Six civilians were injured in two simultaneous terrorist attacks with explosive devices in Ekrema neighborhood and al-Hadara Street in Homs city on Thursday.
The explosive device which was detonated in Ekrema neighborhood was placed in a trash container in front of al-Buhturi school, according to a source at Homs Governorate.
The source also told SANA that the other bomb in al-Hadara Street was placed under one of the cars parked in the street.
The two terrorist attacks left six people injured and caused material damage in the sites of the blasts, the source said. [SANA - 31/3/16]
Shelling attacks hit Damascus and Dier Ezzor [SANA - 31/3/16]
In the war against the self-proclaimed Islamic State, the U.S. military is notably short on soldiers, but apparently not on generals.
There are at least 12 U.S. generals in Iraq, a stunningly high number for a war that, if you believe the White House talking points, doesn’t involve American troops in combat.
And that number is, if anything, a conservative estimate, not taking into account the flag officers running the U.S. air war, the admirals helping wage the war from the sea, or their superiors back at the Pentagon. ... [The Daily Beast - 31/3/16]
The Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr called on the protesters to end their demonstrations on Thursday after the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi reshuffled his government cabinet before parliament on the same day.
Sadr ended his sit-in strike inside Baghdad's Green Zone and called on the protesters to end their sit-in outside the zone also.
He insisted that "weekly demonstration for reform will continue." ... [RUDAW - 31/3/16]
@MSF_Sea [1/4/16]: Young mums with young kids as far as the eye can see today in #Idomeni
@MSF_Sea [1/4/16]: Nice day for a new haircut in #Idomeni. Borders are closed and 1000s are stuck but life goes on.
Large-scale forced returns of refugees from Turkey to war-ravaged Syria expose the fatal flaws in a refugee deal signed between Turkey and the European Union earlier this month, Amnesty International revealed today.
New research carried out by the organization in Turkey’s southern border provinces suggests that Turkish authorities have been rounding up and expelling groups of around 100 Syrian men, women and children to Syria on a near-daily basis since mid-January.
Over three days last week, Amnesty International researchers gathered multiple testimonies of large-scale returns from Hatay province, confirming a practice that is an open secret in the region.
All forced returns to Syria are illegal under Turkish, EU and international law. ... [Amnesty EU - 1/4/16]
UNHCR urges immediate safeguards to be in place before any returns begin under EU-Turkey deal [Media Release - 1/4/16]
Greece begins moving refugees, migrants stranded at Piraeus port to other towns [Ekathimerini - 31/3/16]
Cyprus authorities say they have rescued 27 people aboard a small fishing boat that was found drifting ungoverned around 16 miles (24 kilometers) off the Mediterranean island's northwestern coast.
A statement said Cyprus' Joint Rescue Coordination Center was alerted late Thursday that the boat was in trouble and dispatched two patrol boats to help.
The passengers, including six women and three children, disembarked at the small fishing harbor of Latsi and are all safe and in good health.
No details were given about where the boat had set sail from or the nationalities of the passengers.
Cyprus lies around 100 miles (160 kilometers) off Syria's Mediterranean coast and some 40 miles (64 kilometers) south of Turkey. [Ekathimerini - 1/4/16]
@PROACTIVA_SERV [1/4/16]: Llegaron de madrugada a los acantilados #lesbos. Un barco rápido con 41 personas, muchos niños.Seguimos, seguiremos
@ItalianNavy [31/3/16]: #UltimOra #SAR Nave Chimera #MarinaMilitare ha completato lo sbarco a #Palermo di 364 #Migranti
Why is it acceptable to the international community that Australia refuses to take refugees? Don't look for the answer here ---> Al Jazeera holds refugee to account for being exiled by Australia from Nauru concentration camp to Cambodia [VIDEO - 1/4/16]
We are fighting for our free body and free heart. We want to feel like we are free. We are so tired.
Free the Children NAURU [1/4/16]:
Day 11. We are still kept in the detention. They close the gate for us to go out and they didn't let us out. We can't even speak up for our freedom as a free soul heart children.
We don't want to protest but we are doing this because we want people to hear us and knows how our feeling hurts to be in detention for so long.
We are fighting for our free body and free heart. We want to feel like we are free. We are so tired..
Announcing that refugees who everyone knew were in community detention, are in community detention, is NOT a "first step" and it is certainly NOT a "victory".
