" Australian concentration camp on Manus island:::
WE DO NOT WANT ASYLUM SEEKERS ON MANUS::::
A group of about 1200 local people gathered in front of new facilities in Lorengo 3 days ago.
The crowed chanted slogans and wanted the new compounds closed.
A contact who was an eyewitness of the gathering said angry local people have threatened that asylum seekers will face severe consequences if they are resettled in Lorengo.
They also threatened the authorities of further violence if their demand is not met......
something must be done before another tragedy happens..............
Australian media blackout continues.
... What is this place? ...
Samar Alzeiny, sister of refugee incarcerated at Australia's refugee death camp on Manus Island.
... When planes started arriving with transferees we were not allowed to go to the airport, and to this day we are not allowed to go into the centre, and we don't know what is actually happening there. ...
Ruth Mandrakamu - Mayor, Lorengau, Manus Island
Strangers in Paradise [VIDEO - East 101 - Al Jazeera - 24/10/14]
Asylum seeker boat lands on small Micronesian island
An asylum seeker boat has turned up on a small Micronesian island with those on board reportedly saying they were told they could get to Australia from there.
An Australian citizen living on the small island of Yap, north-east of Indonesia, said a green Indonesian fishing boat turned up on Tuesday, carrying 34 asylum seekers from India and Nepal, and two Indonesian crew members.
Clam farmer Phillipe Dor spoke to the crew, who told him they had been sent by Indonesian "agents" or people smugglers who told them they would get taken to Australia or another country from Yap.
Mr Dor said the boat's captain told him they had been offered the equivalent of about $1,500 to take the asylum seekers to Yap, guided by a GPS unit.
The people smugglers had told them they would be taken to Australia or another country from there.
"It's a total disaster created by those Indonesian people smugglers," Mr Dor said.
He said island authorities do not know what to do.
"This is a completely first event for Yap and nobody exactly knows what's going to happen," he said.
Mr Dor said he gave bananas to those on board, because they did not have any food or water.
Critics slam Australian government's ban on some global refugees from UN [Sydney Morning Herald - 21/11/14]
Maurice Blackburn solicitor speaks to ABC about Christmas Island asylum seeker class action
ABC [AUDIO - 21/11/14]:
The Federal Government will today try to strike down a class action representing injured asylum seekers who have been held in detention on Christmas Island over the past three years.
The law firm Maurice Blackburn accuses the Commonwealth of breaching its duty of care by failing to provide adequate health care for asylum seekers and by failing to enrol children in school.
A six year old girl held in the Christmas Island detention centre will be the lead plaintiff in the case.
Maurice Blackburn solicitor Jacob Varghese tells NewsRadio's Glen Bartholomew a pre-trial hearing will get underway this morning in the Victorian Supreme Court.
UN Refugee Agency calls on States to end the immigration detention of children on the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child [UNHCR Media Release - 20/11/14]
... On the 25th anniversary of the CRC, UNHCR renews its call to governments to end the detention of children and to explore child-appropriate alternative care arrangements, welcoming the steps taken by a number of governments to do so.
Japan, the Republic of Korea and the United Kingdom have moved to release children from administrative detention, establishing specialized case-worker systems to follow up on their situation and family reunification procedures.
Belgium has created special facilities for unaccompanied and separated children, where their needs can be evaluated in a protective environment, while Hong Kong SAR has introduced "community housing" programmes to support the specific needs of children and their families who would otherwise be in immigration detention.
UNHCR is also working with governments to ensure child-appropriate asylum and family reunification procedures are in place.
UNHCR's Global Strategy Beyond Detention 2014-19 can be accessed at: http://www.unhcr.org/detention.
Comment on President Obamas Immigration Executive Actions Announcement
American Civil Liberties Union Media Release [20/11/14]:
Tonight, President Obama will announce a package of executive actions that could temporarily shield more than 4 million undocumented immigrants from deportation.
Below are preliminary thoughts from ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero:
The ACLU supports the President for taking necessary action to restore some fairness to our broken immigration system, and to place limits on the devastating deportation machine that has torn apart countless families for too long. Now, millions of people, who have lived under the daily threat of deportation for years, can finally breathe a sigh of relief.
However, President Obamas executive actions are not a complete solution to the problems plaguing this system.
We are extremely concerned about the rights of all six million immigrants excluded from deportation relief, including those who are long-standing neighbors in our communities.
Todays executive actions will also result in more militarization in Southwest border communities, without increasing accountability measures for Customs and Border Protection, the nations largest and most dangerous police force.
Were disappointed because at the height of CBPs crisis of abuses, the White House is requesting more border-security resources, more boots on the throats of border residents.
Today we celebrate with immigrant families around the country, but tomorrow, we join our fellow advocates, organizers and movement leaders to continue the fight for the six million immigrants left unprotected as well as for residents in Southwest border communities citizen and immigrant alike.
march in Mexico over massacre of students [Al Jazeera - 21/11/14]
US releases five Guantanamo detainees to Georgia, Slovakia
The United States has released five detainees from its detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, including the first Yemeni detainee to be resettled since 2010, officials said on Thursday.
Three of the detainees were sent to the Republic of Georgia, the U.S. military said in a statement, while two were sent to Slovakia.
The decision to release four Yemeni detainees and one Tunisian reduces the number of people held at Guantanamo to 143, part of a slow-moving effort by President Barack Obama's government to eventually close the facility.
