... Politicians who took us to war should have been given the guns and told to settle their differences themselves, instead of organising nothing better than legalised mass murder. ...

Harry Patch, Britain's last combat veteran of World War One

 

 

Ex-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev says the confrontation between Russia and the West could spill into all-out war. ... [CTV - 29/1/15]

 

 

Iraq PM orders investigation into Diyala massacre allegations

Daily Star [29/1/15]:

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has ordered an investigation into allegations that Shiite militiamen massacred Sunni residents in the eastern province of Diyala, his spokesman said Thursday.

"The prime minister has ordered an investigation into the matter," Rafid Jaboori told AFP, without elaborating.

Witnesses and Sunni leaders have accused Shiite fighters of executing more than 70 residents Monday after military operations to expel ISIS group militants from their last urban stronghold in Diyala.

The alleged massacre is said to have taken place in and around a village called Barwana, north of the town of Muqdadiyah.

On Monday, the Iraqi army and allied Shiite militia declared the liberation of Diyala after a fierce battle which they said left at least 70 dead and 400 wounded among their ranks.

Senior military officials have denied accusations of a massacre in Barwana under their watch, arguing that accounts of revenge killings by Shiite fighters were fabricated.

The United Nations' top envoy in Iraq, Nickolay Mladenov, welcomed the announcement of an investigation.

"It is the responsibility of the government to ensure that all armed forces are under its control, that rule of law is respected and that civilians are protected in all areas of the country, including those areas recently liberated from IS [ISIS]," he said.

Afghanistan: Gunmen attack schools in Nangarhar

Khaama [29/1/15]:

Unidentified gunmen have attacked two schools in eastern Nangarhar province.

Mohammad Asif Shinwari, spokesman for Education Department of Nangarhar province says that unidentified gunmen attacked two schools in Haska Mina District last night.

He said that gunmen 1st went to the girls’ school, tied watchmen and blown up two rooms including the school’s office with bombs and then went to the boys’ school.

He added that gunmen broken windows of boys school and fled the area.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

This is not the 1st time schools are attacked in Afghanistan.

In the same eastern province of Nangarhar, schools have been burned by gunmen.

In one event in July 2012 unidentified gunmen attacked a boys’ school in Achin District where they placed bombs in the hall of the school and blown up several rooms.

Over 1, 000 kids were studying in that school.

Paktia, Helmand, Nooristan and Kunar are including other provinces where gunmen have burned schools.

Taliban who are behind most of attacks in Afghanistan reject hand in disordering the education system.

People interviewed by Khaama Press in Jalalabad city on Thursday asked government as well as Taliban to find those responsible for last night’s school attacks in Haska Mina District of Jalalabad and punish them for their evil act.

 

Suicide bomber targets funeral ceremony in Laghman [Khaama – 29/1/15]

Australia delivers equipment to Afghan military to “counter homemade bombs” [Canberra Times – 29/1/15]

 

US drone strike kills 7 in Pakistan’s North Waziristan

Press TV [29/1/15]:

 At least seven people have been killed and three others injured in a US drone attack in Pakistan’s mountainous tribal region of North Waziristan.

Pakistani intelligence sources confirmed on Wednesday that a US drone raid took place in the Shawal district of the restive tribal region bordering Afghanistan.

The officials said the aerial attack targeted a house and a vehicle nearby.

The assault killed seven people on the spot as the house was razed to the ground.

The identities of the victims have not been disclosed yet. However, officials say militants were suspected of residing in the compound for months.

This is the fourth US drone strike in the North Waziristan region since the beginning of this year. The area has become a major stronghold of pro-Taliban militants.

#HungerForJustice:

... To show solidarity with detainees in Australian camps on Manus Island, Nauru and Darwin, Cross Border Collective is coordinating a 7 day hunger strike, Hunger For Justice, supported by Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA, the Refugee Action Coalition, RISE (Refugees, Survivors and Ex-Detainees), the Indigenous Social Justice Association, the Fire Brigade Employees’ Union, SEARCH Foundation and Aid Watch. The hunger strike will commence at 9am on Friday 30th January 2015.

People all over Australia are invited to fast with us at any point during the week and for whatever length of time. We encourage people to consider carefully their health and limits in participating. Some guidance about medical issues is provided here.

A vigil will be held for the 7 nights of the hunger strike outside Sydney’s Town Hall from 5.30-7.30pm. Hunger strikers and supporters are encouraged to attend and show their solidarity.

If you decide to fast, you can pledge your support here.

We acknowledge that the circumstances under which we take this action are vastly different from those of strikers in detention, some of whom are in a critical condition. We act in support of their courageous work and we repeat their demands for:

•the immediate release of all those currently held in solitary confinement in the notorious Chauka compound on Manus island

•the transfer of all asylum seekers currently in detention to the Australian mainland

•a fair and timely processing of their claims while they live in the Australian community.

We also demand that hunger strikers on Manus Island, Nauru or Darwin are not incarcerated or otherwise punished for their political action.

 

 The great achievement of this movement was to send a message of freedom to people all around the globe.

 

Message from #Manus via @shanebazzi:

Hello dear Australians,

Thirsty Manus has been quenched after fourteen days.

To every single person who is concerned about human rights and freedom:

What you are reading is our message from Manus.  Manus is a place that has many similarities with Guantanamo prison.  As a matter of fact, it is known as Australian Guantanamo. 

More than nine hundred people, nine hundred champions, carried out the largest hunger strike in the history in order to inform the world about the oppressed sound of their innocence.

Today, 27th of January 2015, after more than fourteen days of struggle between oppressor and oppressed, between black and white, wrong and right, rich and poor, the hunger strike is ended  while it has indicated the willpower and determination of the oppressed people who had fled from persecutors of their countries and sought asylum in Australia.

But it is unfortunate that these days Australia does not bear signs of having commitment to human rights.

Australian people, what you were told about the situation of Manus Island by the Liberal government during these fourteen days was an absolute lie.  Similar to previous movements, this movement was also a peaceful one without any type of violence from our side. 

In order to solve problems, we strongly believe in negotiating principles. 

It is unbelievable that people from every walk of life and different civil societies such as High Court of Australia remain silent in regards to this cruelty in the name of national interest.  This unequal struggle has been finished today while the United Nations does not make any comments on this incident at all. 

The great achievement of this movement was to send a message of freedom to people all around the globe. 

A message of freedom which has been only a dream and a desire for us so far, however, we are hoping to celebrate the fulfilment of our deisre in the not too distant future with the assistance of Australian people, human rights organisations, lawyers, journalists, refugee advocates, reporters, politicians, various political parties including The Greens, Nationals, Palmer United, Labor, and at last, those members of Liberal party who still care about humanity and are concerned about the future of Australia.

At the end I would like to express my gratitutde to those people, either in Asutralia or other parts of the world, who commiserate with us and who support us in different ways during this period.  In fact, your support  gives us a lot of encouragement and develops our ability to continue our efforts in this rough and difficult path.

Viva freedom

 

 

@shanebazzi [29/1/15]:

Source says sick asylum seekers at Lorengau jail are not receiving medical care ...

A source has told me that PNG police beat a handcuffed asylum seeker in Lorengau jail with a piece of wood. ...

 

Australian Human Rights Commission to host conference on racial discrimination laws [Media Release – 29/1/15] Maintains silence on Manus human rights atrocities.

 

Australia’s global reputation as a defender of human rights is being undermined by its continued “harsh” treatment of asylum seekers, persistently high Indigenous incarceration rates, and “draconian” new anti-terrorism laws that restrict citizens’ freedom, the Human Rights Watch annual global report says.  ... [Guardian - 19/1/15]

 

Australia: New Counterterrorism Laws Threaten Rights - Refugees, Asylum Seekers Face Greater Risk of Return to Repression [Human Rights Watch – 29/1/15]

 

Human Rights Watch mentions Australia's refugee death camp on Manus in its PNG report. Says nothing about the recent hunger strike.

... The Manus Island detention center holds more than a thousand male asylum seekers, transferred by Australia for refugee status determination. Facilities on Manus Island are overcrowded and dirty, and asylum claims are not processed in a fair, transparent, or expedient manner, contributing to detainees’ physical and mental health problems. In February, an Iranian asylum seeker was killed during a riot and many detainees were injured.

“Asylum seekers on Manus Island deserve better than to be locked up in squalor and at risk of violence,” Pearson said.

 “Both Papua New Guinea and Australia are clearly failing in their commitment to provide safe and humane conditions for asylum seekers.” ...

 

“Kepari Leniata has not received justice!” [PNG Loop – 29/1/15]:

That’s the appeal cry from organisers of the social action group founded after the horrendous death of Kepari Leniata at a public witchery hunt in Mt Hagen two years ago.

