Stop the boats is a lie.
"Resettlement" is a lie.
and exiles refugees.
An Iranian man who has a one-year refugee visa for Papua New Guinea has been told he cannot leave Manus Island to look for work on the mainland until a formal resettlement policy is created.
In January, Reza Mollagholipour became one of the first to be granted refugee status, released from the Australian-run detention centre and housed at a transit centre elsewhere on Manus Island.
Keen to move on, the 38-year-old civil engineer arranged three job interviews in Port Moresby on the PNG mainland.
"[Starting] to work means that I can start my life, my real life," he told the ABC.
Mr Mollagholipour borrowed money from a friend in Australia and booked a plane ticket.
In mid-March he wrote to PNG immigration, site manager of the transit centre Wilsons Security, and Transfield Services informing them of his intention to travel on March 28.
Mr Mollagholipour said the night before he was due to fly he had two visits by PNG immigration officials urging him not to leave.
At about 11:00pm (local time) he was given a letter from PNG chief migration officer Mataio Rabura forbidding his travel.
"I am writing to reiterate my directive which I am informed has been communicated to you by PNG immigration staff in Manus that you are not to leave Manus until I give the clearance for you to do so," the letter said.
The letter gave three reasons why Mr Mollagholipour was forbidden to leave Manus Island, beginning with the fact the PNG government had no formal policy about how or where to resettle refugees.
Despite signing the Refugee Resettlement Agreement with Australia in July 2013, the PNG government is yet to approve a resettlement policy and is still holding consultative workshops.
"We are working very hard to ensure this policy is in place within the next month," Mr Rabura wrote on March 27.
Secondly, Mr Rabura said there would be no support offered to any refugee who strikes out on his own.
"Finally and most importantly, as the administrator of the centre I am authorised under the Migration Act to place conditions on your visa," he wrote.
By the time the rejection letter was delivered, it was too late to cancel the plane ticket and so Mr Mollagholipour said he wasted the money he had borrowed.
Detainees of the Yongah Hill centre east of Perth who were involved in a recent rooftop protest have been transferred to the remote Indian Ocean outpost of Christmas Island, the ABC understands.
Up to nine men were taken from their accommodation in Yongah Hill, 96km north-east of Perth, on Saturday morning before 5:00am, according to three separate sources. ... [ABC - 31/3/15]
Court to Decide on Bali Nine Execution Appeal on April 6
Jakarta Globe [1/4/15]:
The court hearing the appeals of two Australian death row convicts will announce a verdict next Monday, one of the judges determining the case said on Wednesday.
Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan are among a group of 10 prisoners, mostly foreigners, facing imminent execution for drug offenses after President Joko Widodo rejected their pleas for clemency.
“Both sides have been given ample opportunity to present evidence and testimony,” Ujang Abdullah, one of a panel of three judges, told the court. “The judges will decide on the case after studying the evidence submitted.”
The court was adjourned until Monday, when the judges would read their verdicts in both cases, he said.
The Australian government has repeatedly asked Indonesia to spare the lives of Sukumaran and Chan. Joko has refused to budge, ramping up diplomatic tensions between the neighbors.
Lawyers for the two Australians have been trying to convince the court since February that it has the jurisdiction to hear their appeal against the president’s rejection of a plea for clemency for the pair.
Judges rejected that argument last month.
“We will respect the judges who are now considering everything before ruling on the case,” Leonard Arfan, a lawyer representing the two Australians, told reporters. “We respect the ongoing process and we’re just waiting for the decision.”
Sukumaran and Chan were arrested in 2005 as the ringleaders in a plot by a group, which came to be known as the Bali Nine, to smuggle heroin out of Indonesia.
At least four other death row inmates have appealed against their sentences.
H.M. Prasetyo, the attorney general, has said all 10 prisoners would face the firing squad together but has yet to set a date for their executions.
The group awaiting execution includes citizens of Brazil, France, Ghana, Nigeria, the Philippines and Indonesia.
Vice President Jusuf Kalla told Reuters last month that it could take weeks or even months for the executions to take place.
Indonesia has harsh penalties for drug trafficking and resumed executions in 2013 after a five-year gap.
With the upcoming executions, Indonesia will have exercised the death penalty more times in a single year than ever before.
Indonesian government unblocks “radical” websites
Jakarta Post [1/4/15]:
Responding to public outcry accusing the government of infringing free speech rights, the Communications and Information Ministry reopened on Tuesday access to 22 websites the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) had condemned for promoting radicalism in the country.
The government decided to block the websites following the circulation of web-based Islamic State (IS) movement propaganda that authorities believed was helping IS recruit support in the country.
Rights groups have said the anti-terrorism measure could backfire, setting the stage for crackdowns on critics of the government.
Earlier, the ministry blocked access to a host of websites, including arrahmah.com, voa-islam.com, dakwatuna.com, kafilahmujahid.com, an-najah.net, muslimdaily.net, hidayatullah.com, salam-online.com, known for their incendiary content.
As of Tuesday evening, all the sites were back online.
Ahmad Fuad Fanani of the Maarif Institute for Culture and Humanity said that rather than blocking the websites, the government should educate the public about the information on the Internet.
“We have to admit that some of the blocked websites encouraged hate speech, but some of them were quite moderate. I think the decision to block the websites was a rushed decision,” said Fuad.
He conceded that a number of Islamist websites espoused extremist ideology, but added that by allowing the government to ban them unilaterally, the freedom of speech for all citizens was threatened.
“If blocking a radical website is unavoidable, then authorities should first summon its representatives to seek clarification. If there has been a violation of rules then it should be reprimanded. If the party rejects the reprimand, then the government could go ahead and close it,” Fuad said.
Wahyudi Djafar of the Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM) blasted the blocking of the Islamist websites, saying it was a “repressive” measure.
“Without a strong legal framework and accountable procedures, it is nothing but a repressive measure,” he said.
Names of victims in shooting near Rockhampton released
Morning Bulletin [1/4/15]:
The names of those who were involved in yesterday's tragic shooting have been released.
Greg McNaughton and his son Tim both died in the incident at The Caves.
Meanwhile Lindsay Hart is in a stable condition at Rockhampton Hospital.
The statement issued by the CEO of the Royal Flying Doctor Service, where all three men worked, said everyone associated with the service was shocked by the terrible tragedy.
Here is CEO Nino Di Marco's statement:
"All of us at the Royal Flying Doctor Service (Queensland Service) are deeply saddened and shocked to hear the news of this terrible tragedy in Rockhampton.
"The incident that occurred late Tuesday afternoon was a leisure activity on a private property. It was not work related.
"We can confirm that Rockhampton Senior Base Pilot, Captain Lindsay Hart, is in a stable condition and is currently recovering in hospital.
"However, it is with great deal of sadness that I confirm the passing of his much loved fellow pilot Captain Greg McNaughton, and Greg's son Tim (who is an apprentice engineer currently on leave from the RFDS base in Alice Springs).
"Our thoughts and prayers are with their families, friends and colleagues at this time and we ask that everyone respects their right to privacy and opportunity to grieve at this difficult time.
Thank you for understanding."
A former principal of the Gladstone Catholic high school now known as Chanel College has been jailed for sexually assaulting a student - and new alleged victims are coming forward now the case has hit the headlines.
Brother John Dennis Maguire was principal at the Gladstone school between 1975-1977 when it was operated by Marist Brothers.
