Lawyers gain access to 'dangerous' Christmas Island compound after judge dismisses 'contrived' refusal
Sydney Morning Herald [24/4/15]:
Lawyers have won an emergency court order allowing them to access a Christmas Island compound that is home to 12 asylum seekers, who the government claims are dangerous.
Solicitors are currently on Christmas Island gathering evidence for a class action on behalf of a 6-year-old being brought against the federal government that could affect thousands of asylum seekers.
The lawyers have been there since Monday night, and were invited to inspect White compound, but the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) had refused to let them enter the area, home to 12 asylum seekers, arguing it could constitute a security risk.
The Commonwealth's lawyer, Richard Stanley, told the court the solicitors could be in physical danger if they entered the compound. "DIBP members aren't allowed to go in there because of the perceived danger," he said.
However, Justice Stephen Kaye said while he did not doubt these were Mr Stanley's instructions from the department, "it really does sound very contrived".
Previously, the government had claimed the lawyers should not be able to access the compound over concerns for the privacy of the men detained there.
In July last year, authorities prevented a paediatrician from examining children detained on Christmas Island to gather evidence for the case, after previously approving her visit.
Maurice Blackburn is suing the government on behalf of a girl who was just 6 years old when the class action was launched last year.
Lawyers representing the girl say she has been traumatised by her detention. They say she developed physical and mental health issues, suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, and developed bed-wetting and stammering after being detained for more than a year and separated from her mother in that time. The girl and her parents have since been released from Christmas Island, and the government moved children off the island in December.
As well as the girl, the class action would also cover all asylum seekers who had been injured or pregnant on Christmas Island over the past three years, a figure that could run into the thousands.
The case is being brought against DIBP and the Immigration Minister. Maurice Blackburn argues that both failed in their duty of care against asylum seekers detained on the island. At the time the case was launched, the Immigration Minister was Scott Morrison. It is now Peter Dutton.
Matthew Albert, a lawyer for Maurice Blackburn, told a hastily-convened hearing at the Supreme Court of Appeal in Melbourne that a previous court order allowing solicitors' access to the Christmas Island compounds had expressly ordered DIBP staff to give three hours' notice if they felt the security situation would prevent the lawyers entering the facilities. No such notice had been given.
Last month Maurice Blackburn won a court order freezing the planned demolition of Christmas Island detention facilities, which its lawyers argued could contain evidence in their class action against the government.
Justice Kaye ordered that the solicitors be allowed to take photographs and video in the compound before 11am on Saturday.
The first shipment of French weapons to the Lebanese army under a Saudi-financed deal included double the amount that was revealed to the public, An Nahar newspaper reported on Friday.
Ministerial sources told the daily that the real number of Milan rockets was double the amount revealed, in addition to advanced weapons that were not announced for military purposes. ... [Naharnet - 24/4/15]
Yemen conflict: Over 115 children killed in month - UN [BBC - 24/4/15]
Libya militia 'launches air raids' against ISIL [Hurriyet Daily News - 24/4/15]
Bombings in Iraq near market and courthouse kill 7 [Daily Star - 24/4/15]
... Addressing an Israeli Independence Day celebration in Washington, Biden insisted that Barack Obama “has Israel’s back,” despite a recent strains between the U.S. president and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over Iran nuclear talks and Middle East diplomacy.
Biden won applause from a pro-Israel audience when he told them the United States would begin delivery of Lockheed Martin’s new F-35 jets to its ally next year, making Israel the only country in the Middle East to have the new stealth warplane. ... [Reuters - 24/4/15]
Native Americans walk off Adam Sandler set [BBC - 24/4/15]
Turkey on April 24 hosts world leaders to commemorate the centenary of the World War I battle of Gallipoli, sending out a message of reconciliation -- and patriotic pride over one of the most dramatic Ottoman victories of the war.
Tens of thousands lost their lives on both sides in a grinding nine month battle between the German-backed Ottoman forces and Allies including Australian, British and New Zealand troops trying to break through to take Constantinople and knock the Ottoman Empire out of the war.
Today, the fallen from both the Ottoman and Allied sides lie close together in separate cemeteries on the Gallipoli peninsula on the western edge of Turkey, in what has long been seen as a powerful symbol of reconciliation between former enemies.
In recognition of this, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan hosts leaders of the World War I Allies, including 21 heads of state, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, New Zealand Premier John Key, as well as the heir to the British throne Prince Charles and his son Harry. ... [Hurriyet Daily News - 24/4/15]
War is a racket.
WACA on US embassy soil ...
Image: @akaWACA [24/4/15]
Whistleblowers, Activists and Citizens Alliance (WACA) [24/4/15]:
And we're off! First stop at the #WagingPeace Canberra Peace Convergence is the Museum of Democracy. Democracy is not a museum peace!
On our way to the Israeli Embassy for some more #WagingPeace
We've arrived safe and sound for our picnic lunch at BAE, who were responsible for the manufacture of weapons used by Turkish soldiers to kill Aussie Diggers at Gallipoli #CPC15 #WagingPeace
We've got a didge going on at BAE while we have our picnic
Hey #lockheedmartin you just won a Sovereign Bastards award - it's on your door
The Americans have dragged us into war after war after war. Today we're standing on US soil in conscientious objection to the US Empire.
Man charged for burning flag in Brisbane's Anzac Square [ABC - 24/4/15]:
A man has been arrested after he allegedly set the Australian flag on fire in Brisbane's Anzac Square.
