Australian reporter condemned by SBS boss (and the Minister Malcolm Turnbull) for expressing an opinion
Not forgetting that the largest single-day terrorist attacks in history were committed by this nation & their allies in Hiroshima & Nagasaki
Remembering the summary execution, widespread rape and theft committed by these ‘brave’ Anzacs in Egypt, Palestine and Japan.
Wonder if the poorly-read, largely white, nationalist drinkers and gamblers pause today to consider the horror that all mankind suffered.
The cultification of an imperialist invasion of a foreign nation that Australia had no quarrel with is against all ideals of modern society.
Scott McIntyre @mcintinhos - Reporter SBS TV [25/4/15]
Australia a free society?
The Age [26/4/15]:
Is there a bit of acrimony emerging within the rival Melbourne outposts of the Young Presidents Organisation? The breakaway YPO Yarra chapter of the "world's most powerful network" for rising captains of industry has arranged for Australia Post boss Ahmed Fahour to give a keynote speech at the Islamic Museum of Australia next Saturday, a world-class venue up in Thornbury that Fahour helped to fund and build. It's sad to hear that a number of members of the YPO Melbourne chapter, a little green-eyed with jealousy, have decided to boycott the event, and it might not even go ahead.
US progresses its plans for WW3 in the South Pacific
Jakarta Globe [25/4/15]:
The United States has asked for access to Philippine military bases in eight locations to rotate troops, aircraft, and ships as Washington shifts its forces to Asia and as China expands its military presence in the South China Sea.
US Defense Secretary Ash Carter, in a speech in Arizona, has outlined Washington’s next phase in its Asia “pivot,” deploying its most sophisticated destroyers, bombers and fighters to the region.
The Asia “pivot” has already seen US Marines rotating through the Australian tropical city of Darwin, the country’s closest city to Asia, for training.
At least eight locations in the Philippines have been identified as possible sites where US troops, planes and ships will be rotated through a series of military training and exercises, Philippine General Gregorio Catapang, military chief, told local television network ABS-CBN.
But the Americans will have to wait until after the Philippine’s Supreme Court makes its rulings on the constitutionality of the military deal, called Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, signed last year between Manila and Washington. It may decide later this year.
“If we formalize [now] and they start putting up structures and it’s not constitutional, they will have to destroy those structures,” Catapang said late on Friday, adding the list was finalized in October during a Mutual Defense Board meeting.
Four of the locations are on the main island of Luzon, where US and Filipino soldiers usually hold exercises, two on the central Cebu island, and two more on the western island of Palawan, near the disputed Spratly Islands.
China claims most of the potentially energy-rich South China Sea, disputed in parts with the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan, and denies accusations its actions in its own territory are provocative.
Recent satellite images suggest China has made rapid progress in building an airstrip suitable for military use in contested territory in the Spratly Islands, which drew concern from the United States and its allies in Asia.
“Once the US rebalance to Asia policy is in full swing, the
Philippines expect the Americans to seek more access to military bases on
Mindanao island and civilian airstrips on Luzon,” a senior air force official
familiar with the arrangements said.
“The Americans are interested in Laoag airport and Batanes island, both in the northern part of Luzon,” he said, adding US planes had landed on Batanes during the war in Iraq and Afghanistan in the early 2000s.
The United States is also interested to return to its two former military bases in Subic and Clark, which they left in 1992 after the Philippines terminated basing agreement.
US Secretary of State goes "blurt" as Saudis continue Yemen airstrikes
US Secretary of State John Kerry called Friday on Shia Houthi rebels in Yemen and those who have "influence over them" to come to the negotiating table and end the unrest in the Gulf nation.
"This has to be a two-way street," Kerry told reporters, saying Saudi Arabia was moving to a humanitarian phase of its Yemen campaign and "we need the Houthi and we need those that can influence them to make sure that they are prepared to try to move to the negotiating table."
The United Nations had already appointed a facilitator and both sides appeared ready to discuss a location for peace talks, Kerry said.
"Now the key is to get that up and running and get to the talks as fast as possible because a political solution is absolutely essential," the top US diplomat said.
Innocent civilians were being caught up in the violence in Yemen and it was "a top priority to try to minimize it," he added.
"Hopefully in the next days this will de-escalate even more and we can get to a place where negotiations take hold."
Amid Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen, Houthis call for peace talks [CNN – 22/4/15]
Israel strikes Syrian military bases
The Israeli Air Force attacked Syrian army bases where Hezbollah stored long-range missiles late Friday night, according to an Al Jazeera report.
According to the report, the airstrikes targeted the bases of the 155th and 65th strategic missile brigades, stationed in Qalamoun, near the Syria-Lebanon border. Residents of nearby cities Yabroud and Qarah reported hearing explosions.
Former Syrian opposition leader Hadi al-Bahra tweeted that there were reports of attacks on the 92nd battalion, in addition to the attacks on the 155th and 65th brigades. Al-Bahra also tweeted that the 155th brigade is responsible for launching Scud and Scud-B missiles.
Syrian opposition activist Abu al-Hada al-Hemsi wrote on his Facebook page that "loud explosions were heard in the al-Qutayfah area near Qalamoun, explosions from the 92nd Battalion's warehouses. By the nature of the blasts, it's clear that these were Israeli planes."
According to an Al Arabiya report, Friday night's strikes were preceded by another attack on Wednesday, targeting a Hezbollah convoy carrying weapons. According to the report, at least one person was killed in that attack.
The IDF declined to comment, saying they do not respond to foreign reports.
