Bombs continue raining down upon Syria and Iraq



US Department of Defense [29/2/16]:

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, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 12 strikes in Syria:

-- Near Abu Kamal, a strike struck an ISIL gas and oil separation plant.

-- Near Raqqah, a strike struck an ISIL gas and oil separation plant.

-- Near Ayn Isa, three strikes struck a large ISIL tactical unit and destroyed eight ISIL buildings, an ISIL fuel tanker, an ISIL tactical vehicle and seven ISIL vehicles.

-- Near Mar’a, three strikes destroyed four ISIL fighting positions.

-- Near Tal Abyad, four strikes struck three separate ISIL tactical units, destroyed two ISIL buildings and an ISIL vehicle and suppressed an ISIL fighting position.

Strikes in Iraq

Fighter and remotely piloted aircraft and rocket artillery conducted 12 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:

-- Near Baghdadi, a strike destroyed an ISIL vehicle bomb.

-- Near Fallujah, a strike destroyed an ISIL front end loader and an ISIL tunnel system.

-- Near Kisik, a strike suppressed an ISIL rocket fire position.

-- Near Mosul, a strike struck an ISIL vehicle bomb factory.

-- Near Ramadi, four strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL heavy machine gun, an ISIL fighting position, two ISIL staging areas and two ISIL petroleum, oil and lubricant trucks.

-- Near Sinjar, three strikes destroyed six ISIL fighting positions and suppressed an ISIL mortar position and an ISIL sniper position.

-- Near Sultan Abdallah, a strike suppressed an ISIL mortar position.





The Defense Department today held a video conference between senior DoD officials and their Russian counterparts to discuss ongoing implementation of the U.S.-Russia memorandum of understanding on flight safety over Syrian airspace, Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said in a statement.

Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Elissa Slotkin and Joint Staff Director for Strategic Plans and Policy Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr. co-chaired the call, he said.

The two sides discussed measures to enhance operational safety for coalition and Russian military forces in the fight to counter the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in Syria, Cook said, “including the means to avoid accidents and unintended confrontation between coalition and Russian forces whenever the two sides operate in close proximity.” ... [US Department of Defense - 29/2/16]



@PGiannakouris [29/2/16]:   #Greece #migrants # Idomeni border today.. so sad ...




‏@MSF_Sea [29/2/16]:   This little girl is one of the many we treated following the tear gassing at #Idomeni. The youngest was 6 weeks old.





UNHCR warns of imminent humanitarian crisis in Greece amid disarray in Europe over asylum [Media Release - 1/3/16]:



UNHCR is warning today that Europe is on the cusp of a largely self-induced humanitarian crisis.

This is in light of a rapid build-up of people in an already struggling Greece, with governments not working together despite having already reached agreements in a number of areas, and country after country imposing new border restrictions.

Inconsistent practices are causing unnecessary suffering and risk being at variance with EU and international law standards.

As of last night (Monday), the number of refugees and migrants in Greece and needing accommodation had soared to 24,000. Around 8,500 of these were at Eidomeni, near the border with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

At least 1,500 had spent the previous night in the open. The crowded conditions are leading to shortages of food, shelter, water and sanitation. Tensions have been building, fuelling violence and playing into the hands of people smugglers.

The Greek authorities have responded with the military setting up two camps near Eidomeni with a projected capacity of 12,500 and a nearby third site already under construction. With our partners UNHCR continues to supplement the Greek response effort. We have provided rub halls, tents and refugee housing units, other core relief, plus additional staff and specialists, including protection and technical staff.


UNHCR is urging the Greek authorities with the support of the European Asylum Support Office and EU Member States to strongly reinforce its capacity to register and process asylum seekers through the national asylum procedure, as well as through the European relocation scheme.

Greece cannot manage this situation alone. It remains absolutely vital therefore that the relocation efforts that Europe agreed to in 2015 are prioritized and implemented.

It should concern everyone that despite commitments to relocate 66,400 refugees from Greece, States have so far only pledged 1,539 spaces, and only 325 actual relocations have occurred.

Increased regular pathways for admission of refugees from countries neighbouring Syria will also help in the overall management of this situation.