Philma Kelegai, heading the group called Leniata Legacy, is appealing to all who mourn Kepari to treat tomorrow, the anniversary of Kepari’s death two years ago, as a day of mourning.

Kepari Leniata was born in Paiela Enga and named Angeline Kepari Leniara.

She was 20 years of age with two children, a son and a newborn daughter at the time of her death.

Ms Kelegai told the Loop: “What we do know is that she was actually accused of witchcraft in her home of Paiela and had fled to Mt Hagen as a refugee. These accusations followed her and she met her terrible fate on the 6th February, 2013.’’

She says: “Prosecution of gender-based crime is absolutely necessary. One of the greatest contributors to gender-based violence in Papua New Guinea is the mere failure to prosecute gender-based crimes because of policing, priority and public interest.

“We urge all Papua New Guineans and friends of Papua New Guinea to make a stand and demand JUSTICE for Kepari Leniata, which is demanding justice for ALL WOMEN.’’

...

 

Any response to family violence must include funding legal services, Pasanna Mutha-Merennege -  Policy Manager - Women's Legal Service Victoria [Guardian - 29/1/15]:

... In 2010, the Australian Law Reform Commission released its report, Family Violence – A National Legal Response. Its recommendations were wide ranging and crossed criminal, family violence, family law and child protection jurisdictions, in the recognition that to keep women and children safe, integrated and effective responses were needed across all of these areas of law. This was one of the ALRC’s recommendations:

The Australian, state and territory governments should prioritise the provision of, and access to, legal services for victims of family violence, including enhanced support for victims in high risk and vulnerable groups.

Community legal centres, such as Women’s Legal Service Victoria, are uniquely placed to bridge the gap between family law, child protection and family violence law.

We work at the coal face assisting marginalised people navigate the complexities of the legal system.

Yet despite the ALRC’s recommendation from five years ago, community legal centres are struggling to keep their doors open and meet the overwhelming demand from this national epidemic.

Aboriginal family violence prevention legal services are facing near extinction and regional community legal centres are closing their doors in family violence “hot spots” in Victoria.

Legal aid assistance for victims of family violence is slowly eroding away. Increasing numbers of marginalised women are falling through the cracks, finding themselves unrepresented in family law and intervention order hearings. Real funding of state legal aid commissions by the federal government fell from 49% in 1997 to 32% of total funding in 2010.

Any serious response to violence against women must first address these funding shortfalls. ...

 

Attempted murder charge, Canungra

QPS Media [29/1/15]:

Police have charged a man with attempted murder after an incident occurred in Canungra this morning.

At around 10am, police were attending an unrelated matter at a hotel on Lamington National Park Road, when a woman was heard screaming within the hotel.

Police went to investigate and found a man armed with a knife holding a woman down. Police will allege that the man was attempting to stab the woman in the chest.

Police will also allege that before they arrived the woman was assaulted, sustaining several injuries including head injuries.

The officers immediately drew their service firearms and demanded that the man drop his weapon and release the woman.

The 45-year-old woman was able to crawl to safety. The officers continued to negotiate with the man until he dropped the knife.

When police were trying to take the man into custody, he began to struggle with police, causing minor injuries to both officers. A passing off-duty police officer also came to the aid of the two officers, and the man was able to be taken into custody.

The 43-year-old man has been charged with attempted murder, assault occasioning bodily harm whilst armed, going armed in public, and serious assault of police. He is due to appear in the Beenleigh Magistrates Court tomorrow.

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.

Charges: Break and enter with assault, Annerley

QPS Media [29/1/15]:

Police have charged a Camira man following an incident that occurred this afternoon in Annerley.

It will be alleged that the man forced entry into a house on Venner Road and assaulted a woman who was inside the house.

The woman was able to escape from the house, running to a neighbouring property.

When Annerley police arrived on-scene, it will be further alleged that the man locked himself inside and made threats, which were later unsubstantiated. Furthermore, he allegedly damaged property within the house.

After negotiations between police and the man, he was taken into custody without incident.

A 33-year-old Camira man has been charged with one count each of enter dwelling with intent by break and assault, and three counts of wilful damage. He is scheduled to appear in the Brisbane Magistrates Court tomorrow morning.

The woman did not sustain any physical injuries.

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.

 

A Victorian truck diver kidnapped two prostitutes and forced them into his live-in bus where he kept a homemade "raping machine", a court has heard.

Serial sex offender Dennis William Newall is in jail for raping a backpacker in WA about four years ago, and was also sentenced to eight years prison in 2002 for raping a Melbourne sex worker.

The 56-year-old pleaded guilty on Thursday to kidnapping and raping two more St Kilda prostitutes on separate occasions in November and December 2001.

...

The women, who were aged 20 and 27 at the time, did not go to police about the attacks until recently.

Newall told one victim "no one would believe a junkie whore" like her, she told the court.

Both women said they remained traumatised by what he had done. ... [West Australian - 29/1/15]


Anti rights arrest, Tugun [QPS Media – 29/1/15]

Anti rights arrest, Ipswich [QPS Media – 29/1/15]:

... During the course of the search a switch blade knife was located and a 45-year-old Chuwar man alleged to be the President of the Mongols Gold Coast Chapter and a 34 year old woman were charged with the of possessing a weapon. ...

 

Man tasered, three charged with assault police after their dog bites him, Kingston [QPS Media – 29/1/15]

 

Bail for man alleged to have spat blood at paramedic and a police officer in Mount Isa

North West Star [29/1/15]:

A 39-year-old man who allegedly spat blood towards a paramedic and a police officer in Mount Isa last night has been released on bail.

Police charged the Mornington man with one count each of serious assault police and serious assault of a public officer.

The incident occurred about 10.30pm last night when police attended a house on Kaeser Road at Pioneer in relation to a disturbance.

It will be alleged while a man was being treated by a Queensland Ambulance Service officer, he spat blood directly at the male officer, exposing his arms and his uniform with the man’s blood.

It will further be alleged, when a female police officer tried to intervene, he spat blood directly into her face..

He appeared in the Mount Isa Magistrates Court this morning and was released on bail.

...

 

Gympie Centrelink clients were shocked to find themselves in the midst of a violent knife drama as they waited in line yesterday.

A Centrelink representative said no comment would be available from management or security at the O'Connell St job search and welfare office.

But witnesses said staff were stunned when a knife was produced during an argument involving two young men, on the building's O'Connell St veranda. ... [Sunshine Coast Daily - 29/1/15]

 

Armed robbery, Tweed Heads

Tweed Daily News [29/1/15]:

Police have confirmed they are investigating an armed robbery at a Tweed Heads South service station on Thursday morning.

About 10.25am, a man entered the building on Minjungbal Dr before threatening the cashier with a knife and demanding money.

The cashier handed over an unknown amount of cash and the alleged thief left the store.

No one was injured.

The man was described as 30 to 35 years old, caucasian appearance and a solid build.

He had blond hair.

Investigations into the incident are continuing.

...

Police have confirmed they are still searching for a man who escaped from custody in Murwillumbah on Wednesday afternoon. … [Tweed Daily News – 29/1/15]

Man hospitalised after accident between a car and bike, Rockhampton

Morning Bulletin [29/1/15]:

A 55-year-old male has been transported to Rockhampton Base Hospital following an accident between a bicycle rider and a car in Berserker.

The man was transported by Queensland Ambulance Service with neck pain.

It is unknown whether the man was riding the bike or driving the vehicle.

...

 

Rossville (near Cooktown): The Forensic Crash Unit are investigating a single vehicle traffic crash that occurred today, taking the life of a 76-year-old Dotswood woman. ... [QPS Media - 29/1/15]

 

Located money, Beenleigh

QPS Media [29/1/15]:

Police would like to reunite this man with a significant sum of cash we believe fell out of his pocket while shopping in Beenleigh just before Christmas.

On the afternoon on December 11, the money was handed into a staff member at a bottle shop in a shopping centre on George Street.

If this is you, or you know who this man is – please contact police.

...

Tactical officer who killed siege gunman to remain anonymous

Nine MSN [29/1/15]:

The NSW Police officer who fired the fatal shot to bring down Martin Place siege gunman Man Monis will remain anonymous during the inquest into the 16-hour ordeal.

The Tactical Response Unit officer will be known as "Officer A" for the duration of the inquest, and will be represented by Counsel Ray Hood.

Officer A led the charge through the Lindt cafe's glass door in the closing moments of the siege and opened fire on Monis, who had already shot cafe manager Tori Johnson and discharged his weapon several more times.

Monis was shot twice in the head and several more times in the body.

The police officer asked the State Coroner his identity be suppressed for the inquest.

Another officer involved in the forced entry to the cafe will be known as "Officer B" throughout proceedings.