The Israeli Prime Minister's Office and the Ministry of Defense refused to comment on the report. Hezbollah and the Assad regime, too, have not yet responded.
It was reported Friday that Hezbollah has constructed a new airstrip in the Lebanon Valley area which could be used for unmanned aircraft, satellite images published by the IHS Jane's Defense Weekly show.
The airstrip is located about 10 kilometers from the city of Hermel, which is 18 kilometers from the Syrian border. According to an analysis of the images, taken from Google Earth, the airstrip was built between 2013 and 2014.
Last month, in wake of the Lausanne talks concerning Iran's nuclear program, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that "we [in Israel] are not closing our eyes, and we will continue to act against any threat."
Israeli soldiers opened fire near the Israel-Lebanon border Monday, said the Israel Defense Forces and Hezbollah-affiliated television station Al-Manar.
Israeli forces shoot and kill Palestinian
Israeli troops shot and killed a young Palestinian man wielding two knives on Saturday as they gave chase after he tried to attack the troops near a checkpoint in the Jerusalem area, police said.
The incident occurred at around midnight near the A-Zayyim checkpoint at the outskirts of East Jerusalem in the occupied West Bank, land Israel captured in a 1967 war that Palestinians seek for a state.
Police spokeswoman Luba Samri said that paramilitary border police fired warning shots into the air at the man. Samri said the troops "fired precise shots neutralizing him (the suspect)" when he failed to heed their warnings, and that medics confirmed the suspect had died of his injuries.
Violence in the Jerusalem area has flared on and off since just before the 50-day July- August Israeli assault on Gaza when Israelis killed a Palestinian youth for the supposed slayings of three kidnapped Israeli teenagers.
Israeli tanks fired at Gaza on Friday after Israel said a rocket was fired from the Hamas Islamist dominated territory during Independence Day celebrations a day earlier. There were no casualties in those incidents.
Harper government threat to criminalise criticism of Israel generates strong opposition [Rabble - 22/4/15]
Protesters who've been holding near-daily demonstrations this week over the death of Freddie Gray are promising their biggest march yet a day after the Baltimore Police Department acknowledged that it failed to get him the medical attention he needed after his arrest.
Protesters vowed to "shut down" the city by marching through the streets and snarling traffic. The president of a black lawyers' group predicted thousands of people would turn out for the demonstration, when good weather is forecast and the Baltimore Orioles host the Boston Red Sox. ... [USA Today - 25/4/15]
UN Chief urges Myanmar to address muslims’ status ahead of vote
Jakarta Globe [25/4/15]:
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday urged Myanmar to address the citizenship status of Rohingya Muslims in the country’s western Rakhine state ahead of a general election scheduled to be held later this year.
Almost 140,000 of Myanmar’s 1.1 million Rohingya, most of whom are stateless, remain displaced after deadly clashes with Buddhists in Rakhine in 2012.
“The international community is still deeply concerned about the situation in Rakhine,” Ban told a gathering of countries called the “Partnership Group on Myanmar.”
“Long-term stability in Rakhine will remain unattainable without comprehensively addressing the issue of status and citizenship of the Muslim populations,” he said.
The Muslim Rohingya in the country formerly called Burma are at particular risk of abuse, having been subjected to restrictions on marriage, registration of births, and many other human rights violations, rights groups say.
“The communal situation in Rakhine and elsewhere remains fragile,” Ban said. “There are already troubling signs of ethnic and religious differences being exploited in the run-up to the elections. The reform process could be jeopardized if the underlying causes of these tensions are left unaddressed.”
Ban said he expressed “concern that continuing controversies on the race and religious bills as well as absence of swift action to regularize the status of white card holders will be seen as institutionalized discrimination.”
“With general elections looming, the government must take urgent and practical measures to address these issues and their underlying causes,” he added.
Myanmar’s parliament voted in February to grant temporary identification called “white cards,” mostly to Rohingya, so they could vote in a possible constitutional referendum, paving the way for participation in a general election later this year.
But Buddhists protested against the plan, arguing many of the white-card holders were illegal aliens. Shortly afterwards, the government decided to revoke the cards.
Ban raised the treatment of white card holders with President Thein Sein, saying that failure to permanently resolve the citizenship status of Rohingyas will leave the country open to constant criticism.
Ban also voiced concern about violence in Kachin and Shan states.
“The clashes in Kokang [Shan state] are also deeply disturbing in terms of the toll of lives and destruction,” he said.
“Humanitarian actors will need unimpeded access to provide much needed aid in a timely fashion. The tensions arising from these clashes must not jeopardize the larger peace process.”
Myanmar’s government is working to solidify a
ceasefire with armed ethnic groups.
Death penalty? What death penalty? [The Age - 26/4/15]:
Times are tough for the captains of industry. Asset manager BlackRock says unemployment will hit 7 per cent by Christmas, while white-collar economic refugees from Perth can be seen pounding the pavement on Collins Street in search of a job.
But the money makers will always find a way.
One happy little group was spotted living the high life at Shannon Bennett's Vue De Monde this week, and leading the celebrations was twenty-something businessman Panji Suharto – the grandson of Indonesia's President Suharto, who ruled the country with an iron fist for 31 years.
Panji, who is vice-president of Hyundai Indonesia, was in town for the World Geothermal Congress at Jeff's Shed, but departed early and headed for the Lui Bar on the 55th floor of the Rialto.
Suharto is also an adviser to listed Australian company Western Mining Network, which owns graphite deposits in Indonesia. The company was trading at just 4.5 cents a share a year ago, but has soared to 36.5 cents in recent months. That alone would be cause for celebration, especially as more than half the investors in the company hail from Melbourne.
