Refugees on Nauru plan peaceful protest.
Murdoch controlled propaganda laundering outfit - AAP - produces lies about improvised weapons in order to incite violence against refugees - again.
Daily Mail [26/2/15]:
By Australian Associated Press
Authorities are ramping up security patrols around Nauru's key buildings and infrastructure ahead of expected refugee protests.
Refugee Action Coalition spokesman Ian Rintoul says a major protest is planned for Friday.
Mr Rintoul says the protest will be peaceful but refugees want to show their disgust at "being treated like slaves" by the Nauru and Australian governments.
The Nauru government is increasing police and private security guard presence at the power station, fuel depot, airport, hospital, government buildings, parliament, court house, harbour and ports, phosphate mines and other buildings.
In a notice distributed publicly, the government warned would-be trespassers that unauthorised access to designated areas will result in criminal charges and could attract fines of up to $10,000 or one year in jail.
Nauru photographer Clint Deidenang told AAP there was growing tension on the island between locals and refugees.
"The police are on high alert," he said.
"Locals are not happy with what the (refugees) have been given."
Mr Deidenang said there were reports circulating on the island that refugees had been gathering materials for improvised weapons.
Hundreds of refugees, now living in the community, have stopped co-operating with the Nauru government and Australian immigration department.
Mr Rintoul said refugee children were boycotting school and English classes.
Refugees are also refusing to talk to their case managers.
Many with jobs, including public service positions, have quit or are on strike.
Refugee Action Coalition, Sydney [22/1/15]:
... “Locking up asylum seekers for having mobile phones; and threatening to shut down communications on Manus Island shows just how much the government has to hide. The Immigration Minister was caught out over his claims that asylum seekers in Delta compound had home-made weapons.
“If Peter Dutton had any respect for the truth, he would resign.”
PNG, Fiji and Nauru come under fire in Amnesty report [RNZI – 26/2/15]:
Amnesty International has criticised Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Nauru for failing to protect human rights in its annual look at human rights abuse around the world.
It has also criticised Australia's camps for asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus Island in PNG.
Bridget Tunnicliffe reports:
"In its 2014 Annual Report on The State of the World's Human Rights, Amnesty says despite Fiji holding its first election last year since the 2006 military coup, a climate of fear and self-censorship prevails.
It says new electoral laws expanded restrictions on freedom of expression, and abuses by security forces continue in an environment where government officials and security forces enjoy widespread immunity.
The organisation criticised the PNG government for taking little action to address violence against women or sorcery-related violence, in spite of legal reforms in 2013 providing for harsher penalties.
Unnecessary and excessive use of force by police was also highlighted.
In Nauru the arbitrary removal of judges and suspension of parliamentarians raised concerns about the rule of law and freedom of expression.
The report says little progress has been made to improve conditions for asylum seekers on PNG and Nauru."
What has become of this person? Still waiting for a response from Burnside QC ----> Human rights abuses on Manus continue. An Iranian asylum seeker has been thrown in jail - by Transfield - for trying to email a lawyer. "tweeted" by @JulianBurnside [20/2/15]
Julian Burnside QC [26/2/15]:
Cruelty on Manus Island. Here is part of a letter received from an Afghan Hazara who is held on Manus (spelling in the original except where indicated). As he says: it's not fair "i came here to seek asylum here but incidentally i stuck here after i reached here in manus i got bad news that one of Taliban group were attacked at my home and father was assassinated, but thank God safe and he got two bullets my younger brother has been kidnapped because according to Taliban saying my father is working for Afghan government and he has relation with hamid karzai's brother and we still didn't get back my brother, i am not economical refugee i was run my own jewellery and [other] business but due to thread i leave everything and scape from my country and i got [injury] on my foot and i need treatment but still they didn't hospitalised my due to pain i cant walk, when i call to my family my mother is crying and she ever advice me that don't come back other wise they will you, we have no choice rather than we stay here they reject my case if they send me back by force then? I am really frustrated and disappointed, respected sir some of my boat fellows and some others who came after us they are illegible for protection visa but we're not it not fair..."
A coalition air strike in Iraq has killed at least 17 militants from the so-called Islamic State and nine civilians overnight, a hospital source said.
Military alliance between Syrian Kurds and the US has resulted in 132 Isis fighters being killed in the Hasaka province since 21 February after around 220 Christians have been captured in Syria. ... [Independent - 26/2/15]
The Islamic State group released a video on Thursday purportedly showing militants using sledgehammers to smash ancient artifacts in Iraq's northern city of Mosul, describing them as idols that must be removed. ... [ABC News - 26/2/15]
France deploys aircraft carrier Charles
de Gaulle to Gulf for latest US led war on Iraq and Syria
France has deployed its most prestigious aircraft carrier, the Charles de Gaulle, as part of the U.S.-led military campaign against the ISIS group militants, French government officials said.
The Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier has entered the Gulf as part of the U.S.-led military campaign against the ISIS group militants in Iraq and Syria.
“We’re are all in this together and having the Charles De Gaulle Strike Group in the region gives the coalition more options to help defeat this common threat,” U.S. 5th Fleet spokesman Lt. Joe Hontz said in a statement.
Two civilians were killed and eight others injured when a car bomb exploded in southern Baghdad on Thursday. ... [IraqiNews.com - 26/2/15]
On Wednesday, a source within the police force said, that two civilians have been wounded in a rocket attack that took place in northern Baghdad. ... [IraqiNews.com - 26/2/15]
Salahuddin governor Raed al-Jubouri declared Tuesday the arrival of more than 5,000 volunteer fighters to the outskirts of Tikrit, adding that the military units are ready to begin the operation of liberating the province, pointing out that camps have been built to receive the displaced because of the current military operations.
Jubouri said in an interview for IraqiNews, “More than 5,000 volunteer fighters have arrived in Samarra and Speicher Base; they will take part in the military operation to liberate Tikrit,” noting that, “The military units are ready to declare the beginning of the operation.”
Al-Jubouri added, “The operation will be managed in accordance with a central plan that will start from several directions,” noting that, “The leaderships of Salahuddin and Samarra Operations, and the formations of the defense and interior ministries, as well as the volunteer and tribal fighters of Tikrit, al-Alam district and the surrounding areas; they will all participate in the operation.”
The FBI Wednesday announced the arrest of three men it alleges planned to help the Islamic State, news that at first appeared to confirm fears that radical extremism is spreading to the United States.
“The flow of foreign fighters to Syria represents an evolving threat to our country and to our allies,”District Attorney Loretta Lynch said in a press release announcing the arrests.
“We will vigorously prosecute those who attempt to travel to Syria to wage violent jihad on behalf of ISIL and those who support them.”
Left unmentioned in the FBI statement, however, is the integral role a paid informant appears to have played in generating the charges against the men, and helping turn a fantastical “plot” into something even remotely tangible.
It appears that none of the three men was in any condition to travel or support the Islamic State, without help from the FBI informant. ... [Confidential Informant Played Key Role in FBI Foiling Its Own Terror Plot - The Intercept – 25/2/15]
Kiev's West-backed 'ludicrous demands' may derail ceasefire – Moscow [RT – 26/2/15]
Violent clashes erupted overnight between the Lebanese army and unidentified militants along the border with Syria, security sources reported Thursday.
Sources told Anadolu news agency that following the clashes, the Lebanese army advanced toward strategic locations that were occupied by the militants. ... [Al Akhbar - 26/2/15]
Drainage water containing high levels of radiation may have leaked into the Pacific Ocean near the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in Japan, the site of a meltdown in 2011, reports NBC.
Despite knowing about the issue since April, the company that operates the plant, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco), failed to report it.
Citing a need to report "everything all at once," an unnamed company official told NBC that Tepco wanted to find the source of the contamination first — something it only did recently. ... [The Verge - 25/2/15]
NATO confirms one of its service members killed in Kabul attack [Khaama – 26/2/15]
One Turkish national and a civilian were killed and another wounded when a suicide bomber rammed his explosive-laden vehicle into a Turkish convoy in front of Iran's Embassy in the capital Kabul on Thursday, security officials said. ... [Pajhwok - 26/2/15]
Death Toll from Afghan Avalanches Exceeds 200 [Naharnet – 26/2/15]
Insurgents in Somalia's capital fired a barrage of mortar rounds Thursday targeting the highly fortified presidential palace and main government compound, killing a guard, security officials said.