More than half of the remaining detainees are from Yemen.
Obama promised to shut the detainee camp down during his 2008 presidential campaign, citing its damage to the U.S. reputation around the world. But Obama has so far been unable to do so, in part because of resistance from Congress.
The Center for Constitutional Rights, which represented one of the Yemenis, Abd Al Hakim Ghalib Ahmad Alhag, criticized the Obama administration's refusal to release other Yemeni detainees. It said 54 of the remaining 84 Yemeni detainees at Guantanamo had already been approved for transfer.
"As we welcome Mr. Alhag's resettlement, we are reminded that the remaining Yemeni men should be sent home or resettled without further delay," Wells Dixon, CCR senior attorney, said in a statement.
Last week, the Republican congressman who heads the House Armed Services Committee, Representative Buck McKeon, cited an increase in Pentagon notifications of upcoming transfers of detainees out of Guantanamo.
He did not quantify them but, in a sign of continued pressure from Congress to halt releases, called the remaining detainees "the worst of the worst" and pointed to concerns that former Guantanamo detainees might join Islamic State fighters who seized large parts of Syria and Iraq.
Obama has started a military campaign, including U.S.-led air strikes, to combat the group.
"To continue these releases just as we have had to open a new front in the war on terror is unwise," McKeon told Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in the Nov. 13 hearing.
New challenge to Queensland anti rights laws planned
Brisbane Times [21/11/14]:
Queensland's bikie gangs are already planning their next move against the government's anti-association and VLAD laws.
Queensland United Motorcycle Council spokesman Mike Kosenko said the group had been "overwhelmed" with offers from the legal community to take up the case, after the High Court ruled Hells Angels member Stefan Kuczborski had no standing to challenge the VLAD laws last week.
"We have had some very positive feedback from a lot of different lawyers," he [Kosenko] said.
"It is almost like they are getting in line wanting to represent us. Everyone wants to be a hero at the end of the day, I think.
"There are already a lot of people who have been charged [under VLAD] and we are going through the best candidates. It won't be just one, there will be a couple. It will probably be a female and some people who aren't even associated with bike clubs [who form the basis of the next challenge]."
Barrister Wayne Baffsky, the honorary legal counsel for the UMC in both New South Wales and Queensland, said the High Court result had left room to move.
"Unfortunately when we filed the appeal and the appeal came up for hearing, there was no one who had been charged under those acts, or was seeking bail at the time," he said.
"So there was nobody with standing, anywhere in Queensland, at the time, that could have been used as a vehicle for the High Court challenge."
Mr Kuczborski's counsel had challenged the anti-association aspects of the legislation using the Kable doctrine, a precedent named after a New South Welshman, Gregory Wayne Kable, who had been sentenced to five years imprisonment in 1989.
The then NSW parliament had passed legislation to keep Kable in prison longer, but the High Court struck down the legislation as invalid and unconstitutional. That ruling relied on a central doctrine - which became known as the Kable doctrine - that "the Parliaments of the States may not legislate to confer powers on State courts which are repugnant or incompatible with their exercise of the judicial power of the Commonwealth".
The High Court found that did not apply in the case of the bikie law challenge. But Mr Baffsky said the challenge could be "re-brought with either other arguments, or perhaps even another version of the Kable argument".
"I wouldn't be crowing about a victory if I was in the state government, because there is more than one way of looking at this and the fact that we didn't succeed on standing, is not because of anything the Queensland government did, but because no one had actually been charged under the VLAD act or those sections of the criminal code so there was no one available to us," he said.
"And in so far as the other one, that was one argument only. There are other arguments which had been in the initial application, which can be re-used.
"So the question is still open.
"... The battle is certainly not over. There are other options, none quite like a High Court appeal, but there are other options and all those options are being considered. This is too important an issue for defeat to be accepted, this is an issue that will keep going on, because it is our rights which are at stake."
The government, in anticipation of legal challenges, has previously vowed to continue to re-write the laws if they were struck down by the courts.
Plaque of Remembrance for victims of domestic violence unveiled at Barney Point
Gladstone Observer [21/11/14]:
... With the help of her grandfather Glenn, Makeyla unveiled a plaque created together for victims of family violence.
It now rests in the aptly named Avenue of Peace in Barney Point.
The tranquil setting will provide solace for victims of past, present and future.
Mr Watson said he hoped the plaque would send a message to help stop domestic violence.
"It's something that will make sure my daughter is remembered forever," he said.
"It is such a precious thing to be able to be able to do this. Victims and their families can come here, sit down and remember or escape."
Following his daughter's death in 2008, Mr Watson said he was appalled at the lenient sentence given to Joelean's murderer.
"We are serving a life sentence, he only serves 17 years," he said.
"That is the hardest part - living the rest of our lives without our daughter."
Nevertheless, now in the full-time care of her grandparents, Makeyla is safe.
If Mr and Mrs Watson's wishes are granted, the bubbly and happy little girl will never have to know another moment of violence in her life.
Instead, she can come to the Avenue of Peace and know her mother made a difference in other's lives.
Serious assault charges, Fortitude Valley
QPS Media [21/11/14]:
Police have charged a man in relation to an alleged incident in Fortitude Valley on Monday.
Around 2.10pm police were called to an address on Brunswick Street after receiving reports of a man falling from a balcony on the third floor.