The Palm Beach man, 66, was charged with public nuisance after allegedly lighting the flag just 10 metres from the Shrine of Remembrance about 1:00pm.
The man is due to appear in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on Anzac Day.
In the video, the man was unapologetic when police arrived.
"In fact had planned to come tomorrow and burn it up there," he said.
Sydney Morning Herald [24/4/15]:
A crowdfunding campaign has raised more than $10,000 for a struggling Australian soldier forced to sell his war medals to make ends meet.
Luke Jones, 35, posted an ad on auction website eBay last week, listing war medals he said were earned during a decade of military service on tours in Iraq, Afghanistan and East Timor.
The former corporal said he had been unable to work since being discharged from the army with post-traumatic stress disorder in 2012.
Parting with the memorabilia was one of the hardest decisions of his life, but he said he was prepared to sell them to build a better future for his 18-month-old son. ...
On 100th anniversary, German president labels Armenian killings as genocide [Todays Zaman - 23/4/15]
Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President François Hollande, who have both named the killing of Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Empire during World War I “genocide,” attended ceremonies at the Tsitsernakaberd memorial complex in Yerevan April 24 commemorating the tragedy in 1915. ... [Hurriyet Daily News - 24/4/15]
This evening the ABC reported that Treasurer Joe Hockey had pulled out of speaking at a Sydney Town Hall event commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.
... To refuse to acknowledge this genocide is to ensure that future Hitlers can capitalise on the world’s reticence in taking a stand.
Maybe his speech would have been something like this: Adjournment Speech - Armenian Genocide (20 Oct 2008, House of Representatives)
100 years on, Australia’s still out of step on the Armenian genocide, Professor Colin Tatz [The Conversation – 24/4/15]:
There’s no escaping the media blitz on tomorrow’s centenary of the Anzac landing at Gallipoli.
That’s understandable. Less easy to grasp is the way Australia has largely chosen to shut its eyes to the centenary of another event in the same country: the Turkish genocide of 1.5 million Armenians, between 750,000 and 900,000 Greeks, and between 275,000 and 400,000 Christian Assyrians, which began on April 24, 1915.
New York Times [24/4/15]:
To the Editor:
Readers not immersed in the intricacies of international human rights law may have missed an important point about the Obama administration’s refusal to call the Armenian genocide by its name (“White House Acknowledges Armenian Genocide, but Avoids the Term,” news article, April 21).
The term refers to any number of acts, including killing, done with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group. This intent is the key element that distinguishes genocide from other crimes against humanity and hate crimes.
While the decision not to call the thing by its name may well be political, the rightness of that decision rests only on whether the facts satisfy the legal criteria. In the case of the Armenian genocide, there is little doubt that they do. That’s why the administration’s avoidance of the term is shameful.
The writer is a visiting professor at Cardozo Law School and director of the Law and Armed Conflict Project at the Cardozo Law Institute in Holocaust and Human Rights.
President Barack Obama, wary of damaging relations with Turkey amid growing unrest in the Middle East, won't use the 100th anniversary of the massacre of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire to declare the brutal episode a genocide.
Despite Obama's campaign promise in 2008 to "recognize the Armenian Genocide" as president, the White House on Tuesday issued a carefully worded statement on a high-level administration meeting with Armenian groups that avoided using the term "genocide." ... [CNN - 22/4/15]
Genocide is a word Australians hate to hear: The secret country again wages war on its own people, John Pilger [teleSUR - 22/4/15]:
... The reason is an extreme doctrine that evokes the punitive campaigns of the early 20th century "chief protector of Aborigines", such as the fanatic A.O. Neville who decreed that the first Australians "assimilate" to extinction. Influenced by the same eugenics movement that inspired the Nazis, Queensland's "protection acts" were a model for South African apartheid.
Today, the same dogma and racism are threaded through anthropology, politics, the bureaucracy and the media. "We are civilised, they are not," wrote the acclaimed Australian historian Russel Ward two generations ago. The spirit is unchanged.
Having reported on Aboriginal communities since the 1960s, I have watched a seasonal routine whereby the Australian elite interrupts its "normal" mistreatment and neglect of the people of the First Nations, and attacks them outright. This happens when an election approaches, or a prime minister's ratings are low. Kicking the blackfella is deemed popular, although grabbing minerals-rich land by stealth serves a more prosaic purpose. Driving people into the fringe slums of "economic hub towns" satisfies the social engineering urges of racists.
The current distraction from these national dirty secrets is the approaching "celebrations" of the centenary of an Edwardian military disaster at Gallipoli in 1915 when 8,709 Australian and 2,779 New Zealand troops -- the Anzacs -- were sent to their death in a futile assault on a beach in Turkey. In recent years, governments in Canberra have promoted this imperial waste of life as an historical deity to mask the militarism that underpins Australia's role as America's "deputy sheriff" in the Pacific.
In bookshops, "Australian non-fiction" shelves are full of opportunistic tomes about wartime derring-do, heroes and jingoism. Suddenly, Aboriginal people who fought for the white man are fashionable, whereas those who fought against the white man in defence of their own country, Australia, are unfashionable. Indeed, they are officially non-people. The Australian War Memorial refuses to recognise their remarkable resistance to the British invasion. In a country littered with Anzac memorials, not one official memorial stands for the thousands of native Australians who fought and fell defending their homeland.
