APN begins offloading regional Queensland publications following Murdoch takeover
Blackwater residents are campaigning to save their local newspaper, which is facing imminent closure if it cannot attract more advertising dollars.
Many shops in the central Queensland town are displaying signs and banners in their windows saying Save our Herald, to prompt locals to pick up the Blackwater Herald.
The paper's owner, APN, said it would assess how the campaign was going after three weeks and then decide which direction to take.
The Herald has been operating for more than 38 years, but the rise of online news sites and the mining downturn have had a devastating impact on the business.
Sydney Morning Herald [20/3/15]:
Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation has intrigued its rivals by swooping on a 14.99 per cent stake in APN News & Media, which owns strong-performing radio assets, positioning Australia's biggest media company for further consolidation of the struggling media sector.
... "Print newspapers are
not dead. And I am so sick of hearing speculation and doomsayer rubbish to the
contrary. While there are communities and while there are issues - and people
and institutions which need to be kept honest - there will always be a role for
good, well researched and accurate journalism." ... [Meredith
Papavasiliou, who was appointed editor of The Observer in March 2009
and has taken on the role of Northern Region Editor-in-Chief -
Gladstone Observer - 8/12/12]
Woman dies after falling from balcony, Surfers Paradise
Brisbane Times [25/7/15]:
A woman has died after falling from a balcony on the Gold Coast early on Saturday morning.
The fall happened at 4.40am at a building on Hanlan Street, Surfers Paradise.
Police are investigating.
Woman transferred to Melbourne in critical condition after house fire which killed son in southern NSW
A Victorian woman who suffered severe burns while trying to save her son from a fatal house fire near Adaminaby in southern New South Wales has been flown to Melbourne in a critical condition.
The fire at Anglers Reach in the New South Wales Snowy Mountains killed a four-year-old boy on Thursday night.
His 35-year-old mother was badly burned after rushing into the house to try to save him.
She was moved last night from Canberra to the Alfred Hospital for further treatment.
The blaze began when the family from Victoria, who were on holidays, tried to light a fire in an open fireplace after they had arrived at the home about 6:30pm on Thursday.
Police said a 40-year-old man, a 35-year-old woman and four children were settling into the home on Illawong Road, when the fire spread through the building.
The child's body was found on Friday morning by officers attached to Monaro Local Area Command and NSW Fire and Rescue.
The man and the three other children inside the house were not injured.
Police are still investigating how the fire got out of control.
In a separate incident, emergency crews have put out a fire in the roof space of a home in Canberra's north this morning.
Five people escaped the blaze uninjured, which started just after 5:00am at a home in Nicholls.
The fire was believed to have been caused by an electrical fault in the home's garage.
Two cars in the garage were not damaged.
Emergency Services said at least $50,000 in damage was caused to the home.
It is the second house fire in two days, after a blaze in Latham yesterday.
Woman, child injured in house fire
West Australian [25/7/15]:
A woman and a child have been treated for burns after a house fire in South Lake today.
Firefighters were called to the house at Eppalock Grove shortly after noon today.
The woman and child, 4, suffered minor burns and were taken to Fiona Stanley Hospital by ambulance for treatment.
The fire caused an estimated $160,000 damage.
Arson charge, South Toowoomba
QPS Media [25/7/15]:
Police have charged a man following two fires early this morning in South Toowoomba.
Police will allege around 5.50am a pile of carpet was set alight outside an Avoca Street business igniting a blaze which has resulted in structural damage being caused to the building.
Police will further allege that shortly after 6am a sign was set alight at a construction site on Ruthven Street causing minor damage.
A 43-year-old Kearneys Spring man has been charged with one count each of arson and endangering property by fire.
The man is due to appear in the Toowoomba Magistrates Court on July 27.
Anyone with information which could assist with this matter should contact Crime Stoppers anonymously via 1800 333 000 or crimestoppers.com.au 24hrs a day.
Man behind bars after Sydney grandfather allegedly shot in unprovoked attack
Nine MSN [25/7/15]:
A man is behind bars tonight after allegedly shooting a Sydney grandfather in the neck in a random, unprovoked attack.
A 69-year-old man was completing a three-point-turn around 9pm last night after dropping off a family member at Whitcroft Place in Oxley Park when it's alleged a shot was fired from a backyard 30 metres away.
The bullet shattered the back rear window of the man's car, whistled between two passengers, and struck the man in the neck.
He was taken to Nepean Hospital for treatment.
His family and friends confronted the alleged gunman after the incident.
"You just shot someone in the back of the neck...he's got something mate, he's got something on the back of his neck," a voice can be heard saying in footage taken shortly after the incident.
Police allege the shooter is a 24-year-old neighbour.
Police also allege the man takes the illicit drug ice and was in possession of a firearm for "protection".
The man was refused bail and appeared in Parramatta Bail Court today.
WA police officer dies of gunshot wound
West Australian [25/7/15]:
A WA police officer has died of a gunshot wound after an incident on the outskirts of Kalgoorlie.
Police say they're investigating the circumstances of the on-duty officer's death on Friday evening, though it's not considered suspicious.
Woman suffering terminal lung cancer bashed by her partner
Canberra Times [24/7/15]:
A man who bashed his partner while she was in the dying stages of terminal lung cancer has been jailed.