More resettlement and humanitarian admission, family reunification, private sponsorship, and humanitarian and refugee student and work visas all serve to reduce demand for people smuggling, onward movements, and dangerous boat journeys.

They thus save lives. UNHCR will convene an important conference on this topic in Geneva on 30 March and hopes for concrete offers in this regard.






No decision on return of mission chiefs to Athens for bailout review [Ekathimerini - 1/3/16]







Greek prisons are overcrowded, violent, understaffed, fail to meet adequate health standards and are reaching “breaking point,” according to a report by the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT). ... [Ekathimerini - 1/3/16]






Calais camp refugees stage sit-in protest as demolitions resume [Guardian - 1/3/16]






@MSF_Sea [29/2/16]:  Omar, from #Afghanistan, is 6 years old. He's spent the last 4 months in the #Calais Jungle. Where will he go next?






The Legends of Pittsburgh Cruise, carrying stars of the Pittsburgh Steelers football team, rescued a boat full of Cuban migrants at sea last week.

Steelers linebacker James Harrison captured the rescue on camera and posted some of the pictures on his Instagram.

“We just stopped for this boat with 16 people in the middle of the ocean,” he wrote in the caption.

“Waiting for coast guard now.” “16ppl, wild!!!” he added in a second post.  

The four-day cruise was heading to Mexico from Miami when the crew spotted the migrants and alerted the coast guard.

They were reportedly turned over to Mexican immigration officials. ... [The Daily Caller - 29/2/16]









UN Radio podcast features Oscar-nominated film Brooklyn to explore refugees and migration [Media Release - 26/2/16]





Before the 31st United Nations Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva today, 500 human rights organizations, law professors, former UN office holders, and high-profile rights defenders including four Nobel Peace Prize winners have urged the governments of Sweden and the United Kingdom to respect the United Nations’ decision to free Julian Assange.

The statement was delivered to the Swedish and UK Permanent Representatives to the United Nations in Geneva. ... [DiEM 25 - 1/3/16]






Australia's war of attrition on refugees continues as PNG constitutional challenge set down for hearing on 4 April




Refugee Action Coalition, Sydney [1/3/16]:



Around 9.00am this morning, people found to be refugees staged a protest at the canteen in Oscar Compound.

The protest stopped the opening of the canteen, and local staff were withdrawn to the gates of Oscar Compound, as staff faced a crowd of refugees fed-up with being denied “privileges” like excursions or access to the canteen as a way of trying to force them to leave the detention centre and live outside in the so-called transit accommodation in East Lorengau.

Refugees, or “double positives”, as they are known in the detention centre are tired of the injustice.

Asylum seekers and those who have been rejected obtain 50 points each week – 25 from involvement in certain activities and 25 from the Immigration Department.

Points can be used at the canteen, run by Broadspectrum, to obtain such things as phone cards, shampoo and cigarettes. Fifty points gets you six packets of cigarettes.

Those who are found to be refugees get no points.

Refugees are given the choice – accept the unfair treatment or agree to leave the centre. There are only around 50 refugees who have been willing to leave the detention centre and live at the transit accommodation at East Lorengau.

Tensions are rising as the injustice has continued as the months drag on. Conditions at the East Lorengau detention centre are also deteriorating as refugees there are subject to a curfew and have recently been told they now have to pay for their own prescriptions.

A major standoff erupted later, at lunchtime in Delta Compound over the food. More than half the 200 detainees in Delta Compound have been found to be refugees. There have been increasing complaints over the food over the last weeks as food presented is out of date and is the same day after day.

More than 30 security guards are now in Delta Compound after a confrontation between detainees and the detention manager who told the detainees to put their complaint in writing before having to be escorted from the compound.

The deteriorating food and the increasing pressure on refugees to leave the detention centre comes as Broadspectrum seem to be cutting costs as the PNG Supreme Court hearing, regarding the constitutionality of the detention centre and the issues of alleged human rights abuses of the detainees, draws closer.

At a status conference yesterday (Monday 29 February), a hearing before Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia, set down the matter for 4 April in order to set the date for the hearing in the next sittings of the Supreme Court between 25 and 29 April.

“The conditions of detention on Manus Island are intolerable. The situation is not very different in East Lorengau. Many refugees fear for their safety since Reza Berati was killed in Mike Compound on February 2014,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.

