A source says asylum seekers were woken up at 6am for a search of Mike compound today. The search went from 6am-11am. #Manus
Source says 27 mobile phones were taken from Mike compound today. ...
Asylum seeker: they were about 70 Aussie officers and maybe 10 PNG police and at time when Aussie officers were searching the rooms,
Asylum seeker: PNG police were hanging around, smoking. Really Australia is boss here not PNG. ...
Source says there are 24 asylum seekers in Chauka ...
Greens criticise PNG Prime Minister. Human rights establishment wrings its hands, says nothing: Greens criticise Papua New Guinea's plans to repatriate Manus Island asylum seekers [Radio Australia - 28/1/15]
... Much of what happens in detention centres, whether on the mainland or on islands, escapes the public gaze. If we wish to open up the black box of border control, question current immigration policies and advance new solutions, we must first lend our ears to these human experiences, and take seriously migrants’ calls for a politics of location. [Island Detentions - Border Criminologies – 28/1/15]
Cambridge solidarity vigil with refugees on Manus Island [26/1/15]
C'était une belle maison. #kobane
Image: @SamForey [28/1/15]
Massive Destruction in Kobane after Kurds Drive Out IS [Naharnet – 28/1/15]
Israel Attacks Southern Lebanon After Hezbollah Targets Army Convoy
Al Akhbar [28/1/15]:
Israel hit Lebanon with a number of rockets after an anti-tank missile was fired at an Israel Occupation Forces (IOF) convoy near the Lebanon border on Wednesday.
The Israeli army said on its Twitter feed that an "initial reports indicate a military vehicle was hit, apparently by an anti-tank missile in the area of Har Dov," using Israel's term for the Shebaa Farms which is also close to the ceasefire line with Syria.
Lebanon's Hezbollah resistance movement claimed the attack.
"At 11:25 (0925 GMT) this morning, the Quneitra martyrs of the Islamic Resistance (Hezbollah) targeted an Israeli military convoy in the Shebaa Farms composed of several vehicles which was transporting several Zionist soldiers and officers," Hezbollah said in a statement broadcast on the group's Al-Manar television channel
Al-Manar said nine Israeli vehicles were targeted in the attack. Al-Mayadeen news channel's Director Ghassan Ben Jeddo, said at least 15 Israeli soldiers have been killed.
There were conflicting reports on whether an Israeli soldier was abducted during the attack. Al-Akhbar English could not independently confirm the information at this time.
Holocaust remembrance cannot let us forget Israel’s Gaza massacres: Turkish parliament speaker
Hurriyet Daily News [28/1/15]:
Commemorating the tragedies of the past, particularly the Holocaust, does not mean the killings of more than 2,000 children and women by Israeli security forces should be ignored, Turkish Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek has said, calling on "all countries to fight against all sorts of extremism and discrimination."
“I hope the pain suffered during this war will never be repeated and will constitute a lesson for future generations. Humanity, unfortunately, was not able to prevent such an atrocity at that time. I believe everyone and every country will draw conscientious lessons from this and will exert efforts in order to not experience such inhumane tragedies again,” Çiçek said on Jan. 27.
He was speaking at the International Holocaust Remembrance Day in the capital Ankara, participated in by high-level governmental officials for the first time, including Culture Minister Ömer Çelik.
Çiçek recalled that a number of Turkish ambassadors had risked their lives to save hundreds of Jews from being sent to death camps, particularly citing the efforts of Turkish diplomat Selahattin Ülkümen.
According to Çiçek, however, the picture would not be complete without the inclusion of the Palestine-Israeli conflict. “It will be impossible to resolve all these problems or to bring peace to the Middle East unless this conflict is settled and an independent Palestine is formed,” he said.
“In these days when we commemorate the pains of the past, nobody can ignore the massacring of more than 2,000 children and women during the latest Gaza attack. Therefore, I want to say that we should seek a holistic settlement to the problem if we are to find a solution, by looking at the greater picture,” he added.
Meanwhile, Parliament Speaker Çiçek also touched on the aftermath of the recent Paris terror attacks, urging that hate speech and Islamophobia were a great danger and describing as "unacceptable" statements that incriminate all Muslims for the attacks.
“Members of a certain religion cannot be blamed because of the names or symbols that terrorists use,” he said, calling on "intellectuals, politicians and academics" to draw attention to this point.
“Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and other sorts of racism, discrimination and xenophobia are maladies that are fed from the same swamp. It is not possible to fight against any of them without drying the swamp itself,” he added.
Protesters Try to Storm UN Building in Gaza
Dozens of protesters Wednesday tried to storm the Gaza headquarters of the United Nations, an AFP correspondent said, after the U.N. announced it lacked funds to rebuild the war-battered Palestinian territory.
Around 200 people demonstrated outside the building in Gaza City of the U.N. Palestinian refugee agency, UNRWA, burning tires and throwing stones.
"We are still homeless!" they chanted.
Some tried to storm the building before police of the Islamist movement Hamas, the de facto power in Israeli-besieged Gaza, broke up the demonstration.
The incident came a day after UNRWA announced it can not afford to repair tens of thousands of homes damaged during the July-August war between Israel and Hamas because donors have failed to pay.
Some 100,000 people remain homeless since the 50-day conflict, which killed nearly 2,200 Palestinians and 73 people on the Israeli side.
UNRWA said cutting subsidies to displaced residents now renting alternative accommodation could force large numbers back to U.N. schools and centers which are already sheltering 12,000 people.
Reconstruction has barely begun, with experts saying it will take years even if Israel significantly eases its eight-year blockade on Gaza.
A Hamas official has warned the coastal territory could become a breeding ground for extremism unless promised reconstruction is accelerated.
An Israeli rights group Wednesday criticized the government for what it called a deliberate policy of launching air strikes on homes that killed hundreds of civilians during last year's Gaza war. ... [Maan - 28/1/15]
Shell signs $11 billion deal to build petrochemicals plant in Iraq
Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L) has signed a deal with Iraq worth $11 billion (7 billion pounds) to build a petrochemicals plant in the southern oil hub of Basra, Industry Minister Nasser al-Esawi said on Wednesday.
Esawi told a press conference in Baghdad the Nibras complex, which is expected to come on line within five to six years, would make Iraq the largest petrochemical producer in the Middle East.
"The Nibras complex will be one of the largest (foreign) investments (in Iraq) and the most important in the petrochemical sector in the Middle East," Esawi said.
A Shell spokesman told Reuters Iraq's cabinet had authorised the project on Jan 13.
"Shell has been working with the Iraqi ministries of industry and minerals and jointly with the ministries of oil and transport to develop a joint investment model for a world-scale petrochemical cracker and derivative complex in the south of Iraq," he said.
Shell is one of the main major oil companies operating in south of Iraq, operating the Majnoon oilfield and leading the Basra Gas Company joint venture. It signed a memorandum of understanding with the ministry for the Nibras project in 2012.
Democracy is about turning up.
The old guy in the middle is now Minister of Interior and head of the Greek police
Image: @YiannisBab [27/1/15]
"Coal seam gas needs to stop right now until proper safeguards can be put in place to ensure the safety of the rural sector. Whats the point of destroying land and its ability to hold stock for a 30 year short term gain"
Traces of the chemicals benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene, known as BTEX, have been found in coal seam gas flowback water in northern New South Wales.
AGL has now voluntarily suspended its controversial Waukivory Pilot Project near Gloucester where it fracked four test wells late last year.
The chemical were found in samples taken from two wells, and also in an aboveground water storage tank.
One of the samples found a highly elevated BTEX concentration of 555 parts per billion, while the other four samples were in the range of 12 to 70 parts per billion.
The NSW Environment Protection Authority says it wasn't informed about the elevated levels until 12 days after they were detected and is now conducting a full investigation.
State Resources and Energy Minister Anthony Roberts said the Division of Resources and Energy was also at the site investigating the matter.
Nine MSN [28/1/15]:
Fracking will remain banned in Victoria until a parliamentary inquiry on the issue is complete, Premier Daniel Andrews says.
Mr Andrews says the moratorium on coal seam gas (CSG) exploration will stay in place until the inquiry - an election promise - delivers its findings.
"This is an important issue, it needs to be taken seriously," he told reporters. ...
Queensland candidates united on patient safety
Queensland Nurses Union [27/1/15]:
All major political parties except the LNP have united to put Queensland patients and staff first this state election.
