Two Somali asylum seekers who swallowed nail clippers were sent back to the compound without treatment. They have been left in such serious pain, that they are unable to walk.

Refugee Action Coalition, Sydney [22/1/15]:

Despite witch-hunts, blacklists, and the arrest of scores of asylum seekers, over 700 asylum seekers remain on hunger strike.

Transfield and the Immigration Department have stepped up their witch-hunt against so-called ring-leaders.

Two more asylum seekers were arrested in Mike Compound on Wednesday afternoon, as Transfield guards took the opportunity of the attempted hangings there, to put more security guards into the compound.

They were accused of sending messages.

Ten community leaders in Foxtrot compound are on the blacklist.

There has been no running water in Foxtrot compound since Wednesday afternoon – bottled water is being used to wash and to try to flush toilets – see attached photos.

Punitive measures imposed by IHMS at the medical centre have also done nothing to break the protest.

Two Somali asylum seekers who swallowed nail clippers were sent back to the compound without treatment. They have been left in such serious pain, that they are unable to walk.

The Manus Island hunger strike protest has prevented the proposed forced transfer of refugees to the unsafe temporary accommodation at Lorengau – the move that triggered the mass protest 10 days ago.

“The government’s crack down hasn’t worked. In fact it has increased the numbers on hunger strike. But it now has the opportunity to go back to the drawing board and discuss a safe third country option. It is worse than reckless to continue to pretend that there is a resettlement arrangement with PNG. Every day delayed puts more lives at risk,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

“Locking up asylum seekers for having mobile phones; and threatening to shut down communications on Manus Island shows just how much the government has to hide. The Immigration Minister was caught out over his claims that asylum seekers in Delta compound had home-made weapons.

“If Peter Dutton had any respect for the truth, he would resign.”

 

 

@shanebazzi  [22/1/15]: A source says two asylum seekers in Lorengau jail have attempted suicide #Manus

The information from #Manus has been quite distressing. Just a reminder: @LifelineAust 13 11 14. @beyondblue 1300 22 46 36

 

 

Manus refugees arrested for hunger striking and asking to speak with the UN may be transferred to Bomana prison, PNG government source [The National 22/1/15]:

... The source said Pato [Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Rimbink Pato], on Dec 15, 2014, signed instruments for Bomana Jail, Manus Jail, Manus police lock-up, and the Manus detention centre “to be relocation centres for the temporary residence of asylum seekers pending the determination of their refugee status under Papua New Guinea law”.

“He (Pato) is empowered under the Immigration Act to make such declarations,” he said.

...

 

Australia's refugee [exile] deal with Cambodia uncertain as almost all refuse offer [Guardian - 22/1/15]

 

The controversial resettlement deal [exile arrangement] with Australia that could see refugees currently living on the South Pacific island of Nauru sent to Cambodia may not go ahead due to an apparent lack of interest, Interior Minister Sar Kheng said yesterday. ... [Phnom Penh Post - 22/1/15]

 

The International Organisation for Migration has told the Cambodian government it is willing to take part in the resettlement  [exile] of refugees from Nauru if a number of conditions are met. ... [Phnom Penh Post - 21/1/15]

 

Cambodia: 30 Years of Hun Sen Violence, Repression [Human Rights Watch - 13/1/15]

 

The UN refugee agency on Friday expressed concern about the return to Nigeria of hundreds of refugees from Niger this week as the number of people fleeing militant attacks in northern Nigeria continued to grow. UNHCR urged the authorities in both countries to halt the repatriation.  ... [Media Release - 16/1/15]

 

Solidarity with Manus Island protestors, no violence against hunger strikers #ShutDownManus

Image: ‏@rac_canberra [22/1/15]

 

 

‏@rac_canberra [22/1/15]: "We need an end to the secrecy coming from Manus Island" - @ShaneRattenbury [ACT Greens MLA and government minister] #ShutDownManus  ...

 

 

More than 100 people rallied in the heart of Canberra on Thursday night to express their disgust with the treatment of asylum seekers on Manus Island.

 ...

Meanwhile, 94 children and 100 family members who were promised to be moved off Christmas Island and into the community by former immigration minister Scott Morrison remain in Darwin's Blaydin Point Alternative Place of Detention.  [Canberra Times - 22/1/15]

 

80 migrants rescued, 20 feared dead  off Malta

Times of Malta [22/1/15]:

A dinghy carrying some 80 migrants has been intercepted by AFM patrol boats some miles off Malta.

The dinghy was found in distress early this morning.

The migrants appeared to have been at sea for some days.

They said there had originally been 100 people on the boat, but 20 perished.

The rescue is the first in several months and comes at a time when the number of migrants in detention has slipped to a low of just 29.

At one time there were over 2,000.

 

What would you do? Syrian Refugees plan Cyprus escape as Kokkinotrimithia camp abandoned  [Naharnet - 22/1/15]:

... According to data released by the UN's refugee agency in July, just four percent of the more than three million Syrians who have fled the war were given refugee status in Europe. ...

 

Tribal Clashes Claim 23 Lives in Central Somalia [Al Akhbar - 22/1/15]

 

Yemen President, Houthis Reach Agreement [Al Akhbar - 22/1/15]

 

Kurds Cut ISIS Supply Route as US-led Coalition Talks Resume [Al Akhbar - 22/1/15]

 

Syria's opposition interim government said Thursday it had received $6 million from the United States in the first direct U.S. financial support for the rebel body. ... [Daily Star - 22/1/15]

 

South Sudan's Rival Factions Agree on Peace Deal [Al Akhbar - 22/1/15]

 

A parliament set up in Libya to rival the elected assembly has suspended U.N.-sponsored peace talks because of what it called fresh violence from the country's recognized government, a spokesman said on Wednesday.  ... [Reuters - 21/1/15]

 

 
United Nations-mandated investigators warned today that war crimes are being committed in the Central African Republic and called for the establishment of a ‘truly international’ tribunal with international judges who could objectively investigate and prosecute perpetrators of such crimes in the war torn country.  ...
[
UN Media Release - 21/1/15]

 

Afghanistan: 2 killed, 16 injured in Helmand blast

Khaama [22/1/15]:

Explosion took place in Lashkar Gah, provincial capital of southern Helmand province this afternoon.

Governor’s spokesman Omar Zwak says a civilian and one policeman have been killed in the explosion while 16 others including policemen and civilians have been injured.

The apparent target of the explosion was policemen.

...

 

PNG: Police officer on shooting charge appears in court

The National [22/1/15]:

A Police officer has appeared in court in connection with the death of a woman shot on the back of the head in Lae three weeks ago.

Constable Jack Baria, 45, from Bogia in Madang, appeared before Senior Magistrate

Sasa Inkung in the Lae district court yesterday, charged with one count of wilful murder.

Inkung adjourned the case to March 2 to allow police to complete investigations. Baria has been remanded in custody. Moanna Pisimi was, according to a port-mortem examination report, shot at the back of her head.

Lae Metropolitan Superintendent Iven Lakatani had confirmed earlier that the vehicle she was driving was chased by police and officers from a private security firm in Lae at around 3.30am on January 1.