“Most detainees are prescribed sleeping pills or sedatives to deal with the torture inflicted on them. Denying points to refugees is another form of the torture that is part of the offshore detention regime. It has to stop.”





The faux left is more essential to the emergence of fascism than the far right




Melissa Parke won't recontest seat - but the ALP has no shortage of "alibis" [Guardian - 22/1/16]:


... Burke and Parke said they would continue to work for the election of a Shorten-led Labor government at this year’s election.  <--- That would be a "Shorten-led Labor government" that has repeatedly supported, endorsed, and defended the LNP's anti refugee policy, and pledged to continue it (in fact, it was the ALP's policy first).





Only a fraud or a fool stays in - and/or supports - a party whose policies they disagree with [Sydney Morning Herald - 1/3/16]:



... 3:20pm: You might remember that Labor MP Melissa Parke is one of the MPs retiring at the election.

Ms Parke made a speech in the House of Representatives last night in which she made clear her disgust with the immigration policies of both parties.

Ms Parke said "the deliberate policy of cruelty that defines our offshore detention system" makes a mockery of Australia's various international human rights commitments.

"Australia's policy of off-shore processing for asylum seekers arriving by sea, and its interception and turning back of vessels, is leading to a chain of human rights violations, including arbitrary detention and possible torture following return to home countries," Ms Parke said.


 3:22pm: "In the time I have been in Parliament Australia's position has become demonstrably worse and far more hypocritical," Ms Parke went on.

"Is there no limit to the cruelty to be imposed on people in the name of deterrence? It seems that not even proven murder, suicide and widespread raping and attacking of asylum seekers and refugees is sufficient to cause a change in policy or to implement something as basic and essential to good governance as independent oversight."


3:26pm: Ms Parke, who was an international human rights lawyer before she entered politics, said the reason the High Court recently ruled offshore detention was constitutional was because the constitution offered no protection for human rights.





The Saturday Paper [27/9/14]:


... [Melissa] Parke plays a different role, as Labor navigates an awkward environment in which its options for criticising the government are circumscribed by its desire to be part of Team Australia.

She provides an alibi for Labor to avoid a loss of votes to the Greens as it joins the government in backing tougher terror laws and military action in the Middle East and continues to offer bipartisan support for offshore processing of asylum seekers.

Some Coalition MPs argue Bernardi plays a similar role in placating those Liberal supporters who were disappointed that Abbott abandoned the 18C changes.

As Labor leader Bill Shorten stresses that he is “working very well together” with Abbott on national security, it doesn’t hurt to have at least one opposition MP putting an alternative view. It’s a fine line, though, as left-wing Labor senator Sue Lines discovered late last month when Shorten rebuked her for accusing the government of using the threat of terrorism to deflect attention from the budget.

Back in May when Parke and Burke first raised their intention to pursue a caucus motion on ending offshore detention, there was frustration among Labor MPs at the timing, distracting as it did from the backlash to the budget. The motion was destined to fail.

Some also feared that, by reopening the debate, Parke was risking exposing Labor to attack over whether it was strong enough to manage the electorally sensitive issue.

But Parke is not a loose cannon and her recent statements have been carefully worded.

Even dissent in modern Labor is often tightly scripted.

Although Dastyari’s remarks on refugee policy earlier this year were reported as pitting him against Shorten, his speech had in fact been vetted by the party’s leadership.






...  The deterrence value of Nauru is quite simply that it tortures those who make the journey. ... [Stephen Jones MP - 23/9/11]






Chippendale... #LetThemStay



Image:  ‏@stupafication [1/3/16]





@salkimberandtrw [1/3/16]:   Surfcoast Rural Aus For Refugees, calling all surfers, paddle out for compassion 6.30pm, BellsBeach #letthemstay






The ALP's red


The LNP's blue




Ask the "opposition" too






 Jess, nurse at the RPA, has taken a stand this morning, calling on the Federal Gvt to #CloseTheCamps & #LetThemStay



Image:  @bensolity [1/3/16]





@SavageNatPelle [1/3/16]:   Beautiful activity at Border Force Sydney this morning. 267 welcome mats spell #LetThemStay





@rashini_s [1/3/16]:  Our human rights abuses are not and never will be in my name. #LetThemStay #ClosetheCamps





Be aware of being manipulated or handled by ALP affiliated groups.  They are fatally compromised - and therefore suspect - given ALP refugee policy. [The Word From Struggle Street - 26/2/16]:


... Most people weren’t members of groups though a significant number – maybe 10 – were attending as paid (one assumes) representatives/organisers of NGOs, Churches and Unions: GetUp!, The Queensland Community Alliance, St John’s Cathedral, the Services Union and others.