Sauli Olavi Arvila, 59, got in an argument with his "life partner" when she asked him to get her her methadone.
He put a teddy bear on her face, sat on her, and began punching her in the head.
The woman was in advanced stages of terminal lung cancer, and would die three weeks later due to the illness.
Chief Magistrate Lorraine Walker told Arvila that, as is typical in domestic violence offences, he, as a man, was already in a position of power and strength.
"That was made even more so because she was frail, tiny, and unwell," Ms Walker said.
The injuries would not have been serious on a healthy person, the court heard, but were exacerbated because of the illness.
The court heard the relationship was tense and emotional due to the woman's terminal illness, and Arvila submitted it was a one-off, with no evidence of past violence.
But prosecutor Anthony Williamson pointed to the woman's interview with police, in which she spoke of being beaten every time her partner took methamphetamine.
Mr Williamson said any right-minded member of the community would be quite distressed by the offence, and would find it "quite abhorrent".
He submitted imprisonment was the only sentence appropriate to reflect the seriousness of the crime.
Ms Walker agreed, and sentenced Arvila to eight months imprisonment.
Arvila will serve three months before the sentence is suspended, on condition he enter a good behaviour order for 12 months.
"I'm of the view that a sentence of imprisonment is the only one that reflects the seriousness of this offending," Ms Walker said.
Arvila's lawyer submitted the man had no criminal history of violence, and had significant health and mobility problems.
He argued those circumstances should warrant a full suspension of the jail sentence, something rejected by the court.
Arvila also claimed to be off drugs, and was living in settled accommodation.
"This was a one-off and it was a one-off in circumstances that hitherto had not existed in the past," his lawyer said.
"His life now is very different to what it was at the time of this assault."
Newcastle mother charged with murder after six-week-old baby found dead
Nine MSN [24/7/15]:
A Newcastle mother has been charged with murder after her six-week-old baby girl was found dead.
The baby was found by her aunt around 9am, who then called emergency services to the house in Newcastle's west.
"It's a tragic set of circumstances and our hearts do go out to other members of the family," Newcastle Local Area Command's Superintendent John Gralton told reporters this afternoon.
He said the baby's 26-year-old mother was arrested at the scene and taken to Waratah police station, where she was later charged with murder.
The woman will face Newcastle Local Court tomorrow.
Neighbours told local media the mother was led from the scene in handcuffs.
The family, believed to be from West Africa, has rented the home for several months.
Neighbours said they were shocked by the news but said the family were friendly.
“They just keep to themselves, I only ever see the children playing in the front yard,” one resident told 9NEWS.
Other members of the family were at the home when emergency services arrived and police spent the day speaking with them.
A report will be prepared for the coroner.
Fatal traffic crash, Runaway Bay
QPS Media [25/7/15]:
A woman has died following a three vehicle traffic crash in Runaway Bay this afternoon.
Initial investigations suggest at 2.10pm, a vehicle travelling southbound on Morala Avenue has collided with another vehicle travelling northbound at the intersection of Sports Drive, before colliding with a third, stationary vehicle.
A passenger of the southbound vehicle, a 31-year-old Labrador woman, died at the scene.
The driver of the vehicle and another passenger were treated at the scene for minor injuries. Investigations by the Forensic Crash Unit 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.
Fatal traffic crash, Coopers Plains
QPS Media [25/7/15]:
A man has died following a single vehicle traffic crash on Halt Street in Coopers Plains early this morning.
Initial investigations suggest shortly before 3:30am a vehicle travelling along Halt Street left the roadway and collided with a power pole.
The male driver died at the scene. The male passenger was transported to the Princess Alexandra Hospital with minor injuries.
The driver and his passenger are believed to be from overseas.
No further information is available at this time.
The Forensic Crash Unit is investigating. Anyone with information which could assist with this matter should contact Crime Stoppers anonymously via 1800 333 000 or crimestoppers.com.au 24hrs a day.
Skateboard rider seriously injured, Gatton
QPS Media 25/7/15]:
A 23-year-old local man was medevacked to the Princess Alexandra Hospital with life threatening head injuries after losing control of his skateboard in Gatton yesterday afternoon.
Preliminary investigations by the Forensic Crash Unit indicate the man was riding down Cleary Street around 3pm when he crashed heavily, near the intersection with Railway Street.
Police 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.
10 former Chilean soldiers charged in Victor Jara killing
ABC News [23/7/15]:
A judge has charged 10 former soldiers in the killing of internationally renowned Chilean folk singer and political activist Victor Jara, who was tortured and shot to death just days after the country's 1973 coup.
The charges announced late Wednesday by Judge Miguel Vazquez include homicide and kidnapping in the slaying of Jara and former military police head Littre Quiroga Carvajal.
Jara was a popular songwriter, theater director and university professor at the time of the coup on Sept. 11, 1973. He also was a member of the Communist Party, and many believe he could have served as a powerful voice against the dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet.
A key leader of the New Chilean Song movement, Jara was familiar to young people worldwide in the late 1960s and early 1970s for songs including "Te Recuerdo Amanda," or "I'll Remember You Amanda," and "Manifiesto."
But he was dragged down to the basement of an indoor stadium in Santiago that had been converted into a detention and torture center where some 5,000 supporters of socialist President Salvador Allende were being held.