Ricochets from bullets fired by Officers A and B were today confirmed to have killed the second siege hostage, Katrina Dawson.

However, the opening day of the inquest today confirmed Ms Dawson had been fatally struck by six fragments of police bullets, one of which pierced a major blood vessel.

After the opening statements by State Coroner Jeremy Gormly, the inquest has been adjourned to a date yet to be fixed.

 

One of NSW's most senior cops had his life, including his ex-wife and children, under intense police surveillance in a discrediting campaign that cost him promotions, he claims.

NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Nick Kaldas was one of about 100 police officers allegedly targeted in a police bugging scandal in the early 2000s. ... [West Australian  - 29/1/15]

 

Apology to Sashini Senadeera

Sydney Morning Herald [29/1/15]:

An article published on January 21 titled "Party animal and ladies' man, but still hungry for violence" referred to the IS fighter Mahmoud Abdullatif.

It quoted Sashini Senadeera, who was described in the article as Abdullatif's former girlfriend.

The Herald now accepts that Ms Senadeera did not make the statements attributed to her, and that she has no association with Abdullatif whatsoever.

The Herald acknowledges that the information about Ms Senadeera in the article was incorrect and apologises for any embarrassment to her and her family caused by the article.

Tributes flow for murdered S Africa family

West Australian [29/1/15]:

Grief-stricken friends have paid tribute to three members of a family with Australian ties who were murdered in their South African home.

Martin van Breda, 55, his wife Theresa, 54, and son Rudi, 22, were reportedly found dead at the exclusive De Zalze Winelands Golf Estate in Stellenbosch, about 50km east of Cape Town, on Tuesday.

Daughter Marli, 16, is in a critical condition, while another son, Henri, 20, has minor injuries.

South African media reported the victims were killed with an axe.

The family lived in various parts of Australia for several years before returning to South Africa in 2014.

Mr van Breda recently worked in Queensland for Engel & Volkers Australia, which sells and rents premium residential property and commercial real estate.

Rudi and Henri attended Scotch College, a Perth private school.

Headmaster Alec O'Connell said they were students at Brisbane House and the family was a valued part of the school community.

"The Scotch community sends our thoughts and prayers to the van Breda family," he said.

Rudi graduated from the University of Melbourne's Trinity College with a bachelor of science in 2013, was a dean's honours list member for science in 2011 and was studying a master's degree in engineering.

Melbourne University said students and educators were greatly saddened by his death.

"Rudi was a keen sportsman and was highly regarded amongst his peers as a good-natured and friendly person, someone who was always willing to lend a hand and help out younger students," it said in a statement.

Trinity College described the murders as a home invasion attack, saying Rudi was intellectually able and distinguished for his rowing.

"Rudi was a quiet leader who looked out for younger college members," it said.

Henri, who is reportedly being questioned by police as a witness, was also a Trinity student in 2013.

Beth Blackwood, principal of Presbyterian Ladies College in Perth, where Marli was a student, said she was a much-valued member of the school community for seven years.

Engel and Volkers PE tweeted: "A very sad time for the Engel & Volkers network with the loss of Martin van Breda, our thoughts are with everyone affected."

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it was providing consular assistance to the survivors.

The personal IS political: Maternity services key election issue for Gladstone women

Gladstone Observer [291/1/15]:

Maternity services at Gladstone Hospital have become a key election issue for local women, who on Wednesday gathered to ask for their choices to be protected.

The presence of independent candidate Craig Butler at the meeting of mothers and pregnant women was enough to sway the vote of local Emily Burtt.

A mother of four, Mrs Burtt was shocked to discover she would not be able to deliver her baby naturally at Gladstone Hospital due to a new policy relocating vaginal births after caesarean (VBAC) to Rockhampton.

"I didn't even realise I was considered a VBAC," Mrs Burtt said.

"I've had a natural birth since the caesarean delivery, but apparently I'm still considered to be high risk. I'm sad and angry."

Mrs Burtt, who is still breastfeeding her 20 month child, says if she was transferred out of Gladstone during birth, it would make life extremely difficult for her husband, children and family.

And there would be the additional costs of accommodation and planning.

With the policy in place, there also is the chance of giving birth while being transported elsewhere, as happened to Anna McKee seven months ago.

With her partner travelling in a car behind her, Ms McKee was left alone and afraid while giving birth in what she calls the "most terrifying experience of her life".

"All I wanted was for my partner to be with me and that was taken away," she said.

"Rockhampton Hospital was not even aware I was on my way there. There were miscommunications between hospitals and then I ended up being transferred to Brisbane."

Ms McKee wants the hospital service to answer one question - how is it safer giving birth in an ambulance than a fully equipped hospital?

 

 

Candidates outline stance on Calliope high school land [Gladstone Observer - 29/1/15]

 Toowoomba teachers protest cuts to TAFE [Chronicle – 29/1/15]

 Toowoomba Ergon workers hold public meeting [Chronicle – 29/1/15]

 

Engineering firm fined for crane collapse

West Australian [29/1/15]:

A West Australian engineering firm has been fined $16,000 over the collapse of an 80-tonne crane.

The incident occurred during test loading in April 2013.

The company was prosecuted by the Department of Mines and Petroleum.

Etschmann Engineering pleaded guilty in the Perth Magistrates Court on Thursday to failing to ensure the equipment complied with the Australian Standard.

The company was also ordered to pay $5000 in court costs.

State mining engineer Andrew Chaplyn said the outcome was a watershed for the department, which had not previously prosecuted a designer.

 

Factory Workers Continue To 'Occupy Dandenong' In Fight For Fair Wages [New Matilda – 29/1/15]

 

Government cleaners in Greece reinstated in first anti-austerity move [Euro News - 28/1/15]

 

Greens call on President Widodo to honour human rights pledge [Media Release – 29/1/15]  - ignore recommendation of 2014 Senate Inquiry for Australian Human Rights Commission to access Manus.

 

Medical report into the death of Hamid Kehazaei  via @RN_Barrister

... "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]

 

Italian Jewish leader held in Auschwitz

Times of Israel [29/1/15]:

The president of the Jewish community of Rome was detained overnight by Polish police after setting off an alarm at the former Auschwitz concentration camp.

At 11 p.m. Tuesday Riccardo Pacifici and the prominent Italian journalist David Parenzo finished filming a live program for an Italian TV station marking the 70th anniversary of the camp’s liberation by allied forces, when they discovered they had been locked inside the camp.

Italy’s ANSA news agency reported that the two, along with another Jewish community member and two crewmen, spent several hours trying to call for help, and eventually broke a window to escape. This immediately set off an alarm which brought police to the scene.

Pacifici, whose father was killed at Auschwitz, said the situation became more complicated because no one spoke Italian and they don’t speak Polish, according to Italian reports.

The five were interrogated by Polish police at the camp for some time. They were then taken to a police station for several hours until they were finally released from custody on Wednesday morning following the intervention of the Italian Embassy in Poland.

Pacifici later called the incident “shameful.”

IBM Global Layoffs May Hit India Jobs: Report

NDTV [28/1/15]:

IBM has denied reports that it is preparing to lay off an estimated 1.10 lakh employees, or around 26 per cent of its global workforce. However, the technology major has accepted that it has set aside a substantial amount for "workforce rebalancing".

"IBM has already announced the company has taken a $600 million charge for workforce rebalancing. This equates to several thousand people, a mere fraction of what's been reported," the company said on its official blog in Hong Kong. (See the full statement)

According to a report by Reuters, IBM has taken annual restructuring charges of between about $450 million and $1.5 billion over the last seven years, which has resulted in workforce reductions of between 6,500 and 21,500 per year.

IBM does not disclose the amount of layoffs it makes each year, but one Wall Street analyst estimated that this year's restructuring charge suggests 8,000 jobs could be impacted.

Daniel Morgan, senior portfolio manager at Synovus Trust Company told AP, "IBM has had three big reorganizations in previous decades. They do let people go. I think that's why this is gaining some traction."

IBM's "workforce rebalancing" is likely to impact employees in India too, according to media reports. IBM employs around 1.3 lakh employees in the country, which represent nearly one-third of its global strength of 400,000-plus staff.

IBM is confronting a sales slump as it struggles to adapt to big changes in the way businesses buy software and other commercial technology. It issued another disappointing earnings report last week, as both revenue and profit fell in the December quarter. CEO Virginia Rometty says she's working to refocus the Armonk, New York, company on new tech markets, including data analytics, artificial intelligence and cloud computing.

Investors appeared to have welcomed the idea of big changes at Big Blue. Since Thursday, IBM shares are up about 4 per cent to peak at $159.46.

Castro demands Guantanamo Bay in return for US-Cuba diplomatic deal

BBC [28/1/15]:

Cuba has demanded the US hand back the Guantanamo Bay military base before relations with Washington are normalised.