Last week he was jailed for sexually assaulting a student at a prestigious Sydney Catholic college. ... [Gladstone Observer - 1/4/15]
Woman's arm caught in grain mixer
A 64-year-old woman has been airlifted in a serious condition to a Brisbane hospital after having her arm caught in a grain mixer this morning.
A Queensland Ambulance Service media spokeswoman said the woman was airlifted with serious arm injuries to the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane by RACQ Careflight helicopter.
Anti rights arrest, Warner [QPS Media – 1/4/15]
March total: 927 civilians killed in #Iraq
"tweeted" by @iraqbodycount [1/4/15]
Dementia and Alzheimer's disease now Australia's second leading cause of death [Australian Bureau of Statistics Media Release [1/4/15]:
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) today released their 2013 report on causes of death in Australia. The report looks at the 147,678 deaths reported in 2013 and presents a full picture of mortality patterns across the Australian population.
"Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in Australia, accounting for almost 20,000 deaths in 2013," said James Eynstone-Hinkins from the ABS.
"However, deaths from Dementia and Alzheimer's disease have been increasing in number for many years, and now outrank Cerebrovascular diseases as the second leading cause of death of Australians.
"There were 11,000 deaths from Dementia and Alzheimer's in 2013, an increase of over five per cent in the past year and over 30 percent in the past five years.
"Advancements in treatment of circulatory diseases have decreased the number of deaths from these conditions. As life expectancy increases (now at 80.1 years for males and 84.3 years for females) it is likely the number of deaths from dementia will continue to grow.
"These large scale shifts in patterns of mortality provide critical insights into the multitude of factors which impact on the health of Australians.
"Cancer deaths have also outnumbered deaths from circulatory diseases for the first time in 2013.
"There were over 8,000 Australians who died from lung cancer in 2013, a 13 per cent increase since 2004. Colon cancer, blood cancers, prostate, breast, pancreatic and skin cancers were all among Australia's 20 leading causes of death."
The report found there were more male deaths than female deaths in 2013 (75,782 and 71,896 respectively) and some key differences in leading causes.
"There were 4,995 male deaths from lung cancer, making this the second leading cause for men." said Mr Eynstone-Hinkins.
"Among females, lung cancer caused 3,222 deaths making it the fifth leading cause. Dementia and Alzheimer's was the second leading cause for females accounting for 7,277 deaths, compared to only 3,656 deaths among males.
"Prostate cancer was the underlying cause of 3,112 male deaths, while breast cancer caused 2,862 female deaths, with both ranked as the sixth leading cause respectively.“
Suicide was once again the leading cause of death for Australian's aged 15 to 44.
Suicide accounted for 2,520 deaths in 2013 at a standardised death rate of 10.7 per 100,000 people.
The median age at death for suicides is lower than for many other causes at 44.5 years of age. As a result, suicide accounted for over 85,000 years of life lost making it the leading cause of premature death in Australia.
US backed Saudi air strikes kill 23 workers at dairy factory: Yemen
An air strike on Yemen's Red Sea port of Hodaida destroyed a dairy factory on Tuesday night, killing 23 workers, medical sources said, in what appeared to be one of the biggest cases of civilian deaths in a Saudi-led campaign against Houthi militia.
The sound of gunfire and several large blasts were heard in Aden throughout the night, a Reuters reporter said. Videos posted online, which Reuters could not immediately confirm, appeared to show fighting at an army base loyal to Saleh in the northeast of the city.
Residents near the Hodaida dairy factory said it was located near an army camp loyal to Saleh, while medical sources in the city said the 23 casualties had all been workers at the plant and that the strike had also destroyed a fuel store.
A raid at a coastal defense station at Maidi port in Hajja province north of Hodaida killed six soldiers, workers there said, while further strikes hit an army camp in Sanaa and a government facility in Saadeh in the north of Yemen.
Russia sends humanitarian aid to cyclone-stricken Vanuatu
PNG Loop [1/4/15]:
Russia has sent two planes with humanitarian aid to Vanuatu after a powerful cyclone wreaked havoc on the tiny island nation in the South Pacific, the Russian Emergencies Ministry said.
“Two Ilyushin Il-76 planes have taken off from the Ramensky airport in the Moscow Region with humanitarian cargo aboard today on the government’s instruction. The humanitarian aid weighs over 60 tons,” Russia’s Emergencies Ministry said.
The Russian aircraft will deliver food, including sugar, canned milk, meat and fish, and also portable power generators, tents, blankets and basic necessities.
“The humanitarian aid is intended for Vanuatu residents who have suffered from a disastrous tropical cyclone that has destroyed or damaged 90% of buildings and ruined the harvest,” the Emergencies Ministry said.
The State of Emergency in Vanuatu has been
lifted as of 28 March.
Copenhagen is Europe's second-cleanest city
The Local [31/3/15]:
It’s official: Copenhagen is one of the world’s greenest cities. Out of 23 European cities Copenhagen ranks second only to Zurich in terms of air pollution (or lack thereof), according to the European Environmental Bureau.
A total of 23 European cities were part of the study measuring air pollution. Copenhagen came in second, beaten only by Zurich, according to the European Environmental Bureau (EEA), a Federation of Environmental Citizens Organizations.
Zurich got the first prize for its commitment to reduce pollution from vehicles, the promotion of cleaner forms of transport and low levels of air pollution, according to the EEA.
“Both in Zurich and in the runner-up city, Copenhagen, the number of cars has been substantially reduced and there are restrictions on highly-polluting vehicles such as diesel cars, trucks and construction machines,” the EEA writes.
“At the same time, cleaner forms of transport, such as public transport, cycling and walking have been greatly expanded,” it continues.
After Zurich and Copenhagen, Vienna and Stockholm ranked third and fourth respectively in terms of “soot-free cities” in Europe, followed by Berlin.
Lisbon and Luxembourg featured at the bottom of the list as these cities’ efforts to tackle air pollution were considered “half-hearted,” according to the EEA.
The ‘Soot-free Cities’ ranking project evaluated nine transport-related categories, including the promotion of sustainable transport, traffic management, public procurement and economic incentives, such as congestion charges and parking, according to the EEA.
The ranking also took into account how successful each city had been at reducing the pollution at its urban traffic stations.
The ranking concentrated on measures put in place in cities over the past five years and looked at air quality plans for the next five years to take into account changes that were already in the pipeline, it notes.
The Dutch royal family has said it will return a painting from its collection thought to have been looted by the Nazis during World War Two.
The painting, by Joris van der Haagen, had been bought by Queen Juliana from a Dutch art dealer in 1960. ... [BBC - 31/3/15]
General strike leaves Buenos Aires deserted
Buenos Aires Herald [31/3/15]:
Transport workers and allied groups from both pro- and anti-government umbrella unions shut down much of the City of Buenos Aires with a general strike, which brought public transport to a standstill and forced many businesses to close for 24 hours.
The stoppage affected buses, trains and subways for the entirety of Tuesday, while key services such as garbage collection, goods deliveries and service stations also joined the strike across the country.
UTA transport union leader Roberto Fernández was one of the key organisers of the strike, and was later joined by Teamster boss and CGT leader Hugo Moyano, as well as gastronomic chief Luis Barrionuevo and opposition CTA secretary Pablo Micheli, while militants from the socialist PTS cut off access in key entry points between the City and Greater Buenos Aires.
Those roadblocks were lifted in the afternoon, but much of Downtown and other usually vibrant neighbourhoods saw traffic activity similar to a Sunday or public holiday, as many were forced to miss work due to transport difficulties.