Open Letter From Greece on the Mediterranean Migrants Issue [The Automatic Earth – 24/4/15]:
This is an open letter I received from a group of 57 Greek intellectuals, addressed to the EU and America, concerning the waves of refugees (migrants, immigrants) that ‘wash ashore’ on Greek territory in increasing numbers.
We all know by now to what extent Europe has dropped the ball on the issue, and I’ll have much more to say on that soon. I thought it would be a good and respectful idea to let this letter stand on its own, and on its own merit.
The number of refugees trying to make it to Greece was estimated at 30,000 in 2014. It’s certain to be a multiple of that this year. The EU may quote numbers like 150,000 for all of southern Europe for 2015, but in real life it will easily be over 500,000.
The EU has no idea what it’s doing, what it’s up against, or what to do next. Brussels figured if it would just close its eyes, the problem would go away. And even today, after almost 1000 victims drowned last weekend, passing the buck to its weakest member nations is apparently still too tempting an opportunity to resist.
Brussels Summit proposals inadequate but leaders still have a chance to end Mediterranean crisis [Amnesty Media Release – 24/4/15]
... Yet they go. Because they also know that all they have left is not just the bare bones of living but also the fundamental right to die trying to stay alive rather than fatalistically waiting to fall victim to the next bomb, bullet or knife, or even abject poverty. The issue is that simple. It becomes even simpler when we take into account that in at least half of the countries that are currently major war zones, the armed hand of the West has acted “to restore democracy” or “deal with a humanitarian crisis” – whether out of benevolence or as a new form of colonization. The nations of the West, after all, have never stopped treating the rest of the planet as their own backyard. ...
Prime Minister’s A. Tsipras statement regarding the latest shipwreck in the Mediterranean [20/4/15]
Call for immediate moratorium on sending asylum seekers offshore
Refugee Council of Australia Media Release [24/4/15]:
Joint statement by Australian organisations and community groups
We, the undersigned, call for an immediate moratorium on the transfer of asylum seekers to Nauru and Manus Island until the safety and security of vulnerable asylum seekers can be guaranteed.
The recent Immigration Department-commissioned independent investigations, the Moss Review into the failures of protection for children and women on Nauru, and the Cornall Report into the ruinous conditions on Manus Island, illustrate the inappropriate levels of protection and security inherent in the current system.
The Australian Government, in accepting all recommendations of the Moss Review, has acknowledged that major changes are needed at Nauru to ensure that women and children can be kept safe from physical, psychological and sexual abuse.
The Moss Review also highlighted serious deficiencies in conditions at the Nauru detention centre and noted that asylum seekers had concerns about their personal safety and privacy. The Review concluded that asylum seekers’ safety should be considered paramount and that the Australian Government needs to do more in relation to infrastructure, policing and staffing, including ensuring that staff are properly trained on issues of personal safety and privacy for asylum seekers.
Conditions at Manus Island are no better: after two years of operation, a majority asylum seekers have still not had their applications processed and only a handful of people have been moved to the Lorengau transitory facility. Over 950 men remain at the Manus Island detention centre, continuing to live in fear. Recommendations from the Cornall Report into the Manus Island detention centre have not been implemented to a satisfactory standard.
As appropriate care is not available on Manus Island or on Nauru, over 200 asylum seekers and accompanying family members who have been in offshore processing facilities are currently in Australia for medical treatment. Many of those detained on Manus Island and Nauru are now suffering significant mental distress including post-traumatic stress disorder. Returning those people, including children, to the place of their suffering and even to the place where they may have experienced sexual abuse, amounts to cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment.
Fear of return to Manus Island and Nauru is so acute that self-harm and attempted suicide have rapidly escalated amongst this group. Part of their fear is due to the Government’s removal of procedural fairness, which means they are held incommunicado, without phone access to lawyers, family or friends, for hours and have their personal belongings packed by detention centre officers while they wait to be removed offshore. Because the Immigration Department does not reveal who will be transferred each week, hundreds of people have heightened anxiety for days before each scheduled transfer.
Asylum seekers and refugees have legitimate fears for their safety, and the Australian Government has not implemented meaningful changes to detention conditions at Nauru or Manus Island to ensure they comply with both its own commissioned reports as well as Australia’s obligations under international law.
We call for an immediate moratorium on transfers to offshore detention centres, at least until such a time as all recommendations of the Moss Review and Cornall Report have been fully implemented, and the Australian-funded detention centres comply with minimum international standards for the treatment of the people detained there.
Australians can stop co-operating with bipartisan fascism, or we can let history repeat itself .
A stock whip wielded by a young man paints bloody stripes across a small boy's bare back while several nuns and dozens of children watch on.
Another boy is locked in a cramped cupboard for an entire day without food or water.
His crime? Wetting the bed.
A nun drags another child to the priest's quarters and tells him to be a "good boy", before the man who has supposedly committed his life to god forces him into unspeakable acts.
These are not scenes from a film, but the reality for Queensland children who attended St Joseph's Neerkol orphanage, near Rockhampton.
Bundaberg IT staff ready to work - but still locked out
News Mail [24/4/15]
Medical Director employees want to go back to work, but their employer is refusing to let them back inside.
The actions form part of an ongoing industrial dispute for better work conditions and higher wages, with some full-time staff reported to be paid as low as $24,000 a year.
Medical Director is a company providing patient record software to general practitioners.
The company's Bundaberg staff provide IT support to maintain the software across Australasia.
Thirteen of the company's Bundaberg employees organised a protest to be held from Monday this week and put a ban on working overtime as the next step in their unresolved dispute that started in December.