There was no claim of any responsibility for the explosions, but the Al-Qaida-affiliated Shebab rebels have staged a string of attacks in their fight to overthrow the country's internationally-backed government. ... [Naharnet - 26/2/15]
One person was killed and five, including policemen, were wounded when five bombs exploded in Cairo on Thursday, the Egyptian Interior Ministry said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the security sources said army attacks on Islamists in North Sinai left at least 38 militants dead. ... [Al Akhbar - 26/2/15]
Israeli extremists set fire to Christian seminary in Jerusalem [Maan - 26/2/15]
Al Jazeera [26/2/15]:
Secret documents obtained by Al Jazeera's Investigative Unit expose a deep disdain by South Africa's spies for their Israeli counterparts, with intelligence assessments accusing Israel of conducting "cynical" polices in Africa that include "fuelling insurrection", "appropriating diamonds" and even sabotaging Egypt's water supply.
Political wariness on the part of the South Africans is hardly surprising given Israel's extensive military and security cooperation with the apartheid regime ousted in 1994. The current South African government is led by the African National Congress, which aligned itself with the Palestine Liberation Organisation.
A secret analysis from South African intelligence dismisses a tour of African countries by the Israeli foreign minister in 2009 as "an exercise in cynicism".
It says Avigdor Lieberman's nine-day trip to Ethiopia, Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda, and Kenya laid the groundwork for arms deals and the appropriation of African resources, while hiding behind "a philanthropic façade".
Banksy in Gaza [VIDEO - 25/2/15]
PNG Government approves proposed legislation to repeal National Seas Act 1977 [One PNG - 26/2/15]
An Open Letter to His Excellency Mr. Peter O’Neill, Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea [PNG Blogs - 24/1/15]:
Dear Prime Minster,
I believe your heart is with the people who are forced to leave their homes because of conflict and political suppression. Thus, I kindly request you
1. to release immediately all asylum seekers from detention camp and
2. to stop the illegal interference of your government in the matter of asylum seekers in the region and treating them inhumanly;
3. to advise the Australian government to resettle the asylum seekers in Australia and give them a fair trial based on international and nation law; and
4. to encourage the Australian government to take full responsibility on the matter and address it urgently.
Where is the evidence the Manus trial is actually occurring next week? Do the accused have lawyers now???
Selective social media publishing by ALP-linked "refugee advocates" and reporting from the ABC - which persists in calling the February 2014 attacks on refugees a "riot" - cannot be trusted.
... In July, police arrested security guard Louie Efi and soon afterwards arrested Salvation Army worker Joshua Kaluvia.
The Papua New Guinean men were both charged with murder.
The case has been listed in the Manus Island court for Monday. ... <---- WHERE? NO LINK, NO FAITH.
A man was shot to death inside a church before his body was mutilated by his tribal enemies, police say.
Hela provincial police commander Supt Mark Yangen said the man from Betege village in Koroba-Kopiago district, Hela, identified as Julai Wawo, 28, ran into the church thinking he would be safe there last Saturday.
But, he said Wawo was shot and then his body chopped up inside the church at Pugwa village around 10am. ... [The National - 26/2/15]
Australian High Commission, Hela provincial government and ExxonMobil PNG announce a partnership to support and expand community safety [Australian High Commission PNG Media Release - 11/12/14]:
Hela Governor, Mr. Anderson Agiru, ExxonMobil PNG (EMPNG) Managing Director Peter Graham and Australian High Commissioner, Her Excellency Ms Deborah Stokes, signed a Statement of Principles committing support for community safety through the PNG-Australia Law and Justice - Transition Program.
A Memorandum of Understanding was subsequently signed between the Australia High Commission and EMPNG enabling joint funding of a full-time Tari-based community safety adviser.
“This is an excellent example of how business and development partners can work together to improve the lives of Papua New Guineans. Our partnership affirms our joint commitment to supporting and expanding community safety, and to the economic development of Papua New Guinea,” Ms Stokes said.
The placement of a Community Safety Adviser in Tari will support the Hela government’s efforts to strengthen local justice delivery, improve collaboration with national agencies and assist in reporting justice outcomes. Of particular focus will be support for Village Courts and reducing and preventing family and sexual violence.
Governor Agiru extended his full support to the initiative.
“The placement of a full-time law and justice advisor in Hela is welcomed, as it builds upon the work already done by the PALJP team in the province. My administration fully supports this initiative, and we appreciate the willingness of the PNG national government, the Australian government and ExxonMobil to support Hela’s development priorities.”
ExxonMobil PNG Managing Director Peter Graham noted during the signing ceremony that development challenges require ongoing collaboration between the public sector, industry and civil society.
“ExxonMobil remains committed to helping develop human, social and economic capacity in PNG. We are pleased to support the Law and Justice Partnership and commend the PALJP -TP team and the Hela Provincial Government for moving this initiative forward.”
Maryborough-man killed “fighting Islamic State” in Syria
Fraser Coast Chronicle [26/2/15]:
An Australian man killed fighting for the Kurds against the Islamic State death cult in in northern Syria was born in Maryborough.
Thought to be the first Westerner to die in battle against IS, the man has been identified as 28 year-old Ashley Kent Johnston.
Mr Johnston, born in Maryborough, is believed to have been a resident of the ACT before joining the fight against IS in Syria and Iraqi Kurdistan.
Australian Kurdish Association president Gulfer Olan confirmed Mr Johnston had died in the fighting and said she was trying to contact Mr Johnston's family to pass on the Kurdish community's condolences.
A man reported killed fighting against Islamic State in Syria, and identified as 28-year-old Australian Ashley Kent Johnston.
A Defence spokeswoman confirmed the dead man was a former Army Reservist but would not confirm his name.
Armed robbery, South Brisbane
QPS Media [26/2/15]:
Police are investigating the armed robbery of a man in South Brisbane this morning.
Around 9.10am a 19-year-old man was walking from the Southbank train station along Colchester Street when he was approached by a man who grabbed him by the arm.
The man threatened the 19-year-old with a knife and demanded money before fleeing on foot with a sum of cash towards Vulture Street.
The man is described as Caucasian in appearance, 180cms tall, thin build and brown hair. He was wearing a white t-shirt and dark coloured track pants.
The 19-year-old was not physically injured.
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.
Gympie woman who reported theft charged
A staff member who reported an armed robbery at an electronics shop in the Queensland town of Gympie is now accused of pocketing the missing cash.
The 34-year-old woman called officers to the Dick Smith store on Mary Street on Tuesday after reporting an armed hold-up.
But it has turned out she's the one who stole cash from the till, police allege.
She's been charged with one count of stealing as a servant and will front Gympie Magistrates Court on March 16.
Banora Point man to face charges for weapons cache
Tweed Daily News [25/2/15]:
A Banora Point man will stand trial on serious drug and weapons charges in the district court on March 25.
Tweed Byron detectives and Federal Police conducted a search of Leslie Thomas Rynan's Banora Point home on March 11 last year.
Police allege a search of the premises uncovered more than 58 grams of ecstasy (MDMA), more than 55 grams of cannabis, amphetamines and components of a pill press.
A number of items were seized by officers including an allegedly stolen camera, drivers licence and bank key card.
Next officers conducted a search of a Tweed Heads industrial unit rented by 60-year-old Rynan.
During the search police allege they found 157 12 gauge shotgun rounds, 58 .22 calibre bullets, a .410 gauge shot gun shell and MDMA tablets featuring the Superman logo.
Officers also allegedly discovered a Zippo lighter style hand gun designed to fire .22 calibre bullets at the industrial unit.
Rynan was arrested and charged with 14 offences. Police facts
tendered to the court stated it was believed the pill press could produce 300 to
400 tablets per hour.
Earlier today officers from Taskforce Maxima arrested a 33-year-old Carrara man as a result of drug investigations relating to the Mongols Criminal Gang. ... [QPS Media - 26/2/15]
The national president of the Bandidos motorcycle club will walk free from a Queensland prison after being granted bail. … [Yahoo – 26/2/15]
Man suffers head injuries in Fraser Island 4WD rollover
Sunshine Coast Daily [26/2/15]:
Queensland Ambulance crews are at the scene of a four-wheel drive crash on Fraser Island this afternoon.
