Pacific women attend parliamentary forum.
Fiji Times [29/4/15]:
The Pacific Women Parliamentary Partnership forum was this morning opened by Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama at Novotel Hotel in Lami.
In his official address, Mr Bainimarama said the Government that he led was extremely serious about women issues.
"Tackling domestic violence is at the core of our efforts to improve the position and status of Fijian women generally. To empower and to give them more of a stake in our economy," he said.
"Also, to enrich their lives and those of their families and to enable them to reach their full potentials, and above all, to provide them with an environment free from intimidation and fear."
Meanwhile, 30 Pacific women parliamentarians from the Cook Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Palau, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu are part of the forum.
refugees await fate
Phnom Penh Post [29/4/15]:
Forty Montagnard asylum seekers from Vietnam’s Central Highlands are waiting for the Interior Ministry’s refugee department to register their claims in Phnom Penh after more arrived in the capital in recent days, the UN refugee agency has said.
Vivian Tan, a spokeswoman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), yesterday said that “more Montagnards have arrived in Phnom Penh. There are now 40 of them waiting to be registered by the Refugee Department.”
Since October, dozens of ethnic Jarai Montagnards have fled to Cambodia citing religious persecution.
Cambodian police deported 45 Montagnards in February, while 13 have so far been granted provisional refugee status after they were escorted to Phnom Penh by UN officials in December.
At least 23 others are thought to be hiding in the forests of the remote northeast in Ratanakkiri province, where armed security forces and sniffer dogs have been mobilised to track them down.
Kerm Sarin, head of the government’s refugee department, could not be reached yesterday for comment.
An ethnic Jarai villager in Ratanakkiri who has been assisting the asylum seekers there said the new arrivals had not entered the country via the usual cross-border routes out of fear after about 1,000 troops were dispatched to the area on Thursday to combat “illegal immigration”.
“They did not come to Ratanakkiri because of the soldiers deploying all along the border,” he said. “The deploying of these troops was aimed at the Montagnards.”
Some of the 23 Montagnards still in hiding in the province have been there for four months and are suffering from worsening conditions and a lack of food, he added.
In late March, the UN refugee agency met Cambodian and Vietnamese officials to “discuss solutions” to the influx of Montagnards, including repatriation.
Wan-Hea Lee, representative of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that her office was continuing to urge the government to allow the remaining asylum seekers safe passage to register their claims without fear of deportation.
“Unfortunately, dialogue with the government on these issues has not been possible in recent months. Any viable long-term solution, however, would need to be pursued on the other side of the border where developments are apparently causing persons to seek asylum.’’
The continued influx of asylum seekers comes as Cambodia is preparing to allow a small number of refugees held in an Australian-funded detention centre on the Pacific island of Nauru to resettle here under an agreement signed last September.
Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia division, said: “Instead of proving to the world that it welcomes refugees, Cambodia is busy proving the opposite by hunting them down in the jungles and locking them out of the interview rooms in Phnom Penh.”
“Hun Sen and his government are right out of a modern day Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde show, where the kindly doctor happily treats refugees from Nauru whose pockets are stuffed with Australian assistance cash, while Hyde chases down and forces back impoverished Montagnards fleeing Vietnam government persecution.”
As war memories fade, Vietnam still battles Agent Orange legacy [Channel News Asia – 28/4/15]:
Tan Tri doesn't know a thing about Agent Orange. But doctors say he lives with its effects every day, when he crawls off his wooden bed and waits for someone to feed him. He is 25.
His mother Vo Thi Nham was exposed to Agent Orange when U.S. forces showered the chemical across swathes of Vietnam half a century ago to the destroy jungle cover of its wartime enemy.
Nham believes it's the reason her son was born physically and mentally disabled.
"Other people around here were affected by Agent Orange, too, but it was really bad for us," Nham said at her home in Danang, central Vietnam. "At least they can walk – he can't."
Tri, slumped on the concrete floor at her feet, chimed in.
"I can walk with my arms!", he said, correcting her.
The Vietnam War ended 40 years ago this week and its memory is fading among its young population.
But Agent Orange is the enduring legacy it cannot forget, with children of a second postwar generation still being born with deformities which their doctors believe are linked to the defoliant.
Some three million Vietnamese have suffered from fatal diseases, disabilities and illness after coming into contact with Agent Orange, according to the Vietnam Association of Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin (VAVA).
Today deformities are visible everywhere. In the streets, beggars carry children with swollen heads or unnaturally bent limbs. Bodies are twisted, some are born without eyes.
A Reuters journalist this month travelled from north to south Vietnam and documented lives of many disabled people whose relatives doctors say were exposed to Agent Orange.
One former soldier, Do Duc Diu, said he buried 12 of his 15 children after they died as infants. He has graves prepared for two daughters who are sick and may not live long.
Le Dang Ngoc Hung, 15, lies taciturn on a bamboo mat most of the day, his listless eyes and mouth drooping. Hung cannot walk and has the delicate skin of a newborn because he rarely ventures outside.
"It was sad," his mother, Le Thi Thao, said recalling when she discovered his disability. "But he is my son, so of course, I have to take care of him."
Agent Orange is complex, its long-term impact much debated and subject to legal cases by Vietnam and American veterans.
U.S. studies have found heightened risks of prostrate, lymphocytic leukaemia and melanoma in exposed servicemen, but similarly with the impact of dioxin on postwar generations of Vietnamese, research indicating strong links has also cited complexities in making conclusive determinations.
The United States is fast becoming an important ally for Vietnam, but Agent Orange remains a source of friction.
Washington allocated US$43 million in 2012 to clean land contaminated by dioxin from the estimated 20 million gallons of Agent Orange sprayed in Vietnam from 1962-1971, but many Vietnamese say that's not enough.
EU president calls for refugee quotas, legal migration to Europe
Deutsche Welle [29/4/15]
The European Commission's president has called for refugee quotas for EU countries and more legal migration. Europe's leaders are discussing ways to stop thousands of migrants dying in attempts to reach the continent.
Speaking to lawmakers at the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker suggested a binding quota for taking in refugees across all 28 EU member countries.
"I will appeal for the establishment of a quota system," Juncker said, outlining plans he would later present to the rest of the European Commission.
"We must distribute refugees throughout the whole of Europe."
Currently, only five EU countries, including Germany, take in 75 percent of the refugees in the bloc.
Wednesday's debate follows widespread concern in Europe about the deaths of thousands of migrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East trying - via dangerous journeys often at the hands of human traffickers - to reach the bloc due to persecution, conflict or poverty. In response to mass-drownings off the coast of Libya, EU leaders last week announced a boost the Triton patrol mission in the Mediterranean.
"In the medium term, legal migration must be on the agenda," Juncker said, calling on member states to take in not just people needing protection, but also a limited number of people wanting to come to Europe and seek work.
"If we don't open the door, even partly, you can't act surprised when the unfortunate from across the planet break in through the window," he said.
He said while everyone knew that Europe could not be the only place of refuge in the fight against poverty, as the richest continent it must help so that people, driven by need, did not end up "sitting in boats and drowning before our coasts."
Juncker criticized the response of EU governments to the latest tragedies as "inadequate."
"It's not enough to just fight the symptoms of this crisis," he said, adding that "Member states must extend development aid, that's absolutely necessary."
The commission - the EU's executive arm - is due to unveil a comprehensive migration strategy in mid-May.
Egypt: Photojournalist Gamal Ziada acquitted in Al-Azhar clashes case
Daily News Egypt [29/4/15]:
Photojournalist Ahmed Gamal Ziada, along with twelve other defendants, was acquitted of all charges Wednesday in the Al-Azhar University clashes case.
The detainees were accused of engaging in violent protests and setting fire to Al-Azhar University’s Faculty of Commerce in December 2013.
The Cairo Criminal Court also sentenced 63 other defendants to between a year to seven years imprisonment.
Ziada, a photojournalist for Yaqeen News Network, was assigned to cover protests in the university when he was arrested by security forces.
The photojournalist initiated two hunger strikes during his detention, which lasted for more than 480 days, in protest at his unjustified detention.
Ziada’s name was among ten journalists mentioned by the international Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) in a letter addressing Egypt’s presidency, demanding the immediate correction of the status of journalists in Egypt.
Greek parliament votes to re-open ERT public broadcaster
Deutsche Welle [29/4/15]:
Closed two years ago as part of the previous Greek government's austerity measures, lawmakers have voted to fund public broadcaster ERT.
The move fulfills one of the leftist Syriza party's campaign promises.
Under pressure from the European Broadcasting Union and Greece's top administrative court, ERT was closed in July 2013 after more than 60 years on air. Some 2,600 people lost their jobs provoking numerous demonstrations and was internationally criticized.