She was returning from a nightclub in Lae where she had been celebrating the first day of 2015 with husband Thomas.

Lakatani had confirmed that police officers had fired warning shots to force her to stop.

Police are yet to confirm whether anyone else would be charged in regards to the case.

A team of police detectives led by Senior Supt Peter Guinness was sent from Port Moresby by Police Commissioner Geoffrey Vaki to investigate her death.

Pisimi was buried at her husband Thomas’ Waluwili village in Ialibu, Southern Highlands early this week. Thomas is the managing director of R and Sons company.

US: St. Louis officers shoot, kill armed teen: police

Reuters [22/1/15]:

Police officers shot dead a teenager armed with a handgun after he got out of a stolen car in St. Louis on Wednesday night, their force said.

The shooting comes five months after a white police officer shot dead an unarmed black teenager in a suburb of the city -- one of a number of racially-charged cases that have prompted protests about police tactics across the United States.

Officers were tailing the car, which was reported stolen in December, when it struck a wall and the engine stopped, St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson told reporters.

The 19-year-old passenger was carrying a Tec 9 handgun when he got out of the car to flee, and officers ordered him to drop the weapon, Dotson said. Both officers opened fire when he did not, fatally wounding him, he added.

One of the officers involved in Wednesday's shooting was white and the other black, Dotson said at a press conference broadcast online.

The St Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the shot teenager was African-American.

The teenager died in hospital, Dotson said. The driver of the car, who the Post-Dispatch said was also black, was taken into police custody.

The St. Louis area has been racked with tension following the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by white police officer Darren Wilson in August in the suburb of Ferguson.

The New York Times reported on Wednesday that the U.S. Justice Department would soon close its investigation into Brown's death and clear Wilson of any civil rights charges.

ADF member accused of Gold Coast double murder

Yahoo [22/1/15]:

Defence has confirmed an Australian Army member has been charged over a horrific double murder on the Gold Coast.

Police say the couple's five-year-old son was asleep in another room when the pair were allegedly stabbed to death in their Upper Coomera home.

It is believed the incident happened about 8pm (AEST) on Tuesday.

A female relative discovered the two bodies about 5pm (AEST) on Wednesday.

She also found the little boy, who had been wandering around the property for nearly 24 hours. He was unharmed.

The victims have been named by police as 43-year-old Corey Croft and 39-year-old Renee Carter.

A 36-year-old man faced Southport Magistrates court on Thursday, charged with two counts of murder.

He made no application for bail and was remanded in custody until a committal hearing on March 27.

In a statement, Defence said they were considering what administrative action may be appropriate.

Regional crime co-ordinator Superintendent David Hutchinson made an appeal for witnesses on Thursday morning.

"Anybody in that vicinity who noticed a white Pajero four-wheel drive, on the evening of Tuesday, or if they just witnessed anyone acting suspiciously in that area, we ask them to come forward," he said.

Detectives have also asked residents to check their wheelie bins for any items of clothing that do not belong to them.

"The examination of the house will continue and they [police] will probably retain possession of the house for up to a week."

...

Mr Hutchinson said the boy was now in the care of relatives.

"You would understand a child being in the house under those circumstances would have to be very traumatic," he said.

The house is expected to remain a crime scene for up to a week.

Logan man on "terror charge" following Murdoch beatup and AFP raid tenders affidavit ahead of bail application

Brisbane Times [22/1/15]:

A Logan man charged with funding a Syrian terrorist group wants to be released on bail, saying he was traumatised by being held in isolation, and that limited contact with others is affecting his mental health.

Omar Succarieh also denied any links to Islamist terror group Jabhat al-Nusra, saying allegations his brothers were involved in the organisation are untrue.

After his Logan bookstore was raided by Australian Federal Police in September, Mr Succarieh will seek to be released from the Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre at bail application on Friday.

Police believe his late brother Ahmed Succarieh was Australia's first suicide bomber, and another brother named Abraham is fighting for Jabhat al-Nusra.

Phone intercepts used in prosecution evidence allegedly captured Omar saying "I love Jabhat al-Nusra". They also say they have taped conversations between Omar and Abraham, where the pair spoke in code about money being sent to Syria from Australia.

In an affidavit tendered to the Supreme Court ahead of the bail application, Omar Succarieh says he is a "peaceful man".

He complained about being held in an isolated prison ward between September 11 and December 10 last year, due to prison officials fearing he would be targeted.

"I am not a member of Jabhatul Nusra (sic), nor am I affiliated with any proclaimed terror organisation," Mr Succarieh said in his affidavit.

"I am not, nor have I ever been a member, supporter or affiliate of any terrorist organisation.

"I do not hold or express extremist views which would make me a target of other inmates.

"I do not know if the allegation that my brother Ahmed killed himself and harmed others is true.

"I do not believe the allegation that my brother Abraham is, or was, fighting with a terrorist organisation. I understand him to be living in a mosque and acting as principal in a school for children orphaned in the conflict in Syria."

A report by Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre staff shows Mr Succarieh was a model prisoner while in isolation, acting politely towards guards and keeping his cell clean.

Supporting affidavits were also provided by Mr Succarieh's brother Joseph and his wife Razan.

Mrs Succarieh said access to her bank accounts had been shut off since her husband's arrest, meaning she had to apply for government assistance and rely on friends to support their three young children.

"My children are traumatized by the sudden absence of their father. He was a huge part of their daily lives and a very acting, loving and hands on father," she said.

Joseph said his brother was a "role model" and the "heart and soul of our family". He said Omar was a charitable man who ran the iQraa bookstore as a community service, and on three occasions had allowed a homeless person to stay at the store until they found accommodation.

"I have absolute confidence in his desire to defend the charges and to clear his name," he said.

Mr Succarieh was granted bail in the Brisbane Magistrates Court over separate extortion charges last year, meaning he will be a free man until trial if the Supreme Court allows his bail application on Friday.

Police are expected to oppose the application.

In September, Mr Succarieh tried to win bail in the Supreme Court but it was rejected.

Ipswich pet owners urged to remain vigilant

QPS Media [22/1/15]:

Police in Ipswich are asking residents to be extra vigilant following the death of two dogs at McGill Street in Basin Pocket.

On January 20, two dogs are believed to have been baited with an unknown substance, with both dogs dying as a result.

Acting Senior Sergeant Jacqueline Munn said police wanted to inform the public due to safety concerns for children and other animals who could come into contact with the poisons.

“Our initial inquiries suggest this was an isolated incident but we will continue to investigate further,” Acting Senior Sergeant said.

“However, public safety is our main concern and our message is for residents to remain vigilant. Monitor your pets’ health and if you have any concerns seek medical assistance immediately.”

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.

Queensland election 2015: Labor candidate photographed handing out how-to-vote cards for the Greens

ABC [22/1/15]:

The Labor Party has reprimanded a candidate for handing out how-to-vote cards for the Greens at a pre-polling station.

Labor's Buderim candidate Elaine Hughes was photographed yesterday handing out the Greens how-to-vote cards as well as Labor ones at a pre-polling booth on the Sunshine Coast.

