The political media establishment are engaging in distraction with all their pointless, circuitous blather about probes, hospitals and Cambodia.
AUSTRALIA TORTURES REFUGEES.
Close the camps and settle the refugees here.
@ASRC1 - Asylum Seeker Resource Centre [26/3/15]: #BREAKING Despite damning #Moss findings just received credible reports approx. 10 women & teenager being deported to #Nauru now....
Stacking the odds against people in need [Refugee Council of Australia – 25/3/15]:
The passing of the Migration Amendment (Protection and Other Measures) Bill 2014 will further stack the odds against vulnerable people seeking Australia’s protection, the Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) said today.
The Bill makes a number of changes to Australia’s processes for assessing asylum claims, including shifting the burden of proof onto asylum seekers, requiring the Refugee Review Tribunal to draw unfavourable inferences about the credibility of refugee claims in some circumstances and creating new grounds to deny Protection Visas to people who provide false identity documents.
“This is yet another example of Australia turning its back on people fleeing persecution,” said Phil Glendenning, President of RCOA.
“The Government claims that this Bill will enhance the integrity of Australia’s processes for assessing asylum claims. However, Australia’s existing processing system already allows decision-makers to deny refugee status to people who don’t have legitimate claims.
“This Bill won’t make it easier for decision-makers to deny protection to people who don’t have genuine claims; it will make it harder for people who do have genuine claims to access the protection they deserve.
“The Bill also ignores the realities faced by people fleeing persecution. For instance, there are many entirely legitimate reasons why asylum seekers may not have correct documentation. They may have had to flee quickly and did not have time to obtain identity documents, or they may have been unable to use genuine documents for fear of being caught by their persecutors.
“Ironically, the fact that an asylum seeker has been forced to use false documents in order to escape is often a sign that they are genuinely at risk of persecution.
Co-pilot deliberately crashed Germanwings flight: prosecutor [Deutsche Welle – 26/3/15]
Dozens of Germanwings pilots and cabin crew refused to fly on Wednesday because of "deep emotional distress" over the airline's Flight 9525 crash that killed 150 people.
Lufthansa's low-cost subsidiary Germanwings had to cancel one flight and charter 11 planes with crews from other airlines -- mainly Lufthansa (DLAKF), Air Berlin and Tui Fly -- to operate its scheduled flights.
Pilots and crew booked on around 40 of the airline's flights were "unfit to fly" Lufthansa's spokesman Florian Grenzdorfer said.
The spokesperson said the crews balked at flying because they were in "deep emotional distress after the accident."
"Some had friends on the flight and had personal reasons for their decision," Grenzdorfer said.
"Unfit to fly" is a technical term used by aviation industry to describe any physical or psychological condition that prevents crew from working.
Most airlines have rules that allow pilots to temporarily withdraw from service.
"Our passengers and companies want us to be 100% fit before we get into the cockpit. This is one way which the pilot associations and the airlines work together to achieve this," James Phillips, a pilot and the international affairs director of the German pilots association, said.
"I used it after my mother passed away," he added.
The airline dismissed media reports that safety concerns were behind the pilots' decision. "They are certainly not too afraid to fly," Grenzdorfer said.
Phillips said the pilots association was in touch with several of the crew and said there were no safety concerns behind their decision not to fly.
Thomas Winkelmann, Germanwings CEO said the whole company is in shock over the crash.
"The Germanwings Family is close, everyone knows everyone. There is a feeling of mourning and shock," he said.
Most of the affected flights were departing from Dusseldorf and Stuttgart. Germanwings has a fleet of 78 aircraft flying to 130 destinations in Europe. It operates around 600 flights a day.
The disaster comes amid a long-standing labor dispute between Lufthansa and the German pilots trade union over retirement policies.
The pilots have repeatedly walked out in protest at Lufthansa's cost-cutting plans -- most recently last week, when their strike grounded around 1,600 flights carrying over 220,000 passengers.
The union's officials said the strikes will not continue for the time being, due to the fatal crash.
Get over yourselves. The Queensland election was an unpopularity contest which ended in a dead heat.
Confidence motion debate keeps Queensland Parliament up late
[ABC - 26/3/15]:
The minority Labor Government is testing its numbers in Queensland Parliament during a lengthy confidence motion debate, expected to continue into early Friday morning.
After two days of ceremony and pleasantries, the gloves came off.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk moved a confidence motion to prove that her minority Government had the numbers in the House.
Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg said the numbers did not give Labor a mandate.
"I simply remind those opposite that as they bask in the glory of being in government, they received 37.5 per cent of the primary vote," he said.
Ms Palaszczuk returned fire.
"In the post-election period, Queenslanders witnessed the embarrassing spectacle of the Leader of the Opposition struggling for relevance," she said.
"But what every Queenslander also saw was the simple numerical fact that the party opposite simply could not form government."
Deputy Premier Jackie Trad said the Newman Government treated Queenslanders like dirt and voters rejected the LNP at the ballot box.
"They come into this place in less than three years having lost government - that is a stinging rebuke," she said.
Deputy Opposition Leader John-Paul Langbroek said the LNP beat Labor on the primary vote, and taking back the Government benches was still within reach.
"Just a hair's breadth away from potentially forming government should there be some other incident in this Parliament and it's nothing like Labor's humiliation in 2012," he said.
The Indian coal giant Adani has rejected claims Indigenous groups do not want a $16.5bn mine built on their traditional lands.
On Thursday representatives of the Wangan and Jagalingou people (W&J)presented a “declaration of defence of country” to the new speaker of the Queensland parliament, Peter Wellington.
Adani’s Carmichael mine in the state’s Galilee basin will be linked to the Abbot Point coal terminal, north of Bowen, by a 300km rail line approved by the state government last year.
About 100m tonnes of coal will pass along the railway every year if it goes ahead.
W&J spokesman Adrian Burragubba called on the new premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, to rule out compulsorily acquiring his people’s land. He said the W&J people had rejected an Indigenous land use agreement with Adani.
“We will take no ‘shut up’ money,” Burragubba said. “We will protect and defend our country and our connection to our lands.”
No pizza in the smoking area: Even a former Bronco is not safe from Australia's creeping fascism
Former Bronco fined following Caxton altercation
[Yahoo - 26/3/15]:
A late-night pizza proved a costly meal for former Brisbane Broncos player Chris Johns after he copped a $340 fine for an altercation with police outside a Brisbane pub.
The 51-year-old former rugby league international avoided a larger fine and possible conviction on Thursday after police conceded the hotel's security guards had overreacted during the incident.
Johns, a Broncos Hall of Fame member, was charged with public nuisance on February 20 after clashing with bouncers and then police officers outside the Caxton Hotel, near the club's home ground Suncorp Stadium.
The former Australia and NSW State of Origin representative was carrying a pizza past the popular hotel when he stopped to chat to someone in its outdoor smoking area.
The stoush erupted after security guards told Johns he couldn't have food in the area.
Police were called but were given a version of events that was unfair to Johns, the Brisbane Magistrates Court heard on Thursday.
His lawyer, Angelo Venardos, said the former player regretted the incident but had been assaulted by bouncers.
"When the police arrived, emotions were high," Mr Venardos said.
"We accept that the police acted in good faith at the time but unfortunately they were misinformed."
He added that his client had never said "I'm Chris Johns" in an attempt to use his name and status during the altercation, as had been reported.
Johns, who played 245 top-grade matches before his retirement in 1996, was not in court.
Police prosecutor Senior Sergeant Mark Gorton said he'd used his discretion to issue a $340 infringement notice instead of the usual $680 fine.
"After reviewing the CCTV footage it is obvious that the security guards at the Caxton Street hotel gave the police incorrect information and they acted upon that," Sen Sgt Gorton told the court.