While the stoppage was carried out in mostly peaceful conditions, a handful of violent incidents were recorded as participants tried to halt activity. In the City intersection of the avenues Córdoba and Puerreydón, at least six taxi drivers claimed that they had been threatened and forced to drop off passengers to escape further recriminations.
Using the service's internal radio frequencies, other cabs were warned to avoid the intersection.
More seriously, a bus driver in Corrientes alleged that his vehicle was attacked with rocks by UTA delegates, almost injuring one passenger. According to the operator, thugs had forced him to stop on the way back to the service's terminal - where he planned to leave the bus in order to comply with the strike - and threatened to set fire to the unit if he continued on the route.
Speaking during the strike, the UTA's Fernández defended his union's action and asserted that the measures were a result of the government's failure to discuss issues.
“This situation was created by the government, it’s been 40 days since we said we wanted to sit down and talk about this problem in order to avoid an industrial dispute,” said Fernández.
“We’re only defending a right. It’s the government that must come up with a solution,” he insisted in conversation with Radio del Plata.
"I categorically deny any allegations of violence."
... Annastacia Palaszczuk says Mr Gordon must seriously consider whether he has a future in parliament, while Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg says he must go to allow a byelection that has the potential to change the government.
Mr Gordon accused both leaders, and independent Speaker Peter Wellington, of leading an unprincipled campaign to force him out of parliament, but he vowed to take his time in deciding what to do.
"The premier, the opposition leader and speaker do not have the power to remove me and I think it's quite unethical that they are trying to do that," he told the Western Cape Bulletin.
"They can't offer inducements or intimidate me."
Mr Gordon said he would cooperate with a police investigation into his former partner's claims of violence, but added: "I categorically deny any allegations of violence."
He said other allegations made by his former partner relating to tax avoidance and failure to pay child support were not "black and white".
"I'm not some kind of deadbeat dad," he said.
Mr Gordon has apologised to the premier and the Labor party for failing to disclose parts of his criminal history but is now also pointing the finger at Labor's selection processes.
"I should have been more open but I went through all the procedures they asked of me," the MP said.
Mr Wellington, who along with the premier initially called on Mr Gordon to leave parliament, on Tuesday said none of the domestic violence claims constituted a legal requirement for Mr Gordon to quit.
"Divided loyalties"? More like Senator Jan McLucas vs Billy Gordon MP and the citizens of Cook!
Accused by Murdoch and the LNP in (2009), Senator McLucas remained in the Senate. Now she says Billy Gordon (accused by Murdoch and the LNP in 2015) must go? [Guardian - 1/4/15]:
... This experience resonates with some Indigenous men in particular, including Gregory O’Neill, a 60-year-old former carpenter who says he is barred from getting a blue card to do volunteer yard work because of an offence he committed in the 1970s.
“They’re still dragging me through the mud, and now they’re hunting Billy down,” says O’Neill, who once lived next door to Gordon’s father, Lesley, in Mareeba.
O’Neill, who remembers Gordon as “a quiet and respectable young lad”, says the MP should be given the chance to continue in office.
Floyd Bing, another Aboriginal man struggling to find work in Mareeba, in Gordon’s electorate, agrees.
“Billy come good, you know?,” he says.
“In all the tribes up here in far north Queensland, there’s always going to be one who will rise up and talk for us.
“You won’t get that from white people or any other people who don’t know our needs and the roots of our issues. But Billy been there, seen it all.”
McLucas, Gordon’s former employer, says the embattled MP should have told her and the Labor party about his juvenile history.
If Gordon had been upfront about it, she says, it would have been an opportunity to show “how a young man with a difficult history found the right path”.
But had Gordon told her of the domestic violence claims, she would have ruled out any political career for him.
“He can’t be a public figure with allegations of domestic violence,” she says.
... In May 2009, "journalists" from The Australian and opponents in the Liberal Party claimed that Senator McLucas had effectively been living full-time with her partner in Canberra for several years, and only occasionally visited her officially listed residence in Cairns. Prime Minister Rudd refused calls from some in the media to sack her, while the Senator insisted she had claimed travel allowance consistent with the official guidelines. However, on 6 June 2009, it was announced that McLucas had resigned as Parliamentary Secretary "to focus on her senatorial responsibilities for Queensland." However, media speculation suggested the expenses issue and the unfavourable publicity generated by it may have been a factor in the decision. ...
Nine MSN [1/4/15]:
Embattled MP Billy Gordon has denied allegations of violence against his former partners and says he has no intention to quit politics immediately.
He told the Western Cape Bulletin he intends to cooperate fully with the police investigation and will take time to consider his future.
“I’m not going to make a decision straight away. I need to be around my family and supporters,” Mr Gordon told the local newspaper.
“Once I have had a chance to think it through, I will make a decision.
“I am not going to be denied natural justice.”
Palestine joins ICC at Hague
World Bulletin [31/3/15]:
Palestine will raise the stakes in a legal battle with Israel on Wednesday when it joins the International Criminal Court, but any case over alleged crimes in the occupied territories is unlikely to come to trial for some years.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has commenced a preliminary investigation into Israel's crimes and settlement activities in the Palestinian territories, a senior Palestinian official said Monday.
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said Monday that The Hague-based court also started investigating "war crimes" committed by Israel during the latest offensive on the Gaza Strip.
Fatou Bensouda, the ICC's chief prosecutor, opened a preliminary examination in January into alleged crimes committed in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. This pro-forma step followed the Palestinians' acceptance of the court's jurisdiction on Jan. 1, a prelude to membership on April 1.
She must now decide whether there are grounds to proceed with a full investigation, taking into account issues including whether the court even has jurisdiction.
That analysis can take years - the ICC previously launched a preliminary examination of a Palestinian case in 2009, only to conclude in April 2012 that it didn't have jurisdiction.
While that major legal obstacle has been cleared, the prosecutor still has unlimited time to decide if there are grounds for an investigation, let alone a trial.
That said, the Palestinians feel that the momentum is with them and the time is ripe for action.
"We want those most responsible for the most serious crimes to be prosecuted," a Palestinian official said this week. "The panic attacks we've seen (from Israel) suggest we are not the only ones to take the court seriously."
Top UN official in Lebanon calls for more support for Palestine refugee camp during visit [Media Release – 31/3/15]
United States, "allies" continue bombing Iraq and Syria
On March 30, Coalition military forces continued to attack ISIL terrorists in Syria, using bomber aircraft to conduct an airstrike.
Separately in Iraq, Coalition military forces conducted seven airstrikes approved by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, using attack, fighter and bomber aircraft against ISIL terrorists.
“The strategy has not changed,” said Col. Wayne Marotto, Combined Joint Task Force Public Affairs Officer.
“The focus remains to drive ISIL out of Iraq. We have struck at ISIL’s command and control, supply lines, fighters and leaders, and military and economic infrastructure and resources. We have debilitated ISIL’s oil producing, processing and transportation infrastructure. We are seeing successes in this fight. It will take time, but we will succeed in our mission.”
All strikes took place between 8 a.m., March 30, and 8 a.m., March 31, local time.
The following is a summary of the strikes conducted since the last press release:
Near Kobani, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL fighting position.
Near Bayji, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed three ISIL fighting positions.
Near Mosul, two airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit, one ISIL checkpoint and destroyed 31 ISIL vehicles and two ISIL anti-aircraft artillery weapons.
Near Ramadi, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL buildings.
Near Sinjar, two airstrikes struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroyed an ISIL building and suppressed ISIL movement.