But it seems Western Mining had a little bit more good news.
Word is the company received confirmation of a deal with a South Korean company to buy their graphite, which means Suharto and his and of Collins Street investors just may have hit it big.
Better, still, word is they have the backing of one of America's richest families. The Schwab family, America's 200th richest, with an estimated wealth of $US6.8 billion, already has a share in the company.
We hear a Silicon Valley family has taken a second large tranche of shares in Western Mining at 40 cents apiece.
Little wonder Panji and his cohorts were picking up the bill at Vue de Monde.
Indonesia: Death row prisoners await fate
Jakarta Post [25/4/15]:
After death row convict Filipina Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso was transferred to Nusakambangan prison island on Friday, the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) indicated that the executions of a group of drug convicts is imminent, although no dates have been set.
AGO spokesman Tony Spontana confirmed on Friday that Veloso had been moved to the prison island near Cilacap, Central Java, on Friday morning to join eight other death row convicts awaiting execution.
“Mary Jane has already been placed in the isolation cell that was prepared for her, although we have not decided on a date yet,” Tony told reporters.
Veloso was sentenced to death in 2010 for attempting to smuggle 2.6 kilograms of heroin worth Rp 5.5 billion (US$424,879) from Kuala Lumpur.
Tony stressed that although a notification to prepare for the executions had been sent on Thursday, the AGO was still waiting for the Supreme Court to respond to a case review appeal filed by another of the convicts, Indonesian Zainal Abidin.
He said that the Supreme Court’s response to the plea from Zainal, who was sentenced to death in 2001 for possessing 58.7 kilograms of marijuana, was expected to be issued on Friday.
“Once we receive the news, we will immediately set a date for the executions,” Tony said, adding that the AGO would also wait for the Asian-African Conference Commemoration (AACC) to conclude before carrying out the executions.
The eight others who are set to be executed are two Australians — Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran — who are members of the Bali Nine drug trafficking group, Nigerians Raheem Agbaje Salami, Okwudili Oyatanze and Sylvester Obiekwe Nwolise alias Mustofa, Frenchman Serge Areski Atlaoui, Brazilian Rodrigo Gularte and Ghanaian Martin Anderson alias Belo.
The 10 convicts make up the second batch of drug convicts set to be executed this year. The first batch, consisting of six people, faced the firing squad on Jan. 18.
Tony said that the Foreign Ministry had invited diplomats from each convict’s respective home country to visit Nusakambangan on Saturday.
“The law dictates that the convicts and their relatives should be notified at least three days before the execution takes place. However, it is possible to tell them long before that. We are giving each country’s representative and the families of the convicts the opportunity to meet the convicts,” he said.
Tony said that invitations had been sent to the ambassadors of Australia, France, Brazil, Nigeria and Ghana. He maintained that although Salami possessed Spanish documents, the Nigerian embassy had confirmed his Nigerian citizenship.
Meanwhile, Foreign Ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir confirmed that ambassadors from relevant countries had been invited but declined to say who had confirmed their attendance.
“[The delegates] were invited to attend a briefing [at Nusakambangan island]. Nothing more than that,” he told The Jakarta Post on Friday.
Several foreign governments have expressed concern over the planned executions.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop appealed for Indonesia to show mercy but said she was expecting the worst.
“I fear that Indonesia will seek to proceed with the execution of the two Australian citizens. I am deeply and profoundly concerned about this,” she said at NATO headquarters in Brussels.
In Paris, French President Francois Hollande urged Indonesian authorities to grant clemency to Atlaoui, telling a news conference that executing Atlaoui “would be damaging for the relations we want to have with Indonesia”.
In Manila, about 100 supporters of Veloso, including her husband Michael Candelaria and her older brother, picketed the Indonesian embassy, pleading for her life to be spared.
“It is very hard for us to accept that she is innocent but that she will still be executed,” Candelaria said. “God knows she is innocent.”
Indonesia has granted a temporary reprieve to a French death row inmate due to be executed soon with nine other drug convicts, a French embassy official said on Saturday. ... [Reuters - 25/4/15]
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Australia, the Honourable Julie Bishop will visit NATO Headquarters on Friday, 24 April 2015. She will meet with the NATO Secretary General, Mr. Jens Stoltenberg and the North Atlantic Council. ... [Media Release]
French President Francois Hollande warned Indonesia on Wednesday that the execution of a Frenchman for drug offences would damage ties between the two nations.
Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius also summoned the Indonesian ambassador in Paris a day after Serge Atlaoui, 51, had an appeal rejected by Indonesia's Supreme Court, taking him closer to execution by firing squad for his role in a clandestine ecstasy lab near Jakarta. … [Channel News Asia – 22/4/15]
On April 26, 1976, a leaky fishing boat chugged into Darwin Harbour carrying five asylum seekers from South Vietnam. ...
Ian Lloyd Neubauer, [TIME – 23/7/13]:
Their original destination had been Guam, but they changed course after a chance encounter with an Aussie seafarer in Borneo who told them Australia was a “big country” with “friendly people.”
After presenting themselves to authorities in Darwin, the crew was granted asylum and resettled in accordance with Australia’s obligations as a signatory to the 1951 UNHCR Refugee Convention.
Tu Do: A boat called Freedom [Australian National Maritime Museum]:
Tu Do arrived in Darwin on 21 November 1977 with 31 Vietnamese refugees crowded on board. Their hopes for a better life in Australia were echoed in the vessel's name, which means 'freedom'. The first 'boat people' fled the turmoil of South Vietnam in simple coastal fishing craft, often unsuited to a long ocean voyage. Tu Do's passengers were lucky, outpacing pirates in the Gulf of Thailand and surviving violent storms at sea.