"It was just a mistake. I've apologised for it. I'm very busy," she told the ABC.

As to why, she said: "I really don't know more out of tiredness".

Ms Hughes said she was sharing a table and the cards were bundled together.

The Greens are preferencing Labor in the seat, held by the LNP's Steve Dickson.

Labor leader Annastacia Palaszczuk said she did not know anything about the incident when asked about it on the campaign trail at Emu Park near Yeppoon in central Queensland this morning.

"Well I don't think that would be appropriate," she said.

In a statement, Labor campaign director Anthony Chisholm said Ms Hughes had been spoken to and has apologised.

The LNP's tough talking on sugar in the Queensland election campaign has done nothing to alleviate road safety concerns of communities caught in the middle of a bitter divide between cane growers and millers.  ... [ABC - 22/1/15]

Hope it's not another "Put The LNP Last"  event!

Parties to be quizzed over Reef policies at public forum in Brisbane:

The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) has encouraged people concerned about the future of the Great Barrier Reef to take advantage of an opportunity to quiz prospective political representatives about their Reef policies.

AMCS supported by other environment groups are holding a Vote for the Reef Forum in Brisbane with representatives from the major parties, to enable voters to assess who has the best policies for the Reef.

Felicity Wishart the Great Barrier Reef campaign director for AMCS said there was widespread concern over the plans to allow millions of tonnes of dredging and dumping in the Reef’s waters or its precious wetlands.

“The Reef is under threat from mega ports, dredging, dumping and increased shipping. These projects are being fast tracked and putting at risk a $6 billion tourism industry and 60,000 jobs.

“Among our biggest concerns is the need to ban the dumping of dredge spoil in the Reef’s World Heritage waters and protect valuable areas such as the Fitzroy Delta and Caley Valley Wetlands, the natural filters of the Reef.

“Groups are concerned about the use of taxpayer funds to subsidise the rail and port expansion at Abbot Point which could damage the Reef.

“We’re talking about one of the wonders of the world, an iconic place and home to turtles, dugongs and corals. We don’t want it turned into an industrial park or shipping superhighway.

“People rightly expect to hear from their candidates about what they’re going to do to protect the Reef from further damage.

“We are calling for the following commitments from all our politicians this election:

 

•Banning industrial dumping and minimise dredging in the Reef’s World Heritage Area

•Protecting precious wetlands and pristine areas of the Reef coast forever

•Stopping farm pollution harming the Reef

•Protecting our rivers, bushland and community rights through strong and fair laws

•Bringing back our fish, turtles, dugong and precious wildlife

•Delivering more renewable energy for Queensland.

 

Representatives from the major parties have been invited to present their policies and will respond to questions from the audience.

 

WHAT: Vote for the Reef Election Forum

WHEN: 6:00pm-8:00pm (6pm registration), Thursday 22 January 2015

WHERE: Ithaca Auditorium, Brisbane City Hall, 64 Adelaide St, Brisbane

MC: Professor Ian Lowe

 

Forum Organisers: AMCS, Queensland Conservation, The Wilderness Society, Greenpeace, Australian Youth Climate Coalition and GetUp!

 

 

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

Queensland has Optional Preferential Voting. This means you can send the major parties a message on 31 January by not giving either of them your vote.

 


Queensland MP oversaw mine approval for company where his daughter works [Guardian – 22/1/15]

 

Acting Premier Anna Bligh this morning officially opened Stage 2 of a Darling Downs coal mine which boasts some of the cleanest thermal coal in the world. Ms Bligh was on hand to inspect and open the $60 million expansion of New Hope’s Acland mine.  ... [Deputy Premier, Treasurer and Minister for Infrastructure Media Release - 22/3/07]


Large tracts of farmland in the Nanango electorate are threatened by coal mining, including areas in Brisbane’s drinking water catchment, new research shows. … [Lock The Gate – 21/1/15]

 

... Mr Bjelke-Petersen said one of the first initiatives of a Palmer United Party government would be to decrease Queensland’s soaring power and electricity prices by encouraging Queensland home owners to install solar panels on their roofs.  ... [PUP Media Release - 21/1/15]

 

Vote solar forums via @solarcouncil

 

Snowmen protest world leaders at Davos

Ruptly [VIDEO - 21/1/15]:

More than 120 snowmen wearing scarfs with national flags, appeared on Wednesday in Davos, which is currently hosting the 24th World Economic Forum (WEF).

The protesting snowmen, close to one for each country of the world, were created by a group of activists from the development group 'Action/2015’, hoping to garner the attention of world leaders attending the WEF conference.

The activists made the sculptures to stop world poverty, economic inequality and climate change 'before our future melts away'.

The unusual structures not only drew the attention of guests at the Alpine ski resort, but also police officers who were securing the nearby forum.

 

 

 

@shanebazzi: Source says at least 17 asylum seekers have collapsed in Foxtrot today #Manus [22/1/15]

 

Video from Foxtrot bathrooms. Water has been cut off  [22/1/15]

 


Sing along: Who's afraid of the IOM? the IOM the IOM fa la la la la ...

 

Evidently the IOM are offlimits to scrutiny by Australia's political and media establishment.

Is this why Australian politicians won't respond to refugee's pleas to speak with the United Nations - even though this would de-escalate the situation on Manus?

 

The ‘Pacific Solution’ revisited: a statistical guide to the asylum seeker caseloads on Nauru and Manus Island [Parliament of Australia - 4/9/12]:

... The International Organization for Migration (IOM) manages and operates the offshore processing facilities in Nauru and Papua New Guinea. IOM are internationally renowned for the high level of care that they deliver to centre residents. IOM provides high quality and responsive services in its management of the processing centres, giving priority to the social well-being of the centres’ residents. IOM continually reviews its community health programs as the residents’ circumstances change with population movements, ensuring programs address changing needs.

These holistic programs include a wide range of sporting and leisure activities (including satellite television, videos and reading materials) and education programs (which include language classes and computer skills). In addition: there are regular excursions for shopping and swimming; school-aged children regularly attend local schools; residents have regular access to Internet and personal e-mail in the town centre; and IOM conducts occupational activities for residents, including catering, gardening, nursery management, woodworking, electrical equipment maintenance and repairs and poultry farming. ...

 

US Embassy in Port Moresby awards two new grants totalling US$1 million to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) [PNG Loop - 15/12/14]:

The US Embassy in Port Moresby has awarded two new grants totalling US$1 million (about K3.5 million) to its partner, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), to combat the global threat of human trafficking in PNG and Solomon Islands.

“These two grants will empower the people of the South Pacific by providing populations at risk of being trafficked with access to information and justice,” says US Ambassador to PNG, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, Walter North.

The first grant awards $500,000 to IOM for a two-year project which will provide technical assistance to strengthen legislation, prosecution efforts, and protection measures to combat trafficking in persons in PNG.

Ambassador North said the grant is to award Papua New Guinea’s observance of ‘Stop Human Trafficking Day’, as part of the 20 days of Human Rights Activism campaign, and building on the PNG Criminal Code Amendment Act of 2013 to combat the global threat of human trafficking.

