Palm Sunday protest on Nauru [VIDEO - 29/3/15]
Over 300 refugees who are now living in the Nauruan comunity have joined in the worldwide protest today.
Close offshore detention.
Feel safe Queensland?
QPS Media [29/3/15]:
Two juveniles and one adult have been charged after an incident at Idalia, Townsville this morning where a police officer was injured.
It will be alleged around 3.30am while officers were at a Kokoda Street address in relation to a reported burglary and vehicle theft when the stolen vehicle returned to the address.
It will be alleged when a male officer attempted to arrest the driver the vehicle accelerated with the officer being thrown to the roadway. The vehicle continued into bushes before the driver ran off.
The officer was taken to the Townsville Base Hospital for treatment of injuries to his face and arms and an alleged bite to his shoulder.
A 17-year-old Wulguru man has been charged with burglary and commit indictable offence, unlawful use of motor vehicle, unlicenced driving, unlawful entry of vehicle for committing indictable offence by night, fail to stop motor vehicle, dangerous operation of a vehicle and serious assault police by biting. He is expected to appear at the Townsville Magistrates Court tomorrow, March 30.
Two youths, a 13-year-old Wulguru boy and a 15-year-old Railway Estate boy, allegedly in the car at the time, have each been charged with unlawful use of a motor vehicle and will be dealt with under the provisions of the Youth Justice Act.
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.
NSW police don't shoot man [Nine MSN - 29/3/15]
Police are investigating the armed robbery of a pharmacy in Southport that occurred this evening. … [QPS Media – 29/3/15]
The partner of a 32-year-old woman who died after suffering a stab wound at a house in Alice Springs is in custody. ... [ABC - 29/3/15]
Port Moresby General Hospital runs out of TB vaccine
PNG Loop [29/3/15]:
The health department is responsible for the purchase and supply of vaccines to hospitals around the country including the Port Moresby General Hospital.
POMGEN Chief Executive Officer Grant Muddle said this when responding to why its maternity wing ran out of BCG vaccines for new born babies. BCG, or bacille Calmette-Guerin is a vaccine that protects newborn babies against tuberculosis.
This week mothers who delivered at the hospital were told to go to private hospitals and have their babies immunized because the hospital had run out.
Mothers who resorted to private hospitals for the shot had to pay K50 to get their babies vaccinated.
“National Department of Health buys the vaccines and supplies them top all hospitals, it’s a NHoH issue only they can talk about in a country sense,” Muddle said.
against deep sea oil drilling, Auckland
More than 3000 people, according to Greenpeace's estimates, have protested in central Auckland against deep sea oil drilling.
The protesters came from a number of groups, including Greenpeace and Oil Free Auckland.
Greenpeace described the protest as being even bigger and louder than last year's.
For more than half an hour, the protesters blocked Federal Street, where a petroleum industry summit is being held at SkyCity over three days.
The summit is billed as the all-encompassing oil and gas event of the year, at which the Government will reveal its block offer for 2015, as well as start consultation over oil and gas exploration in an area covering more than 450,000 square kilometres.
The protest was described on Facebook as speaking out against 'another glitzy oil conference in Auckland where Simon Bridges will continue his attempt to sell off our oceans to Big Oil.'
Under the Parliament of Queensland Act 2001 S. 64 (2) there is nothing in Billy Gordon MP's history to disqualify him from parliament
(2) A person is a disqualified person if the person—
(a) is subject to a term of imprisonment
or detention, periodic or otherwise; or
(b) within 2 years before the day of nomination, has been convicted of an offence against the law of Queensland, another State or the Commonwealth and sentenced to more than 1 year's imprisonment; or
(c) has been convicted within 7 years before the day of nomination of an offence against the Criminal Code, section 59 or 60; or
(d) has been convicted within 10 years before the day of nomination of a disqualifying electoral offence; or
(e) has been convicted, and not pardoned, of treason, sedition or sabotage under the law of Queensland, another State or the Commonwealth; or
(f) is an undischarged bankrupt under the Bankruptcy Act 1966 (Cwlth), or a corresponding law of another jurisdiction; or
(g) has executed a deed of arrangement as debtor under the Bankruptcy Act 1966 (Cwlth), part X, or a corresponding law of another jurisdiction, and the terms of the deed have not been fully complied with; or
(h) has creditors who have accepted a composition under the Bankruptcy Act 1966 (Cwlth), part X, or a corresponding law of another jurisdiction, and a final payment has not been made under that composition; or
(i) is not entitled to be a candidate for election, or to be elected as a member of the Assembly, under another law.