The 45-year-old man sustained serious non-life threatening injuries and was transported to the Royal Brisbane and Womens Hospital.
A 28-year-old Brisbane man was charged with grievous bodily harm and deprivation of liberty. He is due to appear in the Brisbane Magistrates Court today.
Anyone with information which could assist with this matter should contact Crime Stoppers anonymously via 1800 333 000 or crimestoppers.com.au 24hrs a day.
Break and enter, Woody Point
QPS Media [21/11/14]:
Moreton District detectives are investigating the break and enter of a residence at Woody Point overnight.
Around 10.30pm, two men forced entry into a residence on Gayundah Esplanade. The men demanded property from a male resident then left the scene with jewelry and a safe.
No one was physically injured during the incident.
One of the men is described as being 175cm tall and was last seen wearing a black hooded-jumper. The other man was shorter, with a slight build and wearing a white hooded-jumper and blue jeans. Both the men were wearing what appeared to be black curly wigs.
Police urge anyone who may have any information which could assist in their investigations, to contact Crime Stoppers or Policelink.
Investigations are continuing.
Anyone with information which could assist with this matter should contact Crime Stoppers anonymously via 1800 333 000 or crimestoppers.com.au 24hrs a day.
Packed room for this morning's Senate inquiry hearing into #QldInc. ...
"tweeted" by @georgefwoods [21/11/14]
Senator Lazarus tells media Qld needs an Upper House to give everyone a fair go #qldinc ...
Image: @lockthegateQLD [21/11/14]
Senate Inquiry into Queensland Government: Second public hearing in Brisbane
'False Tony' pays a visit to @lockthegate street theatre outside #qldinc inquiry
Image: @DrewHutton1 [21/11/14]
Palmer United Party Media Release [21/11/14]:
Palmer United Senator for Queensland and Leader of Palmer United in the Senate, Glenn Lazarus, today released information regarding the second public hearing for the Senate Inquiry into aspects of the Queensland Government Administration.
Senator Lazarus is the Chairman of the Senate Inquiry and the spokesperson for the Inquiry Committee.
The Senate Inquiry has been inundated with submissions from people and organizations across Queensland.
The Senate Inquiry is providing a real and genuine forum for Queenslanders to raise their concerns with the Queensland Government under Parliamentary Privilege.
In the absence of an upper house in Queensland which would normally provide the necessary checks and balances, the Senate Inquiry is providing the people of Queensland with the opportunity to have the administration of the Queensland Government reviewed.
The first public forum was held on the Gold Coast on the 13th of November. The second public forum will be in Brisbane tomorrow.
The Inquiry forums are public forums and members of the community are able to attend.
Members of the community and organizations who have lodged submissions as well as others who have expressed a desire to raise issues at public hearings have been invited to participate in the public hearing tomorrow.
Tomorrows hearing in Brisbane will cover issues including concerns around the environmental regulation system in Queensland with regard to mining, governance by the Queensland Government, Queensland Government decision making including decision making in relation to major projects, the impact of coal mining and coal seam gas on landholders and Queensland Government decision making in relation to these matters.
I strongly urge all media to attend to cover the hearings also.
It is expected that public hearings will continue to be held across Queensland until February 2015.
Details regarding the next hearing date will be available next week.
Further information regarding the Senate Inquiry can be found at www.aph.gov.au/qga.
Date: 21 November 2014
Time: 10.00am 1.00pm
288 Edward Street
The Brisbane hearing will include:
Australian Council of Trade Unions Ms Ged Kearney, President
Plaintree Farms Ms Heather Brown Pascoe Dr David Pascoe
Lock the Gate Drew Hutton, President Georgina Woods Lee McNicholl
Watch/listen to the hearing live here.
Grocon ordered to pay $250,000 fine for Carlton wall collapse which killed three
Construction company Grocon has been ordered to pay $250,000 after a wall on its building site in Melbourne collapsed killing three people last year.
French student Marie-Faith Fiawoo, 33, and siblings Bridget and Alexander Jones, aged 18 and 19, died in March 2013 when the large brick wall blew over in strong winds at the site in Carlton.
Grocon had pleaded guilty to a single breach of a workplace safety law.
Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters rules out move to electronic voting in elections
... The Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters has released an interim report which finds there are too many risks associated with the move.
It said shifting to electronic voting for federal elections was not feasible before the next election or in the near future without "catastrophically compromising electoral integrity".
The committee found machine electronic voting was vulnerable to hacking and measures to mitigate that risk would be costly and would still require voters to visit a polling booth.
The prospect of voters being able to cast their ballot on the internet also seems a long way off, with questions about privacy for individual voters, security and potential coercion of voters.
Committee chairman Tony Smith said: "In future it is likely, given the turbo-advances in technology, that a system of online electronic voting could be delivered with acceptable safety and security."
"But even when we reach that time, there should be considerations beyond the convenience it would offer."
Mr Smith said "technological convenience must be balanced against electoral integrity".
The committee report said the majority of countries continued to rely on paper-based voting and some that have invested in electronic voting had since abandoned it.
The United States was also moving away from electronic voting with about 70 per cent of voters in the recent mid-term elections casting a paper ballot.
The committee recommended some options for using more technology in the voting process, such as using an electronically interconnected roll to allow names to be simultaneously crossed off at all polling booths, and electronic scanning of ballot papers to allow an electronic count.