In a speech, President Raul Castro also called for the lifting of the US trade embargo and Cuba's removal from a terror list.

Last month the two countries announced a thaw in relations, agreeing to restore diplomatic ties.

They were severed in 1961.

High-level talks were held last week.

A Congressional delegation arrived in Havana to begin negotiations aimed at reopening embassies in the two countries' capitals.

...

"The reestablishment of diplomatic relations is the start of a process of normalising bilateral relations," he said. "But this will not be possible while the blockade still exists, while they don't give back the territory illegally occupied by the Guantanamo naval base."

The land on which the base stands was leased to the US government in 1903 by Cuba's then-rulers.

US officials have so far not responded to Mr Castro's remarks.

...

PNG: State orders inquiry into Hanuabada shootings

The National [29/1/15]:

Chief Secretary Sir Manasupe Zurenuoc says a coronial inquest will be set up to look into the deaths of two men at Hanuabada village last Friday.

Sir Manasupe made the announcement at a press conference yesterday, flanked by the parents of the two men killed and Hanuabada villagers.

“The people of Hanuabada demanded an independent inquiry into these killings and to deal with the people responsible,” he said.

“We will set up an independent inquiry for them. We will set up what is known as a coronial inquest to get to the bottom of what happened at Hanuabada.

“Coronial inquests are usually an inquiry to determine the events surrounding a certain event.

“In this case, the Hanuabada people say the perpetrators were policemen, so they do not want a police investigation. They want an independent investigation.

“The best possible way to achieve that is by way of a coronial inquest.” Sir Manasupe said he had spoken with Chief Magistrate Nerrie Eliakim about setting up a coronial inquest.

“She (Eliakim) has now made available a coroner to stand by to start as soon as possible,” he said.

“The important thing we feel is that the people of Hanuabada, who will be an important party to the inquest, must have representation at the inquest level. We have therefore agreed to hire a lawyer to take up the case for them at the inquest.” Sir Manasupe denied claims that the Government had agreed to pay a K22 million compensation.

“Your Government has not received a demand of so and so kina from Hanuabada,” he said.

“There have been some reports of certain persons saying that the Government will compensate them for up to K22 million.

“That didn’t come from us. That didn’t come from the Prime Minister.”

Control Issuing of Firearms to Police Officers, says Governor Parkop [EMTV – 28/1/15]

Load Shedding in the National Capital District and surrounding areas will continue today, says PNG Power Limited. ... [PNG Loop - 29/1/15]

Hailstorm and Landslide in Henganofi, Highlands Highway Cutoff [EMTV – 28/1/15]

PEGIDA cancels demonstration amid leadership exodus

Deutsche Welle [28/1/1/15]:

In a message on PEGIDA's Facebook page on Wednesday, the group announced the weekly demonstration planned for the following Monday, February 2, in Dresden had been cancelled for "organizational and legal reasons."

While a previous PEGIDA rally had to be canceled after police said a terror threat had been made, this time the organization itself called for the pause, evidently to give itself time to regroup after several of its prominent figures quit.

"Even if Kathrin Oertel, Lutz Bachmann and Rene Jahn are no longer available for the board of directors, the movement cannot stop because of that. This is not about people, it's about our cause," PEGIDA, which loosely translates to "Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West," wrote on its Facebook page Wednesday.

Oertel stepped down just days after taking on a greater leadership role with PEGIDA, citing massive hostility, threats and professional setbacks as the reasons for her decision.

"She sacrificed herself for our cause," an earlier Facebook post on Wednesday said, "But when photographers and other strange figures are sneaking around her house at night, you can't hold it against even the strongest woman for taking a break."

According to PEGIDA, board member Thomas Tallacker had also stepped down due to work-related pressure. Deputy leader Rene Jahn also resigned. Media reports allege two other leading members, Volker Lincke and Achim Exner, also left.

The series of resignations began last week with PEGIDA founder Lutz Bachmann, after photos emerged of him posing as Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler.

However the remaining organizers seemed defiant, telling their almost 160,000 Facebook fans that a new board would be elected in time to organize the next demonstration on February 9.

Since its formation in October, PEGIDA has staged regular rallies in Dresden, with offshoots occurring in other German cities. Protests are focused against the German immigration system and the group's perception that radical Islam is gaining influence throughout Germany.

PEGIDA has denied that it is xenophobic. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has spoken out against the group, as its rapid rise caused concern in mainstream political circles.

Germany's vice chancellor and Social Democrat leader Sigmar Gabriel, who recently had an impromptu meeting with PEDIGA supporters, said on Wednesday that he thought the movement was fragmenting. But he also warned against complacency by politicians.

"It's perhaps also a relief for Dresden. I think that these public demonstrations have passed their peak," Gabriel told German broadcaster ZDF, adding, "The only danger which remains now is to believe that everything is all right again, and then in the next election we complain again that voter turnout is so low. We need to carefully speak about the issues which worry people."

Canada's spy agency tracks file-sharing websites worldwide – Snowden docs

RT [28/1/15]:

Millions of pictures, videos, and other files downloaded online globally are being watched by Canada's electronic spy agency CSE, says the latest mass surveillance report based on documents leaked by Edward Snowden.

Canada's Communications Security Establishment (CSE), an equivalent to the US National Security Agency (NSA), focuses on electronic surveillance.

It can access data from over 100 global free upload sites, monitoring downloaded content in countries across Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, and North America, suggests a covert operation revealed by CBC News in collaboration with The Intercept journalist Glen Greenwald.

According to documents released in 2012 and obtained by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, which were recently revealed to CBC, the project – dubbed Levitation – tracks data from 102 file-sharing websites, with popular sources such as Sendspace, Rapidshare, and the now-defunct Megaupload among them.

"No organization has the ability/permission to trawl/search Sendspace for data," the file-hosting service told CBC News. Sendspace's policy states it won't disclose user identities unless legally required. Levitation documents say its access to databases used to track the online traffic of millions of people around the world comes from unnamed "special sources."

CSE analysts have access and sort through 10 to 15 million upload or download events daily, searching for "the interesting ones," among music, video, photo, and other files, the document says.

When scouring the file-sharing sites, spies from the Levitation program allegedly closely watch suspicious content – such as hostage videos or explosive making instructions – and then trace users' IP addresses to follow cookies and identify suspects who could be connected to extremism or terrorism.

After "filtering out Glee episodes," as the presentation puts it, about 350 "interesting download events" – less than 0.0001 percent of the total collected traffic – are identified by the agency each month.

"You could be finding a terrorist, although probably much more likely you're finding a scientist, or a journalist, or a lawyer working on a case relating to some of those issues, or a student," Glenn Greenwald told CBC News.

The discovery of a German hostage video and an uploaded document that contained the hostage strategy of an Al-Qaeda-linked terrorist organization are cited in the 2012 presentation.

No other instances are mentioned, leaving it unclear if any other terrorist attacks have been prevented through intercepting and analyzing the data. The leaked document has no answers on whether Levitation is still in use or for how long it has been active.

"It's really the first time that a story has been reported that involves [CSE] as the lead agency in a program of pure mass surveillance," Greenwald said, commenting on Canada's role in international spying programs, according to the Snowden documents.

Canada is part of the Five Eyes intelligence sharing network, along with the US, Britain, Australia, and New Zealand.

A program used by U.S. and British spies to record computer keystrokes was part of sophisticated hacking operations in more than a dozen countries, security experts said on Tuesday, after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden reportedly leaked the source code for the program.  ... [Reuters - 27/1/15]

 

Australia's Privacy Commissioner has questioned whether phone and internet providers should be required to store customer metadata for as long as two years.

Timothy Pilgrim told an inquiry into the federal government's data retention bill on Thursday that law enforcement agencies seeking to access such information would typically do so within six to 12 months. ...  [Sydney Morning Herald - 29/1/15]

 

Paris to ban the most polluting diesel vehicles by July 2015

France 24 [28/1/15]:

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo wants to make Paris a diesel-free city by 2020. The first step, she said Wednesday, will be to ban the “most polluting” diesel delivery trucks and buses by July 2015.

And from July 2016, Hidalgo wants the ban to be extended to all vehicles over a fixed emission level (precisely what this level is remains unclear).

In an interview with left-leaning daily Le Monde on Wednesday, Hidalgo said Paris wanted to “follow the example of 200 European cities” that have created low-emission zones.

“We are determined to act quickly,” Paris’s Socialist mayor told Le Monde. “The fine particles [from diesel fumes and responsible for around 42,000 deaths a year in France] emitted mostly by public buses and coaches are a major health concern.”

“It is true that older diesel vehicles are more polluting than modern ones,” she said. “But the filters in even the latest models can’t get rid of the most dangerous fine particles.”