Queensland Nurses’ Union (QNU) Secretary Beth Mohle said the majority of major parties and independent Member for Nicklin Peter Wellington had agreed to support the legislated introduction of nurse to patient ratios in public hospitals if they won seats on January 31.
Ms Mohle said the united front would provide a boost for the state’s nurses and midwives, many who held grave fears for patient safety following the LNP cull of 4820 health jobs.
The job cuts have left public hospitals dangerously understaffed. Nurses and midwives say they fear patients could die as a direct result of the State Government job cull which included 1800 nurses and midwives.
The Australian Labor Party (ALP), the Queensland Greens party, Katter’s Australian Party (KAP), independent Member for Nicklin Peter Wellington and the Palmer United Party (PUP) today committed to support the post-election introduction of laws to mandate how many patients could safely be allocated to a single nurse. At present no health service in Queensland has legislated nurse to patient ratios.
The QNU wrote to all parties and candidates seeking their support.
"All Queensland parties except the LNP have today agreed to put public patients and staff first,’’ Ms Mohle said.
Sunshine Coast Daily [28/1/15]:
A senate inquiry into the conduct of the LNP due to be held in Bundaberg today has been postponed.
The NewsMail asked Palmer United Party Queensland senator Glenn Lazarus about the PUP-run inquiry when he and Queensland PUP leader John Bjelke-Petersen visited Alexandra Park yesterday to meet his party's Bundaberg and Burnett candidates.
"It's been postponed to a later date," Senator Lazarus said.
"The committee hasn't met as yet, but unfortunately a lot of our witnesses weren't able to make those dates. Unfortunately Mr Newman called an election, the dates were locked in last year."
Senator Lazarus said the witness list was approved last week.
"But unfortunately when we called them, they weren't able to come, so we postponed it," he said.
"But we have every intention of coming at a later date, absolutely."
The Catholic Diocese of Toowoomba has vowed to respect the cultural significance of the site of the former Toowoomba South State School.
The diocese has purchased the Ruthven St property from the State Government and plans to redevelop it as an administrative and professional development centre for Catholic Education. ... [Chronicle - 28/1/15]
Abuse victims pressured not to assist police, secret tapes and emails reveal
Canberra Times [28/1/15]:
Members of Australia's Orthodox Jewish community who assist police investigating alleged child sexual abuse have been pressured to stay silent, secret tape recordings and emails obtained by Fairfax Media reveal.
The details of the pressure being exerted on victims have emerged as the Royal Commission into child sex abuse prepares to hold public hearings next week to examine the responses of Melbourne and Sydney's yeshivah centres to alleged offences dating back to the 1980s.
In one secret, legally recorded 2011 telephone conversation, prominent Melbourne criminal lawyer Alex Lewenberg tells a victim of St Kilda Yeshivah centre sex offender David Cyprys he should not have co-operated with police.
Prominent criminal barrister Alex Lewenberg allegedly told a victim of a sex offender he should not have co-operated with police.
"I am not exactly delighted that another Yid [Jew] would assist police against an accused no matter whatever he is accused of and that is the reason why I was very disappointed," Mr Lewenberg, who was defending Cyprys at the time of the conversation, told the victim.
"Because there is a tradition, if not a religious requirement that you do not assist against Abraham and I was concerned about that moserprinciple. Moseris well known."
Mr Lewenberg was referring to the Jewish tradition of mesirah under which a Jew does not inform secular authorities about another Jew. Members of ultra-orthodox communities who assist police are often ostracised and given the derogatory label of "moser" or informer.
Police ignored warning before death: court
Nine MSN [28/1/15]:
Police never responded to reports a man was breaching an intervention order on the night he murdered his ex-partner in her home, a court has heard.
Wayne Wood killed Kelly Thompson in her Melbourne home in a murder-suicide in February 2014, after months of violence and threats against her.
Days earlier, he had confided to friends at a party he intended to harm Ms Thompson, the Victorian Coroners Court heard on Wednesday.
Ms Thompson, 43, had taken out an intervention order against Wood and told family and friends she feared for her life after he had twice breached it.
Counsel assisting the coroner, Rachel Ellyard, said neighbours spotted Wood's car repeatedly driving by Ms Thompson's Point Cook home on February 8 and called police.
"Police did not attend on that night," Ms Ellyard told the court.
She urged Victorian State Coroner Judge Ian Gray to explore that decision as part of his investigation into Ms Thompson's death.
"What was reported by the neighbours at the time police made the decision not to attend?" she asked.
Police found Ms Thompson dead on her bed with Wood's body nearby on February 10 while carrying out a welfare check on the pair at the request of Wood's brother.
Ms Ellyard said a sober Wood had spoken of his depression and his plans to harm himself or Ms Thompson at a house party in the days before he killed her.
As well as being the subject of an intervention order for choking Ms Thompson and chasing her in his car, Wood was also seeing a psychologist.
Judge Gray said he would also probe the adequacy of the murder investigation and the decision to allocate it to local police rather than the homicide squad.
Ruth Shan, for the Thompson family, questioned why the expertise of the homicide squad was not called on for a murder-suicide involving domestic violence.
She also suggested Ms Thompson may have stopped calling police to report Wood due to a perceived lack of support, and requested her brother and two of her friends be called to give evidence on that issue.
Victoria Police lawyer Ron Gipp said two homicide squad detectives had since reviewed the investigation and found it to be thorough and appropriate.
Judge Gray told Mr Gipp he expected a document from senior Victoria Police command to explain police actions and their flaws on the night Ms Thompson was killed.
"It was a glaringly problematic night in terms of a response," Judge Gray said.
The inquest will begin in June.
A Brisbane mother accused of concealing two pregnancies and murdering the newborn babies did not want more children, a court has heard. ... [Nine MSN - 28/1/15]
League mourns death of two young league players
Daily Mercury [28/1/15]:
They were two of Mackay's greatest NRL hopefuls.
Regan Grieve was a bright up-and-comer who debuted for the North Queensland Cowboys Under 20s last year.
Hayden Butler was set to pull on the Mackay Cutters' jersey this season, after an impressive stint with the Melbourne Storm's U20s squad.
But both young men have had their futures cut tragically short, both dying suddenly in the past couple of days. Mackay product Grieve died overnight Monday, just days shy of his 19th birthday.
Butler is believed to have died over the Australia Day long weekend.
Yesterday - as family, friends and the local and national league fraternities came to terms with the news - tributes for the two rising stars flowed on social media.
A former North Mackay Magpies junior, Grieve was cited on his Cowboys player profile as saying "Success isn't owned. It's leased and the rent is due every day".
He named running on for the Maroons in the U16 State of Origin curtain raiser as his career highlight and his goal was to play in the NRL.
He would have been 19 on Saturday.
A Queensland Rugby League spokesman said the Cutters had received some great support from the state and national leagues.
He said welfare education managers David Solomona and Murray Hurst were in Mackay to help the family members and Cutters players and support personnel.
"They've had good support from the club doctor," the spokesman said.
The spokesman said Butler had only been in Mackay for about three-and-a-half weeks and was already training with the team.
"It's certainly a tough day for rugby league and Mackay."
These most recent tragedies follow the suicide of Alex Elisala, who died in 2013, rocking both Cowboys and Cutters players and supporters.
Need to talk?
• Lifeline: 13 11 14
• beyondblue: 1300 224 636
• Mensline: 1300 789 987
• Mackay Integrated Mental Health: 24 hours - 4968 3893
Burglary with violence, Biggera Waters
QPS Media [28/1/15]:
Two men have been charged following an incident at a Biggera Waters premises last night.
It will be alleged four men attended the Pine Ridge Road address when an altercation occurred with a male occupant.
The man attempted to flee twice but was allegedly caught both times, assaulted and taken back to the premises by the group of men. He was allegedly further assaulted, threatened and had money stolen.
A woman at the premises at the time was also allegedly assaulted and had property stolen.
The man, a 22-year-old from Biggera Waters, was taken to the Gold Coast University Hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.
The woman, a 20-year-old from Hope Island, was not physically injured.
Police attended and arrested two men at the scene with two others running away.
A 28-year-old Kelvin Grove man has been charged with burglary and commit indictable offence, robbery with violence in company and two counts of deprivation of liberty.
An 18-year-old Willow Vale man has been charged with burglary and commit indictable offence, robbery with violence in company and two counts of deprivation of liberty.