It found those measures would reduce the chance of people voting multiple times and would speed up the counting of votes.
Hacking Democracy filmed over 3 years, first shown on HBO (a unit of Time Warner) in 2006 and released on DVD in 2007. The film reveals many strange facts about paperless (or e-voting) systems that established during elections in the U.S.A. in the last years. It focuses on the story of Bev Harris, director of nonprofit election watchdog group called Black Box Voting, and her investigations of potential security flaws inherent in electronic voting.
IT News [12/5/14]:
The NSW government has awarded Spanish firm Scytl a five-year, $1.9 million contract to expand the states electronic voting system iVote in time for the 2015 state election.
Surfers Paradise needs traffic calming
Tourists critical after being hit by car in Surfers Paradise [MYGC - 21/11/14]:
Two women have been rushed to hospital in a critical condition after they were struck by a car in Surfers Paradise.
Its understood the women, aged 40 and 77, were crossing Ferny Ave (Gold Coast Highway) near the Towers of Chevron Renaissance around 8pm on Thursday when they were hit by a dark coloured hatchback travelling south.
The suffered a range of injuries and were rushed to Gold Coast University Hospital where they remain in a stable condition.
Both women were transported to the Gold Coast University Hospital in a critical condition with what appeared to be head injuries and fractures, a police spokesperson said.
Police said both women were from overseas.
Southbound lanes of the Gold Coast Highway were closed while the scene was examined, creating delays through the area.
Investigations by the Gold Coast Forensic Crash Unit are continuing.
Brisbane CBD 40kmh limit hailed a success [Brisbane Times - 19/11/14]
Bring back the pedestrian overpasses!
The pedestrian overpass on Surfers Paradise Boulevarde 
GCCC Media Release [23/8/12]:
The pedestrian overpass on Surfers Paradise Boulevard at Staghorn Avenue is to be demolished, saving money on expensive and complex repairs.
Councils Engineering Services Committee today considered a structural report on the bridge that showed a number of defects and significant remedial works would be required for the bridge to remain.
Committee Acting Chair, Councillor Paul Taylor, said the 26-metre long bridge was close to the proposed Cypress Avenue Station Interchange Precinct for the Gold Coast Rapid Transit project.
Given the extent and complexity of the works to repair the bridge and the ongoing maintenance requirements, it has been agreed that the bridge would be demolished, said Cr Taylor.
The pedestrian bridge was constructed in the mid 1980s and originally built by the Gold Coast International Hotel, with a volumetric lease granted by the State Government over the formerly state-owned and controlled Gold Coast Highway.
The lease was transferred to Council in 2000 when the highway became Surfers Paradise Boulevard, which is when we also assumed responsibility for the ongoing operation and maintenance of the bridge. The overpass was then the supporting infrastructure for the Gold Coast Indy 300 event, but is no longer within the track area.
Councillor Taylor said deterioration was noticed during routine maintenance and specialist engineering consultants were engaged in 2007 to undertake a structural assessment.
While in a serviceable condition, remedial works were recommended. As the bridge is not used regularly, the consultant recommended it was more cost effective to remove it, he said.
House engulfed in flames in Elanora
A house has been engulfed by flames in Elanora on Friday morning.
Initial investigations suggest the blaze broke out around 4.30am in the storage area under the house on Aloe Court.
The fire then extended to the first level and the roof caved in.
An emergency services spokesperson says the owner was home at the time and was not injured.
A fire fighter has been transported to hospital with breathing difficulties.
The brick veneer house ended up being fully engulfed in flames and full of smoke.
The cause of the fire is yet to be determined.
Investigations will continue this morning.
Robbery charges, Coombabah
QPS Media [20/11/14]:
Police have charged a 17-year-old man with two offences after the alleged robbery of a woman at Coombabah today.
About 6.10am, a woman was running along Myola Court when she was approached by a man on a bicycle.
Police will allege the man produced a handgun and demanded the womans mobile phone.
The woman provided the man her phone but asked to keep her SIM card.
The man returned the SIM card and left only with her phone.
He then rode away on his bicycle.
Police investigating the incident conducted a search at an address and located the man and the stolen phone.
Police also located a toy gun which was of similar appearance to that used by the offender during the robbery.
The Coombabah man was charged with armed robbery and threats and will appear in the Southport Magistrates Court tomorrow.
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.
with violence, Sunnybank [QPS Media - 21/11/14]
Drug arrest, Gold Coast
QPS Media [20/11/14]:
Officers from the Gold Coast Major and Organised Crime Squad overnight executed a search warrant at a Nerang residence in relation to the distribution of dangerous drugs.
It will be alleged officers located drugs at the residence including cannabis, amphetamines and steroids as well as cash, weapons and other items used in the sale and consumption of drugs.
The search resulted in the seizure of 51 grams of cannabis (valued at approximately $1275), 5.8g amphetamines (valued at approximately $1450), 2.8g of a substance used for performance and body image enhancement, cannabis seeds, $3980 in cash, two flick knives, scales and a set of nunchukas.
A 20-year-old Nerang man was issued a Notice to Appear for possession of a drug utensil.
A 43-year-old Highland Park woman was issued with a Notice to Appear for possession of cannabis and failing to dispose of a syringe appropriately.
