United States, "allies" continue bombing Iraq and Syria
The United States and its partner nations launched 14 air strikes against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria since Wednesday morning, the Combined Joint Task Force said on Thursday.
Five air strikes were conducted in Syria, the task force said in a statement.
They struck Islamic State tactical units near Al Hasakah and fighting positions near Kobani.
In Iraq, nine air strikes were launched near Al Asad, Fallujah, Mosul and other locations, hitting tactical units, buildings, vehicles and a training camp, the statement said.
"We are dying. Don't be spectators."
Photos, video from
Nauru refugee protest [Refugee Action Coalition, Sydney -
Police attack refugees on Nauru protesting for freedom [teleSUR – 27/2/15]:
Hundreds of refugees protested on the island nation of Nauru Friday, demanding Australia end its hardline offshore processing policy.
“We want freedom!” protesters chanted in footage uploaded online by Australia's Refugee Action Coalition (RAC).
In the footage, protesters can be seen surrounded by police. Ahead of the event, Nauruan authorities warned they would increase police and private security presence on the streets, particularly around government buildings and key infrastructure.
RAC spokesperson Ian Rintoul said the protesting refugees are tired of being “treated like slaves” by Nauruan and Australian authorities, according to SBS News.
Hundreds of refugees have been released since mid 2014 from Australia's offshore detention center on the island nation into Nauruan society.
However, in the island nation with a population just over 9000, there have been reports of refugees suffering discrimination.
However, in a letter circulated ahead of the protest, refugees pleaded for sympathetic Nauruans to support their protest against collaboration between Nauru's government and Australia.
“The refugees demand the locals ask their government to stop the cruelty against the refugees and say no (to) unfair, cruel refugee deals,” the letter said.
Yet Friday's protest was marred by clashes which left at least 12 refugees injured, according to a refugee group on social media.
The refugees blamed the violence on “Nauruan police and local community” opposed to the protest.
“The Nauruan police told the refugees to stop protesting, however after they refused and continued the peaceful protest they were attacked. As violence broke out, the Nauruan police and locals began pushing and punching the refugees. One male refugee was punched in the face by a Nauruan police officer wearing hard knuckle gloves and then later dragged away by another police officer,” the refugees stated.
The statement was accompanied by footage of what appeared to be a protester that had suffered injuries to the face.
Australia today transferred the first of two former Australian Customs and Border Protection Service Bay class patrol vessels to the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA).
The Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton attended the transfer ceremony at Malaysia's National Hydrographic Centre in Port Klang today. ... [Media Release - 27/2/15]
This death squad was probably trained by Australians at Australian taxpayer expense.
Nine MSN [27/2/15]:
Heavily armed and masked Indonesian police today drilled how they would transport Bali Nine ringleaders Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran to the island they will be executed on.
The macabre dress rehearsal saw two plain-clothes officers playing the parts of Chan and Sukumaran.
They were surrounded by a phalanx of officers from the Brimob (mobile brigade) unit and then marched from the armoured personnel carriers (APCs) that will take them from Kerobokan prison, to a military plane.
Once on board the pair will be flown to the port of Cilacap, near the island of Nusa Kambangan.
Today, a bus stood in for the plane, but the staggering show of force included 22 men in balaclavas and helmets, carrying assault rifles, to escort two unarmed, bound prisoners.
Indonesian authorities invited news crews to cover the rehearsal.
Special Detachment 88 (Detasemen Khusus 88), Delta 88, or Densus 88, is a Special Forces Indonesian counter-terrorism squad, and part of the Indonesian National Police. Formed on 30 June 2003, after the 2002 Bali bombings, it is funded, equipped, and trained by the United States and Australia. ...
Channel News Asia [27/2/15]:
An Australian journalist covering the executions on Nusa Kambangan island in Indonesia could be deported for illegally working on a tourist visa.
Head of the Information and Communication Unit at the Cilacap Immigration office Adhitia P. Barus said Candace Sutton, a journalist for Australia’s Daily Mail, is suspected of violating immigration law.
On Wednesday, she was taken in for questioning from her hotel after she was found working on a tourist visa without obtaining the required documents from the Foreign Ministry.
Man hospitalised after 'threatening to blow up Brisbane house'
Nine MSN [27/2/15]:
A man who was allegedly threatening to blow up a Brisbane house with a gas bottle has left the residence and is now being taken to hospital.
He spoke with police outside the property before being taken to Caboolture Hospital.
The property has also been cleared by police.
Officers have established an exclusion zone around the Kallangur property in Brisbane's north and closed the road after they were called just before 2pm (AEST).
The man, understood to be in the house alone, had been making threats regarding a gas bottle, a police spokesman said.
Anzac Avenue was closed between Cecily Street and Golden Avenue, and traffic diversions were put in place.
However, the roads have now re-opened.
Officer suspended, Northern Region
QPS Media [27/2/15]:
A constable from the Far North District has been suspended from official duty with the Queensland Police Service.
The officer, a 26-year-old man, is subject to a disciplinary investigation involving the provision of false and misleading information to members of the Queensland Police Service.
In keeping with our commitment to high standards of behaviour, transparency and accountability, we have an undertaking to inform the public when a member faces disciplinary processes involving stand down or suspension.
This does not mean that the allegations against the member have been substantiated.
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.
Serious assault, Allenstown
QPS Media [27/2/15]:
Police are currently investigating following a serious assault that occurred last night in Allenstown.
Between 8 and 8.30pm, a 79-year-old man was walking along Ferguson Street when he was approached from behind.