Both men are to appear at the Southport Magistrates Court today.
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.
Charges: Robbery with violence, Townsville City
QPS Media [28/1/15]:
Police have charged a woman from Chinchilla following an incident in Townsville City yesterday evening.
It will be alleged that a woman approached another woman in a car park in Alpin Street at about 5.20pm and demanded her wallet, to which she declined.
The woman then allegedly assaulted her, removing her car keys and attempted to gain entry into her car. When she was challenged by the woman, she then allegedly assaulted her again.
She then fled the scene on-foot and was later apprehended by police.
The other woman sustained non-life threatening injuries and was transported to Townsville Hospital for treatment and further tests.
A 23-year-old Chinchilla woman has been charged with one count each of robbery with violence and unlawful entry of a vehicle. She will appear in the Townsville Magistrates Court today.
Unlawful wounding, Deception Bay
QPS Media [28/1/15]:
Police have charged two people from Deception Bay, following an incident at a dwelling on Dawn Street at Deception Bay overnight.
A 25-year-old woman and a 30-year-old man have been charged with one count each of wounding and wilful damage.
A 27-year-old man from Deception Bay was transported to Royal Brisbane Hospital with a wound to his abdomen.
The man and the woman will appear in Redcliffe Magistrate’s Court on February 2.
Good ol' boy charged with preparing to commit a crime with dangerous things
QPS Media [28/1/15]:
A 27-year-old has been charged following an incident in Kearney’s Spring yesterday afternoon.
Police were called to a residence on Gouldson Drive around 2.50pm yesterday where they will allege they found a quantity of chemicals.
A 27-year-old man has been charged with one count of preparing to commit a crime with dangerous things.
He is due to appear in Toowoomaba Magistrates Court today.
Robbery and unlawful use of a motor vehicle, Boronia Heights
QPS Media [28/1/15]:
Logan detectives are investigating the theft of a motor vehicle that occurred over the weekend in Boronia Heights and a connected incident armed robbery which occurred this morning.
Initial information suggests that between 10.30am on Saturday, January 24 and 4.25pm on Monday, January 26, a burglary occurred at residence on Short Street where personal property and a vehicle were stolen.
This morning, at about 11am, two men attempted to enter the same residence but were disturbed by a 67-year-old man, who was home at the time. He chased them to the front yard, where the vehicle stolen over the weekend was seen, parked in the driveway.
A physical altercation then took place, before they left the scene again in the stolen vehicle.
During the altercation, the 67-year-old man suffered a non-life-threatening head injury and was later transported to the Mater Hospital for treatment.
Police are seeking public assistance to locate the stolen vehicle (similar to that pictured), a 2002 model silver Mitsubishi Challenger, with the Queensland registration 394REA.
If anybody has seen this vehicle, or may have any other information which could assist police with their investigations, they are urged to contact Crime Stoppers or Policelink.
Attempted armed robbery, Arana Hills
QPS Media [27/1/15]:
Ferny Grove detectives have charged a man following the alleged attempted armed robbery of a bank in Arana Hills this morning.
It will be alleged that a man entered the bank located on Patricks Road at about 11.40am, armed with a knife.
He then allegedly demanded money from staff, before damaging the counter area and then leaving the scene on-foot without any money.
Staff members were behind a security screen and as such, did not receive any physical injuries.
A 26-year-old South Brisbane man was located and charged later this afternoon with one count each of enter premises with intent to commit, willful damage and attempted armed robbery.
He is scheduled to appear in the Brisbane Magistrates Court tomorrow.
Building fire, Noosaville
QPS Media [28/1/15]:
Police are investigating a fire that destroyed two business premises in Noosaville early this morning.
Just after 12.30am, emergency services attended a building on the Eumundi-Noosa Road in response to fire alarms in a business at the address.
The blaze was extinguished, but two businesses, a dry cleaning and a surfboard business at the location received extensive damage.
Police are guarding the scene, and investigations into the cause of the fire are continuing.
Arson charges, Pozieres (Stanthorpe)
QPS Media [27/1/15]:
Stanthorpe detectives have charged a 65-year-old man with arson, following a fire early this morning in Pozieres.
It will be alleged that a residence on a rural property on Donnelly’s Castle Road was set alight at about 3am.
The structure was completely destroyed by the allegedly deliberately lit fire, however nobody sustained any physical injuries.
Later this morning, detectives charged a 65-year-old Pozieres man with one count of arson. He is scheduled to appear in the Stanthorpe Magistrates Court tomorrow.
Teenage boy dies after hit-and-run in Melbourne's north-west
A 17-year-old boy has died in hospital after being involved in a hit-and-run at Delahey, in Melbourne's north-west, on Tuesday night.
The teenager from Kings Park was critically injured when he hit by a car while crossing Taylors Road around 11:30pm that night.
He was taken to the Royal Melbourne Hospital where he died on Wednesday.
A 17-year-old Kings Park girl remains in a critical condition in hospital.
Police alleged the car that hit the pair did not stop at the scene and said detectives were still searching for the driver involved.
Investigators have asked anyone with information to contact Crime Stoppers.
Pedestrian hit by P-plate drink driver over Australia Day weekend
Canberra Times [28/1/15]:
A 33-year-old man is in a stable condition in The Canberra Hospital after he was hit by a 18-year-old drink driver on her P-plates on Yamba Drive, Garran on Sunday.
The 18-year-old woman from Phillip, who was driving a Green Mitsubishi Mirage Hatch, collided with the man from Phillip at around 4.20am.
Police said they arrived to find ACT Ambulance treating the man for minor injuries.
He was then taken to hospital.
The woman was breath-tested on the scene which returned a positive reading.
She was then taken to Woden Police Station where police found her with a Blood Alcohol Reading of 0.075.
A reading of 0.000 is required for P-Plate drivers.
The woman will be summonsed to appear in court at a later date.
In August last year, a pedestrian suffered serious leg injuries after they were hit by a car on Yamba Drive outside the Canberra Hospital.
Meanwhile, police said no charges were laid and well-behaved crowds enjoyed the festivities on Australia Day.
However, 10 juveniles were taken into into protective custody for intoxication on Monday and one man was taken to the ACT Sobering Up Shelter.
Police said one woman was also taken into custody.
Southport police appreciate the work of good samaritan
QPS Media [27/1/15]:
On September 26, 2014, a Good Samaritan, Kayla Evans became aware of a distressed woman in Southport and despite personal risk went to her aid, while notifying police of the dangerous situation.
Southport officers, Constables Sara Robinson and Fernando Teixeira, attended the scene and, despite the danger to themselves and the woman, built on Kayla’s good work to successfully resolve the situation.
On January 27, Inspector Damien Crosby and Acting Senior Sergeant Brendan Wiblen presented District Officer’s Certificates to Kayla, Sara and Fernando at the Southport Police Station, formally recognising their clear judgement and teamwork in resolving a life endangering situation.
A LACK of Australian policing expertise is not PNG's problem
PNG PM Peter O'Neill calls for expanded Australian police presence after Hanuabada shooting [ABC - 28/1/15]:
The prime minister of Papua New Guinea is calling for greater Australian law enforcement in the country following the alleged police shooting of two men in Port Moresby.
Tensions remained high in the capital after betel nut vendors Nicholas Rarua and Toka Gaudi were killed in Hanuabada village on Friday.
According to villagers, police fired indiscriminately into a crowd after a dispute between vendors and local council officers.
Concerning number of police shootings in Queensland, civil libertarians say [ABC – 24/11/14]
Premier and Minister for Police and Community Safety Media Release [15/5/13]:
Queensland police will have the opportunity to serve in Papua New Guinea under an agreement between the country’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and Premier Campbell Newman.
Mr Newman announced that up to 150 Queensland Police Officers will help to improve the policing operations and protocols in the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary (RPNGC).
[Queensland] Police Union president Ian Leavers has come out in defence of officers who are forced to shoot when faced with a violent offender to protect themselves and the community.