"That caused Mr Johns to argue with police which is quite natural when you're being accused of something you have not done.
"And I believe the reaction by the security guard at the Caxton Street hotel was unnecessarily swift and disproportionate."
Sen Sgt Gordon said he would offer no evidence in respect of the public nuisance charge and it was dismissed by Magistrate Jeffrey Clarke.
Johns, who lives in Brisbane, began his rugby league career with St George in 1984 before becoming a foundation player for Brisbane in 1988.
He played 10 Origin matches for NSW and nine Tests for Australia before working as a top official for both the Broncos and Melbourne Storm.
Address of the Vice President of the Queensland Bar Association, Mr Geoffrey Diehm QC, on the occasion of a valedictory ceremony for the Honourable Justice Alan Wilson of the Supreme Court of Queensland [26/3/15]
May it please the Court.
On behalf of the barristers of Queensland I appear today to acknowledge your Honour’s many years of service to the courts of this State, and over many more years to the legal profession, and to indeed thank your Honour for it.
May I extend the apologies of the Bar’s President, Mr Doyle QC, who is unable to appear today because of other professional obligations. Mr Doyle has asked it to be specifically noted that he endorses what I am about to say.
In a newspaper editorial today the assertion is made that judges of this Court are not fulfilling their duties and responsibilities. It is merely an assertion because no evidence in support of it is cited.
The judges of this court are charged with the responsibility of presiding over disputes between citizens and between the State and citizens.
An examination of the daily law lists and the judgements of the court, which are readily accessible, shows that the judges of this court who were so criticised continue to discharge their duty to the highest of standards.
More vividly still, attendance in the court rooms demonstrates that those judges are diligent and highly capable people well worthy of the office bestowed upon them. The criticism is without merit.
A number of the landmarks in your Honour’s career in the legal profession and on the court have been referred to already. Your Honour enjoyed 17 years at the junior Bar followed by another two years as Senior Counsel, before being appointed as a judge of the District Court. While at the Bar, your Honour first specialised in personal injuries law before becoming a recognised expert in the field of succession law. In the last few years of your Honour’s time at the Bar, your Honour became a leader in the emerging field of mediation. Like in your Honour’s other experiences of specialised areas of practice, your Honour was highly sought after.
The profession’s appreciation for your Honour’s appointment to the Bench in 2001 was only equalled by its disappointment at its loss of your Honour’s service as a member of it.
After 8 years’ service on the District Court, mastering again new frontiers such as the Planning and Environment jurisdiction and the Childrens Court, your Honour was appointed to the Supreme Court and as the inaugural President of QCAT. Apart from becoming a master of administrative law your Honour had to become a master of administration. The successes enjoyed by that Tribunal following its inception are in no small part due to your Honour’s efforts in that role. I will return to the likely reasons for your Honour’s success in that respect and in others shortly.
While at the Bar, your Honour was a very substantial contributor to the profession. Your Honour was the founder and editor of the Queensland Bar News, a publication which continues in a modified form to this day. Your Honour was a member of the Barristers Board. Your Honour lectured in various courses and chaired a number of committees inside and outside the Bar. Your Honour served as a member of the Bar Council.
Subsequent to each of your Honour’s appointments, your Honour has continued in educative roles for the profession both through CPD programs and, importantly for the Bar, through your Honour’s involvement in the Bar Practice Course. We hope that despite your Honour’s retirement from the Bench that the Bar can steal some more of your Honour’s valuable time on occasions to enable future generations to have the benefit of your Honour’s teaching.
Your Honour’s career in the law, in the profession and on the Bench, has been, in a word, successful. The reasons for the successes are in common. Apart from possessing the necessary intellect and enviable skill both in oral and written communication, your Honour has proven throughout this time to be calm, attentive, respectful, and even kind, in the way in which your Honour has dealt with litigants, witnesses and lawyers alike. It is easy to see why those qualities served your Honour well in practice at the Bar in areas such as succession law and in particular as a mediator. It helps to understand why your Honour had such success as the inaugural President of QCAT, with the many challenges involved in its establishment. It is easier still then to understand why your Honour is a judge who has earned the highest respect that could be hoped for from the profession.
We wish your Honour and your wife Lyndie a long and enjoyable retirement. It is indeed apt to say, we are indebted to your Honour.
May it please the Court.
Queensland Police Museum Sunday Lecture - The Prosecution Project
Uncover the details of Australia’s criminal past
29 March 2015
11am – 12.30pm
200 Roma Street
Brisbane QLD 4000
On 13 October 1941, Patrick Drew, a 49-year-old Brisbane painter, plead guilty to 51 charges of theft and breaking and entering, which he had committed over a period of thirteen years. Drew, who was liable for 600 years’ imprisonment, was described as Queensland’s ‘most successful burglar’ by Justice Philp. However, out of consideration for Drew’s war service, the judge sentenced him to only two years’ imprisonment.
In this month’s Sunday Lecture, hear how the story of Brisbane’s best burglar is one of many that has been uncovered by a team of researchers at Griffith University engaged in exploring the history of the criminal trial in Australia, with support from the Australian Research Council through the Prosecution Project.
During the lecture ARC Laureate Fellow, Mark Finnane and Research Fellow Alana Piper will speak about the Prosecution Project’s website (https://prosecutionproject.griffith.edu.au), outline its aims and how the digitised information can be accessed by the community.
They will explain how the project will produce a rich understanding of how crime has been prosecuted in Australia, as well as how people lived, behaved, dealt with conflict and tragedy and how legal and political institutions responded to crime and its consequences.
This one-and-a-half hour presentation will begin at 11am on Sunday, March 29 and will provide educational and up-to-date content suitable for all audiences.
The Museum opens its doors to the public on the last Sunday of each month from 10am to 3pm from February to November in addition to the standard Monday to Thursday 9am to 4pm opening hours. Monthly Sunday openings feature guest speakers from across the historical and crime-solving spectrums.
NOTE: Our lectures are proving to be very popular, so please arrive on time. The door to the conference room will be accessible from 10.45. When all seats are taken we cannot allow anyone else into the room.
The Police Museum will open Sunday March 29 from 10am to 3pm, and is located on the ground floor of Police Headquarters, 200 Roma Street, Brisbane. Please pass this information onto your family, friends and other networks. We look forward to seeing you soon.
QPS Media [26/3/15]:
A man has been charged after an alleged robbery and two assaults at Goondiwindi this morning.
It will be alleged at about 10.20am a man approached a delivery truck driver on Callandoon Lane and assaulted him demanding money and taking property from the truck.
On the same road a short time later it will be alleged a man approached a second man, assaulting him before walking off.
The first man, a 26-year-old received medical treatment. The second man, a 43-year-old was treated at Goondiwindi hospital.
A 30-year-old Goondiwindi man has been charged with robbery with violence and two counts of assault occasioning bodily harm. He is due to appear tomorrow in the Toowoomba Magistrates Court.
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.
'You should be very worried': Adviser's warning to client before leaking his information to ATO
Sydney Morning Herald [26/3/15]:
"Garry, if you don't pay me and my family, I will have no hesitation in giving the ATO everything I have on you. You should be very worried," an adviser told his client before leaking his information to the Australian Taxation Office that resulted in a $30 million tax bill that's now been quashed by the Federal Court.
It is the first time Australian Taxation Office agents have been found to have engaged in "conscious maladministration" by using documents subject to legal professional privilege in issuing the multimillion-dollar bill to an Australian businessman Garry John Donoghue.
The Tax Office told Fairfax Media it would be appealing the decision.
Mr Donoghue, 58, a former Queenslander who is now living in London, ran a string of telecommunications businesses, including as the former managing director of listed mobile-services provider Plus SMS. He took the case to the Federal Court, arguing that his legal adviser, Simeon Moore, angry over alleged unpaid fees, passed on his file to the Tax Office.