Jara was tortured before he was shot 44 times on Sept. 16 as a warning to those who challenged Pinochet's authority.
Local residents later found the bodies of Jara and Quiroga Carvajal, who was shot 23 times, in a vacant lot near Santiago's Metropolitan Cemetery, according to court documents.
LNP and ALP politicians are responsible for this.
They are fascists.
... Mohammad is now on his 107th day of a hunger strike. He has multiple health issues and needs to be flown to Australia without delay. He can no longer eat and there are not adequate medical facilities in Papua New Guinea to deal with his multiple conditions. He is terrified and says he will die. ... [WARNING ** GRAPHIC ** Save Mohammad Albederee - 24/7/15]
Nine MSN [17/7/15]:
The immigration department is defending the level of health care on offer to a critically ill asylum seeker, as doctors on Manus Island plead for him to be sent to Australia.
Friday marks the 100th day of Mohammad Albederee's hunger strike protesting against a lack of medical treatment for kidney and shoulder problems, after an alleged assault by guards at the detention centre last year.
"This individual continues to receive appropriate clinical care (at the Manus Island detention centre)," a department spokesman told AAP in a statement, maintaining that the care was broadly comparable with health services available to the Australian community.
PNG Police say man charged with Barati murder not on
The police commander on Papua New Guinea's Manus Island says one of the men charged with the murder of asylum seeker Reza Barati has not been granted bail, contrary to other reports.
23-year-old Mr Barati was killed during clashes at Australia's asylum seeker detention centre in February last year.
Two people have been charged over his death, while police are still looking for three more suspects.
The province's MP, Ronnie Knight, yesterday said he had been told that one of the men, Joshua Kaluvia, was out of prison and in the community.
Australian media reports also say Mr Kaluvia has been seen walking around the provincial capital, Lorengau.
But the Manus provincial police commander, Alex N'Drasal, says Mr Kaluvia has not been granted bail and is in custody in the island's prison.
"They appeared in court this week where bail was denied and the case was adjourned until September...they have been moved back to the prison camp."
Alex N'Drasal says reports of Mr Kaluvia roaming free are speculation.
However, Ronnie Knight says the prison is incredibly overcrowded, and some inmates leave during the day and return to their cells at night.
He says the provincial government is planning to construct a new prison in the next couple of years.
Transfield employee killed on Manus Island
Shane Bazzi, Medium.com [24/7/15]:
I have received some awful news from Manus Island.
Refugees at the East Lorengau Refugee Transit Centre have told me that security guards at the transit centre told them that a PNG Transfield employee was killed last night on Manus Island.
The refugees told me that security guards told them that the man’s throat was cut and he was thrown off a bridge, into the water below.
The refugees said this horrific incident occurred about 15 minutes away (walking) from the transit centre.
The refugees said security guards said that the Transfield employee worked at the Manus detention centre, not the transit centre.
The refugees also told me that guards told them that another man and a woman were attacked in a separate incident last night on Manus Island.
The refugees said that guards said the man and woman, both from PNG, were approached by locals who asked them for cigarettes and money.
The refugees said the guards said the locals were carrying knives and machetes and cut the man and bashed the woman.
The refugees said the guards told them the man and woman were attacked outside the East Lorengau Refugee Transit Centre on Manus Island.
The refugees said the guards told them that the man and woman were taken to hospital.
The refugees have told me that guards told them it is not safe for them to leave the transit centre.
Massive gas venting in Western Queensland raises health and royalties issues
Senator Lazarus Media Release [25/7/15]:
Senator for Queensland, Glenn Lazarus, today raised concerns regarding Origin Energy’s recent release of methane gas from about 100 kms of pipeline in western Queensland.
According to local residents in western Queensland living in difficult conditions among CSG mining gas fields, Origin Energy has twice released very large volumes of gas from the pipeline in order to replace a faulty valve. The first occasion was 25 May 2015 and the most recent happened on 13 July 2015.
On both occasions the noise of the venting could be heard as far away as 25 kms.
Residents were not warned about the venting and they have serious health concerns about the exposure to the high concentrations of methane.
“The releases raise serious questions about the relative costs and benefits of the CSG mining industry and the concerning health impacts for those living within gas fields,” Senator Glenn Lazarus said today.
“Many hard working Queensland families are suffering from the invasion of CSG mining on their properties and Governments have taken away their rights to say no to mining companies.
“I am sickened by the way Governments and mining companies are treating the people of Australia. It is just wrong.“
Shay Dougall from the Hopeland Community Sustainability Group wrote to the Department of Natural Resources and Mines on July 9 2015 asking for information about the safety or otherwise of the methane blast but was only told it was “planned maintenance”.
"It's not good enough that the Federal and Queensland Governments allow this venting to happen because it’s just not safe. I would like to see the Queensland Government’s ‘risk assessment’ that was done prior to the venting if it was a planned event," Mrs Dougall said.
The gas was released at one end at Galugaba, near Wandoan, and at the other, Reedy Creek, near Roma.
“The release of this very large volume of compressed methane has highlighted three important issues for the State of Queensland: 1. health concerns, 2. wasted royalties; and 3. whether this high-risk industry is worth it to the people of Queensland,” Senator Glenn Lazarus added.
“Until there is rock-solid proof that the CSG mining industry is safe and people are not being made sick by it, then it should not continue.