A 40-year-old Nerang man was charged with supplying dangerous drugs, three charges of possession of dangerous drugs, possession of drug utensil, possession of things used in the commission of a drug offence, possession of proceeds of a drug offence, and two charges of unlawful possession of weapons.
The three are expected to appear before the Southport Magistrates Court in answer to the charges early next month.
Serious traffic crash, Eumundi
QPS Media [20/11/14]:
Police are investigating following a serious three vehicle traffic crash at Eumundi this afternoon.
Initial information suggests around 4pm, three cars collided on Eumundi Noosa Road.
A 27-year-old man was trapped as a result, but has been subsequently freed from the vehicle and airlifted to the Royal Brisbane and Womens Hospital by helicopter.
Officers from the Forensic Crash Unit are at the scene.
Due to the crash, there is severe traffic congestion in both directions.
Motorists should prepare for delays and seek an alternative route if possible.
Two teenage boys, aged 15 and 16 years, have been charged over a traffic crash involving an alleged stolen vehicle in Townsville earlier today. ... [QPS Media - 20/11/14]
Elderly woman's body found, Toongabbie
... The alarm was raised by a friend around 10am on Thursday when she saw the 75-year-old's body lying inside the house as she arrived to pick her up to take her to an event.
She knocked on the door - then saw the victim through a window.
The quiet cul-de-sac was soon brought into lockdown as police descended on the Toongabbie home following the horrific discovery.
Sources have told 7News Sydney she was discovered with blood on her face.
"As a result of initial inquiries, the death is being treated as suspicious," said Inspector Rob Toynton.
"At this stage the next of kin has not been notified and this investigation is in its infancy."
Shocked neighbours say she'd lived here for thirty years.
"It's a bit distressing - you'd never expect anything like this in the neighbourhood," a local resident told 7News Sydney.
Police have set up a strike force to investigate, including detectives from the Homicide squad
They've called in every resource at their disposal as they search for a possible killer.
Five forensic teams were brought in to collect evidence around the home, including a black hoodie.
The public order and riot squad carried out a search in a reserve behind Paris Place.
"Anybody who saw anything suspicious in the last 24 hours on Station Street, Mimosa Road and Paris Lane in Toongabbie, we would want to hear from you," said Inspector Toynton.
Body found in esky in far north Queensland, man charged with murder
A man's body has been found in an esky in bushland in far north Queensland and a man has been charged with his murder.
Detective Inspector Bruno Asnicar said the remains were yet to be formally identified, but the discovery was made in bushland south of Cairns as police investigated a murder they believe occurred two weeks ago.
David Leslie Hickson, 32, was arrested last night over the murder and appeared in the Cairns Magistrates Court this morning.
He is also accused of misconduct with a corpse.
The men were known to each other and associated regularly together in Cairns.
The victim is believed to have recently moved to Cairns.
Detective Inspector Asnicar said they were not revealing the victim's identity yet because his family still had not been notified.
"We believe the two men did know each other, they were associated regularly in Cairns and other than that I don't want to say any more until we've gone a little bit further into the investigation," he said.
The accused was remanded in custody and is due to reappear on December 17.
Prostitute accused of killing Gregory Hudson granted bail
The prostitute accused over the death of Gregory John Hudson has been granted bail as the cause of death remains a mystery, a court heard.
Hudson, 57, died in suspicious circumstances in his Varsity Lakes home in Queensland. He was found dead and tied naked to a chair.
Milan Walker applied for bail at the Southport Magistrates Court.
Walker is, along with two other people, charged with murder, enter dwelling with intent and robbery in company. The prosecution case against them relies on text messages sent on the day of Hudson's murder.
Walker's solicitor said the messages were vague and that Walker had fled the scene after the other two entered the home.
She has been granted bail on conditions including a $50,000 surety and reporting daily to police.
NZ singer killed in revenge, court hears
An ex-soldier accused of murdering a Gold Coast nightclub singer said he had no choice but to kill the man in revenge for the rape of his girlfriend, a court has heard.
Matthew Cox, 27, has pleaded not guilty to murdering Sex 'N' Chocolate singer Tony Williams in his Mermaid Waters unit on December 23, 2011.
Crown Prosecutor David Meredith told the Brisbane Supreme Court that Cox tracked down Mr Williams and violently bashed him to death with a hammer, believing his girlfriend had once been raped by the singer and borne his child.
The New Zealand-born victim's battered body was found on the floor of his lounge room the next day.
The prosecutor said Cox's girlfriend, Sarah Davis, had a son believed to be Mr Williams' child who was the product of a casual sexual relationship with the singer and the hospital orderly.
Some non-consensual sexual activity had once taken place, but Cox had been led to believe Mr Williams had raped Ms Davis in a one-off encounter that left her pregnant, Mr Meredith said.
In early December 2011 Cox contacted friend and former soldier Joshua Middleton and allegedly said: "I have something important and any man worth his weight would help me out on this one."
Mr Meredith said Cox wanted to make Mr Williams pay.
"I should put him in a wheelchair or kill him. What shall I do?" Cox allegedly asked Mr Middleton.
When his friend asked if it had to be "so drastic" Cox is said to have replied "It has to be done".
Mr Meredith said Cox posed as a postman to gain entry to Mr Williams' unit before bashing him to death with a hammer, leaving blood smeared across the walls of the unit.
Mr Middleton disposed of the evidence.