“There is perhaps no greater threat to human dignity, and no greater attack on basic freedom, than the evil of human trafficking,” said Ambassador North.

The second project provides $500,000 to IOM for a two-year project that will focus on strengthening coordinated efforts to combat trafficking in person in the Solomon Islands.

The project will also support Solomon Islands law enforcement to investigate and prosecute perpetrators of trafficking in persons.

Ambassador Walter said more than 20 million people estimated to be victimized around the world by the 150 billion US dollar criminal industry that traffics in human beings, making the struggle against modern slavery can seem daunting.

...

Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee Recommendations re "Incident at the Manus Island Detention Centre from 16 February to 18 February 2014" [December 2014]:

...

4.70 In specific evidence about actual incidents of encouragement to return home, a former employee of Playfair suggested that staff from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) were 'speaking to transferees, trying to convince them of the benefits of returning home'.

4.71 In contrast, government representatives re-confirmed their view that any returns from Manus Island RPC were strictly voluntary. For example Lieutenant General Campbell stated that '[i]t is really important to note these are voluntary returns'.

 4.72 In terms of the number of returns from the Manus Island RPC, the department provided information that:

As at 1 August 2014, 203 transferees have been voluntarily returned from an Offshore Processing Centre (OPC) and 174 transferees from the Manus OPC since 18 February 2014 with the assistance of the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

...

 

Inner City Press [18/12/14]

When International Organization for Migration director William Lacy Swing took questions at the UN on International Migrants Day, December 18, Inner City Press asked him about IOM's work for Australia, in Manus Island, Nauru and prospectively in Cambodia -- and also with Bangladesh about or on the Rohingya.

Swing insisted that IOM is not involved in involuntary repatriations, but that once the deed is done, they will assist.

Inner City Press asked, doesn't they enable and embolden countries to violate international refugee and humanitarian law?

...

 

NYC Vigil in solidarity with Manus Island detainees

 

Image: @aggyk [21/1/15]

 

 

@suigenerisjen: #Manus solidarity vigil in #NYC. Aussies everywhere need to say not in my name. We are better than this  ...

 

Protestors March on Sydney Immigration As Manus hunger strike continues, Max Chalmers [New Matilda - 22/1/15]:

Refugee advocates and supporters have marched on Department of Immigration offices in Sydney, leaving water bottles at the building's entrance to protest the ongoing treatment of asylum seekers hunger striking on Manus Island.

The bottles were left as a symbol to reports that water has been denied to protesting asylum seekers.

Precise details about the hunger strike have been difficult to confirm but the number of men involved in the protest has been consistently reported as between 500 to 700. As of December 31 there were 1035 men detained in the centre.

Around 150 people gathered in Sydney yesterday as speakers took aim at the Coalition government and Labor, accusing them of lying about the depth of the suffering being endured on Manus and continuing the bipartisan support for offshore processing.

Media were targeted as well for their reporting.

...

The current round of protests on Manus come as detainees become increasingly desperate about their fate. Many have now given up hope of ever coming to Australia and are instead appealing to the UN to help them settle in a third country.

...

 

RNZI [21/1/15]:

A Sydney-based doctor and convener of the advocacy group Doctors for Refugees says medical facilities at Australia's asylum seeker detention centre in Papua New Guinea are inadequate to deal with ongoing hunger strikes.

Hundreds of asylum seekers have been on hunger strike since last week, with dozens of people having to be treated for dehydration and self-harm.

Dr Barri Phatarfod says an asylum seeker died in September in a Brisbane hospital after he developed septicaemia when he cut his foot at Manus Island.

Dr Phatarfod says that death was entirely preventable, and she has grave concerns about the current hunger strikes.

"Now we don't know how quickly these people are going to deteriorate because clearly three or four doctors are not able to measure the blood pressure, temperature, weight, and urine output of 700 people. So it's an absolute disaster, we could easily have fatalities out of this and it will all be on the government's hands."


RT [21/1/15]:

Latvia has cancelled a Holocaust exhibition in Paris for the fear of tarnishing the country’s image as the Baltic nation currently holds the EU presidency.

The exposition was to tell the story of child prisoners at a concentration camp near Riga.

The display was organized by historians from Latvia, Russia and Belarus and was scheduled to open on January 25 under the title ‘Hijacked childhood. Victims of Holocaust as seen by the child prisoners of Nazi concentration camp Salaspils.’

Salaspils is southeast of the Latvian capital, Riga.

The exhibition was all set to open its doors, however, there proved to be a last minute hitch: the Latvian delegation to the United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO) decided to block the planned project.

...

Genocide occurs when ‘warning signs’ ignored, action not taken – UN deputy chief [Media Release - 21/1/15]

Médecins Sans Frontières urges the Australian Government to join the call for pharmaceutical companies to reduce their prices for developing countries. ...  [Media Release – 20/1/15]

 

 

Southeast Asia: UN rights office appeals for halt in executions for drug crimes [Media Release - 21/1/15]:

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) today expressed concern over the use of the death penalty for drug-related crimes in Southeast Asia and urged authorities to abolish the punishment amid reports that eight more people had been sentenced to death for heroin trafficking.

“According to international human rights jurisprudence, capital punishment could only be applied to the crime of murder or intentional killing,” OHCHR spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani told reporters in Geneva, where the Office is based.

...

 

Hunger striking refugees held hostage and tortured by Australian government ask for the UN. Creeps at the ABC create a poll [22/1/15]: Are you troubled about the conditions asylum seekers are living with on Manus Island?

 

 

US-led coalition warplanes kill dozens of “ISIS militants “in Mosul

IraqiNews.com [21/1/15]:

On Wednesday, a local source in Nineveh province said, that dozens of ISIS militants have been either killed or injured in an air strike by the international coalition in Mosul.

The source informed IraqiNews, “The international coalition warplanes have carried out air strikes against ISIS sites in east and west of Mosul,” pointing out that, “The air strikes resulted in killing and wounding dozens of ISIS militants.”

“Twelve armored vehicles along with some tactical units that belonged to the group have also been destroyed by the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in an artillery firing near Mosul Dam,” the source added.

IS tells NHK it doesn't really need money; video authenticity questioned [Japan Today [21/1/15]:

National broadcaster NHK on Wednesday said it had spoken to someone claiming to be in charge of “public relations” for the militant group Islamic State which has threatened to kill two Japanese nationals unless Japan pays a $200 million ransom.

“We don’t need money,” they quoted the person as saying. “Islamic State is spending more than this amount ($200 million) in one day. It’s not an economic war but a spiritual war,” the person said, repeatedly adding the group was confident “your government will pay the money.”

The video of a militant with a British accent brandishing a knife over the heads of journalist Kenji Goto and self-employed military contractor Haruna Yukawa looped on television Tuesday as the news broke.

Wednesday’s newspapers gave it blanket coverage, while talk shows and news programs were dominated by the issue, with much speculation on the authenticity of the video.

Film editor Genta Tamaki noted apparent discrepancies in the shadows cast by the hostages, which he said could indicate images of the two men had been inserted into the desert footage.

“In principle, these shadows do not look as one might expect in sunlight,” he was quoted as saying.