“There is plenty of gas around Australia. Governments do not need to let mining companies dig into residential, agricultural and tourist areas to get it – and deplete and contaminate our vital water resources while they are doing it.
“Governments need to put the people of Australia first – not the influence of political donations or the interests of multi-national companies.
“I would like the Queensland Government to explain how much methane is being vented or flared from CSG mining infrastructure and how much of this mining companies are paying royalties on.
“I would also like to see a full cost/benefit analysis of the CSG mining industry given the small amount of royalties currently being paid to the Queensland Government.
“We were originally promised Queensland would be earning $1 billion a year in royalties from CSG mining and now we find the royalties will only amount to a small fraction of this.
“In fact, the money being paid in royalties to the Queensland Government is less than the value of the gas the companies are venting and flaring – effectively releasing into the environment.
“The CSG mining industry is a disaster. It is not raising the revenue promised and it is wrecking people’s lives.
“Not only is CSG mining destroying lives, it is also depleting vital water resources, decimating communities and destroying the environment.
“CSG mining needs to stop.”
Certain localities continue to receive special treatment from the Queensland Police
... When they've tortured and scared you for twenty-odd years
Then they expect you to pick a career
When you can't really function you're so full of fear ...
'Working Class Hero', John Lennon 
QPS Media [24/7/15]:
Jacobs Well Police attended Woongoolba State Primary School parade and spoke with the students.
Police shared about the responsibility each student has in the decisions they make and consequences for the choices they make.
The talk was aligned with the school rules of being safe, being respectful and being a learner.
Later in the week police reattended and students participated in racing games where police used a speed detection device to clock the speed of students.
Every child ran and to the cheers of all the other students, every runner had a grin from ear to ear.
Needless to say students were asking when we could return; with many adding that they can run faster next time!
... The 12 most disadvantaged communities in the state are all Aboriginal communities (with the exception of Inala, in Brisbane, which has a sizable blackfella community).
The two most disadvantaged, in fact, are two Cape York communities, separated by only about 200 kilometres – Aurukun and Doomadgee.
They have another thing in common. They are both communities subject to the expensive Cape York Welfare Reform trials, which aim to break social norms through a radical ‘tough love’ approach to welfare.
The other communities involved in the trials are Coen, Mossman Gorge and Hope Vale.
The trials have been in place in these communities, with the exception of Doomadgee, since 2008, when both federal and state governments backed Pearson’s vision to the tune of about $96 million.
Since then, both governments have funnelled millions of dollars into the trials, which ultimately goes to a population of less than 3,000 people. ... [New Matilda - 24/7/15]
Police officers stood down in Northern Police Region
QPS Media [25/7/15]:
Two male Constables from the Northern Police Region were stood down from official duty with the Queensland Police Service on Friday 24 July 2015.
The officers are subject of a disciplinary investigation concerning allegations of the use of excessive force and failure to treat a member of the public with dignity and respect.
In keeping with the Queensland Police Services commitment to high standards of behaviour, transparency and accountability, the Service has undertaken to inform the public when an officer faces serious allegations of misconduct.
This does not mean that the allegations against the officers have been substantiated.
Man charged with drug possession and assault after being tasered, Victoria Point
QPS Media [25/7/15]:
Police have charged a 22-year-old man following an incident on Colburn Avenue in Victoria Point last night.
At around 7:30pm officers stopped a vehicle to conduct a Random Breath Test.
Following a search of the vehicle officers allegedly located a quantity of dangerous drugs.
Police will be alleged during the search, one of the vehicles occupants became involved in a physical altercation with officers, which required the deployment and use of a Taser.
A 22-year-old Victoria Point man has been charged with two counts of assault or obstruct police, three counts of possessing dangerous drugs and one count of possessing property suspected of having been used in connection with the commission of a drug offence.
He is due to appear in Cleveland Magistrates Court on August 18.
Sandra Bland’s sister responds to suicide allegations, lawyer says Waller County withholding details [Democracy Now - 24/7/15]:
... AMY GOODMAN: Can you respond to the Texas authorities saying that Sandra committed suicide using the plastic garbage bag liner that was in her jail cell?
SHARON COOPER [Sandra Bland's sister]: I wish that I could provide you with a thorough response. Unfortunately, we have not received a copy of their completed autopsy or any type of the preliminary report. Everything that we’ve received to this point has been through the media, so I still feel very misinformed.
AMY GOODMAN: What was your reaction to the news conference yesterday? And do you feel they should have met with you before they held the news conference?
SHARON COOPER: Absolutely. We’d love to have documentation to at least look through it, understand it and pose questions. To this point, they have not provided us with anything, although we have asked time and time again since we were initially notified last Monday that our sister passed away in their custody.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: And, Sharon Cooper, your response to the claims that your sister had a previous suicide attempt?
SHARON COOPER: What we’ve seen in the jail documents that they have referenced, again, have been seen only through the media. Nothing has been given to us directly. What I have seen, I can assure you that it doesn’t contain her signature, so we question the authenticity of those documents, as well.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: And I’d like to ask Cannon Lambert, the attorney representing Sandra Bland’s family—Cannon Lambert, if you could talk about your response to the preliminary results of the autopsy report and what the significance is legally of the fact that they claim that a lot of marijuana was found in Sandra Bland’s system?
