Queensland politician's son disciplined for echoing establishment views?
... I can turn and walk away or I can fire the gun
Staring at the sky, staring at the sun ...
'Killing An Arab', The Cure 
A Queensland government MP has sacked her son after he posted inappropriate memes on social media, including an astronaut on the moon brandishing a knife and an ISIS flag.
Alexander Donaldson had been working as a casual electorate officer for his mother, Bundaberg MP Leanne Donaldson, before he put the inflammatory, digitally altered pictures on his Facebook page.
One was of an astronaut on the moon with a knife and an ISIS flag.
The other was of the Twin Towers on 9/11, which Mr Donaldson altered to show himself with a beard, muslim headwear, and speech bubble saying `Allah Akbar!!!'
The 25-year-old was shocked people had been offended by the material, which he posted in May, saying it was just a joke between friends.
However, it's understood they caused a great deal of embarrassment for his mother.
A spokesman for Ms Donaldson confirmed her son was no longer working in her office.
However, he wouldn't confirm if the Facebook posts were to blame and said Ms Donaldson didn't have anything to say about the inflammatory material.
While Queensland Labor MPs are banned from hiring spouses, they are only discouraged from employing other family members.
Jamie Williams remanded in custody after attempting to travel to Iraq to fight with Kurdish forces against Islamic State [ABC - 28/7/15]
Canberra Times [3/2/15]:
Federal Coalition MP Luke Simpkins illegally crossed the Thai border into Myanmar to attend a military parade and "revolution day" ceremony with rebel fighters.
The former Australian army officer, who has spoken out often about human rights abuses in the country, also known as Burma, presented a large Australian flag to Karen soldiers who have been fighting the Myanmar army.
He spent a night at a base of the Karen National Defence Organisation, which has several thousand fighters, before re-entering Thailand near the border town of Mae Sot, 491 kilometres north of Bangkok.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade declined to comment on Mr Simpkins' crossing of the border.
Australian Federal Police are investigating the whereabouts of Northern Territory Labor Party chief Matthew Gardiner, also a former Australian army officer, who has reportedly joined Kurdish guerrillas in Syria fighting against the so-called Islamic State.
Feel safe? Australia: World leader in punishing victims [ABC - 28/7/15]:
Three men have been detained in immigration raids in Queensland as the Federal Government continues its crackdown on illegal workers in the horticulture industry.
Officers from the Australian Border Force and Queensland Police raided a property at Moore Park, north of Bundaberg, where it is alleged the three men were working illegally. ...
Katter calls for full inquiry into failure of the gas industry to provide adequate protection for its consumers
Bob Katter MP [28/7/15]:
Here is my statement on today's gas explosion in Mount Isa, another appalling and heart-breaking tragedy.
Federal Member for Kennedy and KAP Leader Bob Katter labelled today’s gas explosion in Mount Isa that claimed three lives an appalling and heart-breaking tragedy and has called for a full inquiry into the failure of the gas industry to provide adequate protection for its consumers.
The incident comes just weeks after a gas explosion at Ravenshoe, also in Mr Katter’s electorate of Kennedy, seriously injured 18 people and killed two more.
Mr Katter said today that five deaths in as many weeks from gas explosions was just too much.
“Regardless of what the cause of these deaths, it seems that gas again is an element and it highlights the dangerous nature of this form of energy.
“An industry that makes it so easy to cause personal harm and injury better start looking very hard at itself.
“The spotlight of public scrutiny now needs to be turned in its full glare upon what can only be described as an appalling and heart-breaking tragedy.”
Mount Isa caravan explosion: Three die at Deighton Street house [North West Star – 28/7/15]
BHP Billiton will shift its treasury functions to London, despite an Australian government ruling requiring most of the company's white-collar executives to be based in Australia.
In a move that will reduce the number of people working at BHP's Melbourne headquarters, almost all of the company's treasury staff will be based in London before the end of the year.
At least 50 per cent of the company's treasury staff were based in Melbourne prior to the decision.
The shift will resolve the recent reduction of BHP staff in London, where some of the miner's biggest shareholders, including BlackRock are based.
But it will pose questions about adherence to the 2001 ruling by then Australian treasurer Peter Costello, whose permission was required for BHP to merge with Billiton. ... [Brisbane Times - 28/7/15]
OK Tedi Mining Limited is preparing for a temporary shutdown of its operations because of the “very challenging business environment” it is facing and the impact of the dry weather. ... [The National - 28/7/15]
Oil spill tests will take time says Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority
Authorities say it will take weeks before samples from an oil slick that has been washing up on north Queensland beaches are tested.