But when their employer found out last week, it issued the 13 workers with a notice that they would be locked out of their workplace from Saturday until further notice.
The employees began protesting outside the Bourbong St business from Monday as their Australian Services Union representatives sent a letter to Medical Director and requested a meeting be held on Wednesday.
Medical Director agreed to facilitate the request for a midday meeting with union representatives held in Bundaberg yesterday, the company's CEO Phil Offer was in attendance.
The NewsMail caught up with ASU organiser Donna Webster after the meeting.
"I've just finished with the employer - they're refusing to lift the lockout even though we're prepared to lift our ban," Ms Webster said.
She said her union members had families to feed and bills to pay and needed to start earning again because the employer was withholding pay from locked-out employees.
"So our question to them is 'If there's no bans in place, why are you still locking them out?'," she said.
When the NewsMail asked Medical Director, it provided this response: "A formal notification to lift the ban has not been received and our focus remains on a swift resolution."
The spokesman reported progress was made at the meeting.
"But there are still issues to be resolved and we have agreed to provide the union with further information before meeting again next Thursday."
"With negotiations taking longer than expected, we will begin transferring funds owing to staff over the coming days."
Ms Webster agreed the meeting had been worthwhile.
"We made some progress on the agreement making and there's some documents coming from the employer by next Tuesday for us to consider based on those negotiations," she said.
Ms Webster said the documents should contain two things.
"It should be a wage offer and a response to our classification request which is the tipping point," she said.
But Ms Webster said the employees were IT technicians who should be recognised for their work and paid accordingly.
She said the union representatives would speak with lawyers then meet with the locked-out employees in the next 24 hours.
Melbourne "terror plot": Sevdet Besim appears in court
A teenager charged with conspiring to commit a terrorist act as part of an alleged plot to attack Anzac Day proceedings has appeared in a Melbourne court.
Sevdet Besim, 18, of Hallam, was among five men arrested during counter-terrorism raids in Melbourne's south-east last Saturday.
Besim kept his head down during the brief filing hearing, and his lawyer told the court he would apply for bail with his co-accused Harun Causevic next week.
Causevic, 18, from Hampton Park, has also been charged with planning a terrorist act after initially being held under a Preventative Detention Order.
An 18-year-old from Narre Warren has been charged with weapons offences, while the remaining two were released pending further inquiries.
Police had earlier alleged Besim had a phone conversation with a 14-year-old boy in Britain about the alleged plot.
Overnight, British prosecutors charged the 14-year-old boy for allegedly inciting the plot to carry out a beheading and attack a parade in Australia.
A security official with knowledge of the operation told the ABC that the plot involved running a police officer over and then killing him with a knife.
The ABC understands Australian counterterrorism officials are also investigating links between the most senior Australian with the Islamic State terror group, Neil Prakash, and the group of Melbourne teenagers.
Prakash, 23, of Fijian-Indian and Cambodian background, is an Islamic convert and travelled to Syria in early 2013, where he took the nom de guerre Abu Khalid al Cambodi.
He recently appeared in an Islamic State (IS) propaganda video discussing his conversion and called on his Australian followers to attack.
Victoria Police today reassured people heading to Anzac commemorations they were ready to respond to any threat.
Deputy Commissioner Lucinda Nolan said she was not aware of any specific threat to the event but was treating the security risk as high.
FBI informant exposes sting operation targeting innocent Americans in new "(T)ERROR" documentary [Democracy Now – 20/4/15]
… AMY GOODMAN: They were apartment neighbors.
LYRIC R. CABRAL [Directors of (T)ERROR]: They weren’t neighbors. Tarik actually didn’t live in the brownstone, but he frequently played music gigs in Harlem, and so he would stop by a lot, just because it was a—you know, the FBI had engineered this environment so that it was comfortable for him, so that he would have a place that was available late at night after he would get off of a gig. And so, ultimately, Saeed used this child support need that Tarik had—he owed about $70,000—and said, "Well, you know, if you use your martial arts service in service of 'al-Qaeda,'" quote-unquote, "we can get you $70,000. I can get your passport back."
AMY GOODMAN: So, Stephen Downs, explain ultimately what happened to Tarik, what he was charged with.
STEPHEN DOWNS [Attorney]: Well, he was charged with material support for terrorism, for essentially, I suppose, nothing more than, in a kind of a scripted plot—or not a scripted plot, but a scripted play by the FBI, he took some sort of an oath to al-Qaeda that he would treat al-Qaeda soldiers if they were injured somehow, or would train them in martial arts. And I think the request was: Would you train al-Qaeda soldiers? And he said, "I’ll train anybody. I’m a martial arts instructor." And that was essentially the—for what he was convicted of. ...
Third person charged over Caboolture shooting
A third person has been charged with shooting a young man in the face north of Brisbane.
The 23-year-old victim was seriously injured when he was confronted and shot on Morningview Drive at Caboolture a month ago.
Police on Thursday arrested and charged a Gympie man, also 23, with attempted murder.
He's also accused of discharging a weapon in a public place, dangerous conduct with a weapon, entering a dwelling with intent, and unlawful possession of a weapon.
He's due to face the Gympie Magistrates Court on Friday.
Two other people - a man, 34, and a woman, 23 - have also been charged with attempted murder.
Second ram raid in a week at Goodna service station
A Queensland service station has been ram raided for the second time in a week.