It is believed eight people were travelling in the car when it rolled.
One man has suffered head and facial injuries and has been airlifted to hospital.
Another seven people are being treated for minor injuries.
Ex-Bega Cheese boss pleads guilty to indecent assault
Nine MSN [26/2/15]:
"I am eight years old. What he did felt wrong."
This simple, heartbreaking statement from one of Maurice Van Ryn's victims was read out at the Sydney District Court during the convicted child sex offender's sentence hearing today.
The 59-year-old former Bega Cheese boss told the court that since he was a teenager there had never been a time in his life when he wasn't sexually attracted to children.
But he denied grooming any of the children, aged from eight to 16, that he abused between 2004 and 2014.
The wealthy businessman has pleaded guilty to five counts of indecent assault, five of indecency and one assault with indecency along with the most serious charge of persistent sexual abuse of a child.
The offences were all opportunistic, Van Ryn claimed.
"I just wasn't able to resist that urge that hit me," he said.
"It was just an urge to touch."
But the court heard he took a boy, with whom he had "sexual contact", to Canberra to watch rugby league in a private box.
He denied that referring to the abuse as a "few minutes of stupidity" was downplaying the seriousness of his criminality as the assaults only lasted for less than a minute.
While Van Ryn was on bail last year he tried to kiss a young boy and put his hand on the boy's knee.
"I reckon that's pretty thin for an indecent assault," he said.
"It was just a bit of a fun, joke thing at the time."
Van Ryn offered somewhat of an apology to the victims and their families in the packed courtroom.
He was sorry for ruining the special and long-lasting friendships, he said, and apologised for any harm he might have caused, while keeping his gaze squarely on his lawyer.
Other victims told the court they had asked to move overseas after being abused.
"I'm not as happy as I used to be. Memories about what happened sometimes come up," one said.
Van Ryn, who's in custody, will return to the Sydney District Court on April 20.
University staff fear cuts after casual hours slashed
Sunshine Coast Daily [26/2/15]:
The University of the Sunshine Coast's Arts and Business faculty is in shock after casual staff hours were slashed less than two weeks out from the start of the semester.
The National Tertiary Education Union will meet with university management this morning in a bid to resolve the dispute, which threatens to turn into a major crisis on campus.
Staff fear the cuts, which they say are linked to a $1.4 million cut to the faculty's teaching budget, will cost the university its five-star rating for teaching quality.
NTEU branch president Associate Professor Christine Morley said some staff had hours cut while the remainder were left wondering how they would cope with the increased workload.
"They're wondering, 'How will I take extra courses, in some cases, courses that I'm not familiar with and have never taught before?'" she said.
Assoc Prof Morley said the cuts were likely to push the number of students in tutorials up by 25% from 18 to 24, which would disrupt many assessment arrangements.
The NTEU says the changes fly in the face of workloads discussed during a performance planning and review process last year.
The union has served a dispute notice on the university and will take the matter to the Fair Work Commission if a resolution cannot be reached at today's meeting.
The union's academic vice-president, politics lecturer Bronwyn Stevens, described the cuts as "totally demoralising".
Another lecturer said staff who had made arrangements based on working an expected number of hours were now scrambling at the last minute to find work.
"It was unnecessary. I think there were other alternatives available," he said.
A statement from the university last night said the budget had been set last November and it had been meeting consistently with staff to discuss the arrangements.
The statement said any savings in the casual teaching budget would be directed towards "strategic activities, including the introduction of new teaching programs and the hiring of permanent staff".
Retired army medic not told of firefighting foam health effects
A retired army medic is angry he wasn't told of health concerns about a firefighting foam in which he was regularly soaked.
The man, who did not want to be named, lived in the married quarters with his family at the Oakey Army Aviation Centre between 1988 and 1996.
He rose to the rank of sergeant in his latter years at the base and was in charge of the crash rescue medic team.
The Department of Defence in July last year began holding community information sessions on the potential effects of firefighting foam chemicals which had leached from the base into the underground water supply.
The former medic said he only found out about the concerns when he was at Amberley Aviation Heritage Centre earlier this month.
Someone he started talking to mentioned the groundwater investigation and the concerns over the foam.
"I used to be drenched in that stuff," he said.
"I was told it was safe."
He and his fellow medics would be at least waist deep in the foam during rescue training drills.
"You could be in it for two hours.
"If you questioned anything, I remember the firies saying 'it is just like washing detergent'."
The former medic recalled dubious disposal procedures for expired drums of the foam.
"I remember them pouring drums of this stuff down the bloody drainpipes."
He said he would like to have blood tests done, similar to affected Oakey residents, to help determine if the exposure had affected him.
He was also concerned about the water his family drank, bathed and swam in at the base.
A Defence spokeswoman said a briefing about the foam was given to personnel on base in December last year, but the department had not actively engaged with former defence force members and their families who were outside the Oakey community.
The spokeswoman said former personnel and their families who lived on base at Oakey were unlikely to have experienced high exposure to the chemicals through drinking contaminated groundwater or by being exposed to the foam.
She did not deny the former medic's foam disposal claim.
"Defence is unable to confirm the practise of disposing of firefighting chemicals between 1988 and 2004," she said.
"Defence can advise, however, that since the construction of a
purpose-built firefighting pad in 2004, all firefighting chemicals have been
captured in a storage tank and removed for processing by a private contractor."
Senator Glenn Lazarus joins the fight against CSG
at Darling Downs event
Lock The Gate Media Release [26/2/15]:
Queensland Senator Glenn Lazarus will speak against coal seam gas at a community forum at Chinchilla on Saturday after visiting an impacted farmer there on Friday.
A newly-formed advocacy group for landholders, Landholders ASCERT, has teamed up with community group, Bridging the Divide to host the all-day symposium to help locals continue the fight against the invasive mining.
At a Senate Inquiry public hearing at Toowoomba last week, Senator Lazarus and the other committee members heard harrowing details from farmers and landholders who have felt bullied by mining companies and ignored by politicians.
“The people of Queensland deserve better,” Senator Lazarus said after the hearing.
“The Senate Inquiry is covering serious issues regarding questionable project approval processes by the former Newman Government including big donations by mining companies to the Federal Liberal Party and the Queensland LNP.
“It’s very disappointing that Abbott Government Senators have refused to attend the last two hearings in Brisbane and Toowoomba. Common and disturbing themes are emerging from the Senate Inquiry which need to be urgently addressed in relation to CSG mining.
"We need a Royal Commission into the human impact of mining on Queenslanders, particularly from coal seam gas mining.
"Landowners have lost all rights to say no to mining on their property. Water is being contaminated. Groundwater levels and bores are drying up, the land is dying and people are getting sick. There are suggestions by experts that fracking is causing earthquakes and serious geological disturbances in addition to other forms of environmental devastation.
"No further CSG project approvals should be granted until such time as a Royal Commission is completed and or leading scientists and relevant experts determine CSG mining to be safe.”
On Friday afternoon the Senator will visit a local farmer in the middle of a gasfield experiencing constant noise and vibrations in his home, noise from machinery on all night, inadequate rehabilitation of his land, damage to property, flaring lights and concrete structures build on his land without permission.
The farmer and his family are suffering health problems they attribute to CSG including sore eyes, film on his skin, headaches and a strange taste in their mouths.
Event organiser and Hopeland Community Sustainability Group (HSCG) spokesperson, Shay Dougall said locals were “hopeful” the newly-installed Labor Government would halt CSG expansion until more was known about its side effects.
Mrs Dougall has written to the Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk and ministers outlining serious problems in the region. “Decisions of former governments have created coal seam gas refugees in our towns and communities,” she said.
“The current government must right the litany of wrongs of previous administrations and it is incumbent on this government to at least halt further activity until reasonable and honest assessments can be undertaken.”
Other speakers at Saturday’s symposium will include Lock the Gate’s Drew Hutton who will speak on government corruption and farmers’ rights , Lee McNicholl (biosecurity), Dr Geralyn McCarron (health impacts), Mariann Lloyd-Smith (toxicology) and Rev. Graham Slaughter (social issues).
The closing date for submissions to the Senate Inquiry into Certain Aspects of Queensland Government Administration is 27 February 2015. The reporting date is 27 March 2015.