More than 100 workers are involved in clean-up efforts at beaches near Lucinda, Hinchinbrook Island and Palm Island.
Investigations are underway, with oil samples being taken from nine out of 14 ships in the area at the time.
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority's (GBRMPA) Marty McLaughlin said the process could be delayed while samples were taken from ships overseas.
"Obviously some ships head back to the Northern Hemisphere, that takes days or up to a week, and then getting the samples, getting them sent to Brisbane, it's a process of weeks," he said.
He said it would work with state authorities on any potential legal action.
"What we'll do is work together and work out the range of offences potentially and work [out] the best means of prosecuting those offences if we get enough information," he said.
Australian Government must not trade lives away as TPP talks wrap up
Public Health Association of Australia Media Release [28/7/15]:
As trade ministers meet in Hawaii on 28-31 July in an effort to finalise the controversial Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA) warns that lives are at stake.
“Future access to medicines for almost 800 million people hangs in the balance this week,” said Michael Moore, CEO of the PHAA.
Medecins sans Frontieres has warned that the TPP could be the most harmful trade deal ever for access to medicines.
Decisions made this week could dramatically reduce access to essential medicines in developing countries like Vietnam, Malaysia and Peru.
“Medicines could also become unaffordable for disadvantaged Australians,” said Dr Gleeson, spokesperson for PHAA, who is on site in Maui during the TPP ministers’ meeting.
“The United States is pressing other countries to accept longer monopolies for biologic products, which include treatments for conditions like cancer and rheumatoid arthritis. Some of these drugs cost more than a hundred thousand dollars per patient per year. Lengthening monopolies for these drugs – by even one year – would drain hundreds of millions of dollars from our Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme,” Dr Gleeson explained.
“The most likely result is higher co-payments for medicines – hitting hardest the sickest and poorest people in our community.”
The United States is seeking 8-12 years of monopoly protection for biologics. This would keep cheaper alternatives off the market for three to seven years longer than the current period in Australia.
“The Australian Government has assured us that it won’t accept anything in the TPP that would undermine the PBS or increase the cost of medicines for Australians,” said Mr Moore.
“In the final days and hours of ‘horse trading’, it is vitally important that the Government sticks to this commitment, no matter what offers are made in other areas, such as sugar.”
PHAA is also very concerned at the prospect that Australia may agree to the controversial investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) clause, allowing corporations such as tobacco companies to sue.
“We’ve been told that there are strong safeguards to protect health and the environment,” said Dr Gleeson.
“But what we’ve seen of these safeguards in leaked negotiating documents gives us little confidence that they will prevent cases like the case by tobacco company Philip Morris against Australia over tobacco plain packaging.”
“The only way to make sure that countries can’t be bullied by big corporations over their health and environmental policies is not to agree to ISDS at all,” said Mr Moore.
Tough decisions ahead in protected and unaccountable TPP talks [Bangkok Post - 28/7/15]
Egypt's health minister shuts down pharmaceutical factory after death of children
Egypt's Health Minister Adel El-Adawy on Monday shut down a pharmaceutical factory producing rehydration medication following the death of four children and the illness of 24 others in Beni Suef.
According to a statement by the ministry, El-Adawy decided to form a committee compromised of senior pediatricians to follow the health of the infected children.
The minister also suspended the use of "Rehydran", the rehydration medication used in all hospitals, until further tests are conducted on the medicine.
The incident has been referred to the general prosecution for investigations, according to the health ministry.
Three hospitals in Beni Suef have received 27 children whose symptoms included diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and stomach aches – meaning that they lost fluids and minerals and needed medication for rehydration - according to the health ministry statement.
The children suffered from seizures after using 50cc of the 'Rehydran' medication.
Most of the children's conditions improved following treatment of the seizures at local hospitals. However, 10 patients in critical condition, and the deceased, were transferred to bigger medical facilities.
Greece: IMF wants 30% slashes to already butchered pensions
Greece's creditors are eyeing further slashes to already butchered pensions that have been scissored during previous bailout deals, as Protothema online reports under the title "Delia vs. Pensioners - The first sacrificial slaughters brought to the altar of the bailout god”.
IMF Chief Delia Velculescu - obsessed with further cuts to Greece's low pensions – spearheads the plan for social security reforms that include pension cuts of as much as 30%.
It doesn't stop here with sources pointing to further 10% slashes if the recession continues.
Wages, too, will be brought to the fiscal sacrificial altar with new recruits in the private sector to see their basic wage drop by 5-10% from 586 euros.