The service was replaced 11 months later by a scaled down version, Nerit, with a smaller budget and 500 employees.
Antonis Samaras, Greece's prime minister when the station was closed, had vowed to re-open ERT, however, to "repair" what he described as "a crime against Greek people and democracy."
But the task came to his successor, Alexis Tsipras of the Syriza party. The re-launch of the television channel was one of the election promises of the new government.
The bill to re-open the public broadcaster pulled in support from the radical left coalition government and Greek Independents at the vote early on Wednesday, with the main opposition right party New Democracy voting against the legislation.
The law states that ERT will cost 60 million euros ($66 million) a year and be covered by fees set at 3 euros per month.
There were major protests in Greece when the closure of ERT, known in Greek as EPT, was announced
"This government is determined to put an end to the black screen," Syriza lawmaker Yiorgos Pantzas said hours before the law was passed. "This government of the left is re-opening ERT."
As part of the re-launch, some 1,550 former employees will have the opportunity to reintegrate into the company if they wish. Hundreds of workers retired after its closure, however, while others were hired by Nerit. According to media reports, 2,300 people would form the new ERT.
Greece to present draft reform bill to lenders [ekathimerini.com - 29/4/15]
Protestors dig in against coal as major court case continues
Gladstone Observer [29/4/15]:
A group of environmental protesters wielding black balloons and a "no more coal" sign gathered outside the Brisbane Magistrates Courthouse this morning in support of legal action occurring against Adani's Carmichael Mine.
The trial against the mine, which environmental group Coast and Country have pursued, has been continuing for weeks and today the Queensland Land Court will hear from a climate change expert about how the project will affect the climate.
350.org Galilee Basin campaigner Janelle Rees said their group wanted to show support for the climate change evidence.
She said the black balloons represented the amount of carbon which the Carmichael Mine would produce.
"The main concern is that most experts are saying that 80% of the world's fossil fuels need to stay in the ground," she said.
"And when you're talking a mine the size of the Carmichael Mine it could be up to seven times the size of Sydney Harbour, this is going to lead to unstoppable climate change."
Ms Rees said while the rest of the world continued to make progress in addressing climate change, Australia was going backwards.
"The biggest concern is we need to leave this in the ground," she said.
"This mine isn't going to do that and we need to make a transition to renewables to other sources of economic development outside the fossil fuel industry."
Ms Rees fears burning coal from the Carmichael Mine would push the world over the two degree warming, which politicians around the world were working towards.
Adani’s economic outlook 'makes no sense' [Daily Mercury - 29/4/15]:
An economist has slammed mining giant Adani and its prediction that its coal from Carmichael Mine will be better than any other coal on the market.
Economist Richard Denniss gave evidence in the Queensland Land Court on Tuesday which criticised an Adani economist's expectation on how the Carmichael Mine would affect the coal market.
Barrister Saul Holt, who is representing environmental group Coast and Country in its legal battle against Adani, asked Dr Denniss's thoughts on a report and evidence given by Adani economist Dr Jerome Fahrer, which outlines the mine's projected economic impact.
Dr Denniss said Dr Fahrer's modelling did not make sense.
Gladstone Observer [29/4/15]:
On the same day WICET farewelled its first coal shipment from Gladstone Harbour, Aurizon has secured a contract to supply up to four million tonnes per annum of coal through the exporting facility from Caledon Coal's Cook mine.
The 11-year contract is effective from May 2015 through to June 2026.
The contract exceeds previously held contracts sixfold.
Racing identity in court on rape charge
The son of racing legend Sir Jack Brabham has appeared in a Brisbane court on child sex charges.
The criminal trial of Gary Thomas Brabham, 54, was due to begin this week in the Brisbane District Court after he was charged with one count of rape and six of indecent treatment of a child under 12.
But on Monday, the case was delayed due to legal argument surrounding an amendment to the indictment brought by the Crown.
The matter returned to court before Judge Helen Bowskill on Wednesday, however it was again adjourned for further review on Friday.
Brabham, a former professional driver himself, sat quietly in the dock as the legal argument unfolded.
He followed his famous father and brothers Geoff and David into motor-racing, making a name for himself in Europe in Formula Fords and the British Formula 3 championship.
But his career never fully recovered from a disappointing entry into
Formula One racing in 1990, when he failed to pre-qualify for the first two
races of the season before quitting his team.
Man denies allegations he molested teen in his care [Daily Mercury -29/4/15]
Newman drops Jones defamation case [Yahoo – 29/4/15]
A Hatton Vale kindergarten and school went into lockdown following reports of an armed man outside the premises this morning.
Mixed reports emerged about 10.30am of a man wielding a weapon outside the Hannant Rd centre.
Police immediately went to the area to find a 16-year-old boy walking along the road, armed with a car suspension spring which he was using to hit power poles. ... [Chronicle - 29/4/15]
A Queensland man on trial for murder allegedly confessed to smashing the head of his victim "in a frenzy" after an argument about a love affair, a Brisbane court has heard. ... [Yahoo - 29/4/15]
Daniel Jack Kelsall has been sentenced to at least 30 years in jail for the "chilling" murder of Sydney man Morgan Huxley.
Dressed in a grey suit, the 22-year-old stared straight ahead and made no expression as Justice Robert Allan Hulme sentenced him to a maximum term of 40 years, saying "this is a chilling case of murder". ... [West Australian - 29/4/15]
Grievous bodily harm charge, Margate [QPS Media – 28/4/15]
A man accused of torturing a 14-year-old boy with an electric cattle prod is due to appear in Warwick Magistrates via video link next Monday. … [Chronicle – 28/4/15]
Teen 'drank all day' before raping and murdering a pregnant woman [ABC - 28/4/15]:
The husband of a pregnant woman killed while walking to work south of Brisbane has said her accused killer must be considered innocent until proven guilty.
Joan Ryther, 27, was killed in May 2013 as she made her way to work at a McDonald's outlet at Logan Central.
Her bloodied and partially clothed body was found the next day in a front yard, just metres from her workplace.
She was eight weeks pregnant at the time.
A committal hearing began this morning at Beenleigh Magistrates Court for a 19-year-old man, who cannot be named for legal reasons.
He has been charged with rape, unlawful assault of a pregnant woman, and murder.
Defence lawyer Michael Bosscher said the accused had been in custody for nearly two years.
"He's only a young man so he's been very keen for it to get underway and now that it's started, that's somewhat of a relief," Mr Bosscher told the court.
A witness brought to the court from jail testified about the day Ms Ryther was killed that he been drinking with the accused and other friends for many hours before they went out to steal a car.
The court was told he separated from the accused near the McDonald's when they were nearly caught stealing a car.
"We ran in different directions," the witness said.
The witness said they met again the next morning and there was nothing unusual about the accused.
Ten witnesses are to give evidence.
The committal hearing is to finish tomorrow after hearing from medical experts.
Outside the court, Ms Ryther's husband Cory told reporters it had been difficult looking at his wife's accused killer.
"Probably stared a whole through the glass but I just want everybody to remember he's still innocent until proven guilty," he said.
"I believe in justice I believe in the justice system we have in Australia.
"We have one of the finest legal systems in the world - it may be slow but it's thorough."
Springwood Police locate drugs and stolen property at Daisy Hill property [QPS Media – 28/4/15]
I feel so much safer now, don't you? ---> Unlicensed tattoo parlour, cannabis seeds, possible bikie links Upper Coomera [QPS Media – 28/4/15]
QPS Media [28/4/15]:
Four Australian Bulldog puppies stolen from a Wongawallan breeder on April 16, have been located by Detectives from Task Force Maxima Gold Coast.
The puppies were located following the execution of a search warrant this morning at a Biggera Waters address, in the possession of a 26-year-old member of the Mongols Outlaw Motorcycle Criminal Gang (OMCG).
At four-weeks-old the puppies were still feeding from their mother when they were stolen.
Task Force Maxima officers transported the puppies to Surfers Paradise Police Station where they were inspected by the breeder and found to be in good health.
Detective Acting Inspector David Cove said no charges have been laid at this time however investigations into the incident are continuing.
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.
... Hamish John Smith has been in custody charged with possessing a dangerous drug, a weapon, drug utensils and cash suspected as being proceeds of crime since he was arrested in a Westbrook home in October 2014.
Police alleged at the time Mr Smith was in possession of more than 100g of methylamphetamines, knuckle dusters and cash suspected of being the proceeds of crime.
According to police the drugs had a street value of about $20,000 and Mr Smith was a member of a criminal motorcycle gang.