July’s first implementation of the ban, she said, would cover the whole of the city within (but not including) the périphérique ring road that separates the City of Lights from the outlying “banlieus”, or suburbs.

The move will not be “overly punitive” against city businesses and the delivery companies whose vehicles line the streets of Paris in the early hours of each morning, she insisted, adding that “there will be significant financial incentives for these business to invest in less polluting vehicles”.

“This will include up to 50 percent of the cost price, with low-rate loans to cover the rest,” she said. “We are already in talks with banks and shops as well as transport companies to get this in place.”

Other incentives to help Parisians and city businesses stop using polluting vehicles will include reduced monthly public transport costs and cut-priced membership of the city’s ever-expanding “Autolib” electric car-sharing scheme, which has been a runaway success since it was launched in late 2012.

Homeowners’ co-operatives that exist in almost every Parisian apartment block will also be encouraged to invest in electric car-charging points and secure bike shelters.

“Paris is going to create a huge network of car-charging points with attractive rates to encourage use of electric cars for business as well as car-sharing,” Hidalgo said, adding that the long-term plan was to allow free parking to electric or hybrid cars entering the city as well as free night-time recharging.

Paris is more prone to smog than other European capitals because France subsidises the cost of diesel and because Parisians own more private cars than in comparable cities, such as London.

A pollution peak in March 2014 caused the city authorities to ban half of all vehicles, allowing licence plates ending in an odd number or even number on alternate days.

The European Environment Agency (EEA) reported that Paris had an average of 147 microgrammes of particulate matter (PM) per cubic metre of air - compared with 114 in Brussels, 104 in Amsterdam, 81 in Berlin and 79.7 in London.

Student pharmacists poised for huge opportunity

Griffith University News [28/1/15]:

There has never been a greater time for student pharmacists to contribute towards Australia’s future healthcare.

This will be the message this week from Rhonda White, co-founder of the Terry White Chemists Group, at the 2015 Gold Coast National Australian Pharmacy Students’ Association Congress.

Organised by the Griffith University Association of Pharmacy Students (GUAPS), in conjunction with its School of Pharmacy, the congress – which runs 24-30 January at the University’s Gold Coast campus – is the premier event of the student calendar and is well regarded by industry professionals and educators.

“There has never been a time in pharmacy in the whole of our nation’s history that change has become so important,” Ms White AO says.

“As we see the massive cost explosion of running a national healthcare service, new approaches are being explored, especially within allied health services such as community pharmacy and especially with the wider scope of practice that has been put in place in this profession.

“Last April we saw Queensland leading the way with its community pharmacists offering vaccination services for cold and flu. This is now set to be expanded to whooping cough and measles vaccinations.

“This type of service, along with others that are being looked at, is just one example of how community pharmacists are helping to contribute to improvements in our healthcare system and its future delivery.

“Student pharmacists should understand that there are currently many changes afoot to healthcare delivery and the patient is really at the centre of this, in dictating what they would like to see. Healthcare demands are growing exponentially and this is forcing a greater demand on allied health care. Pharmacists will need to be prepared to pick up the baton in helping to rethink the health of the nation.”

...

City of Gold Coast Public Vaccination Program - Community Update

Gold Coast City Council Media Release [27/1/15]:

The future of the City of Gold Coast Public Vaccination Program is under review.

While the Council strives to meet the highest standards in its vaccination program, it’s a fact that we are a very small player in the delivery of this service.

The City’s immunisation statistics show an overwhelming majority of families in Gold Coast nowadays take their children to a General Practitioner for routine vaccinations. This trend has been evident for a number of years now.

A confidential report on the matter was presented to the Council at its meeting of 18 November 2014, where it resolved in part:

"That subject to a further report by 31 March 2015, and following formal advice from key stakeholders (including the President, General Practice Gold Coast, Director, Public Health (Public Health Physician) and Chair Medicare Local), Council supports in principle the cessation of its involvement in the City’s public vaccination program as at the 1 July 2015 on the basis that it considers better public health outcomes are achieved more effectively if childhood immunisation is provided by general practitioners."

http://www.goldcoast.qld.gov.au/documents/ma/council-20141118-adopted_minutes.pdf

At this stage, the Council’s decision to cease operation of its public vaccination program remains one ‘in principle’. Consideration is being given to the views and advice of key stakeholders to the program before a final decision is made. The possible impact on current users of the service is also being taken into account.

The City expects to make its final decision on the future of the program by 31 March 2015.

Parents whose children attend our clinics will receive individual notification well in advance of any closure, along with details regarding alternate service providers.

Until such time as a final Council decision is made, all City-run public vaccination clinics will continue to be held according to their normal advertised schedule.

The Schools Based Vaccination Program will continue throughout 2015.

 

Concern amongst horse owners that the Hendra vaccine has major side effects including death is mounting, despite authorities and the drug manufacturer disputing the claims.

The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority, which issues vaccine permits to vets, has confirmed seven cases where the death of a horse had a 'possible' link to the Hendra vaccine. ... [ABC - 29/1/15]

 

Anti-vaccination campaigner Dr Sherri Tenpenny cancels Australia tour amid security concerns [ABC - 29/1/15]

No Bill of Rights. 

No general, constitutional right to free speech (unless you're a Murdoch propagandist).

Vaccination: more free speech, not less [Civil Liberties Australia - 8/1/15]:

Free speech means being able to comment publicly about many issues, including health.

We support the national immunisation program, but acknowledge the right of opponents to speak out.

Civil Liberties Australia does not believe that the government has a right to prohibit the speech of individual anti-vaxers, nor to compel an individual presenting at a conference to voice an “official” government opinion.

The government and individuals should counter misleading advice by using their own speech to promote facts, not by silencing the voices of others.

Already, the protest against an anti-vax campaigner has managed to air her views more widely than if nothing had been said against her, and she had been – quietly – permitted to go ahead with her addresses to mere handfuls of the already converted anti-vax community who are likely to comprise the majority of her audience.

Many people would never have heard of the US anti-vax speaker if she had not been publicised by people trying to curtail her right to free speech. It is an irony that their efforts to suppress her views are only giving them more widespread currency.

See CLA’s statement on immunisation …

 

 

A West Australian coroner has raised concerns about the risk posed by some oral contraceptives in an inquest into the death of a 28-year-old woman who collapsed with a blood clot at Fremantle hospital in 2010.

The coroner Sarah Linton found it was likely the pill, combined with an apparent genetic predisposition to deep vein thrombosis (DVT), put Petra Zele at higher risk of having the pulmonary embolism that killed her. ... [Guardian - 29/1/15]

 

 

Many people have forgotten how and why the Newman Government was elected in 2012. It was because the Labor Party wanted to sell our assets – power stations, hospitals, ports and schools.

Palmer United Party candidate for Hinchinbrook, Martin Brewster

Gold Coast Hospital, Southport [January 2015]


LNP’s wasteful ways and asset sales crippling Southport [PUP Media Release - 29/1/15]:

Palmer United Party candidate for Southport Nicole Stanton has lashed out at the Newman Government for their handling of the unnecessary demolition of the Gold Coast Hospital.

The Southport-based businesswoman and solicitor said it was disappointing that the government was planning to sell the 3.4 hectare former Gold Coast Hospital site, labelling it a lost opportunity for the local community.

“The building could have been used by other healthcare providers or other non-associated services to help support other small and medium businesses in Southport,” Ms Stanton said.

“Demolishing a perfectly good hospital rather than repurposing it or refurbishing it to service another sector or demographic of the Southport community was short sighted and politically motivated.

“It is clear the Newman Government just wants to cash in on the sale and doesn’t have any intention of helping Southport grow.

“This is an obvious example of the sad loss of a community asset and opportunity to make better use of our dwindling and scarce assets.

“It is vital Southport focuses on an ‘all industry’ expansion in the area so that more industries are catered for outside of our strong tourism and hospitality sectors.

“The current government has not properly considered the waste of such critical resources as they privatise many services. As a result, community based services are being put out of financial reach as the ever-growing cost of living rises.

Ms Stanton said a vote for the Palmer United Party is a vote against asset sales.

“Now is the time to send Labor and the LNP a strong message: our assets are our future and they are irreplaceable. The people have given a clear message that they don’t support the sale or destruction of valued assets,” she said.

“If elected, I will fight to ensure current infrastructure is used for the benefit of the Southport community today and in the future.”


Labor and LNP looking in a mirror [PUP Media Release – 29/1/15]

 

Queensland Parliament Hansard [8/9/11]:

Ms BATES (Mudgeeraba—LNP) (5.03 pm): I rise this afternoon to highlight how the Gold Coast, yet again, will be short-changed. ‘How?’, honourable members might ask. This Labor government is not only going to give us 130 fewer beds when the Gold Coast University Hospital opens, but it will also close the current hospital at Southport. The new hospital is not even up and running yet and this tired, 20-year-old Labor government is already reducing its services.