Federal Court Justice Logan found that the ATO assessment – issued for tax years 2005 to 2007 and amounting to over $30 million when taking account interest and penalties – was invalid because it was based on information under legal professional privilege, and the ATO had no right to use it.
Simeon Moore, who at the time was not admitted as a legal practitioner but was a friend of Mr Donoghue's daughter, Alexandria – the two were studying at Bond University in the Gold Coast together – had issued Mr Donoghue with a bill for legal services amounting to $753,174.
Justice Logan said this was "outrageously extortionate" and a "fantasy" amount given Mr Moore was an "as-yet-not-admitted graduate undertaking post-graduate studies in law".
Mr Donoghue in his evidence said he had a conversation with Mr Moore in 2010, in which Mr Moore said to him: "A family friend is an assistant commissioner and I've reported people to him before and he's taken them down. There's no doubt that he'll look at you and take everything from you and the Donoghue family trust. If you don't want that to happen, pay up what you owe."
Mr Moore later sent an email to Mr Donoghue stating the material had been passed to the Tax Office.
Justice Logan said all these exchanges did is "highlight the disposition of Mr Moore to use a threat of disclosure to the Australian Taxation Office to try and extort from Mr Donoghue payment of his outrageous, fantasy account for services said to have been rendered."
Justice Logan's judgment also highlighted the lack of supervision and guidance present in the ATO, which coupled with "inexperience and zeal", resulted in unlawful conduct by ATO agents.
He said one of the younger auditors involved in the case, who was working in the ATO's Project Wickenby team and auditing Mr Donoghue had first alerted his superior officers about the fact that the information handed over by Mr Moore may be subject to legal professional privilege. The officer also mentioned that "Mr Moore appears aggrieved by Mr Donoghue and may attempt to use the ATO for his own purposes".
Justice Logan said the decision by the ATO officer to later proceed and use the information could be attributed to "inexperience and zeal, coupled with a lack of relevant supervision and guidance". It had shown "reckless disregard" of a right for Mr Donoghue to claim legal professional privilege.
Mr Donoghue's solicitor Ashley Tiplady, a partner at Russells, said when he first attempted to raise the issue of the privileged documents, the responses from the ATO were evasive and designed to conceal what had actually gone on.
"The ATO was confronted with the facts early in the piece but instead of admitting any wrongdoing, it chose to hide what had happened and put my client to great expense in jumping through every possible hoop to call the ATO to account," Mr Tiplady said.
"Fortunately, in this case, Mr Donoghue refused to back down and give in to their bullying tactics."
He said the ATO can and does get it wrong, but it's out of reach for most Australians to fight the tax commissioner – who the case was brought against.
"Action of this level is expensive and the ATO has such extraordinary powers which allow it to suffocate its opponents by restraining their resources and forcing them to fight with one arm tied behind their back," he said.
The ATO has been under the spotlight recently for the way it treats individuals and small business taxpayers. A federal inquiry into tax disputes has heard how taxpayers have been intimidated, made bankrupt and some have suffered mental breakdowns and contemplated suicide after drawn-out disputes with the ATO.
Mr Tiplady said: "It's been very frustrating dealing with the Tax Office, and it's not until lawyers are brought to the table that commonsense prevails."
Justice Logan has quashed the $30 million tax bill and also ordered that the Commissioner of Taxation pay Mr Donoghue's legal costs.
Adrian Bayley found guilty of raping three women before he raped and murdered Jill Meagher [Brisbane Times – 26/3/15]
Man crash-tackled, attempted to rape woman in Airlie Beach [Daily Mercury – 26/3/15]
Man crushed to death by an excavator, Logan
River 949 [26/3/15]:
A man's been crushed to death at Logan in a machinery accident.
It's understood the man was working with an excavator at Cornubia when the machine rolled just after 6 o'clock last night..
The 25-year-old was thrown from the excavator but suffered fatal
When's the last time you saw local, state or the federal government responding to a community need?
Cairns council to trial free airport public bus after Airport Avenue pedestrian death [ABC - 26/3/15]:
A Cairns regional councillor in far north Queensland is urging residents to make use of a free public bus service to the airport or risk losing it after a three-month trial.
The service between the Tobruk pool bus stop and the airport was due to start yesterday but it is now expected to begin within the next few days.
The trial has been prompted by the death of a pedestrian, who was hit by a car on Airport Avenue earlier this year, raising safety concerns.
Councillor Richie Bates said the service was much needed.
"A lot of the issues are not just about tourists," he said.
It's about maybe kids that work in the food court or maybe the retail area in the airport that don't have a licence and might be 16, 17 years of age, don't have a car or licence.
"They need to get to work each day. It's terribly hard for them to do that when there's not adequate public transport or indeed active transport routes."
Cr Bates had called for costings for a footpath and bike path on Airport Avenue.
However, Mayor Bob Manning said he was keen to see if measures such as the free bus service had the desired effect, before considering a more costly option.
"I've no doubt that if after three months there are some issues we'll sit down and have a talk about those and what we can do," he said.
"But I know the airport is also moving towards increased lighting along the road.
"If you find there's nobody using the bus then obviously that's having no effect.
"The thing will then be to look at how many people are actually walking the road. It is a very, very small number."
Frackman the Movie sounds CSG warning
News Mail [26/3/15]:
A film detailing one man's struggle against international gas companies will have a one-off screening in Bundaberg.
Coal Free Wide Bay Burnett president Vicki Perrin said the film would be brought to Bundaberg by the organisation in co-operation with the Lock the Gate Alliance.
Frackman the Movie tells the story of activist Dayne Pratzky.
"Dayne embarks on a journey that transforms him from conservative pig shooter to sophisticated global activist as The Frackman," Ms Perrin said.
"He meets the people drawn into a battle that is crossing the ideological divide, bringing together a peculiar alliance of farmers, activists and political conservatives.
"Along the way, Dayne encounters love, tragedy and triumph."
Ms Perrin said Australia would soon become the world's biggest gas exporter as more than 30,000 wells were sunk in the state of Queensland where Dayne lived, with many requiring controversial "fracking".
"We thought it was important to share this story with the people of Bundaberg as we are threatened by the exploration of shale seam gas," she said.
"Gas companies propose at least 3500 sq km of invasive industrial gasfields in the Wide Bay Burnett.
"While we understand that a few people have benefited from the gas industry in Queensland, unfortunately for the majority it is a very different story.
"We, as a group, would like to share Dayne's story with the people of Bundaberg."
Ms Perrin said Frackman had been screening throughout NSW to sell-out crowds since its release in early March.
The film is being screened through Tugg.com, a platform that helps individuals and organisations to host screenings in their local theatres.
"If you have exploration over your property this film is a must see," Ms Perrin said,
"If you care about this country and its people, the land, the water and our ability to grow food, this film is not to be missed."
The film will screen at the Moncrieff Theatre on Monday, April 20 at 6.30pm.
The reporting date for the Select Committee into Certain Aspects of Queensland Government Administration related to Commonwealth Government Affairs is 27 March 2015.
Doctors at the Canberra Hospital prepare to strike on Monday [Canberra Times – 25/3/15]
Abbott Government Fails In Bid To Allow Cheap Foreign Labour In
Offshore Oil and Gas Sector
Australian Maritime Officers' Union v Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection  FCAFC 45 (26 March 2015)
MUA Media Release [26/3/15]:
The Abbott Government’s ongoing efforts to undermine Australian jobs in the offshore oil and gas sector suffered a setback today when the Federal Court rejected its underhand means of deploying visas for foreign workers.
The Full Court of the Federal Court declared that the Ministerial Determination ('Immi 14/077') introduced by Assistant Immigration Minister Michaelia Cash on July 17, 2014 “is not authorised and is invalid”.