It's a self-congratulatory Friday "non news" dump.
The Australian media and human rights groups are trying to plant the idea that the #LetThemStay struggle is over.
"Advocates" and establishment media types might fool some with their partisan charade masquerading as journalism and activism - but the protests (and resistance) will continue until the camps are closed, Australia resumes fulfilling its obligations under the UN Refugee Convention, and justice is served.
More than half of the 267 asylum seekers at the centre of the Let Them Stay protests have been granted community detention, including all families, and more are being released every day, advocates say.
Advocates and lawyers report a rush of people freed in recent days, potentially giving them access to sanctuary promised by more than 100 churches across the country, should Border Force officials attempt to deport them back to Nauru or Manus Island.
At least 196 of the 267 asylum seekers, who have been in Australia for reasons including medical care and were party to the ultimately unsuccessful high court challenge to offshore detention, are now in community detention.
It includes the families of the 37 babies born in Australia and another 54 children.
U.K. government officials forced victims of Nazi persecution to relive their harrowing experiences for years as they questioned their rights to compensation, newly released records have revealed.
In 1964, the German government agreed to contribute a total of £1 million ($1.4 million) to a fund to compensate British victims or their dependants, and more than 4,000 people applied to the U.K. Foreign Office for compensation.
But only a quarter of the claims were successful, according to accounts revealed by the National Archives on Thursday, despite months—and in some cases years—of thorough and pedantic questioning. ... [Newsweek - 31/3/16]
South East Asia's shame: Living inside Rohingya ghettos in Myanmar [CNN - 1/4/16]
Israeli weapons aid potential genocides in Myanmar and Burundi [Electronic Intifada - 18/1/16]
West, Gulf complicity in oil-fuelled genocide of Myanmar’s Rohingya [Middle East Eye - 11/11/15]
Woodside has made second gas discovery offshore Myanmar.
The company on Friday said Thalin-1A exploration well in Block AD-7 in the Rakhine basin has intersected a gross gas column of approximately 64m.
Approximately 62m of net gas pay is interpreted within the primary target interval.
Block AD-7 is located in the Bay of Bengal, approximately 100km offshore of the west coast of Myanmar.
Water depth at the Thalin-1A well location is 836m. The well reached a total depth of 3034m. ... [Natural Gas Asia - 11/2/16]
Traditional owners of the Goolarabooloo clan group told NITV News they were “thrilled" when Woodside Petroleum announced it would shelf the $50 billion Browse LNG project in Western Australia.
“Good riddance, they’re gone, we don’t want to see them back,” traditional owner Phil Roe told NITV News on Thursday.
Law man and relative Errol Roe adds the stalling has been worth the communities’ protests against the project.
“We and all the people that fought this campaign were pretty ecstatic,” he says.
The Goolarabooloo people say the biggest relief for them is that the land is free from threat, for now.
“In the short term it's good Woodside’s pulled out, it’s good news all over, and the stress of having to fight for our land is gone,” Errol Roe says. ... [SBS - 24/3/16]
Indonesia rejects Israel's latest call for bilateral relations [Jakarta Post - 31/316]:
Indonesia will stand firm in its support of an independent Palestine and will not respond to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu most recent call for official bilateral relations, an official said on Thursday.
"We want to assert that Indonesia's support and efforts to push for the independence of Palestine will not change," Foreign Ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir said on Thursday as quoted by kompas.com.
He also expressed disappointment that several senior Indonesian journalists had recently visited Israel, after being invited by Netanyahu, who said that he wanted to change public opinion about Israel.
During the meeting, the prime minister expressed his hopes that Indonesia and Israel would initiate official relations, saying that both countries had many opportunities to cooperate.
The ministry was aware that the Middle Eastern country had conducted similar activities in the past to promote its tourist and business sectors.
"We regret that such activities are politicized by Israel," he said.
Tantowi Yahya, a lawmaker from the House of Representatives commission I overseeing foreign and security affairs, said Indonesia's support of Palestine was in accordance with the Constitution, which asserts that independence is the natural right of every nation.
The Cuban government has invited the Chairman of the Indonesian Peoples Consultative Assembly (MPR), Zulkifli Hasan, to visit the country to meet member of the parliament and the government of the Caribbean state. ... [ANTARA - 31/3/16]
April fools ----> Guardian and friends try - but fail - to help Bill "I'd Be Worse" Shorten with his PR problem [1/4/16]:
... Shorten had the simplest suggestion: “If you want to have marriage equality you need to change the government.” ...