When he was first charged he denied any involvement in the offences claiming he did not live at the house - but had fallen asleep there when he visited to perform maintenance.
Mr Smith applied for Supreme Court bail on Monday requesting to be allowed out in order to go to a rehab facility.
The court heard Mr Smith, who did not appear in court, was a long time drug user and would benefit from a rehabilitation program.
Despite the application, the court heard Mr Smith did not yet have a place in any rehab facilities.
The Crown prosecutor opposed the bail application claiming Mr Smith had a high chance of re-offending if he did not have a place in a facility.
Justice John Byrne agreed and ruled the bail application would be adjourned until Mr Smith had a place in rehab available if released.
The hearing was adjourned to a date to be fixed.
Fatal traffic crash, Clagiraba
QPS Media [29/4/15]:
Police are investigating a fatal traffic crash that occurred on the Beaudesert–Nerang Road, Clagiraba last night.
Initial investigations suggest just before 8.30pm a car left the road and slid down an embankment before crashing into a tree.
The male driver who was the sole occupant of the car, was pronounced deceased at the scene.
The road was closed for almost eight hours and has now reopened.
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.
More than a dozen children have been taken to hospital with minor injuries after the school bus they were on crashed into a semi-trailer truck on the Bruce Highway near Townsville. ... [ABC - 29/4/15]
Man severely injured after falling from cattle truck near Clermont [Morning Bulletin – 29/4/15]
Powerlines brought down as truck crashes on Cowleys Rd, Mackay [Daily Mercury -29/4/15]
A 26 year-old tourist on a working holiday has been airlifted by RACQ CareFlight Rescue after being pinned by a vehicle in Gayndah today.
It was reported the woman was about to wash a car when it rolled down a slope. … [News Mail – 28/4/15]
Fine and suspension for driver who hit cyclist
Canberra Times [28/4/15]:
A Lyneham man who struck a cyclist with his van was himself admitted to hospital after a similar incident in his youth, a court has heard.
John Bailey Field, 64, collided with the cyclist while turning right in Lyneham in June last year.
The rider was taken to hospital with head, spinal, and arm injuries as a result of the crash about 1.55pm on June 14.
Field, of Lyneham, pleaded guilty in the ACT Magistrates Court to negligent driving occasioning grievous bodily harm.
Court documents said the Australian National University academic had been driving west along Wattle Street.
He stopped at an intersection to change gear, with the intention to turn right into Lambert Street.
The court heard the traffic had been light, the weather clear, and the road surface in good condition.
The cyclist then collided with the front left side of Field's van as he crossed the intersection.
The rider suffered life-threatening injuries, including head trauma and facial fractures.
He also broke both his wrists and court documents said he would need more surgery to treat the damage.
Field – who represented himself – appeared for sentence before Magistrate Robert Cook on Tuesday.
The offender told the court he was himself "car-doored" as a 15-year-old, leading to a four-month recovery.
Field said this incident meant he had a deep sympathy and empathy for the man he hit.
"I am truly sorry," Field said.
Field – who described himself as a "courteous and careful driver" – said he had looked carefully before he turned but failed to see the cyclist who had been dressed in black and travelling at speed.
He asked the court to grant him a section 17 – which would mean a conviction would not be recorded – as a criminal record would prevent him travelling to some countries in his work as a landscape scientist.
Field also argued against a licence suspension as he needed to travel to the south coast to visit his partner, who was in care.
But prosecutor Paul Sweeney said the extraordinary harm suffered by the victim meant a non-conviction order would be inappropriate.
He said a message had to be sent to the community that motorists must pay constant attention when using the road.
Mr Sweeney said moments of inattention could have drastic consequences, especially when involving vulnerable road users such as cyclists.
The magistrate accepted Field's regret and remorse, but noted the offender believed the cyclist to be partially responsible for the accident.
Mr Cook noted the offender had a minor criminal history and rated the offence as mid-range.
He convicted Field, disqualified him from driving for three months, fined him $500, and placed him on a one year good behaviour order.
Cyclist hurt in North Perth crash [West Australian – 28/4/15]
Chambers said to Barlow
In their last night on death row
Come on brother
Take my hand
And don't you cry
We are in a foreign land
And it's time to die
Come light we'll walk the hall,
We'll stand and we will fall
We'll hang like broken dolls
And it will be done
I can hear your mother call
And it's long way home
'Barlow and Chambers', Tex, Don and Charlie 
Australia's mandatory detention of refugees = torture.
Unions and professional organisations should be constantly and strenuously calling for an end to it.
Are they at least confidentially warning members about possible future liability for crimes against humanity?
The Doctors Trial: The Medical Case of the Subsequent Nuremberg Proceedings [United States Holocaust Memorial Museum]:
On December 9, 1946, an American military tribunal opened criminal proceedings against 23 leading German physicians and administrators for their willing participation in war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Protected, unaccountable Immigration Minister continues tormenting Manus refugees.
Australian media continues its blackout.
Refugee Action Coalition, Sydney [29/4/15]:
Immigration authorities on Manus Island are removing basic rights from refugees inside the detention centre in an effort to force them to relocate to accommodation in East Lorengau.
Since late last year, the Immigration Department has been trying to force refugees to move out. Most have refused because of fears for their safety, following the killing of Reza Barati and the savage attacks on scores of others in February last year.
In January, authorities threatened to forcibly move the refugees, but a hunger strike of hundreds of asylum seekers forced the government to back down. Only two were willing to shift to East Lorengau.
Now the government is using its administrative control over the lives of detainees to coerce the refugees to move, by making life in the detention centre intolerable for them.
Following a warning two weeks ago, the Australian Immigration Department has now issued slips to all refugees, indicating that from Monday 27 April, refugees will no longer receive points to buy anything at the internal canteen.
Refugees’ access to phone and internet will be also restricted to once a week. But, without points to buy cards, refugees are effectively being denied the right to make phone calls at all.
Incredibly, their access to the medical centre will also be restricted. They are also excluded from all activities and excursions; something that will harm their psychological well-being.
“Such punitive tactics are typical of the complete disregard the Immigration Department has for the welfare of the people under its control. It is simply unbelievable that the government would stoop so low as to deny refugees access to medical care. It is a shocking breach of their duty of care. On Manus Island, access to medical attention can be the difference between life and death. Denying phone cards and activities is a form of torture,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition.
“Rather than guarantee their safety, Immigration is resorting to the worst form of blackmail.”
Over 150 refugees presently inside the detention centre are threatened by the department’s clampdown.
Over the last few weeks, the number of refugees at East Lorengau has grown to 19 but it is clear that the Department intends to apply greater pressure on refugees to force them to transfer. Some refugees, captured during the January hunger strike, have been held for months in the high security Charlie compound in an effort to force them to move.
East Lorengau operates under curfew from 6.00pm to 6.00am, and refugees have no right to work. Around 60 guards are permanently on duty.
Meanwhile, the constitutional challenge to Manus Island detention, and the associated human rights abuses, are back in PNG’s Supreme Court in Port Moresby, Thursday 30 April for a directions hearing. It is expected that the court will set a date for the full hearing of the challenge.
Travel restrictions placed on exiled Manus refugee Reza Mollagholipour [ABC - 1/4/15]
Lawyers for the 25 asylum seekers detained at the Australian-run processing center on Manus have been told to file and serve applications seeking access to another visit to their clients on the island.
Lawyer Ben Lomai appeared before Chief Justice Salamo Injia today (Wednesday) at the Supreme Court where he was told to file and serve an application seeking request for another access to the center.
He told the court he and his team were in Manus for 14 days (6th -17th March) before returning to Port Moresby on Sunday.
He said whilst in Manus they were able to see some 300 clients apart from their initial 25. ... [PNG Loop - 22/4/15]
Do any Queensland nurses work for IHMS in the Manus refugee concentration camp?
Withholding health care after a man died in precisely the circumstances outlined above?
So along with an obedient, censoring media, unions are working with the government and opposition to "neutralise" Australia's refugee issue?
Where's the AMA?: "... No media will [be] present in the room to report on the evening so don’t miss out! ..." [Former Prime Minister, the Hon. Julia Gillard to speak at the 2015 Doctors in Training Leadership Development Dinner]
Feting neoliberal politicians with dubious human rights records aside, selective compassion, and silence on ethical health care (particularly with regard to refugees incarcerated by the Australian government) speaks volumes.
Maria and Tyrone Sevilla and the Queensland Nurses’ Union (QNU) have today thanked the community, Ms Sevilla’s nursing colleagues, church and union members, the media and LNP, ALP, KAP and PUP politicians for reporting and supporting their case. Ms Sevilla and Tyrone are campaigning to stay in Australia after they were twice refused visas solely on the grounds that Tyrone has autism.