“The Parliament’s intention was to confer upon the Minister a power to except or exempt particular activities or operations carried out under the Offshore Petroleum Act or Offshore Minerals Act, not to reverse the Parliament’s desire and intention to bring within the [Migration] Act non-citizens who are engaged in operations and activities under the Offshore Petroleum Act or the Offshore Minerals Act.” : see Judgment at .
The Abbott Government has taken three significant steps to undermine Australian participation in offshore oil and gas projects. It has:
•Introduced a Bill to repeal the Migration Amendment (Offshore Resources Activity) Act 2013 (ORA ACT) that was passed by the Parliament in 2013 to address a flaw in Australia's migration law following a Federal Court judgment in the Allseas case that found certain groups of workers were not within the migration zone and did not require visas to work in Australia.
•Introduced a Regulation under the ORA Act that specified an inappropriate visa class as a work visa to conform with the ORA Act (the Maritime Crew Visa, which is a transit visa for visiting international seafarers, not a work visa) and;
•When the Senate rightly disallowed the regulation specifying that visa, introduced a Ministerial Determination ('Immi 14/077') effectively making the ORA Act null and void in complete disregard to the wishes of the Parliament.Following the decision of Justice Buchanan of the Federal Court on 15 September 2014 which validated the use by the Government of Ministerial Determination 'Immi 14/077', the MUA and AMOU appealed the decision to the Full Court of the Federal Court.
Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) National Secretary Paddy Crumlin said the decision today means that hundreds of jobs in the offshore oil and gas sector are in doubt and it’s not as if the Government hasn’t had time to prepare.
Australian Press Council Adjudication No. 1632 AIMPE / Australian Financial Review:
The Press Council has considered a complaint about an article headed “$390k tugboat workers to strike for 40pc rise” in The Australian Financial Review on 7 August 2014. It reported that tugboat operator Teekay Shipping would seek a Federal Court injunction against proposed strike action over wage and shift conditions by 52 members of the Australian Institute of Marine and Power Engineers (AIMPE) employed at Port Hedland. The article was published two days before the proposed strike and said it would lead to suspension of tugboat services and significant delays to exports worth about $100m per day.
New mining law a rejection of the past [Bougainville News – 26/3/15]:
The Autonomous Bougainville Government passed a new ‘long-term’ Bougainville Mining Law on Thursday 26 March 2014.
In his second reading speech in the Bougainville Parliament on Wednesday, the President spoke of the ‘misery, destruction and conflict’ caused for Bougainville by colonial mining law.
He said that in passing the new law Bougainville was ‘rejecting that terrible past’.
He said that the under new law, ‘the rights and the needs of the owners of the minerals will be given the highest level of protection. In particular, the owners will have power to stop either or both exploration on their land, or the grant of a mining licence over their land.’
He went on to say that if Bougainville landowners do allow mining development ‘they will be entitled to rents and compensation, a share of royalties, proper treatment under resettlement plans and programs, preference in mining employment and business related opportunities, 5 per cent free equity ownership in the mine lease holder, and much more’.
West Papuan leader deported from PNG to Brisbane
PNG Loop [26/3/15]:
Benny Wenda, a West Papua independence leader and spokesperson for the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, has been deported from Papua New Guinea this afternoon on Air Niugini flight PX 005 to Brisbane.
The plane left Jacksons Airport a short time ago.
Mr Wenda arrived in Papua New Guinea on Tuesday and was “unexpectedly detained by PNG immigration authorities” at the airport.
However, according to the ABC, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill said Wenda’s deportation was not a political agenda but an immigration issue.
He said Mr Wenda can always come back to the country when he completes all the procedures and obtain a proper visa to come to PNG.
Mr Wenda came to PNG to thank the Prime Minister for his recent statements of concern for the Melanesian people of West Papua and to brief the PNG Foreign Minister on the latest developments.
Mr Wenda said: “The United Liberation Movement for West Papua is seeking to apply for membership of the Melanesian Spearhead Group and I will brief PNG on the progress of the application and on the situation in West Papua generally.”
Benny Wenda: ‘My deportation is a result of a misunderstanding’ [Free West Papua Campaign Media Release - 26/3/15]
Free West Papua Campaign [26/3/15]:
We are sad to report that Benny Wenda has been denied entry to Papua New Guinea and is currently on a plane out of the country.
It is still unclear where or who the order to stop Benny Wenda entering PNG came from. Mr Wenda has been to PNG on several occasions before. In 2004 he was given political asylum and safety by the British government because of his constant persecution by the Indonesian government.
Benny has been persecuted and attacked for many years by the Indonesian government because he rejects the Act of free choice 1969 and Indonesia's illegal invasion and annexation of West Papua. West Papua has a legal right to self determination, de colonisation and independence.
Previously he has never had a problem getting visa on arrival in PNG. There are reports that someone or some agency in PNG has blacklisted Mr Wenda with PNG immigration in an effort to stop him entering the country.
Youth in West Papua say they are frightened in the aftermath of a deadly shooting in Yahukimo regency.
A fundraiser [for Vanuatu] last week lapsed into chaos when Indonesian police forces started forcibly breaking up the crowd.
A policeman's weapon was stolen in the melee that followed, and police fired at the crowd, killing one Papuan and wounding three others.
The Papua Police Spokesperson, Commissioner Patrige Renwarin, told Tabloid Jubi five people were arrested and all but one have been released.
He says the stolen firearm has been found at the secretariat office of the KNPB, or West Papua National Committee.
The Papuan Police Chief, Inspector General Yotje Mende, says the KNPB should be banned because it's an underground organisation.
But the Australian West Papua Association says that would be an attack on democracy, as the KNPB is a peaceful organisation bringing to the world's attention the suffering of the West Papua people.
The Vanuatu Government says relief aid has now reached all of the nation's islands since Cyclone Pam struck two weeks ago.
However, our reporter Koroi Hawkins, who is on Erromango, says the food situation on many islands is criticial. ... [RNZI - 26/3/15]
Investigation into complaints about GCSB [RNZI –
The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, Cheryl Gwyn, will investigate complaints that the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) intercepted the communications of New Zealanders working or travelling in the South Pacific.
The claims were made in recent reports based on documents released by the American whistleblower Edward Snowden.
They allege the GCSB conducted mass surveillance in the region.
Ms Gwyn said she would also bring forward and expand her review and audit of the Bureau's procedures and systems, to ensure it was complying with the law.
Occupation practices and continued conflict drive humanitarian needs in the occupied Palestinian territory
UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Media Release [26/3/15]:
Humanitarian needs in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) are driven by practices related to Israel’s prolonged occupation and recurrent escalations of armed conflict, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says in its 2014 Annual Humanitarian Overview released today.
According to the report, “Fragmented Lives”, Palestinian civilians continue to be subject to threats to their life, physical safety and liberty. 2014 witnessed the highest civilian death toll since 1967.
“2014 was a devastating year for Palestinians in the oPt,” said James Rawley, Humanitarian Coordinator for the oPt. In Gaza, 1.8 million people experienced an escalation of hostilities, which resulted in over 1,500 Palestinian civilian fatalities, including more than 550 children, and left some 100,000 residents without a home. On the Israeli side, five civilians, including a child, as well as a security guard were killed. Serious concerns were raised over the conduct of hostilities of both Israeli forces and armed Palestinian actors. Reconstruction in Gaza has been slow, hampered by the continued blockade and the lack of funding, although the temporary Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism has enabled the import of construction material.
“In the West Bank, including East Jerusalem,” he added, “conflict-related casualties increased, a record number of 1,215 Palestinians were displaced due to home demolitions by Israeli authorities, while settlement and settler activity continued, in contravention of international law, and contributed to humanitarian vulnerability of affected Palestinian communities.”
