There is no end in sight for the 500 residents from the Nauiyu community who are being housed at the Darwin showgrounds.
Most of their homes are still flooded and as of New Year's Day, the Daly River remained above the major flood level of 14 metres and was rising.
Acting Chief Minister Willem Westra van Holthe said flood payments would start to be transferred by January 11, but first Government teams would start preparing for the clean-up ... [ABC - 1/1/16]
... Australian Red Cross Executive Director for Victoria Penny Harrison said the money would be used to help the local community. ... Falls Festival raises $120,000 in 24 hours for Victorian bushfire relief [ABC - 30/12/15]
Great Ocean Road fire: Number of homes lost in Christmas Day blaze rises to 116 [ABC - 26/12/15]:
... "Our challenge now is to make sure that we provide those grants, and they're already flowing.
Government grants of $1,300 will be made available to those who have lost their homes or are unable to return.
Teams have fanned out across the fire zone to conduct damage assessments.
Mr Andrews said there would be a big rebuilding process in the towns.
"The State Government stands ready to provide whatever support, whatever the resources the council and others need to make sure that we can rebuild and support and empower people through what will be a very challenging process, not for weeks and months but indeed for years." ...
The weasel-words defence of this policy by our pathetic politicians beggars belief.
The continuation of such a policy shames all Australians.
Letter to the Editor [Sunshine Coast Daily - 31/12/15]:
I hope Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Immigration Minister Peter Dutton stopped for a moment during their sumptuous Christmas feasts in air-conditioned comfort to spare a thought for those poor distraught refugees held in the Manus Island and Nauru hellhole detainee camps.
Yes, the Federal Government can boast it "stopped the boats" but at what cost to human suffering?
To my mind such a disgraceful policy is verging on crimes against humanity. There certainly isn't much humanity left on the Manus Island or Nauru refugee camps.
Australia's worst murderers and rapists live better lives than this in our pampered justice system while the law goes to enormous lengths to protect their human and civil rights.
Refugees have committed no crime other than to risk everything and flee persecution and death in their own lands in the faint hope of gaining a future in Australia.
Our response is to throw them into steaming jungle hellholes and turn a blind eye to the gross inhumanity of such a policy.
The weasel-words defence of this policy by our pathetic politicians beggars belief.
The continuation of such a policy shames all
HMAS Darwin does propaganda sail past Surfers Paradise on its way to patrol the perimeters of empire for Uncle Sam ----> @paulburt07 [31/12/15]: HMAS Darwin sits pretty off Surfers Paradise waiting to watch the fireworks tonight. @7NewsQueensland
How many refugee boats did the Australian navy tow back in the last 24 hours? ----> It was early in the morning of the 28 December when the Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) completed its first rescue mission in the Aegean Sea.
The 59 people were stranded on two boats. The first was drifting following engine problems, the second was overloaded. The boats were rescued two miles from the Greek island of Lesbos, which sits close to the Turkish coast and has become the main gateway for the hundreds of thousands of people seeking refuge on European shores from conflict, destitution and disaster at home.
MOAS, founded by a family in response to the crisis, is one of six charities chosen as beneficiaries of the Guardian and Observer appeal for refugees. Since 2014 it has saved more than 12,000 people, mostly in the Mediterranean.
Now its mothership, complete with two rescue launchers named after Alan and Galip Kurdi, the children whose deaths provoked an international outcry in the summer, is to operate from the island of Agathonisi so that it can scour Aegean waters over the winter months. ... [Guardian - 1/1/16]
The ethnic cleansing of Africans in Israel [Electronic Intifada – 28/12/15]:
... In April this year, around 800 refugees drowned when the boat carrying them sank in the Mediterranean.
In the face of this horrific tragedy, a top Israeli minister chose to revel in the government’s successful efforts to keep refugees out.
Yisrael Katz, a leading figure in the right-wing Likud party who heads both ministries for transportation and intelligence and atomic energy, wrote in a Facebook post:
“Europe is having a difficult time dealing with the migrants, and with creating solutions for this difficult issue. While there are differences between us (the migrants traveling to Europe must cross a sea while those heading for Israel have a direct overland connection), you can see the rectitude of our government’s policy to build a fence on the border with Egypt, which blocks the job-seeking migrants before they enter Israel. The elections are over — you can give us some credit now.”