The answer is blowing in the wind. [The Australian Cartoon Museum]
Nauru refugees protest against Cambodia exile and offshore processing
Refugee Action Coalition, Sydney [25/4/15]:
Around 200 refugees staged a protest at Ijuw camp on Nauru, late yesterday afternoon, Friday 24 April.
The refugees called for “Justice,” and “Freedom,” and “Cambodia – never, ever.”
Protest 2402415 1The protest comes at the end of a week of frenzied efforts by the Australian immigration department to find refugees and asylum seekers who will agree to go to Cambodia.
“The chartered plane that was meant to take refugees from Nauru to Cambodia seems to have been indefinitely postponed due to lack of interest,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.
Despite massive bribes of up to $15,000 for those who agree to be resettled in Cambodia, the Refugee Action Coalition can only confirm one Iranian asylum seeker and one Rohingyan refugee who have so far agreed to go to Cambodia.
The lack of interest is a massive embarrassment for Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton and the Australian government.
For the last few days, refugees on the island have been getting random phone calls from officials trying to sell the deal – so far, to no avail.
Despite the Cambodian agreement supposedly only being available for refugees, the Immigration Department has also approached asylum seekers in the detention centre in an effort to get some interest in being transferred to Cambodia.
“Not only is the government circulating false information about conditions on Cambodia, there is a clear implication that the Australian government is offering refugee status to asylum seekers who have been waiting 18 months for a refugee determination – as long as they will go to Cambodia. It is exploitation of extremely vulnerable people for their own corrupt political ends,” said Rintoul.
Meanwhile the conditions in the main refugee family camp have deteriorated to crisis point. The camp, which has three pregnant women and 13 children, has been without power and water for five days, creating unhygienic and unsanitary conditions.
... The families individually told me about their extraction from Wickham Point detention centre at 5am on Saturday morning.
At 5am large numbers of police and guards entered their rooms and physically pulled them from their beds, handcuffed them and removed them. ... via Julian Burnside [25/4/15]
Australia's dwindling moral authority in PNG, Mark Evenhuis via Julian Burnside [25/4/15]:
... While university students, the church and PNG’s tiny parliamentary Opposition have noisily protested the reopening of the Manus Island detention centre, this dissent has rarely made it into the press.
PNG’s most read newspaper, the Murdoch-owned Post Courier, has instead been diligently reprinting the Australian High Commission’s many press releases as news. ...
Man who burned Australian flag banned from Anzac Day services, ordered out of Brisbane
A man who burned an Australian flag in front of Brisbane's Shrine of Remembrance has been banned from attending any Anzac Day services and ordered to leave Brisbane.
Peter Di Iorio, 66, was charged with public nuisance and remanded in custody overnight after the incident, which was filmed by news crews in Brisbane's CBD on Friday afternoon.
Police prosecutor Senior Sergeant Mark Gorton did not oppose Di Iorio's bail on the condition that Di Iorio be banned from attending all Anzac Day services.
"That way he can't go out and make a spectacle of himself," Senior Sergeant Gorton said.
Magistrate Linda Bradford-Morgan granted the condition, ordering police escort Di Iorio back to his car in Brisbane's CBD.
She ordered him to immediately leave Brisbane and return to his home in Palm Beach on the Gold Coast once he had found his vehicle.
Di Iorio is due to appear again in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on May 27.
Australia's amnesia: Lest we forget the Frontier Wars...or continue repeating the same injustice. ...
Image: @SomersetBean [25/4/15]
@TentEmbassy2015: Remembering the undeclared frontier wars in Canberra. #LestWeForget Peaceful remembrance walk was stopped by police.
@TentEmbassy2015: Stop by the police even thought it had been allowed in the parade for the last 4yrs.
@akaWACA: Still holding the line people watching on stunned at police behaviour. #FrontierWars still going ...
... Police stopped a group of more than 50 indigenous people and supporters joining marchers at the national service while waving flags, beating sticks and chanting "shame".
The group had a banner reading: "Lest we forget the frontier wars".
Organiser Michael Anderson later said they wanted to march up Anzac Parade and lay a wreath to recognise indigenous people killed when Europeans settled Australia.
He said indigenous people had previously been allowed to hold similar commemorations and accused police of displaying "overt racism" on Saturday.
Minister for Education, Christopher Pyne Media Release [29/10/14]:
Aboriginal leader Pemulwuy famously fought against the early British settlers in colonial Sydney and Parramatta from 1788 until his death in 1802.
Pemulwuy was one of only a few examples of indigenous resistance to British settlement and therefore is a unique and important historical figure for Australians.
When Pemulwuy was shot he was decapitated and his skull was sent to London into the care of Sir Joseph Banks.
At some point since then the remains were placed in the British Natural History Museum.
When His Royal Highness Prince William, Duke of Cambridge visited Australia in April last year, a group of Aboriginal elders approached him seeking his support to find and return the skull of Pemulwuy, which he agreed to do.
A team of Australian film makers have taken up their cause and are currently in London attempting to repatriate the skull. They believe the skull is part of a collection of other remains located in the British Natural History Museum.
I see no reason why the remains of this historic Aboriginal leader shouldn’t be returned to Australia where they belong. It is unconscionable that it is kept in the British Natural History Museum when it could easily be located and restored to the Aboriginal people.
Join me on my quest to find the skull. You can find my updates below as they come.