The man was then assaulted by a group of up to three people who then ran from the scene.
They were last seen running towards Lower Dawson Road and into parklands.
The man was taken to hospital for treatment of rib and facial injuries.
Police are seeking public assistance from anyone that was in the area at the time or has any information that may assist with the investigation to contact them.
Investigations are continuing.
Anyone with information which could assist with this matter should contact Crime Stoppers anonymously via 1800 333 000 or crimestoppers.com.au 24hrs a day.
Police investigating after Bribie Island man hospitalised [Sunshine Coast Daily – 27/2/15]
Mackay man suffers stab wound, police declare crime scene [Daily Mercury - 27/2/15]
Baby dies at Mount Tamborine family day care
… Initial reports suggested the infant, who was less than 12 months old, was found not breathing in a cot at the family day care at Mount Tamborine on Tuesday.
He was taken to the Logan Hospital where he died a short time later.
"Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with the family and all of those affected by this tragedy," the spokesperson said.
"While the circumstances surrounding the incident do not appear to be of a suspicious nature, police are still conducting their inquiries.
"As such it is not appropriate for us or others to comment further on this incident at this stage."
A second investigation into the death of a baby boy at a family day care centre may be carried out by the Department of Education once police conclude their own.
The department said it needed to wait to see the outcome of the police investigation before it could make a decision to investigate.
Jury discharged in Britza murder trial
The trial of a man accused of murdering Gold Coast man Darren Britza has ended after the jury was unable to reach a verdict.
Jurors in the trial of Dean Mark Wills were discharged on Friday, after deliberating since Tuesday.
Wills had pleaded not guilty in the Brisbane Supreme Court to the 2001 murder of 31-year-old Britza at a Southport panelbeating workshop.
Britza's skeletal remains were found wrapped in a tarpaulin under the Canungra Creek Bridge at Boyland in March 2008.
Wills' trial began on February 11, and the jury retired on Tuesday morning.
On Friday afternoon, Justice Martin Burns recalled them and said it was time to exercise his discretion and discharge them.
A smiling Wills shook hands with his lawyers.
He was remanded in custody and the case adjourned to the next court call-over date.
It's unclear whether Wills will face a retrial.
Truckie who crushed cyclist jailed
A truckie who didn't check the height of his load then struck a Brisbane bridge and crushed a cyclist to death has been jailed for eight months.
David Gray fatally struck 40-year-old cyclist Les Karayan after his prime mover and semi-trailer, laden with glass bottles, clipped a rail bridge and tipped over on August 17, 2013.
The 52-year-old had failed to check the height of his load and didn't see the cyclist when he ran into the Dutton Park bridge.
District Court Judge Brad Farr sentenced him to a suspended term of three years and three months, to be released after eight months is served.
He also disqualified his from driving for two years.
Judge Farr said Gray fell well short of the high standard expected of truck drivers in causing Mr Karayan's death.
"(This has) of course had devastating impacts on his family," he said.
"(But) I accept that you are deeply remorseful for the harm."
The court heard Gray was stressed and panicking when he hit the bridge because he got lost and was working a route different to his usual one.
In a letter he later wrote to his victim's widow, Gray said could not come close to understanding the pain and grief his actions caused.
"I will carry this for the rest of my life," the letter read.
A cyclist has been killed after he was allegedly doored and then hit by a truck in Melbourne's north. ... [The Age - 27/2/15]
A Queensland couple have pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of an elderly woman they forced to sleep in a shipping container on their Tasmanian property in below zero conditions. ... [Nine MSN - 27/2/15]
Sydney teacher pleads guilty to indecent act
North West Star [27/2/15]:
A retired master of Sydney Grammar who masturbated while watching young boys shower in Warrnambool over the Christmas holidays has been placed on an 18-month community corrections order.
Adrian Cooper, 76, of Queens Park, this week pleaded guilty in the Warrnambool Magistrates Court to one count of both committing an indecent act with a child under the age of 16 and committing an indecent act in the presence of a child under the age of 16.
The CCO involves conditions for treatment and rehabilitation for mental health issues and that Cooper be assessed for an offender's program.
He was also placed on the sex offenders' register for life.
Cooper agreed to the CCO, which may be transferred to NSW, instead of facing immediate imprisonment.
The retired teacher has prior court appearances in 1982 for wilful and obscene exposure in front of three children at Randwick and in 1988 for offensive conduct at Lithgow involving viewing an adult male in a mirror.
Cooper was awarded a medal of the Order of Australia in 1992 in recognition of service to youth.
Defence counsel Michael Turner said his client had been a teacher for about 40 years, he was an exceptional youth leader in he community and he was regarded as trustworthy and honest.
He said Cooper had played 210 games of rugby with Hornsby and was a member of the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs.
In the early 1990s Cooper was involved with two bushwalking parties in the space of a week which had to be rescued.
The National Parks Association of NSW walk leader also has a background in scouting and introduced the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme to Sydney Grammar.
Gas found in Chinchilla soil but 'not associated with CSG'
Gases have been found below the surface in soil near Chinchilla but government experts say there is no threat to health.
Government testing of two properties in Hopeland found carbon monoxide, hydrogen and hydrogen suphide in soil deeper than 2m below the surface.
Anyone wanting to excavate or do anything with their land that may affect dirt at that depth, should contact the department beforehand.
Department of Environment director-general Jon Black said Queensland Health have confirmed there is no risk to health.
"Independent environmental experts have advised immediate impacts to grazing animals and stock are extremely unlikely as the gases are located below the root zone in the soil," he said.