Ms Sevilla, Tyrone and the QNU also thanked Federal Immigration Minister Peter Dutton for yesterday stating he would soon make a decision on whether the Registered Nurse (RN) and her 10-year-old son could stay in the country. ... [QNU Media Release - 28/4/15]
Australia creates stateless babies [ABC - 23/4/15]:
Three Australian-born children could be in danger of becoming stateless when they are deported to Malaysia from a Darwin detention centre, a human rights lawyer says.
The children, aged five, four, and two, were born in Queensland while their Malaysian parents were on a bridging visa.
After the visa expired, the family was moved to Darwin's Wickham Point Detention Centre
The ABC has seen a notice which says they will be deported to Malaysia next week.
Human rights lawyer David Manne said the children will lose basic rights after they are deported.
"Look these three children face the very real risk of not being recognised as Malaysian citizens, of remaining stateless," he said.
The family is concerned the boy has a skin infection that has not been treated in detention and would no be cared for if the children are not citizens in Malaysia.
"Including not being able to go to school or get an education or even have access to basic medical care that they need ... that would be a terrible fate," he said.
Mr Manne said it will take time and money for the children to be acknowledged as citizens in Malaysia because of the country's lengthy application process.
"Having been born here, these children now face a very uncertain and potentially very bleak fate back in Malaysia," he said.
"The Australian Government has the discretion to allow them to stay, and it should show some heart by letting them stay."
Police officer stood down, South Eastern Region
QPS Media [29/4/15]:
A 27-year-old female Constable from South Eastern Region has today been stood down from official duty with the Queensland Police Service.
The officer is the subject of a disciplinary investigation for misconduct in relation to the submission of false and misleading information, and being untruthful to an officer investigating a disciplinary matter.
In keeping with our commitment to high standards of behaviour, transparency and accountability, we have undertaken to inform the public when an officer faces serious allegations of misconduct.
Brisbane media don't want you to know about the slaves
West Australian [29/4/15]:
Seventeen Chinese nationals have reportedly been taken into custody after police raided a Moreton Bay construction site.
It's understood the men were discovered after police raided the site on Wednesday.
They will be taken to a detention centre on Friday before being deported, the Nine Network reports.
The Department of Immigration has been contacted for comment.
An unspecified number of Fortescue Metals Group mine workers have been made redundant today.
It is understood the majority of affected staff are truck drivers associated with iron ore miner’s Cloudbreak mine in the Pilbara. ... [West Australian - 29/4/15]
NZ Prime Minister reveals troops' Dubai stopover
Opposition parties have criticised Prime Minister John Key for revealing New Zealand troops are in Dubai on their way to Iraq.
Having repeatedly refused to tell New Zealand news media when the troops might go to the Middle East, Mr Key, who is visiting the Gulf states, told news media there they were already in Dubai.
Mr Key had cited security reasons for giving nothing away about the deployment but was relaxed about telling the Gulf News.
He explained why to reporters travelling with him why.
"They directly asked the question...I just don't think it's new news that that they have a transit stop. I mean they, it's like saying I go to London and I stop off in LA," Mr Key said.
New Zealand First defence spokesperson Ron Mark asked in Parliament today how the Government could reconcile not providing any details about the deployment with Mr Key's comments in Dubai.
"As already been publicly stated, we expect all of the New Zealand contingent involved in the building partner capacity mission to Iraq to be deployed in Taji and Baghdad by mid-May," Deputy Leader of the House Simon Bridges said.
"It shouldn't come as a surprise that personnel have been going to the region in advance of deploying into Iraq.
"The Prime Minister and the Minister of Defence (Gerry Brownlee) made it very clear on April 15 that the deployment would be staged with groups entering Iraq at different times."
Labour Party foreign affairs spokesperson David Shearer said Mr Key had shown a frightening lack of judgement in disclosing to Gulf News that troops were in the United Arab Emirates awaiting their Iraq deployment.
"At the same time the prime minister is telling us that disclosing operational details could be a security risk he is being loose-lipped on the world stage," Mr Shearer said in a statement.
But in Dubai Mr Key had made it clear he could not understand what the fuss was about.
"I just don't see it as newsworthy. You guys might but I don't. I mean, they have to fly through somewhere. That's the base they use going into Baghdad," he said.
Under further questioning, Mr Bridges stuck to his line that there was nothing unusual in what Mr Key had said.
"That statement that troops are in Dubai shouldn't come as a surprise. We've always been clear that this was a deployment that was staged but we don't go into details on specific travel arrangements, certainly into a theatre of operation Iraq," Mr Bridges said.
Over a hundred people look set to lose their jobs at Transfield, the company that manages Chorus' fibre and copper network.
Staff found out about the company's restructure and the proposal to cut 137 jobs across the country, via video briefing last week. ... [RNZI - 29/4/15]
New Zealand: Transfield Services awarded NZ$1 billion ten year telecommunications contract [Media Release - 25/6/09]
Former Justice Minister says public angry over lack of scrutiny on Nauru
A former Nauru justice minister, Mathew Batsiua, says a rally is being planned because of growing public anger at the lack of scrutiny on government activity.
For nearly a year there has been no effective opposition in the parliament with five of the opposition MPs suspended.
Legal moves by the MPs to get their seats back have failed and attempts to negotiate their return have come to nothing.
Mathew Batsiua, one of the shut out MPs, says the people are becoming increasingly angry at the absence of checks and balances on government.
"So people are crying out for parliament to restore members of the opposition, so we can have decent parliament sittings, where the activities of government, the policies of government are properly scrutinised by parliament. So people want to see opposition members back in parliament debating policy, debating laws and having our parliament operate normally as a democratic parliament."
Mathew Batsiua says any rally could be constrained by new laws that have placed curbs on public protests.
Radio Kiribati editor sacked over 'unbalanced' reporting
The Kiribati Broadcasting and Publications Authority says Radio Kiribati's editor was sacked in part because of her reporting of the death penalty bill.
Aneta Moote was fired after Radio Kiribati rebroadcast a story from Radio New Zealand International, which said the president Anote Tong supported the bill.
The Kiribati Indepedent has reported that following public criticism of the bill, the government back-tracked on its support and was embarrased by the Radio Kiribati story.
But the BPA chairman, Bootii Nauan, says Ms Moote was not fired because of reporting which reflected negatively on the government, but because the story was incomplete and unbalanced.
"Three weeks or four weeks before that, the president gave a, presented a press release on that issue. From what the president mentioned, everything the president mentioned was not reflected in the news that was broadcasted at that time."
Bootii Nauan says the BPA does not place any restrictions on what its reporters can cover.
Public against introduction of death penalty in Kiribati [RNZI – 1/12/14]
The Australian government is flouting international law in an effort to give the mining and oil industry access to Aborignal land, according to a prominent Māori indigenous rights lawyer.
The Western Australia state government is proposing to shut down remote rural communities because it says a one-off payment from the federal government of $90 million will run out in three years.
Lawyer Dayle Takitimu said the government was breaching the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People by effectively forcing people to leave their communities.
Ms Takitimu said the Australian government's excuse, that it could not afford to subsidise the Aboriginal people's lifestyles, was just rhetoric.
She said it was really about getting the mining and the oil industries into those places without having to obtain official consent. ... [RNZI - 29/4/15]
The message of ANZAC: Put out more flags, or shut up
He tweeted the unsayable about imperial Australia, much of it the truth; and all decent journalists - or dare I say, his freedom-loving compatriots - should be standing up for him.
John Pilger [28/4/15]:
Following a week in Australia in which the words "heroes" and "heroism" bobbed on a tsunami of raw propaganda, a tribute is due to two unrecognised heroes. The first is Ray Jackson, who died on 23 April.
Ray spoke and fought for a truth which the powerful and bigoted hate to hear, see or read. He said this was a land not of brave ANZAC "legacies", but of dirty secrets and enduring injustices that only a national cowardice could sustain. "Conformity is widely understood and obeyed in Australia," he wrote to me, "freedom is not."
I first met Ray in 2004 during the Indigenous uprising in Redfern, Sydney, that followed the violent death of a 17-year-old, Terence Hickey. Known as "TJ", he was chased by a police car, lost control of his bike and was impaled on an iron fence. The police denied they had caused his death. Not a single Aboriginal person believed them, least of all Ray, whose campaign for justice will not go away.
A Wiradjuri man, Ray was stolen from his mother at the age of two and given to a white family. The experience taught him about Australian genocide. A lifelong socialist, his speciality was his unflagging investigations into police thuggery towards Aboriginal people, especially the multiple deaths in police and prison custody that routinely go unpunished. Australia incarcerates black Australians at a higher rate than that of apartheid South Africa.