The prosecutor said though Cox claimed he killed Mr Williams in self defence after confronting the singer over the alleged rape, there was evidence he'd taken gloves to Mr Williams' unit.
"If you were going to confront someone then you don't need to hide the fact that you're present," Mr Meredith said.
"You don't need gloves. Gloves you might think hide the fact that you're there."
The trial is expected to run for up to 12 days.
Woodridge business central to alleged murder of David Hanson
Brisbane Times [20/11/14]:
Police believe the people responsible for killing a Slacks Creek grandfather in a Woodridge business cleaned and demolished part of the site to hide evidence.
The body of David Hanson, 71, has still not been found after his disappearance in February this year.
Superintendent Dave Hutchinson said investigators believe Mr Hanson was murdered at the Autowerks car detailing business on February 22, after police completed forensic tests.
"[Mr Hanson] is associated with the people who were running the business," Superintendent Hutchinson said.
"We do believe after this event there was an extensive amount of work done there - cleaning the property and even demolishing part of the property. We have conducted a very thorough forensic examination and we're quite convinced that's where he was killed."
The former car detailing business on Timms Court has since closed.
Police have four suspects in the case, some of whom resided at a Kingston property Mr Hanson stayed in between February 18 and February 22.
Mr Hanson, a mining consultant who split his time between Brisbane and the African nation of Tanzania, was due to fly to South Africa on February 22 but never made it to the airport.
He was last seen on the 22nd at a Sunnybank shopping centre where he met his daughter for coffee.
Police believe Mr Hanson then drove his car back to the Kingston house on Snowdon Street. However it was not clear how or why he ended up at the Woodridge business.
"We're interested in anybody who can fill those gaps and maybe tell us where he was and what he did after the time he left the shopping centre," Superintendent Hutchinson said.
In March, police searched the Browns Plains rubbish tip where they discovered items which related to the case.
Queensland Police have worked with Australian Federal Police and Tanzanian police during the investigation.
Anyone with information should contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
Quad bikes coronial inquest: Children account for one in five fatalities, hearing told
One in five people killed in a quad bike accident in Australia is a child, an inquest has heard.
Many parents were ignoring warnings not to let their children ride on adult quad bikes, the inquest before Queensland deputy coroner John Lock was told on Thursday.
Mr Lock has been looking into the deaths of nine Queenslanders aged from nine to 86 between March 2012 and January this year.
Today's hearing was part of the second phase of an inquest that started this month, which aimed to make safety recommendations to help prevent quad bike-related deaths.
The inquest heard that children accounted for about 20 per cent of quad bike fatalities in Australia.
John Cuthill, from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, agreed with counsel assisting the coroner, Peter De Waard, that warnings on quad bikes and in manuals were not working because parents were not taking them seriously.
Mr Cuthill recommended legislative change to require children to ride age-appropriate quad bikes.
He also said the chamber would support the compulsory use of helmets and a mandatory design standard for imported all-terrain vehicles.
The inquest also heard governments were reluctant to make training compulsory.
What would you do if contacted by a 'Courier-Mail' "journalist"?
Former Queensland Housing Minister Bruce Flegg chose not to be fully transparent about contact he'd had with his lobbyist son when investigated by a journalist, a court has heard.
Dr Flegg is suing his old media adviser, Graeme Hallett, for defamation in the Supreme Court in Brisbane.
The ex-staffer claims the Moggill MP had misled parliament by failing to disclose contact with his lobbyist son, Jonathon.
Mr Hallett told the trial on Thursday a political journalist had emailed him in October 2012 to ask about two instances on Dr Flegg's lobbyist register involving the MP's son Jonathon and whether there had been any more contact that wasn't included.
Mr Hallett said he was aware of other contact, including a "deeply troubling" email from Jonathan to his father recommending a man named Chris Brooks for a deputy director-general position.
He said while Jonathon, who worked for lobbying company Rowland Communications, was eager to correct the register to include about six other instances, Dr Flegg and his chief-of-staff, Fraser Stephen, were not.
"(Dr Flegg) indicated to me that this is only one reporter asking questions about this and if it's unconfirmed, we should be able to deal with in a way that can virtually make it go away," Mr Hallett told the court.
Mr Hallett said they decided to respond to the journalist without mentioning any other lobbying contact between Dr Flegg and his son until those instances had been "confirmed".
The tactic flew in the face of his "risk-adverse" advice to Dr Flegg to be open and transparent about his contact with Jonathon, Mr Hallett said.
He said he'd given that advice because the media had regarded Dr Flegg as a "trouble-prone and gaffe-prone" politician in the past, and former minister Ros Bates had also come under fire for inaccuracies in her own lobbyist register.
Dr Flegg resigned from cabinet a day after a freshly sacked Mr Hallett aired the claims against him at a November 2012 press conference.
The MP has denied he was lobbied by his son and gave evidence last month that the press conference held him up to public ridicule and devastated his political career.
The trial, before Justice Peter Lyons, continues.
ICAC: Former NSW ministers Eddie Obeid and Ian Macdonald to be prosecuted
Former New South Wales Labor ministers Eddie Obeid and Ian Macdonald have been ordered to appear in court after prosecutors decided to act on the findings of the state's corruption watchdog.
Mr Obeid is being prosecuted for alleged misconduct in public office relating to restaurant leases at Circular Quay in Sydney.
Mr Macdonald is being prosecuted for two alleged offences of misconduct in public office over the awarding of a mining licence.