Greek negotiators already have their backs cornered to a wall as far as pension slashes are concerned.
The zero clause in social security reform is a pre-requisite to the new deal with creditors that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras had signed at the Euro Summit.
The task of the Greek negotiators will be not easy, writes Protothema, recalling how the tall and lean Delia Velculescu first earnt a nickname for herself as 'Delia Draculescu' when she headed the IMF team for Cyprus in 2012.
Cameron to raise case of drug trafficking grandmother with Indonesian President.
Australian politicians did S.F.A. for the Bali 9.
David Cameron will use a state visit to Indonesia to raise the case of a British woman facing execution by the authorities in the south-east Asian country for drugs trafficking offences.
The Prime Minister will raise the case of Lindsay Sandiford when he meets Joko Widodo, the Indonesian premier.
Sandiford, 59 was sentenced to death in Bali in January 2013. She was found guilty of drug trafficking offences after she was found with cocaine worth an estimated £1.6 million as she arrived on the island.
Cameron said he would raise the case of Sandiford, from Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, "in a way I hope will help the family concerned".
Asked about the case before talks with President Joko Widodo, Mr Cameron said: "On the issue of prisoners, I always raise these issues wherever I travel around the world, and will do so here.
"I want to do it in a way I hope will help the family concerned, and obviously will listen to the concerns of the families and their views before doing these things.
"That is the right way to proceed - to try and help."
In April this year, a group of foreign prisoners were executed by a 13-member firing squad, despite an international outcry from public figures and world leaders. The prisoners, all found guilty of various drugs charges, were nationals of Nigeria, Australia, Indonesia and Brazil.
Sandiford admits the offences but has claimed she was coerced by threats to her son's life. Campaigners are continuing to lobby the Indonesian Government to call off the execution.
Pakistan: More than 500 families stranded due to landslides
Dunya News [28/7/15]:
District government has reopened closed Gilgit main road due to landsliding whereas the breakage of two bridges in Rando has caused as many as 500 families stranded, Dunya News reported on Tuesday.
As per details, glaciers melting has also worsened the flood, creating fear among the locals.
The ongoing inundation has completely demolished crops, gardens and trees while land sliding has disconnected the road route of several villages.
Nepal: children still
at risk three months after devastating quake, UNICEF warns
UN Media Release [27/7/15]:
Three months after Nepal's devastating 25 April earthquake and its aftershocks, children continue to face multiple risks as their families have been pushed deeper into poverty and they remain in need of aid, warned the United Nations's Children Fund (UNICEF).
“When a major disaster strikes like the earthquakes on 25 April and 12 May, it incurs not only loss of lives but also destruction of assets, sources of livelihoods and substantially reduces household income particularly among the most vulnerable population,” said Tomoo Hozumi, the UNICEF Representative in Nepal, over the weekend.
Although the humanitarian situation has improved over the past three months, hundreds of thousands of Nepalese children still need shelter, food, access to water and sanitation, medical care, education and protection.
About one million of them continue to live in areas at high risk of landslides and floods, points out UNICEF in a press release. As the rainy season takes hold, access to these areas is becoming increasingly challenging, threatening these children and putting them at a higher risk of exploitation and abuse, including trafficking.
More than 10,000 have been identified as acutely malnourished since the first earthquake, including more than 1,000 with severely acute malnutrition. Over 200 children remain without a parent or caregiver, and more than 600 have lost one or both of their parents to the quakes. Over 32,000 classrooms have been destroyed and nearly 900,000 houses have been damaged or destroyed.
According to a Government-led assessment, between 700,000 and almost 1 million people in the worst-affected districts could be pushed below the international poverty line of US$1.25 a day, stated UNICEF.
“We know that when going through difficult times, poor households often resort to harmful coping strategies, such as reducing their food consumption, cutting down their health and education expenditure, and sending their children to work – all of which can have irreversible negative consequences on them and more so on their children,” Hozumi said.
“The top-up cash provided will help vulnerable households to at least meet some of their basic needs such as food and medicine without further resorting to harmful coping strategies during these lean times.”
To help address the immediate needs of children and their families affected by the quakes, UNICEF is providing $15 million worth of direct cash transfers to approximately 330,000 households, including an estimated 450,000 children. This support, channeled through existing government social assistance programmes, is reaching vulnerable individuals including Dalit children, people with disabilities, widows, the elderly and marginalized ethnic groups.
”The earthquake has exposed the fragility of Nepal's progress in terms of poverty reduction,” continued Hozumi.