A superbly facilitated meeting it was divided into two sections. First a large round-robin where people introduced themselves and presented (quickly!) ideas that they wanted to proceed with. Four small discussions formed out of this that then reported back. The four were: targeting politicians/electioneering, direction action, divestment and broadening support/outreach.


One very noticeable disjunction was between those who are paid organisers and the rest of us. There was a distinct undercurrent that this wasn’t a meeting of equals. For someone of my generation this is a new version of an old problem. I am used to having to address the contradictions of being in a room with union officials, or trying to have an orientation that includes the ALP etc.

Organisations like GetUp! and QCA seem to operate differently. They bring social capital and resources but I’m not sure how much social power they have. Rather than brow beating you they act like super encouraging kindergarten teachers – trying to get you involved in projects and modes of activism that have been decided elsewhere.





A gentle reminder: Unions are part of the detention industry [xBorder - 22/7/15]:


... What does it mean, in short, to make a public statement of opposition to detention while at the same time remaining quiet about one’s role in financing this very industry? Or more directly, are unions indeed committed to ending detention or are they in fact hedging their bets?

To summarise the point to be made here, Australian unions are a constitutive component of the border industrial complex.

The actions of the ALP help to protect these investments and manage the risks associated.

The investments of unions in the detention industry comes in the form of both financing detention centre contractors through industry superannuation funds as well as recruitment strategies directed at detention and immigration control workers.

To this picture we can also add a number of social service and mental health organisations which play a role in either financing detention contractors or charity-washing for directors otherwise involved in the detention industry.





Powerful forces are deliberately invisibilising (and criminalising) the plight of South East Asia's trapped and displaced persons, whilst promoting the virtues of exploitating those who aren't deemed surplus to requirements  -----> New UN report finds "good" migrants who "come the right way" useful in Asia-Pacific development [Media Release - 29/2/16]:



... Mr. Hahm launched the 'Asia-Pacific Migration Report 2015: Migrants' Contributions to Development' on behalf of the Asia-Pacific Regional Thematic Working Group on International Migration, including Human Trafficking, which includes 15 members from the UN system and the International Organization for Migration (IOM). ...






On 28 December 2015, The Age said "It's time to set the refugees free".



So why aren't they following up on their powerful editorial by directly challenging Turnbull's anti refugee ideology?



... We have some asylum seekers, but that’s pretty much stopped.

We have stopped the boats with our policies, which are regarded as cruel by many people.

But I have to say again, our policy on border protection is harsh, but it has been absolutely demonstrated that it is better than any other alternative. ...



Israel and Australia: A conversation with Turnbull [Jewish Journal - 25/8/15]





Notwithstanding their uncanny inability to join the dots, challenge the LNP and ALP's lying "deterrence" ideology, or reflect the regional context, the Australian media are devoted to propagandising the continued incarceration and punishment refugees and asylum seekers. 

Hence the confusing fog of disinformation, statistics, opinion pieces, "good" refugee yarns, hopping from one human rights à la carte manifestation of white man's burden "on our doorstep" handwringing to another, and reheated news items that almost glorify the sadism being perpetrated in our name.





And are there Swedish journalists in South East Asia covering the regional human rights catastrophe created by Australia's war on refugees?  [Sydney Morning Herald - 1/3/16]:



A Channel Nine cameraman and producer were assaulted and injured in Stockholm on Tuesday during the filming of a 60 Minutes story on the European refugee crisis.

Swedish news services are reporting that a "group of masked men" objected to the 60 Minutes team, including presenter Liz Hayes, filming and interviewing immigrants at Rinkeby Square. In the Rinkeby district of Stockholm nearly 90 per cent of residents come from an immigrant background.