Labor sides with the Liberals to dodge marriage equality vote [Greens Media Release - 17/3/16]
@rac_canberra [5/3/16]: We have been told Rainbow Labor requested the refugee float be excluded from #MardiGras2016. Refugee float was held back to appease them. :
I was on this float. We were set up directly behind Rainbow Labor. I was standing on our truck with full view of the space between our two groups.
In the final ten minutes before our float was due to go, there was a flurry of urgent conversations with the people responsible for our float. Then we were told that instead of taking off as part of the stream - as occurred with every other float - we were to be taken to the side and held there until another float took our place.
I spoke to our organisers [at] the end and they were clear and adamant that they were first told that Shorten's security were concerned about us and wanted us to be excluded from the parade. The compromise reached was to sideline us and put another group between us.
There is no argument between anti-public education, anti-universal health care federal and state politicians.
All they are quibbling over is which of their mates will get the public lolly to deliver outsourced, crap, corporatised health services and fundamentalist christian schools - as the neoliberal project rolls on unhindered.
At what point do these zealots forfeit the right to be taken seriously by the Australian citizenry? ---> Malcolm Turnbull is facing one of his most difficult and potentially dangerous tests since seizing the prime ministership, with one premier accusing him of treating the states like badly-behaved children and another slamming his offer of extra health funding as "pathetic".
Mr Turnbull is on Friday expected to offer the states around $3 billion in extra short-term funding for hospitals, but no extra money for schools.
Mr Turnbull is pushing for the states to be be able to raise a proportion of income tax for the first time since World War II, a move he says would allow them to take full responsibility for public schools. ... [Sydney Morning Herald - 1/4/16]
You could establish clinics and fund equitable and accessible health services, or you could spend millions on bogus, neoliberal "personal responsibility" campaigns ... [Yahoo - 31/3/16]
Queensland government solution to violence? Give media, marketing and PR firms millions of dollars [ABC - 313/16]
Man charged with murder after allegedly stabbing partner to death in driveway near Brisbane
... They don't really care about us ...
Nine MSN [1/4/16]:
A man has been charged with murder over the stabbing death of his partner outside a home north of Brisbane last night.
Emergency services were called to reports of a loud disturbance at the home on Saint Ives Court in the Moreton Bay suburb of Kippa-Ring about 10.35pm last night.
They found a woman aged in her 20s in the driveway, with what appeared to be stab wounds to her face, legs, arms and chest.
Paramedics worked on her for 25 minutes but she was pronounced dead at the scene.
A spokesman for Queensland Police said the man and woman were known to each other and that the attack was a case of domestic violence.
An ambulance officer told 9NEWS it was a "very graphic scene".
"It is the worst of these sorts of incidents we've seen in a long while," he said.
"It is very tragic."
A 35-year-old man was arrested at the scene and taken to Redcliffe Hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.
He has since been charged with murder and will face a bedside hearing this afternoon.
The street has now been reopened and the woman’s family have begun to arrive at the scene.
Gold Coast police chopper spotlighting along the length of the Surfers Paradise Hilton in the middle of the night for seemingly no apparent reason. [VIDEO - 25/3/16]
Detectives have charged a 15-year-old Aurukun boy after a woman was inappropriately touched in Cairns yesterday morning.
It will be alleged a woman in her 30s was jogging along Martyn Street in Manunda around 8am yesterday when she was approached by a boy.
The boy allegedly inappropriately touched the woman from behind and pressed himself against her.
A member of the public challenged the boy before he ran away. Police took the boy into custody a short time later. Neither the woman nor two children she was with were physically injured during the incident.
The boy will be dealt with under the provisions of the Youth Justice Act 1992. ... [QPS Media - 1/4/16]
Queensland Association of Independent Legal Services Inc. (QAILS) Media Release [31/3/16]:
The release of a report calling for an end to budget funding cuts to community legal centres coincides with a visit by the Greens Leader, Senator Di Natale and Co-Deputy Leader, Senator Waters to a Women’s Legal Service in Brisbane on Thursday.
More and more women experiencing domestic violence are finding their voice and saying ‘enough is enough’.
One of the first steps they take to address this problem is to call their closest community legal centre.