@MSF_Sea [31/12/15]: In 2015, MSF rescued 20,129 #people on the #Mediterranean. They inspired us and they gave us hope. #SAFEPASSAGE
@cfmarkey [31/12/15]: Photo of the year. Amazing Spanish lifeguards saving so many lives in Lesvos. Feeling hopeful for 2016.
@MSF_Sea [31/12/15]: ... No change at #Idomeni. 1000s of #people will ring in 2016 in sub zero temperatures at a petrol station
Refugees and migrants braving seas to flee to Europe in 2015 top one million [UN Media Release – 30/12/15]:
... “Why is it that a million people have to enter Europe by smugglers boat?” UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards said.
“The scale of these sea crossings, the fact that people continue to arrive daily in their thousands on the Aegean islands, and that nearly 4,000 lives have been lost in 2015, all beg that question.
“There are abundant regular, safe and legal means of managing this and they need serious looking at,” he added, stressing that UNHCR has urged both people and Governments to intensify efforts to facilitate legal entry routes to Europe. ...
UNHCR closes office in southeastern Afghanistan [Pajhwok - 31/12/15]
The Afghan intelligence operatives conducted a successful operation in southern Zabul province of Afghanistan and rescued at least ten civilians taken hostage by terrorist groups.
The National Directorate of Security (NDS) said the civilians were abducted by the militants earlier and were safely rescued by the intelligence operatives.
No further details were given regarding the exact location where the operation was conducted and the group which held the civilians as captives. ... [Khaama - 31/12/15]
Afghan authorities say at least two people have lost their lives in a US assassination drone strike in the country’s troubled eastern province of Laghman.
Sarhadi Zwak, a spokesman for the provincial governor, said on Wednesday that the aerial attack took place in the Alishing district of the province, located 260 kilometers (161 miles) east of the capital, Kabul, the previous day.
He added that two local commanders of the Taliban militant group were killed in the assault. ... [Press TV - 30/12/15]
"You guys are evil," he says with a laugh. "Canada's the best country in the world. We go to the doctor and we don't need to worry about paying him, but here, your whole life, you're broke because of medical bills. My bodyguard's baby was premature, and now he has to pay for it. In Canada, if your baby's premature, he stays in the hospital as long as he needs to, and then you go home."
Canadian-born Justin Bieber never plans on becoming an American citizen [CNN/Rolling Stone - 18/2/11]
... A masked Cyrus robbed the Central Bank on James Epps Road in Branson on Oct. 16, pointing what he says was a plastic BB gun at the tellers.
The reason he committed the crime, he said, was to get access to health care in the federal prison system.
Cyrus turned himself in to police a few days after the robbery and pleaded guilty on Nov. 10.
Cyrus gave an emotional speech in the courtroom after pleading guilty, saying he has bad feet and is losing his hearing.
He told the judge he recently lost his job and was turned away by a Veterans Affairs hospital. ... [Springfield News-Leader - 21/12/15]
@soit_goes [31/12/15]: People incarcerated at MCC [Metropolitan Correctional Centre] in Chicago flash cell lights in solidarity with the NYE Prison Solidarity Noise Demo
More than 100 protesters packed City Hall again Thursday with what are now very familiar chants and calls for Mayor Rahm Emanuel to resign. ... [Chicagoist - 31/12/15]
The Chicago mayor's office, police and the body that investigates police shootings closely coordinated their response in the months after a white officer fatally shot a black teenager in 2014, emails released Thursday revealed.
The messages clearly indicate that advisers to Mayor Rahm Emanuel knew within months that the case could be politically explosive. ... [Yahoo - 31/12/15]
@soit_goes [29/12/15]: Protestors wait at Rahm's house for his return from his vacation cut short by 2 more murders by police. #ResignRahm
Deaths have raised questions about the risk of excessive or improper deployment of Tasers [Washington Post - 26/11/15]:
... Officers said he was combative, so after booking the 21-year-old Wells Fargo bank employee into the Chatham County Detention Center, a sheriff’s deputy Tasered Ajibade’s abdominal area after he was handcuffed with his ankles bound. They left him in an isolation cell and didn’t check on him for at least 90 minutes, in violation of department policy. When they did, he was dead.