According to the report, movement and access restrictions continued to fragment the occupied territory, undermining Palestinians’ livelihoods and impeding their access to basic services.
“Continued occupation undermines the ability of Palestinians to live normal lives. Were these factors removed and related policies changed, international humanitarian assistance would not be necessary here.” Mr. Rawley concluded.
UN confirms Palestinians will be ICC member on April 1 [Reuters - 7/1/15]
In this neighbourhood north of Sanaa many women and children were killed in air strike of #Saudi & #Egyptians
Image: @SabirAbuMaryam [26/3/15]
Asylum applications in industrialized world soar to almost 900,000 in 2014
While most industrialized countries saw increases in the number of asylum applicants during last year, some countries registered a decrease, notably Australia, where numbers went down 24 per cent from 11,700 in 2013 to less than 9,000 in 2014.
UNHCR Media Release [26/3/15]:
The UN refugee agency reported on Thursday that the wars in Syria and Iraq, as well as armed conflicts, human rights violations and deteriorating security and humanitarian conditions in other countries, pushed the number of asylum applications in industrialized countries to a 22-year high last year.
The Asylum Trends 2014 report puts the estimated number of new asylum applications lodged in industrialized countries throughout the year at 866,000, a 45 per cent increase from 2013, when 596,600 claims were registered. The 2014 figure is the highest since 1992, at the beginning of the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres put the new figures in their historical context.
"In the 1990s, the Balkan wars created hundreds of thousands of refugees and asylum seekers," Guterres said. "Many of them found refuge in industrialized countries in Europe, North America and elsewhere.
"Today, the surge in armed conflicts around the world presents us with similar challenges, in particular the dramatic situation in Syria. Our response has to be just as generous now as it was then – providing access to asylum, resettlement opportunities and other forms of protection for the people fleeing these terrible conflicts."
Syrians were by far the largest group among those seeking asylum in 2014, with almost 150,000 applications, one in every five asylum claims in the industrialized world.
Iraqis accounted for 68,700 applications, almost double the number in 2013. Afghans were the third largest group, with almost 60,000 applications, followed by citizens of Serbia (and Kosovo) and Eritreans.
The industrialized country receiving the largest number of asylum-seekers in 2014 was Germany, with more than 173,000 applications. Syrians made up a quarter of all asylum applications in Germany. The United States received an estimated 121,200 asylum claims, mostly from Mexico and countries in Central America.
Turkey, which by the end of last year hosted over 1.5 million Syrian refugees, received 87,800 new asylum applications in 2014, mainly from Iraqis. Sweden ranked fourth among the 44 industrialized countries, with 75,100 applications, mainly from Syrians and Eritreans. Italy registered 63,700 new applications in 2014, the highest on record. Asylum-seekers in Italy came mainly from Mali, Nigeria and Gambia.
The Russian Federation, which is not included in this report for methodological reasons, received some 265,400 applications for temporary asylum and 5,800 applications for refugee status from Ukrainians during 2014. At the same time, the number of Ukrainians seeking asylum in the 44 countries included in the report went up from 1,400 in 2013 to 15,700 in 2014.
While there has been a net overall increase in asylum applications, the number of new claims has not been spread evenly among the industrialized countries covered by the report. The top five receiving countries (Germany, the United States, Turkey, Sweden and Italy), for example, accounted for 60 per cent of all new asylum claims.
The report reveals other disparities, as when a country's population size is taken into account, for example. Relative to the size of its population, Sweden is the country with the largest number of asylum seekers (24.4 asylum seekers per 1,000 inhabitants on average, during the last five years), followed by Malta, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Montenegro.
While most industrialized countries saw increases in the number of asylum applicants during last year, some countries registered a decrease, notably Australia, where numbers went down 24 per cent from 11,700 in 2013 to less than 9,000 in 2014.
UNHCR's Asylum Trends 2014 report is based on data received from 44 governments in Europe, North America and parts of the Asia-Pacific.
The number of people applying for refugee status in industrialized countries is just one element in the global picture of forced displacement from conflict and persecution.
Worldwide, by the start of last year, some 51.2 million individuals were forcibly displaced as a result of persecution, conflict, generalized violence or human rights violations.
Of these, some 16.7 million people were refugees and 33.3 million were internally displaced in their own country. Close to 1.2 million were asylum-seekers.
UNHCR's forthcoming Global Trends 2014 report, due in June 2015, will provide a complete picture of global displacement in 2014.
Amnesty: Moss Review bolsters the argument against offshore detention - Nauru must be closed and the refugees brought to Australia
Amnesty International is extremely concerned by the dangerous lack of accountability and transparency, as well as continued abuse allegations, at the Australian-run detention centre on Nauru.
Moss Review findings
The Australian government's failure to protect asylum seekers is laid bare in the Department of Immigration’s Moss Review, released today.
Amnesty International visited the facility in 2012, but since then has written three times to the Nauruan Government requesting access. In response to the first letter, the organisation was told the timing was not appropriate, while no response was received to the two later letters.
“The extent of reported sexual abuse and inappropriate behaviour by staff against asylum seekers is shocking and suggests that existing protections are ineffective or virtually non-existent,” said Graeme McGregor, Amnesty International Australia's Refugee Campaign Coordinator.
Physical and sexual abuse
In November 2014, Amnesty International wrote a letter to the Nauru Minister for Justice, David Adeang MP, and the Australian Minister for Immigration and Border Protection. The letter detailed specific abuse allegations and asked for details of procedures to protect children and adults from physical or sexual abuse and provide access to justice for survivors of such abuse.
“Our last letter remains unanswered by both governments. This inaction is further detailed in the Moss Review, which outlines that local Nauru Police have limited capacity to investigate sexual assault.
“These findings bolster the argument against offshore detention and prove once more that these people must be taken to the Australian mainland as a matter of urgency.
“The Moss Review also details that it is not clear what action Police have taken to investigate serious allegations of abuse reported to them by service providers.
“This inquiry reports that many asylum seekers said they hadn’t reported abuse because they lost confidence anything would be done. Sadly, their concerns are supported by the evidence in the report.
“Nauru Police must be resourced to deal with survivors of sexual abuse including children. This includes forensic services to investigate sexual assault; resources they are currently lacking.
Failure to protect children
“The Review also recommended the Australian Department of Immigration and the Nauruan Government must take into account the personal safety and privacy of asylum seekers when making decisions. The report suggests that this has not been the case since the detention centre was reopened in 2012.
“International laws requires that the best interests of the child come first and this clearly isn’t the case in the Australian government’s decision to send children to Nauru. Immigration detention is never in the best interests of the child.
“The damage is done. Since 2012, Australia's detention centre on Nauru has failed to protect asylum seekers, including children. This government can ensure this does not happen again, by closing it for good,” Mr McGregor added.
Lies keep flowing as protected Minister for Immigration continues torturing refugees
Peter Dutton defends Nauru hospitals as better than some in Australia as Cambodia deal takes a step forward [Sydney Morning Herald – 26/3/15]:
... A "first wave" of three to five families is expected to resettle in Cambodia in coming months.
Cambodian government officials are on Nauru to speak to families but there are signs of resistance among asylum seeker families.
Mr Dutton warned that some "well-intentioned people" in Australia and elsewhere were trying to "provide messages" to people in Nauru not to accept resettlement.
Trafficking and exile of refugees ‘not a priority’ for discussion during Cambodian officials' Australian visit [Phnom Penh Post - 25/3/15]:
... Last week, a spokesman for Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton told the Post that a Cambodian delegation was expected to visit Nauru over the coming days to speak to refugees “about their resettlement options in Cambodia”.
But General Khieu Sopheak, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, said the officials headed for Australia would not be travelling to the Pacific island as no refugees had said they would be interested in a move to Cambodia.