This might occur if filming was done indoors using several lights and combined with the background later, he said, although he added it was not possible to be certain.

Outlets also noted clothes worn by Yukawa moved more than those Goto was wearing, and neither man flinched when their captor waved his knife near them.

...

Afghanistan: 23 rebels, 4 security personnel killed in Kunduz fighting

Pajhwok [21/1/15]:

Militants have been targetting a security base over the past three days in the Imam Sahib district of northeastern Kunduz province, officials said on Thursday.

District head Imamuddin Quraishi told Pajhwok Afghan News 23 militants including their four commanders had been killed during clashes with security personnel in Tashguzar area.

He added four army and local police personnel were also killed in the firefights that left six policemen and 10 insurgents injured.

But Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed the militants had overrun four check posts during the attacks and killed 13 security personnel.

The fighters had also seized weapons from the checkpoints, he said, without giving casualty figures for the Taliban.

Meanwhile, residents voiced their concern at the situation, asking for tightening security in the district. One dweller Jalaluddin said: “The government couldn’t purge the area of militants so far.”

Israeli tanks take up positions along Lebanon border

Daily Star [21/1/15]:

Israeli tanks were witnessed taking up new positions along Lebanon’s southeastern border Wednesday, as UNIFIL and Lebanese Army troops boost their patrols in the area amid tensions following a deadly weekend Israeli strike on a Hezbollah convoy in the Golan Heights.

“Five Israeli tanks repositioned from the Riaq [military outpost] to the highlands southeast of the Metula settlement,” a security source told The Daily Star.

UNIFIL helicopters were observed carrying out their routine reconnaissance flights over the Blue Line as a number of shepherds reported seeing Israeli military vehicles and flashing lights across the border.

Residents of the southeast village of Kfar Kila also reported hearing rumbles of Israeli vehicles positioning in the valleys south of the Metula settlement.

“We have spotted the movements in addition to the high overflights of Israeli military aircraft in most of the Lebanese southern airspace,” a UNIFIL officer told The Daily Star.

Meanwhile, a Lebanese Army statement said Israeli warplanes flew over southern Lebanese border villages as well as territorial waters opposite Ras Naqoura, Qassmieh and Abu Aswad between 6:50 p.m. - 8:10 p.m. Tuesday.

The statement said an Israeli reconnaissance jet also hovered over areas in southern and eastern Lebanon as well as over Beirut and its suburbs between 1:40 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Israeli media have reported that the Jewish state is bolstering its forces along the border in anticipation of a retaliatory attack after a missile strike killed six Hezbollah fighters and an Iranian commander in Syria’s Golan Heights Sunday.

A Lebanese security source told The Daily Star that two Syrian fighters affiliated with Hezbollah were also killed in the Israeli strike.

Israeli forces launch major detention campaign in West Bank refugee camps

Maan [21/1/15]:

Israeli forces launched a major detention campaign in the northern West Bank refugee camps of Balata and Askar in Nablus district overnight, Palestinian security sources said.

More than 15 young men were seized after forces ransacked many houses.

Palestinian security sources told Ma'an that more than 20 Israeli military jeeps stormed Balata and Askar refugee camps near Nablus at midnight and broke into dozens of houses.

Locals said most of the houses belonged to Fatah supporters.

...

Palestinian stabs passengers on Tel Aviv bus [Maan – 21/1/15]:

A Palestinian wounded at least five passengers in a stabbing rampage on a Tel Aviv bus on Wednesday, before being shot by a passing prison officer, Israeli police said.

The attacker struck in the morning rush hour in the heart of Israel's largest city, police spokeswoman Luba Samri said.

Five people were moderately to seriously wounded, while four were lightly injured, she said, citing emergency services at the scene.

Israel's Ynet news site put the number of injured at 17.

It was not immediately clear if all the casualties had been stabbed or if they included some suffering from shock.

"The suspect is a 23-year-old Palestinian from (the West Bank town of) Tulkarem," Samri said.

"The attacker was foiled by an officer from the prisons service who shot and wounded him in the leg.

"Police arrested the terrorist. He was taken to hospital and for further interrogation," she added.

...

At least 11 killed Tuesday in DRCongo election protests

Daily Star [21/1/15]:

At least 11 people were killed Tuesday in protests in Democratic Republic of Congo against a draft measure that could delay the 2016 presidential election, the government said Wednesday, bringing the toll from two days of violence to 14.

Government spokesman Lambert Mende said the victims were a policeman and 10 civilians, killed by security guards as they tried to loot private property in Kinshasa.

Congo's opposition parties called the protests Monday in a bid to stop pro-government legislators approving a reform of the electoral code that would require a national census before the presidential vote. The opposition says that would delay the ballot by several years, extending President Joseph Kabila's time in power.

Yemen's Houthis Replace Guards Outside President's Home

Al Akhbar [21/1/15]:

Armed fighters from Yemen's powerful Houthi movement stood guard on Wednesday outside the private residence of President Abed-Rabbo Mansour Hadi, whose home is normally protected by presidential security officers, witnesses said.

Sentry posts were initially empty and there was no sign of the presidential guard at the compound, the witnesses added, after two days of fighting that have put the Houthi group in all but total control of the capital. However a few guards later appeared and were permitted to take up positions.

Mohammed al-Bukhaiti, a member of the Houthi politburo, told Reuters: "President Hadi is still in his home. There is no problem, he can leave."

Houthi fighters battled guards at the Hadi's home and entered his palace on Tuesday, raising the stakes in a drive for political reforms and power-sharing.

Bukhaiti claimed his group had no plans to target Hadi.

"Ansarullah has no intention of targeting President Hadi or his house," Bukhaiti, told Reuters, using the Houthi group's official name.

He said what happened at Hadi's house was the result of a "provocation" by Hadi's security and that the incident has been contained. Earlier on Tuesday, Houthi fighters had entered Yemen's presidential palace after a brief clash with security guards, witnesses and security sources told Reuters.

Bukhaiti said the Popular Committees acted at the palace on request from officers who had asked them to help stop a local officer from stealing weapons from the compound.

Meanwhile, security authorities closed air, sea and land crossings into Yemen's southern port city of Aden on Wednesday, a local television station reported.

...

Lavrov on Obama speech: Efforts to isolate Russia will fail

RT [21/1/15]:

Attempts at isolating Russia will not work, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at a press conference on the outcome of 2014.

“We hear from our Western partners that Russia has to be isolated,” Lavrov said. “Specifically, Barack Obama has just repeated that. These attempts won’t be effective. Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Russia will never resort to self-isolation.”

The minister said Moscow is calling on Washington to resume cooperation that was thwarted last year. “Relations between Moscow and Washington significantly deteriorated in 2014. We call for resuming effective cooperation at a bilateral and international level. But dialogue is only possible if based on equality and respect for each other’s interests,” he said.

Cutting ties with NATO was not Russia’s choice, according to Lavrov.

“NATO followed the US in its drive for confrontation. NATO made an absolutely politicized decision to halt civil and military cooperation. Almost all projects have been frozen,” Lavrov said. Moscow “will not allow a new Cold War,” he added.