Roos, Oscar and Hayward, Benjamin 2009, Criminal priors & the right to be elected : the salutary tale of Ronald 'Bunna' Walsh, Alternative law journal, vol. 34, no. 1, pp. 36-40.
Queensland Parliament is this bus. The Premier wants to sacrifice an MP - and her tenuous hold on power - for the benefit of bipartisan racism?
Tim Winton's Palm Sunday plea: Start the soul-searching and stop turning back the boats [The Age – 29/3/15]:
... We're here to call a spade a spade, to declare that what has become political common sense in Australia over the past 15 years is actually nonsense. And not just harmless nonsense; it's vicious, despicable nonsense. For something foul is festering in the heart of our community, something shameful and rotten. ...
An estimated 15,000 people marched through the city streets on Sunday, demanding the Abbott government close the trouble-plagued immigration centres on Nauru and Manus Island.
The demonstrators marched from Parliament House to Queen Victoria Gardens on St Kilda Road, chanting condemnations of the government's asylum seeker policy.
Representations of several churches led the march, along with former refugees.
Refugee Action Collective spokesman Chris Breen said the government had recently stepped up its efforts to deport people found "unfairly" not to be refugees.
Marches were held across 12 other Australian cities, and 19 cities overseas, demanding refugees be released from detention. ... [The Age - 29/3/15]
Rallies calling for the closure of refugee detention centres were held across the country on March 29. The Refugee Action Committee Canberra released this statement on March 25 in the lead-up to the rally. ... [Green Left Weekly - 28/3/15]
@justiceags [29/3/15]: JanetHolmesACourt it will be great when both opn and govt have compassionate response to refugees
Palm Sunday Justice for refugees rally, Brisbane
King George Square [29/3/15]
Speakers at the rally - attended by about 500 people - included First Nations leader Sam Watson, Very Reverend Dr Peter Catt, Aspro Mohamad Abdalla, Queensland Union leaders, Professor Penelope Mathew and West Papuan Leader Benny Wenda.
A letter dedicated to Reza Berati - penned by refugees on Manus Island - was read out.
Treat the foreigner as one of your own Leviticus 19:34
Freedom bus! Adelaide Street
Marching up Adelaide Street
All over the world, including here in Quito, people protest Australia's treatment of refugees ...
Image: @pajaritaroja [29/3/15]
Court expedites death row appeals
Jakarta Post [28/3/15]:
The Supreme Court guaranteed on Friday that all justices would expedite hearings on case-review petitions filed by several death row, as the international community was observing the process.
The court decided on Wednesday to reject a second case review petition filed by Philippine national Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso, a drug convict in the second batch of executions to take place.
Two other drug convicts - Serge Areski Atlaoui of France and Martin Anderson alias Belo of Ghana - are still challenging their death penalty rulings via case-review petitions.
Attorney General Muhammad Prasetyo praised the court’s decision to reject Veloso’s second case review petition, adding that the decision helped clear the way for the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) to carry out the second batch of executions.
Supreme Court spokesman, justice Suhadi, said hearings in lower courts took up most of the time in the case-review process.
Suhadi later pledged that all court justices handling the cases would prioritize them.
“It is automatic. All justices know what to do [in prioritizing] those cases because it has drawn so much public attention,” he said on Friday.
“Rest assured, we are working professionally.”
The Criminal Law Procedures Code stipulates that a case review should be filed first with a lower court, which will later hear and study whether the petition meets all the requirements.
A case review can only be considered if new evidence or conflicting facts are found, or if judges are deemed to have erred in applying the law.
The first hearing of Veloso’s second case review petition took place at the Sleman District Court on March 3. The lower court later submitted the documents to the Supreme Court on March 12.
Atlaouli’s case review petition was first heard at the Tangerang District Court on March 11, however, the court has adjourned the hearing to March 25. The first hearing of Anderson’s case review took place at the South Jakarta District Court on March 19.