The Minister for Health states that Queensland Health has advised him that planning and population projections show that the new hospital would have more than enough capacity to service the needs of the Gold Coast for at least a decade. This is the same Queensland Health that has spent nearly 12 months and over $219 million trying to fix its payroll system, and it is still not fixed. How can Gold Coast residents really believe what Queensland Health is saying, particularly when it is their health that could be jeopardised? This is just another classic example of this Bligh government’s modus operandi: it gives with one hand and takes away with the other.

We will be 130 beds short and yet the government says our city’s needs will be serviced for the next decade. The Gold Coast is the sixth largest city in Australia with over 496,000 who call this area home. We have over 10.5 million visitors every year and we are one of Australia’s fastest growing regions. We deserve the medical facilities to adequately service these numbers both now and into the future. We owe it to our children.

I call on the Premier and the Minister for Health to transform the Gold Coast Hospital at Southport to a step-down facility. As I have stated in the House before, hospitals of the future will be for the sickest of the sick and we need step-down facilities now. I say to those opposite: let us actually forward plan properly instead of playing your usual ‘catch-up’ game and applying band-aid fixes; do not just accept verbatim what bureaucrats who sit in their ivory towers in Brisbane looking at graphs and charts tell you.

Our population is expected to tip 700,000 by 2021. That is approximately 200,000 more than our current population. How anybody can state that, despite short-changing the number of beds by 130 we will still be able to service the city’s medical needs, is beyond me. The Gold Coast does not need to have the Southport Hospital closed, but we do need the 130 beds that the government is going to shortchange us. Residents of the Gold Coast are sick and tired of being treated like second-class citizens. I call on the Premier to seriously rethink this issue which could potentially have a disastrous effect on our local area.

In relation to the move to the new Parklands hospital, I hope that Queensland Health leaves behind one thing at Southport and that is its culture of bullying and intimidation of nurses. I have received complaints from 55 nurses about bullying and intimidation issues at the Gold Coast Hospital. As a current registered nurse, I will continue to stand up for them. This Labor government needs to start listening to the experts. The doctors at the Southport medical precinct want this facility to remain open. (Time expired)

Deputy Premier, Minister for State Development, Infrastructure and Planning Media Release [4/10/13]:

The Newman Government will demolish the Southport Hospital and sell the CBD land for development.

Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development Infrastructure and Planning Jeff Seeney today detailed the Government’s plan for the key site and signalled the demolition process was expected to start next year.

Comprising approximately 3.5 hectares, the vacant hospital land will be a catalyst site for Southport and falls within the newly declared Southport Priority Development Area.

“That is why the Government has made the decision to sell a clean site to maximise the return to the state and most importantly to ensure that development can occur as rapidly as possible.

“It will give the private sector the opportunity to create an innovative development.”

Mr Seeney said the Government was in the process of appointing a project manager to deal with the demolition and site preparation.

He said the appointment of a project manager was expected within weeks.

Member for Southport and Assistant Minister for Planning Reform Rob Molhoek said demolition details would be known once the project manager refined the scope for the work.

“Southport businesses and residents will be kept fully informed,” Mr Molhoek said.

“While the bulk of the hospital operations have moved to the new hospital, the Blood Bank will remain at the Southport site until early November.”

Mr Seeney said the government expected to have a marketing campaign underway next year.

“We will seek to provide maximum opportunities through the creation of a number of sites that can be individually purchased or combined in one single purchase. We will let the market decide,” he said.

“The Government has sought market advice to ensure the disposal best suits market conditions.

“A clean site will offer the best opportunity for the marketplace and will get the best return for the state.”

MYGC [4/10/13]:

... "There are five generations born at the Gold Coast Hospital in my family," Amanda Wild said.

"My son made it the fifth. My nan worked their when it was the blood bank next door.

"I would have liked to have had my next baby there. I'll be sad to see it go," she said.

Narelle Johnson of the Gold Coast also says she will be sad to see the facility go.

"I've never had any trouble with the place," she said.

"My now seven-year-old son was born there." ...

UK:  GPs offered incentives for patient referrals

“It’s a sad day for the medical profession when a competition regulator has had to issue an order because our own regulator has failed to do so.”

Independent [29/1/15]:

The financial interests of all UK doctors should be made public, the country’s leading medical journal has said, after an investigation revealed incentives, often worth tens of thousands of pounds, have been offered to doctors by private healthcare companies in exchange for referring patients to their hospitals.

An investigation in the British Medical Journal claims that the doctors’ regulator, the General Medical Council (GMC), failed to act on a warning in 2012 that the practice of offering incentives was “widespread, particularly in London, and significant in value”.

The regulator was told by a major insurance company about patients being “diverted to units in which doctors have financial interests”. The company’s investigation had uncovered a range of “covert” schemes, with some payments exceeding £100,000.

The insurance company which uncovered the practice following an internal investigation also discovered that some Harley Street practices were housed in expensive properties owned by private healthcare companies.

The report has echoes of previous concerns about drug companies offering GPs inducements – including trips to conferences – to promote their new drugs.

GMC guidelines do set standards on conflicts of interest and prohibit doctors from accepting inducements, but the BMJ said that they had shown “an unwillingness to act on possible breaches of these standards”.

New rules banning so-called “cash for referrals” schemes and some other incentives in private healthcare were issued by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in October last year and will come into force in April.

The new prohibitions came after a two-year investigation into the private health sector which found the practice of offering incentives for referrals was “widespread”.

Incentives documented have ranged from direct payments to the provision of facilities, or shares in “equity participation schemes”.

The CMA’s investigation identified several major private healthcare companies, including BMI Healthcare, Spire and the American healthcare giant HCA, that have offered various incentives to consultants, the BMJ said.

Despite the new rules, there remain concerns that some doctors may be accepting certain incentives.

One senior surgeon told the BMJ that he had been offered a package including facilities and secretarial support worth “a six-figure sum” by a hospital group only nine months ago – long after the CMA began its investigations.

...

Indigenous Affairs Minister denies threats to coerce communities to sign 99-year leases

ABC [29/1/15]:

Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion has defended his department from accusations it issued veiled threats to cut off services to Indigenous communities unless they leased their land to the Federal Government.

Senator Scullion and the Department of Prime Minster and Cabinet, which is responsible for Indigenous affairs, have been encouraging traditional owners to sign 99-year leases which would hand their land to the Commonwealth for management, with service delivery overseen by a bureaucrat on the ground.

Keith Rory is a traditional owner from Robinson River in the Northern Territory, in the Gulf of Carpentaria region.

He said he felt in discussions with officials on signing a lease that there was an implication he would lose current services if he did not sign.

"If we wouldn't sign up, we wouldn't have anything done in our community," he said.

"That's the threat we got, if we wouldn't negotiate we would lose everything in our community.

"We would lose jobs for our young generation, jobs for people to go out in country."

But Senator Scullion described suggestions he or his department had issued threats to traditional owners as "complete garbage".

"The assertion you're making is if you sign up for a lease and do what Government wants you'll get services; if you don't you won't, which is just a really pathetic assertion," he said.

"Of course that's not going to be the case this is about the communities and what communities want."

The Minister said there were no plans to change service levels for communities which would not sign a lease.

"As for threatening to withdraw service you should put that on the not particularly good information draw," he said.

"Nowhere in the Roper Region is my department talking to someone about township leasing unless someone has asked about it."

Mr Rory said he was still open to signing a lease despite the perceived coercion, but he wanted more and better information from the Minister.

"We need answers from him now."

Mr Rory said more housing was a priority for his community, as a shortage of accomodation meant people were living in cramped conditions.

Senator Scullion said he believed Gunbulunya, in western Arnhem Land, would be the first community to sign a 99-year lease.

He said he believed a decision from the traditional owners of that community was imminent.

United States,“allies” continue bombing Iraq and Syria

Centcom [28/1/15]:

On Jan. 27, U.S. and Coalition military forces continued to attack ISIL terrorists in Syria, using bomber, fighter, and remotely piloted aircraft to conduct 13 airstrikes.

Separately, U.S. and Coalition military forces conducted six airstrikes in Iraq, using attack, fighter, and remotely piloted aircraft against ISIL terrorists. All strikes took place between 8 a.m., Jan. 27, and 8 a.m., Jan. 28, local time.

The following is a summary of the strikes conducted since the last press release:

Syria

* Near Kobani, 13 airstrikes struck 12 ISIL tactical units and an ISIL vehicle, and destroyed nine ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL staging area, and three ISIL buildings.

Iraq

* Near Al Asad, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL buildings.