Ajibade is one of at least 48 people who have died in the United States since January — about one death a week — in incidents in which police used Tasers, according to a Washington Post examination of scores of police, court and autopsy records. ...
Terror attacks continue across Iraq and Syria during festive season
US Department of Defense [31/12/15]:
U.S. and coalition military forces have continued to attack Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists in Syria and Iraq, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported today.
Officials reported details of the latest strikes, noting that assessments of results are based on initial reports.
Strikes in Syria
Attack and remotely piloted aircraft conducted seven strikes in Syria:
-- Near Ayn Isa, two strikes destroyed an ISIL fighting position and an ISIL building.
-- Near Mar’a, four strikes struck four separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL vehicle, an ISIL fighting position, and wounded four ISIL fighters.
-- Near Manbij, one strike struck an ISIL tactical unit.
Strikes in Iraq
Fighter, attack, and bomber aircraft conducted 17 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:
-- Near Kisik, one strike destroyed an ISIL bunker.
-- Near Mosul, nine strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit, two ISIL staging locations, three ISIL headquarters, and destroyed 21 ISIL fighting positions.
-- Near Ramadi, five strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL staging area, 10 ISIL fighting positions, seven ISIL heavy machine guns, an ISIL sniper position, an ISIL rocket-propelled grenade position, and denied ISIL access to terrain.
-- Near Sinjar, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle and an ISIL fighting position and suppressed an ISIL mortar position and a light machine gun position.
Syria congratulates Iraq on liberating al-Ramadi [SANA - 31/12/15]
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to congratulate him on the success of the Iraqi security forces in fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), calling the liberation of the city of Ramadi an important victory. ... [Media Release - 30/12/15]
80 percent of Ramadi in ruins after fighting [Al Jazeera - 31/12/15]
... The Americans dropped the equivalent of five Hiroshimas on rural Cambodia during 1969-73.
They levelled village after village, returning to bomb the rubble and corpses.
The craters left monstrous necklaces of carnage, still visible from the air.
The terror was unimaginable.
A former Khmer Rouge official described how the survivors "froze up and they would wander around mute for three or four days. Terrified and half-crazy, the people were ready to believe what they were told... That was what made it so easy for the Khmer Rouge to win the people over." ... [John Pilger - 8/10/14]
Stop forgetting ------> Year Zero: The Silent Death of Cambodia 
I thought we'd be safe working in the empire's soft drink factory -----> A Coca-Cola factory in Yemen has been reduced to rubble after being targeted by Saudi-led air strikes Tuesday in the county`s capital Sanaa.
The factory was left obliterated after the strike took place at about 20:00, with the building burning to the ground after a massive explosion. Three were injured in the attack.
“The jet launched three missiles. One hit the generator; one hit the warehouse and one hit the workshop. My colleague was injured. He is also a guard. They took a civilian company that supports over 2,000 families as a target and enemy,” said Nazaila Alide, a guard at the factory. ... [India.com - 31/12/15]
Yemen: UN agency appeals to all sides to allow food in for hundreds of thousands under siege [Media Release - 31/12/15]
A Palestinian was shot dead after a suspected vehicular attack near the Huwwara military checkpoint in the northern occupied West Bank district of Nablus, Israel’s army said.
A spokesperson for the Israeli army told Ma’an that an assailant ran his car into Israeli forces who were stationed on highway 60 near the Huwwara checkpoint for security purposes.
The forces opened fire on the man, killing him on scene, the spokesperson said.
The Palestinian was identified as Hassan Ali Hassan Bozor, 22 from the town of Arraba east of Jenin. ... [Maan - 31/12/15]
Israel confiscates land, builds military watchtower in Hebron village [Maan - 31/12/15]
Rights body slams Israel for torturing young Gazan detainee [Press TV - 31/12/15]:
... “After they encircled and ordered him to strip naked, one of the soldiers removed a harness from a dog and unleashed it, which attacked the child and bit him in his right arm as the soldiers were standing nearby and laughing, and then the dog injured him in his left hand,” the letters read. ...