"The gases identified are commonly associated with combustion and are not associated with coal seam gas development."
Landholders were this morning given an indication of where more testing and investigating would be done.
Mr Black said the department would "fully investigate" the findings.
"Risks to human health, livestock and crops will be continually assessed and relevant landholders will be advised immediately should any risks be identified."
A study of Townsville CBD playgrounds in north Queensland that showed elevated levels of arsenic and lead has been published in a scientific journal.
Macquarie University researcher professor Mark Taylor undertook the study late last year at the request of a conservation group. ... [ABC - 27/2/15]
Koalas protest at Senator Barnaby Joyce’s office over Shenhua Watermark coal mine [Lock The Gate – 27/2/15]
Cyclone Marcia damage "overwhelming": SES crews
Morning Bulletin [27/2/15]:
Gracemere SES Group Team Leader Leon Burt and Thuringowa A/Deputy Local Controller Lesley Theodore have been at it for days, running the SES communications at the Rockhampton Operations Centre.
"It's been full on," Leon said.
"Local SES volunteers have been going since the early hours of Thursday morning, door knocking and making sure everyone in town was prepared for the cyclone.
"Since then we've been chainsawing, working at heights and doing general clean up work.
"The damage is somewhat overwhelming. There's so many people to help and there's a huge amount of work still ahead."
As a Rockhampton local, Leon said he was proud of his community.
"It's been great to see the community spirit, neighbours helping each other and everyone coming together," he said.
"Here in the SES, we're looking after each other too.
"I was lucky there's no damage at my place but there are many volunteers who have damaged homes.
"We appreciate the help from everyone who's been deployed into the region.
"There's plenty of work still to be done."
Central Queensland abattoirs closed for second week following Cyclone Marcia [ABC - 27/2/15]
Minister for Communities, Women and Youth, Minister for Child Safety and
Minister for Multicultural Affairs Media Release [26/2/15]:
Communities Minister Shannon Fentiman today announced a further 50 community recovery personnel have been sent to assist in cyclone-hit areas of Central Queensland.
A second Community Recovery Hub will also be opened in Rockhampton staffed by 20 recovery workers and partner agencies.
The facility at James Lawrence Pavilion will be open to the public tomorrow from 10am to 5pm and from Saturday 28 February to Friday 6 March between 9am and 5pm.
Anyone requiring assistance should ring the Community Recovery hotline 1800 173 349 or visit a Community Recovery Hub.
The current Community Recovery Hubs are open from 8.30am-5pm each day. Locations are:
•Rockhampton - Walter Reid Centre, Cnr Derby & East Street, Rockhampton
•Yeppoon - Yeppoon Town Hall, 25 Normanby St, Yeppoon
•Biloela - Biloela Research Station, 98/102 State Farm Road, Biloela
Australian and Queensland governments announce $53.36 million expenditure program to demolish historic timber bridges throughout the state for the benefit of mining companies. [Media Release - 27/2/15]
Glencore to cut 120 jobs, reduce production
Coal miner Glencore is cutting 120 jobs and will significantly reduce its Australian production in response to falling global demand.
The company confirmed the full-time positions were going but would not give details as to where, saying it was still in consultation with staff.
Glencore operates numerous coal mines in New South Wales and Queensland. It is calling the cuts "production initiatives".
Rio Tinto set to cut hundreds of WA iron ore jobs [WA Today – 27/2/15]
"They need to be more cognisant of their position," he said. "Their hold on government is more precarious than how their acting.
Queensland's new government is forgetting the crossbench, Robbie Katter has complained in a veiled warning to Labor.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has promised to lead a consensus government and change the way things are done in state parliament.
Labor has held talks about the functioning of parliament with the Liberal National Party and independent Speaker nominee Peter Wellington, but not with the two Katter's Australian Party MPs.
KAP leader Mr Katter isn't convinced Ms Palaszczuk can have a functioning parliament without bringing the cross-benchers along with her.
"We still feel like there needs to be some sort of working agreement between us to have a functioning parliament," Mr Katter told AAP.
"We're not at a place now where we'd be happy with the terms of that relationship."
Mr Katter also said Labor seemed to have forgotten they hold a single-seat majority and they could need KAP support in future.
"They need to be more cognisant of their position," he said. "Their hold on government is more precarious than how their acting.
"As I said we're happy to work with them, but more work needs to be done."
Former Sandhurst instructor blames News International for “selling
out” sources and “lower people”
Hacking Inquiry [26/2/15]:
A former soldier, on trial on allegations of misconduct, called the actions of News International management “criminal” and claimed they had “sold out the lower people”.
John Hardy had earlier told the court that an associate of the paper’s royal editor (Duncan Larcombe) had given him a camera to take pictures of Princes Harry and William while they were at Sandhurst Military College, where he was an instructor.
For one photograph, of Prince William dressed as a “chav”, Hardy was paid £5000 and he also received another payment of £5000 for a picture of William in fancy dress in a green bikini.
However in his testimony Hardy denied that he had ever possessed the William bikini picture insisting that it never existed and he had “misled” the journalist when he said he could secure a copy but had not lied.
The trial judge, Mr Justice Saunders, asked the defendant “a lie is a statement that is untrue and that the person saying it knows is untrue, does that definition fit?”.
“Yes” Hardy replied.
He told the court that he used the £4000 to buy 40 pairs of army boots to sell to Sandhurst cadets and The Sun had never asked for the money to be returned.
Hardy said that he had been called by Duncan Larcombe around four weeks after the payment and he had said “we don’t want the photo, we don’t need the photo” and instead sent Hardy a “mock-up” to check.