... “The Australian Senate sits on Monday to deal with some of Australia’s most important legislation and as at today’s date, the Abbott Government has not yet finalised or issued a program of legislation for next week. ... [Senator Lazarus - 26/2/15]
Fracking banned for five years by Tasmanian Government [ABC - 26/2/15]
Katherine Council first NT municipality to introduce fracking moratorium [Lock The Gate Media Release – 26/2/15]
The Gomeroi People will hold a Food, Film and Fundraising evening in Brisbane on Friday to raise money to support their stand against mining and gas developments that threaten their lands. … [Lock The Gate]
Outsourcing disaster response to charity is no substitute for good governance
Irish Times [24/11/12]:
... charity is not justice; it is neither a robust nor an effective response to economic inequality.
In fact, charity perpetuates inequality and legitimates it, creating in the process a truly careless state.
Charity is an entirely voluntary act; it can be given and it can be taken away. It is a personal choice, not a collectively binding agreement of solidarity. At the individual level, it is driven by the desire for moral recognition on the part of those who give rather than recognition of the rights of those who receive. It can and does service the guilt of the better-off, rather than the needs of the vulnerable to live with dignity and independence.
Moreover, charity also leads to the moral judgment of those in receipt of it, a framing of the recipients as deserving or undeserving.
It is politically dangerous in this respect as it creates the public impression that those offering charity (those doing their “good deeds”) are morally superior to the needy as they are working out of virtue. Because charity is a gift offered by those who decide to give, on the terms which they decide to provide it, those living on charity have no rights to the services or goods offered that can be vindicated by law.
Being in receipt of charity is thereby demeaning; it has to be sought through supplication (effectively by begging – not all begging is with a cap in hand on the street). And this means those seeking charity are subject to scrutiny on the terms defined by the givers who exercise power over them.
It is premised on the institutionalisation of unequal and unjust economic relationships. Only in such a structurally unequal system can those with resources be in a position to offer charity to others.
Responding to inequality by acts of charity will not and cannot challenge the generative causes of injustice.
To say this is not to deny the valuable work done by charities. Many charities speak out and some campaign on structural injustices; but even these operate under the restriction of the Charities Act, 2009, which states that they cannot promote “a political cause, unless the promotion of that cause relates directly to the advancement of the charitable purposes of the body”.
This means that structural inequalities are secondary considerations in most charitable work, and this reinforces and exacerbates injustice. It gives the false impression something is being done politically to address the deeply demeaning reality of living in poverty or without a home.
Why do we respond so often (and so generously at the individual level, at times) to economic inequalities by offering charity even though it is ineffectual?
Why do we not institutionalise systems of taxation for distributing wealth in a progressive and egalitarian way so that those who are most vulnerable have equal access to good health services, education, housing and transport comparable to others?
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says $1 million state government contribution will be shared among four charities delivering post-cyclone support and services.
"This contribution of $1 million is the quickest, most direct, and most effective way the government can support people in cyclone-ravaged communities as they rebuild their lives," Ms Palaszczuk said.
"The funds will be split equally among the Australian Red Cross Society, The Salvation Army, St Vincent de Paul Society of Queensland, and UnitingCare Community. ... [Morning Bulletin - 26/2/15]
Grab yer pitchforks ---> Yeppoon residents should expect a visit from the Prime Minister this evening as he surveys the damage caused by Tropical Cyclone Marcia. ... [Morning Bulletin - 26/2/15]
UNHCR refuses to be involved with Australia's policy of refugee deportation and exile.
IOM steps in feigning concern for refugees.
If the UNCHR had $35 million to help refugees in Indonesia, Australia could save $2 billion and close the refugee death camps.
Cambodia Daily [26/2/15]:
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) on Wednesday acknowledged concerns over its plan to help resettle Australia’s refugees currently being held on the South Pacific island nation of Nauru in Cambodia, while Cambodian officials would not say whether the government had agreed to conditions set out by the global migration body.
The IOM, which counts Cambodia, Nauru and Australia among its 157 member states, released a statement Monday saying it was preparing a program of assistance following a request from the three governments late last year.
In a deal that was widely criticized by rights groups and opposition lawmakers in both countries, Cambodia agreed to take an indeterminate number of refugees off Australia’s hands in exchange for a $35 million aid package.
IOM regional spokesman Joe Lowry said during a visit to Phnom Penh on Wednesday that there had been “huge discussions” within the organization as to whether to lend its expertise to the resettlement process, which the U.N.’s refugee agency refused to facilitate.
“It’s been a very, very complex process just to get this far, and we’re aware of the challenges ahead. But we’re doing it because the core of it is to uphold the dignity of these people who are now refugees,” Mr. Lowry said, adding that the IOM’s decision to help did not legitimize a “very tough policy from the Australian government.”
“We know that this isn’t going to be easy. There’s going to be questions asked about why we’re doing it, should we be doing it, and what it legitimizes and so on,” he said.
Mr. Lowry said any refugees who choose to come to Cambodia—none have so far volunteered—would find it “tough” but emphasized that the government had agreed to a number of conditions. Under those conditions, refugees would be allowed to reunite with their families, have the right to live and work anywhere in Cambodia and be provided with documents to access health and education services, while refugees already in the country would receive the same opportunities.
“[W]e have to get conditions in place, working with the Cambodian government, so that people can access all the services,” he said. “That needs to be in place before anyone leaves Nauru.”
The Australian government, Mr. Lowry said, would pay the “significant” cost of what was expected to be a program spanning several years. Both governments are yet to sign formal agreements to work with IOM, but the spokesman said “the gears are clicking into motion now.”
Contacted by telephone Wednesday and asked if the refugees would be allowed to live in Phnom Penh, Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said: “I think that you can listen to the press conference before, His Excellency Long Visalo already talked about the plan, what we are going to do with the refugees. So we don’t have any refugees agree to come to Cambodia [yet], so I think that your question [is for] after they come.”
At a press conference in September, Mr. Visalo, a secretary of state at the Foreign Affairs Ministry who led Cambodia in the negotiations with Australia, said that the new refugees would not be allowed to reside in the capital. Contacted Wednesday evening, he said that a reporter “had no right to talk to” him and refused to comment further.
Mr. Sopheak said that on the issue of providing documentation to new refugees and those already in the country, Cambodia would abide by international conventions it had signed up to, but suggested that refugees’ families would not be able to join them here.
“Refugees, how can the refugees bring their family,” he said, recounting the experience of Cambodian refugees who were resettled in the U.S. and other countries in the 1980s after the fall of the Khmer Rouge. “How can these Cambodians bring their family? There are 50,000 Cambodians living in America, so I think that it’s impossible, not only for Cambodian people, but also for Cambodian-American people.”
Mr. Sopheak said there was “cooperation” between the government and the IOM but that no agreement had been signed, referring questions about the arrangement to the Foreign Affairs Ministry. That ministry’s spokesman, Koy Kuong, referred questions back to the Interior Ministry.
Philippines: Australian arrested for raping kids in videos ‘killed’ 10-year-old girl
The Australian arrested in Malaybalay City for sexually abusing children has been accused of murdering a 10-year-old girl in Surigao City after sexually abusing her in 2013.
Angelito Magno, chief of the National Bureau of Investigation in Northern Mindanao, said they were able to recover the remains of the girl, whom 51-year-old Peter Gerard Scully allegedly murdered, from a grave in Villa Corito Subdivision in Barangay (village) Washington in Surigao City.
Scully was arrested in Malaybalay City on February 20 after a three-week stakeout by combined operatives of the NBI, the police’s Criminal Detection and Investigation Group, the Australian and Dutch police, and the International Police Organization (Interpol).
His abuse of children caught international attention, especially by Dutch authorities, because he posted videos of him raping or having sex with them on the Internet. Dutch authorities said Scully made money from the sex videos by selling them to clients around the world.
Magno said Scully, who has been facing a string of cases here for sexual assault and other forms of abuse of young girls, was tagged by an informant in the death of the 10-year old girl, who hailed from Bukidnon.
He said that before the girl was killed, Scully also sexually abused her.
Jail Inspector Catherine Cardano, officer-in-charge of the female detention center at the Cagayan de Oro City Jail here, said that Scully’s former live-in-partner, Carmen Ann Alvarez, also told them how the Australian abused his victims.