When Prime Minister John Howard decimated Indigenous institutions and funding, Ray took his files and videos to his single-bedroom flat and founded the Indigenous Social Justice Association. He fought for the memory of young Kwementaye Briscoe, left to die in a police cell in Alice Springs, and Brazilian Roberto Curti, tasered to death by police in Sydney. He was the champion of countless locked-up Iraqi, Iranian and Tamil refugees. "Never stop fighting for your freedom," he told them. Shaming official Australia, the French Government awarded him one of its highest human rights laureates.
Ray loathed warmongering and would approve of my second hero. This is Scott McIntyre, a young SBS soccer journalist who, in four now famous tweets, set out to counter the authoritarian sludge that demands that Australians celebrate the centenary of a criminal waste of life in the British imperial invasion of Turkey a century ago - in which Australians and New Zealanders, the "ANZACs", took part - rather than recognise unpalatable truths about the past and present.
Opportunistic politicians and journalists have turned this melancholy event into a death cult that puzzles foreigners. Federal governments have spent almost $400 million promoting it as a fake patriotism - more than Britain, France, Germany and Canada combined: countries that lost many more men in the 1914-18 bloodfest. Today, the military and venal militarism are virtually off-limits for real public criticism.
Why? Australia, a nation without enemies, is now spending $28billion a year on the military and war and armaments in order to fulfil a tragic, entirely colonial and obsequious role, now as Washington's "deputy sheriff" in the Asia-Pacific.
This much we know, perhaps have always known. But watching a contemporary version of crude Edwardian jingoism consume the nation's intellect and self respect has been salutary, especially the cover provided by those paid ostensibly to keep the record straight. Tony Abbott, zealot, oaf and one of our cruellest prime ministers, "shone" at the Gallipoli ANZAC service, according to Peter Fitzsimons, whose keyboard tomes on the subject shows no sign of abating. In the Murdoch press - augmented as ever to promote war after war - Paul Kelly echoes Abbott that remembrance is not enough; that the ANZAC death cult "is now the essence of being Australian"... indeed, "a quasi religious force".
Young Scott McIntyre drove the Twitter equivalent of a five-ton truck through such maudlin, cynical drivel. He tweeted the unsayable about imperial Australia, much of it the truth; and all decent journalists - or dare I say, his freedom-loving compatriots - should be standing up for him. That Malcolm Turnbull, a pretender for prime minister who made his name unctuously shouting about freedom of speech, should connive with McIntyre's employer, the state-funded TV network, SBS, (which has sacked him), is a measure of the state of public and media life in Australia.
That a journalism professor of long standing, John Henningham, can tweet weasel words that "freedom of speech meant that journalists had the right to speak without breaking the law but did not have the right to keep their job when offending others" is a glimpse of the obstacles faced by aspiring young journalists as they navigate the university mills.
Many young people reject this, of course, and maintain their sense of the bogus, and McIntyre is one of them. He offended in the highest tradition of freedom of thought and speech. Knowing the personal consequences would be serious, he displayed moral courage.
When his union, the MEAA, locates its spine and its responsibility, it must demand he is given his job back.
I salute him.
Letters from the Indigenous Social Justice Association and MUA on the death of Ray Jackson [Green Left Weekly - 24/4/15]
This circus is falling down on its knees
The big top is crumbling down ...
'Raining in Baltimore', Counting Crows 
Obama: 'No excuse' for violence in Baltimore [CNN - 28/4/15]
"I don't mourn broken windows, I mourn broken necks": #Chi2Baltimore Emergency Action in Solidarity w/ Baltimore [28/4/15]:
Hundreds of people gathered outside the Chicago Police Department headquarters at 35th and Michigan this evening to rise in solidarity with the Baltimore Uprising and to protest the murders by police of Rekia Boyd and Dominique Franklin here in Chicago and Freddie Gray and Mya Hall in Baltimore.
Interweaving testimonies from family members of those killed by the police with powerful spoken word by young poets, the organizers called on those gathered to make Black Lives Matter, including those of Black women who make up 20% of those killed by the police but who receive little attention in the media.
Rise of the New Black Radicals, Chris Hedges [ICH - 28/4/15]:
… T-Dubb-O after the murder of Brown and the unrest in Ferguson was invited with other community leaders to meet with President Barack Obama in the White House. The president, he said, spoke “in clichés” about black-on-black crime, the necessity of staying in school, working hard and the importance of voting.
“He asked me did I vote for him,” he said, “I told him no. I didn’t vote for him either time, because I didn’t want to vote for him just because he was black. I felt like that would have been shallow on my end. Because he’s never honestly spoken and touched and said he was going to do anything for my community or the issues that we face on a daily basis, so why would I vote for somebody like that, whether you white, black, male, female, so on and so forth?”
As president he is proof that the system works, Obama told T-Dubb-O. The hip-hop artist said this statement shows how out of touch Obama is with the reality faced by poor people of color.
“When you have an 11-year-old boy whose mother is single, or has a single father who’s working two or three jobs just to put food on the table, he has to wake up at 5:30 in the morning, catch public transportation to school,” T-Dubb-O said. “Everything around him is damnation. You can’t expect an 11-year-old to have the mental capacity of an adult, to say I’m going to make the mature decisions and not get into trouble. So I don’t care about black-on-black crime. I don’t care about the normal cliché of working hard, you can do anything, you can accomplish, because that’s bullshit. And excuse my language, but I can’t tell a little boy up the street in my neighborhood, where over a hundred murders happened last year, that he can be an astronaut if he wants to be, because that’s not possible.”
“I think D.C. is a perfect example of what America is,” he said. “You have this big white house representing the government, that was built by slaves, that’s beautiful, excellent manicured lawns, and right outside the gate you have 50 homeless people sleeping in a park. Right outside of the gate of the White House. That perfectly describes America.”
“The difference between us and those leaders is that we aren’t doing it for fame, we aren’t doing it for political gain, we aren’t doing it for money,” he said, speaking of Obama, Sharpton, Jackson, Dyson and the other establishment black leaders.
“We’re doing it because every day that we’ve lived we’ve been denied normal human rights, and we could have lost our life. We don’t believe those leaders are properly representing our community. Because they are no longer a part of the community, they don’t speak for the community, and honestly they don’t do much for it. They do some things, because they have to, being 501(c)3s, but they don’t speak for the people.”
Jackson and Sharpton have been heckled by crowds in Ferguson and told to leave, along with crews from CNN. Tyler described CNN and other major news outlets, which steadfastly parrot back the official narrative, as “worse than politicians, worse than police.”
“So people in Ferguson is basically like, fuck Al Sharpton, and fuck Jesse Jackson, for real,” Tyler said. “And that’s the best way I can put it, for real, because they are co-opted, first off. They had their own movement. They were co-opted. Their movement got destroyed. Now they want to come to the new leaders and try to come in our movement and give guidance and stuff, but it’s a totally different generation. They marched with suits and ties and sung ‘Kumbaya’ and stuff. It’s people out there that look like him,” she said, motioning to T-Dubb-O, “shirtless, tattoos, like Bloods, Crips, whatever, out there just mad, because they was pissed off and they was passionate about it.”
... AMY GOODMAN: Your assessment of ISIS, the self-proclaimed Islamic State, and its growth in power?
SHIRIN EBADI: [translated] ISIS is not only a terrorist group, it’s a wrong ideology. Using a wrong interpretation of Islam, they kill people, they rape women, they sell women. And in order to fight ISIS, a coalition of 40 countries, under the leadership of the U.S., has formed, which bombs these people a few times per day. But this is not going to work, because we cannot put an end to ideology using a bomb. It’s a wrong ideology, which can be fought with a correct ideology. Instead of bombs, books should be thrown at them. ...
Iranian Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Shirin Ebadi on nuclear deal, Islamic State, women’s rights [Democracy Now - 28/4/15]
United States, “allies” continue bombing Iraq and Syria [Reuters - 28/4/15]:
U.S.-led forces targeted Islamic State militants in Syria with four air strikes from Monday to Tuesday morning and conducted another 16 strikes against the group in Iraq, the U.S. military said on Tuesday.
Three of the Syria strikes were near Al Hasakah, where they hit Islamic State fighting positions and destroyed an armoured vehicle. Coalition forces also destroyed a fighting position with a strike near Kobani, according to a military statement.
In Iraq, five air strikes hit tactical units and Islamic State checkpoints, and also destroyed excavators, a fighting position and a vehicle. Forces also struck targets near Al Huwayjah, Bayji, Fallujah, Ramadi, Sinjar and Tal Afar, the military said.