In the latest issue of the Police Journal QPU magazine, Mr Leavers used his president's page to address the controversial year marred with fatal shootings in volatile situations. ... [Sunshine Coast Daily - 28/1/15]
Still nothing about the asylum seekers being held in jail. My sources say there approximately 70 #Manus
"tweeted" by @shanebazzi [28/1/15]
I am a Pastor. Refugees are people, I'll happy give over my garments to lament their treatment. #LoveMakesAWay
Love Makes A Way's Jarrod McKenna and fellow protesters on the steps of the Perth Magistrates Court [VIDEO]
Love Makes A Way [28/1/15]:
Today following court, #LoveMakesAWay marched from Perth Courthouse to the office of Julie Bishop MP, leaving flowers and soft toys representing the human beings currently being damaged by cruel policies.
The 135 children on Nauru are a living symbol of the limbo that people seeking asylum in Australia endure.
Our prayer is that we will have policies worthy of the dignity of the humanity of asylum seekers, and they will not be used as a political football.
We will not rest until freedom comes.
@lovemakesaway: #LoveMakesAWay march through Perth streets to profess that #RefugeesArePeople just like us
Why is the Australian human rights establishment so set against the UNCHR, and why are the IOM above question?
The Age [28/1/15]:
... Some advocates are calling on the UN to "do something" about Manus. But the UN Refugee Agency has been clear – it does not support offshore processing, it will not become involved in the operation of the centres, and the responsibility for resettling refugees who arrive in Australia rests with Australia.
It is not UNHCR's role to step in and beg other countries to rescue a wealthy nation's refugees. But if Australia continues to ignore its obligations, and Cambodia and PNG cannot provide adequate protection, the only remaining hope for refugees will be the UN.
Which is what the refugees want. UN intervention. And IT IS the UNHCR's role.
Repeating myths about racist, apathetic Australians is insulting and unfair given the state of the country's media. Calling for "humanity" infantilizes the refugees and deflects from their calls for justice.
@rranwa [16/1/15]: Message from #Manus please share...
"What We Do" UNHCR:
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees was established on December 14, 1950 by the United Nations General Assembly.
The agency is mandated to lead and co-ordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide.
Its primary purpose is to safeguard the rights and well-being of refugees. …
Australia confirms 15 boats carrying 429 asylum seekers have been turned back [Guardian – 28/1/15]
Rescue at Sea. A Guide to Principles and Practice as Applied to Refugees and Migrants [UNHCR]
24 Egyptians deported from Italy after arriving "illegally" [Cairo Post - 24/1/15]:
A total of 24 Egyptians arrived at the Cairo International Airport Saturday after they were deported from Italy for “violating residency requirements,” according to Youm7.
The Egyptian nationals, who arrived on an Egyptian plane from Catania, told the airport’s security that they were arrested near the Italian coast.
Egypt and Italy have been coordinating to curb illegal immigration, as Egypt’s north shore is also a destination for asylum-seekers from Syria, Palestine, and some African countries.
The practice has led to incidents of human trafficking.
In March 2014, a four-day training program aiming to combat human trafficking and illegal immigration was held by the National Center for Social and Criminological Research the National Council for Human Rights.
In December 2014, the International Organization for Migration launched voluntary projects to encourage undocumented immigrations to return to Egypt. <--- Egyptian media can report on the activities of the IOM in their region, why can't Australian media in our region?
Sri Lankan asylum seekers legally detained at sea, High Court rules
A group of 157 Sri Lankan asylum seekers were legally detained at sea by Australian authorities last year, the High Court finds.
The asylum seekers were picked up and held on a Customs boat for nearly a month last June after leaving a port at Pondicherry in southern India.
They were eventually taken to Nauru after efforts to return them to India failed.
Lawyers for the group argued the detention outside Australia was illegal and at odds with international obligations, and their treatment on the Customs boat was inhumane and cruel.
Asylum seeker advocates were concerned over changes to legislation made late last year that could make it difficult to challenge boat turn-backs and detention at sea in the future.
The changes meant detention powers can not be ruled invalid on the basis of international obligations.
The High Court found the Government acted lawfully and the group was not entitled to damages.
Last July, then immigration minister Scott Morrison said the asylum seekers were economic migrants and they would not face persecution if they were sent back to India.
New Zealand: Refugee status upheld for blasphemy accused [RNZI - 28/1/15]:
The Immigration and Protection Tribunal has upheld the appeal of a woman accused of blasphemy in Pakistan who then hid behind a burqa as she fled to New Zealand.
The woman's sister's family business was then torched by an angry mob.
She and her sister appealed to the tribunal to become refugees while their families remained in hiding in Pakistan.
The woman, who was filling in as a religious education teacher, was accused of deliberately not writing the correct Islamic phrase after the Prophet Muhammad's name in two children's notebooks.
She and her husband were warned they could be sentenced to death.
Her sister said a group of women, posing as Christians, tricked her into criticising Muhammad and the way Muslim men treat women.
Christians plead guilty for Bishop protest
Eight Christian protesters have pleaded guilty to trespassing and have all been given spent convictions after staging a sit-in vigil at the Perth office of Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.
The group conducted a prayer vigil at the Liberal deputy leader's electorate office in Subiaco on December 10, calling for the release of 135 children locked-up on Nauru and for an end to offshore detention.
It was one of several peaceful sit-ins around the country as part of a national day of action by the Love Makes A Way Christian movement, which seeks to end Australia's current asylum seeker policies through prayer and non-violence.
Ms Bishop was not in the office at the time.
Teresa Miranda Lee, Jarrod Saul McKenna, Alexandra Jane McKellar, Alan Timothy McGrechan, Lorna Ann Mary Green, Richard Scott Telfer, Sarah Elaine Mills Menogue and Beverley Ann Fabb appeared in Perth Magistrates Court on Wednesday.
Prosecutors told the court that the group used the intercom to tell staff they were with Child Services and had an appointment.
They then spent the day holding a sit-in, chanting and praying while staff worked around them.
The defence lawyer said their actions were "self-sacrificial" and they were seeking social justice.
He said they came to the office with flowers and cookies, but when they were arrested and taken to the Perth Watch House they were strip-searched.
All eight were granted spent convictions, given conditional release orders with a $500 undertaking and ordered to pay costs of $79.
A conviction means they won't face any penalties or be obliged to disclose their conviction.
That was despite McKenna and McGrechan having previously committed similar offences.
McKenna was part of a group of 11 Christian leaders who held a similar protest at Ms Bishop's office earlier last year.
Pastor McKenna from WestCity Church of Christ earlier told AAP outside court that the children had been locked up and left in limbo,
WA Greens Senator Scott Ludlam supported the group during a protest before court and said the Love Makes A Way group were taking the campaign to those who needed to hear it.
"I have great respect for their courage not be silent and I am proud of their action to stand up for refugees seeking asylum in Australia," he said.
The group claimed they were unlawfully strip-searched before being charged over the sit-in and planned to pursue that matter in court.
Sri Lankan refugee draws on own experience in detention to raise awareness during 32-hour march [ABC - 28/1/15]
PNG: Blockade eased following discussions between Hanuabada villagers and officials
PNG Loop [28/1/15]:
The Hanuabada Crisis took another interesting turn late yesterday with a meeting organised by the MKTWF Chairman, Mr Lohia BoE Samuel who invited Police Commissioner Mr Jeffery Vaki and Metropolitan Superintendent Mr Andy Bawa to speak to the Hanuabada villagers.
Many topics were discussed and issues highlighted but the core message was to open up fuel services to the city once again.
Mr Vaki appealed to the people of Hanuabada to relax roadblocks especially the one on the Bypass to allow fuel services into the city.
“You have made your point loud and clear to the city and to the country by cutting off vital fuel supply to the whole of PNG and we fear further incidents or deaths, especially hospitals who need diesel for generators to do operations and such,” said Mr Vaki..
He continued; “Now that your point is made, we ask that you relax the blocks and allow normalcy of service into the city”.
Mr Vaki also assured the village that the murderers will face the full force of the law once found.
Meanwhile, Col. Vagi Oala of PNGDF who is also a local and one of the community leaders who has been in the front line since the shootings agreed to the relaxing of the road blocks.
Col Oala said, “we will not remove the road blocks but rather control the Bypass giving access to fueling services for normalcy into the city till the Investigations are completed and our demands all met”.
Forty two detainees escaped from Yomba police station cells in Madang early this week. ... [PNG Loop - 28/1/15]
IDF strikes Syria targets; sirens sound in Golan Heights
Times of Israel [28/1/15]:
For the second time in just 12 hours, air raid sirens sounded in the northern Golan Heights right past midnight early Wednesday morning, but there were no immediate reports of rockets falling.