“Looking beyond immediate relief, one of the priorities for UNICEF is to assist the government to phase in a reliable and predictable form of income support for children and their families. Strengthening and expanding the country's social protection system and improving its responsiveness to shocks will contribute to children's well-being and development during normal times and increase their families' ability to cope in case of future disasters.”
Since April, UNICEF has also been providing a wide range of services to the children and families living in the areas worst hit by the earthquakes.
“Together with the Government and partners, we have been able to achieve a lot in the past 90 days. At the same time, given the enormity of the damages and losses, and the possible impact of the monsoons, there is a lot more to be done to bring a sense of normalcy to the lives of the earthquake survivors especially the most vulnerable amongst them,” said Hozumi.
Two killed, power station hit in Ukraine violence
At least two people were killed Monday and a regional power station was knocked out of action after being damaged by shelling in Ukraine's pro-Russian separatist east.
Ukrainian military spokesman Andriy Lysenko said one soldier had died and seven were wounded across the eastern industrial war zone in the past 24 hours of clashes.
Local police chief Vyacheslav Abroskin said a civilian also died and a large fuel factory was heavily damaged by a rebel attack on Avdiivka -- a town lying about 15 kilometers (10 miles) north of the separatists' de facto capital Donetsk.
The pro-Kiev Donetsk regional administration said an important power station near the flashpoint town of Debaltseve was forced to shut down overnight because of another rebel attack.
Casualty tolls from the two sides showed at least four civilians being injured since Sunday afternoon.
More than 6,500 people have been killed since pro-Russian rebels launched their insurgency in April 2014, and a February truce agreement has failed to stop the fighting
Russia’s new maritime doctrine ‘to counter NATO’s expansion’, focuses on Crimea and Arctic [RT – 26/7/15]
Actors call on Amnesty to reject plans backing decriminalisation of sex trade
A host of Hollywood stars, including Oscar-winning actors Meryl Streep, Kate Winslet and Emma Thompson, have lent their support to a campaign demanding that Amnesty International reject a proposal to endorse the decriminalisation of the sex trade.
The global human rights
group is set to review an internal policy document on sex work at a meeting in
Dublin next month, according to the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women
If the policy is adopted, Amnesty would “in effect advocate the legalisation of pimping, brothel owning and sex buying – the pillars of a $99bn global sex industry“, CATW said.
Over 3,000 members of the public have signed the petition since it was posted on change.org last week, and it has been endorsed in a letter by women’s rights campaigners, former workers in the sex trade, and celebrities such as actors Emily Blunt, Lena Dunham and Anne Hathaway.
The letter, addressed to Amnesty’s secretary general, Salil Shetty; executive director Steven Hawkins, and the board of directors, says: “Every day, we combat male access to women’s bodies through power and control, from female genital mutilation to forced marriage; from domestic violence to violation of reproductive rights. The exchange of money for such access does not eliminate the violence women face in the sex trade …
“Amnesty’s reputation in upholding human rights for every individual would be severely and irreparably tarnished if it adopts a policy that sides with buyers of sex, pimps and other exploiters rather than with the exploited.”
US-based CATW said it agreed with Amnesty that sex workers should not be criminalised or brutalised by law enforcement agents and governments: “However, full decriminalisation of the sex trade renders pimps ‘businesspeople’ who sell vulnerable individuals, overwhelmingly with histories of poverty, discrimination, homelessness and sexual abuse, to buyers of sex with impunity.
Amnesty International said it was in the final stages of receiving feedback on the draft policy, which it says is based on evidence that the criminalisation of consensual adult sex work can lead to greater abuse against sex workers.
“These violations include physical and sexual violence, arbitrary arrest and detention, extortion and harassment, forced HIV testing and medical interventions and exclusions from healthcare, housing and other social and legal benefits,” Amnesty said in a statement.
The rights group stressed that no decision had been made on whether to adopt the draft policy.
“Legalisation keeps pimps, brothel keepers, and sex-slavers in freedom and riches. Criminalisation puts the prostituted in prison,” said veteran women’s rights campaigner Gloria Steinem.
“What works is the ‘third way’, the Nordic model, which offers services and alternatives to prostituted people, and fines buyers and educates them to the realities of the global sex trade,” she said in a statement.
The so-called Nordic model adopted by Canada, Sweden, Norway and Iceland, and more recently, Northern Ireland, aims to punish clients without criminalising those who have been driven into sex work.
It contrasts with laws legalising or decriminalising sex work, which have been introduced in the Netherlands, Germany and New Zealand.