Number of people displaced by Yemen crisis exceeds 300,000: UN [Press TV - 28/4/15]
Jets from a Saudi-led alliance bombed the runway of Yemen’s Sanaa airport Tuesday to prevent an Iranian plane from landing there, Saudi Arabia said, as fighting across the country killed at least 30 people.
In Sanaa, airport officials said that Saudi-led warplanes had struck a civilian aircraft operated by Yemeni Felix Airways, setting it ablaze, as well as a cargo plane.
An official at the Yemeni civil aviation authority said the runway was targeted by 20 sorties that destroyed both the takeoff and landing runway. The damage will further complicate humanitarian efforts to fly urgently needed aid into Yemen. ... [Daily Star - 29/4/15]
Saudi Arabia foils US Embassy attack, arrests 93 suspects [Ahram - 28/4/15]
Iranian warships have seized control of a cargo vessel in the Strait of Hormuz on charges of breaching the country's territorial waters. ... [Al Jazeera - 28/4/15]
Al Jazeera [28/4/15]:
Hundreds of bodies, including women and children, have been found dead in the northeast Nigerian town of Damasak, apparently victims of Boko Haram fighters, local residents have said.
Reports of decomposing bodies littering the streets of Damasak came as president Muhammadu Buhari denounced Boko Haram as a bogus religious group and vowed a hard line against its fighters when he takes office at the end of next month.
The grim find in Damasak "far outnumbered" that of about 100 bodies found in a mass grave under a bridge after the town was liberated in early March by Chadian forces, said local resident Kaumi Kusur, the AFP news agency reported.
"Dead bodies were found in houses, streets and many more in the Damasak River which has dried up," he said, adding the victims were buried in 20 mass graves at the weekend.
Algerian soldiers kill 6 armed Islamists: Ministry [Ahram - 28/4/15]
A young Palestinian man died of his injuries on Tuesday after being shot by an Israeli soldier in the village of Al Araqa near Jenin. ... [Gulf News - 28/4/15]
Afghanistan: District Governor survives, three people wounded in bomb blast in Nangarhar
[Khaama – 28/4/15]:
A district governor survived life attempt but three of his body guards wounded after in a bomb explosion in eastern Nangarhar province around 02:00 PM on Tuesday.
Ahmadzia Abdulzai, spokesman for the governor house of Nangarhar province confirmed the report and said that the explosion took place on the vehicle of Bati Kot District governor in which the governor survived but three of his body guards sustained injuries.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
The news comes about a week after an attack on the logistic officer of local police of the same District.
Khan Wali and one another person sustained injuries after a magnetic bomb attached to his vehicle exploded in Arbapan area of Kama District last week.
52 dead, dozens missing after landslide in Badakhshan [Khaama - 28/4/15]
Almost 21,000 Burundians flee to Rwanda this month to escape electoral violence [UNHCR Media Release - 29/4/15]
UNHCR and partners help refugees in Libya detention centres
Media Release [28/4/15]:
As Europe responds to the problem of dangerous mixed migration flows across the Mediterranean, the UN refugee agency and its partners have been assisting hundreds of people in Libya rescued at sea or intercepted by the coastguard.
UNHCR has been able to help some of the 1,242 people picked up in Libyan waters and mostly taken to immigration detention centres since mid-April. A series of deadly capsizings since mid-April has focused global attention on the risks refugees and migrants are willing to take to reach Europe.
Those taken to detention centres in Libya include a group of more than 200 people from the Horn of Africa intercepted at Tajura (16 kilometres east of Tripoli). Four of them, including a two-year-old boy and his mother, had serious burn injuries caused by an exploding gas cylinder before they set off to cross to Europe on a smuggler's boat.
"UNHCR is aware of at least 2,663 migrants or asylum-seekers (including women and children) spread across eight immigration detention facilities across Libya run by the Department for Combatting Illegal Migration (DCIM) – a significant increase from the 1,455 people in detention a month ago," spokesperson Ariane Rummery said Tuesday.
"The main nationalities in the centres are Somalis, Eritreans, Ethiopians and Sudanese as well as people from various West African countries. UNHCR understands that 15 immigration centres are now operational across the country," she told journalists in Geneva.
Foreigners in Libya can be arrested for lack of lawful immigration status and can spend anything from one week to 12 months in detention. "UNHCR can generally organize the release of refugees and asylum-seekers registered with our office within a few days, although our capacity to register new arrivals to Libya is limited in the current security environment. We also advocate for the release of very vulnerable people, like pregnant women, and also for alternatives to detention, if possible," Ariane explained.
UNHCR's local staff and partners who visit immigration detention centres say conditions are poor, with urgent needs for more medical help, improved ventilation and sanitation as well as basic relief items. With the rate of detention on the rise, overcrowding compounds already tough conditions.
In some centres, more than 50 people are crowded into rooms designed for half that number. Temperatures are on the rise, as are the mosquitos which could spread disease. At the request of local authorities, UNHCR is helping to ease the dire conditions and distributing soap, clothing and other items to detainees in eight centres.
There are some 36,000 refugees and asylum-seekers registered with UNHCR in Libya (though some may have moved on) and affected by the growing violence and lawlessness. The largest group are Syrians. But despite the volatile situation, UNHCR continues to help refugees and asylum-seekers, working through national staff and NGO partners.
"We run two community development centres in Tripoli and Benghazi and have also expanded outreach this year through a mobile medical and social team in Tripoli. We also run dedicated hotlines to help people get registered, receive cash assistance, renew documents, or who are in detention. We are setting up another hotline with the Libyan coastguard to receive search-and-rescue updates," UNHCR's Rummery said.
Meanwhile, UNHCR continues to deliver aid like mattresses, blankets, clothing and kitchen utensils to thousands of internally displaced Libyans, and is supporting municipal authorities to track displacement and assess needs. Some 400,000 Libyans have been displaced by various waves of violence, according to UN figures.
Nauru refugees say no to Cambodia [VIDEO - 28/4/15]
Australia for UNHCR 2015 Mother's Day Lunch:
Join us this Mother’s Day as we celebrate and honour the role of mothers and how together we can make a life-changing difference to refugee women.
When: Friday 8 May 2015
Where: The Ivy Ballroom, The Ivy, 320-330 George Street, Sydney CBD
Time: 12:00pm - 2:30pm
Host: Wendy Harmer, former Editor in Chief of The Hoopla, former political journalist, stand-up comedian and author of eight books.
Special Guest Speakers: Jane Turner, actress comedian, Logie award winning comedy writer; Jane Caro, social commentator, writer, lecturer; and Yarrie Banguara, former refugee, writer and artist.
Secure your reservation now. Tickets are $180 and include a two-course lunch, complimentary drinks and a gift bag. Corporate tables and sponsorship packages start from $3,000 which include a tax deductible donation to Australia for UNHCR.
Sydney Morning Herald [26/1/15]:
... Denton, 54, whose "real job" is chief executive of law firm Corrs Chambers Westgarth, has been made an officer in the general division (AO) for his work in business and commerce, the arts and social welfare, and with refugees.
Denton helped set up the UNHCR's Australian support group 13 years ago to highlight the work of the commission and to increase fund-raising globally.
John Denton AO was recognised for his service to business, his support of the arts sector and his contribution to social welfare and the rights of refugees. Denton has been the founding Australian chair of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees since 2002. ... [Lawyers Weekly - 26/1/15]
Woman dies in hospital after alleged domestic violence attack at
A woman has died after she was allegedly attacked by her partner at a home in Sydney's west.
Police allege the man, 46, assaulted the woman, 51, after they had an argument at their Quakers Hill home on Monday morning.
Paramedics found the victim with head trauma, serious facial bruising and a collapsed lung at the Hillcrest Road property after being called to the scene about 6:00am.
She was taken to Westmead Hospital in a critical condition, and hospital staff contacted police.
The man appeared in court yesterday after being charged with assault occasioning grievous harm.
Police said further charges were likely.
Baby found on South Maroubra Beach, 'Lily Grace', to be given funeral; mother's whereabouts unknown [ABC - 29/4/15]
Air pollution in Europe costs $1.6 trillion a year in deaths and diseases, UN study shows
Media Release [28/4/15]:
The United Nations health agency reported today in first-of-its-kind study that air pollution across Europe is costing “a staggering” $1.6 trillion a year in deaths and diseases, which amounts to nearly one tenth of the region’s gross domestic product.