CANNON LAMBERT: First, thanks. I’ll be honest with you, the trickling of information relative to the autopsy is a little bit troubling. Normally what will happen is that you’ll get the full autopsy, and then you’re able to review it, as opposed to just getting piecemeal information.
That being said, as it relates to the legal aspect of marijuana being in her system, frankly, I’m not sure that it has any real relevance to either of the two circumstances that we find ourselves in. If you look at, for example, the stop, there is no question about the fact she was lucid. There’s no question about the fact that she was not in any way intoxicated. The officer did not look to try and arrest her on those grounds. And in fact, the documentation that they point to, though we don’t know the authenticity of it, as mentioned, they don’t make any reference of her being intoxicated or having been arrested because of intoxication. If you look at her responses, you can see that she’s responsive in a very real way, in a way that, psychologically or otherwise, she’s not altered in any way.
And then when you move to the jail aspect of this case, you know, the thing is, practically, on a legal front, it’s almost better for a civil litigation case if in fact she were to have obtained marijuana in the jail. That just belies any sort of real logical concept that they would have been doing what they needed to do at the jail, if she were able to do that. And so, you also ask yourself, too, about whether or not they did an adequate search. Presumptively, they’re going to tell us that they did. And how would she have brought marijuana into the jail to consume it, as has been kind of suggested? There’s no real legal relevance, as far as I’m concerned, as it relates to her having ingested marijuana, if in fact she did.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to ask about the Waller County DA. In 2014, Elton Mathis, the DA, was accused of sending threatening text messages after an African-American clergyman asked Waller County to provide data on prosecution rates by ethnicity. Reverend Walter Pendleton says after he accused DA Mathis of selectively prosecuting minorities, Mathis texted him with threats.
Mathis reportedly told him, quote, "You are too stupid to know what that word means."
The prosecutor cited examples of white public officials he had prosecuted, and then he texted, quote, "My hounds ain’t even started yet dumb ass. ... When I talk people [will] listen. Keep talking and I will sue your ass for slander."
Now, I am saying these words because they are the text, and this was reported in the Houston Chronicle, of the DA that we’re talking about today, in response to a prominent local reverend who was concerned about selective prosecution by ethnicity. Cannon Lambert, can you respond?
CANNON LAMBERT: Well, you know, I can say this, that you never want to have a public official engage in that type of rhetoric. And, you know, we—there’s no question that there is an atmosphere where African Americans are having difficulties with the way that we’re dealt with with the police in many instances. Not all of the time, but there’s no question about the fact that we, as a community, we feel targeted in some way. And so—and I don’t—you know, I don’t make any bones about the fact that we, as African-American people, have every right to assert our rights.
And when I look at Sandy and I see that she is doing nothing more than saying, "I want to be treated the right way, I want to be treated equal," I say, "I celebrate you, sister." That’s the way I see it. I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with making a stand when it comes to being treated fairly. You know, it is hard for me to get beyond the fact that this officer that stopped her made a U-turn right after looking her right square in her face, as she made a right-hand turn to go about her business. She didn’t do anything wrong when she made the right-hand turn. She didn’t do anything wrong when she was traversing down the street. It looked very much like she was targeted.
Suicide or not, police are responsible for Sandra Bland's death, Matt Taibbi [Rolling Stone – 24/7/15]
United States, “allies” continue bombing Iraq and Syria
US Department of Defense [24/7/15]:
Coalition military forces continued to attack Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists in Syria and Iraq, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported today.
Officials reported details of the latest strikes, which took place yesterday, noting that assessments of results are based on initial reports.
Airstrikes in Syria
Fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted eight airstrikes in Syria:
-- Near Hasakah, six airstrikes struck an ISIL large tactical unit and four ISIL small tactical units and destroyed an ISIL fighting position, two ISIL structures and an ISIL vehicle.
-- Near Kobani, two airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and an ISIL structure and destroyed an ISIL headquarters, an ISIL logistics hub and an ISIL structure.
Airstrikes in Iraq
Attack, fighter-attack, bomber and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 19 airstrikes in Iraq, approved by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense:
-- Near Qaim, one airstrike destroyed an ISIL excavator.
-- Near Beiji, two airstrikes struck an ISIL large tactical unit and terrain denying ISIL a tactical advantage and destroyed five ISIL vehicles.
-- Near Fallujah, three airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units and three ISIL bridges and destroyed an ISIL excavator and an ISIL motorcycle.
-- Near Habbaniyah, one airstrike destroyed two ISIL fighting positions.
-- Near Makhmur, four airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and an ISIL building and destroyed an ISIL vehicle, an ISIL mortar system, an ISIL weapons cache and four ISIL fighting positions.
-- Near Mosul, four airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units and an ISIL heavy weapon and destroyed four ISIL heavy weapons, four ISIL fighting positions and two ISIL bunkers.
-- Near Ramadi, two airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL tanks, six ISIL armored vehicles, three ISIL heavy weapons and an ISIL structure.
-- Near Sinjar, one airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL buildings.
-- Near Tal Afar, one airstrikes destroyed four ISIL bunkers.