Perth Zoo to redesign orangutan enclosure after weekend escape [WA Today - 27/7/15]
“The feral cat will be listed as a harmful pest and hunted down through various methods,” said Greg Hunt, the Australian federal environment minister, while presenting the new strategy at a Melbourne zoo, International Business Times reports. “Culling methods will include baiting, shooting or poisoning,” he added. ... [RT - 18/7/15]
A cat found in a rabbit trap with an 8cm nail forced through its ear is being cared for by the RSPCA while authorities investigate.
Residents found the cat on the grounds of a NSW Housing complex on Troman Place at Bellambi about 9am Saturday.
Its left paw was ensnared in a heavy steel trap and there was a bloody cavity where its right eye should have been.
Resident Kevin Blair said the cat moved under a parked car and lay there until it was tranquilised and removed by the RSPCA. ... [Illawarra Mercury - 28/7/15]
... The District Court in Albany was told that in the days before Burt rammed Wolfe’s car he tied a rope around her neck and drove around their property at jogging pace. ... [West Australian - 28/7/15]
A Mandurah family has been left devastated after finding the headless body of their pet cat in their front garden.
Erin Fisher, the daughter of the cat's owners, said the Meadow Springs family found the decapitated remains of their pet, named "Houdini", on Sunday.
The animal had been missing for a number of weeks.
"All I could think when it happened was who could hate me that much, and I couldn't think of anyone who would do this," she told 6PR Radio.
"They are just cruel, twisted people."
The family has put up signs around Meadow Springs warning neighbours to take care of their pets. [WA Today - 28/7/15]
Cruelty is not inexplicable. It is a hallmark of fascism. ----> "Communists are like pussy cats" - Bertolucci's 1900 [VIDEO - * GRAPHIC *]
US Navy investigates report of cancer cluster at Guantanamo [Reuters – 27/7/15]
Twin bomb blasts occurred in Qamishli Monday, a Kurdish city in northeastern Syria on the border with Turkey, killing at least three children and inflicting an as of yet unidentified number of casualties. ... [RUDAW - 27/8/15]
United States, "allies" continue bombing Iraq and Syria
US Department of Defense [27/7/15]:
U.S. and coalition military forces have continued to attack Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists in Syria and Iraq, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported today.
Officials reported details of the latest strikes, noting that assessments of results are based on initial reports.
Airstrikes in Syria
Fighter, bomber and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 13 airstrikes in Syria:
-- Near Hasakah, 10 airstrikes struck four ISIL large tactical units and five ISIL small tactical units and destroyed 15 ISIL fighting positions.
-- Near Aleppo, an airstrike struck an ISIL mortar system and destroyed an ISIL vehicle.
-- Near Kobani, two airstrikes struck two ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL fighting position, an ISIL motorcycle and an ISIL vehicle.
Airstrikes in Iraq
Attack, fighter-attack, bomber and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 13 airstrikes in Iraq, approved by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense:
-- Near Huwayjah, an airstrike destroyed an ISIL bunker.
-- Near Rutbah, an airstrike destroyed an ISIL checkpoint.
-- Near Habbaniyah, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL structure.
-- Near Makhmur, two airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL fighting positions.
-- Near Mosul, an airstrike destroyed an ISIL tank.
-- Near Ramadi, four airstrikes struck an ISIL large tactical unit and three ISIL small tactical units and destroyed an ISIL excavator, 13 ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL rocket-propelled grenade and an ISIL structure.
-- Near Sinjar, two airstrikes struck an ISIL staging area and an ISIL fighting position.
-- Near Tal Afar, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle.
Turkey shells Kurdish villages, agrees with US (and their allies IS) to wage war on Syria [Naharnet - 27/7/15]
Bombs went off during a local football game in Iraq's restive Diyala province on Monday, killing at least four people, security officials said.