Alvarez was arrested by the police in September 2014 here after another Scully victim escaped and told investigators of her ordeal in the hands of the foreigner. Scully evaded arrest then.
Police later learned that Alvarez was also among Scully’s earlier victims but she later agreed to live with the Australian.
“Alvarez told us the twisted dark world of Scully, involving abuse, sexual assault, rape and physical harm while recording the ordeal of his victims,” Cardano said.
19 E. Java Workers Face Death Penalty in Saudi Arabia, Malaysia
Jakarta Globe [25/2/15]:
Nineteen migrant workers from East Java are facing the death penalty in Saudi Arabia and Malaysia, according to the province’s Human Resources and Civil Registration Agency.
Thousands of other migrant workers from East Java are being prosecuted for breaking the law abroad, the agency was reported as saying on Wednesday. Their alleged offenses range from lack of proper documentations and getting caught after entering the country illegally, to involvement in drug abuses.
“We seek assistance from the Foreign Affairs Ministry,” Edi Purwinarto, the head of the East Java Human Resources and Civil Registration Agency, told newsportal Tempo.co on Wednesday.
Nusron Wahid, the head of the Agency for the Placement and Protection of Indonesian Migrant Workers (BNP2TKI), said that there was a total of 229 migrant workers facing death penalty and 38 of them had been convicted already.
“They, including the 19 migrant workers from East Java, are filing appeals,” Nusron said.
The Indonesian government, which is facing international criticism over imminent execution of 11 foreign and local drug convicts, is providing legal assistance for the convicted migrant workers and is seeking to discuss the ongoing issue with Saudi Arabia and Malaysia.
Coroner to rule on fatal Queensland police chase
Queensland's coroner is due to deliver his findings on the death of a teenager killed after a high-speed police chase.
Paul Low, 19, died when the car in which he was a passenger spun out of control and slammed into a tree at Murrumba Downs, north of Brisbane, in September 2012.
An inquest last June heard the white Holden Calais reached estimated speeds of up to 206km/h while Mr Low and his friend tried to evade two constables in a police car.
The young men had been on their way to buy drugs.
The driver of the Holden, Peter Ollenburg, fled the scene and was later jailed for eight years for dangerous driving causing death.
Coroner Terry Ryan is due to rule on whether the officers' actions in following the Holden complied with police policy, and whether an internal investigation was adequate.
Police to be investigated over Ballina man’s death [Tweed Shire Echo – 26/2/15]
Push for justice for Ms Dhu continues with Perth rally [NIRS – 26/2/15]
Three officers unloaded a volley of 17 bullets at Antonio Zambrano-Montes, of which “five to six” struck the unarmed Mexican national during a fatal encounter with police in Pasco, Washington, the police unit investigating his death has revealed. ... [Guardian - 26/2/15]
Spain: Five energy
firms hit with €32.4m in fines for fixing gasoline prices
El Pais [25/2/15]:
The CNMC stock market watchdog has slapped five Spanish energy firms with a combined €32.4 million in fines for gasoline price fixing and other unfair trade practices.
Repsol, Cepsa, Disa, Galp and Meroil coordinated prices for gasoline and other fuel products, as well as exchanging inside information and agreeing to a non-aggression pact, the CMNC ruled.
Repsol will have to pay the highest amount (€20 million) while Cespa was ordered to pay €10 million.
Repsol company officials have said they will appeal the ruling, which was passed by a three-to-two vote by the CNMC board.
The investigation was opened in July 2013 by the now-defunct CNC trade commission, which was replaced by the CNMC.
The fines come at a tense moment in relations between the CNMC and Repsol, which recently asked that the head of the commission, José María Martín, and two other board members recuse themselves from the investigation.
The CNMC refused the request.
Catalan independence vote was unconstitutional, rules top court [El Pais – 25/2/15]
Present Coup Plotter Testimony
Venezuelan National Assembly president Diosdado Cabello presented evidence relating to the coup plot thwarted earlier in the month in a television broadcast Wednesday.
Accompanied by mayor of the Caracas municipality of Libertador Jorge Rodriguez, Cabello released a recordings of testimony of one of the detained military officers, who acknowledges the coup plot and confirmed that he was offered visas by the embassies of the United States and the U.K.
In addition to the detailed confessions of the military official – who was recruited to fly one of the planes that was to undertake the bombing of key military and media targets in Caracas – the two government officials also played intercepted telephone conversations with leaders of the opposition COPEI party, speaking about plans and debating participation in the plot.
Queensland media doing heaps of PR for drones today.
How the US Drone War Pushed Snowden to Leak NSA Docs [VIDEO - Democracy Now - 13/5/14]:
In his new book, "No Place to Hide," journalist Glenn Greenwald provides new details on Edward Snowden's personal story and his motivation to expose the U.S. surveillance state.
"The stuff I saw really began to disturb me. I could watch drones in real time as they surveilled the people they might kill," Snowden told Greenwald about his time as a National Security Agency contractor.
"You could watch entire villages and see what everyone was doing. I watched NSA tracking people's Internet activities as they typed. I became aware of just how invasive U.S. surveillance capabilities had become. I realized the true breadth of this system. And almost nobody knew it was happening."
The Queensland media is engaging in a blackout on the riveting, Academy Award winning documentary CitizenFour.
See it at Dendy Portside.
Brazilian university students display image of Edward Snowden in Senate Committee hearing on NSA.
Image: @JimmyChalk via @ggreenwald [7/8/13]
Torture and assault charges, Rockhampton
QPS Media [26/2/15]:
Police investigating the alleged torture and serious assault of a woman at Park Avenue on Tuesday afternoon are appealing for witnesses to come forward.
It will be alleged a man chased the woman from a house before assaulting her on the side of the road at the intersection of Haynes Street and Richardson Road sometime between midday and 4pm.
Police are urging anyone who may have witnessed this incident to contact the Rockhampton Criminal Investigation Branch on 07 49323550.
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.
The body of a 27-year-old man has been found on a footpath in Cairns in far north Queensland. ... [ABC - 26/2/15]
There was a "police incident" involving a man and petrol in the vicinity of Gaza Road which caused chaos on the M1 heading south last night [25/2/15].
Australians and Allies Overseas For Refugees [23/2/15]: Photo action by Amnesty International Leeds Group in support of the Manus Island detainees.
Australians and Allies Overseas For Refugees [24/2/15]: Paris
"Guantánamo of the Pacific" [VIDEO - Democracy Now - 22/1/15]:
… AMY GOODMAN: Jennifer Robinson, you’re an international human rights attorney. What’s the law here? You’ve been to PNG. You’ve been to this area.
JENNIFER ROBINSON: I’ve been to PNG, and I’ve spent times in West Papuan refugee settlement camps, so I can speak with first-hand experience that PNG is not a state that is capable of accepting our asylum seekers and refugees. Ninety percent of these people who come by boat to Australia have been determined to be refugees in the past.
The conditions in PNG are terrible. Australia is—it is unlawful for Australia to be continuing to send asylum seekers to conditions the U.N. has found to amount to inhuman, degrading treatment. We are in breach of our international obligations.
The problem is enforcement. Australia’s domestic law—the High Court of Australia has continually found that offshore detention is permitted under the terms of Australian law. When we had the Malaysian Solution under the Gillard government, it was challenged before the High Court and found to be inappropriate, because we had a provision in our law that you couldn’t send asylum seekers to a country that didn’t meet certain human rights standards.
In response to that, the Australian government amended that to remove that from our domestic law, which means we are no longer constrained, and they upheld the constitutionality of offshore processing. This is a clear breach of our international obligations, but what we can do as a matter of law within Australia’s courts is limited.
Uruguay's President Mujica: Guantanamo turned inmates 'halfway into vegetables'
Six former Guantanamo Bay prisoners sent to Uruguay as part of a push by President Barack Obama to close the U.S. military's prison camp in Cuba were "turned halfway into vegetables" during their detention, outgoing President Jose Mujica said on Wednesday.
In an interview four days before his predecessor Tabare Vazquez takes office, Mujica said the six men lacked the strength to learn Spanish and integrate.
"These people are destroyed," Mujica said. "They could be here for two years and they won't understand a goddamn thing, because even though you want to teach them Spanish, they lack the inner strength, the will to move on with their lives. They have been turned halfway into vegetables."