Sjunnesson said that the 60 Minutes team compared Rinkeby to a war zone: "They told me that they were in Somalia, Syria and Iraq, but nothing like that has just happened to them, they had never experienced [this] anywhere else."





After being left stranded at sea, what happened to the Rohingya migrants and refugees? [AUDIO - NPR - 4/1/16]





Who was Australia's representative? The People Smuggling Ambassador? ---->  ... "They focused on an information campaign, that's all. Not about helping people at sea and not about humanitarian assistance," a U.N. official, who declined to be named, told Reuters. ... Thai migrant crisis meeting ends without any solution on offer  [Reuters - 4/12/15]





The Phuketwan journalists say this picture of emaciated Rohingya on the beach was given to them by the Thai navy [BBC - 1/9/15]





Australia's protected and unaccountable Foreign Minister announces gender empowerment strategy [Media Release - 29/2/16]





... It’s unusual that they [Connect Consortium - who run "settlement" services for refugees exiled on Nauru] haven’t encountered any allegations of rape or sexual assault, because there are many. Such as the story of Beth, a young Ethiopian refugee who was released into the Nauruan community in May. Allegedly Beth, whose name I have changed, was sitting on the beach with some other Ethiopian women when local men gave her a drink. Beth began to feel woozy, before being dragged into bushes by two or three men and raped. They then poured fuel on her and set her alight. I have seen photographs of her after the assault. Her left breast is so badly burnt that the skin has blackened and lifted from the flesh. 

As a result of the rape, Beth became pregnant. A solemn Christian, the thought of abortion appalled her but she decided to go through with it. Beth was flown to Brisbane for the termination where, not long after, she attempted to hang herself with a bed sheet. She is now back on Nauru. 


These are not isolated incidents. I have another letter, also written by a Somali woman, who recounts a similar story. Sarah, whose name I have also changed, was offered a lift by a man at the supermarket’s bus stop. “In car, man said I have to get something from my home first. When we got there dogs came out barking. Man said get out of car, dogs won’t hurt you. Dogs came close to attacking me. I asked him to call dogs away. He said get inside the house – they don’t know you – if you go inside they think you are part of family.

“I went inside. Dogs came in too. Man took off all his clothes and showed me his private parts. I wet my pants and soiled my pants. This is reason I left Somalia – this fear of rape – I see it happen to many. Then he said I don’t care and hit my face very hard. He said dogs will kill you if you don’t suck my private part. Then I have no choice.”   ... [The Saturday Paper - 22/8/15]




Questions linger after mysterious death of wife of Nauru's Justice Minister [ABC - 23/2/16]




Guatemala sentences 2 ex-military officials for using women as sex slaves [CNN – 28/2/16]





... “The world is finally starting to understand what’s involved with political killing when they see the videos of ISIS,” [journalist Allan] Nairn said.

“… In Salvador, not only would they kill but they would cut off hands, they would cut off arms, and they would display their handiwork on the road. Passersby would see it. In the same period—I spent most of those years in Guatemala, which was even worse—they were killing more than 100,000, perhaps more than 200,000 by some estimates. One day in the library of the Polytechnica, the military academy of Guatemala, I found the Spanish translation of a U.S. military counterinsurgency document. It gave instructions on how to create terror; this was the way they put it. And they described methods used in the Philippines in the campaign against the Huks.”

“In the case of the Philippines they were talking about leaving the bodies by the rivers,” he said. “So you mutilate the bodies, you cut them, you amputate, and then you display the bodies on the riversides to stir terror in the population. And of course that’s exactly what ISIS is doing today.”

The same tactics were used in Indonesia against ethnic Chinese, labor organizers, artists, intellectuals, student leaders and members of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) after the 1965 U.S.-backed anti-communist purge that eventually ousted the independence leader President Sukarno. Sukarno was replaced in a 1967 coup by Gen. Suharto, who brutally ran the country for 31 years. During the army and paramilitary killings as many as a million Indonesians were murdered. The bodies were often left floating in rivers or on roadsides. ...  The American Empire: Murder Inc., Chris Hedges [ICH/Truthdig - 4/1/16]






The Papua New Guinean Supreme Court is expected to set the hearing date for a constitutional challenge to the Manus Island detention centre on Monday.