The alarms sounded as Israeli Air Force jets struck several targets on the Syrian side, in response to rocket attacks earlier in the day.
The sirens, which usually signal incoming attacks, were heard in several towns in the area including the Druze villages of Majdal Shams and Mas’ade, the town of Neve Atid which is adjacent to the Mount Hermon ski resort and Nimrod.
The IDF said it found no evidence of a second round of rocket or mortar fire and launched a probe as to why the sirens were triggered.
The Israeli military said it confirmed direct hits on a number of Syrian army posts, hours after two rockets launched from Syrian territory landed in the Israeli-controlled region. The projectiles set off the air raid sirens in the same area Tuesday mid-morning.
Statement from US Central Command on the Tactical Situation in Kobani, Syria [Centcom - 26/1/15]:
U.S. Central Command confirms that anti-ISIL forces now control approximately 90 percent of the city of Kobani. U.S. Central Command congratulates these courageous fighters and thanks them for their efforts.
Anti-ISIL forces have fought aggressively with resilience and fortitude. While the fight against ISIL is far from over, ISIL's failure in Kobani has denied them one of their strategic objectives.
US: Scores of Foreign Fighters Among Kobane Dead [Naharnet – 27/1/15]
Canadian forces clash with “ISIL terrorists” on Iraqi ground for 2nd time
An officer within the Canadian Army confirmed that a Canadian special force clashed with militants of the ISIL in Iraq for the second time within few days.
Captain Paul Forgait said, “Two military actions took place during the last week and in each case the Canadian special forces acted according to self-defense principle and replied on source of fire to eliminate the threat.”
@IraqiSMCEn - Iraqi Spring Media Center [27/1/15] ·
Anbar: The aircrafts have shelled a civilian home in Asriya Village in Ramadi but no casualties resulted as the home is under construction ......
Anbar: The aircrafts of government's army have shelled the civilian homes in Albu Theab in Jazerat Arramadi ,losses resulted unknown......
The pilot of a unmanned commercial drone that crashed at the White House and sparked a security alert works for the U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, officials revealed Tuesday. … [Naharnet – 27/1/15]
Gunmen attack Corinthia Hotel in Tripoli
Militants have attacked a hotel popular with foreigners in Libya's capital, killing three guards and injuring 12 other people, officials say.
Several gunmen stormed the Corinthia Hotel in Tripoli and opened fire in the reception area. A car bomb also exploded outside the hotel.
Some of the gunmen are still thought to be inside the hotel. It is not clear whether any staff or guests are there.
One foreigner, a Philippine national, was among the injured, officials said.
A Twitter account linked to Islamic State said the group had attacked the hotel. The claim could not be verified.
A civilian who witnessed the attack told the BBC: "I suddenly heard shots and saw people running towards me, and we all escaped from the back [of the hotel] through the underground garage. The hotel did a lockdown after that."
The total number of attackers is not clear. Different sources at the scene said there were between three and five - one says that several of the attackers have blown themselves up.
A local official was quoted by the Reuters news agency as telling local TV that at least eight people, including five foreigners, had been killed in the attack.
A security source told the BBC that one gunman had been arrested, and that another two assailants were still inside the hotel.
Security forces have gathered around the hotel following the explosion and the BBC's Rana Jawad in Tripoli says the surrounding area has been sealed off.
Our correspondent adds that interior ministry officials have declared that the security operation against the attackers has come to an end, but that this cannot be verified.
Libyan security forces and emergency services surround Tripoli's central Corinthia Hotel (right), 27 January 2015 Security forces and emergency services have surrounded the hotel
A number of foreign companies have makeshift offices in the hotel, our correspondent adds.
One hotel employee told the Associated Press news agency that the hotel was mostly empty at the time of the attack.
Meanwhile, a hotel security source told the BBC that the hotel had received a threat "a few days ago" warning managers "to empty the building".
The Corinthia Hotel is popular with foreign diplomats and government officials. The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (Unsmil) has hosted several workshops at the hotel.
Three Killed in Protest Against UN in Mali
Three people were killed in northern Mali on Tuesday as thousands rallied against the United Nations military mission in the restive west African nation, government and hospital sources said.
"Here in the morgue in Gao we have at least three dead protesters, some killed by gunshot wounds... There are also several serious injuries," a hospital official told AFP.
An official in the ministry for security and civil protection confirmed "the deaths of at least three civilians who were among the protesters".
Greek F-16 crashes in Spain during NATO exercise, killing 10
Ten people died Monday after a Greek air force F-16 jet crashed at a base in Los Llanos in southeastern Spain, authorities said.
Eight were French military personnel, and two were Greek pilots, a senior Spanish defense official told CNN.
The jet crashed on takeoff, hitting other planes on the ground during a NATO training exercise, said the source, who by custom was not named.
Twenty-one people were injured, according to a statement from the Spanish Defense Ministry. All those hurt are either French or Italian.
New Greek premier repudiates EU line on Russia sanctions [Yahoo - 27/1/15]
Press release on Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s telephone conversation with US Secretary of State John Kerry [25/1/15]
Three more beheaded under new Saudi king
Saudi Arabia on Tuesday beheaded two more of its citizens and a Pakistani, continuing the strictest punishment under new King Salman.
Omar bin Yahya bin Ibrahim al-Barkati was tried and convicted of incest, the interior ministry said in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency.
"He was executed as punishment for his crime and as a lesson to others," the ministry said, adding that authorities carried out the sentence in southwestern Asir region.
In a separate case, Yassir bin Hussein al-Hamza was executed in northwestern Jawf region after his trial and confession for smuggling amphetamine pills, the ministry said.
A third convict, Latif Khan Nurzada, a Pakistani, was executed for trafficking heroin into the kingdom. He was executed in the Muslim holy city of Mecca, the ministry said in another statement.
According to an AFP tally, their executions bring to 16 the number of Saudis and foreigners put to death this year under the kingdom's strict version of Islamic sharia law.
Four have been executed since King Salman took office last Friday after the death of his predecessor Abdullah.
Under Abdullah, the number of executions jumped from 27 in 2010 to around 80 annually, with 87 last year.
The oil-rich Gulf Arab state faces constant international criticism over its human rights record, including the use of the death penalty.
Mexico missing: Thousands march to demand full investigation
Thousands of people have taken part in demonstrations in Mexico City to demand a full investigation into the disappearance of 43 students four months ago.
The trainee teachers went missing after taking part in a protest in the south-western town of Iguala on 26 September.
Prosecutors say they were seized by local police and handed over to a local gang, which killed them.
Those marching included the families of the missing students.
They started their journey from four different suburbs of Mexico City and headed to the city's main square, the Zocalo.
More than 100,000 people have been killed or have disappeared in Mexico.
But the BBC's Katy Watson says the case of the 43 students has galvanised Mexicans angry with high levels of corruption and collusion between local authorities, police and criminal gangs.
Over-the-counter sleep aids linked to dementia
Medical News Today [27/1/15]:
A new study has found a significant link between high use of anticholinergic drugs - including popular non-prescription sleep aids and the antihistamine Benadryl (diphenhydramine) - and increased risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer's disease in older people.
Many medications - including some popular over the counter drugs - have strong anticholinergic effects.
Anticholinergics are a class of drug that blocks the action of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine in the brain and body.
This can lead to many side effects, including drowsiness, constipation, retaining urine and dry mouth and eyes.
The researchers, led by Shelly Gray, a professor in the University of Washington School of Pharmacy in Seattle, report their findings in JAMA Internal Medicine.
Prof. Gray says:
"Older adults should be aware that many medications - including some available without a prescription, such as over-the-counter sleep aids - have strong anticholinergic effects."
Prof. Gray urges people not to stop their therapy based on the findings of this study - they should talk to their health care provider, and also tell them about all their over-the-counter drug use.
"Health care providers should regularly review their older patients' drug regimens - including over-the-counter medications - to look for chances to use fewer anticholinergic medications at lower doses," she says.
If providers need to prescribe anticholinergics to their patients because they offer the best treatment, then "they should use the lowest effective dose, monitor the therapy regularly to ensure it's working, and stop the therapy if it's ineffective," she adds.
Although the link between raised risk of dementia and anticholinergics has been found before, the new study uses more rigorous methods - including over 7 years of follow-up - to establish the strength of the link. By accessing pharmacy records, the researchers were also able to include non-prescription use of anticholinergics in their data.