Hardy had earlier told the court he was in around £20,000 of debt and “needed the money” when he saw an advertisement in The Sun asking for cadets and officers at Sandhurst to send in stories about the royal princes.
It was “easy money” he told the jury. He claimed that all of the information he gave the paper was already in the public domain, “on YouTube or Google”, and when asked “Why would a newspaper pay for something they could find out at the flick of a mouse?” replied “I suppose it saved them time”. Hardy said he took the cash as “someone had just given me £500 for nothing”.
Standing trial alongside Hardy are his wife Claire, Duncan Larcombe, Sun deputy editor Geoffrey Webster, executive editor Fergus Shanahan and 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.
All of the defendants deny all of the charges, the trial continues.
Bernard Tomic reaches Acapulco International third round
Bernard Tomic progressed to the third round of the Acapulco International on Thursday with a come-from-behind victory, while defending champion Grigor Dimitrov was knocked out by Ryan Harrison.
Tomic went one set down against German Benjamin Becker after landing only 59 per cent of his first serves, but bounced back to win the match 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 in one hour and 13 minutes on the back of 13 aces.
The victory sets up a third-round clash with second seed David Ferrer, who beat Tomic's compatriot Marinko Matosevic 7-6 (7/3), 6-4.
Earlier, world number 10 Dimitrov suffered a shock 7-5, 4-6, 6-0 loss
to American Ryan Harrison, who is ranked 159 spots below the Bulgarian.
Dimitrov served seven double faults and only landed 45 per cent of his first serves as his title defence ended with a whimper.
Fifth seed Alexandr Dolgopolov dispatched Austria's Andreas Haider-Maurer 6-2, 6-3 in an hour, while fourth seed Kevin Anderson was forced to come from one set down to beat American Steve Johnson 3-6, 7-5, 6-3.
On the women's side of the draw, top seed Maria Sharapova ousted Mariana Duque-Marino 6-1, 6-2 in just over an hour, while Magdalena Rybarikova and Mirjana Lucic-Baroni also progressed to the third round.
New Zealand media reports: 400 expected to protest Australian policy of refugee exile.
Australian media's Nauru blackout continues.
Between 300 and 400 refugees on Nauru are expected to protest against Australia's policy of offshore processing on the island this afternoon.
The Refugee Action Coalition spokesman Ian Rintoul says refugees from all the compounds would be gathering to peacefully protest the detention regime and appeal to local people to support them.
He says they have begun a campaign of non-cooperation with the Nauru government.
"People from all the compounds have been involved in the protest today. There are no refugee children at school, there are no refugees attending their adult English classes, around 150 of the adults have either quit their job or withdrawn their services, so are no longer working.
In a notice distributed publicly, the government said security and police presence would be heightened at parliament, the power station, the airport, the hospital, harbours and ports and phosphate mines.
It warned trespassing would result in criminal charges and attract fines of 200 dollars to 10,000 dollars, or one year in jail.
The ALP incarcerated refugees on Nauru, Manus and Christmas Island.
The LNP keeps them there.
It is ludicrous to blame cross bench senators for their plight.
"Offshore processing is playing a vital role in seeing an end to the deaths at sea, and that is obviously a good thing," he said.
ALP Immigration spokesman Richard Marles
[ABC - 12/2/15]
... Indonesia’s assistance to PNG’s hosting of APEC in 2018 and cooperation on people smuggling will also be discussed. ... [Pato welcomes Indonesia Foreign Minister visit – PNG Loop – 27/2/15]
US Embassy in Port Moresby awards two new grants totalling US$1 million to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) [PNG Loop - 15/12/14]
The United States is calling on the Papua New Guinea Government to certify and gazette its anti-human trafficking legislation to eradicate modern-day slavery.
US Ambassador to PNG Walter North said his country welcomed the legislation on human trafficking passed in July last year which unfortunately PNG was yet to enforce.
... Brad Tassell the man charged with managing Rugby League in Papua New Guinea has been engaging in sexual activities using the Office rented out by PNGRFL at Holiday Inn. ... [PNG Blogs - 27/2/15]
Australian High Commission PNG [20/2/14]:
SP PNG Hunters kicks historic goal in NRL's peak PNG Program
Working industry ‘mates’ is the next exciting step for the ‘Rugby League in Schools’ program.
Rugby League in Schools program, together with the SP PNG Hunters, will undergo the Australian NRL’s Level 1 Coaching course this Thursday and Friday at Bomana Police College, which will include the entire Hunters squad.
Up to 50,000 students from 80 schools will participate in the ‘Rugby League in Schools program, which is funded by the Australian Government and delivered by the Australian NRL, over the next three years. The program targets girls and boys of all abilities and uses a range of in classroom and on field rugby league and related activities to improve the quality of education.
The program also focuses on teacher training and increasing the capacity of the PNGRFL to deliver school based rugby league programs.
The players will take time out from their busy schedule and preparations for the clubs opening game of the Intrust Super Cup Season to undertake the course said PNGRFL CEO Brad Tassell.
LNP and ALP set to vote for metadata surveillance bill
Greens Media Release [27/2/15]:
Leaks from the committee investigating the metadata surveillance bill indicate that the Labor Party is preparing to vote with Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Attorney General George Brandis.
"The Australian Greens will wait to see the tabled report before drawing final conclusions, but Labor should expect a sharp backlash if it is seriously intending to support Tony Abbott's mass surveillance proposal,” Greens Senator Scott Ludlam said.