Near Tikrit, an airstrike struck multiple ISIL buildings.
Airstrike assessments are based on initial reports. All aircraft returned to base safely.
Coalition assists in training thousands of Iraqi soldiers [Centcom – 31/3/15]
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees told an international conference of donors on Tuesday the Syrian war had reached a dangerous tipping point, with increasing desperation among refugees and in host communities and a widening gap between humanitarian needs and available funding.
Countries neighbouring Syria, such as Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and Iraq have suffered severe impacts from the influx of Syrian refugees, he said. Lebanon is now hosting a Syrian refugee population that would be the equivalent of Germany receiving 22.5 million refugees or the United States suddenly hosting 88 million.
The High Commissioner said living conditions for refugees were deteriorating drastically, with two million refugees in neighbouring countries needing food assistance to survive. A third of all refugees live in sub-standard housing, with 600,000 refugee children no longer able to attend school. ... [Media Release - 31/3/15]
Red Cross says worker killed in Yemen, unable to fly in aid
The Red Cross said Tuesday a local aid worker had been killed in Yemen, adding that it could not fly in desperately-needed aid due to a lack of security.
The International Committee of the Red Cross called for the removal of obstacles to aid delivery and for humanitarian workers be allowed to work safely in Yemen, as Arab warplanes pounded the country for a sixth day.
It said Yemeni Red Crescent volunteer Omar Ali Hassam had been shot dead Monday in the southern province of Al Dhalea while evacuating wounded people.
The ICRC said it had a plane stocked with medical supplies to treat up to 1,000 people that had been due to arrive in the country Tuesday but efforts to negotiate its safe arrival had so far failed.
The supplies were "for distribution to hospitals across the country that are running low on the means to treat the war wounded" after a week of deadly clashes and air strikes.
"There are casualties across the country. There have been air strikes in the north, west and south, and clashes between opposing Yemeni armed groups in the center and south, that are putting immense strain on already weak medical services," said Cedric Schweizer, who heads an ICRC team of 300 people in Yemen.
"In order that the wounded get the treatment they deserve, it's essential we deliver urgent medicines and surgical kits," he added.
An ICRC surgical team was due to arrive shortly in the southern city of Aden, which has suffered the biggest casualties so far, the organization said.
A Saudi-led Arab coalition has been conducting air strikes against Huthi rebels in Yemen since Thursday.
It has vowed to keep up the raids until the Iran-backed rebels abandon their insurrection against President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, who has fled to Riyadh.
ICRC's statement came a day after an air strike killed dozens of people and injured some 200 at a camp for displaced people in northwest Yemen, according to aid workers.
At least 62 children killed in Yemen in past week: UNICEF [Ahram – 31/3/15]
US backed Saudi strikes again hit Yemen overnight [Reuters – 31/3/15]
The Indonesian Embassy in Yemen has rescued 24 Indonesians detained in turbulent Yemen and has provided them with shelter at the embassy, a diplomat said on Tuesday. ... [Jakarta Post - 31/3/15]
Ambassador leads evacuation of Saudi diplomats from Yemen [Al Arabiya – 31/3/15]
Afghanistan: 40 killed and wounded in Operation Zulfiqar
40 insurgents were killed and wounded during Operation Zulfiqar in southern Helmand province in past 24 hours, a statement issued by the Ministry of Defense on Tuesday stated.
MoD statement adds that Operation Zulfiqar is successfully ongoing where insurgents are suffering heavy casualties.
According to the statement 33 insurgents were killed and seven others wounded in Operation Zulfiqar during the past 24 hours.
One soldier from Afghan National Army also embraced martyrdom due to a landmine explosion in Operation Zulfiqar in past 24 hours, the statement adds.
MoD statement further adds that eight Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) were also discovered and defused by the security forces during the operation in past 24 hours.
Security forces have possibly saved several lives by defusing the IEDs.
In Past 24 hours two explosions claimed the lives of nine people and left five others wounded.
Seven civilians all from same family were killed after their vehicle ran over a landmine in Andar District of Ghazni province yesterday afternoon. A man, three women and three children were killed in the explosion.
Another explosion took place closed to a security check point in Khogyani district of eastern Nangarhar province last night which claimed the lives of two policemen and left five others wounded.
Ukrainian conflict confirmed death toll reaches 6,083 — UN report
The United Nations published on Monday a report on casualties in the conflict in eastern Ukraine, saying the number of the killed and injured has increased.
Full accounts on casualties during the most recent escalation of hostilities (mid - January - mid - February) are still pending.
Overall, since the beginning of the conflict in mid-April 2014 and until 27 March 2015, at least 6,083 people were documented as killed and 15,397 as wounded in the conflict area, says a regular report by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
The document says mines and unexploded ordnance are also posing a threat.
As of 23 March, there were 1,177,748 registered internally displaced persons (IDPs) across the country.
According to UNHCR, as of 26 March, the total number of Ukrainians who have sought asylum, residence permits or other forms of legal stay in neighbouring countries now stands at 763,632 including 625,470 in Russia and 80,909 in Belarus.
Since being enacted in January, the Temporary Order has not only limited the freedom of movement for civilians, but also significantly impeded access of much needed humanitarian aid, namely food and medicine and construction materials.
Given all of the complexities around humanitarian access, OCHA called a meeting with key humanitarian partners to explore operational solutions for dealing with bureaucratic impediments, the report says.
According to the OCHA report, as of 27 March, donors funded or pledged around USD 51 million to the Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP), or 16% of the USD 316 million required for 2015. Lack of funding for HRP is expected to result in significant impact in overall operation of some critical clusters.
Due to inconsistent or no funding, the Food Security Cluster expects around 80,000 individuals with no access to Cash and Voucher activities, whereas food parcel support will have to be ceased in Non - Government Controlled Areas.
At the same time, Health Cluster members are continuing to run their operations using limited internal funding mechanisms with no hard or soft pipelines in near sight, thus leading to potential decrease in both operations and flow of life - saving assistance.
Hostage drama at Istanbul courthouse ends with two captors, prosecutor dead
Hurriyet Daily News [31/3/15]:
A Turkish prosecutor succumbed to his injuries in hospital late March 31 after a six-hour hostage drama in which security forces killed the man's captors, two suspected members of an outlawed far-left group.
Mehmet Selim Kiraz, the prosecutor in the controversial case into the killing of Gezi victim Berkin Elvan, was taken out of Istanbul's Çağlayan Courthouse by security forces after the clash, seriously injured, but died in hospital.
"We carried out the negotiation for six hours. But our security forces launched the operation after gunshots were heard while terrorists were speaking on the phone during the negotiation," Istanbul Police Chief Selami Altınok said after the operation.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan congratulated the security forces for the operation, while also noting that Kiraz was shot five times during the episode, with three bullets hitting his head. Erdoğan added that the perpetrators stormed the prosecutor's room while "wearing lawyer robes."
Early in the day, a photo was released on social media showing someone pointing a gun at the head of Kiraz against the backdrop of a flag of the illegal organization, which was first shared on Twitter by @aysekosan123, suspected to be affiliated with the outlawed far-left Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP/C). The account was hacked soon after. “This account has been seized. Everything is for the TURKISH people,” the hackers wrote in a tweet.
Various Twitter accounts linked to leftist organizations stated that the DHKP/C claimed responsibility for the hostage-taking incident.