The economic cost of the health impact of air pollution in Europe is the first assessment of the economic burden of deaths and diseases resulting from outdoor and indoor air pollution in the 53 countries of the region, according to the study, which was carried out by the World Health Organization’s Regional Office for Europe and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
The study was published as more than 200 representatives from European countries and international and non-governmental organizations gathered in Haifa, Israel, from 28 to 30 April to look at achievements, gaps and challenges and set future priorities.
The cost of the health impacts of air pollution is one of many studies that will provide evidence on the environmental impacts on health to be released at the Haifa meeting.
“Reducing air pollution has become a top political priority,” Christian Friis Bach, Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) said.
According to the WHO announcement, “a staggering $1.6 trillion is the economic cost of the approximate 600,000 premature deaths and of the diseases caused by air pollution in the WHO European Region in 2010, according to the first-ever study of these costs conducted for the Region.”
“The economic cost of deaths alone accounts for over $1.4 trillion,” according to the study. “Adding another 10% to this, as the cost of diseases from air pollution, results in a total of almost $1.6 trillion.”
In addition, the study showed that “in no less than 10 of the 53 countries of the Region, this cost is at or above 20 per cent of national gross domestic product (GDP), and amounted to nearly one tenth of the GDP of the entire European Union in 2013.
“The economic value of deaths and diseases due to air pollution – $1,600,000, 000, 000 – corresponds to the amount societies are willing to pay to avoid these deaths and diseases with necessary interventions,” it explained.
“In these calculations, a value is attached to each death and disease, independent of the age of the person and which varies according to the national economic context.”
WHO said another new report, From Parma to Haifa: how far have we gotten?, jointly published by WHO and UN-ECE, informs that one in four Europeans still falls sick or dies prematurely from environmental pollution.
One small-town South Carolina police officer was sentenced Monday to 18 months in prison and a second to a year and a day for unnecessarily shocking a mentally disabled woman with a Taser at least eight times. Franklin Brown received the longer sentence because he shocked 40-year-old Melissa Davis after she had been handcuffed in April 2013.
The other Marion police officer, Eric Walters, stopped Davis early one morning to see if she had broken into a home. Neither Walters nor other officers have explained how the incident escalated so quickly. ... [Huffington Post - 28/4/15]
Indonesia executes 8 prisoners
Jakarta Post [29/4/15]:
Defying intense pressure from the international community, the government executed eight death row prisoners early on Wednesday on Nusakambangan prison island near Cilacap in Central Java.
"We've carried out the executions," said an Attorney General’s Office (AGO) official, talking to the press on condition of anonymity.
The eight were Indonesian Zainal Abidin, Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, Brazilian Rodrigo Gularte, Nigerians Sylvester Obiekwe Nwolise, Raheem Agbaje Salami and Okwudili Oyatanze, Ghanaian Martin Anderson.
Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso of the Philippines was spared after a woman who allegedly recruited her to act as a drug courier gave himself up to police in the Philippines on Tuesday.
"The executions were carried out at 12:30 a.m.," Suhendro Putro, funeral director with the Javanese Christian Church (GKJ) in Cilacap, said in a short message service.
AGO spokesman Tony Spontana said the government had agreed to the final requests fielded by two Australian death-row convicts for their bodies to be flown to Australia for burial.
A Cilacap Police officer said that after the executions, prayers were said for each person according to their respective religion. "The executions went well, without any disruptions," he said.
The AGO stated that the executions had been carried out after it had heard all eight convicts’ final requests.
The execution was the second round after the first was carried out on Jan. 18, during which six inmates from Indonesia, the Netherlands, Brazil, Nigeria, Vietnam and Malawi were killed by firing squad.
Strut the world stage with your dick hanging out and your death stare diplomacy – expect a similar response. (Establishment media types constantly bleating islamophobia also feeds into this.)
Too little too late. ---> Australia to withdraw ambassador to Indonesia over executions of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran [ABC - 29/4/15]
… The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) confirmed on Wednesday before dawn that Mary Jane Veloso has received a temporary reprieve from the Indonesian government minutes before her scheduled execution.
“We are relieved that the execution of Mary Jane has not been carried out tonight. The Lord has answered our prayers,” Charles Jose, spokesman for the DFA told reporters at a stakeout at the department’s headquarters in Manila.
Jose went down from the DFA building where he, along with Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and other officials were seemingly on a vigil to monitor developments in Veloso’s supposed execution.
Jose refused to answer questions and was expected to issue further statements on the case.
Minerva Lopez of the National Union of People’s Lawyers also said Veloso’s private lawyer Edre Olalia had confirmed from Indonesia that Veloso’s execution was stopped by Indonesian authorities.
... April 22: Vice President Jejomar Binay personally relayed to Vice President Jusuf Kalla his appeal for the commutation of Veloso's death sentence during the sidelines of the bilateral meeting [ASEAN] in Jakarta. He also gave Kalla a copy of President Aquino's letter to President Joko Widodo, his third appeal for Veloso's clemency. Aquino first wrote to former Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (2011). His second and third letters were addressed to President Widodo. ...
In a high-level show of support, Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario visited Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso, the 30-year-old Filipina on death row in Indonesia, in prison on Tuesday, March 24.
Veloso, a single mother of two who left the Philippines to work as a maid in Kuala Lumpur, has been incarcerated at the Wirogunan Penitentiary, Yogyakarta, since 2010 – the year she was arrested and sentenced to death for attempting to smuggle 2.6 kilograms of heroin into Indonesia from Malaysia.
Del Rosario was accompanied during Tuesday's hour-long visit by the new Philippine Ambassador to Indonesia, Maria Lumen Isleta Banzon, according to Indonesia's state news agency Antara. Del Rosario is the highest government official to visit Veloso so far.
"It was a closed-door meeting and we do not know what they talked about," prison warden Zaenal Arifin told reporters in Yogyakarta.
The Philippine government has been helping Veloso seek a judicial review of her case – the final legal option open to her. Last week, Indonesia's Supreme Court granted that request based on claims by Veloso's lawyers that she wasn't provided a proper translator during her first trial.
Jakarta Globe [29/4/15]:
… France, Australia and Brazil have been the most vocal critics of Joko’s decision to carry out the executions.
A senior lawmaker from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) has criticized the UN chief for pleading with Joko not to execute the nine drug convicts on death row, implicitly accusing Ban of being a Western stooge.
“The death sentence is a positive law that applies in Indonesia and the judges’ verdict is legal,” said Tubagus Hasanuddin, a member of the House of Representatives’ Commission I, overseeing international affairs.
“Ban Ki-moon’s stance has proven that the United Nations can easily be influenced by big countries like Australia and France.”
Tubagus said Ban’s statement, made through his spokesman last week, has undermined the UN’s authority.
“Capital punishment is still being used in many countries, like in the Middle East, Singapore, Malaysia and many other countries including the United States,” said Tubagus, a retired Army general who is now a lawmaker for Joko’s PDI-P.
“Why hasn’t Ban made a fuss about that, too? Is he upset because Jokowi criticized him at the Asian-African Conference?” he said, referring to the president’s statement calling for UN reform over its failure to eradicate global economic inequality.
... "The AFP provided the information that led to the arrest, prosecution, guilty verdicts and death sentences of two Australian citizens," Dr Sifris wrote.
"If these men are executed, the AFP will have blood on its hands." [Bali Nine case: AFP retains ability to give information abroad that risks death penalty for Australians - Canberra Times - 29/1/15]
... Detachment 88 is the elite Indonesian police unit established in the wake of the Bali bombing, trained in forensics, intelligence gathering, surveillance and law enforcement by the US, the UK and Australia.
They've played a crucial role in Indonesia's counter-terrorism efforts. They're ruthless, often killing suspects. But their anti-terrorism mandate is now creeping into other areas, like policing West Papuan separatists - and human rights activists are concerned. ... [ABC - 28/8/12]
US-funded Detachment 88, elite of Indonesia security [Reuters - 18/3/10]
Bendigo mental health nurse appalled by treatment of asylum seekers
... Ms Cummins says regional processing of asylum seekers was the defining moment that changed the way Australia processed claims. With that came the change in language and lack of individual stories which contributed to peoples' de-humanisation.
"People were removed from being real to us," Ms Cummins said. "They became a collective of labels called 'queue jumpers' and 'illegals'.
"It's really heartbreaking to me that people are a collective 'nothing' when really, they are people living and breathing the same as you and I."
She believes this practice changed the way we connected with people.
"They were just this unknown that we didn't really need to care about because we didn't know them as human, we didn't know their stories," she said.
Ms Cummins wants to change that.
"My big message is to bring back that human story," she said.
"Each person that arrives has a life, they have a family, and they have people that love them.
"They would never leave anything that was close to home or their own culture unless they were really forced to."