* Near Kirkuk, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit.

* Near Mosul, two airstrikes destroyed an ISIL checkpoint, six ISIL shipping containers, and four ISIL fighting positions.

* Near Sinjar, an airstrike struck a large ISIL unit and destroyed six ISIL buildings and an ISIL heavy weapon.

* Near Tal Afar, an airstrike struck a large ISIL unit and destroyed four ISIL vehicles.

Airstrike assessments are based on initial reports. All aircraft returned to base safely.

...

ISIS detonates large parts of Nineveh historical wall [IraqiNews.com – 28/1/115]:

A Kurdish official revealed on Tuesday evening that the ISIS organization had bombed large parts and tracts of the ancient Nineveh wall, indicating that such an act violates the right of human culture and heritage.

The media official of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in Mosul, Saed Mimousine said in an interview for IraqiNews.com, “ISIS militants blew up today large parts and expanses of the archaeological wall of Nineveh in al-Tahrir neighborhood,” explaining that, “The terrorist group used explosives in the process of destroying the archaeological fence.”

Mimousine added, “The Wall of Nineveh is one of the most distinctive archaeological monuments in Iraq and the Middle East,” adding that, “The fence dates back to the Assyrian civilization.”

Mimousine stressed that, “Bombing the archaeological monuments by ISIS is a flagrant violation of the right of human culture, civilization and heritage,” calling the international community to “take a stand to curb the destruction of historic monuments.”

Lack of funding hampering humanitarian aid to war-affected Syrians – UN relief official [Media Release – 28/1/15]

Spain blames Israel for death of peacekeeper

Daily Star [29/1/15]:

Spain's ambassador to the United Nations is blaming Israel for the death of a Spanish U.N. peacekeeper during the Israeli military's exchange of fire with the Lebanese militant Hezbollah group in a disputed border area.

"It was because of this escalation of violence, and it came from the Israeli side," Spanish Ambassador Roman Oyarzun Marchesi told reporters.

The U.N. peacekeeper has been identified as Cpl. Francisco Javier Soria Toledo, 36, and U.N. officials have said only that the cause of his death is under investigation.

The Security Council condemned the peacekeeper's death in the strongest terms and offered its deepest sympathies.

UN ‘blue helmet’ killed near site of Lebanon-Israel cross-fire; investigation under way [Media Release - 28/1/15]

Thousands of Nigerians flee across Lake Chad with harrowing tales

UNHCR [28/1/15]:

Thousands of Nigerian refugees have been arriving in western Chad by canoe this month with harrowing tales of the situation in north-east Nigeria, and UNHCR is preparing for a further influx of people amid the continuing violence.

More than 14,000 people have crossed Lake Chad since early January when militants attacked their homes in and around the north-east Nigerian town of Baga, torching homes, killing hundreds and kidnapping people.

The UN refugee agency, working with Chadian authorities, is monitoring the arrivals at places like Kangalom and helping to transport people to the Dar Es Salaam camp, which was recently built on government-allocated land and has a capacity for 15,000 people. UNHCR anticipates that more refugees will arrive during the year.

One refugee, Brahim, said he was in Baga on January 3 when the militants attacked in the morning.

"There were many of them, all armed with machineguns, AK 47s and RPGs [rocket-propelled grenades]," he said.

"We fled into the bush towards the [nearby] lake and got into canoes, but they followed us, even in the deep water, and kept shooting at people in the boats and water."

The 42-year-old sugar and rice trader, speaking to UNHCR in the Dar es Salam camp near Bagasola, said he saw bodies of men, women and children floating in the lake.

Another refugee, 45-year-old Abdulaye, said his large family had been separated during the attack. "I have four wives and 34 children, but arrived in Chad with only one child," he revealed, pointing to eight-year-old Ishaq. "We had to flee where we could, in all directions. I don't know where the others went."

Abdulaye, Brahim and the others went hungry for many days before reaching Chad. The almost 2,600 refugees currently in Dar es Salam camp are provided with food, shelter and water and have access to medical facilities.

Brahim, like others said he was grateful to the government but wished to go home as soon as possible. That might be far off if the situation in Nigeria continues to deteriorate.

"In the Dar es Salam site we have food, water and many things, but we want to go back. I am a businessman, he is a fisherman, my friend there is a mechanic, Abdulaye is a driver" he said, pointing to individuals in the group. "We want to get back to our lives. There is no work for us here, and we will always be foreigners."

In addition to assistance provided by humanitarian organizations like UNHCR, the local population has given food and money to help the refugees.

UNHCR, meanwhile, expects more people to arrive and is making preparations to receive and assist up to 30,000 fleeing to Chad in search of protection this year. The refugee agency is setting up an office in the Bagasola area, increasing staff capacity and looking at new partnerships in an area with few NGOs on the ground.

In total, the Nigeria crisis has forcibly displaced an estimated 154,000 people into neighbouring Chad, Cameroon and Niger, and close to 1 million within Nigeria's six north-eastern states. according to the Nigeria Emergency Management Agency.

Houthis 'beat and detain demonstrators' in Yemen

Al Jazeera [28/1/15]:

Anti-Houthi protesters and journalists attacked and several detained in capital, Sanaa.

Dozens of protesters marching in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, have been beaten back by Houthi rebels who control the capital, witnesses said.

The rebels fired automatic rifles in the air and struck the anti-Houthi protesters with batons and knives, AP news agency reported on Wednesday.

The witnesses said the rebels detained several protesters and journalists, and that around 10 people were lightly wounded in scuffles.

Yemeni newspaper Source Online said that one of its journalists was being held by the Houthis, adding that it considered the group responsible for his safety.

The Houthis seized Sanaa in September and last week put the president, prime minister and top Cabinet members under house arrest, leading to their resignation.

Since then, demonstrations against the Houthis have been held. The rebels detained around a dozen protesters and journalists on Monday.

Sun reporters “worked in fear” of Rebekah Brooks court told

Hacking Inquiry [28/1/15]:

A News UK employee has testified in court that staff “worked in fear” of Rebekah Brooks when she edited the Sun as “people were hired and fired on a regular basis”.

The testimony came in the fourth week of the trial of four of the paper’s journalists who are facing charges relating to alleged payments to public officials for confidential [information].

Charlotte Hull, a former administrative assistant to The Sun’s Newsdesk, the jury heard, was responsible for administrating the system of cash payments for sources at the daily tabloid and confirmed that from 2008 every one had to be approved by the editor.

Asked if anyone ever offered The Sun a story without asking for payment? Hull replied “I can’t think of a single time”.

She also told the court she had never been told not to pay public officials for contributions and there was no system in place to prevent it happening.

The jury also heard evidence from retired Detective Superintendent Mark Kandiah who was the senior officer in Operation Elveden, the Metropolitan police’s investigation into alleged corrupt payments by newspapers.

The witness told the court that the operation began when the police were given information that a royal correspondent at the now defunct News of the World may have been paying police officers. However, it quickly expanded to take in other allegations of corruption at one point employing more than 30 officers.

Under questioning from defence counsel the retired police officer said that due to the specific legal issues around investigating newspapers a “memorandum of understanding” had been negotiated with News International about what information was to be given to the police.

Kandiah said that there was no way of knowing” if all the relevant documents had been handed over, a situation that he described as “less than satisfactory”.

There had also been, he agreed, a large number of emails that had been deleted from the company’s computer system. “We don’t know if we’ve got everything” the witness confirmed.

As well as the four Sun reporters, John Kay, Duncan Larcombe, Fergus Shanahan and Geoffrey Webster, an army officer John Hardy and his wife, Claire, are also in the dock.

All of the defendants deny all of the charges, the trial continues.

Hostage killed by police bullet

RNZI [29/1/15]:

The first day of an inquest into the deaths during Sydney's Lindt cafe siege has been told hostage Katrina Dawson died after being hit by fragments of a police bullet.

Hostages Ms Dawson and Tori Johnson, and gunman Man Haron Monis, died when police stormed the Martin Place cafe on Tuesday 16 December to end the 16-hour siege.

No witnesses were called on the opening day but counsel assisting the inquest outlined the scope of the inquest and the results of inquiries made to date.

The inquest heard Mr Johnson was forced to kneel before being shot.

[The cafe manager killed in the dramatic final moments of a siege in Sydney was shot while trying to grab the gunman's weapon, sources say. ... ABC - 16/12/15]

Assisting counsel Jeremy Gormly SC said as police moved in to end the siege, Ms Dawson was struck by six fragments of a police bullet or bullets which ricocheted from hard surfaces into her body.

The inquest was told at least two police bullets or bullet fragments hit Monis in the head and 11 other bullets or fragments hit his body.

Mr Gormly said the siege at the Lindt cafe in Martin Place "seemed to break its way into the intimacy of Sydney life".