Refugee policy - based on the lying, demented ideology of war and empire - spreads throughout the world
UNHCR Media Release
The UN refugee agency on Tuesday expressed increasing concern that people needing international protection were being blocked from entering the European Union, citing the deaths of two Iraqi men who were in a group of 12 Yazidi people allegedly beaten by Bulgarian border guards.
"With few legal alternatives to enter the European Union, many people fleeing conflict and persecution are undertaking increasingly dangerous journeys and using smugglers to reach safety," William Spindler, a spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told a news briefing.
"It is deeply disturbing that people in search of international protection are being turned away, often with violence. EU member states at the external border need to ensure that these practices stop, and should conduct independent and transparent investigations into allegations of abuses and illegal practices in their border regions."
The statement followed a recent incident in which UNHCR was told 12 Iraqis belonging to the Yazidi minority were stopped by Bulgarian border guards as they tried to enter from Turkey.
The Iraqis had their belongings seized and were badly beaten.
The group scattered and two of the men, suffering from severe injuries, died later of hypothermia on the Turkish side of the border. According to the reports, a third person was taken in a critical condition to a hospital in Edirne after Turkish authorities were alerted.
"UNHCR urges the authorities in Bulgaria and Turkey to investigate this grave incident," Spindler said. "We are particularly disturbed by the accounts of brutality which may have contributed to the deaths of two people who, being members of the persecuted Yazidi community, were likely to have been refugees."
Information gathered by UNHCR in 2014 indicated that people seeking international protection often attempted to cross the border into Bulgaria multiple times, but had to turn back because of bad weather, were abandoned by people smugglers paid to take them across the border, or were intercepted by Turkish authorities.
Many, however, reported being denied entry or being "pushed back" by Bulgarian border guards. "Push-backs" are not in conformity with Bulgaria's obligations to admit asylum-seekers to their territory. The use of violence has also been reported and, in many cases, people say their money and property were confiscated by border police.
Bulgaria is planning to add 82 kilometres of razor-wire fences to an existing 33-kilometre fence constructed in 2014 in response to increased irregular arrivals, the majority from Syria. Efforts to reduce the number of irregular arrivals and asylum-seekers in Bulgaria had a significant effect in 2014, with almost 50 percent less arrivals than the previous year.
According to Bulgarian authorities, over 38,500 people attempted to cross irregularly the Bulgaria-Turkey border in 2014. Some 6,000 of them – mostly Syrians, Afghans and Iraqis – reached Bulgaria. This is a significant drop from11, 500 irregular arrivals -- out of over 16,700 attempts -- registered in 2013.
"Limited access to border posts, combined with more fences and "push-backs," are leaving asylum-seekers with very few options," Spindler said. UNHCR has received emergency calls from people, mostly Syrians, who walked for days in harsh weather in remote areas to try to reach Bulgaria.
"Erecting fences and creating more barriers instead of providing additional legal avenues to reach safety in the EU pushes people in need of international protection into increasingly dangerous situations with, sometimes, fatal consequences," he said.
Elsewhere, UNHCR has raised concerns over reports of border practices that could place refugees and migrants at risk, notably in Greece, where UNHCR has documented numerous accounts of "push-backs" at the land and sea borders with Turkey, especially in the last two years.
Spindler said UNHCR will make recommendations to the new Greek government about improving various refugee-related protection issues, including management of the country's borders that takes into account the protection needs of refugees and asylum-seekers.
EU member states are reportedly planning to stop refugees in North Africa from crossing the Mediterranean into the EU by creating detention centers and beefing up coast guard capabilities of countries like Tunisia and Egypt. The concept, introduced by Italy, has been agreed upon by Germany, Spain and France.
Italy's proposed deal justifies its agreement with countries in North Africa, saying that paying these states to improve their coastal security will help save the lives of thousands of refugees who cross the Mediterranean every year. ... [Deutsche Welle - 26/3/15]
Private Prisons for Immigrant Families Grow Despite Court Ruling Against "Detention as Deterrence" [Democracy Now - 25/3/15]:
The Obama administration continues to expand its controversial practice of detaining mothers and their children despite a judge’s order that using it to deter mass migration is illegal. Starting last summer, thousands of Central American women with kids as young as a few months old crossed into the United States seeking asylum. Even though many were later found to have a "credible fear" of violent persecution, they found themselves rounded up and put into detention, with little chance for freedom until they were deported. But last month, a federal judge ordered immigration authorities to begin releasing the women and children. He found the Obama administration’s policy of detaining them in order to deter others from coming was illegal. Since then, more families have been granted bond and released, while others who are unable to afford the bonds remain locked up. They are held at one of two new family detention centers run by private prison companies in southern Texas. We air an on-the-ground report from Texas by Democracy Now! producer Renée Feltz, who speaks to a recently released mother and her son. We are also joined by Barbara Hines, former director of the Immigration Clinic at the University of Texas Law School. Hines’ affidavit in a lawsuit challenging detention of women and children as a method of deterrence to mass migration was cited by the federal judge in his order to halt the practice. ...
Federal Court blocks government from detaining asylum seekers as tactic to deter others from coming to US [ACLU Media Release - 20/2/15]
Migrant Women Appear Via Video from Detention Centers in Asylum Cases Amid Harsh Conditions [Democracy Now - 25/3/15]:
... JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, well, Barbara Hines, that’s what I wanted to ask you. Given the enormous resistance by the Congress to act on any kind of immigration reform, what would you hope that the Obama administration could do in the case of these families?
BARBARA HINES: Well, the Obama administration took the most extreme position in regards to these families, from a panoply of options of what to do with asylum seekers. Remember, these are asylum seekers. They have a right to apply and seek protection in our country. They cannot seek protection from their own country. They must appear and arrive at a border in our country to seek protection under the Refugee Convention. Before the incarceration of mothers and children, women could be released, with their children, to family members—almost all of the women coming have family members in the United States—with a notice to appear for their hearings, with alternative to detention reporting requirements, monitoring devices, going to holistic shelters, like Casa Marianella in Austin, Texas. There’s a range of alternatives that are so much cheaper and so much more economical than the amount of money that the government is now spending—and paying, of course, to prison companies for profit to detain women. All of this money could be spent on providing lawyers to refugee women that are coming, because the statistics show that appearance rates and success on asylum cases is intimately twined and dependent on access to legal counsel. ...
Spanish government does U-turn on healthcare access for immigrants [El Pais - 31/3/15]
Grandmothers Against Detention protesting against detention of children in Cronulla last Sat ...
Image: @OzRefugeeCounc Refugee Council of Australia [31/3/15]
FREE THE REFUGEES via @Kon__K: Bondi Beach, Sydney. ...
Lawyers in PNG have launched a major legal challenge to refugee detention on Manus Island, ultimately seeking the centre's closure. But we need your help to meet court costs so it can continue.
Lawyers representing 25 detainees at the Manus Island detention centre have been allowed access to their clients to pursue a case against their detention.
Papua New Guinea's Supreme Court last week issued a directive from the country's chief migration officer Rabura Mataio to allow private law firm Lomai and Lomai Lawyers access to the centre.
Mr Lomai said his lawyers would have access to the detention centre from April 6 - 17. The matter returns to court on April 22.
Nauru refugee victim of knife attack
Refugee Action Coalition, Sydney [1/4/15]:
An Iranian refugee has become the latest victim of anti-refugee violence on Nauru.
Around 6am, yesterday morning (Tuesday, 31 March), the man was walking back into the Anibare lodge camp, when two local Nauruans approached on a motorcycle.