"Three improvised explosive devices went off during the final of a local amateur cup" in Abu Saida, about 75 kilometres (45 miles) northeast of Baghdad, a colonel in the provincial operations command told AFP. ... [Ahram - 27/7/15]
Explosion hits Iran-Turkey gas pipeline: Report [Press TV - 28/7/15]
‘Paralyzing’ funding gap forces shutdown of 80 per cent of frontline health services in war-torn Iraq – UN [Media Release - 27/7/15]
At least 12 militants loyal to fugitive former Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi were killed when Saudi military aircraft mistakenly struck the positions of pro-Riyadh forces in Yemen’s southwestern province of Lahij. ... [Press TV - 27/7/15
Witnessing first-hand the “shocking” devastation in Yemen’s main port city of Aden, the top United Nations relief official in the country today declared that the humanitarian consequences of the conflict are “catastrophic,” making an urgent plea for safe, unhindered access for aid workers and a major scale-up of funding. ... [UN Media Release - 27/7/15]
Libyan city Benghazi plunges into darkness as fighting hits power plants [Reuters - 27/7/15]
Court to rule on Gaddafi’s son in war-torn Libya [Deutsche Welle - 27/7/15]
African leaders demand end to Sudan sanctions [Ahram - 27/7/15]
A Palestinian man fell to his death while trying to escape Israeli forces who were attempting to arrest him in the occupied West Bank early Monday, Israeli police said. ... [Daily Star - 28/7/15]
Israeli forces injure 14 after funeral of Palestinian teen [Maan - 27/7/15]
Afghanistan: Over a dozen Taliban killed in airstrike by Afghan Airforce, Badakhshan [Pajhwok - 27/7/15]
Ministry of Interior (MoI) spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said on Monday that a task team has been appointed to investigate reports that a deal was made between security force members and the Taliban that led to the fall of the Teergaran base in Badakhshan a few days ago. ... [TOLO News - 27/7/15]
The former Afghan Intelligence – National Directorate of Security (NDS) chief Amrullah Saleh said Monday that certain countries are planning to break up Afghanistan in two parts by sparking divisions among Afghans in North and South. ... [Khaama - 27/7/15]
Greece: more than 1,600 refugees saved in Aegean since Friday [ANSAmed - 27/7/15]
@MSF_Sea [27/7/15]: ... The #Argos has almost 700 people onboard after 2 wooden boats were rescued from the waters north of #Libya
Irish navy rescues another 243 migrants in Mediterranean [Belfast Telegraph - 27/7/15]:
Another 243 migrants have been rescued by the Irish Navy in the Mediterranean.
The crew of the LE Niamh took the 183 men, 33 women and 27 children from a wooden barge about 80km (50 miles) north-west of the Libyan capital, Tripoli.
Weather conditions were said to be relatively calm during the three-hour operation this morning with all the migrants given food, water and medical attention on board.
The Irish Navy crew, the second to take part in the humanitarian mission in the Mediterranean, has rescued more than 1,000 migrants in the three weeks they have been at sea.
On whose authority? ---> US lectures world about people smuggling and human trafficking while ignoring plight of refugees fleeing persecution [CNN - 27/7/15]
Foreign Policy [27/7/15]:
... And then there’s the plight of her people, the Rohingya, whose situation has actually gone downhill since Burma began opening up five years ago. Three years ago, ethnic tensions between the Rohingya and their Buddhist neighbors exploded into open conflict. Hundreds of Rohingya were killed.
The authorities, supported by increasingly militant Buddhist nationalists, seized the opportunity to move many Rohingya into internment camps.
The government has effectively deprived many Rohingya — who are often depicted as “illegal immigrants” from neighboring Bangladesh even though the overwhelming majority of them have lived in the country for generations — of the right to vote.
Violence and discrimination have prompted many to flee the country in desperation, often with catastrophic results.
“People say that Burma is changing, moving forward,” Wai Wai Nu told me.
“But how is it a success story if we’re facing extinction? We’re facing ethnic cleansing, people dying in the sea. What does democracy mean then?”
She cites recent measures that deprive Rohingya of their voting rights, as well as a package of discriminatory laws, sponsored by ultranationalist Buddhist monks, designed “to protect the race and religion” of Burma’s majority Buddhists. (Two of the four bills have become law, while the rest are still working their way through parliament.)
What’s worse, even some pro-democracy activists have been jumping on the nationalist bandwagon, raising the specter of a future “tyranny by the majority.”
She shook her head. “When a minority isn’t enjoying freedom with you, that isn’t democracy. ...
Australian company under fire over Myanmar dam
Australia’s Snowy Mountains Engineering Corp is facing mounting criticism over its role in a 7000 megawatt hydropower project in Myanmar.
The SMEC is undertaking environmental and social impact studies into the construction of the $US8 billion ($A11 billion) Mong Ton Dam, overseen by China's Three Gorges Corp, in Myanmar's eastern Shan State.
SMEC's efforts to carry out local meetings and consultations on the project have met with significant local resistance.
The SMEC said in a statement it was striving to implement a participative, inclusive and transparent consultation process, and had tried to engage with civil society organisations on numerous occasions with limited success.
Town hall meetings to assess the project in Shan State have either been disrupted or cancelled because of protests over the Chinese-Thai project.
The Salween River, which runs through China, Myanmar and Thailand, remains free of dams.
Environmental group WWF Global says the river is home to more than 7000 species of plants and 80 rare or endangered fish.