When will Obama apologise for all the other innocent victims of drone strikes? [The Intercept - 24/4/15]
There is hope
UQ News [24/4/15]:
Children who are sensitive to the thoughts and feelings of others are more popular in the playground, according to new research from The University of Queensland.
Published in the journal Child Development, the study found pre-schoolers and primary school children who are good at identifying and responding to what others want, think and feel are rated by their peers or teachers as being popular at school.
Head of the School of Psychology Professor Virginia Slaughter said understanding the mental perspectives of others could facilitate the type of interactions that help children become or remain popular.
“Our findings suggest that training children to be sensitive to the thoughts and feelings of others may improve their relationships with peers,” Professor Slaughter said.
“This could be particularly important for children who are struggling with friendship issues, such as children who are socially isolated.”
Professor Slaughter led the meta-analysis, which examined 20 studies addressing the relation between theory of mind and popularity to determine if there was a direct correlation between identifying the needs and wants of others and being popular.
The studies involved more than 2000 children aged two to 10 years across Asia, Australia, Europe and North America.
Popularity was measured by anonymous ratings from classroom peers and teachers.
“The meta-analysis has allowed us to look at the findings across multiple studies and confirm there is a direct link between theory of mind and popularity in children,” Professor Slaughter said.
“The ability to tell what others are thinking, feelings and wanting is a basic precursor to emotional intelligence in adults.
“Understanding the mental perspectives of others is important both for making friends in the early school years and in maintaining friendships as children grow older.”
The study also found this link to be weaker for boys than girls, suggesting gender differences in how children relate to each other.
"Girls' friendships tend to be more interpersonally oriented," Professor Slaughter said.
“Whereas boys may resolve a conflict by wrestling each other, girls often work out their differences through negotiation and that requires an understanding of the other person’s perspective.”
Centennial of Çanakkale land battles commemorated [Republic of Turkey, Ministry of Foreign Affars - 24/4/15]
Children's Choir sings songs of peace at Gallipoli commemorations [Çanakkale Travel - 24/4/15]
Celebrations took place around Turkey on the National Sovereignty and Children’s Day, which marks the foundation of Turkey’s Parliament in 1920... .... [DHA - 23/4/15]
There are no words .... other than maybe, "daggy".
Dozens of surf lifesavers have stormed the beaches of Tweed Heads to honour the soldiers who landed at Gallipoli 100 years ago. … [ABC -25/4/15]
@ElizaBorrello - ABC correspondent: [Surf lifesavers] Re-enactment of the Anzac landing at dawn service at Gelibolu on the Gallipoli peninsula. ...
Goulburn Post [22/4/15]:
... Some 24 Australian surfboats will descend on the famous peninsula as part of a special centenary race, competing with surfboat teams from New Zealand, England, Turkey and France. More than 300 participants will take part in the race.
Among them will be two teams of Goulburn men, comprising 10 in total, lead by captains Peter Greaves and Andy Woolner.
The 60km course will see rowers paddling right past every major landing point of the 1915-16 conflict, a bloody and ultimately futile stalemate that claimed the lives of 8,159 Australians, and more than 130,000 men from both Allied and Turkish forces.
The rowers will take in Fusiliers Bluff, the highly concentrated landing areas of Anzac Cove, North Beach and Fisherman’s Hut, where most Anzac troops never never made it past the beach on that first day. ...
Marketing Partner, The Australian
A domain of personal tyranny: A real history of Rupert Murdoch [Counterpunch - 15/5/09]:
... A true outline can be stated briskly. Rupert’s father, Sir Keith, founded the dynasty during World War I as a dirty-tricks minion for “Billy” Hughes, probably Australia’s nastiest prime minister. His cover myth as a heroic war reporter has been so thoroughly dismantled that now it impresses none but family retainers and – of course – Mr. Wolff.
At Versailles, Keith was Billy’s ever-present aide in striving to make the Peace Conference into a vicious cock-up, rich in racist and imperialist content. Curiously, the pair would have had zero leverage but for the failure of a plot of Keith’s, which sought in 1918 to remove Australia’s battlefield commander on the Western Front, John Monash, for being an unheroic Jew. (Monash wrote home that it was a bore having to fight a “pogrom” at the same time as fight Ludendorff.) The overall commander, General Douglas Haig, wouldn’t play: and Monash’s divisions led the British breakthrough at Amiens which, ruining Ludendorff, put Germany – suddenly, unexpectedly– at the Allies’ mercy. ...
... Come and see the blood in the
Come and see
The blood in the streets.
Come and see the blood
In the streets!
United States, "allies" continue bombing Iraq and Syria [Centcom - 24/4/15]:
Coalition military forces continued to attack ISIL terrorists in Syria and Iraq between 8 a.m., April 23, and 8 a.m., April 24, local time.
In Syria, Coalition military forces conducted four airstrikes using fighter aircraft.
Separately in Iraq, Coalition military forces conducted 11 airstrikes approved by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense using fighter, attack, bomber and remotely piloted aircraft against ISIL terrorists.
“Daesh terrorists attempt to intimidate and extort the population in areas under their control through such techniques as checkpoints,” said Col. Wayne Marotto, CJTF-OIR Chief of Public Affairs. “The Coalition uses precision air strikes and reconnaissance, which limits Daesh’s grip on the population.”
The following is a summary of the strikes conducted since the last press release:
- Near Kobani, four airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroying four ISIL fighting positions and an ISIL boat.
- Near Fallujah, four airstrikes struck four ISIL tactical units, two ISIL fighting positions, destroying an ISIL IED and an ISIL heavy machine gun.