“So far, there are no people or families that have expressed a willingness to come to Cambodia,” he said. “We are not going to campaign for tourists. If they don’t want to come, it doesn’t matter.”
THIS is refugee resettlement as defined by the UNHCR - anything else is EXILE.
Australia already resettles refugees. IN AUSTRALIA. Close the concentration camps and bring the refugees HERE.
Some refugees cannot go home or are unwilling to do so because they will face continued persecution. Many are also living in perilous situations or have specific needs that cannot be addressed in the country where they have sought protection. In such circumstances, UNHCR helps resettle refugees in a third country as the only safe and viable durable solution. Of the 10.5 million refugees of concern to UNHCR around the world, only about 1 per cent are submitted by the agency for resettlement.
Only a small number of states take part in UNHCR resettlement programmes. The United States is the world's top resettlement country, while Australia, Canada and the Nordic countries also provide a sizeable number of places annually. In recent years there has been an increase in the number of countries involved in resettlement in Europe and Latin America.
The resettlement country provides the refugee with legal and physical protection, including access to civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights similar to those enjoyed by nationals. It should allow for refugees to become naturalized citizens.
In 2011, UNHCR submitted the files of some 92,000 refugees for consideration by resettlement countries. By nationality, the main beneficiaries of UNHCR-facilitated resettlement programmes were refugees from Myanmar (21,300), Iraq (20,000), Somalia (15,700) and Bhutan (13,000). Ten per cent of all submissions were for women and girls at risk, the highest percentage of the last six years.
In the same year, almost 62,000 individuals departed to 22 resettlement countries with UNHCR's assistance. The largest number of resettled refugees left from Nepal (18,150), followed by Thailand (9,570) and Malaysia (8,370). Resettlement is a life-changing experience. It is both challenging and rewarding. Refugees are often resettled to a country where the society, language and culture are completely different and new to them.
Providing for their effective reception and integration is beneficial for both the resettled refugee and the receiving country. Governments and non-governmental organization partners provide services to facilitate integration, such as cultural orientation, language and vocational training as well as programmes to promote access to education and employment.
United States, “allies” bomb Tikrit
U.S.-led coalition warplanes launched their first airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Tikrit on Wednesday, officials said, coming off the sidelines to aid Iraqi forces fighting alongside Iran-backed Shi'ite militia on the ground.
The decision to give air support to the Tikrit campaign represents the biggest collaboration so far by the U.S.-led coalition, Iraqi forces and Iranian-backed paramilitaries, and opens a new chapter in the war.
It also appeared to represent at least a tacit acknowledgement by Baghdad that such airpower was necessary to wrest control of the hometown of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein from Islamic State fighters, after its attempts to go it alone stalled.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Iraqi forces would prevail with the support of "friendly" countries and the international coalition, including arms, training and aerial support.
"We have opened the last page of the operations," Abadi said on state television.
Reuters first reported the U.S.-led coalition's expected entry into the Tikrit campaign, disclosed by Iraq's president in an interview and later confirmed by a U.S. official. It has been carrying out strikes elsewhere in Iraq since August.
A U.S. defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said American warplanes and aircraft from allied nations were striking up to a dozen targets in Tikrit, selected after coalition surveillance flights.
In language that appeared to intentionally omit the Iranian-backed militia, Lieutenant General James Terry, the senior U.S. commander of the U.S.-led coalition, said the strikes were aimed at enabling "Iraqi forces under Iraqi command."
"These strikes are intended to destroy ISIL strongholds with precision, thereby saving innocent Iraqi lives while minimizing collateral damage to infrastructure," Terry said, using an acronym for Islamic State.
As coalition aircraft entered the fray, Iraqi forces pounded Islamic State positions in Tikrit, resuming an offensive that had stalled for almost two weeks. Two military officers in the city confirmed Iraqi forces were shelling the militants.
"Military operations in Tikrit started at around 9 pm local time by pounding Islamic State positions with artillery, mortars and Katyusha rockets," said provincial council member Hadi al-Khazraji.
More than 20,000 troops and allied Shi'ite paramilitary groups have been taking part in the offensive and have suffered heavy casualties on the edge of the city, 100 miles (160 km) north of Baghdad.
The Iraqi military had lobbied for U.S.-led coalition air strikes while Shi'ite paramilitary forces opposed such a move. One militia leader, Hadi al-Amiri, boasted three weeks ago that his men had been making advances for months without relying on U.S. air power.
The mainly Sunni city of Tikrit was seized by Islamic State in the first days of their lightning strike across northern Iraq last June.
If Iraq's Shi'ite led-government retakes Tikrit, it would be the first city wrested from the Sunni insurgents and would give Baghdad momentum for a pivotal stage of the campaign: recapturing Mosul, the largest city in the north.
Still, the offensive raised thorny questions for American war planners, who have long sought to distance themselves from the acknowledged risks that heavy involvement of the Shi'ite militia on the ground could heighten sectarian tensions in the Sunni city of Tikrit.
It also raises questions about whether the U.S.-led coalition can maintain the extent of operational control of the battlefield that it needs with so many Shi'ite militia on the ground.
@IraqiSMCEn - Iraqi Spring Media Center [25/3/15]:
Migration and displacement department and national center to register the returned ones /Karkh branch in Hartheiya area behind Kindi Street:
The department of Migration and displacement refused to pay the amounts to the dispalced persons after inviting them to recieve 1000,000 Iraqi Dinars donation ,so the families gathered and then driven away by army and police ......
Baghdad: 11 persons have been killed and wounded as a rodside bomb exploded in Baya'a area southern west of Baghdad.............
Anbar: Ramallah School in Risalah neighbourhood in the middle of Fallujah has been shelled by launchers of government's army and casualties resulted unknown.............
Anbar: Fallujah Hospital has been shelled by launcher rockets of government's forces....................
Pakistani jet fighters killed 30 militants allied to the Pakistani Taliban in a missile attack in the mountainous northwestern Khyber region on Wednesday, including the group's spokesman, intelligence officials said.
The air force has been pounding positions in the Tirah Valley for days and the military says it has killed scores. At least seven soldiers have also been killed.
The 30 killed in Wednesday's attack in the Sipah district were from the Lashkar-e-Islam, which announced an alliance with the Taliban earlier this month, the intelligence officials said. ... [Reuters - 25/3/15]
Afghanistan: Kabul suicide attack: 4 confirmed dead, 15 wounded
A suicide bomber riding in a corolla vehicle carried out a heavy explosion in Kabul city this afternoon leaving heavy casualties behind.
Hospital sources confirm that at least four persons have been killed and 15 others wounded in the explosion.
It is still unknown as whom the possible target of the suicide attacker was but the explosion has taken place in a key place of Kabul city.
The headquarters of the 2nd police district, Ministry of Finance and other governmental organizations are located in the area.
Presidential palace is also not very far to the blast site.
Following the explosion security forces arrived at the scene and cordoned off the area.
Several vehicles were also seen damaged by the explosion at the site.
No group has immediately claimed responsibility for the explosion.
The Army sergeant who abandoned his post in Afghanistan and was held captive by the Taliban could face up to life in prison if convicted of both the charges he's facing.
Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was charged with misbehavior before the enemy, which carries a maximum sentence of up to life in prison. He was also charged with desertion, which carries a maximum of five years. ... [Al Jazeera - 25/3/15]
Ultra-nationalist Ukrainian battalion gears up for more fighting [Reuters – 25/3/15]
Nigeria Denies Reports of New Mass Boko Haram Kidnapping
Nigeria's government on Wednesday denied reports of a mass kidnapping in the country's northeast, as Boko Haram militants flee a four-nation military offensive.
"There is no fresh kidnapping in Damasak," Nigeria's national security spokesman Mike Omeri told Agence France-Presse, referring to the town recently retaken by forces from neighboring Chad and Niger.