The dam, at a height of 240 metres, would flood 676 square kilometres of farmland and forest in a region still recovering from years of conflict with the Burmese army. Activists say the dam will lead to the displacement of more than 300,000 people.
Pianporn Deetes, a spokesperson with US-based environmental group, International River, says communities believe there has been a lack of transparency in the assessment process.
"The villagers who are the real owners of the land and the rivers must be the ones who decide whether or not to build this dam," Ms Pianporn said.
It comes as Australian Federal Police investigate the corporation over alleged foreign bribes.
An AFP spokesman said the SMEC investigation was ongoing.
Confusion surrounds purpose of Pacific Islands Forum Secretary's visit to Nauru
Nauru's suspended opposition MPs have not been invited to meet the Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum during her visit to the island. ... [RNZI - 28/7/15]
A group on Nauru is calling for help from the Pacific Islands Forum to fight corruption in the country.
The group Emendena Eimwi says Nauru has no anti-corruption laws or independent mechanism to curb corruption which it says is so alive in Nauru.
The group's president Joseph Harris says members want to meet the Forum's Secretary General Dame Meg Taylor to discuss regional support for fighting graft.
"Especially those would-be leaders they are trying to aspire to do the right thing, they're finding it hard to combat this issue because most of us especially those people who would be trying to do good things for this country and trying to curb corruption , they are finding it hard to battle bribery. They don't have the resources like the government."
Mr Harris says the group hopes the Nauru government won't stand in the way of its attempts to meet the Forum chief who is due in Nauru this week.
Emendena Eimwi is aligned to a new political party, the United Nauru Movement, which is planning to field candidates in all of the island's constituencies at the next election.
It wants to oust the leaders in the present government who the group says have robbed the country and its people of democracy, human rights and free speech.
Mr Harris says its efforts to campaign against corruption have been difficult as Nauru's democracy has been "poisoned" by corrupt politicians.
Australian media still censoring TPP negotiations.
Where are you "comrades"?
Image: @GedKACTU - President, Australian Council of Trade Unions [15/11/14]
Prime Minister John Key has conceded New Zealand will have to pay more for some medicines under the Trans-Pacific Partnership but he says patients will not be disadvantaged.
Mr Key said despite the probability that some medicines would cost more the deal was still in the country's best interests.
Trade ministers from the 12 countries involved in TPP negotiations will head to Hawaii this week to continue working towards finalising the deal, which is likely to be completed this weekend.
Mr Key rejected criticism the deal would be bad for New Zealand, saying by opening up other markets this country's exporters would benefit. But he said there was a high probability patents on medicines would be extended under the deal, which would push up the price the Government would have to pay for them.
We're all in this together: How Labor came to the Choppergate Party [New Matilda – 24/7/15]:
... But the form Bishop signed still holds some interest. It will show the level of Bishop’s ‘error of judgement’ based on how many times she ignored its repeated warnings that charter travel is ONLY for “official business”.
Sadly, it remains buried somewhere in the bureaucratic wilderness, and is unlikely to ever emerge. For that, you can thank the Australian Labor Party.
In 2013, the Gillard government’s Attorney General Mark Dreyfus drew up legislation which ensured that government departments which provide services directly to the parliament are no longer subject to the Freedom of Information Act. That obviously includes the Department of the House of Representatives, which processes the travel claims of politicians.
In other words, if politicians diddle their ‘entitlements’, you - the taxpayer – are not entitled to access the documents that prove it.
Strong earthquake hits Indonesia's Papua
Channel News Asia [28/7/15]:
A powerful 7.0-magnitude earthquake rocked the eastern Indonesian province of Papua on Tuesday (Jul 28), US seismologists said, causing panicked people to run out of their homes.
No tsunami warning was issued after the quake, which struck inland, and Indonesia's national disaster agency said there were no immediate reports of casualties or damage.
The tremor hit at 6:41am (5.41am Singapore time), almost 250 kilometres west of the provincial capital Jayapura at a depth of 52 kilometres, the US Geological Survey said.
"The quake was felt very strongly for four seconds" said disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho. "Residents panicked and rushed out of their homes." He said there were no initial reports of damage but added the region around the epicentre, in Indonesia's remote east, was difficult to reach, and data was still being collected.
The Earthquake-Report monitoring website said the area has "steep mountain ranges and its vegetation is rainforest, which means that the chance on dangerous landslides is real".
An AFP reporter in Jayapura said weak shaking was felt in the city for a few seconds.
Both Indonesian authorities and the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said there was no threat of any tsunami waves from the quake, which occurred beneath a jungle.