Thieves crashed a ute through the front of the service station in the Ipswich suburb of Goodna, west of Brisbane, just before 2am (AEST) on Friday.
The three assailants, who had their faces obscured, stole property and sprayed stock in the shop with kerosene before fleeing in the ute.
It's the second time the Brisbane Terrace business has been targeted this week.
On Monday, a car was smashed through the front windows of the property.
Woman dies after being pinned against wall by her own car in Gympie
A 59-year-old woman has died after her own car rolled and pinned her against the front of her house in the southern Queensland town of Gympie.
The accident occurred at the front of the woman's house in Pacey Street at about 5:30pm last night.
Paramedics carried out emergency resuscitation at the scene of the accident and the woman was taken to the Gympie Hospital, but she was pronounced dead on arrival.
Police are preparing a report for the coroner.
Diesel tanker rolls into Gold Coast creek
A crane is being brought in to right a diesel tanker that has rolled into a shallow creek on the Gold Coast.
Police say the driver of the truck was shaken but not hurt in the crash, which happened near an old council tip at Pimpama early on Friday morning.
Only a small amount of diesel has leaked into the creek, which is not carrying much water.
Environmental authorities have been alerted about the incident.
A crane is being organised to lift the truck out of the creek, which runs beside the Pimpama Jacobs Well Road.
Metgasco court win: Alliance calls for urgent law reform to protect public
Lock The Gate [24/4/15]:
Gasfield Free Northern Rivers says today’s court win by unconventional gas driller Metgasco against a State Government decision to suspend their drilling licence after it was revealed they breached community consultation requirements highlights the urgent need for legislative reform to protect the public.
The Supreme Court has today found in favour of Metgasco's challenge of the suspension of their drilling licence at Bentley.
The Minister for Mining and Energy, Anthony Roberts, suspended the licence last year during a blockade that saw thousands of people from the area turn Metgasco’s drilling equipment away.
“This is a disappointing outcome because if Metgasco are successful in their demand for compensation, more public money is going to be thrown at a dangerous and unpopular industry," said Gasfield Free Northern Rivers Regional Coordinator Dean Draper.
"This mess is a result of the Government’s failure to act decisively to create a watertight legislative means to cancel the Northern Rivers unconventional gas licences. There is now an urgent need for new legislation to enable the Government to cancel mining titles on public interest grounds, without compensation, and to make the Northern Rivers permanently gasfield free, as the community wants.
"The people of the Northern Rivers have overwhelmingly demanded full cancellation of all gas licences in our region. We have declared ourselves gasfield free by direct community democracy. We shouldn’t have to blockade to protect the region: the Government just needs to do their job and represent the people.
"The Northern Rivers community demands legislative reform to enable the cancellation of gas licences across the region. The least the state government can do is act in good faith with the will of the people, and make the Northern Rivers permanently gasfield free,” he said.
Metgasco Limited v Minister for Resources and Energy  NSWSC 453
For the first time in the state's history, Oklahoma’s state government officially recognized the long held scientific consensus linking the disposal of oil and gas wastewater with the record number of earthquakes plaguing it in recent years.
On Tuesday, the Oklahoma Geological Survey released a statement declaring it was “very likely that the majority of recent earthquakes, particularly those in central and north-central Oklahoma, are triggered by the injection of produced water in disposal wells.”
The statement coincided with the launch of a website produced by Oklahoma’s Energy and Environment Cabinet, featuring an interactive map and links to expert studies detailing the scientific evidence behind the link between Oklahoma’s earthquakes and the disposal of oil and gas waste water.
The website represents the first time Oklahoma lawmakers have recognized the link, after years of official skepticism. ... [ABC News - 22/4/15]
Mark Anzac Day with a memorial visit says the Queensland Government.
(just don't go to the one they're trying to wipe off the map)
Acland war memorial
WWI Memorial Journey - Great Western Circuit (Warwick, Toowoomba, Charleville, Cunnamulla, Stanthorpe)
Clean Air Queensland calls on the ALP to save Acland this ANZAC Day [Lock The Gate - 24/4/15]
Letter to the Editor, Queensland Country Life [8/8/13]:
I am sure that when people say the expansion of New Acland Coal will be a good thing they have never lived with coal nor experienced the day to day impacts of living with coal mining.
When about twice the number of coal trains come rattling through your town each day from New Acland (instead of the current 12 trains per day) as well as trains from two other mines, I think you may change your ideas.
The rail ines through heavily settled areas of South East Queensland were certainly not made for that amount of heavily weighted traffic.
They will become a death trap. Upgrades are paid from taxpayer dollars, despite mining companies making millions.
Residents should be aware that coal is toxic and can ruin your health. Think of all the coal dust and small particularate matter that floats off the train onto and into your homes.
Research has proved that over time coal dust causes cancer and lung and kidney problems. This dust can duspend in air or drift for kilometres before it settles on your furniture, roofs, water tanks etc.
The government will say they are testing along the rail line however the only true reading of coal in your home is to wipe your surfaces with a wet rag.
The regulated testing by air ambient monitors is not a true test, nor is it independently tested.
Whent the coal is analysed the coal reading is apparently only 1 pc of the total dust. However, our homes and furnishings are covered in coal and during these times we have breathing difficulties.
At Jondaryan we have sometimes levels in the thousands ug/metre squared.
The supposed safe limit is 80, yet the World Health Organisation says any coal dust or fine particles are harmful. I am sure you do not realise yet the misery you are going to experience if this mine expansion is approved. You will experience burning eyes, tongue and sore throat along with breathing problems.