But Queensland’s community legal centres, already unable to meet demand, are facing Commonwealth Government budget cuts of almost 30% by 2017, hurting those we are trying to protect.
A Queensland Association of Independent Legal Services (QAILS) report shows between 2011 and 2015 requests for community legal advice has increased by 165% and demand for ongoing support, representation and casework has increased by a further 355%.
Suspicious death investigation, Meadowbrook [QPS Media - 31/3/16]
Sydney siege inquest: Gunman told Katrina Dawson and two other hostages
they could leave at start of ordeal [ABC - 31/3/16]:
... The cafe worker told the coronial inquest that during her time inside the cafe, Monis pointed a gun at her back and "he used me as a shield to move around the cafe".
Ms Ma said Monis was "unpredictably aggressive".
She said he did not keep a headcount. "He was very disorganised... he would ask for our IDs but wouldn't check.
"He was getting increasingly agitated throughout the night because his demands weren't being met."
Ms Ma said at one point she was instructed by the gunman to put a piece of paper up at the window, which said: "Leave or he will kill us all".
It was then that she heard police outside saying: "This guy is f***ing crazy".
Bombs continue raining down upon Iraq and Syria
US Department of Defense [31/3/16]:
U.S. and coalition military forces continued to attack Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists in Syria and Iraq yesterday, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported today.
Officials reported details of yesterday’s strikes, noting that assessments of results are based on initial reports.
Strikes in Syria
Attack and remotely piloted aircraft conducted two strikes in Syria:
-- Near Hawl, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle.
-- Near Mara, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed three ISIL defensive fighting positions.
Strikes in Iraq
Rocket artillery and attack, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 25 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of the Iraqi government:
-- Near Habbaniyah, a strike damaged an ISIL defensive fighting position.
-- Near Haditha, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit.
-- Near Hit, three strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and an ISIL safe house and destroyed two ISIL supply caches, 15 ISIL rockets, three ISIL bunkers and an ISIL tunnel.
-- Near Kirkuk, three strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed five ISIL assembly areas and an ISIL beddown location.
-- Near Mosul, eight strikes struck five separate ISIL tactical units, destroying three ISIL assembly areas, an ISIL vehicle, an ISIL beddown location, two ISIL safe houses and an ISIL fighting position and suppressing two ISIL mortar firing positions.
-- Near Qayyarah, four strikes struck an ISIL improvised explosive device factory and an ISIL communications facility, destroying an ISIL mortar position and denying ISIL access to terrain.
-- Near Sultan Abdallah, four strikes destroyed four ISIL assembly areas, five ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL tunnel system and an improvised ISIL ferry system.
-- Near Tal Afar, a strike struck an ISIL communications facility.
Syrian army, Russian aircraft continue fighting terrorists near Palmyra [TASS - 31/3/16]
State trooper shot, suspect dead in Virginia Greyhound Station shooting [NBC – 31/3/16]:
A Virginia police trooper is suffering from life-threatening injuries after a man shot him at a bus station in Richmond on Thursday, police said.
The suspect was killed when police returned fire, and two civilians were injured, according to Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller.
The civilians' injuries are not considered life-threatening.
The number of people hurt in the gunfire was not clear in the immediate aftermath of the shooting.
Police initially said that two troopers were shot along with a civilian, while Richmond NBC affiliate NBC12 reported a total of six people were shot, citing to sources.
Sources initially told NBC News correspondent Pete Williams a state police trooper died as well as the suspect.
The shooting is not believed to be an act of terrorism, sources told Williams.
State police troopers were conducting narcotics training in the station, according to Williams' sources.
Afterward, they dispersed through the station to talk to people.
A man one trooper was talking to pulled out a gun and shot the trooper. Geller did not confirm that information.
Greyhound was re-routing customers "as possible," the bus line said in a service alert Thursday afternoon.
"Our Richmond, Va. station is closed until further notice and we are actively working with the authorities," the alert says.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe released a statement Thursday pledging state resources to respond to the situation:
"Our public safety team and I will continue to monitor the situation and support State Police and local authorities in their response and investigation of this incident.”
In Minneapolis, hundreds of people took to the streets Wednesday night after Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced no charges will be filed against the two Minneapolis police officers involved in the shooting death last fall of Jamar Clark, an unarmed 24-year-old African American.
Clark was shot in the head after a scuffle with officers who responded to a report of an assault.