The locals got off the bike, and attacked; one of them produced a knife and slashed the hand and upper arm of the Iranian man.
He was later treated in hospital.
Nauruan police have taken a statement regarding the attack.
Attacks on refugees have become increasingly common in the aftermath of the mass arrests of refugees who were peacefully protesting against offshore processing on 4 March.
Although one man lost his eye in a rock-throwing attack last November, there are concerns that the knife attack could represent a new level of violence directed against refugees on the island.
The knife attack follows a bashing of a refugee on Monday 30 March, when locals harassed two women who were walking with the man.
“Nauruan refugees are the victims of offshore processing, twice over,” said Ian Rintoul, for the Refugee Action Coalition.
“They were randomly selected and forcibly sent to Nauru and now they are becoming victims of resentful locals, encouraged by official mistreatment.
“The situation is untenable. Instead of protection, refugees now face increasing danger on Nauru itself.”
UK immigration centre detainees had activities curtailed following Murdoch beatups
Sun story “could have been invaluable to terrorists” prosecution tells court [Hacking Inquiry – 31/3/15]:
A prosecution barrister has accused The Sun of publishing confidential material that could have helped those planning a terrorist attack in London.
The comments during the closing speech by Jonathan Reese QC was giving his closing speech in the case of three journalists from the newspaper, who are alleged to have made corrupt payments to public officials in return for information.
Reese showed the jury that an article in the paper about the dangers of a “Mumbai-style” terrorist attack was partially based on information their reporters paid for from a 999 call-centre operator. Included in the piece was the fact that armed police had been based 3 minutes from Canary Wharf to counter the threat, information which could have been “invaluable to terrorists planning an attack”.
The prosecution QC also claimed that stories in The Sun about detainees held at Colnbrook immigration detention centre, sourced from a guard who worked there, were “embellished and inaccurate” in attempting to claim the inmates were enjoying a luxury life-style. He also reminded the jury about evidence that the articles had raised anxieties amongst the defendants and staff about how they were being regarded by people outside Colnbrook.
The Sun had a clear agenda of portraying anything done for Colnbrook inmates as “helping foreign crooks and rapists” he said noting that activities for inmates were curtailed “because of the risk of bad publicity”.
He also asked the jury to rule that the paper ran stories on a high-profile murderer only because they were “interested in stoking public hatred for this man”, and that the stories had the effect of costing the public money as security around him in prison had to be stepped up after they appeared.
However, summing up for journalist Tom Wells, Adrian Keeling QC told the jury that his client’s stories about the detention centre were more than just “tabloid tittle-tattle” and instead exposed important matters of public interest.
He reminded the jury that all sides in court had accepted his client’s pieces were factually accurate and that no complaints had been received about them from either the Home Office or Serco, the private company running the centre.
Keeling told the court “it would be a lovely world if whistle-blowers were never paid” or where “NHS staff are never suspended or side-lined and members of Parliament reported themselves over their second homes and duck-ponds.”
The jury, he continued would have to “draw the line” over what type of stories over which is was justified for reporters to pay sources and if this case was serious enough to cross the “high threshold of criminal conduct”.
In the dock alongside Blake and Wells are two other Sun journalists and a reporter for the Daily Mirror.
All of the defendants deny all of the charges and the trial continues.
Federated States of Micronesia atolls take direct hit from super-typhoon
PNG Loop [1/4/15]:
The atoll of Ulithi in Federated States of Micronesia has been badly damaged after it took a direct hit by the super typhoon Maysak.
The United Services National Weather Service in Guam says gusts of 300 kilometres an hour battered the atoll which was in the eye of the storm for a short time.
A meteorologist with the service, Ken Kleeschulpe, says he has heard neighbouring Fais also took a lot of damage from Maysak which remains a Category Five storm.
The two atolls have a combined population of 1000.
“Fais did not get a direct hit but they got some pretty strong winds there as well. They were close. They did have a lot of damage. Their water’s contaminated and they’ve taken a lot of damage.”
Ken Kleeschulpe says Maysak is about 110 kilometres northeast of Yap but Yap is unlikely to take a direct hit although it should be prepared for typhoon conditions.
He says the storm is supposed to maintain its intensity for a couple of days but should start to weaken before it gets to the Philippines.
Another forecaster, Mike Ziobro, said Maysak is now passing to the north of the main Yap islands, which will still feel some effect.
“Probably a bit further north than Yap although they could get some strong winds there, I mean especially in their coastal waters maybe some typhoon force winds, but Fais is the one that’s going to get very close to them.”
A disaster official in the Federated States of Micronesia state of Yap earlier said people in the path of the supertyphoon Maysak had spent the night sheltering from the storm.
Raymond Igechep said people on Fais and Ulithi sought shelter in concrete buildings such as churches and schools.
“We’re expecting a full, hard impact on the islands by nightfall. As far as information relayed to us, people are mobilising to the community designated typhoon shelters. So I hope they are all OK when the typhoon hits.”
Raymond Igechep said there were reports of significant damage to the environment in the eastern islands of Yap state, but there had been no reports of deaths.
The governor of the state of Chuuk in the Federated States of Micronesia, has requested a state of disaster emergency be declared for the state after it was damaged by Maysak on Sunday.
In a letter to the FSM President, Manny Mori,
Governor Johnson Elimo says there is extensive damage to infrastructure, houses,
crops and commercial buildings, including on the main island, Weno.
Westfield says thanks: Business as usual in Queensland as federal and state governments announce more dead koalas and no public transport
Swell Festival, Coolangatta [March 2015]
Minister for Main Roads, Road Safety and Ports and Minister for Energy and Water Supply Media Release [1/4/15]:
Joint funding from the Australian and Queensland Governments has been secured for the upgrade of the Coomera Interchange (Exit 54) on the Pacific Motorway, which will ensure a new commercial and retail precinct goes ahead at Coomera Town Centre.
The Queensland Government is providing funding of $47.4 million, together with a $10 million commitment from Australian Government and a $17.3 million contribution from the developers of the Coomera Town Centre.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss said construction on Stage 2 of the interchange upgrade will begin later this year.
“The announcement today of the funding partnership between the federal and state governments, along with the developers of the Coomera Town Centre, will see work commence on reducing congestion through this busy interchange,” Mr Truss said.
“Final design work is expected to be completed in the coming months, with construction to start soon after. All going to plan, the upgrade will be completed in late 2016, in time for the opening of the new Coomera Town Centre.”
Deputy Premier and Minister for Transport, Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning, and Minister for Trade, Jackie Trad, said the new exit would provide direct vehicle access to the new Coomera Town Centre where investment worth an estimated $1 billion is in the pipeline, including a new Westfield Shopping Centre.
“The Coomera Town Centre is an exciting development for the Gold Coast and the Queensland Government’s contribution to the new M1 exit will help in the development of a dynamic commercial and retail precinct.
“This major precinct will stimulate economic growth in the region and create jobs for local workers at a time when jobs and job security are more important than ever.
Federal Member for Forde Bert van Manen said the project would improve traffic flow and also deliver a number of benefits to the local community.
“This upgrade will provide the road infrastructure needed to enable the successful development of the Coomera Town Centre, a welcome boost for jobs and community life in the local area.
“This is the single biggest issue for local residents and businesses alike and I am very pleased to see this project now progressing.”
The master plan for the Coomera Town Centre, covering 680 hectares, was declared by the former Labor Government in December 2009.
The Town Centre area, based around the Coomera Railway Station and incorporating the Dreamworld theme park, is projected to ultimately provide around 25,000 new dwellings, housing an extra 50,000 people.