PNG lawyer Ben Lomai on Friday, filed a submission to the court adding 287 asylum seekers to the case bringing the total to 600.

The outcome could have implications for asylum seekers held in the detention centre and refugees resettled in the PNG community. [Nine MSN - 29/2/16]





Deputy High Commissioner to PNG pretends the construction of a sea wall somehow cancels out Australia's human rights atrocity on Manus Island [PNG Loop - 28/2/16]





A federal circuit judge who continually ruled against immigration applications should have excused himself from hearing the cases because it appeared he was biased, the federal court has heard.

Federal circuit court judge Alexander “Sandy” Street is facing a judicial review application, in part over his handling of a string of immigration matters.

A statistical analysis presented in court outlined that Street had ruled against 254 out of 256 immigration applicants between 1 January 2015 and 19 June 2015. ...[Guardian - 29/2/16]  




Feel safe?  --->  Two Australians a day removed from flights following potential security risk threats [Yahoo - 29/2/16]:



New figures show an average of two Australians per day are being removed from flights by counter-terrorism units on national security grounds.

A large number of the passengers being “removed” are suspected of trying to reach the Middle East to join terrorism organisations.

Figures confirmed by Yahoo7 show that since August 2014, where counter terrorism units have been active there have been 652 “offloads” of passengers in total.

Mostly alarmingly however half of these “offloads” have reportedly occurred in the past seven months resulting in the rate of passenger “removal” increasing by around 60 per cent.

“Offloads” are categorised as interventions to remove people from a flight on suspicion that they may possibly pose a national security risk.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton confirmed to Yahoo7 that there has been a significant rise in the total number of people being “offloaded” from aircrafts by counter terrorism units in conjunction with Australian Border Force and the Australian Federal Police.

Dutton’s office confirmed to Yahoo7 that not all “offloads” were listed as suspicious, however there appeared to be a concerning escalation in the overall number of Australians suspected of attempting to leave to join terrorist networks in both Syria and Iraq.

“A considerable number of people of national security concern have been intercepted by our Counter Terrorism Units at the borders.

“The CTUs have also managed to stop numbers of impressionable young people leaving our country to join terrorist groups overseas,” Dutton said in a statement.

“While the rising number of offloads is a cause for concern at one level, it also highlights the effective and invaluable work the members of the CTUs are doing at our borders by intercepting travellers of concern.”







An eight-month-old girl has been taken to hospital, a man has been injured and a woman in her 30s has been arrested after police were called to a unit in Sydney’s west this afternoon.  

Police were called to the apartment complex on the Great Western Highway in Parramatta at around 1.50pm.

The young girl was taken to the Children’s Hospital at Westmead in a stable condition, suffering bruising to her head.

It is still unknown how she sustained the injuries.  ... [Nine MSN - 1/3/16]




What the NZ Army did to Jon Stephenson [The Daily Blog - 29/2/16]:


... The attack on Stephenson’s credibility by the Lieutenant General’s comments in the wake of Stephenson’s Metro expose that highlighted NZ SAS involvement in handing over Afghan civilians to known torture units is an active tactic to attack a journalist rather than some simple mistake.

The NZDF didn’t make a mistake, they were attempting to discredit Stephenson rather than engage with his accusations that the NZDF was culpable in breaching the Geneva contention.

This matters because Stephenson has been one of the few voices in the NZ Media who has challenged the NZDFs sanitized version of what we have been doing in Afghanistan. ...


Journalist's court case costs New Zealand Defence Force thousands [RNZI – 29/2/16]:

Journalist Jon Stephenson took a defamation case against the New Zealand Defence Force after it issued a news statement implying he had lied about a visit to Afghanistan.

A settlement was reached after the defence force admitted Stephenson had interviewed the commander of the Interior Crisis Response Unit as he had claimed.

Today it was revealed the case had cost the defence force hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"The whole situation seems somewhat unsatisfactory but I can't make further comment as a confidential settlement was reached with Mr Stephenson and I don't wish to breach his rights," Mr Brownlee said.

Prime Minister John Key wasn't backing down from comments he made at the time in support of the defence force.