Indonesia sits on the Pacific "Ring of Fire," where tectonic plates collide, causing frequent seismic and volcanic activity.
Man hit by car during Gold Coast tavern brawl
Emergency services have been called to a Gold Coast tavern after a man was hit by a car during a fight on Monday night.
The Queensland Ambulance Service was called to the Boathouse Tavern on Dreamworld Parkway at Coomera at around 10.30pm.
It’s alleged one of the men involved drove at another in his vehicle.
The victim suffered injuries to his leg.
When police arrived, it’s alleged the driver told officer he had a knife in his shorts.
He was arrested and charged with a string of offences including dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, assault occasioning bodily harm and going armed to cause fear.
He is due to face Court on August 11.
Caravan explosion, PSPA declaration, Mornington (Mount Isa)
QPS Media [28/7/15]:
Police have declared an emergent situation and are investigating following a gas explosion at a Mount Isa home in which a man and two children remain unaccounted.
Police were called to the address just after 7am following reports of a possible gas explosion in a caravan, with a fire spreading to an adjoining house.
The remains of three people have been located at the scene.
Police have been advised that a 39-year-old man, and two children, aged four and seven, were believed to have been inside the caravan at the time.
An emergent situation was declared under the Public Safety Preservation Act at 7.30am with an exclusion zone in Deighton Street between Enid, Stanley and Jones streets.
Scientific and Scenes of Crimes officers are at the scene and police investigations are continuing.
Nearby residents self-evacuated and there is no further information available at this time.
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.
Murdoch and Mike Baird bring the extremism and hate while the truth sits in an ABC studio unquestioningly amplifying the bullshit and bigotry
The Rise of Christian Schooling in Australia, Marion Maddox [ABC - 20/3/14]:
… Where once Australia boasted one of the developed world's more egalitarian education systems, today we send our students to schools increasingly segregated by income, class and religion. Some 35% of students (much higher at senior secondary) now go private - which, in Australia, overwhelmingly means Christian - schools.
In one sense, few matters of public policy can have received more discussion: during school pickup; at sausage sizzles; in footpath huddles during ballet class or on the sidelines of kids' sport (wherever parents gather). Details might vary, but anxiety is constant: "Where are you enrolling yours?" "Where are you looking for high school?" "Maybe if I went back to work full-time we could afford the fees ..." "What do you think about coaching for the selectives test?" "What scholarships will she be trying for?" "We're not Catholic, would that matter?" "This one says it's 'nondemoninational', so why do we have to sign their 'statement of faith'?"
More formally, however, the shifts that produced these anxieties have received very little public discussion. The abandonment of Australia's "free, secular" education system (in the catch-cry of nineteenth-century public school campaigners) crept in largely unannounced: here a subsidy, there a regulatory easing. Those critical of secular schooling have been playing a "shrewdly quiet game", according to one of them. David Hastie recently observed in the Bible Society's Eternity magazine:
"There has been little sensible discussion about the recent radical rise of religiously-oriented school education in Australia, probably because the educational mainstream simply couldn't believe what was happening. Meanwhile, Australian religious education advocates of all types have been playing a shrewdly quiet game of politics and funding, building a massive irreversible presence in Australian society."
Hastie is a senior teacher at elite Sydney girls' school PLC Croydon, an articulate advocate for private schools and writing a PhD thesis on Christian schooling.
Meanwhile, a similarly shrewd game extended into public schools, through such innovations as the National School Chaplaincy Program (NSCP), which places chaplains - overwhelmingly, evangelical Christians - mainly into public schools. The program was introduced by John Howard in 2006 and extended to a further 1000 public schools by Julia Gillard in 2012. In addition, with churches lacking the resources to offer religious instruction (variously called SRI, CRE, CE or Scripture, depending on your state), those programs became increasingly centralised and uniform, also toward the conservative, evangelical end of the spectrum. In Victoria, the main provider of such classes, Access Ministries, received over $700,000 from the state government in 2013 (providers of Catholic, Orthodox and non-Christian alternative classes were unfunded).
Statement by Yanis Varoufakis on the FinMin’s Plan B Working Group and the parallel payment system [27/7/15]:
... Regarding the recent article by “Kathimerini” newspaper entitled “Plan B involving highjacking and hacking”, Kathimerini’s failure to contact Mr Varoufakis for comment and its reporter’s erroneous references to “highjacking tax file numbers of all taxpayers” sowed confusion and contributed to the media-induced disinformation. ...
Chinese shares tumble 8.5 percent in biggest one-day drop since 2007 [Reuters - 27/7/15]
28 July 2015