It is also the first study to show a dose-response effect, note the authors. That is, the higher the cumulative amount of drug taken, the higher the risk of developing dementia.
Indonesia: Lampung weekly chief editor shot dead
Jakarta Post [27/1/15]:
The chief editor of the Fokus Lampung weekly, Beni Faisal bin Zaenal Abidin, was shot dead by unidentified persons on Sunday evening at around 8:30 p.m. local time.
Bandar Lampung Police operational division chief Comr. Fidelis Timuranto said the police were not able to disclose details of the incident yet as the crime scene was still being examined.
“Although the investigation is still ongoing, we are positive that the incident is purely criminal,” Fidelis said at the Abdoel Moeloek General Hospital morgue early on Monday.
Beni was found dead in a pool of blood in front of his house at Jl. Pulau Raya 3, No. 46 in the Waykadis housing complex in Tanjung Senang district, Bandar Lampung.
Neighbors, who were shocked to hear the gunshots, immediately went to the scene of the crime and took the victim to Abdoel Moeloek General Hospital.
Fokus Lampung was founded by a youth figure from the local chapter of the country’s largest Muslim organization, Nahdlatul Ulama, who was also a former Lampung Post journalist, Fajrun Najjah Ahmad.
When Fajrun became secretary of the Democratic Party, he relinquished his position as Fokus Lampung chief editor to Beni.
The weekly is known for being critical toward government policies and public service institutions.
Leaks led to Sandhurst security being “stepped up” court told
Hacking Inquiry [27/1/15]:
A former army officer has testified that information about the Royal Princes published in The Sun was “very worrying” and led to a “stepping up of security”.
Giving evidence in London’s Old Bailey Colonel Roy Parkinson a former staff officer at Sandhurst said that “attempted and successful intrusions” by the media when Prince William and Prince Harry were cadets led to “security having to be beefed up for everyone”.
Colonel Parkinson also said that he had asked the newspaper not to publish the name of a Sandhurst cadet as he came from Northern Ireland.
The former Army officer continued “The Sun had been asked not to name him, but did so anyway, putting his security at risk”.
The testimony came during the third week of the trial of four Sun journalists and an army officer and his wife in connection with alleged payments made to public officials.
Earlier the jury heard from Alexander McKay, Prince William’s platoon commander at Sandhurst.
The officer said that while Prince William was training at Sandhurst there were a number of instances of reporters “turning up at exercises” in which the Prince was taking part.
For security reasons, McKay told the jury, a “sham” training schedule for William was put in the Academy’s computer system, which he said led to journalists appearing at the fake locations.
Asked about the impact of the stream of stories appearing in the daily tabloid, McKay said they had an “unsettling effect if you don’t know where the information is coming from you start suspecting innocent people”.
However, defence barrister, Simon Csoka QC, challenged McKay’s evidence and suggested to the witness that as Sandhurst exercises happened at the same places and time every year any former cadet would know where and then they would be.
He also told the jury that the brother of one of the defendants, Duncan Larcombe, had won the sword of honour at Sandhurst and like many others would know the timing of events.
On trial are John Kay, Claire Hardy, John Hardy, Duncan Larcombe, Fergus Shanahan and Geoffrey Webster.
All of the defendants deny all of the charges, the trial continues.
The high court has blocked a second claim for phone-hacking damages brought by the former TV presenter John Leslie and Jeff Brazier, the ex-partner of the late reality star Jade Goody.
Mr Justice Mann allowed applications by News Group Newspapers (NGN) for summary judgment on the basis that the terms of the settlement reached in their first claims barred the new actions, because they fell within the settled claims. ... [Guardian - 28/1/15]
Madagascar storm death toll climbs to 68
Sixty eight people were killed in the tropical storm that battered Madagascar over a week ago, according to new figures released Tuesday ahead of a national day of mourning.
"The flag is to be at half-mast on Wednesday. All festive activities are suspended," the government said.
The hardest hit area of the Indian Ocean island saw 25 deaths, with the majority killed by landslides unleashed by the tropical storm known as Chedza on January 16 and 17.
Three-quarters of the island was impacted by the storm, which dumped heavy rains and prompted major flooding in low-lying areas.
A new storm named Dimanondra formed east of Madagascar on Tuesday, but it remained some 3,000 kilometres (over 1,860 miles) away, according to the national meteorological service.
Greece's new government halts sale of Piraeus port
Al Jazeera [28/1/15]:
Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has named a cabinet of anti-austerity veterans and halted privatisation of the country's biggest port, indicating he aims to stick to election pledges despite warnings from the euro zone and financial markets.
Greek markets endured a second day of turmoil on Tuesday, with bank shares diving and investors fearing the anti-bailout government might be set on a collision course with the country's European Union and IMF creditors.
Promising to reverse budget cuts and renegotiate Greece's huge debts, Tsipras's leftist Syriza party rose to power after winning a landmark election on Sunday on a wave of anger against the German-backed austerity policies that have driven up poverty and left one in four Greek workers out of a job.
Tsipras named Yanis Varoufakis, an academic economist and outspoken bailout critic, as his finance minister. The defense portfolio went to Panos Kammenos, leader of the right-wing Independent Greeks party which is the junior partner in the Tsipras coalition.
One of the first decisions announced by the new government was stopping the planned sale of a 67 percent stake in the Piraeus Port Authority (OLPr.AT), agreed under its international bailout deal for which China's Cosco Group COSCO.UL and four other suitors had been shortlisted.
"The Cosco deal will be reviewed to the benefit of the Greek people," Thodoris Dritsas, the deputy minister in charge of the shipping portfolio, told the Reuters news agency.
Arrogant Newman Ignoring Opposition to Privatisation
PUP Media Release [28/1/15]:
Campbell Newman is arrogantly ignoring the wishes of the overwhelmingly majority of Queenslanders to reward lobbyists and other LNP friendly interests by pursuing privatisation of state assets, says Palmer United Party Queensland leader John Bjelke-Petersen.
Mr Bjelke-Petersen said the Palmer United Party is the last sentry at the gate for Queenslanders who believe the state’s assets should be cherished and not disposed of for a fast buck.
“It has taken more than 150 years for successive Queensland governments to build up our assets so that each of us and our children and grandchildren can enjoy the benefits we now have,” Mr Bjelke-Petersen said.
“Mr Newman now wants to privatise Queensland’s assets. He knows the people who support him – the agents, lobbyists and consultants friendly to the LNP – can make a killing from the sale of our hospitals, schools, ports and power stations.
“Absolute power corrupts and corrupts absolutely. After spending many millions of dollars of our money, Mr Newman found out 86 per cent of Queenslanders didn’t want to sell their assets so he devised a scheme to privatise them by leasing assets on 99-year contracts.
“The arrogance Mr Newman has demonstrated proves he doesn’t care about what Queenslanders think and he refuses listens to listen to the people who elected him.”
Mr Bjelke-Petersen said the Palmer United Party strongly believed in retaining state-owned assets in the hands of all Queenslanders.
“If successful at the January 31 Queensland election, our party will resume any Queensland government state-owned assets that have been sold or leased, without providing compensation,” he said.
“The LNP is merely supporting cronies who will earn millions in commission cheques for leasing these assets.
“A Queensland-elected Palmer United Party government would stimulate the economy and protect assets owned by Queenslanders.’’
Fidel Castro: 'I Don't Trust the US, Nor Have I Spoken with Them'
Fidel Castro does not "trust the U.S., nor have I spoken with them," the revolutionary icon, 88, said in a letter attributed to him and read out on state television Monday.
"That does not represent -- far from it -- a rejection of peacefully settling conflicts," said the letter, a week after communist Cuba and the United States held landmark talks in Havana as they attempt to normalize ties.
U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro announced December 17 that the Cold War rivals would work to normalize relations that broke off in 1961.
In Washington, some Cuban-American lawmakers slammed Obama, saying his administration had given up too much without securing human rights commitments from the Americas' only one party Communist-ruled country.
Yet what many observers found most stunning in so much change is that the leader of Cuba's 1959 revolution -- a lawyer by training famous for speaking for hours in excruciating detail -- has yet to publicly speak about the detente that his brother Raul, 83, has engaged with his old enemy.
Many analysts expect that Cuba's president would not have set out on this diplomatic route without his brother's approval and support. That makes it stranger still that Fidel Castro has not spoken about Havana's change in course.