Mujica, a former leftist guerrilla who was himself jailed during a 1973-85 military dictatorship, has called Guantanamo Bay a "human disgrace."
The six were flown to the South American country for resettlement in December.
One, Jihad Diyab, spent much of his final two years at Guantanamo on hunger strike being force fed, and now suffers sharp back pains which he puts down to his treatment.
The men who are housed in an old property in the center of the coastal capital, Montevideo, have yet to find work or be reunited with their families as they struggle to adapt to their new lives in exile.
"They need to recuperate," said Mujica. "But I don't know if they will."
Northrop Grumman use Australian War Memorial in Canberra for parties [Canberra Times - 26/2/15]
Former Murdoch hack and failed Queensland politician cries bias over publishing rejection [Yahoo - 26/2/15]
Babar Baloch, communications officer at UNHCR, says in a DW interview that his organization has received assurance that refugees will not be pressured to leave as "Afghans have the right to return home in a voluntary and dignified manner." [Deutsche Welle - 25/2/15]:
DW: What reasons have Afghan refugees given for leaving Pakistan?
Babar Baloch: Earlier this year, returning Afghan refugees were citing reasons linked with regular police roundups after the Peshawar attacks.
However, there are indications that returns are dropping now, as Pakistan's ministry of States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON) - which deals with refugee affairs - have sent clear instructions to central and provincial authorities, asking them not to harass or detain Afghan refugees.
What are the total numbers of registered and un-registered Afghan refugees in Pakistan?
The total number of registered Afghan refugees in Pakistan is around 1.6 million. There are no exact numbers available on undocumented Afghans, but rough estimates.
Over 6000 registered Afghan refugees have returned home during the months of January and February in 2015. This is quite a jump when compared to the number of refugee returns for the same period in 2014, when only around 500 had gone home from Pakistan.
UNHCR is monitoring the situation, and we are in touch with authorities in Pakistan to ensure that refugee rights are protected.
To what sort of life do the refugees return to in Afghanistan?
Afghanistan is recovering from decades of war and conflict. However, we are not objecting to voluntary returns when Afghan refugees think it is the right time for them to return.
Over five million Afghan refugees have returned home since 2002. Refugees should not be forced to leave the country of asylum under pressure.
Afghan refugees still constitute the largest protracted refugee population in the world. It means that return and reintegration will be a challenge in Afghanistan, as most of them have been away for decades - in some cases even born in exile.
Insecurity still remains to be an issue in many areas of Afghanistan and people have limited access to basic services and there is lack of livelihood opportunities.
What do you make of media reports quoting a Pakistani official saying that Islamabad is pressing more than 1.6 million Afghan refugees to go back?
UNHCR has remained engaged with the Pakistani government and has always appreciated Pakistan's decades-long hospitality in hosting generously millions of Afghan refugees.
We have received assurance that refugees will not be pressured to leave. Moreover, there is agreement that Afghans have the right to return home in a voluntary and dignified manner.
What can the international community do to help these refugees?
We seek the continued engagement and support of the international community in Afghanistan and in the two major Afghan refugee hosting countries of Pakistan and Iran.
Given the volatile regional geopolitical climate, the implications of abandoning Afghanistan at this critical juncture will be far reaching. Limited access to basic services and lack of livelihood opportunities raise the risk of further displacement.
We must not let them drown: Challenging the politics of deterrence [Middle East Eye – 24/2/15]
How a Bangladesh court ruling changed the lives of more than 300,000 stateless people [UNHCR Media Release – 23/2/15]
BBC journalist speaks directly with refugees incarcerated on Manus Island.
Presumably the Australian media won't do this because they support the inhumane policy?
Australia's 'beautiful prison' in Papua New Guinea, Fariba Sahraei [VIDEO – BBC – 18/2/15]:
... "Imagine a large and real cage in the most isolated island, surrounded by ocean and jungle and tall coconut trees," says Omid, a 25-year-old Iranian.
"No doubt our prison is the most beautiful prison in the world."
Omid is not exaggerating. Manus Island, in Papua New Guinea (PNG), is small and rugged, covered in thick jungle, and the coastline is stunning.
It's home to around 50,000 islanders - but also to about 1,000 detained asylum seekers who never wanted to be here and are mostly desperate to get out and go anywhere except back where they came from.
Until mid-2013, Omid was a journalist in Iran. He fled the country under the threat of arrest, paying traffickers a small fortune to take him to Australia.
Like many asylum seekers setting off from Indonesia, Omid headed for Christmas Island, a tiny Australian territory much closer than the mainland.
Despite reaching Australian borders, he was relocated to an overcrowded detention centre on Manus Island, where he has been stuck for the last 18 months.
What's worse? Human rights atrocities? Or a so called human rights establishment that pretends to care about human rights atrocities to get their party elected?
Image: Arad Nik [25/2/15]
FACT: Last time I looked, Professor Gillian Triggs still has her job.
FACT: Right now refugees are being tortured, incarcerated, refouled and murdered by the Australian government.
FACT: The Australian media blackout on Nauru and Manus continues as propaganda flows unquestioned and politicians are protected from scrutiny.
FACT: ALP refugee policies are identical to LNP policies.
FACT: The ALP continues to attempt to dominate Australia's refugee liberation movement - setting up, infiltrating groups and spreading disinformation on social media.
FACT: They do this to harness and constrict forces of change, and channel them instead into ALP votes.
FACT: This must be exposed and rejected at every opportunity.
FACT: Only then, can we move forward and get the death camps closed and a humane refugee policy.
Fact: 116 children are locked up in Nauru and this week the Govt confirmed they are sending another 68 to be incarcerated there indefinitely
"tweeted" by @sarahinthesen8 - Senator Sarah Hanson-Young [26/2/15]
RI, Australia should not miss the forest for the trees,
Mohamad Hery Saripudin and Dimas Muhamad [Jakarta Post - 25/2/15]:
… However, the quintessential question is whether the relations between our two nations, in the words of Abbott, are “very important”, or whether it is a tenuous connection between two parties who have no need for each other and who are prone to bickering over the most trivial matters.
For Indonesia, Australia is the third-largest source of foreign tourists, according to government data. Australia is also a place where more than 13,000 Indonesians enrolled to study in 2013.
In addition, Australia is an important development partner for Indonesia with more than half a billion dollars in annual development assistance allocated in the 2014-2015 budget.
Indonesia, of course, appreciates such assistance. Nevertheless, Indonesia would not do so at the expense of its sovereignty and dignity.
In this light, many Indonesians resent the notion of Abbott using Australia’s humanitarian aid for Aceh as a bargaining chip to trade for clemency for those who traffic illicit substances that have jeopardized the future of Indonesia’s young generations.
Abbott’s statement was perceived by many as meddling in Indonesian domestic affairs and as such ignited the outrage of people in Aceh and across the archipelago who carried out the “coins for Australia” campaign to pay the aid back.
The statement turned out to be counterproductive. Instead of edging closer to saving the convicts, it has driven the Indonesian public up the wall and made them even more emboldened to support the executions.
Some might contend that it is normal for Indonesia, as a much less developed country, to be treated that way.
Nevertheless, the fact of the matter is that in 2013, based on purchasing power parity, our gross domestic product (GDP) was already more than double Australia’s, according to the World Bank. In 2040, Citibank estimated that our economy would be the fourth largest in the world, and by that time our GDP would be three to four times bigger than that of Australia.
On average Australians remain far more affluent than us and their country is indeed a strategic partner of Indonesia, but it does not mean that Indonesia is a country that Australia can brush off.
Moreover, we contribute considerably to Australia’s security. First is by cracking down on radical terrorists for whom Australia is a major target, as evident in the Australian Embassy bombing in 2003.
We have arrested more than 900 terrorist suspects, and there has been no major terrorist attack since 2009. More importantly, Indonesia is also essential in staving off the so-called boat people from reaching Australian shores.
In cooperation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), there are now more than 10,000 refugees and asylum seekers in Indonesia, most of whom see Australia, not Indonesia, as their final destination.
... "The AFP provided the information that led to the arrest, prosecution, guilty verdicts and death sentences of two Australian citizens," Dr Sifris wrote.