They said they would adopt levelling and veneering of trains at Jondaryan, but many of New Hope's trains still get loaded just as before, without the new treatement. It saves the company money and time.
Toowoomba Chronicle [8/12/12]:
... Acland's sole remaining resident Glenn Beutel believes the State Government has softened its approach to New Hope's Acland expansion since coming to power earlier this year.
"The impression they gave before the election was a complete rejection of Stage Three," Mr Beutel said.
"Subsequent to the election, they seem to be leaning a little more towards the company's side.
"It seems they are going down the same path as the former government.
"Everyone sort of thinks it is a done deal."
Mr Beutel said he appreciated some of the concessions the company had made in its revised proposal.
"It is important the (Acland War) Memorial is going to stay.
"It is a shame the government and company even threatened its sacredness." ...
Hazelwood mine fire inquiry to be re-opened to examine claims of smoke-related deaths
The Hazelwood mine fire inquiry will be re-opened to examine whether smoke from the blaze in February last year caused premature deaths in the area.
The coal mine fire burned for 45 days near Morwell, in Victoria's south-east, putting thick, acrid smoke over the nearby town.
In the first week of the fire, about 20 firefighters were treated for carbon monoxide poisoning, while vulnerable residents were not advised to leave until weeks later.
The original inquiry held into the disaster last year made 12 recommendations to government, including tough new fire regulations for coal mine operators.
The Government said it would allocate more than $25 million in funding to implement the final recommendations, including the roll out of rapid response air monitoring anywhere in Victoria within 24 hours of a fire.
The re-opened inquiry would again be headed by Bernard Teague, while talks to secure other members had not been finalised, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said.
Mr Andrews said the terms of reference and details of dates would be finalised by May.
Ahead of today's announcement, Wendy Farmer from Voices of the Valley said the original inquiry held did not have enough time to investigate important health issues.
"We are really hoping it will cover the health of the community ... also the deaths that have happened and look really seriously at how pollution can kill people and did it happen in this instance," Ms Farmer said.
The new inquiry will make recommendations on how the Latrobe Valley's mines should be rehabilitated.
Last November, Victoria's coroner rejected calls to investigate the possible link between deaths in the Latrobe Valley and smoke from the blaze.
The calls came after Queensland University of Technology air pollution expert Adrian Barnett said there was a high probability air pollution from the mine fire did cause the 11 deaths.
He analysed official Births, Deaths and Marriages data that showed the monthly number of deaths from four postcode areas in and around Morwell from 2009 to 2014.
Then-Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews said the analysis was troubling, and called on the government of the day to re-open the inquiry.
"The fact that this was not considered by the board of inquiry means that the board of inquiry must be reopened and must look at this issue," he said ahead of Victoria's 2014 state election.
"There must be satisfaction for the people of Morwell that when the Government said they would look into the disaster and the handling of it properly and fully that they will actually do that."
The Victorian premier at the time, Denis Napthine, said he was confident the State Government was given the right advice about the potential health impacts of the mine fire.
"We've acted responsibly and appropriately in tackling what was a difficult fire situation," Dr Napthine said.
"In supporting the families, supporting the community and putting into place an independent inquiry and adopting the recommendations of that inquiry."
Teenagers hospitalised following police pursuit that ended in crash, Smithfield
QPS Media [24/4/15]:
Police are investigating an incident where a vehicle allegedly evaded police before crashing at Smithfield last night.
Around 11.15pm police attempted to intercept a vehicle on Captain Cook Highway however it will be alleged the vehicle accelerated away, failing to stop.
The vehicle continued before crashing into a tree at the intersection of MacGregor Road on the Captain Cook Highway.
The driver of the car, a 19-year-old Townview man, was taken to the Cairns Base Hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
A 17-year-old Bentley Park woman was also taken to hospital for observation.
Three other occupants, a 28-year-old Towers Hill man, a 13-year-old White Rock boy and a 16-year-old boy were not injured.
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.
Police officer hospitalised following crash on Bruce Highway
QPS Media [23/4/15]:
The Forensic Crash unit are investigating a traffic crash that occurred on the Bruce Highway approximately 400 metres south of Yalboroo this evening.
The crash occurred at about 7.20pm and involved a marked police motorcycle and another car.
Emergency services attended and the police officer was treated at the scene and then transported to hospital with serious but non-life threatening injuries.
No one else was injured.
The Bruce Highway at the incident location is currently closed with diversions in place. Investigations into the crash 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.
Break and enter, Bulimba
QPS Media [24/4/15]:
Police are investigating the break and enter of a jewellery store in Bulimba overnight.
Just before 4am, the front window of an Oxford Street business was smashed and then display cases within the premises were broken.
More than 120 watches were stolen during the incident which are estimated to be worth in excess of $300,000.
Police would like to speak to anyone who may have witnessed suspicious behavior in the area early this morning to contact them.
Anyone with information which could assist with this matter should contact Crime Stoppers anonymously via 1800 333 000 or crimestoppers.com.au 24hrs a day.
A decorated former detective who used his police-issued Glock as a sex toy during a rendezvous at Kingscliff police station has avoided jail for misconduct.