That led to speculation on the health of Fidel Castro -- including rumors he was dying or dead earlier this month. Then his longtime friend footballer Diego Maradona announced two weeks ago that he had received a letter from Fidel Castro as well.
"Cuba's president has taken steps within his range of authority and the powers granted him by the National Assembly, and the Communist Party of Cuba," the letter attributed to Fidel Castro added.
"We shall always defend cooperation and friendship with all of the world's peoples, among them our political adversaries," the letter dated Monday added.
It did not address swirling rumors of his demise, which have cropped up often since Fidel Castro first took seriously ill in 2006.
With only official state media offering Cuba's 11 million people information, word of mouth can be an influential factor in the economically distressed country's everyday life.
Georgia executes man despite disability claim
Hill declined to request a special last meal, the Department of Corrections said. He was offered the institutional meal tray, consisting of shepherd's pie, mashed potatoes, red beans, cabbage relish salad, cornbread, sugar cookies and fruit punch.
Twice-convicted murderer Warren Lee Hill was executed Tuesday, according to the Georgia Department of Corrections.
Despite pleas by human rights groups and legal representatives who have argued that Hill's intellectual disability should have made him ineligible for the death penalty, Hill died by injection at the prison in Jackson, Georgia.
His time of death was 7:55 p.m. ET, said spokeswoman Gwendolyn Hogan. Hill declined to make a final statement, but requested a final prayer, Hogan said.
Hill's attorney slammed the U.S. Supreme Court, which declined to step in and grant a stay of execution.
"Today, the court has unconscionably allowed a grotesque miscarriage of justice to occur in Georgia," said Brian Kammer, Hill's lawyer.
"The intellectual disability community, which has strongly supported Mr. Hill's case for many years, joined his legal team in the belief that the Supreme Court would step in and prevent Georgia's flagrant disregard of the Constitution on behalf of the rights of people with disabilities," said Kammer.
He described the execution as "an abomination."
Hill's execution comes two weeks after the state executed Andrew Brannan, a Vietnam War veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder who killed Laurens County Deputy Kyle Dinkheller in 1998. Kammer also was Brannan's counsel.
Hill had the support of the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, the Georgia NAACP, and former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn Carter.
The victim's family and former jurors had also expressed support for mercy in Hill's case, saying they weren't given the option of life without parole when sentencing him to death.
Kammer had said seven doctors agreed that his client was intellectually disabled -- including three doctors for the state who initially evaluated Hill and said he didn't meet Georgia's standard. Kammer said those doctors have since signed an affidavit admitting they felt rushed during Hill's examination and now believe he does meet the standard for "intellectually disabled."
In previous clemency hearings, attorneys for the state have argued that Hill served in the Navy, held a job and managed his money before killing his girlfriend -- signs that he didn't necessarily meet the legal standard to be considered intellectually disabled, even though he has a low IQ.
A Commentary on the Justice Case by Doug Linder :
The Nuremberg Trials: The Justice Trial
United States of America v. Alstötter et al.
… Ingo Muller, in Hitler's Justice: The Courts of the Third Reich, provides a penetrating picture of the workings of the criminal justice system in Nazi Germany. Muller's analysis of the evidence suggests that most German judges--contrary to common opinion--were ultraconservative nationalists who were largely sympathetic to Nazi goals.
The "Nazification" of German law occurred with the willing and enthusiatic help of judges, rather than over their principled objections.
Many judges appointed before the Nazi rise to power--because of the economic and social circles that judges were drawn from--had views that were quite compatible with the Nazi party. A few Jewish judges sat on the bench when the Nazis assumed power--but only a very few. A 1933 law removed those few Jewish judges from office.
Only a handful of the non-Jewish judges demonstrated real courage in the face of Nazi persecution and violations of civil liberties. One who did was Lothar Kressig, a county court judge who issued injunctions against sending hospital patients to extermination camps.
When ordered to withdraw his injunctions, Kreyssig refused. He also attempted to initiate a prosecution of Nazis for their role in the program. Kreyssig, under pressure, eventually resigned.
In the Justice trial, American prosecutors sought to demonstrate a pattern of judicial and prosecutorial support for Nazi programs of persecution, sterilization, extermination, and other gross violations of human rights. In order to prove an individual defendant guilty, prosecutors had to show that the defendant consciously furthered these human rights abuses.
The violations of human rights progressively worsened as the Nazis solidified power and began their wars of aggression. In 1938, laws were adopted that imposed different levels of punishment for the same crime--a tougher punishment for Jews, a lighter one for other Germans. By 1940, sterilization programs were underway. By 1942, the "Final Solution," the wholesale extermination of Jews and other persons deemed undesirable, was in full swing.
Two features of German law combined to facilitate the Nazi's evil schemes. The first was that German law, unlike the law of the United States and many other nations, lacked "higher law" (constitutional or ethical standards) that might be resorted to by judges to avoid the harsh effects of discriminatory laws adopted by the Nazi regime.
"... we have been tortured here .. here I die every day ..."
Refugee incarcerated in Australia's death camp on Manus Island. [OUT FM - AUDIO - 27/1/15]
... "TO AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT. STOP TORTURING US. IF YOU THINK WE DON'T DESERVE AUS. THEN HAND OVER ALL OF US TO THE UN. WE DON'T WANT YOUR HELP!" ... [CNN - 21/1/15]
Where is the UN? Where is the Red Cross? ... via @ShaneBazzi
Hunger striking Manus refugees: "Stop torturing us. ... Hand us to UN" via @rranwa
Letter to UNHCR, UN Committee Against Torture, Amnesty, Australian Human Rights Commission: "we are hostages of Australian government" via @shanebazzi
Pleas from #ManusProtest ... [Image: @rranwa - 16/1/15]
Hard to fathom the scale of the pain and suffering that happened at Auschwitz until its liberation 70 years ago today
Image: @JoshFrydenberg - Assistant Treasurer [27/1/15]
The public has much to fear from politicians who haven’t flinched before the sadism of their refugee policies. We must speak up now. ... Nick Riemer [The Guardian - 19/1/15]
Surely a lawyer - awarded an AO for his work with refugees - would at least be calling for refugees to have access to lawyers? [Sydney Morning Herald - 261/15]:
... Denton, 54, whose "real job" is chief executive of law firm Corrs Chambers Westgarth, has been made an officer in the general division (AO) for his work in business and commerce, the arts and social welfare, and with refugees.
Denton helped set up the UNHCR's Australian support group 13 years ago to highlight the work of the commission and to increase fund-raising globally.
John Denton AO was recognised for his service to business, his support of the arts sector and his contribution to social welfare and the rights of refugees. Denton has been the founding Australian chair of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees since 2002. ... [Lawyers Weekly - 26/1/15]
Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee Recommendations re "Incident at the Manus Island Detention Centre from 16 February to 18 February 2014" [December 2014]:
8.26 The committee recommends that the Australian Government ensure an adequate and effective investigation into the criminal assaults perpetrated against individuals detained at the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre during the events of 16 to 18 February 2014, including by assisting the Papua New Guinea authorities in any ongoing investigations and facilitating the taking of witness testimony from individuals present at the incident who are now in Australian territory.
8.35 The committee recommends that the Australian Government acknowledge its responsibility to respect, protect and fulfil the human rights of individuals detained at the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre.
8.39 The committee recommends that, in accordance with the right to an effective remedy and right to health in international human rights law, the Australian Government:
• acknowledge and take responsibility for violations of human rights in relation to the incident at the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre from 16 to 18 February 2014; and
• provide compensation to those who have suffered human rights violations, including to Mr Reza Barati's family and to asylum seekers who were injured during the incident.
8.40 The committee recommends that the Australian Government ensure that all asylum seekers injured in the violence at the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre from 16 to 18 February 2014 receive adequate professional assistance, including medical treatment, full rehabilitation and mental health services, as well as independent legal advice.
8.49 The committee recommends that, in the interests of transparency and accountability, the governments of Australia and Papua New Guinea take measures to facilitate appropriate access to the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre, including:
• allowing United Nations representatives full access to the centre and transferees;
• permitting qualified lawyers, including lawyers certified to practice in Australia, access to the centre in order to meet with transferees and provide legal assistance;
• allowing the Australian Human Rights Commission to regularly inspect the centre and meet with centre staff and transferees; and
• permitting journalists to visit the centre and speak freely with centre staff and transferees.