[US backed] Saudi-led coalition airstrikes killed more than 120 civilians and wounded more than 150 after shelling a residential area in the Yemeni province of Taiz on Friday evening, security officials, medical officials and witnesses said. ... [Yahoo - 24/7/15]
As many as four Taliban fighters and a civilian were killed and three more people wounded in two separate incidents in southern Zabul province, an official said on Saturday. ... [Pajhwok - 25/7/15]
Airstrike by Afghan Air Force leaves "8 senior Taliban leaders" dead in Faryab [Khaama - 25/7/15]
Even in parlous financial state, Greece fulfils its UN Refugee Convention obligations - 1,000s of refugees rescued in past 2 days
Alternate Immigration Policy Minister Tasia Christodoulopoulou responded Thursday to criticism over the government’s handling of an immigration crisis, noting that only limited help can be offered to migrants who are determined to continue their journeys beyond Greece.
“At the moment we can’t do anything at all,” she said. “These people have no legal status as long as they don’t make asylum claims,” she said, adding that there is no legislative framework foreseeing the support of migrants who “use Greece as a crossing.”
Her comments came a day after Athens City Hall rapped the government’s efforts to deal with an intensifying immigration crisis as “woefully inadequate.”
Of the waves of migrants reaching Greece from Turkey, most end up in Athens. On Thursday, 1,200 migrants arrived at Piraeus and around 1,900 more the day before. Those who cannot afford to stay in cheap hotels, end up sleeping in central squares.
Christodoulopoulou said the government was considering setting up an “open” facility in central Athens, not to host migrants but “a place where they can wash their clothes and have a bath.”
Financing remains a problem. A donation of 300,000 euros made by the International Red Cross was returned to the donor due to restrictions on banks. Ministry sources indicated that funding is to be released on August 10 but did not elaborate.
Official calls for crisis talks over Athens park refugee camp [Ekathimerini – 24/7/15]
@MSF_Sea [24/7/15]: In less than three months, 8260 people have been assisted by #MSFSea on board the #DignityI #Argos and #Phoenix
Up to 40 African migrants are believed to have drowned after their inflatable boat sank near the Libyan coast, survivors have told the United Nations refugee agency after reaching Italy.
"They said between 35 and 40 people died on Wednesday morning," Carlotta Sami, the UNHCR spokeswoman for southern Europe, said on Thursday.
All the dead came from sub-Saharan countries such as Senegal, Mali and Benin. ... [Al Jazeera - 24/7/15]
Improving Refugee Protection in Asia-Pacific: How Australia can make a practical difference
Refugee Council of Australia [23/7/15]:
For several years, government and civil society representatives and academics have been discussing the need for Asia-Pacific regional cooperation to improve the protection of refugees. It is most often raised as a longer term alternative to address the factors which push asylum seekers on to dangerous boat journeys.
How realistic is this idea? What would it involve and where would we start?
In this brief discussion paper, developed with input from the Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network, the Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) argues that not only is it essential for Australia to be involved in this form of regional cooperation but it can start now with constructive bilateral steps to achieve immediate improvements in the lives of refugees.
Australia’s declining international influence
Australia’s capacity to influence international discussions about refugee protection has declined considerably as the Australian Government’s response to people seeking asylum has become harsher.
All mainstream conservative and social democratic parties across Europe have rejected suggestions that Australian-style policies of turnbacks of refugees, mandatory detention or forced removal to third countries are appropriate responses (morally, legally or practically) to the growing numbers of people entering Europe from the Middle East and North Africa.
In South-East Asia, as the region responded in May to an increase in the number of boats of desperate people on the Andaman Sea, public and political opinion swung against suggestions that Australia’s advocacy for boat turnbacks was acceptable.
Despite its long and positive record on refugee resettlement, Australia is increasingly being seen as a wealthy nation interested primarily in rejecting its responsibilities to people seeking asylum, pursuing unsustainable policies which place greater pressure on poorer neighbours and foment resentment towards Australia.
Ultimately, all fair-minded Australians would agree that it is in everyone’s best interests to find constructive alternatives for refugees who see embarking on dangerous journeys as their best hope for protection and freedom.
The only sensible and sustainable course for Australia is to support policies which improve the protection of refugees as close to their country of origin as possible, encouraging and, where feasible, leading international cooperation to share responsibility with nations in the forefront of refugee movements.
We need to move beyond rhetoric to regional solutions for refugees, Paul Power, Chief Executive Officer, Refugee Council of Australia [New Matilda – 23/7/15]
Australia can only "move beyond rhetoric" when facts and information are available to the citizenry. Presently facts and information are being withheld, blackouts are in place, and the media are bombarding us with relentless talking points, spin and divisive propaganda (eg Go Back To Where You Came From).
How can people reach consensus, or make informed decisions about anything when reason is suffocated and there is no scope for sensible discourse?
If Australians want a government that acts in the spirit of the UN Refugee Convention - as well as in their democratic interests, perhaps they ought to consider:
1. Rejecting the major parties.
Pleading to the better nature of people dedicated to a dead political system is a waste of energy.
2. Asserting sovereignty.
It is intellectually dishonest to disregard the US pivot to Asia, and its impact on Australian foreign policy, especially when attempting to counter the establishment's ideological opposition to refugees.