Instead, Mark Garner will complete his 20-month sentence by way of an intensive corrections order (ICO), meaning he serve his time in the community and not behind bars. ... [Tweed Shire Echo - 23/4/15]
Former CIA director and retired US general David Petraeus has been sentenced to two years probation and handed a $100,000 fine for leaking secrets to a mistress who was writing his biography. ... [Al Jazeera - 23/4/15]
United States, “allies” continue bombing Iraq and Syria
U.S. and coalition forces conducted 16 air strikes against Islamic State in Iraq and five in Syria since Wednesday, the American military said.
The strikes in Iraq targeted Islamic State tactical units, buildings, sniper positions and vehicles around seven cities including Falluja, Mosul, Ramadi and Sinjar, the Combined Joint Task Force said in a statement on Thursday.
The strikes in Syria were near Kobani and al Hasaka, it said.
US-led airstrikes have killed 2,079 people in Syria: monitor [Reuters – 23/4/15]
Saudi warplanes hit areas in central, southern Yemen
Press TV [23/4/15]:
Saudi fighter jets have pounded areas in the central and southern parts of Yemen as Riyadh continues its military campaign against the impoverished country.
On Thursday evening, Saudi military aircraft targeted the al-Hilan and Kufal regions in Yemen’s central province of Ma’rib, Yemen-based Arabic-language Khabar news agency reported.
There is still no word on possible casualties, though.
Saudi jets also bombarded an oil facility in the city of Sirwah, which lies about 120 kilometers (75 miles) east of the capital, Sana’a, causing huge material damage to the site.
Separately, Saudi warplanes pounded al-Solban Special Forces camp, the airport, the Jazirat al-Ummal district and several other areas in the southern port city of Aden, situated 346 kilometers (214 miles) south of Sana’a, late on Thursday.
Saudi fighter jets also launched an airstrike against a school in the al-Hawtah district of the southwestern province of Lahij. There were no immediate reports on the extent of damage.
Earlier on Thursday, at least 20 people lost their lives after Saudi military aircraft targeted two schools and a gym in the southern city of al-Dhale.
Saudi artillery shells also targeted the two areas of al-Mosalas and al-Hesameh in the northwestern province of Sa’ada near the border with Saudi Arabia.
Moreover, Saudi military fired artillery shells on the Mazraq refugee camp in Yemen’s northern province of Hajjah near the Saudi border.
Saudi Arabia started its military aggression against Yemen on March 26 - without a UN mandate - in a bid to restore power to fugitive former President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who is a staunch ally of Riyadh.
According to reports, nearly 1,000 people have been killed during the military aggression.
Yemen Post [23/4/15]:
... Today, Taiz governor Shawki Hayel ordered to provide hospitals with extra morgues as hospitals can't afford more dead bodies, a local medical source said.
"Morgues of all local hospitals are full of bodies of Houthi militants who have been killed during the battles with the popular resistance," the source said.
"We have now got orders to bury bodies so that hospitals continue to receive emergency cases especially civilians," the source added.
Many bodies are still on streets where violence is escalating, locals said. ...
US-backed Saudi war in Yemen continues as aid groups describe "catastrophic" humanitarian crisis [Democracy Now - 23/4/15]:
... NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, the Saudis say that they’ve now changed—the new phase of operations is called Renewal of Hope. Toby Jones, could you respond to the repeated claims by the Saudis and others that the Iranians are supporting the Houthis and that’s what’s forced Saudi Arabia to intervene in this way?
TOBY JONES [Associate Professor of History and Director of Middle Eastern Studies at Rutgers University] : Well, there’s no clear coordination between Iran and the Houthis. Let’s be clear:
There’s absolutely no evidence that Iran is operating on the ground in Yemen or that it’s directing orders to the Houthi rebels.
The Saudis have done a masterful job in the last month, and even before that, dating back to last fall when the Houthis began their march out of northern Yemen toward the south, in repackaging what the Houthis are up to as part of a regional sectarian problem.
But the reality is that Yemen has been a deeply fractured place for quite a long time, and the Houthis have asserted and demanded their right to be equal participants in a federal political order. They’ve been historically marginalized.
The Saudis have ignored all of this and have sort of pushed through a narrative that suggests that something more nefarious, conspiratorial and regional is at work.
And I think we can measure Saudi Arabia’s political and military intervention in terms of success and failure. They’ve accomplished very little on the ground other than to break things.
But the fact that they’ve helped frame and convince the Western media, Western policymakers and many folks who might be casual observers that the Houthis are Iranian agents is a form of success, even though it’s not true. ...
United Nations relief workers today provided drinking water, bread and recreational kits for children in displaced communities outside Yarmouk camp, the former heart of Palestine refugee community, and sought access to the besieged suburb itself, where the basic humanitarian needs of some 18,000 Palestinian and Syrian civilians are left unmet.
The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) said it continues to seek secure and unhindered access to Yarmouk and “stands ready to expand the response in the case of further displacement from the area.”
Meanwhile, “UNRWA continued the humanitarian response today, providing water, health and emergency education assistance in Yalda,” a nearby area which hosts those displaced from Yarmouk. ... [UN Media Release - 23/4/15]
Thousands of Palestinian citizens of Israel marched in protest on Thursday as their Jewish compatriots partied, each group in its own way marking the 67th anniversary of the State of Israel's founding.
The anniversary of Israel's declaration of independence on May 14, 1948 is celebrated according to the Jewish calendar, this year falling on April 23.
Palestinians usually mark the day on May 15 by commemorating what they call the Nakba -- or "catastrophe" -- of Israel's creation.
But thousands of Palestinian citizens of Israel, many waving Palestinian flags, gathered Thursday in the Galilee for a protest march timed to coincide with the Israeli celebrations.