"Labor spokespeople created an expectation that they would at the bare minimum seek to exempt journalists and their sources from the mass surveillance scheme. If they have failed to do so, then the Greens will introduce these amendments in the Senate.
"Prime Minister Abbott is terminally damaged and clutching at this flawed proposal in order to look strong and decisive. Why the Labor Party would support him when the rest of his colleagues have lost confidence is absolutely beyond belief.
"Despite hearing months of evidence that the mandatory data retention proposal is dangerous, expensive and open-ended, the Labor Party appears to have caved. Australians need an opposition to stand up against this reckless and divisive Prime Minister; but it looks like the ALP have just vacated the field."
Nuclear Royal Commission may pave the way for national or international waste dump: Ludlam [Greens Media Release - 26/2/15]
Large, 17-year-old staghorn fern stolen from Gold Coast Regional Botanic Gardens
GCCC Media Release [27/2/15]:
… A large 17-year-old staghorn fern was stolen from the Gold Coast Regional Botanic Gardens on Saturday 22 February.
Due to high winds, gardens staff checked the fern was properly secured to the tree on Saturday but discovered the fern was missing when they returned to check again on Sunday.
The fern had been donated to the Gardens by a resident and is worth several hundred dollars.
Anyone with information about the stolen staghorn fern, or other thefts from City parks and gardens, is urged to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
City of Gold Coast is asking residents to help curb mosquito breeding and Ross River infections following the recent heavy rainfall.
"We've already significantly increased the size of treatments this season with the average area covering 2070 hectares which is up by over 400 hectares," Cr Gates said.
"This will be backed up by more fogging programs in the next couple of days targeting populations of adult mosquitoes and there are more aerial sprays to come next month. ... [GCCC Media Release - 25/2/15]
The Gold Coast Titans will train at Pizzey Park for the next two months following support from City of Gold Coast. ... [GCCC Media Release - 24/2/15]
Man charged over serious assault, Surfers Paradise
QPS Media [27/2/15]:
Gold Coast detectives have charged a man following the alleged serious assault of a 19-year-old man at Surfers Paradise in the early hours of this morning.
Shortly after 3am a man attended the Surfers Paradise police station to report an alleged altercation that occurred inside an Orchid Avenue establishment.
It is alleged the man was involved in a fight with another man inside a licensed premises during which time he was allegedly struck to the face with a bottle.
The man received lacerations to his cheek, chest and neck as well as a suspected broken nose.
He was transported to the Gold Coast University Hospital for treatment to his injuries.
A 23-year-old man from Surfers Paradise has been charged with assault occasioning bodily harm and is due to face Southport Court today.
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.
Australia's political and media establishment don't want to tell us the truth.
... Col. Jessep: You want answers?
Kaffee: I think I'm entitled to.
Col. Jessep: YOU WANT ANSWERS?
Kaffee: I WANT THE TRUTH!
Col. Jessep: YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH ! ...
'A Few Good Men' 
Domestic Fear Is the Price of Empire, Sheldon Richman [ICH – 25/2/15]
NZ troops' Iraq role different to Australia's – PM John Key [RNZI - 27/2/15]:
The Prime Minister says he has made it clear to his Australian counterpart Tony Abbott that New Zealand troops will not accompany Iraqi soldiers when they conduct operations.
John Key said New Zealand and Australia had different approaches in Iraq and that was one reason why they were not sending an ANZAC force.
Mr Key and Mr Abbott meet in Auckland later today and tomorrow in the leaders' annual get together.
What both countries are doing in Iraq is expected to figure prominently on their agenda.
John Key has announced a 143-strong deployment to train Iraqi soldiers in Taji, north of Baghdad.
New Zealand troops are likely to work alongside Australian soldiers training the Iraqi army but not as part of an ANZAC deployment.
Mr Key said there was a good reason for that.
"In the case of Australia they aren't time limiting their time there. I think it's quite possible the Australians will be at Taji for a longer period of time than New Zealand. So I think in that regard it's sensible to have a non-badged group."
Mr Key said Australia also had a different approach in Iraq and already had about 600 military personnel there, including members of the SAS.
"If they wanted to go and accompany people if that's what the Australians ultimately decided that's their sovereign right to do that. They make that call. It's not a badged ANZAC course but New Zealand soldiers wouldn't be doing that and I've made that quite clear to Tony Abbott," he said.
Mr Abbott arrives in Auckland Friday afternoon for a series of events before holding formal meetings with Mr Key on Saturday.
As part of the visit New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully and his Australian counterpart Julie Bishop have met in Auckland, where they discussed New Zealand's imminent deployment to Iraq.
Ms Bishop would not be drawn on whether Australia would expand its deployment to Iraq.
She said regional security was at the forefront of her talks with Mr McCully.
New Zealand and Australia had a very close relationship on matters of intelligence and security, and that would continue, she said.
Questions remain over Iraq deployment [RNZI – 27/2/15]:
... And there are several practical issues that have not been resolved, with the initial deployment starting in a matter of weeks.
Most significant is the legal protection given to soldiers serving on the ground in Iraq.
A full status of forces agreement is negotiated between the host and the country sending in combat troops - this would give troops legal protection while on base, or on duty off the base, and they would be dealt with under the legal system of their home country.
Iraq has been reluctant to strike such deals and as a compromise, Australian Special Forces on the ground operate under diplomatic passports - the option that looks most likely to be extended to New Zealanders.
Phil Goff, a former Foreign Affairs and Defence Minister under Labour's Helen Clark, says that makes a mockery of the long established diplomatic convention, dubbing it a 'mickey mouse' set up.