The proposed Westfield Shopping Centre at Coomera has the potential to generate more than 1,200 jobs a year over a two-year development period and around 3,300 direct and indirect jobs a year after that.
Main Roads and Road Safety Minister Mark Bailey said the new exit would improve traffic flow and ease congestion at what is already a very busy interchange.
“As an added bonus for motorists and commuters, the new interchange will incorporate a new bridge to the north of the existing bridge over the Pacific Motorway to ease congestion for east bound traffic.”
Mr Bailey said roundabouts would be upgraded with signalised intersections to reduce queuing on the motorway ramps and a northbound exit loop ramp would provide an easier connection to Foxwell road (east). The southbound off-ramp would be realigned to intersect with the Old Pacific Highway service road.
“Depending on no major weather events, the road upgrade should be completed by the end of 2016, in time for Westfield’s planned opening of its new Coomera Town Centre development,” he said.
We are simply responding to the will of the people and voting accordingly.
The Abbott Government should try it some time. Perhaps if they did, their popularity might increase.
Senator Lazarus welcomes back down on university deregulation [Media Release - 31/3/15]:
Independent Senator for Queensland, Glenn Lazarus, today welcomed the Group of Eight’s withdrawal of support for the Abbott Government’s deregulation measures.
“My focus is the state of Queensland. I have met with universities, individual students, student groups and other higher education stakeholders across Queensland and the feedback is unanimous, the people of Queensland do not want deregulation,” Senator Glenn Lazarus said.
“The people of Queensland do not want higher degree fees – simple as that. Queensland has spoken. As a result, I voted not to support deregulation.
“Christopher Pyne needs to understand that the people of Queensland are my boss. I take direction from them – not Christopher Pyne.
“The Abbott Government has put deregulation of higher education to the Australian Senate twice now and each time, the people of Australia have voted no through their elected Senators.
“It is ludicrous for the Abbott Government to blame the cross bench for blocking deregulation of higher education.
“We are simply responding to the will of the people and voting accordingly.
“The Abbott Government should try it some time. Perhaps if they did, their popularity might increase.
“Every Australian deserves the opportunity to go to university and study what they want.
“I will not support any policy which disadvantages hard working Australians or discourages Australians from bettering themselves.
“Australia’s education system is one of the best in the world.
“The Abbott Government needs to: stop trying to Americanise our education system; acknowledge that we need to invest in our people through education; and increase funding for universities.”
Abbott Government’s Backflip on Debt Crisis a Win for Palmer United [Media Release – 30/3/15]
G20 breach emphasises risks of mandatory data retention
Senator Ludlam Media Release [31/3/15]:
The Australian Greens have called on the government to fast-track the implementation of a scheme to mandate notifications of data breaches, as the international community reacts to news that the personal information of 31 world leaders was compromised by the immigration department.
"This is an embarrassing international incident which highlights that no system is infallible," Senator Scott Ludlam, Greens communication spokesperson said today.
"If the information of world leaders can be breached, then what will happen when thousands of people from a range of agencies have access to the metadata of 23 million Australians as a result of the government and opposition's data retention regime?
"You can't protect against human error. Things will go wrong and the personal information will be compromised. It's the inevitable consequence of mandatory data retention.
"The Greens tried to build better safeguards into this regime, including a requirement for data to be stored for only three months, not two years, for it to be stored in Australia and destroyed in accordance with strict protocols. All of these steps were rejected by the government and the opposition.
"A mandatory data breach notification scheme was a recommendation of the PJCIS, and the government needs to meet this recommendation and implement a scheme as a matter of urgency," Senator Ludlam concluded.
Fatal traffic crash, Yugar
QPS Media [1/4/15]:
A woman has died following a two vehicle traffic crash in Yugar (North Brisbane) this morning.
Initial information suggests around 6.00am a sedan has collided with a four wheel drive on Mount Sampson Road.
The female driver of the sedan died at the scene.
The 55-year-old male driver of the four wheel drive suffered minor injuries.
The Forensic Crash Unit is investigating.
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.
Storms could lead to flash flooding on the Sunshine Coast
Sunshine Coast Daily [1/4/15]:
The Bureau of Meteorology has warned of flash flooding in parts of the Sunshine Coast this morning.
The Bureau issued a warning at 9:50 am that a band of heavy rain with possible embedded thunderstorms were affecting the Sunshine Coast area, extending into the adjacent hinterland.
"This area of heavy rain may lead to localised flash flooding over the next hour," the warning stated.
Locations which may be affected include Maroochydore, Caloundra and the area south of Noosa Heads.
A more general severe thunderstorm warning is also current for parts of the Southeast Coast district.
Gold Coast students study storm safety
Gold Coast City Council Media Release [31/3/15]:
Year five geography students across the Gold Coast are learning some early lessons in storm safety preparations.
Mayor Tom Tate said getting the safety messages out to children gave them the tools to influence other members of their family.
“Education and awareness of storm safety at a young age helps build more resilient communities,” Cr Tate said. “Providing tailored educational resources to students on natural disasters and preparedness is essential for their own safety and it helps build a sense of empowerment.
“Children are also great influencers in their families. Through the program, they have been learning about preparing an emergency kit, and this is something they are encouraged to discuss with their families.”
The age-appropriate resources are used to help students understand disasters, how they occur, their possible effects, and how individuals and communities can prepare for and recover from a disaster event.
The teaching resources, which link with the 2015 Year five Australian curriculum, include a Get Ready waterproof document wallet and a Disaster Management at Home guide.
Feedback from teachers has been positive, with many saying that the education and awareness program has also helped to alleviate some of the anxiety and fear that children can experience in extreme weather.
For more information visit cityofgoldcoast.qld.gov.au/disaster
Recovery, Geopolitics and Detergents [The Automatic Earth - 30/3/15]:
... It’s by no means the first time I bring this up, but I’ll do it again until there’s no more need. The stories we are bombarded with 24/7 under the quite hilarious misnomer ‘News’ have been prepared, pre-cooked and pre-chewed for our smooth and painless digestion, and as such they contain only tiny little flakes of reality. They are designed to make us feel good, not understand the world around us.
It’s up to sites like the Automatic Earth – and there’s quite a few others – to expose these storylines and narratives for what they really are: tools to sell detergents. Their purpose is not to inform people, but to manipulate them into forming opinions about their world that serve the intentions of one or more groups of people hungry enough for power to occupy themselves with this sort of scheming.
Somewhere on the not so sharp edge between money and power, there are lots of people who devote their entire lives towards devising ways to make up your mind for you. And if you’re like most people, you like that, because it absolves you from having to think for yourself. But the price to pay doesn’t come with the commercials: if you let others think for you, you or your children may be called into war at any time of somebody else’s choosing.
Two men found dead at Geelong house
Two men have been found dead at a house in the Geelong suburb of Whittington.
The bodies were found at the property on Thatcher Court.
Homicide detectives are being notified and are expected to attend the scene.
Paramedics said they were notified of the incident but were not required.
Police have cordoned off the area as they investigate the scene.
Suspected arson attack at third Melbourne Catholic church linked to paedophile priest
Another Melbourne Catholic church linked to a paedophile priest has been targeted in a suspected arson attack overnight.
Fire crews were called to St Mary's Catholic Church in Dandenong at 2:30am (AEDT) by the priest who lives in a detached building.