"If these men are executed, the AFP will have blood on its hands." [Bali Nine case: AFP retains ability to give information abroad that risks death penalty for Australians - Canberra Times - 29/1/15]
Killings in West Papua by Australian-backed anti-terror police [Crikey - 6/5/13]
Scrap the people smuggling laws – investigate the AFP not refugees [Refugee Action Coalition, Sydney – 5/6/12]:
… “What really needs investigation is the role and political direction of the Federal Police. The Fairfax media has already revealed that the Federal Police had extensive connections with people smuggling networks and withheld information from rescue operations for fear of compromising their sources.
“It is clear that the AFP disproportionately targets Indonesian boat crew and refugee families in Australia. It seems the political motivation for the introduction of people smuggling laws may have compromised the Federal Police itself.
“People smugglers provide needed services to people fleeing persecution. The government’s demonisation of people smugglers is aimed at diverting attention from its own persecution of asylum seekers.”
Public Forum: Asylum seekers and protection at sea [Refugee Council of Australia]:
Held following the Annual General Meeting of the Refugee Council of Australia on Monday 24 November 2014 at the University of Melbourne, hosted by the Graduate School of Education.
In recent years, there has been a significant increase in the number of asylum seekers travelling to Australia by boat. In the five years to December 2013, more than 50,000 people arrived in Australia after embarking from Indonesia, India or Sri Lanka on voyages coordinated by people smugglers.
These voyages – typically involving overcrowded, barely-seaworthy vessels with inexperienced crew – are often highly dangerous, with more than 1000 people having drowned in a bid to reach Australia by boat since 2008.
Both of Australia’s major political parties have attempted to address this issue through deterrence based policies which block access to protection in Australia and impose arbitrary penalties on people who arrive by boat.
These policies have compromised the safety, health and wellbeing of refugees and asylum seekers and brought Australia into breach of both the Refugee Convention and core international human rights treaties.
They also fail to address the root causes of maritime flight to Australia and thereby risk trapping refugees in dire situations or compelling them to undertake even riskier journeys in an effort to find protection.
Against this background and in preparation of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) international dialogue in Geneva in December 2014 on “Protection at Sea”, this forum sought to explore the implications of Australian policy for the Asia-Pacific region.
Hosted by Refugee Council of Australia’s President, Phil Glendenning, the forum featured four panellists:
• Mustafa, a former refugee from Afghanistan
• Erika Feller, Vice Chancellor’s Professorial Fellow, University of Melbourne, who from 2005 to 2013, was UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Protection
• Associate Professor Michelle Foster, Director, International Refugee Law Research Program,
Institute for International Law and the Humanities, Melbourne Law School
• Dr Antje Missbach, Research Fellow, School of Social Sciences, Monash University
Dr Missbach has travelled between Australia and Indonesia for the last five years to investigate causes of and responses to people smuggling in Indonesia. She began her presentation by sharing the story of a young Hazara boy who she met in early 2012.
He was one of few survivors when a boat carrying around 250 asylum seekers from Iran, Afghanistan and Iraq sank about 55 nautical miles from Java.
During the first day of the rescue operation, Indonesian fishermen rescued about 34 people before a heavy storm hampered further search-and-rescue efforts.
The young boy then watched over the next two days as people around him drowned or were carried away by strong currents and several other boats passed by without stopping to help.
He was eventually rescued by Indonesian fisherman.
Only 13 people survived.
Dr Missbach noted that although Indonesia has acceded to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea and the International Convention on Maritime Search-and-Rescue, the country face numerous obstacles in meeting its obligations under these treaties.
These include: geography (with the maritime area under Indonesia’s control being larger than its landmass); cumbersome authorisation processes for search-and-rescue operations; inadequate funding, equipment and personnel; chances that commercial vessels intentionally will ignore SOS calls in reaction to the legal sentences handed down by courts to the captain and boat crews involved in rescue of maritime asylum seekers; and, in some cases, the counter-smuggling initiatives funded by Australia which target communities in Indonesia.
Dr Missbach reported that since 2009, Australia has been funding targeted public information campaigns that have sought to dissuade Indonesian fisherman from becoming involved in maritime people smuggling ventures.
She noted that counter-smuggling messages are decontextualised from the broader issues relating to asylum seekers:
“The people in question are referred to as ‘illegals’ and the reasons of why these people come to Indonesia in the first place or why they wish to reach Australia are untold.”
The key message of these public information campaigns is that people smuggling is a criminal offence but the message is also conveyed in religious terms, that is, “to smuggle people is to commit a sin”.
Dr Missbach argued that, “as an unintended consequence of this public information campaigns, Indonesian fisherman at sea who come across sinking asylum seeker boats face an additional moral and economic dilemma”, in that are afraid of being mistaken for smugglers should they rescue asylum seekers in distress at sea.
She noted that a boat which had rescued people in distress would typically go to the nearest harbour but that fishermen always go back to Indonesia (even if it is further away than Australia) for fear that their boats may be seized and destroyed by Australia or that the boat crew could be perceived as smugglers.
This adds to the costs (in terms of fuel) of rescuing asylum seekers, can increase the risks to asylum seekers in need of immediate medical attention and can exposure fisherman to violence if asylum seekers vehemently disagree with being brought back to Indonesia.
Fisherman who rescue asylum seekers also have had to face very long interrogations from the local police in Indonesia, causing further financial losses which, for people living day-to-day on a very low income, represent a genuine disincentive to rescue.
The net result is that Indonesian fisherman may be reluctant to rescue asylum seekers in distress at sea. Dr Missbach concluded that “future campaigns that Australia is supporting, that seek to prevent Indonesian fishermen from being involved in people smuggling, must take these unwanted side effects into consideration”.
An Act to increase the tax benefits to the fossil fuel industry and rich individuals was passed by the LNP and ALP in the House of Representatives yesterday [25/2/15]
Senator Richard Di Natale questions the NHMRC on wind farms and health [VIDEO - 25/2/15]
Assange appeal lodged
with Swedish Supreme Court
Lawyers for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said Wednesday they filed an appeal to Sweden's Supreme Court seeking to quash the 2010 warrant for his arrest on accusations of rape and molestation.
Assange lawyer Per Samuelsson said he lodged the appeal with Sweden's top court Wednesday afternoon to end the stand-off in which the WikiLeaks founder remains holed up [sought asylum in] Ecuador’s embassy in London to avoid arrest and extradition, while Swedish prosecutors refuse requests he be questioned there.
"We have to end this -- the situation is completely stalled, and that's the point we raised in our appeal," Samuelsson said in criticizing what he called the "total passivity" of prosecutors who he said "have done nothing in four years."
With the law now requiring judges to decide if they are legally competent to accept the appeal, Samuelsson said "the Supreme Court now has the ball."
The arrest warrant was issued in 2010 by Swedish prosecutors investigating a case based on accusations by one woman accusing Assange of rape, and another alleging sexual molestation.
"We are asking the court to give us access to the phone text messages that the two plaintiffs exchanged, and which (prosecutors) possess," Samuelsson said, saying he was certain contents of the messages would prove Assange's innocence.
Samuelsson say Assange's embassy exile costs 11,000 euros ($12,500) each day. Moreover, he argues that in making it impossible for Assange to leave the mission without near certain arrest, the Swedish warrant has effectively denied Assange his civic rights before he's even been tried.
SUBMISSION TO THE WORKING GROUP ON ARBITRARY DETENTION BY MR. JULIAN ASSANGE
Spy Cables expose 'desperate' US approach to Hamas [Al Jazeera – 24/2/15]
Soldier tells court
he could not believe The Sun “would be encouraging people to commit a
Hacking Inquiry [24/2/15]:
A debt ridden army officer was encouraged by an advert to sell information to The Sun a court was told today.
John Hardy, who is on trial for committing misconduct in a public office, admitted selling the newspaper information on Princes Harry and William while he was an instructor at Sandhurst, but said when he saw an advertisement in The Sun asking for officers and cadets to phone the paper with stories he thought that it must be legal.
“You can’t believe a major corporation would be encouraging people to commit a crime” he said, adding that the army, the Ministry of Defence and even the Prime Minister must have seen the advert yet “it hadn’t been stopped”.
The former soldier told the court that after 16 years in the army his salary was still only £24,000 a year and after deductions only took home around £1600 a month.
He had a young child to support and had been forced to take on a second job, guarding the Daily Mail building overnight.