Reports suggested that the Islamist militants, who seized the town in Borno state earlier this year, made off with hundreds of children as they fled the troops' advance.
But Omeri said Nigeria had no information about a mass abduction. A senator who represents the area and a senior intelligence source also cast doubt on the reports.
The contradictory claims shed light on the difficulty of establishing facts in the brutal, six-year conflict, with communications infrastructure devastated in the northeast and travel restricted.
Officials, the military and locals frequently give contrasting information.
The militants do have a track record of mass kidnappings, however, including the high-profile abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls in April last year from the Borno town of Chibok.
Details about the kidnapping were muddied for weeks by military and official denials of details reported by the affected families.
The disputes over what actually happened were finally laid to rest when Boko Haram released a video picturing dozens of the hostages, who were subsequently identified by relatives.
Omeri noted Boko Haram's widely reported tactic of forcibly conscripting young boys during their hit-and-run attacks and attempts to indoctrinate them into the group's radical ideology.
Many Boko Haram fighters are believed to be on the run as a result of the offensive by Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon, who have routed the insurgents from dozens of towns.
Several sources said it was possible, and perhaps even likely, that
scores of Boko Haram conscripts were missing, feared kidnapped by the militants
across the region.
But they denied a specific mass abduction in Damasak, where the Chadian military last week said that about 100 bodies, some of them decapitated, were found in a mass grave.
Senator Maina Lawan, whose constituency includes Damasak, said: "I will be extremely surprised that such a huge number of my constituents would be abducted without me being informed.
"It is very unlikely that Boko Haram would have abducted such a huge number of people from Damasak because most of the people had fled months ago when Boko Haram took over."
A senior intelligence source in Borno's capital Maiduguri said there was "no iota of truth" to the mass abduction claims.
Suicide bombing kills
seven in Libya's Benghazi
Two suicide bombers drove a car packed with explosives into an army checkpoint in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi on Tuesday, killing seven people and wounding nine, army and medical sources told Reuters.
In a separate incident, a rocket hit a residential building in the city, killing a 17-year old girl and wounding up to five people, the sources said.
Two rival governments and a host of militias are competing for power in Libya. Benghazi has become a war zone, with heavy clashes occurring almost daily between Islamist fighters and forces of the internationally recognised government.
The main commercial port has been closed for more than four months, disrupting wheat and food imports.
The latest violence came after Ansar al-Sharia, a militant group, said a senior Islamist commander had been killed in Benghazi on Monday.
Islamic State releases Bangladeshi hostages in Libya oilfield attack [Channel News Asia - 25/3/15]
One dead, 3 wounded in blast at Turkish magazine: Report
One person was killed and three people were wounded Wednesday when a blast ripped through the offices of a magazine linked to a Turkish radical Islamist group in Istanbul, the Dogan news agency reported.
The cause of the blast was not immediately clear but Dogan said that police suspected it was caused by a bomb after the possibility of a gas leak was ruled out.
The late evening blast happened on the third floor offices of the weekly "Adimlar" (Steps) which is closely linked to the Turkish Islamist group the Great Eastern Islamic Raiders' Front (IBDA-C), according to Turkish media.
Dogan named the victim as one of the magazine's writers, Unsal Zor. The injured have been hospitalised but were not said to be in any immediate danger.
Police have cordoned off the area in the Kagithane neighbourhood of Istanbul's Sisli district, it added.
Listed as a terrorist organisation by the United States and European Union, IBDA-C has claimed attacks in the last decade but has kept a relatively low profile in recent years.
The group promotes the idea of re-establishing the medieval Islamic caliphate by bringing together the Sunni Muslim states of the Middle East.
A Turkish court has fined two leading cartoonists after convicting them of insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a caricature referring to the increasingly tough environment for journalists in the country.
Ozer Aydogan and Bahadir Baruter from the weekly satirical magazine Penguen were each initially sentenced to 11 months in prison by a criminal court in Istanbul on Tuesday.
However the judges converted the jail terms to a fine of 7,000 lira ($2,700) each, and the two men have not been detained, the Hurriyet newspaper reported Wednesday. ... [Ahram - 25/3/15]
Turkey shells Syria after missile damages military base [Hurriyet Daily News - 25/3/15]
Saudi ambassador announces military operation in Yemen
Al Jazeera [26/3/15]:
Saudi Arabia and a coalition of regional allies have launched a military operation in Yemen against the Houthi rebels, who drove out the US-backed Yemeni president.
Adel al-Jubair said on Wednesday that a coalition consisting of 10 countries, including the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), had begun airstrikes at 7pm Eastern time.
"The operation is to defend and support the legitimate government of Yemen and prevent the radical Houthi movement from taking over the country," Jubair told reporters in Washington.
The airstrikes have targeted the presidential palace and the police and special forces headquarters in the capital, Sanaa, an Al Jazeera correspondent said.
Separately, a statement issued in Riyadh in the name of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates - the GCC countries without Yemen's neighbour Oman - said they had been asked for help by President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi's embattled government.
Al-Jubeir said that for the moment the action was confined to airstrikes on various targets around Yemen, but that other military assets were being mobilised and that the coalition "would do whatever it takes".
The ambassador said he would not go into detail about the support being provided by Saudi Arabia's allies, but added "we consulted very closely with many of our allies and in particular with the United States".
The Saudi ambassador said that the Houthis controlled ballistic and heavy weaponry, and could take control of the country's air force.
Yemen has been gripped by growing turmoil since Shia Houthi rebels launched a power takeover in the Yemeni capital last month.
They have advanced to the southern port city of Aden, where Hadi was based after fleeing from house arrest in Sanaa.
The strife has raised fears Yemen could be torn apart by a proxy war between Shia Iran, accused of backing the rebels - and Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia, which supports Hadi.
Yemen's acting foreign minister Riyadh Yaseen warned on Wednesday that the fall of Aden would mean the "start of civil war" as he drummed up Arab military support for Hadi, who was taken to a safe haven "within Aden" as the rebels closed in.
During his speech to the National Press Club [26/3/15] Peter Greste proposed that Australian media outlets get involved in the drafting of a Universal Media Freedom Charter.
We're not meant to be friends of the government.
Greste received a round of applause when he lamented the lack of coverage of world affairs in the Australian press.
He also received a round of applause when responding to a question about the conditions endured (and the blocking of media access to) refugees in Australian camps.
"We need access. .... if we close that down we end up with dark spaces where things are happening that shouldn't be happening," he said.
Whether these messages will be conveyed by the Australian press to the Australian people remains to be seen!
* UPDATE * [Peter Greste 'deeply concerned' about Al Jazeera colleagues still facing trial in Egypt - ABC - 26/3/15]:
… He thanked Australian politicians for their bipartisan support and diplomatic efforts to free him, with particular reference to Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.
He said he had been told of her "uncanny ability to smile very warmly at a particular diplomat and at the same time burn holes through the back of their skulls, giving them the distinct impression that they've just been hugged by the Terminator".
But he also had some pointed messages for Australia's politicians, media and Australians in general, who he said needed to pay more attention to "what's going on beyond our shores".
In front of Ms Bishop and several frontbench MPs from both major parties, Greste called for greater access to detention centres holding asylum seekers.
"As uncomfortable as it is Minister, we need to have access, we need to see what's going on, and as difficult as it is for the Government, if we close that down, if we make it hard for journalists to do their jobs, then we end up with dark spaces where things happen that really shouldn't be happening," Greste said.
"The public has a right to know, it's as simple as that.
"We hired the Government, they work for us — not the other way around."
And he said the warning yesterday from Thai junta leader Prayuth Chan-ocha that he would "probably just execute" journalists who did "not report the truth" was reason to question any alliance with the country.