Ms Cummins has had five years to think about preventative measures for people drowning at sea.
She believes Indonesia holds the key to the solution.
"That's where everyone travels to; they cross borders and make their journeys to those boats in Indonesia to get to a safe haven," she said.
But Indonesia doesn't hold the same desirability as Australia.
"It doesn't offer any protection and it doesn't offer a life," she said.
"It doesn't offer security to people so they use that as a place of transit."
She thinks the $5 billion Australia spends annually on detaining people could be better spent.
"We need to channel that money into very strong ties with Indonesia and actually try and do something that is worthy," said Ms Cummins.
"We need a long-term solution and not a bandaid reactive solution like it is now."
At-risk inmate moved into isolated cell, left alone before suicide
Canberra Times [28/4/15]:
An at-risk inmate was moved out of crisis support and left alone in an isolated, dangerously designed ward before he took his own life in the ACT's overcrowded prison, an inquest has heard.
The circumstances surrounding the inmate's death in custody in July 2013, one month after he was remanded in custody, will come under close scrutiny during a three-day inquest in the ACT Coroner's Court.
The man, 30, had a history of mental health problems and suicidal ideations, and was marked as a prisoner-at-risk by the courts.
Initially, he was placed in the Alexander Maconochie Centre's Crisis Support Unit, an area designed specifically to deal with unstable inmates.
But about three weeks later, the prison's High Risk Assessment Team decided he was eligible to be moved from the Crisis Support Unit if a bed needed to be freed up.
The prison was struggling to deal with the still ongoing overcrowding crisis, putting significant strain on the 10-bed Crisis Support Unit.
The day before his death, the inmate and a fellow prisoner were moved to the jail's health centre, in a ward adjoining the Crisis Support Unit.
The appropriateness of that ward for holding at-risk prisoners will be closely questioned during the inquest.
Counsel assisting Ken Archer said it was separated from the Crisis Support Unit by security doors and a corridor.
Significant areas of the ward, including the bathroom where the inmate died, could not be seen by people standing outside the door.
"The health wards were, although close to the CSU, quite isolated in reality," Mr Archer said.
Aspects of the cell design will also come under scrutiny, particularly fixtures in the bathroom, for whether they allowed prisoners to take their own lives.
The trainee psychiatrist who assessed the detainee on the day he died, Dr Andrea Rapmund, on Tuesday questioned the suitability of the design.
When asked why the fixture was inappropriate, she replied.
"Because of the potential risk to harm oneself."
The inmate was left on his own on the day of his death, after his companion was moved back to the Crisis Support Unit.
Sweden's Supreme Court says will hear Assange appeal over arrest warrant
Sweden's Supreme Court said on Tuesday it would hear an appeal by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to overturn the arrest warrant against him issued by prosecutors who want to question him over allegations of sexual assault.
The 43-year-old Australian has been stuck inside Ecuador's London embassy since June 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over allegations of sexual assault against two women in 2010. He denies the accusations.
Prosecutors first insisted Assange should come to Sweden for questioning, but in a U-turn in March agreed to conduct the interview in London
Assange has said he fears that if Britain extradited him to Sweden he would then be extradited on to the United States where he could be tried for one of the largest leaks of classified information in U.S. history.
Even if Sweden drops the investigation, he faces arrest by British police for jumping bail granted while the British courts considered the European arrest warrant issued by Sweden.
"The Supreme Court grants leave to appeal in the matter regarding the arrest," the court said in statement which provided no date at which the appeal would be heard.
Assange's Swedish lawyers were not immediately available for comment.
Islamic State kills five journalists working for Libyan TV station-army official
Islamic State militants have slit the throats of five journalists working for a Libyan TV station in the eastern part of the country, an army commander said on Monday.
The reporters had been missing since August, when they left the eastern city of Tobruk after covering the inauguration of the country's elected parliament to travel to Benghazi. Their route took them through Derna, a militant Islamist hotspot.
Faraj al-Barassi, a district army commander in eastern Libya, said militants loyal to Islamic State were responsible for killing the journalists, whose bodies were found outside the eastern city of Bayda.
"Five bodies with slit throats were found today in the Green Mountain forests," Barrasi told Reuters, referring to a sparsely populated area east of Benghazi. He did not say when the five journalists were believed to have been killed.
The reporters - four Libyans and one Egyptian - had been working for Barqa TV, an eastern television supporting federalism for eastern Libya, other journalists said.
Brussels-based International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), a group promoting press freedom, said the reporters had been kidnapped at an Islamic State checkpoint and were killed recently.
"We are deeply shocked by this brutal slaughter," said IFJ president Jim Boumelha. "ISIS (Islamic State) aims to horrify but we can only feel great sorrow and further resolve to see the killers held responsible for their crimes."
Militants loyal to Islamic State have exploited a security vacuum in Libya, where two governments and parliaments allied to host of armed groups are fighting each other on several fronts four years after the ousting of Muammar Gaddafi.
The internationally recognized government has been based in the east since losing control of the capital Tripoli in August to a rival faction, which has set up its own administration.
The House of Representatives, Libya's elected parliament, has also been based in the east since its inauguration in August.
Islamic State, the group which has seized parts of Syria and Iraq, has claimed responsibility for the killing of 30 Ethiopian and 21 Egyptian Christians as well as an attack on a Tripoli hotel, embassies and oilfields.
Two people were killed and seven wounded in Benghazi on Monday when rockets hit residential buildings, said Fadhl al-Hassi, an army commander.
Forces allied to the recognized government have been battling Islamist fighters for almost a year in Libya's second largest city. Hassi said Islamist fighters fired the rockets to stop army forces, backed by aircraft, approaching their bases.
PNG: American pastor who donated Bible dies
The National [28/415]:
The American who last week donated to the Government and people of Papua New Guinea the first issue of the 1611 King James Bible has died.
Dr Gene Hood, 77, of Indianapolis, died last Friday at the Hancock Regional Hospital in Greenfield.
A team led by Speaker Theo Zurenuoc went to the United States to receive the Bible and returned to the country with the Bible yesterday.
Relatives said it was his “final act of spreading the gospel” – the donation of the first issue of the 1611 King James Bible to the PNG Government.
He was instrumental in placing Bibles in every school in Honduras and shipped more than one million Bibles to Russia.
He owned and operated radio stations, radio towers and radio programmes in several states and in the countries of Belize, Honduras, and PNG.
Hood was born on August 23, 1937, in Pecos, Texas, a son of the late Albert Daniel and Ruby Estelle (George) Hood.
Hood was a graduate of the Bethany Nazarene College (now Southern Nazarene University) where he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees. He later earned a Doctorate of Divinity from Indiana Christian University.
He married Carolyn Uphaus on September 2, 1958, and worked together in ministry for more than 56 years. He began his pastoral ministry in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and then served as an evangelist for seven years.
For more than 42 years, Hood was pastor of Independent Nazarene Church in Beech Grove and in 2014 founded the Independent Nazarene Church in New Palestine
Gold mine strife with landowners: report [PNG Loop – 28/4/15]
Villagers of Baruni village in Port Moresby set up a road block this morning in protest over a lack of water service for a month. ... [PNG Loop 28/4/15]
CNMI lawmakers say US military will destroy islands
Northern Marianas lawmakers say the islands of Pagan and Tinian will be destroyed if they agree to a US military report on the impact of live fire training on the islands.
They are the strongest words yet by the territory's legislators on the military's draft environmental impact statement on the plan.
Tinian and Pagan are being eyed as sites for the U.S. military to conduct live fire exercises and amphibious landing training.
Under the proposal Pagan would also be the target for so-called inert bombs.
Senator Arnold Palacios says the training is not really a forward military presence, but will lead to the destruction of the two islands.
House representative Angel Demapan doubts the bombs would be inert and says the islands are the only resource the CNMI has.
The two lawmakers last week attended a symposium in Hawaii, where the military's use of the Hawaiian island of Kahoolawe was used as a prime example of what could become of Pagan.
Kahoolawe was a US Navy bombing range that has since gained notoriety as "the most bombed island in the Pacific."
New Zealand: McDonald's pull out of negotiations
McDonald's has walked out of negotiations to end zero-hour contracts, the union representing fast-food workers says.
Zero-hour contracts, where workers have to be available for work but have no hours guaranteed, have become common in the fast-food industry.
Burger King and the Restaurant Brands group have recently agreed to end the contracts.
National director of Unite Mike Treen said the union welcomed McDonald's offer on scrapping the contracts, but asked for more information.
He said as the latest talks ended without resolution, McDonald's staff would be striking on Friday.
29 April 2015