He had also been affected by the death of fellow soldiers in Afghanistan, had begun to “drink heavily” and had got into debt.
He said he had contacted The Sun’s newsroom and been told by their legal department that he would not be committing a crime by passing on information about the Princes, so he decided to go ahead.
Standing trial alongside Hardy are his wife Claire, Sun Royal editor Duncan Larcombe, deputy editor Geoffrey Webster, executive editor Fergus Shanahan and former chief reporter John Kay.
All are facing charges relating to a series of payments to Hardy and a Ministry of Defence civil servant, Bettina Jordan-Barber, for the prosecution allege, confidential army information including details of military casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Amongst the information allegedly supplied by Hardy to The Sun was a picture of Prince William in a bikini at a fancy dress party and another with him dressed as a “chav”.
He also supplied details of the princes’ training regime and on one occasion received a £250 “sub” from the paper so he could attend a strip club with other Sandhurst instructors and inform The Sun what happened. “It was the easiest money I ever made in my life” the defendant said.
All of the defendants deny all of the charges, the trial continues.
Fox host Bill O'Reilly lied about suicide Of JFK assassination figure, former colleagues say [Media Matters - 24/2/15]
Queensland sergeant quits after found with ice, steroids
Brisbane Times [25/2/15]:
A Queensland police sergeant has resigned after he was caught with methamphetamine, steroids and sleeping pills.
Kester Clyde Elliott, 36, pleaded guilty in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on Wednesday to possessing dangerous and restricted drugs and a glass pipe.
The former operation support command officer was nabbed by detectives from the Crime and Corruption Commission on February 4.
The court heard detectives, acting on a tip-off, followed Elliott to a drug deal in Fortitude Valley on the night of February 4.
Police prosecutor Sergeant Scott Pearson said they found a small amount of methamphetamine (ice) in clip-seal bags hidden in fake batteries in his car and at his Teneriffe home.
Detectives also found vials of testosterone in Elliott's refrigerator, a glass smoking pipe in his wardrobe, and Stilnox sleeping pills at the residence.
They also found the breast cancer drug Arimidex, which Elliott said didn't belong to him.
Defence lawyer Troy Schmidt said the "extremely embarrassed and remorseful" police officer of 15 years had resigned from his job due to the charges.
Mr Schmidt said a major depressive episode triggered Elliott to take the methamphetamine in "an attempt to escape" after the police service knocked back his request for psychological assistance.
He was now undergoing psychological treatment, the lawyer added.
Magistrate Bronwyn Springer imposed a $600 fine, telling Elliott he should have known better and that he would have to find a new job.
"This is an unfortunate position that you've found yourself in," she told the disgraced policeman.
No conviction was recorded.
Elliott will remain at the police service on desk duties until his resignation takes effect in June.
The Australian Federal Police planning advisory team under the Wok Wantaim Papua New Guinea – Australia Policing Partnership Program is delivering two 2 day workshop courses for the Incident Command and Control Plus System training. ... [PNG Loop - 25/2/15]
ADF and Queensland Police dogs sniff each other's bums [QPS Media - 24/2/15]
Armed robbery, Robina [QPS Media - 25/2/15]
Burglary with violence, Inala [QPS Media – 25/2/15]
Retired truckie acquitted over level crossing crash that killed two train drivers in far north Queensland [ABC – 25/2/15]
... About the half of missing children — reported or otherwise — are runaways (their choice) or throwaways (kicked out without a place to go). These kids are at high risk of violence and various forms of exploitation, although the latter risk is overstated, as I'll get to in a later article.
Most of the rest of the reports and estimates fall into "benign explanation" (43% of reported), in which the child isn't missing, but a caretaker thought they were. Another good-sized chunk, 8% of reported, are kids who were lost or injured — not intentionally missing and no other party was responsible. The number of custodial violations, in which a family member takes a child away without permission (involving force if aged 15 to 17), is nearly 120,000 (9%) from the survey estimates and 57,000 of the reported cases (7%). ... ["Stranger Danger" to children vastly overstated - Boing Boing - 24/2/15]
Knox Grammar School was home to 'large paedophile cohort', victim tells inquiry [ABC - 24/2/15]
IPCC agrees on Acting Chair after R.K. Pachauri steps down
Media Release [24/2/15]:
The Bureau of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) agreed on Tuesday, in accordance with its procedures, to designate Vice-Chair Ismail El Gizouli as Acting IPCC Chair.
The designation of Gizouli follows the decision by Rajendra K Pachauri, PhD, to step down as Chairman of the IPCC effective today.
The decision to name Gizouli was taken at a Session of the Bureau ahead of the 41st Session of the IPCC, which is being held on 24-27 February 2015.
“The actions taken today will ensure that the IPCC’s mission to assess climate change continues without interruption,” said Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), who facilitated the Bureau meeting.
“We look forward to a productive session in Nairobi this week.”
Elections for a new Bureau, including the IPCC Chair, for the next assessment cycle are already scheduled at the 42nd Session of the IPCC in October 2015.
Dr Pachauri was elected to the first of two terms as Chair of the IPCC in April 2002 and had been scheduled to complete his second term in October.
Among other questions to be dealt with by this week’s Session, the Panel will consider the recommendations of the Task Group on the Future Work of the IPCC, and take decisions on the size, structure and composition of the IPCC Bureau and any Task Force Bureau.
This is the first meeting of the IPCC since the IPCC completed the Fifth Assessment Report. It will help determine how the IPCC works in future, the kind of reports it produces and how it can draw on the contributions of all its members.
The 41st Session of the Panel is being held at the United Nations office in Nairobi, Kenya, and is being hosted by UNEP, one of the IPCC’s two sponsoring organizations, together with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
Information about the IPCC’s election procedures can be found here: http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/ipcc-principles/ipcc-principles-elections-rules.pdf
Natural disasters in Asia and Pacific impact some 80 million people, new UN study shows [Media Release - 25/2/15]
The UN refugee agency on Tuesday reported that an upsurge in violence in the Central African Republic has forced the displacement of almost 50,000 people since the start of the year. ... [UNHCR Media Release - 24/2/15]
Two blasts rocked bus stations in embattled northern Nigeria on Tuesday, killing at least 27 people, as relentless attacks persist less than five weeks from general elections. ... [Naharnet - 24/2/15]
Philippine troops, backed by artillery fire and assault helicopters, battled about 300 Abu Sayyaf rebels in fighting Wednesday that left two soldiers and five militants dead in the country's restive south, officials said. ... [Daily Star - 25/2/1/5]
More than a third of Afghan detainees tortured: UN [Daily Star – 25/2/15]
United States, "allies" continue bombing Syria and Iraq
On Feb. 24, U.S. and Coalition military forces continued to attack ISIL terrorists in Syria, using fighter and remotely piloted aircraft to conduct nine airstrikes.
Separately, U.S. and Coalition military forces conducted six airstrikes in Iraq, using fighter, bomber and remotely piloted aircraft against ISIL terrorists.
All strikes took place between 8 a.m., Feb. 24, and 8 a.m., Feb. 25, local time.
The following is a summary of the strikes conducted since the last press release:
•Near Al Hasakah, three airstrikes struck an ISIL vehicle.
•Near Kobani, six airstrikes struck three ISIL tactical units, an ISIL fighting position and destroyed six ISIL fighting positions.
•Near Al Asad, two airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL fighting position.
•Near Mosul, three airstrikes struck an ISIL large tactical unit, multiple ISIL checkpoints, an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed 11 ISIL buildings, two ISIL armored vehicles and seven ISIL vehicles.
•Near Ramadi, an airstrike destroyed an ISIL mortar system.
Airstrike assessments are based on initial reports. All aircraft returned to base safely.
@IraqiSMCEn - Iraqi Spring Media Center – [25/2/15]:
Anbar: Agencies: 11 persons including two women have been killed and 18 wounded in shelling of coalition aircrafts on separated neighbourhoods in Fallujah......
Anbar: People look for victims under debris after shelling on the civilian homes in Garma........ [VIDEO]
Anbar: Garma tribe make a statement about the massacre committed against civilians in the aerial shelling … [VIDEO]
Ta'ameem: The unmanned planes fly over north and west of Kirkuk....
US and British spies probably hacked us: phone SIM card maker Gemalto [Daily Star – 25/2/15]
26 February 2015