- Near Mosul, five airstrikes struck an ISIL checkpoint, destroying four ISIL heavy machine guns, three ISIL buildings, two ISIL excavators and an ISIL armored vehicle.
- Near Ramadi, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL fighting position.
- Near Tal Afar, an airstrike destroyed an ISIL culvert.
Airstrike assessments are based on initial reports. All aircraft returned to base safely. ...
@IraqiSMCEn - Iraqi Spring Media Center [24/4/15]: The Iraqi community in Istanbul at Istanbul University beside the masjid organized a demonstration today expressing their solidarity with Anbar displaced persons.......
More US backed Saudi air strikes in Yemen, civilian death toll exceeds 550 [Reuters - 24/4/15]:
Fighting between Yemen's warring factions raged in southern and central parts of the country and air strikes hit Houthi militia forces in Aden on Friday, but there were no fresh moves toward dialogue.
Saudi Arabia says it is winding down its month-old bombing operation against the Iran-allied Houthis and forces loyal to Yemen's former president. But Riyadh pounded targets with at least 20 airstrikes across Yemen on Thursday and 10 more on Friday.
The civilian death toll from the fighting and airstrikes since the bombing started on March 26 has reached an estimated 551 people, the United Nations said on Friday. Its children's agency UNICEF said at least 115 children were among the dead.
@narrabyee [23/4/15]: Yemen northern province of Saada declared stricken by Saudi aggression bombings
The chairman of a House committee investigating the 2012 attacks on Americans in Benghazi, Libya, on Thursday called Hillary Rodham Clinton to testify at a public hearing next month, setting up a high-profile showdown over the Democratic presidential candidate's use of a private email account and server while she was secretary of state.
Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., said he wants Clinton to testify the week of May 18 and again before June 18. The first hearing would focus on Clinton's use of private emails, and the second on the September 2012 attacks that killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya. ... [Yahoo - 23/4/15]
Cash flowed to Clinton Foundation as Russians pressed for control of uranium company [New York Times - 23/4/15]
Afghan president orders inquiry into unreleased UN police report [Daily Star – 24/4/15]
Rocket attack on government compounds in Ghazni as Taliban launches offensive [Khaama - 24/4/15]
A new video has emerged from Syria which purportedly shows the capture of four Afghan nationals by the Syrian rebels.
Two teenager boys are also seen among those captured during the clashes apparently by the rebels belonging to the Free Syrian Army. ... [Khaama - 23/4/15]
A charter flight which was due to depart on Tuesday night with dozens of Afghan asylum-seekers facing removal from Britain has been cancelled on the orders of an appeal court judge.
Lady Justice Rafferty blocked the flight ahead of a high court judicial review due on Wednesday on whether deportations to parts of Afghanistan remain safe in view of the deteriorating security situation.
The decision to postpone the charter flight of 56 rejected Afghan asylum-seekers, which was due to leave at 11.30pm on Tuesday, follows warnings to European countries by the Afghan minister for refugees and repatriation that 80% of the country was not safe to send people back to.
It also follows a separate ruling by a high court judge ordering the Home Office to arrange for a deported migrant family to be returned to Britain from Nigeria. ... [Guardian - 22/4/15]
... And if it's true what they say
About love and hard work
'Cos maybe people in love
Are all on the same side when they fight ...
'Lover/Soldier', Washington 
The other face of Anzac Day [The Saturday Paper - 25/4/15]:
… She writes of how he would disappear for days on end, how he would experience flashbacks and blackouts. Twice he attempted suicide, and when she telephoned for help he beat her. “I tried to remain supportive and encouraging,” she wrote, “despite, at times, living in fear for my life.”
The support from army and veterans’ affairs was wildly inadequate, she wrote. She knew nothing of post-traumatic stress or where to turn for help. Her partner, Tim, began to use drugs and gamble. He went on compulsive spending binges. At one point he choked her on the floor as their young daughter watched. The night terrors became so bad he would run screaming down midnight streets naked, before falling into an inconsolable, crumpled heap on the footpath.
“On one occasion he completely destroyed our family car,” she wrote in her letter. “He slashed the seats and tyres, ruined the dashboard, jumped up and down on the bonnet and the roof, and kicked in every side panel. The following morning he reported the destruction to the police, having no recollection of his involvement in the matter.”
Uranium mine approved for WA despite environmental warnings
WA Today [24/4/15]:
Approval of a uranium mine in Western Australia has prompted concern from environmental and indigenous groups.
Environment Minister Greg Hunt has granted conditional approval to Canadian uranium miner Cameco to develop the Kintyre mine in WA's north.
But Dave Sweeney from the Australian Conservation Foundation said the East Pilbara mine, adjacent to the Karlamilyi National Park, will harm the environment and people.
"On Anzac eve the government has backed the wrong diggers," he said.
"This mine plan does not enjoy broad support and the mining company has said it has no immediate plans to develop the project because of the low commodity price.
"The federal government had time to genuinely examine this plan.
"Instead, it has chosen to fast-track an approval before a national holiday".
Mia Pepper, from the Conservation Council of WA, said the mine, of which Cameco owns 70 per cent and Mitsubishi holds the remainder, also threatens water quality in the region.
"It is irresponsible for Minister Hunt to have given approval for this project at this time", she said.
"A unique part of our country faces an unnecessary threat because of this approval.
"We will continue our work with the local Parnngurr community and many wider community members and organisations to stop a poor political decision becoming a polluting Pilbara mine".
West Australian Environment Minister Albert Jacob granted conditional approval for the mine to go ahead last month.