It centered on the ruins of Al-Haditha, near Tiberias, one of nearly 400 Palestinian villages destroyed in the war that erupted after Israel's founding. ... [Maan - 23/4/15]
No home rebuilt in Gaza after 2014 Israel war : UNRWA [Press TV - 23/4/15]
Israel strikes back after rocket fired from Gaza [Al Jazeera - 23/4/15]
100 armed Israeli settlers raid villages near Nablus [Maan - 23/4/15]
Several Palestinian students suffered tear-gas inhalation as Israeli forces raided a girls' school south of Nablus on Thursday. ... [Maan - 23/4/15]
South Africans denounce xenophobia in massive march [Al Jazeera - 24/4/15]
Solutions will only be efficient in the long term if wars can be brought to an end and, in the countries affected by conflict, adequate levels of political, economic and social stability established.
Recent humanitarian tragedies in the Mediterranean – European Economic and Social Committee [EESC] statement [23/4/15]:
In response to the deaths of thousands of people in the Mediterranean, the EESC plenary session, with deep sorrow and indignation, once again calls on the institutions of the European Union and Member States to take the necessary humanitarian actions and political decisions.
The European Union has a responsibility to people fleeing war, persecution, conflict and poverty.
A year and a half after the catastrophe in Lampedusa, tragedies continue to take place every day. Regarding the 10-point plan adopted by the EU Foreign and Home Affairs Ministers on 20 April, the EESC considers that it is essential to go beyond a security approach.
A humanitarian approach, solidarity and a fair sharing of responsibilities should be the essential principles of a common immigration policy in the EU.
The EESC urges the European Council to consider the following steps at its extraordinary meeting on 23 April:
To launch a large-scale humanitarian rescue and reception operation in the Mediterranean Sea that goes further than the Frontex border control mission, “Triton”. Any such mission should have the same approach as the Italian “Mare Nostrum” operation and aim to save lives. Member States should be involved, but missions should be funded by the EU. The EU must improve its asylum policy. The EESC has drawn up various proposals for the creation of a common asylum system, but adopted legislation is insufficient and not properly implemented by the Member States. Displaced persons are protected by international law and should be able to lodge applications for asylum at the EU’s external borders, respecting the principle of non-refoulement at the borders. An ambitious review of the Dublin Regulation is vital.
The EU must foster solidarity among Member States, in particular through a proportional distribution of refugees. Urgent measures are required to provide financial, operational and reception support to those Member States which, because of their geographical location, have the greatest burden. The amount of places for resettlement should be increased significantly.
The EU should strengthen its cooperation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and with countries neighbouring conflict zones, in order to implement programmes for reception and protection of the thousands of people displaced. Large scale Search and Rescue operations for immigrants at sea cannot be left to be carried out by commercial shipping. The EU should cooperate with the International Maritime Organization (IMO). EU and Member States' immigration laws and policies should be revised to ease admission. The EESC insists that policy must be based on a consensus providing legal, open and flexible channels of entry into the EU, ensuring the protection of fundamental rights and including as an essential element cooperation with the countries of origin. Cooperation should be reinforced in order to set up offices in third countries providing assistance and information to potential migrants. The whole global community must be requested to take responsibility to try to find proper solutions.
Enhance police and judicial cooperation in the fight against criminal networks trafficking persons. The EU should work with the countries of origin and transit to prevent people from falling into the hands of traffickers. Smuggling and trafficking are criminal offences and those responsible should be relentlessly pursued. The EESC insists, however, that neither the migrants themselves nor those delivering humanitarian assistance to migrants in distress should be criminalised.
In order to sustain a comprehensive policy approach, all the humanitarian organisations active in the areas affected should be given every possible financial and logistical assistance.
Solutions will only be efficient in the long term if wars can be brought to an end and, in the countries affected by conflict, adequate levels of political, economic and social stability established. The European External Action Service, in cooperation with the international community, should make a strategy of this kind their priority.
Special meeting of the European Council, 23 April 2015 – statement
European leaders strongly urged to put human life, rights and dignity first in Mediterranean decision [UNCHR Media Release - 23/4/15]:
… Noting that the European Union (EU) was founded on fundamental principles of humanity, solidarity and respect for human rights, the statement said:
"We urge EU Member States to demonstrate moral and political leadership in adopting a holistic and forward-looking action plan centred upon these values."
It added that the European Union response "must go beyond the present minimalist approach in the 10-Point Plan of Action" announced on Monday, which focuses primarily on stemming the arrival of migrants and refugees on its shores.
The statement concluded: "We would therefore encourage bold, collective action to expand the range of measures under consideration to include:
Setting in place a state-led, robust, proactive, and well-resourced search-and-rescue operation, urgently and without delay, with a capacity similar to Mare Nostrum and a clear mission to save lives.
Creating sufficient channels for safe and regular migration, including for low-skilled migrant workers and individuals in need of family reunification, and access to protection where needed, as safe alternatives to resorting to smugglers.
Making a firm commitment to receive significantly higher numbers of refugees through EU-wide resettlement, in addition to current quotas, and on a scale which will make a real impact, combined with other legal means for refugees to reach safety.
Bolstering arrangements to support those countries receiving the most arrivals (Italy, Malta and Greece) and to distribute responsibility more equitably across the European Union for saving lives and protecting all those in need.
Combatting racist and xenophobic rhetoric vilifying migrants and refugees.
24 April 2015