Prasetyo expressed hope that court proceedings could be wrapped up soon so the AGO could announce the dates of the executions.Veloso, Anderson and Atlaoui are three of 10 convicts set to be executed in the near future on Nusakambangan prison island near Cilacap, Central Java.
The other drug convicts facing imminent execution are Bali Nine duo Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan of Australia, Rodrigo Gularte of Brazil, Zainal Abidin of Indonesia and Raheem Agbaje Salami of Nigeria.
Also slated to be executed are three convicted murderers: Syofial alias Iyen bin Azwar, Harun bin Ajis and Sargawi alias Ali bin Sanusi, all from Indonesia.
Separately, Vice President Jusuf Kalla urged the public to wait for the AGO, which has authority over the executions, to decide when the executions would take place.
AGO spokesman Tony Spontana said it would take a while before the executions could take place.
“I can assure you it will not be this week. I’m not sure if it will be this month. We must wait.
”Meanwhile, House of Representatives Commission III overseeing laws and human rights checked Nusa Kambangan prison island to see if it was ready to host the executions.
Commission III chairman Azis Syamsudin said after the inspection that the prison was prepared and that it was only a matter of time before the executions would take place.
“All preparations for the executions of the drug convicts are complete, but the prosecutors are still waiting for the completion of the legal process,” he said.
Gunmen kill 15 in Nigeria during tense election
Gunmen killed at least 15 people including an opposition politician near polling stations in northeast Nigeria on Saturday, casting an ominous shadow over the closest electoral contest since the end of military rule in 1999.
The tense race pits President Goodluck Jonathan against former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari for the favor of an electorate divided along a complex mix of ethnic, regional and in some cases religious lines.
The poll is seen as the first election in Africa's most populous nation in which an opposition candidate has a serious chance of unseating the incumbent, and widespread fears it could trigger violence are already becoming reality.
Islamist Boko Haram insurgents launched several attacks on voters in the northeast, killing three in Yobe state and three more in Gombe state, police said.
Shortly afterwards, at least eight people, including the opposition parliamentary candidate for Dukku in Gombe, were killed by unidentified gunmen, a spokesman for Buhari's All Progressives Congress (APC) said.
The militants, who are trying to revive a medieval Islamic caliphate in religiously mixed Nigeria, reject democracy and their leader Abubakar Shekau has threatened to kill those who go to vote.
A string of military victories by troops from Nigeria and neighboring Chad, Cameroon and Niger has reclaimed much of the territory the Islamists controlled earlier this year, but they retain the ability to mount deadly attacks on civilians.
The governor of Borno state in the northeast said 25 people had been killed in an assault on the remote village of Buratai on Friday night.
The PR kingmakers of London town take on Nigeria [Spinwatch – 27/3/15]
The office of the attorney general in Ecuador is investigating if the death of former President Jaime Roldos was an assassination of Operation Condor.
A recently declassified CIA document reveals that Ecuador — like many countries of the Southern Cone — was part of the U.S.-backed Operation Condor plan, which took hold of the region from the 1970s to the mid-1980s. ... [teleSUR - 27/3/15]
At just 150 pounds, it was hardly fair to pit Ricardo Palikiko Garcia against an opponent well over twice his size. But Garcia had to fight him -- or else he'd allegedly face torture.
Running away was not an option for the inmate locked inside a San Francisco jail.
Like the gladiators of old, Garcia and others were forced into pugilistic matches, local authorities said. Four sheriff's deputies then placed bets on their bouts. ... [CNN - 27/3/15]
Utah's firing squad law reveals crisis at the heart of US capital punishment [Guardian - 28/3/15]
Australia's deferential treatment of the United States has gone on for too long, Alan Ramsey [Sydney Morning Herald – 27/3/15]:
... When the first Marines arrived, in April 2012, they numbered 250. The following year it was again 250. Last year it was 1150. The new lot, again 1150, get to Darwin some time in the next fortnight. Always in early April, always gone again in early September. The numbers are supposed to peak at 2500 in 2017. What happens then should be interesting.
What did our Parliament say to all this? Nothing. Any debate in either the House or the Senate? No. Any individual MP ask a question of the Parliament as to what was going on? No. For the first time in the 225 years of Australia's white settlement, excluding World War II, we have opened our doors to foreign troops to be based here – and they are based here, despite what the politicians and the military say – and almost nobody says boo. Malcolm Fraser got angry and wrote about it in a book. Still nobody said anything, least of all Canberra. Our politicians are too busy "looking to America". ...