"I don't know why we would want to be allies with, or be willing to support a government that makes those kinds of propositions, particularly if we insist that issues of freedom and openness and accountability are things that really matter to us as a society," Greste said.
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.
The soon to be passed LNP and ALP stitchup on mass surveillance ensures spying on whistleblowers with no oversight.
The Public Interest Monitor is FUCKING USELESS.
Today in the Senate, Senator Ludlam asked Senator Brandis whether whistleblowers in Australia's refugee concentration camps would be protected by the Public Interest Monitor (given the latest AFP Nauru examples).
Brandis responded with waffle.
He also continued to dodge the definition of a journalist.
Senator Leyonhjelm on metadata [Senate - 24/3/15]:
The idea that the government needs to store everyone’s metadata without cause, including my 84-year-old mother’s, should not be countenanced.
Senate Hansard [25/3/15]:
Senator BRANDIS (Queensland—Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate, Vice-President of the Executive Council, Minister for Arts and Attorney-General) (22:14): Senator Ludlam, your reference to an article by a Mr Duncan I assume is an intended reference to an article by a Mr Duncan McConnel, the president of the Law Council of Australia, whom I know. The article appeared in The Australian newspaper last week.
If you read Mr McConnel's article with care you will see that Mr McConnel does not purport to state the law of legal professional privilege. Nor does he purport to say that the provisions of this bill are at variance with the principles of legal professional privilege. What he basically says—as does the president of the Law Institute of Victoria, whom you have quoted—is what lawyers would like.
Being a lawyer of some 30 years standing, I want to share with Senator Ludlam what might be a penetrating glimpse of the obvious. Every now and again, lawyers make claims in their own interests. Because we are but human, every now and again lawyers say self-serving things. I know this might come as a shock to you, Senator Ludlam, but it is true! I am sorry, Mr Chairman, it is true. I have known lawyers to say self-serving things—I have! I do not want to attack your innocence, Mr Chairman, at your great age and at this hour of the night, but it is true: I have known lawyers to say self-serving things!
The reason Mr McConnel cannot be taken to be stating the application of the laws and rules governing legal professional privilege or lawyer-client privilege is that if he were doing so he would have referred to the Full Federal Court's decision in Carmody v McKellar. Carmody v McKellar dealt with the issue of whether interception under section 45 of the T(IA) Act violated the principles of legal professional privilege. The court held that those principles could not be construed so that merely the authorisation of an interception was a violation of the principle of legal professional privilege. So, a fortiori, Senator Ludlam, if an interception under the T(IA) Act has been held by the court not to violate the principles of legal professional privilege, then how can access to metadata—merely details of the communication, which specifically prohibits access to the content—be regarded as doing so?
As I pointed out to Senator Leyonhjelm, those principles protect that which passes between the lawyer and the client. That is what they do. And, as I also pointed out to Senator Leyonhjelm, these are exclusionary rules. So even if, in the inconceivable circumstance that access to metadata somehow, by inference, disclosed content, that could not be admissible against the interests of a party seeking to exclude it from evidence, in any event. It could not happen.
So, Senator Ludlam, I could direct you to the relevant chapter of Cross on Evidence, which sets these principles out very clearly. Perhaps you could take a couple of hours to read it for yourself. However, rest assured that the amendment that Senator Leyonhjelm propounds and that you contend for, is entirely unnecessary, because there is no set of circumstances in which the content of a communication between a lawyer and their client could be accessed under this regime.
Two Al Jazeera journalists detained in Nigeria
Al Jazeera [25/3/15]:
Two Al Jazeera journalists covering the upcoming Nigerian presidential elections have been detained by government forces in the city of Maiduguri in Borno state.
Ahmed Idris and Ali Mustafa, both Nigerian nationals, remain confined in their hotel room and their equipment confiscated after being questioned by the military officials on Tuesday.
The Nigerian military has said that the journalists were operating without "protection, accreditation or due clearance", and confirmed that the two journalists remain officially detained until further notice.
The two journalists were detained while reporting on the Nigerian forces fighting armed group Boko Haram as part of Al Jazeera's special coverage on the upcoming elections.
Al Jazeera has demanded the release of two of its journalists "without conditions".
The network said that both Idris and Mustafa are officially accredited by the Independent Electoral Commission in Abuja with the clearance to report from anywhere in Nigeria during the entire election period.
"We call on the Nigerian authorities to release Ahmed Idris and Ali Mustafa; they have all the relevant paperwork to report on the Nigerian elections and stories related to the election", an Al Jazeera spokesman said in a statement on Wednesday.
"Both men had just finished filming a story on the military with their cooperation. Both men are accredited and respected Nigerian journalists", the statement read.
The military statement also said that both men were said to be 'loitering' in various locations, however they were actually detained in their hotel rooms.
Secret Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) - Investment Chapter
WikiLeaks Media Release [25/3/15]:
WikiLeaks releases today the "Investment Chapter" from the secret negotiations of the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) agreement. The document adds to the previous WikiLeaks publications of the chapters for Intellectual Property Rights (November 2013) and the Environment (January 2014).
The TPP Investment Chapter, published today, is dated 20 January 2015. The document is classified and supposed to be kept secret for four years after the entry into force of the TPP agreement or, if no agreement is reached, for four years from the close of the negotiations.
Julian Assange, WikiLeaks editor said: "The TPP has developed in secret an unaccountable supranational court for multinationals to sue states. This system is a challenge to parliamentary and judicial sovereignty. Similar tribunals have already been shown to chill the adoption of sane environmental protection, public health and public transport policies."
Current TPP negotiation member states are the United States, Japan, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, Chile, Singapore, Peru, Vietnam, New Zealand and Brunei. The TPP is the largest economic treaty in history, including countries that represent more than 40 per cent of the world´s GDP.
The Investment Chapter highlights the intent of the TPP negotiating parties, led by the United States, to increase the power of global corporations by creating a supra-national court, or tribunal, where foreign firms can "sue" states and obtain taxpayer compensation for "expected future profits". These investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) tribunals are designed to overrule the national court systems. ISDS tribunals introduce a mechanism by which multinational corporations can force governments to pay compensation if the tribunal states that a country's laws or policies affect the company's claimed future profits. In return, states hope that multinationals will invest more. Similar mechanisms have already been used. For example, US tobacco company Phillip Morris used one such tribunal to sue Australia (June 2011 – ongoing) for mandating plain packaging of tobacco products on public health grounds; and by the oil giant Chevron against Ecuador in an attempt to evade a multi-billion-dollar compensation ruling for polluting the environment. The threat of future lawsuits chilled environmental and other legislation in Canada after it was sued by pesticide companies in 2008/9. ISDS tribunals are often held in secret, have no appeal mechanism, do not subordinate themselves to human rights laws or the public interest, and have few means by which other affected parties can make representations.
The TPP negotiations have been ongoing in secrecy for five years and are now in their final stages. In the United States the Obama administration plans to "fast-track" the treaty through Congress without the ability of elected officials to discuss or vote on individual measures. This has met growing opposition as a result of increased public scrutiny following WikiLeaks' earlier releases of documents from the negotiations.
The TPP is set to be the forerunner to an equally secret agreement between the US and EU, the TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership).
Negotiations for the TTIP were initiated by the Obama administration in January 2013. Combined, the TPP and TTIP will cover more than 60 per cent of global GDP. The third treaty of the same kind, also negotiated in secrecy is TISA, on trade in services, including the financial and health sectors. It covers 50 countries, including the US and all EU countries. WikiLeaks released the secret draft text of the TISA's financial annex in June 2014.
All these agreements on so-called “free trade” are negotiated outside the World Trade Organization's (WTO) framework. Conspicuously absent from the countries involved in these agreements are the BRICs countries of Brazil, Russia, India and China.
Read the Secret Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) - Investment chapter
26 March 2015