He adds it does not afford adequate protection, and is not fair on the men and women who will be sent to Iraq on the orders of their government.
What we do know is that New Zealand soldiers will have the right to defend themselves, they will be armed, and the trainers will be protected by regular force army soldiers.
They are to stay 'behind the wire' - that is within the confines of the Taji Military Camp north of Baghdad.
But if there's a firefight up the road and Iraqis are being overwhelmed, the Kiwis will not be able to go to their aid, in stark contrast to the way the SAS in particular operated in Afghanistan, fighting alongside Afghan police in the Crisis Response Unit.
@IraqiSMCEn - Iraqi Spring Media Center [26/2/15]:
Anbar: The aircrafts of government's army have renewed bombing on Ganatir market ,Garma ice firm , and civilian homes in Luheib area resulted in destroying of homes and vehicles and casualties resulted unknown..........
Anbar: Sumaiya Hakim Waheeb Alluheib , 3-year -old girl child , has been killed and Laith Hakim ,her brother and 7 -year-old child ,has been wounded in the bombing of government's army on their home in Luheib area in Garma..........
...To just focus on why I was in Afghanistan and ignore the crimes committed against us in Guantanamo, seems to be a diversionary tactic to try to prevent people from asking more pressing questions around my case – like why the Australian government sold out one of its own citizens to protect the Bush administration, and why successive Australian governments have refused to independently investigate what happened to me. What really worries me is that because of the careless and blatantly political way my case was handled, it means that others are more likely to be subjected to the same treatment because those involved got away with it. ...
[I can still hold my head high - but can my torturers? - Sydney Morning Herald – 27/2/15]
Democracy Now [26/2/15]:
An explosive new report in The Guardian claims the Chicago police are operating a secret compound for detentions and interrogations, often with abusive methods.
According to The Guardian, detainees as young as 15 years old have been taken to a nondescript warehouse known as Homan Square.
Some are calling it the domestic equivalent of a CIA "black site" overseas.
Prisoners were denied access to their attorneys, beaten and held for up to 24 hours without any official record of their detention.
Two former senior officials in the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice are calling on their colleagues to launch a probe into allegations of excessive use of force, denial of right to counsel and coercive interrogations.
We speak to Spencer Ackerman, national security editor at The Guardian.
We are also joined by Victoria Suter, who was held at Homan Square after being arrested at the NATO protests in Chicago in 2012.
The Chicago police department operates an off-the-books interrogation compound, rendering Americans unable to be found by family or attorneys while locked inside what lawyers say is the domestic equivalent of a CIA black site. ... [Guardian - 25/2/15]
CSE monitors millions of Canadian emails to government [CBC – 26/2/15]
Authorities Reinforce Humanitarian Aid for Flood Victims in Bolivia [Prensa Latina – 25/2/15]
Poet Pablo Neruda to be reburied in Chile following judge's ruling [Guardian – 24/2/15]
The Australian government wants others to adhere to THIS international maritime convention
Joint media release with the Hon Peter Dutton MP, Minister for Immigration and Border Protection and Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture [27/2/15]:
The Australian Government has reinforced its commitment to protecting resources in the Southern Ocean with the interception and boarding of a fishing vessel believed to have been operating under a false flag and in defiance of international conventions.
Officers from the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (ACBPS) boarded and searched the internationally listed illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing vessel Kunlun yesterday, after interdicting the vessel to the west of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands.
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture, Senator Richard Colbeck, said that unregulated fishing threatens the viability of fish stocks, and that Australia works with many other countries in seeking to eliminate it.
"The action taken yesterday demonstrates Australia's commitment to combatting unregulated fishing and to protecting the interests of those who fish within the internationally agreed rules," he said.
Next step in crimes against humanity investigation [from February 2015 "Denison Matters" Andrew Wilkie MP email newsletter]:
I’ve taken the next step in my formal request for the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate crimes against asylum seekers by members of the Abbott Government.
Last October I requested the Prosecutor at the ICC initiate an investigation, in accordance with Article 15(1) of the Rome Statute.
In the latest development I’ve provided the Prosecutor with a comprehensive brief on this matter.
Article 7 of the Rome Statute defines ‘crimes against humanity’ to mean acts such as deportation, imprisonment or other severe deprivation of liberty in violation of fundamental rules of international law, and torture and other similar acts that are committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population.
Actions such as forced transfers to other countries, detention without trial, detention of children and conditions of detention clearly constitute breaches of Article 7.
I remain hopeful that the Prosecutor will initiate a proprio motu investigation.
This politician is a member of a party that established mandatory detention and supports refoulement and the exile of refugees who arrive by boat to island death camps.
He - and all his ALP and LNP colleagues - escape scrutiny for their gross hypocrisy and complicity in human rights abuses because the Australian media protects them.
House of Representatives Hansard [26/2/15]:
Mr WATTS (Gellibrand) (10:13): Last week I joined the Vietnamese community in my electorate to welcome in the lunar new year. At the 'East Meets West' festival in Footscray, at Quang Minh Temple in Braybrook and at the Tet celebrations at Sandown on the other side of Melbourne, thousands and thousands of Australians gathered to celebrate the new year and welcome in the year of the goat.
The celebrations were particularly big this year because 2015 is the 40th anniversary of Vietnamese migration to this country—and what a 40 years it has been. Today Vietnamese-born Australians make up our fifth largest migrant community. There are now over 200,000 Vietnamese-born people living in Australia. They are a shining example of what multiculturalism brings to our country. The Vietnamese community has given us many doctors, lawyers, small business owners, artists and activists who have contributed much to Australian society.