He said the investigation was "intensely detailed and broad" and would look at the life of the gunman, the events during the siege, its termination and aftermath.

"The siege involved a large number of hostages - they are articulate, cooperative and demonstrate a good recollection of events," he told the inquest.

The court was told there was no CCTV inside the cafe but events were recorded from the outside.

"This court has no difficulty making criticisms or adverse findings of police if it's necessary. Every shot fired by Mr Monis and by police officers is likely to be accounted for."

Mr Gormly said if there were defects in the police force's management of the siege, "they will be exposed".

The fact that Monis was on bail at the time of the siege would also be examined.

"Bail operates contrary to the usual presumption of innocence and can result in someone being held in jail before their trial and when they are not yet found guilty," he said.

"Nevertheless, bail is a system that in part aims to prevent offenders from offending again and to ensure they do not abscond before trial.

"Mr Monis was on trial at the time of the siege. It is necessary to examine without hindsight how he came to be granted bail."

The court was also told Monis had claimed that his actions were an attack by Islamic State (IS) but it "seems he had not established contact with IS before siege".

The inquest will look into how cafe manager Mr Johnson, 34, and lawyer Ms Dawson, 38, died and whether their deaths could have been prevented.

...



... "The truth is not an obstacle for someone such as me," she said.

"Because you see we all create our own reality.

And if a problem should arise,

the best thing you can say is:

Dont worry, be happy, and have a nice day ..."

 

'Truth is out of Style', MC 900 Ft. Jesus [1989]



 

Political and media establishment happily participate in government lies, secrecy and anti refugee propaganda, then they opinionate that Australians don't care:

@ABCthedrum [28/1/15]: The Coalition can stop the boats, but not reap the votes. Voters have other concerns | @PeterLewisEMC & @jackiewoods

 

Australia's Immigration Minister had hunger striking refugees beaten and thrown in a dungeon without charge: "We are 58 people, they beat the shit out of all of us"

24 men are being held in solitary confinement.

Means of communication have been confiscated by an Australian/PNG goon squad.

Fuck your endless spin ABC.  Tell us if the beaten men are still alive.  And tell the Australian people what is being done in their name and with their taxes.

 

 

"We want Manus to close."

Manus Island Vigil @ Australian Consulate in New York City - January 21, 2015 from 501(c)(3) Productions 

 

SBS [22/1/15]:

... In an email from New York, filmmaker Alex Kelly said Australian expats gathered for a candle light vigil outside the Australian Consulate.

“We are opposed to these offshore detention centres, we want detainees to know there are many Australians and people around the world who support their struggle,” she said.

* Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.

 

Vigil in solidarity with Manus refugees, outside Australian Embassy in Brussels [27/1/15]

 

Australia: Church voices concern over drastic protests at Manus Island [Independent Catholic News - 26/1/15]

... ACMRO [Australian Catholic Migrant and Refugee Office] finds the government’s lack of transparency on Manus Island, particularly at a time when the lives of individuals are at stake, highly worrying. The current protest bears much similarity to last year’s occurrence on Manus Island that escalated out of control and resulted in the death of Reza Barati.

The Director of ACMRO, Fr Maurizio Pettena calls for transparency on Manus Island.

“The Australian public has a right to know the truth about what is happening on Manus Island, given that their taxes are channelled there and asylum seekers are indirectly under their care. Asylum seekers too have a right to information and to know their future prospects of resettlement, regardless of how they arrived on Australian shores.”

...

 

A Department of Immigration report into the death of Hamid Kehazaei has not been publicly released despite the government admitting a “draft final report” has been provided to the Queensland Coroner, and 145 days passing since the Iranian asylum seeker had his life support switched off.

The report was promised by former Immigration Minister Scott Morrison after 24-year-old Kehazaei died in a Brisbane hospital as a result of a foot infection he received while detained on Manus Island.  ... [New Matilda - 28/1/15]

 

Hard to watch and certainly unimaginable if you have a heart and soul, the harrowing HBO Holocaust documentary, “Night Will Fall,” will leave you speechless and in shock at just how frightening it was for those poised at the firing end of a Nazi’s gun.  ... [Monsters and Critics - 26/1/15]

 

Hollywood Reporter [9/9/14]:

A mere 70 years in gestation, German Concentration Camp Factual Survey was a powerful Holocaust documentary that spent decades in limbo for politically dubious reasons. Filmed at the end of World War II, it was only recently completed in a painstaking full-length restoration by London's Imperial War Museum. The project has long been part of movie folklore, partly because directing legends Alfred Hitchcock and Billy Wilder were both briefly involved in shaping it.

This British-American-Israel documentary adds extra star power, with Brett Ratner and Stephen Frears serving as producers. The director is André Singer, whose own production credits include multiple Werner Herzog projects plus last year's prize-winning Oscar contender The Act of Killing. Following its U.S. launch in Telluride last month, Night Will Fall opens theatrically in the U.K. next week. The combination of grimly compelling subject matter and fabled Hollywood names should add up to healthy audience interest.

In the spring of 1945, with victory in sight, Allied forces encountered the full horror of the Nazi experiment as they swept through Germany. The liberation of slave labor and extermination camps including Bergen-Belsen, Dachau and Buchenwald were recorded by traumatized military film crews from Britain, the U.S. and Soviet Russia. The grim images they collected of emaciated corpses and mass graves would soon shock the world. The victims were mostly Jewish, of course, but also political and religious dissidents, Poles, Slavs, Roma and homosexuals.

Under the command of British film-maker Sidney Bernstein, the footage was shipped back to London as raw material for a powerful post-war propaganda film designed to discredit the inhuman Nazi regime forever, especially among ordinary Germans claiming ignorance of mass murder on their doorstep. Bernstein assembled a heavyweight team including writer and future government minister Richard Crossman. Hitchcock also took a break from his Hollywood career to offer suggestions on style and treatment.

Meanwhile in Los Angeles, Wilder edited some of the footage into a 22-minute newsreel-style short for U.S. audiences, Death Mills. But by the fall of 1945, as the political weather changed, Bernstein's work-in-progress film was quietly shelved by the U.K. government. With Germany in ruins, a more pragmatic mood of reconciliation and reconstruction began to take priority over punishment. Though clips from Bernstein's incomplete documentary were permitted to be shown during the Nuremberg trials of prominent Nazis, it remained unfinished for almost 70 years.

Night Will Fall fills in the back story of the film's evolution, from its grisly battlefield origins to its technically exacting restoration process. Singer and his team blend archive footage and contemporary interviews with elderly military veterans, members of the original film crews, historians and Holocaust survivors, including Branko Lustig, double Oscar-winning producer of Schindler's List. Wilder appears briefly in library clips. Hitchcock, true to form, makes a fleeting cameo. Fittingly, since his involvement with the project was minimal.

As an historical and educational document, Night Will Fall is unquestionably a worthwhile exercise. But if it is possible to judge such grave material purely as cinema, it must be said that Singer's film plays like a conventional TV documentary, with little of the bold stylistic flair seen in his recent collaborations such as Into The Abyss or The Act of Killing. More investigation into the backstage machinations that forced the shelving of the original documentary would also have been welcome, an intriguing piece of early Cold War realpolitik that is dispensed with far too lightly here.

Inevitably harrowing and sickening in places, but with tender and uplifting moments, Night Will Fall is a somber treatment of a serious topic which earns its place in the broad pantheon of Holocaust-themed cinema. It is just a shame that Singer's worthy memorial feels a little too small for its world-shaking theme and world-famous cast list. The full restoration of its more important sister film, now retitled Memory of the Camps, will be released next month.

...

 

Where is the evidence of this?

International Service for Human Rights [28/1/15]:

... Members of the government are also publicly foreshadowing a parliamentary no-confidence motion in Professor Triggs and an inquiry into the possible abolition of the [Human Rights] Commission itself. ...

In any case, instead of engaging in partisan squabbling, the best response to a perceived government attack would be to assert one's authority.

Lives are at stake.

Why won't the Australian Human Rights Commission demand access to Manus Island (and Nauru)?

 

Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee Recommendations re "Incident at the Manus Island Detention Centre from 16 February to 18 February 2014" [December 2014]:

Recommendation 5

8.49 The committee recommends that, in the interests of transparency and accountability, the governments of Australia and Papua New Guinea take measures to facilitate appropriate access to the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre, including:

• allowing United Nations representatives full access to the centre and transferees;

• permitting qualified lawyers, including lawyers certified to practice in Australia, access to the centre in order to meet with transferees and provide legal assistance;

• allowing the Australian Human Rights Commission to regularly inspect the centre and meet with centre staff and transferees; and

• permitting journalists to visit the centre and speak freely with centre staff and transferees.

 

 

29 January 2015

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