Commenting on US President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Speech, Lavrov said it showed Washington wanted to dominate the world and required all the rest to acknowledge their superiority.

“Americans are absolutely non-critical in assessing their own steps, and yesterday’s speech by Obama shows that the core of their philosophy is: ‘we are number one’. And all the rest should accept that.”

Lavrov described US “aggressive” foreign policy as “outdated.”

Lavrov has denied allegations of a Russian military presence in southeastern Ukraine, calling on those who believe the opposite to prove their point. “I say it every time: if you are so sure in stating that, confirm it with facts. But no one can or wants to provide them,” he said.

Lavrov said he would try to negotiate an immediate ceasefire in eastern Ukraine at talks in Berlin due to take place later in the day. The foreign ministers of Ukraine, Germany and France are expected to be present.

He said it was now vital to withdraw heavy artillery from the line separating militia-held territories from those under Kiev’s control. The move would prevent civilian casualties. “Russia has already persuaded the self-defense fighters to withdraw heavy artillery,” he said. “Now the Ukrainian authorities should do their bit.”

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is, according to Lavrov, ready to discuss the peace plan offered by President Putin on January 15, despite earlier reports of its rejection.

“Judging by the reaction of President Poroshenko, we feel he’s ready to discuss it, but raises certain questions, some of those quite technical. They can all be agreed upon equitably.”

Recent days have seen an escalation of violence in eastern Ukraine. Government troops launched a massive assault on militia-held areas, in accordance with a presidential order.

Residential areas have come under fire with reports of several civilian casualties.

A hospital in Donetsk was severely damaged on Monday, when at least two shells struck it.

Human rights groups have called on both sides to protect civilians in conflict zones.

Amnesty International called on militias not launch operations from populated areas, and demanded that Kiev stops its indiscriminate shelling of residential blocks.

Bangladesh arrests 7,015 opposition activists

Naharnet [21/1/15]:

Bangladesh security forces have arrested more than 7,000 opposition activists since the start of deadly protests a fortnight ago, the government said.

Activists have firebombed buses, cars and lorries, killing 29 people, since the opposition called a nationwide transport blockade to protest the detention of their leader Khaleda Zia.

Industries Minister Amir Hossain Amu told reporters after chairing cabinet meeting on security in Dhaka that 7,015 people had been arrested in the 15 days since the blockade began.

The crisis began when police confined Zia to her office after she threatened to lead a mass rally against her political rival Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

She wants Hasina to call fresh polls after last year's controversial general election, which opposition parties boycotted on the grounds it would be rigged.

The boycott meant most members of the 300-seat parliament were returned unopposed, handing Hasina another five years in power.

Zia, who denies her Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its Islamist allies were responsible for firebombings, has also demanded the release of opposition officials and leaders detained over the violence.

Hasina has accused Zia of trying to trigger "anarchy" and ordered the security agencies to hunt down the protesters behind the firebombings.

The United States, Britain and the European Union have expressed concern over the unrest.

The EU, the nation's biggest export destination, has urged Hasina's government and the opposition to hold talks to resolve the crisis.

Welcome to the world: France to enact draconian anti rights legislation in wake of bumbling policing

France Reveals New Terrorism Laws as Paris Suspects Charged [Arutz Sheva 7 - 21/1/15]

 Paris gunman ‘stopped’ by police days before kosher store attack [France 24 - 21/1/15]:

The gunman who killed four shoppers at a Paris kosher store on January 9 was stopped by a police patrol just days before his deadly rampage but promptly let go, French weekly Le Canard Enchaîné reports.

Amédy Coulibaly was shot dead by police after the hostage siege at the Hyper Casher grocery in eastern Paris. French authorities have also linked him with the fatal shooting of a policewoman in a southern suburb of Paris the day before.

Coulibaly, who claimed allegiance to the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, had coordinated his attacks with brothers Saïf and Chérif Kouachi, the authors of a deadly assault on satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, in which 12 people were killed.

According to the Canard, another satirical weekly that is known for its investigative reporting, Coulibaly and his partner Hayat Boumeddiene were stopped in a random check by police officers while driving a rental car in Paris on December 30.

The French weekly said the 32-year-old was driving without a licence, having only just passed his driving test. The car had been rented in Boumeddiene's name.

The officers reportedly searched their database of wanted persons and Coulibaly’s name came up, along with instructions to question him without raising suspicions. The database described Coulibaly, a petty criminal who converted to radical Islam while in jail, as “dangerous and belonging to Islamist movements”.

The officers immediately notified the police’s anti-terrorism unit, the Canard reports, but nothing came of it.

Hours later, Coulibaly and his partner crossed the border into Spain, where Boumeddiene boarded a flight to Turkey on January 2. Turkish authorities say she entered Syria six days later. She is still wanted by French police.

French officials have not commented on the allegations by the Canard, which has printed extracts of a report by one of the police officers who stopped Coulibaly and Boumeddiene.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls has acknowledged intelligence “failings” in the wake of the country’s deadliest terrorist attacks in half a century.

He is due to present new security measures on Wednesday that will include efforts to increase intelligence-gathering against jihadis and other radicals, block their activities on the Internet, and prevent them from collaborating inside prisons or travelling abroad to fight.

On Tuesday, the Paris prosecutor's office called for charges to be filed against four men arrested on suspicion of links to the shootings in the French capital.

A leading Islamic organization has called on the United Nations to make "contempt of religions" illegal and urged the West to protect Muslim communities following the attack on French magazine Charlie Hebdo. ... [Naharnet - 21/1/15]

Pegida founder under fire over alleged posing as Adolf Hitler

Irish Times [20/1/15]:

Pegida founder Lutz Bachmann has come under fire for allegedly describing immigrants as “cattle” and “garbage” on Facebook and posting a picture of himself as Adolf Hitler.

The 41-year-old graphic designer, who has multiple convictions for burglary and drug possession, deleted his Facebook profile after Dresden’s Morgenpost newspaper contacted him about the posts.

Pegida supporters attacked the conversations and images as fakes.

A Morgenpost reader sent the newspaper screenshots appearing to show a closed Facebook conversation with Mr Bachmann on September 19th, weeks before the first Pegida march in Dresden.

“He spoke in a derogatory manner about other people who didn’t live up to his ideas,” said the unnamed Facebook user to the Morgenpost.

“When I challenged him, he blocked my profile.”

In a conversation about a local asylum seeker hostel, Mr Bachmann appears to have written, in capital letters, that there are “NO REAL WAR REFUGEES”.

“Whoever can afford the trip clearly does not belong to a threatened group,” the post continues, urging the woman to “wake up and stop spreading the propaganda of the gleichgeschaltete press” - a term used to describe Nazi-era control of Germany’s mass media.

When the woman challenged Bachmann’s remarks about the residents, saying her mother’s partner worked there as a security man, the Pegida organiser allegedly replied: “Then he should know the cattle that really come here ... and have to be watched FOR GOOD REASON.”

On another occasion, Mr Bachmann posted a picture of himself with a Hitler-style square moustache and comb-over haircut over the caption “He’s Back”.