US sued over donations for illegal Israeli settlements [Al Jazeera – 30/12/15]
In video obtained by Al Jazeera, Egyptian border guards are seen shooting and killing a Palestinian man after he attempted to swim to freedom from a refugee camp in Rafah, located in the southern Gaza Strip.
According to his cousin Ahmad, Ishaq Khalil Hassan, 28, was shot and killed after he stripped off all of his clothing and jumped into the Mediterranean Sea, hoping to enter into Egypt to get treatment for psychological problems he developed while living in the camp. ... [Raw Story - 30/12/15]
... Jewish peoplehood is thus contingent on fealty to Israel. Delinking Jewishness from Zionism constitutes a grievous act of anti-Semitism. All forms of Zionism, no matter how progressive they sound, rely on that linkage.
When Palestinians support democratic coexistence, which requires equal rights and nonsectarian citizenship, they implicitly desire the end of Zionism.
When Zionists reduce Israel to emblems of cultural uplift (Jewish redemption, biblical fulfillment, ethnic refuge, enlightenment of other nations), they elide its presence as a state that behaves in relation to certain geopolitical realities. It becomes exceptional and sacrosanct. It fulfills the exclusive destiny of an anointed few, sorted from the unchosen through the blunt rites of biology. (All forms of ethnonationalism do the same.)
The state’s critics, then, are not seen to be maligning unjust policies, but as performing acts of cultural insensitivity.
The liberal Zionist must constantly choose between a self-professed commitment to democracy and protecting Israel’s reputation.
When pressed, the liberal Zionist always chooses to protect Israel’s reputation. That choice defines liberal Zionism. ... [The Electronic Intifada - 30/12/15]
... At the height of the war, the UNRWA Girls' Elementary School in Jabalia offered shelter to some 3,300 displaced people. When Israel hit the building on 30 July 2014, the shells hissed unannounced through the early morning silence killing sleeping men, women and children.
Twenty died and around a hundred were injured. Amongst the dead was Mohammed's uncle.
He had moved his family to the school from the border city of Beit Hanoun after the Israeli air force dropped leaflets warning residents to evacuate or face likely death. "It was a massacre," Mohammed's father recounted to MEE.
Shortly after, UNRWA commissioner general, Pierre Krahenbuhl, told the press "today the world stands disgraced".
By the time Israel's army spokesman, Colonel Peter Lerner, was on TV blaming Hamas for forcing Israel to kill civilians, Mohammed and his father were hurrying to the Jabalia hospital to look for the uncle.
Only two weeks earlier, Mohammed had experienced the shocking confusion of a bombing site. A neighbour's home was hit by a missile while he was alone outside. He fell to the ground and as the crowd rushed to the to look for survivors, he was trampled, sustaining injuries to his arm and head.
In the mayhem of the Jabalia hospital, he held on tightly to his father's hand. Bodies and body parts were strewn across the ground, the morgue was overflowing and there were no more fridges.
It was summer, the putrid stench of rotting flesh was nauseous and the blood was everywhere.
Dragged along by his father, Mohammed's small feet stepped on several corpses before they found the missing uncle. Shrapnel had laid waste to his body, which lay decapitated.
It was on that day that Mohammed changed. He told his father that he felt as if there was blood all around him, seeping in from everywhere, that he couldn't get the smell of that blood out of his nostrils. He felt a constant need to throw up. ... [Middle East Eye - 25/12/15]
Erdogan says Turkey killed 3,100 PKK rebels in 2015 [Ahram - 31/12/15]
Haiti: two UN female police officers found dead in their house [Media Release - 31/12/15]
Blaze hits Dubai skyscraper, New Year's fireworks proceed nearby [Reuters - 31/12/15]
A Rwandan pastor accused of leading and coordinating attacks on minority Tutsis during Rwanda's 1994 genocide has been sentenced to life imprisonment, Rwanda's high court said on Wednesday.
In the genocide, an estimated 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed by dominant Hutu forces in 100 days.
Jean Uwinkindi, who once led the Kayenzi Pentecostal church in the rural outskirts of the capital Kigali, was convicted of crimes of genocide and crimes against humanity committed during the slaughter. ... [Reuters - 30/12/15]
1 January 2016