... As we move forward to set the stage for engagement in the Asia-Pacific over the next 60 years, we are mindful of the bipartisan legacy that has shaped our engagement for the past 60. And we are focused on the steps we have to take at home — increasing our savings, reforming our financial systems, relying less on borrowing, overcoming partisan division — to secure and sustain our leadership abroad. ... America’s Pacific Century, Hillary Clinton [Foreign Policy – 11/10/11]
The callous and criminal treatment of refugees, James Cogan [WSWS - 17/6/15]:
... The 65 passengers could not, however, apply for refugee status due to reactionary laws enacted by the former Labor government, which excised the entire Australian continent from Australia’s migration zone—an act without precedent anywhere in the world.
The refugees were then taken back out to sea and transferred onto two small wooden boats, provided by the Australian government, and stocked with limited fuel and supplies. The crew were paid between $US5,000 and $6,000 each to head back to Rote Island, west of Indonesian West Timor.
One boat ran out of fuel. With 71 people crammed aboard, the remaining vessel crashed onto reefs. Refugees were forced to swim for up to 90 minutes to reach the small Landu island, where the alert was raised and a rescue operation organised.
The only reason anything is known about the incident is that the refugees managed, against all the odds, to survive.
Everything points to a conscious plan by Australian authorities to ensure that they did not, in fact, live to tell the tale.
The police chief of West Timor, General Endang, bluntly described their journey as a “suicide mission.”
In Australia, there is a direct relationship between the persecution of refugees and the country’s participation in the US-led neo-colonial operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, waged since 2001 under the fraudulent banner of the “war on terrorism.” The demonisation of refugees, including as “terrorists,” has been used to justify the casting aside of international laws and conventions, as well as to divert growing popular frustration and anger over escalating economic and social crises.
As the US and Australia have built up their military posture against China in Asia, “border protection” has become the convenient pretext for the surveillance and militarisation of the waters approaching critical sea lanes through Indonesia, such as the Lombok and Sunda Straits. In the event of war with Beijing, US and Australian strategy would see the current operations against refugees seamlessly escalated into a naval blockade aimed at strangling China’s economy. ...
3. Exposing media complicity and lies.
When is the last time you saw or heard the Refugee Council of Australia (or any other ACADEMIC or EXPERT in migration, international affairs or maritime law) interviewed on the ABC's flagship current affairs programs or local radio/television?
By excluding these voices while amplifying those of incendiary partisan opinionators, think tanks, polls and so called "fact checks", those responsible for human rights atrocities remain unaccountable and are able to continue lying.
Australian Embassy in Myanmar [24/7/15]:
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation is working in Myanmar to provide media training ahead of this year's general elections. Australian Ambassador to Myanmar Mr Nicholas Coppel meets with Mr Mark Bowling from the ABC in Yangon to discuss training initiatives. Find out more about the ABC's work in Myanmar at: http://www.abcinternationaldevelopment.net.au/projects/burma
Australia is currently accepting ZERO refugees
Shorten promises to double that and continue refoulement, exile and torture policies
"Vulnerable people should never be subjected to degrading violence in Australia's name," Opposition leader Bill Shorten told the Australian Labor Party conference in Melbourne.
He promised to establish an independent children's advocate, a "strong voice separate from the government, serving the interests of children seeking asylum".
"If we are elected we will end the moral shame of children in detention as quickly as possible," he said.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten is facing a backlash over his new-found support for boat turn-backs, but will unveil Labor's asylum seeker policy spending of $450 million over three years to help the United Nations tackle the massive influx of people seeking refuge from violence and persecution.
Mr Shorten says he is committed to a humane and compassionate approach to asylum seekers, but understands it is a difficult issue for many in the party and wider community.
However, he says no one wants people drowning at sea and a range of tools are needed to ensure it never happens again.
Labor's Left faction has been considering bringing on a motion to condemn boat turn-backs, but is now expected to fall in behind the party leader.
The policy will include independent oversight of onshore and offshore detention following concerns about abuse of children and women.
visas would be dumped and the humanitarian intake doubled.
Green card delegation in Maungdaw [Burma Times - 24/7/15]:
A delegation of pro government Rohingyas arrived from Rangoon on Thursday.
The Rohingyas in the delegation have been tasked with the responsibility to convince people to adopt the green card.
The group met with Rohingya community leaders in Quarter 2 of Maungdaw town.
Rohingyas in Arakan state have been unwilling to accept the green cards as it refers to them as Bengalis.
The green card is given to naturalised citizens but Rohingyas say they are indigenous to Arakan state.
That claim is bitterly disputed by the government and large sections of the Buddhist populace.
Rohingya man severely beaten, livestock confiscated, Kyawtaw [The Stateless – 22/7/15]
Maungdaw authority refuse permission for UNHCR to meet Rohingya [The Stateless - 13/7/15]
A "social experiment" to ascertain investors’ reactions: Greek islands sold to Depp, Buffet & Co.
Keep Talking Greece [23/7/15]:
First it was Johnny Depp who had allegedly bought a Greek island for more than 4 million euro.
Then it was glam couple Brat Pitt and Angelina Jolie who had an eye on another Greek island.
A few days ago, it was billionaire Warren Buffett who had allegedly spent whole 15 millions to buy another island in the Argosaronic Gulf near Athens.
All news were just bluff.
And thus an Italian bluff orchestrated by real estate company Proto Group and its CEO Alessandro Proto.