Environment Minister Greg Hunt was contacted for comment.
General Electric briefs PNG PM on plans
The National [24/4/15]:
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill says more advanced solutions are needed to meet the electricity demand as the economy and population grows.
He met executives of General Electric Corporation on Wednesday and received an update on its expansion plans in the country in areas which include electricity generation, healthcare and sanitation.
“GE is a company with global reach, a well-earned positive reputation and recognises opportunity in PNG’s growing economy,” O’Neill said.
“Our meeting provided the opportunity to gain a better perspective on GE’s progress in different sectors since opening an office in Port Moresby in July last year.”
O’Neill said General Electric had been active in supplying generators which had boosted power generation in Port Moresby and Lae, with potential for further engagement in this area.
General Electric PNG president and chief executive Geoff Culbert told O’Neill that they planned to be a long-term partner with the Government and local businesses.
“Over the last year, we have expanded our local presence and delivered additional electricity generation units for Port Moresby and Lae as well as critical healthcare equipment,” Culbert said.
Fourteen refugees killed in Macedonia, hit by train in canyon
Fourteen migrants were hit by a train and killed in central Macedonia late on Thursday as they walked through a canyon along an increasingly well-trodden Balkan route for migrants trying to reach western Europe.
The accident happened at around 10.30 p.m. (4.30 p.m. EDT) near the central city of Veles. Rescue efforts were hampered by difficult terrain, with the site of the accident accessible only by foot or railway.
Macedonia's state prosecutor said that from interviewing survivors it appeared most of the group were from Somalia and Afghanistan.
Migrants fleeing war, poverty and repression in the Middle East and Africa are increasingly turning to the Balkans as a land route to western Europe, longer but deemed safer than trying by boat across the Mediterranean.
Up to 900 went down on a single boat on Sunday off the coast of Libya, a major staging point for migrants heading for Europe.
The Macedonian prosecutor confirmed the 14 deaths and said rescue services found no injured migrants at the site, an area called Pcinja north of Veles and near the Vardar river.
Local media reported that the group numbered around 50. They were hit by an international train traveling from the southern Macedonian border town of Gevgelija to the Serbian capital, Belgrade, the same route taken by migrants trying to get from Greece to Hungary.
"The driver saw a large group, dozens of people," the prosecutor said in a statement.
"At that moment, he took action to stop the train and engage the siren, at which point some people left the tracks. The train was unable to stop before hitting and running over some of them."
BND helped NSA spy on German, European interests
Deutsche Welle [23/4/15]:
The German Intelligence Agency (BND) assisted the US National Security Agency (NSA) in spying on European targets, including German interests, according to a report in Spiegel Online on Thursday.
The BND provided signals intelligence (SIGINT) for the NSA in more than 40,000 instances, according to the report. One of the targets was the Airbus Group, an aerospace and defense manufacturer.
The type of information the BND is allowed to collect is said to be strictly regulated by German law. The German spy agency is reported to have passed on Internet IP addresses as well as mobile phone numbers to the NSA.
German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said the BND had been asked to "thoroughly clarify this complex matter." He added in a statement that the government had no proof of "massive eavesdropping against German or European citizens."
Members of a German parliamentary inquiry committee stopped a meeting Thursday after the new information was published.
Left Party leader Gregor Gysi called the collaboration a "scandal" and demanded an end to "conformism with the US administration."
"The limit has now been exceeded. The chancellor must explain the situation," Konstantin von Notz, deputy parliamentary leader of the Greens, told the daily Leipziger Volkszeitung.
Von Notz added that he found it "hard to imagine" that the chancellor's office was unaware of the spy agencies' cooperation. The Chancellery is responsible for overseeing the work of German intelligence agencies.
Spiegel Online, however, reported that rather than inform the chancellor's office of the cooperation, a mid-level manager at the BND requested the NSA cease to make such requests.
This is not the first case of the NSA and BND having worked together. In March of 2014, the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper reported that the BND supplied the NSA with German citizens' communication data from 2004 to 2008. The operation was called the Eikonal project.
The report brings to light a growing trend of mass data collection by intelligence services, which was first revealed when former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked information regarding the US agency's practices.
A New Deal for Greece – a Project Syndicate Op-Ed
Yanis Varoufakis [24/4/15]:
Three months of negotiations between the Greek government and our European and international partners have brought about much convergence on the steps needed to overcome years of economic crisis and to bring about sustained recovery in Greece. But they have not yet produced a deal. Why? What steps are needed to produce a viable, mutually agreed reform agenda?
We and our partners already agree on much. Greece’s tax system needs to be revamped, and the revenue authorities must be freed from political and corporate influence. The pension system is ailing. The economy’s credit circuits are broken. The labor market has been devastated by the crisis and is deeply segmented, with productivity growth stalled. Public administration is in urgent need of modernization, and public resources must be used more efficiently. Overwhelming obstacles block the formation of new companies. Competition in product markets is far too circumscribed. And inequality has reached outrageous levels, preventing society from uniting behind essential reforms.
This consensus aside, agreement on a new development model for Greece requires overcoming two hurdles. First, we must concur on how to approach Greece’s fiscal consolidation. Second, we need a comprehensive, commonly agreed reform agenda that will underpin that consolidation path and inspire the confidence of Greek society.
Beginning with fiscal consolidation, the issue at hand concerns the method. The “troika” institutions (the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund) have, over the years, relied on a process of backward induction: They set a date (say, the year 2020) and a target for the ratio of nominal debt to national income (say, 120%) that must be achieved before money markets are deemed ready to lend to Greece at reasonable rates. Then, under arbitrary assumptions regarding growth rates, inflation, privatization receipts, and so forth, they compute what primary surpluses are necessary in every year, working backward to the present.