In announcing the decision, the prosecutor rejected claims by multiple witnesses that Clark was shot while handcuffed.
Clark’s death sparked a series of protests in Minneapolis, including a weeks-long occupation outside the 4th Police Precinct.
On Wednesday, hundreds gathered to protest the lack of charges against the officers. ... [Democracy Now - 31/3/16]
New Zealand's spies last year used their new powers to suddenly snoop without a warrant on people they believed may have been about to commit or prepare for a terrorist act.
The spying is revealed in the Security Intelligence Service's interim report on its use of the powers for the last six months of 2015.
The report, by director Rebecca Kitteridge, says the spying lasted for a 24-hour period and was followed up with an application for an intelligence warrant.
The report doesn't spell out any details of what the threat might have been. ... [Yahoo - 31/3/16]
In what privacy advocates are hailing as a landmark decision, Maryland's second-highest court has handed down the first appellate opinion in the country affirming that police must obtain a probable cause warrant to track cell phones.
The Maryland Court of Special Appeals issued the opinion in a ruling that rebuked Baltimore Police for failing to disclose that they had used a device called a cell site simulator, often referred to as a "stingray," to locate an attempted murder suspect.
The device mimics a cell phone tower, triggering all cell phones in an area to connect with it and determine where a particular phone is located.
The judges said cell phones have become ubiquitous, and in turn can be transformed into real-time tracking devices. ... [The Baltimore Sun - 31/3/16]
'Hack the Pentagon' Pilot Program opens for registration [US Department of Defense - 31/3/16]
US to increase armored brigades in Eastern Europe [Antiwar - 30/3/16]
Clashes across France as students, workers protest labour “reforms” [France 24 – 31/3/16]:
Clashes broke out on the streets of France on Thursday during fresh demonstrations over labour reforms as workers and students protested against planned changes to labour legislation.
Striking rail workers disrupted services across France in protest at the proposed reforms while students forced the closure of some 200 schools.
Riot police used tear gas against stone-throwing demonstrators in the western cities of Nantes and Rennes, while around 30 youths were arrested after clashes in Paris, Toulouse and elsewhere.
The travel chaos resulted in more than 400 kilometres of tailbacks on motorways around the capital.
The Eiffel Tower was closed all day. The company operating the monument said in a statement that there were not enough staff to open the tower with "sufficient security and reception conditions".
According to unions, around 1.2 million people turned out to protest across the country, more than double the number who protested on the last strike day on March 9.
They claimed 160,000 people protested in Paris.
NSW government to
close or downgrade Northern Rivers railway stations [Tweed
Shire Echo – 30/3/16]:
Railway stations at Lismore, Byron Bay and Murwillumbah are among eleven stations earmarked for closure by the NSW Government.
And the stations at Casino will have its staff reduced under a radical shake-up of the NSW rail network.
A review by NSW TrainLink, which runs regional and rural rail services, has raised concerns about the lack of security and shrinking customer service on trains to and from some of the state’s biggest regional towns.
And although the stations in the northern rivers area no longer service trains, they do provide face-to-face ticket sales, and service coaches that link with trains at other locations.
NSW Shadow Minister for Transport Jodi McKay said the government was yet to consult with communities being targeted by the closures while Greens Transport spokesperson Mehreen Faruqi said ‘billions of dollars is being wasted in Sydney while the Government cries poor about providing even basic services to the rest of the state.’
The union representing rail workers described the announcement as ‘out-of-the-blue’.
AFL-CIO: End Border Patrol’s Membership in the Federation [#NOT1MORE –
The legacy of abuse and unaccountability within Border Patrol has made its membership in the American Federal of Labor (AFL-CIO) an issue of contention.
But the National Border Patrol Council (NBPC) statement endorsing Donald Trump for president on Wednesday, March 30th, marking NBPC’s first presidential endorsement, is a breaking point.
The AFL CIO has been a staunch ally and fighter for immigrant rights by advocating against Obama’s two million deportation record and workplace protections for all workers regardless of legal status.
NBPC’s endorsement shines light on the disconnect between Border Patrol, immigrant communities, and the rest of the labor movement across the United States.
By endorsing Trump, Border Patrol endorses a racist, xenophobic and misogynist campaign that advocates mass deportation, torture, state-sanctioned discrimination against Muslims, subordination of women, and more broadly undermines the values and goals of the labor movement.
1 April 2016