The Country Fire Authority's Paul Carrigg said it was clear to firefighters that someone had broken in and set several areas of the building alight.
"When they arrived they found a number of areas of the church on fire, extensive smoke damage in some areas," he said.
"They found a fire in a store room area which burnt through the floor and another fire towards the alter.
"It was evident to them that there was entry made near the front door."
It took 40 firefighters an hour to bring the blaze under control.
A spokesman for the Catholic Church said parish priest Fr Declan O'Brien was "too upset" to speak to the media.
The church was one of eight linked to paedophile priest Kevin O'Donnell who sexually abused children throughout his 50-year career in Melbourne parishes.
Nitschke fight heads to Supreme Court
West Australian [1/4/15]:
The medical profession should engage with euthanasia rather than trying to silence people, campaigner Philip Nitschke says.
Dr Nitschke will take his battle with the Medical Board of Australia to the Supreme Court on Wednesday, after it upheld the suspension of his medical licence.
It was suspended in July, a year after depressed Perth man Nigel Brayley, 45, took his own life after corresponding with Dr Nitschke, who was not his doctor.
Dr Nitschke maintains there was nothing wrong or unlawful in his communications with Mr Brayley as they had no doctor-patient relationship and that he is being targeted because of his work with end-of-life organisation Exit International.
In November, the Northern Territory Health Professional Review Tribunal upheld the decision to suspend his licence.
Dr Nitschke told ABC radio on Wednesday that the "predatory attempt to silence" him by stripping him of his medical title would make no actual difference, as he remains a doctor of physics.
But he said he didn't like the way his licence to practise medicine was stripped.
"They made it quite clear that they don't like the fact that I'm advocating in the way that I do, and I'm able to call myself doctor; they've said to me they would be happier if I wasn't a doctor," he said.
"I don't know why they're pursuing it with such enthusiasm, but the medical profession has a long history of moving people they don't like out, and I think they really have to accept the fact that the world's changing, people want options at end of life, and the medical profession is going to have to engage with this issue rather than just trying to silence people."
The case is set down to be heard for two days in Darwin.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled in a case from Idaho that private medical providers that deliver residential care services cannot sue a state in try[ing] to raise Medicaid reimbursement rates to deal with rising medical costs.
The justices, on a 5-4 vote, ruled in favor of the state of Idaho, which asserted that medical providers have no legal recourse to sue. The ruling is a loss for the healthcare industry, with trade groups and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce backing the providers in the case. ... [Reuters - 31/3/15]
300 workers lose their jobs at Austal
Three hundred workers are to lose their job at Austal as the West Australian-based ship building company cuts its workforce by 50 per cent after completing a big contract.
The company, located in the Perth seaside suburb of Henderson, made 40 workers redundant on Monday.
Austal chairman John Rothwell said the company had increased its workforce significantly after winning a contract to build eight patrol boats for Australia and two high-speed support vessels for Oman.
"We'd ramped our workforce up to meet this contract," he said.
"These eight new patrol boats for the customs and border protection people.
"The nature of our business is quite lumpy and at the moment we need to review the size the workforce and therefore yes we are reducing that over the next couple of months."
He said the company was reluctant to let the workers go as they were skilled, but it could not afford to keep them on.
"It is unfortunate, it is sad. Nobody wants to make workers redundant," he said.
Mr Rothwell said the company was pursuing other contacts and it was possible it may have to ramp up its workforce again if successful.
"We have been very active predominantly in the defence area and I think some of those contracts are starting to look good," he said.
"But nevertheless we just can't afford to keep the workforce on until there's more clarity on when these new contracts are likely to proceed.
"It isn't easy to get people back to the same number, but by the same token when we achieve a new contract there isn't, normally, a need to immediately build it up to those levels, so we've normally got time to ramp it up. "We have achieved it in the past and we will in the future."
"I just rang his phone"
Western Cape Bulletin [1/4/15]:
EXCLUSIVE: In today's paper, Member for Cook Billy Gordon tells editor Matt Nicholls that he denies allegations of violence against former partners and will not quit parliament in the short term. Is going to cooperate with the police investigation and spend time to consider his future.
Interview between ABC Far North Queensland and Western Cape Bulletin editor Matt Nicholls [AUDIO - 1/4/15]
Brisbane Times [1/4/15]:
... The domestic violence allegations were made public later that day by former LNP MP [and Murdoch's 'Cairns Post' editor] Gavin King, who said he had "spoken at length" with the woman "over [the] past three weeks" before publishing the allegations on his newly launched website.
@AmyRemeikis Peter Wellington claims there is a plot to "destabalise" Qld govt http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/peter-wellington-wont-be-used-in-billy-gordon-affair-20150331-1mbsvg.html … via @brisbanetimes
@gavking @AmyRemeikis I've spoken at length w/ original complainant over past 3 weeks before publishing. Any suggestion of a "plot" is reprehensible. 1:17 PM - 31 Mar 2015
That would put his contact with the woman ahead of when she first emailed her allegations to the Premier's department, on March 13.
Meanwhile, the Parliamentary Clerk, in response to Mr Wellington's request for advice, said there was nothing in the allegations to prevent Mr Gordon from sitting in parliament, despite Ms Palaszczuk, Mr Wellington and Mr Springborg all admitting their preferred option would be for Mr Gordon to resign and a byelection be held.
Neil Laurie also said the parties could not refuse to accept Mr Gordon's vote.
"There has been considerable talk in recent days about whether parties should rely on Mr Gordon's vote," Mr Laurie wrote.
"...Members vote from their seat and the votes of cross bench members (which Mr Gordon now is) are not apparent to anyone until such time as the Clerk verbally advises the vote of those cross bench members to the Assembly.
"The votes of cross-bench members are recorded after the votes of the government and the opposition.
"In other words, it is not up to the discretion of a party leader as to whether they are going to use Mr Gordon's vote - Mr Gordon has a right to vote.
"Furthermore, party leaders would not necessarily know what the vote of Mr Gordon was until towards the conclusion of the division after party votes have already been recorded."
Mr Gordon did not respond to requests for comment on Tuesday.
The police investigation into the domestic violence allegations against him is continuing.
Update: Shooting incident, Rockhampton
QPS Media [31/3/15]:
Police have located two people deceased following the search of a property on Newell Road, The Caves.
The search followed an early shooting incident at the property where a 53-year-old Rockhampton man was taken to Rockhampton Base Hospital in a stable condition.
Detectives are currently at the scene and investigations into the incident are continuing.
There is no further information available at this stage.
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.
Teenager abducted by ex-boyfriend
A Queensland teenager has been missing for more than 24 hours after being abducted at gunpoint by her ex-partner.
Relatives of Billy-Anne Huxham, 18, called police on Tuesday morning to report she had been forced into a car at a Gilbert Street home at Caboolture, north of Brisbane.
It's believed her former boyfriend went to the house around 6am (AEST) armed with a machete.
Police say he assaulted Ms Huxham before abducting her.
She has injuries to her head and legs.
Officers spotted a Silver 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander with the Queensland registration number 789VNI, which they believed Ms Huxham was in, on the Bruce Highway at Kallangur several hours later.
Police have serious concerns for Ms Huxham's welfare, Detective Acting Inspector Steve Windsor said.
"With the information we have that possibly firearms are involved, the public - if they could advise Crime Stoppers (of any sighting)," he said.
Det Windsor confirmed the pair were formerly in a relationship and that the man, 32-year-old Carl Garry Chapman, is known to police.
Anyone with information should contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
1 April 2015