The result of this method, in our government’s opinion, is an “austerity trap.” When fiscal consolidation turns on a predetermined debt ratio to be achieved at a predetermined point in the future, the primary surpluses needed to hit those targets are such that the effect on the private sector undermines the assumed growth rates and thus derails the planned fiscal path. Indeed, this is precisely why previous fiscal-consolidation plans for Greece missed their targets so spectacularly.
Our government’s position is that backward induction should be ditched. Instead, we should map out a forward-looking plan based on reasonable assumptions about the primary surpluses consistent with the rates of output growth, net investment, and export expansion that can stabilize Greece’s economy and debt ratio. If this means that the debt-to-GDP ratio will be higher than 120% in 2020, we devise smart ways to rationalize, re-profile, or restructure the debt – keeping in mind the aim of maximizing the effective present value that will be returned to Greece’s creditors.
Besides convincing the troika that our debt sustainability analysis should avoid the austerity trap, we must overcome the second hurdle: the “reform trap.” The previous reform program, which our partners are so adamant should not be “rolled back” by our government, was founded on internal devaluation, wage and pension cuts, loss of labor protections, and price-maximizing privatization of public assets.
Our partners believe that, given time, this agenda will work. If wages fall further, employment will rise. The way to cure an ailing pension system is to cut pensions. And privatizations should aim at higher sale prices to pay off debt that many (privately) agree is unsustainable.
By contrast, our government believes that this program has failed, leaving the population weary of reform. The best evidence of this failure is that, despite a huge drop in wages and costs, export growth has been flat (the elimination of the current-account deficit being due exclusively to the collapse of imports).
Additional wage cuts will not help export-oriented companies, which are mired in a credit crunch. And further cuts in pensions will not address the true causes of the pension system’s troubles (low employment and vast undeclared labor). Such measures will merely cause further damage to Greece’s already-stressed social fabric, rendering it incapable of providing the support that our reform agenda desperately needs.
The current disagreements with our partners are not unbridgeable. Our government is eager to rationalize the pension system (for example, by limiting early retirement), proceed with partial privatization of public assets, address the non-performing loans that are clogging the economy’s credit circuits, create a fully independent tax commission, and boost entrepreneurship. The differences that remain concern how we understand the relationships between the various reforms and the macro environment.
None of this means that common ground cannot be achieved immediately. The Greek government wants a fiscal-consolidation path that makes sense, and we want reforms that all sides believe are important. Our task is to convince our partners that our undertakings are strategic, rather than tactical, and that our logic is sound. Their task is to let go of an approach that has failed.
Jobactive's Work for the Dole contracts sold to US companies [The Saturday Paper - 25/4/15]:
... MAX Solutions, one of two companies that was the focus of a recent Four Corners program alleging fraud in the JSA system, already enjoyed the largest share of Australia’s employment and disability employment services market (about 10 per cent), having earned $800 million from the federal government over the past five years under its existing employment department contracts.
The US company now dominates the “welfare business” in Australia, having picked up 27 employment services contracts across the country, including 14 of the 51 regional Work for the Dole co-ordinator contracts. The next most successful provider – Mission Providence – will operate in 11 regions, including six Work for the Dole co-ordinator contracts. ...
MAX Employment teams up with Lifeline Australia to help those in need [Media Release – 27/3/15]
Tenders open for private operators of Gladstone swimming pools [Gladstone Observer – 24/4/15]
Gladstone Observer [24/4/15]:
Senior swimmer Tex Newberry is worried that if the Gladstone pool is leased there will be a drop in the services available there.
Mr Newberry was a professional swimmer who made it on to the 1956 Olympic training squad.
This year he turned 80 and he still swims every morning.
He is one of up to 80 people who are able to swim at the pool for free during Pensioner's Happy Hour.
But with the pool's management, and the centre itself, now out for tender - Tex is worried those free services will be among the first to go. ...
Treasure trove of books for sale, Brisbane
Seeking a beloved novel from your childhood? Trying to hunt down every edition in a series? Perhaps you’ll strike gold at the 18th biennial University of Queensland Alumni Book Fair.
From rare first editions to recent best-sellers, the fair is a treasure trove of books at bargain prices.
Volunteers from the Alumni Friends of UQ group have spent thousands of hours sorting through masses of donated books ahead of the fair, held from 25-29 April at the St Lucia campus.
Book Fair Convenor Mrs Norah Rennebarth said the popular event had previously attracted booklovers across Brisbane, with many queuing for hours before the official opening.
“We have regulars that come every year,” she said.
“There are hundreds of thousands of books – kids’ books, pet books, books on gardening, as well as textbooks and works from university libraries.”
As well as more common titles, the book fair includes rare donated items and out-of-print books.
“When you’re sorting the books and you come across one of those, it’s really lovely,” Mrs Rennebarth said.
Rare books will be auctioned on 24 April and are expected to attract significant bids from collectors.
The group hopes to raise $100,000 from the auction and fair, with the funds to go into supporting UQ students and projects across the university.
The rare book auction will be held from 6pm at the UQ Women’s College Playhouse, St Lucia Campus.
The book fair will be held in the UQ Centre at the St Lucia Campus. Opening hours are:
Saturday 25 April - 12:00 noon to 5:00pm
Sunday 26 April - Tuesday 28 April - 9:00am to 5:00pm
Wednesday 29 April - 9:00am to 3:00pm
25 April 2015