Mr Bachmann told the newspaper it was an homage to a recent satirical book of the same name, now being turned into a film.

Shortly after his Hitler selfie, Mr Bachmann posted a Ku Klux Klan image, stating “Three Ks A Day Keeps Minorities Away”.

Such a philosophy, Mr Bachmann added, would have kept an asylum home out of a Dresden neighbourhood.

Since October, Pegida has held Monday night demonstrations in Dresden, warning about liberal migration and asylum policies and the “Islamisation of the west”.

Last Monday’s march was banned due to threats from extreme Islamist organisations.

PEGIDA supporters outnumbered by opponents on German streets [Deutsche Welle – 19/1/15]

United Nations panel on North Korea stands by rights abuses report

Sydney Morning Herald [21/1/15]:

The head of the UN commission that produced a damning report on North Korean rights abuses has dismissed Pyongyang's claim that doubts about the credibility of a prominent witness made the panel's findings "invalid".

"The partial retraction of Shin Dong-hyuk of the testimony he gave to the Commission of Inquiry on North Korea is not significant for the report, conclusions or recommendations of the commission," said retired Australian judge Michael Kirby.

Mr Shin, a well-known defector and Pyongyang critic, admitted this week that elements of his best-selling gulag survivor book Escape from Camp 14 were inaccurate, although he stressed that the crucial details of his suffering and torture still stood.

For his part, Mr Kirby noted that Mr Shin was only one of 300 witnesses interviewed by his commission, whose overall findings were based on a mass of "overwhelming" corroborative evidence.

"The dispute over Mr Shin's evidence appears to relate to the exact detention camp from which he escaped," Mr Kirby said in a statement.

"In the big picture of gross abuses of human rights of the entire population of North Korea over more than 65 years, his experience - although very important to him and his family - is not critical to the inquiry," he said.

But a spokesman for North Korea's Association for Human Rights Studies said on Wednesday Mr Shin's admissions "self-exposed" the flimsy foundations of efforts to censure Pyongyang for its rights record.

In a statement carried by the North's official KCNA news agency, the spokesman noted that Mr Shin was one of the best-known defectors who testified to Mr Kirby's panel.

The commission's conclusion that North Korea was committing human rights violations "without parallel in the contemporary world" was the basis of a resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly last month. It urged the Security Council to consider referring Pyongyang to the International Criminal Court.

The North Korean spokesman said Mr Shin's recent retractions proved the commission's report was "a false document cooked up on the basis of false testimonies made by human scum".

"So, needless to say, all the resolutions on human rights forcibly adopted against [North Korea] on the basis of such false documents are invalid," he said.

The North has repeatedly sought to discredit Mr Shin as a fabulist and criminal, and last October aired a TV interview with his father who called Mr Shin a "liar" and denied the family was even in a labour camp.

Mr Shin said his father must have been coerced into denouncing him.

For activists within the North Korean defector community, Mr Shin's admissions of inaccuracies in his survivor story are a genuine blow, given his high profile.

Mr Shin has acknowledged that the damage his retractions have done meant he "may not be able to continue" his activist work.

In his statement, Mr Kirby was protective of the 32-year-old defector.

"Mr Shin bears, on his body, the evidence of torture and suffering. At this stage he needs help and support, not hounding," he said.

Jurors at The Sun corruption trial are still deadlocked

Hacking Inquiry [21/1/15]:

Jurors at The Sun corruption trial are still deadlocked on all nine remaining charges despite deliberating for 45 hours, Kingston Crown Court heard today.

In dramatic scenes this afternoon, all the defendants and lawyers were called back into Court 9 at 2.49pm to hear whether the 12-strong jury had reached verdicts on the senior journalists Chris Pharo, Jamie Pyatt, Graham Dudman and Ben O’Driscoll.

However, Judge Richard Marks QC disclosed that the jury had sent him a note indicating that they were still unable to agree on any verdicts.

Before delivering partial verdicts in five counts in the case on Friday, the jury sent the judge an earlier note giving their voting numbers on individual counts. Judge Marks did not disclose the numbers then or today.

Formally asked by the court clerk this afternoon whether the jury had reached a verdict on any of the remaining courts, the jury foreman replied: “No”.

Judge Marks sent the dozen members of the public back into the jury room to continue their deliberations. He told them: “I’m going to ask you to retire and continue your deliberations to see if you can reach verdicts on which at least 10 of you are agreed.”

On Friday the jury returned not guilty verdicts on all the counts faced by The Sun’s picture editor John Edwards and the paper’s former East Anglia reporter John Troup. They also acquitted The Sun’s development director Graham Dudman and its former deputy news editor Ben O’Driscoll of one count each.

Mr Dudman, Mr O’Driscoll and Mr Pharo, The Sun’s head of news, and Mr Pyatt, the paper’s Thames Valley reporter, face the remaining nine charges.

Before sending the jury out to continue their deliberations this morning, Mr Justice Marks said that if unanimous verdicts could not be reached, he would accept majority verdicts of 10-2 or 11-1.

Juror discharged with stress; remaining jurors continue deliberating tomorrow [Hacking Inquiry -21/1/15]

Eugenie Bouchard Asked To "Give Us A Twirl" At Australian Open Post-Game Interview

Ian Cohen

Pedestrian TV [21/1/15]:

Great news, everyone! Blatant sexism and flagrant bad taste is alive and well in Australia, today, as critical levels of *facepalm* have been achieved via a video interview from the Australian Open.

Sports commentator Ian Cohen has truly outdone the routine and casual sexism so many female athletes are subject to, after he descended into pure douchebag territory last night on Channel Seven's broadcast.

Following Canadian tennis champion and current world number 7 Eugenie Bouchard's thrilling and convincing 6-0, 6-3 win over Kiki Bartens yesterday, Cohen approached Bouchard for an interview.

Casually shimmying straight past any court talk (because lol, female athletes, who cares about tennis when there are WOMEN wearing CLOTHES in different colours!) and went straight for the important stuff that he would surely also ask, say, Roger Federer. Literally:

"Last night you tweeted that you loved Serena's outfit, obviously the fluro is working for you girls at the moment," began Cohen. "Can you give us a twirl and tell us about your outfit?" He goes on to ask, sounding like the creepiest uncle of all time.

"...The fuck?" says Bouchard's shocked expression. "A twirl...?" she asks.

Yes, literally a twirl, ("like a pirouette!" adds Cohen - Bouchard's feeble mind must have misunderstood the verb "twirl", so let's translate that into ballet terminology, yes!), because taking female athletes seriously is still, tragically, not a thing.

Bouchard goes on to twirl, twirl toward public humiliation. RIP sporting values.

...

Bernard Tomic defeats Philipp Kohlschreiber in Australian Open second round [Sydney Morning Herald - 22/1/15]

Telegraph [21/1/15]:

The Sun has printed a topless model on Page 3, ending days of speculation that the feature was dead.

The newspaper has tweeted out a picture of Thursday’s Page 3 which features a blonde-haired model, under the headline 'clarifications and corrections', winking and baring her breasts.

A notice underneath the picture reads: “Further to recent reports in all other media outlets, we would like to clarify that this is Page 3 and this is a picture of Nicole, 22, from Bournemouth.