Where would we be without Australians like Footscray's own Tan Le, former Young Australian of the Year, a community advocate and successful telecommunications entrepreneur in San Francisco; Hieu Van Le, the Governor of South Australia; Anh Do, the comedian, actor and author of The Happiest Refugee; Anh's brother Khoa, another former Young Australian of the Year, in 2005 and a lawyer, screenwriter and philanthropist; one of my favourite fiction writers, Nam Le; my favourite YouTube producer, Natalie Tran; and, of course, Luke Nguyen, the world-famous chef and TV personality? These people are exceptional individuals who have made enormous contributions in their fields, to their communities and to the Australian identity.
On this 40th anniversary, we should pause to remember and take note of the fact that many, many members of the Vietnamese-Australian community were asylum seekers. Their arrival in Australia was treated with great trepidation in some corners. Many expressed fears that the Vietnamese asylum seekers coming to this country were 'different' to past migrant or refugee groups, that Australia's cultural values would be swamped by their arrival or that they would entrench Asian crime gangs in our country. The Australian Vietnamese community often had to confront racism and hostility as a result of this prejudice. But, despite it all, doubters were proved comprehensively wrong. They were on the wrong side of history. Australia's Vietnamese community have shown the strength of Australian multiculturalism, and they have shown that we have nothing to fear and much to gain from refugees in our community. We should learn a lesson from this as a nation about the way that we treat subsequent asylum seeker communities following in their footsteps. They have much to offer us and we have little to fear from them.
Throughout the streets of my home suburb today are banners put up by the Vietnamese community saying, 'Thank you, Australia'. They are everywhere in the streets of my community. These banners have touched me, but they have also embarrassed me, because as a member of parliament I am the one who should be saying thank you to the Vietnamese-Australian community. So, in this place today, I send a very clear message to the Vietnamese-Australian community. I say: thank you. Thank you for everything you have done to make Australia the country it is today, thank you for coming to Australia and thank you for repaying our faith in you. I wish everyone in the Australian Vietnamese community a happy Year of the Goat.
Australian Border Force calls in reinforcements [Canberra Times - 27/2/15]
The Australian Government's significant reforms to border protection are another step closer, with the introduction of the legislation to establish the Australian Border Force (ABF).
The Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Peter Dutton today introduced the Australian Border Force Bill 2015 into Parliament, which delivers on the Government's ongoing commitment to the enhanced border protection arrangements announced in May 2014. ... [Media Release - 25/2/15]
There is no greater sorrow than the loss of one`s native land.
Vietnamese Boat People Monument, Brisbane
Hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese boat people perished at sea on their journeys seeking freedom from 1975 - 1995.
In the hour of our greatest need - you were there
We thank you Australia
... Whether the victim is an Australian aborigine or an indigenous survivor in North or South America, or from anywhere on the African continent, there is an implicit understanding of the stark sense of loss so evident in the words of Euripides.
So, too, on an island in South Asia that is no bigger than Tasmania.
Here, in Sri Lanka, these same sentiments live in the sorrowful hearts of those people of the Tamil homelands in the north and east of the island, also proudly known as Tamil Eelam.
The loss of man’s most precious resource is not ancient history in Tamil Eelam.
In fact, it’s happening today, as an all-powerful military force goes about the business of genocide on a daily basis, rendering tens of thousands of people landless and homeless, and forcing them into abject poverty. ... Trevor Grant [JDS - 18/5/14]
The United Nations has raised concerns about Australia's decision to freeze asylum applications from Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, saying it could leave people in detention for prolonged periods.
Australia this month suspended applications from Afghans and Sri Lankans, saying the situation in their war-weary homelands had improved and fewer nationals of these countries would likely be considered refugees in the future. ... [UNHCR - 17/4/10]
UNICEF Australia issues statement on plight of child asylum seekers crossing the Mediterranean [Media Release - 27/2/15]
Once again Australian media won't travel to Nauru to verify and/or report because presumably they support the inhumane policy?
appeal to Nauruan locals to oppose cruel policy [Refugee
Action Coalition, Sydney - 27/2/15]:
In the run up to Friday’s protest, the Nauruan
refugees are distributing a leaflet appealing for the help of local Nauruans to
oppose the Nauruan government’s collaboration with Australia’s cruel policy of
From : Nauru refugees
To : People of Nauru
At 2013 the Australian parliament approved a new policy for those [who] seek asylum to Australia but come by boat and decided to send all of them to offshore processing centres at Nauru and PNG. Although it’s a cruel policy but the way Abbott Government enforced the law is even more cruel ! They split the people in the same boats and in many cases they split families in two different groups, [and] sent a group to Australia and extrude (sic) the others to offshore (s) !! The Abbott government accompanied and supported by the government of Nauru has planned to keep the refugees in offshore as hostages to reach their nasty, political goals.
The refugees are the most vulnerable class of people in Nauru community and due to widespread cultural differences, big climate diversity and being tortured for a long time in detention centres most of them are suffering from mental disorders.
Helping Australia in torturing refugees and asylum seekers has brought Nauru international blames and caused lots of tensions and social anomalies in Nauru society.
The refugees demand [that] the locals ask their government to stop the cruelty against the refugees and say no [to] unfair, cruel refugee deals.
The refugees have decided to start a series of peaceful protests in order to show their disgust and abhorrence of being treated like slaves between the governments. They would like to assure the locals that the protesters have no intention of committing any sort of violence or causing any damage to the island or the islanders.