8.52 The committee recommends that Transfield Services and the Australian Government ensure that service provider staff employed at the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre be provided with sufficient workplace training to perform their roles, in line with the standards applicable to employees working in detention environments in Australia, and accounting for the particular difficulties associated with working in remote conditions.
1.8 On account of the committee's inability to make a site visit to the centre under its own powers, the committee sought the support and assistance of the Commonwealth Government to do so.
On 28 April 2014, the committee wrote to the Prime Minister, the Hon Tony Abbott MP, as well as the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, the Hon Scott Morrison MP, and the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Julie Bishop MP, seeking the government's approval and assistance.
1.9 The committee did not receive any response.
4.70 In specific evidence about actual incidents of encouragement to return home, a former employee of Playfair suggested that staff from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) were 'speaking to transferees, trying to convince them of the benefits of returning home'.
4.71 In contrast, government representatives re-confirmed their view that any returns from Manus Island RPC were strictly voluntary. For example Lieutenant General Campbell stated that '[i]t is really important to note these are voluntary returns'.
4.72 In terms of the number of returns from the Manus Island RPC, the department provided information that:
As at 1 August 2014, 203 transferees have been voluntarily returned from an Offshore Processing Centre (OPC) and 174 transferees from the Manus OPC since 18 February 2014 with the assistance of the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
6.57 Other evidence presented to the committee contested the claim that no individuals involved in assaults on asylum seekers were now employed at the centre.
Humanitarian Research Partners (HRP) contended that 'at least two of the alleged 17 February assailants are now back working in the centre and terrifying their victims by their mere presence'.
Mr Ben Pynt, Director of Human Rights Advocacy at HRP, told the committee that asylum seekers at the centre had reported to him on multiple occasions that perpetrators were still working at the centre.
Mr Pynt expanded:
[The transferees] do not feel that they are being adequately protected by the guards that are employed at the centre. In fact, they feel threatened by a number of the guards at the centre. I know of one story that chilled me to the bone. An asylum seeker contacted me shortly after he had been to medical. He was in Mike compound. From Mike compound you get in the back of a ute and they take you through to IHMS, because you are not meant to walk through. He got into the ute, screamed, and got out of the ute, because the person driving the ute was one of the people who attacked him. This is happening all the time. The mental harm that is created simply by having the attackers remain at the centre is unbelievable and unconscionable.
Miss Judge [who worked on Manus Island] continued:
The attacks on asylum seekers [in February 2014] were not unpredictable and unforeseen. The attacks were not due to asylum seekers insulting PNG nationals in February or asylum seekers feeling discontent with their processing time frames. The attacks were due to the entire system. The attacks were due to the lack of due care for asylum seekers' safety and wellbeing, the acceptance by staff that PNG was just a dangerous place and that there was nothing we could do to change that. With reports going unheard and incidents being covered up, with no-one really to report to and the threat of danger being from outside, I am unsure of how anyone can guarantee the asylum seekers' safety. Regardless of how high fences are built around the centre, how many CCTV cameras are installed or how many extra guards are employed, I do not believe anything can change the fact that the key threat to the asylum seekers safety is, in fact, simply being detained on Manus Island.
Australia's Minister for Immigration being held to account for having hunger striking refugees (who were calling for the UN) beaten and thrown into prison
ABC - World Today [27/1/15]:
... LOUISE YAXLEY: On Fairfax Radio with Neil Mitchell, the Immigration Minister Peter Dutton wasn't prepared to defend the knighthood.
PETER DUTTON: He made a call there that obviously not all Australians will agree with…
NEIL MITCHELL: (Laughs) Have you met any Australians who agree with it? Do you agree with it?
PETER DUTTON: Well Neil, as I say, it's a call that the Prime Minister's made and I think, as I say, it's a good quality in people to have passion and to really fight strongly, say what you believe and stand by your convictions, and I think that's what we see in the Prime Minister.
'We are being tested again,' Ban warns as UN marks 70 years since Auschwitz liberation [Media Release - 27/1/15]:
... The International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust is marked every year on 27 January, the date on which Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberated in 1945. This year's observance, on the theme 'Liberty, Life and the Legacy of the Holocaust Survivors', coincides with two milestone events: the 70th anniversary of the Second World War's end and the founding of the UN.
“Humankind united to overcome the Nazi menace. Today, we are being tested again. Minorities everywhere often face bigotry. Sectarian tensions and other forms of intolerance are on the rise,” Mr. Ban emphasized as he pledged the commitment of the UN to protecting the vulnerable, promoting fundamental human rights and upholding the freedom, dignity and worth of every person.
The overall mission of the United Nations was shaped by the tragedy of the Second World War and the Holocaust, the Secretary-General explained. Both the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights enshrine the principles of human rights for all peoples around the world.
“The violence and bias we see every day are stark reminders of the distance still to travel in upholding human rights, preventing genocide and defending our common humanity. We must redouble our efforts to eradicate the deep roots of hatred and intolerance. People everywhere must unite to stop the cycles of discord and build a world of inclusion and mutual respect,” Mr. Ban declared.
Berlin vigil in support of the #asylumseekers on #Manus #ShutDownManus
Image: @hilaryjfb [27/1/15]
@hilaryjfb [27/1/15]: The offending sticker that could have 'permanently damaged the Australian Embassy' apparently. #ShutDownManus #Manus
@impolitikal [27/1/15]: Vigil in #solidarity with the 900 asylum seekers illegally detained on Manus Island, PNG #ShutDownManus
Evidently the ALP has changed its refugee policy?
Will Senator Lines use her speech to reject ALP's inhumane policy and announce her resignation from the party?
... There's a loving in your eyes all the way.
If I listened to your lies would you say
I'm a man without conviction,
I'm a man who doesn't know
How to sell a contradiction.
You come and go, you come and go. ...
'Karma Chameleon', Culture Club 
If she is not doing either of these things, she has no place speaking at this rally and is using activists for her own PR pursposes.
#LoveMakesAWay Court Case Action (Perth):
Wednesday, January 2 at 7:55am - 8:30am
Central Law Courts, 501 Hay Street, Perth, Western Australia 6000
If you support the freedom of people seeking safety from detention, join the 8 Christian leaders who were strip searched last month as they have their day in court and stand with refugees.
Confirmed speakers include: Senator Sue Lines, Senator Scott Ludlam, (Liberal party politician yet to be confirmed), Jarrod McKenna & other Love Makes A Way leaders.
Odette Mercy & Her Soul Atomics & Anna O will both sing before a brief word of prayer as we launch #LoveMakesAWay in 2015.
All are welcome to join us in court but the 8 will need to be going through security at 8:45AM.
The Saturday Paper [27/9/14]:
... [Melissa] Parke plays a different role, as Labor navigates an awkward environment in which its options for criticising the government are circumscribed by its desire to be part of Team Australia.
She provides an alibi for Labor to avoid a loss of votes to the Greens as it joins the government in backing tougher terror laws and military action in the Middle East and continues to offer bipartisan support for offshore processing of asylum seekers. Some Coalition MPs argue Bernardi plays a similar role in placating those Liberal supporters who were disappointed that Abbott abandoned the 18C changes.
As Labor leader Bill Shorten stresses that he is “working very well together” with Abbott on national security, it doesn’t hurt to have at least one opposition MP putting an alternative view. It’s a fine line, though, as left-wing Labor senator Sue Lines discovered late last month when Shorten rebuked her for accusing the government of using the threat of terrorism to deflect attention from the budget.
Back in May when Parke and Burke first raised their intention to pursue a caucus motion on ending offshore detention, there was frustration among Labor MPs at the timing, distracting as it did from the backlash to the budget. The motion was destined to fail.
Some also feared that, by reopening the debate, Parke was risking exposing Labor to attack over whether it was strong enough to manage the electorally sensitive issue.
But Parke is not a loose cannon and her recent statements have been carefully worded. Even dissent in modern Labor is often tightly scripted.
Although Dastyari’s remarks on refugee policy earlier this year were reported as pitting him against Shorten, his speech had in fact been vetted by the party’s leadership.
Since Labor for Refugees was established (around 2001), they have achieved nothing.
Refugee policy in Australia is now worse.
Labor for Refugees is about co-opting an activist movement and doing PR for the ALP.
The refugee rights movement and the ALP [Direct Action - February/April 2012]
28 January 2015