In June, Mr Obeid was found to have acted corruptly by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), which said he "misused his position as an MP" to lobby ministers and a senior public servant over the retail leases.
The commission heard Mr Obeid had a secret stake in cafes and restaurants in the area through his brother-in-law, and he failed to disclose the stake when he lobbied other Labor ministers not to put the leases to a competitive tender when they expired in 2005.
"A court attendance notice was served on Mr Obeid this afternoon, following advice received from the NSW Director of Public Prosecutions," ICAC said in a statement.
The court notice alleged Mr Obeid induced Stephen Dunn, a senior manager with the Maritime Authority of NSW, to "deal favourably" with Circular Quay Restaurants' tenancies.
ICAC's Operation Acacia investigated Mr Macdonald's decision to award the Doyles Creek mining licence in 2008, when he was resources minister.
The commission heard the then-Labor minister "gifted" the licence, in the Hunter Valley, to then-chairman of Doyles Creek Mining John Maitland without a competitive tender and against departmental advice.
The corruption watchdog recommended both Mr Macdonald and Mr Maitland be charged.
ICAC said a court attendance notice had been served on Mr Macdonald earlier today, after the DPP provided advice that Mr Macdonald should be prosecuted for two offences of misconduct in public office.
Mr Maitland was being prosecuted for being an accessory to misconduct in public office, ICAC said.
The prosecutions are the first from a series of ICAC inquiries into coal licences, and follow widespread criticism of a lack of prosecutions resulting from the commission's corruption findings.
The matters are listed for mention at the Downing Centre Local Court on December 18.
Outgoing CSIRO chief Megan Clark AC joins Rio Tinto board
The Age [20/11/14]:
Rio Tinto has made good on its pledge to increase the Australian representation on its board of directors, with the chief executive of the CSIRO appointed by the global miner this morning.
Megan Clark AC becomes the second new Australian appointed to the Rio board in 2014, after former foreign affairs bureaucrat Michael L'estrange AO was appointed in May.
Dr Clark was due to leave the CSIRO in December, but Rio Tinto said she would step down from that position immediately.
Her time at the CSIRO has seen her publically talk about the merits of carbon markets and the need for miners to adapt to the era of big data and technological disruption.
Rio chairman Jan du Plessis said Dr Clark had extensive mining experience, having previously worked for Western Mining Corporation and BHP Billiton before joining the CSIRO.
"Megan not only has extensive mining experience, but is highly regarded and has, throughout her career, forged a strong reputation for driving a culture of innovation and technology, making her a great fit for Rio Tinto," he said in a statement.
Dr Clark was made a Companion of the Order of Australia in 2011 for her service to scientific research and development.
The two new directors join other Australians like Mike Fitzpatrick, Sam Walsh and Chris Lynch on the board, and with the latter two holding the two top executive positions at the company, Rio had a distinctly Australian flavour at the moment.
The company also appointed former French nuclear energy executive Anne Lauvergeon to the board earlier this year, marking a period of board renewal.
3 shot at Florida State University before gunman killed by police
Florida State University students huddled together in the aisles of a packed campus library early Thursday after a gunman opened fire, injuring three people.
Two of the shooting victims were taken to Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare. One was in critical condition; the other was stable, the hospital said.
The condition of the third victim or where that person was taken was unknown.
Campus officers later shot the gunman to death after they asked him to drop his weapon, and he opened fire at them, authorities said.
The shooting started shortly after midnight either inside or near Strozier library, which sits in the center of campus at the school in Tallahassee. The library is open 24 hours.
Head of South Korea ferry operator handed 10-year jail term
Deutsche Welle [20/11/14]:
A South Korean court has sentenced the CEO of a ferry operator to 10 years in jail over the sinking of a ship that killed more than 300 people. Most of the victims were teenagers from the same high school.
The court in the southern city of Gwangju handed down the sentence on Thursday after convicting Kim Han-sik, the chief executive of Chonghaejin Marine, of negligence causing death and embezzlement.
Specifically, the court found that Kim, 71, had allowed the ferry to be routinely overloaded and had approved illegal alterations to increase the vessel's capacity. The court also handed him a 2 million won (1,428 euros, $1,800) fine for failing to stop the practice of improper storage and the overloading of cargo, which the judges also found was a factor in the sinking of the ferry.
In court, Kim repeatedly denied responsibility, saying he was merely an employee acting on the orders of the company's late owner, Yoo Byung-Eun. Yoo had been the subject of a massive manhunt after the disaster. His badly decomposed body was found in a field in June, but the cause of death remains unclear.
The court also sentenced 10 Chonghaejin Marin executives to between three and six years in prison for negligence and embezzlement.
Last week, the 15 crew members who survived the disaster received sentences of between five and 36 years.
The captain of the ferry, Lee Jun-Seok, was given 36 years for gross negligence and dereliction of duty, including abandoning his vessel while hundreds of passengers remained trapped on board.
The Sewol ferry capsized on April 16 while traveling from the city of Incheon to Jeju island off the South Korea's southwestern coast. Three hundred and four people, mostly high school students, died in the disaster. All but nine of the bodies were recovered, before the government called off underwater searches last week.
Egypts Sisi considering pardon for Al Jazeera journalists
France 24 [20/11/14]:
In an exclusive interview with FRANCE 24 Thursday, Egypts President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said he was looking into a presidential pardon for three Al Jazeera journalists jailed since December 2013 on charges of conspiring with the Muslim Brotherhood.