Varoufakis: “Why I Voted ‘YES’ Tonight” [The Press Project – 23/7/15]
Bogota: Karlovic, Tomic win openers; Mannarino exacts revenge
ATP World Tour [24/7/15]:
Top seed Ivo Karlovic and defending champion Bernard Tomic both dropped first set tie-breaks on Thursday at the Claro Open Colombia, but rallied to win their Bogota openers.
Karlovic, who won the inaugural title in 2013 and lost to Tomic in last year's final, survived a valiant effort from Colombian wild card Daniel Elahi Galan 6-7(12), 6-1, 6-3. The big-serving Croat failed to convert on four set points in a wild 14-12 tie-break, but rebounded to claim the win after one hour and 55 minutes.
"I arrived two days ago and with the altitude it's a little different than the conditions last week in Newport," said Karlovic. "I needed more time to adjust."
Karlovic fired 28 aces, while capitalising on four of eight break chances. He will face fellow ATP World Tour veteran Radek Stepanek for the seventh time in their FedEx ATP Head2Head in the quarter-finals, after the Czech defeated Sam Groth 6-4, 6-0. Stepanek leads the series 4-2, but Karlovic won their most recent encounter here in Bogota last year.
"It will be difficult because he also likes the conditions here," Karlovic added, referring to Stepanek. "Between us, it's always long, difficult matches. I hope that I can come out."
Defending champion Tomic reached his seventh ATP World Tour quarter-final in 2015, rallying past Spain's Adrian Menendez-Maceiras 6-7(5), 6-2, 6-4 in a late night affair on Campo Central.
Last year, he made his Bogota debut at No. 124 in the Emirates ATP Rankings and claimed his second career title. With his victory on Thursday, he eclipsed his season-high for match wins, improving to 27-17 this year.
Tomic will square off against Japan's Tatsuma Ito next. Ito held off home hope Alejandro Gomez 6-1, 5-7, 6-0. Both Gomez and Galan had prevailed in their ATP World Tour debuts earlier this week.
Meanwhile, third seed Adrian Mannarino exacted revenge on Rajeev Ram after the American saved two match points in the Newport quarter-finals last week. Mannarino prevailed 7-5, 6-3 and will bid for his third ATP World Tour semi-final of the year (Auckland, Delray Beach) against Malek Jaziri. Jaziri overcame qualifier Alexander Sarkissian 6-7(1), 6-3, 6-2.
Also, Michael Berrer triumphed 6-3, 7-6(3) over Marcelo Demoliner and fourth seed Victor Estrella Burgos fired 13 aces in beating Yuichi Sugita 6-4, 6-7(4), 6-2 in two hours and 34 minutes. Berrer, 35, and Estrella Burgos, 34, will meet for the second time after Berrer won in the Indian Wells first round in March.
US: House passes bill blocking states from requiring GMO labels on food
The Hill [23/7/15]:
The House on Thursday passed hotly contested legislation that would keep states from issuing mandatory labeling laws for foods that contain genetically modified organisms, often called GMOs.
The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015, which passed 275-150, would instead create a federal standard for the voluntary labeling of foods with GMO ingredients.
Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.), who authored the bill, called mandatory labeling laws — which have already passed in Vermont, Connecticut and Maine — unnecessarily costly given that GMOs have been deemed safe by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
“Precisely zero pieces of credible evidence have been presented that foods produced with biotechnology pose any risk to our health and safety,” Pompeo said. “We should not raise prices on consumers based on the wishes of a handful of activists.”
Opponents have pushed back against the legislation, saying it will keep consumers from knowing what’s in their food and stop FDA from crafting a national GMO-labeling solution.
Consumer groups, backed by Democrats including Reps. Peter DeFazio (Ore.) and Rosa DeLauro (Conn.), are instead calling the bill the Denying Americans the Right to Know Act.
“American families deserve to know what they are eating and feeding to their children,” DeLauro told reporters Wednesday. “The FDA already requires clear labeling of over 3,000 ingredients, additives and food processes. GMOs should be no different.”
Proponents of the legislation, however, claim a patchwork of labeling laws at the state level would drive up food costs.
Citing a study from a Cornell University professor, the Grocery Manufacturers Association said state-level GMO labeling mandates would increase grocery prices for a family of four by as much as $500 per year and cost food and beverage manufacturers millions of dollars to change food labels and supply chain systems.
But Democrats maintain that labeling would ensure transparency.
“What’s the problem with letting consumers know what they are buying?” asked Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.).
Democrats in the centrist Blue Dog Coalition, meanwhile, threw their support behind the legislation just before the bill went to the floor for a vote Thursday.
“A patchwork of confusing state specific laws related to GMO labeling risks further confusion in the marketplace and rising food costs,” the Blue Dog Coalition said in a statement. “However, we also understand that consumers have the right to know if food is GMO-free and this bill provides a uniform standard for those products through a USDA administered program.”
The House rejected two Democratic amendments to enhance GMO-labeling requirements. One offered by DeLauro, which failed 163-262, would have banned the use of the term “natural” on food that contains a genetically engineered plant. Another proposal from DeFazio that would have forced any U.S. company that labels a product as containing GMOs in a foreign country to label the equivalent product the same way in the U.S. went down by a vote of 123-303.
A third amendment offered by Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) that would have given Native American tribes the authority to prohibit or restrict the cultivation of GMO crops on tribal lands failed 196-227.
25 July 2015