"Yeah, I stand by all the comments I made, yeah. I'm not going to go into the details why. I've got my own experiences and I'll keep them to myself."

The defence force would not change the way it dealt with media despite the costly case, a spokesperson said.

Labour Party defence spokesman Phil Goff said the government should front up over how it got things "so wrong".

He said both the defence force and Mr Key had attacked Stephenson's credibility.

"Was that the result of a genuine mistake, they'd simply got wrong advice, or was it rather more sinister than that, was that a smear tactic really designed to undermine the questions and the criticism that Jon Stephenson was raising."

There were still a lot of unanswered questions regarding the case and it was the government's responsibility to answer those, Mr Goff said.

"When something like this happens and taxpayer money is wasted, the public would be right in demanding that this type of thing doesn't happen again."



Key must apologise to the Jon Stephenson - NZ Greens [Voxy - 1/3/16]




3 ex-TEPCO execs indicted over Fukushima nuclear disaster [Japan Today – 29/2/16]





Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi delivers a speech in the lower house of the Diet in Tokyo on Monday. Al-Sisi is on a four-day visit to Japan.  [Japan Today – 29/2/16]



Buimo prison commander Judy Tara was suspended on Friday pending investigations into the mass breakout by inmates on Thursday afternoon.

Acting Correctional Services Commissioner Bernard Nepo told The National yesterday Tara had been replaced by Supt Felix Nomane.

“The commander of Buimo is effectively suspended. The investigation will establish those who are at fault, Nepo said.

He said Nomane, who arrived in Lae on Saturday, was commander of Buiebie rural lock-up in Mendi, Southern Highlands.

Nepo confirmed that 18 convicted criminals were among the 94 that escaped from the Buimo prison at around 2 pm last Thursday. ... [The National - 29/2/16]



TB cases almost triple in two years [PNG Loop – 29/2/16]



Relief supplies not enough [The National - 29/2/16]:


Food relief supplies have come to drought-affected villages in Nomad in the Middle Fly district of Western, but this is not enough, says Australian relief worker Sally Lloyd, who spent the last three weeks there.

Lloyd, who told the heart-wrenching story of villagers starving and dying in Middle Fly last month, said rice had been flown in by the Prime Minister’s Department after she spoke out.

However, she said this was not enough to sustain the people as they waited for their food gardens to grow.

Lloyd helped in distribution of the rice, which had to be equally shared among thousands of people, with a 10kg bag of rice having to be shared among 14 people.






A shootout took place this morning around 11:20am to 12 midday at the Wanigela Village down at Koki, Port Moresby.

A man in his early 30’s, identified as Boala Beru was shot twice in his chest while trying to take refuge under a house.

He was rushed to the Pacific International Hospital.

Another man, a betelnut seller was shot in the butt while trying to run away with his bag of betelnuts.

Bystanders and witnesses said the shots were fired by police who were trying to intercept suspected betelnut smugglers.

They said it looked like an ambush to catch people bringing in betelnut by boat to those waiting along the Wanigela shoreline. ... [PNG Loop - 29/2/16]





Forgotten plight of asylum seekers and refugees in Indonesia  [Hazara Asylum Seekers - 16/8/15]:


These photos are from Balikpapan detention centre (in Indonesia) where more than 285 people, reportedly Hazaras and mostly refugees have staged protest against manhandling and their mistreatment.

Sources in the centre are reporting that a critically ill refugee had not been allowed to be attended by doctor.

When his fellow refugees insisted for his treatment, the staff at the said hospital resorted to severely beating them.

Asylum seekers and refugees have now staged hunger strike and are seeking UNHCR and IOM's attention to their deteriorating situation, but even after four days, to no avail.

No one from UNHCR or IOM has yet visited them.

Reports of torture and abuse in Indonesian detention centres are not surprising neither new. In February 2012, a young Hazara aged 16, Taqi, was severely beaten to death by Indonesian guards.

Due to lack of interest from Indonesia's mainstream media and Australian media's limited attention to only asylum seekers and refugees living in and around Jakarta, plight of an overwhelming number of asylum seekers and refugees detained in remote detention centres across Indonesia remains unreported.

Here is Human Rights Watch's report on Indonesian detention centres ...





1 March 2016