Speaking to FRANCE 24 in his first-ever interview with a European media outlet, Sisi noted that at the time of the journalists arrests, he did not have the power to take decisions about their situation. If I were president at that time, I would have decided, for the good and the security of Egypt, that the journalists would have to be expelled, so [it would] put an end to this issue once and for all.
Australian reporter Peter Greste, Egyptian producer Baher Mohamed, and Al Jazeeras Cairo bureau chief Mohamed Fahmy who has joint Egyptian and Canadian citizenship were arrested on December 29, 2013.
At the time of the arrests, Sisi was commander-in-chief of Egypts powerful armed forces, with Egyptian judge Adly Mansour serving as acting president until Sisis landslide victory in the May 2014 presidential election.
Five months after he was sworn in, Sisi was pressed by FRANCE 24s Sonia Dridi and Marc Perelman about whether he intends to issue a presidential pardon for the Al Jazeera journalists. Let me just say, this issue is currently under discussion so that we may find a solution," said Sisi.
Despite intense international pressure, Sisi has maintained that he could not intervene in the Egyptian judicial process, which he has described as completely independent. International human rights groups however have criticised the trial as a miscarriage of justice.
US unlocks military aid to Egypt, backing President Sisi [BBC - 22/6/14]:
The US has revealed it has released $575m (£338m) in military aid to Egypt that had been frozen since the ousting of President Mohammed Morsi last year.
The news came as Secretary of State John Kerry visited Cairo just two weeks after former army chief Abdul Fattah al-Sisi was sworn in as president.
After talks with the new leader, Mr Kerry stressed the importance of upholding the rights of all Egyptians.
Mr Sisi won May elections, vowing to tackle "terrorism" and bring security.
The retired field marshal overthrew Mr Morsi last July amid mass protests against his rule.
He has since been pursuing a crackdown on Mr Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood, which urged a boycott of the 26-28 May elections. Liberal and secular activists also shunned the poll in protest at the curtailing of civil rights.
State department officials said the military aid was released to the authorities in Cairo about 10 days ago, after getting a green light from Congress.
The funds - from the annual $1.5bn of chiefly military aid - will mainly be used to pay existing defence contracts.
The US also promised it would provide 10 Apache attack helicopters for use by the army against militants in the Sinai peninsula.
"The Apaches will come and they will come very, very soon," John Kerry said at joint news conference with his Egyptian counterpart.
In "candid" talks with President Sisi on a broad range of issues, Mr Kerry "emphasised also our strong support for upholding the universal rights and freedoms of all Egyptians including freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association."
He also pledged that Washington would "stand with the Egyptian people in their fight for the future they want."
"For Egypt, this is a moment of high stakes and also a big opportunity," Mr Kerry said, acknowledging that a number of promises by Egyptian leaders "are yet to be fulfilled".
"After three difficult years of transition, the United States remains deeply committed to seeing Egypt succeed," he said.
Mr Kerry arrived in Cairo on an unannounced visit on Sunday, the most senior US official there since the election.
Egypt remains a strategic ally for Washington, and Mr Kerry's visit so soon after Mr Sisi's inauguration shows the US is still keen to engage actively and early on with the new president in the hope it will make a difference, says the BBC's Kim Ghattas, who is travelling with Mr Kerry.
But our correspondent says that the last time Mr Kerry was in Cairo in November his advice was ignored.
Washington fears that the winner-takes-all attitude to politics in the region, from Egypt to Iraq is feeding instability, she adds.
Assange's extradition order upheld by Swedish Court of Appeal
The fate of WikiLeaks Editor-in-Chief, Julian Assange, was revealed today following the announcement of his extradition appeal.
As his lengthy legal battle came to a close, the Swedish Court of Appeal officially upheld his arrest warrant.
Sweden's Court of Appeal issued its verdict on Julian Assanges protracted extradition case on Tuesday at 1pm GMT.
In June of this year, the Wikileaks editors' lawyers filed an official request to Stockholm District Court to overturn its decision to detain the Australian without charge. The court scheduled the hearing for July 16.
Following the courts subsequent failure to revoke Assange's extradition warrant, he launched an appeal.
The case marked Swedens most drawn out deprivation of liberty in the absence of a trial or specific charges in modern history.
At present, Assange has not been charged with a crime. Nevertheless, he remains a refugee residing in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London living under the South American governments diplomatic protection.
While Swedens authorities are virulently pursuing Assange with respect to allegations of rape, so too are the American administration on suspicion of espionage. The Australian is also wanted by UK authorities.
The besieged embassy in which he resides is surrounded by police 24-7.
Supporters of Assange argue his real crime has been to tell the truth in an epoch dominated by lies, government deception and brutal war. In the event his appeal is successful, Assange could potentially leave the embassy.
Critics of the international manhunt that has surrounded him argue a costly police presence around the Ecuadorian Embassy has been utterly futile, and amounts to nothing other than the flaunting of state power.
Assange has fought his extradition to Sweden in Britains courts for over two years.
He chose to do this on the grounds that, without reasonable safeguards, extradition to the Scandinavian state would leave him highly vulnerable to being deported to the United States.
The siege of Julian Assange is a farce [John Pilger - 16/11/14]
21 November 2014