The Protest will remain peaceful and the protesters will remain committed to respect the inhabitants and the country rules.
The refugees need to emphasise that they know the locals as their brothers and sisters and have a huge amount of respect and appreciation for them. We don’t want to be your enemy, we just ask you for help, please.
God bless us all.
Russian photographer reports from Nauru ----> Dream Turned Nightmare for Boat Refugees Seeking Asylum in Australia [RIA Novosti - 2/11/14]:
... Amnesty International tried to visit the island state in early 2014. Nauru’s government turned down their request along with a request from UN human rights observers, citing “the current circumstances and incredibly busy time”, as well as “practical difficulties”, Amnesty International said in a news release.
“Nauru’s refusals to allow an independent review of the conditions in the detention centre are another damning development in Australia’s offshore asylum processing system,” said Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director.
Under new regulations, introduced by Kevin Rudd, then prime minister, in July, 2013, asylum seekers, brought to Nauru or the Manus Island, are banned from receiving a refugee status from Canberra and relocating to Australia. If eligible, they can receive refugee status and stay in Papua New Guinea or Nauru.
However, leaving these island nations is just as hard as bringing relatives there. Furthermore, refugees are not allowed to share their stories with the outside world.
Despite apparent attempts to prevent human rights activists and journalists from coming to the island, Russian photographer Vlad Sokhin managed to visit Nauru as a tourist. He has recently shared a heart-breaking account of what it is like to live on the islands as a refugee in Russian Reporter magazine.
“Everyone is spying on us here. Every our step is reported to the police. We are strictly forbidden from talking to foreigners or journalists,” Mujtaba, a Shia refugee from Pakistan, told Sokhin.
Mujtaba works at Capelle & Partner, the only supermarket on the island, which makes him one of the few lucky refugees to have work. Unemployment in Nauru is as high as 90 percent.
Mujtaba recalled deplorable conditions in the detention center, where he had spent 10 months. Like other asylum seekers, Mujtaba had to share a tent with 20 people.
“The tents got unbearably hot in the sun; it was extremely hot inside – no fans, no air conditioning. Children and pregnant women had to live under the same conditions. There were eight toilets for 400 people. We were allowed to use shower for two or three minutes if there was water. Sometimes there was no drinking water,” Mujtaba said.
“I think, Australians deliberately forced us to live under such conditions, so that we would spread the word – don’t try to enter Australia illegally, you will go to hell instead.”
Adnan, his wife Mariam and their 12-year-old son fled from Iranian Kurdistan. Adnan’s wife is six months pregnant and in desperate need of medical attention.
“My wife is due soon. But she has pregnancy complications,” Adnan told Sokhin. “She suffered from anxiety when we lived in the detention center as if it were prison. The doctor at the Nauru hospital is completely incompetent. Several times my wife was prescribed medication contraindicated in pregnancy. There is no ultrasound scan. We cannot buy vitamins here,” he explained.
These are far from being isolated cases. Vlad Sokhin talked to other people, who were trapped on the small island fleeing persecution in countries like Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and Somalia. Following Australia’s agreement with Cambodia, signed last month, they have now an option to settle in the South East Asian nation.
But Papua New Guinea, Nauru or Cambodia hardly compare to a developed country and all the opportunities it can provide to people seeking better life. Yet Australia continues to deny them what the UN considers a basic human right.
WAR = REFUGEES [Democracy Now – 26/2/15]:
… NERMEEN SHAIKH: So, Patrick Cockburn, given
the brutality that you’re describing, why is it that people are, in some cases,
as you say, equally scared of the Iraqi military taking over?
PATRICK COCKBURN [Middle East Correspondent, The Independent]: Because every place that the Shia militia and the—it’s mostly—the main fighting force of the Baghdad government at the moment is not the Iraqi army. The Iraqi army has actually failed to take back any city in Iraq or town in Iraq since the beginning of last year, since Fallujah fell to ISIS. But the Shia militia, that probably have about 120,000 men—the Iraqi army probably has about 40,000 to 50,000—where they take over cities or towns, they haven’t taken many, but were they have taken them over, or villages, they treat all the inhabitants, if they’re Sunni Arabs, as if they were members of ISIS. It doesn’t matter if these people are completely opposed to ISIS: They’re still treated as members of ISIS. So the young men disappear. In some cases, they’re killed. In some cases, they’re tortured or put in prison. So, houses are burned. People are driven out.
And there’s one other point, a very important one, I’d like to make, which I don’t think people have taken on board. As you know, that the U.S. government, the Pentagon and the Iraqi prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, have said there’s going to be an offensive to capture Mosul. But the major relief organizations, the World Food Program, believe that if there’s an attack on Mosul, there’s going to be an exodus of up to a million refugees, of basically the Sunni Arabs who live in Mosul, that they’re going to flee the city when airstrikes intensify and they believe it’s going to come under attack. At the moment, they couldn’t get into the Kurdish region. They’re banned. So they’re all going to be on the road. So, they’re pre-positioning supplies for one of the biggest exodus of refugees that we’ve seen, I don’t know for how long. But it’s going to be massive. There’s going to be terrible suffering, and many will die.
Ali* and his family are living through their third winter in Lebanon, but thoughts of their Syrian home in the city of Idlib are never far away. "If we could go home, we would. But as long as the troubles last we can't," said the 30-year old, recalling the conflict in Syria. "We are thankful for the Lebanese." ... [UNHCR Media Release - 25/2/15]
27 February 2015