...

US couple present defense in Bali suitcase murder case

Reuters [21/1/15]:

A U.S. man and his pregnant girlfriend presented their defense on Wednesday at a hearing where they stand accused of murdering the woman's mother, whose battered body was found stuffed in a suitcase on the resort island of Bali last August.

Tommy Schaefer and Heather Mack, both from Chicago, argued through their lawyers that the prosecutor's case lacked credible witnesses and was unclear on where the crime took place.

"We object to the prosecutor's letter because it's not valid," said Edi Iswahyudi, a member of Schaefer's legal team.

Schaefer was charged last week with premeditated murder and Mack is charged with assisting her boyfriend in the killing of her mother, Sheila von Weise-Mack.

Under Indonesian law, the defendant does not enter a plea until the end of the trial.

According to Schaefer and Mack's defense statements, which were read out in Denpasar District Court, evidence in the case was also prone to manipulation.

The presiding panel of three judges will decide on Jan. 28 whether the trial will proceed or if the case will be dismissed due to inadequate evidence.

Schaefer and Mack, both of whom were brought handcuffed to the court, could face the death penalty if found guilty.

A U.S. court ruled on Tuesday that Mack can have access to $150,000 of her trust fund to pay legal bills and food costs.

Bali police conducted a four-month investigation into the killing that included a re-enactment with the defendants at the luxury hotel where Wiese-Mack's body was found.

Other evidence submitted to prosecutors included CCTV footage showing the couple speaking to a taxi driver after dropping the bloodied suitcase along with other luggage outside the hotel.

Turkish Court Sentences Two Policemen to 10 Years for Killing Teen

Al Akhbar [21/1/15]:

Two Turkish police were jailed Wednesday for at least 10 years over the killing of a teenage protester during 2013 demonstrations against the rule of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The court in the central city of Kayseri sentenced Mevlut Saldogan to 10 years and 10 months in prison, and fellow police officer Yalcin Akbulut to 10 years for the killing of Ali Ismail Korkmaz, 19, in the western city of Eskisehir on June 2, 2013.

The sentences were far lower than the life imprisonment demanded by prosecutors.

The judgement sparked uproar in the courtroom, with supporters of the Korkmaz family chanting "you are all assassins" and "the assassin state will be brought to account.”

Three bakers were handed sentences of six years and eight months for taking part in the killing, while another suspect received a three year and four months sentence.

Two other police officers were acquitted for lack of evidence.

The court threw out charges that the murder had been premeditated, resulting in lighter sentences than those demanded by prosecutors.

The teen's mother, Emel, slammed the verdict saying: "I did not expect this. The people who killed a young 19-year-old boy do not deserve to benefit from any clemency."

Korkmaz died after being pummeled with baseball bats and truncheons in one of the most notorious examples of police brutality in the protests.

He suffered a brain hemorrhage and died after 38 days in a coma.

He was one of eight people to have been killed unrest flared when police cracked down on a peaceful sit-in against plans to redevelop Istanbul's Gezi Park, which then snowballed into nationwide protests that saw some 2.5 million take to the streets.

The government's heavy-handed response during nearly three weeks of protests left nearly 8,000 injured and elicited outcry from protesters and human rights groups.

US Justice Department said ready to clear Ferguson officer: N.Y. Times

Reuters [21/1/15]:

The U.S. Justice Department is about to close the investigation into the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, and clear the white police officer involved of any civil rights charges, The New York Times reported on Wednesday.

The newspaper quoted law enforcement officials as saying that federal prosecutors had begun work on a legal memo recommending no civil rights charges against the officer, Darren Wilson, after an FBI investigation found no evidence to support charges against him.

The Justice Department declined comment.

The agency is still conducting a probe into the Ferguson police force. A St. Louis County grand jury decided last year not to prosecute Wilson.

The shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown last August led to months of sometimes violent protests in Ferguson and galvanized critics of the treatment by police and the U.S. criminal justice system of blacks and other minority groups.

Wilson, who said he was acting in self-defense when he fatally shot Brown, resigned from the Ferguson police force in November, citing threats against fellow officers after the grand jury decision.

Fatal traffic crash, Morayfield

QPS Media [21/1/15]:

… Around 5.10pm, a motorcycle was travelling along Maurice Avenue when it lost control and collided with a power pole.

The rider, a 26-year-old Centenary Heights man was pronounced deceased at the scene.

The Forensic Crash Unit is investigating.

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

Man charged with Gold Coast double murder, couple's 'son' found unharmed

ABC [22/1/15]:

A 36-year-old man has been charged with two counts of murder after the bodies of a couple were found inside their Gold Coast home, where a boy believed to be their son was found unharmed.

The bodies of a 43-year-old man and a 39-year-old woman were discovered at the house in Upper Coomera on Wednesday evening.

A young boy found inside was physically unharmed, Superintendent David Hutchinson said.

"A five-year-old being in a house under those circumstances, it would have to be very traumatic," he said.

"Hopefully his age will be in his favour."

Neighbours said the family moved into the home about six months ago, and some had reported hearing an argument at the house on Tuesday night.

The accused killer was due to face Southport Magistrates Court after spending the night in police custody.

A crime scene has been established at the house and forensic police are investigating.

The discovery of the bodies was made by a female relative when she visited the home after 5:00pm.

She found the boy and raised the alarm with police, who declined to confirm the victims' cause of death.

"They have sustained some injuries but I'm not prepared to talk about what those injuries are," Supt Hutchinson said.

"We have a lot of enquiries still to make, we have a lot of police who have been recruited to assist."

It is thought the boy was the only person home at the time, along with the perpetrator.

"The examination of the house will continue and they [police] will probably retain possession of the house for up to a week."

Burglary with violence, Robina

QPS Media [22/1/15]:

Police are investigating after a man was threatened and robbed in his home in Robina last night.

At around 12.40am, a man entered a Kirralee Drive residence and located an occupant within the home, threatening him with a knife and demanding cash.

The occupant complied, and the offender left the house with a sum of cash.

Once outside the home, three other occupants arrived home and challenged the man. They struggled physically before the offender ran off down Kirralee Drive towards a canal.

The man is described as being Caucasian, around 184cm tall and of a slim build, with short dark brown hair.

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.

Unlawful wounding, Clontarf

QPS Media [22/1/15]:

One man has been hospitalised and another is in police custody after a verbal argument allegedly escalated into violence at a Clontarf park last night.

Preliminary information indicates that police were called the Pelican Park car park, on the Hornibrook Esplanade, around 11pm following reports of a man with a stab wound.

A 34-year-old Wynnum man was transported to the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital with a non-life threatening injury to his abdomen.

A 44-year-old Clontarf man, who was located by officers in nearby Bells Street, has been charged with one count of unlawful wounding and is due to appear in the Redcliffe Magistrates Court today.

The men are known to each other.

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.

 

 

Feel safe Queensland?

Anti rights arrests, Townsville [QPS Media - 22/1/15]

Anti rights arrest, Sydney [QPS Media - 22/1/15]

 

22 January 2015

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