Question without Notice on US Marines in Darwin [Senator Scott Ludlam Media Release - 21/3/12]
The Square (2013)
The Egyptian Revolution has been an ongoing rollercoaster for a number of years. Through the news, we only get a glimpse of the bloodiest battle, an election, or a million man march. At the beginning of July 2013, we witnessed the second president deposed within the space of three years.
The Square is an immersive experience, transporting the viewer deeply into the intense emotional drama and personal stories behind the news. It is the inspirational story of young people claiming their rights, struggling through multiple forces, in the fight to create a society of conscience.
Do Queenslanders not admire the individual who has overcome adversity?
Let's see ALL politicians' full disclosure of their financial, personal, police and traffic records: Revolving Doors Queensland – compiled by Simone Marsh
Billy Gordon MP [29/3/15]:
I want to firstly apologise to the people of Cook, the Premier and the ALP for failing to appropriately disclose parts of my criminal history.
Over the last couple of days details of my personal life have been made public.
Issues ranging from failure to lodge tax returns, failure to pay appropriate child support and most significantly allegations of domestic violence.
I have worked hard to rectify outstanding taxations and child support issues.
In relation to allegations of domestic violence the Premier has referred this matter to the Queensland Police Commissioner for investigation.
I welcome this investigation and will provide it with full cooperation.
The last couple of days have been a tremendous strain on my family and I. I have been extremely concerned about my children throughout this period as any father would be in this situation.
Throughout my life I have had to overcome many challenges and adversities. In particular as a young indigenous boy.
Growing up in a family that had its challenges and was far from perfect where both my mother and father struggled daily to keep the family together and put the basics in the household.
I remember wishing as young person that I had grown up with a ‘normal’ nuclear family.
Unfortunately that wasn’t the case. Growing up I remember spending a lot of time wanting what other kids had, like shoes, bikes, footballs etc. One of the things that I do remember wishing for the most, even into my years as a teenager, was for a perfect father figure, especially since as a young man I also had serious contact with the criminal justice system.
This contact has included being charged and convicted with:
• Breaking entering and stealing in 1987 in Innisfail
• Breaking and entering with intent, attempted breaking and entering and stealing in 1990 in Atherton
• Breach of probation in 1992 in Atherton
• Public nuisance in 1996 in Normanton and
• Breach of bail conditions in 1999 (stemming from not attending a court summons from the 1996 incident).
In addition I have twice had my driver’s licence suspended for unlicensed driving (2004 and 2008).
Finally, in 2008 I was served with an Apprehended Violence Order as a result of a complaint by my mother.
My mother at the time was concerned that I was going to return to a relationship with an ex-partner (we were at said ex-partner’s residence) and I asked her to leave in a manner that she found threatening. My mother has confirmed to me that there were no allegations of physical violence made with respect to this incident.
This AVO was never heard in court, and does not form part of my criminal record however I provide its details now for completeness.
I recognize that my own personal circumstances are no excuse for my non disclosure, however from this troubled and fractured past I've managed to piece together a positive and constructive life.
That includes serving in the Army Reserves (51st Battalion), volunteering with the Foundation for Young Australian as Facilitating their Indigenous Youth Leadership forum and working for Reconciliation Australia as the organisations Education Officer, before being elected to the Queensland Parliament.
Queensland election 2015: LNP Gold Coast MP Verity Barton apologises over unpaid fines, driving bans [ABC - 9/1/15]
Redland LNP branch members have voted 'no' to allowing state MP Peter Dowling to stand for them in the next election. ... [Brisbane Times - 25/10/14]
Gympie MP David Gibson claims police officer 'delivered death threats' for LNP [Brisbane Times - 6/6/14]
A Gardner Street resident questions the Mount Isa Police’s reaction to the riot involving more than 300 people.
The resident – who asked to remain unnamed in case of retribution by rioters - phoned police when woken by screaming in the street at 4.30am, Saturday. ... [North West Star - 29/3/15]
How would you know what's really going on in apartheid Queensland where good ol' boys run the media?
North West Star [28/3/15]:
Fifteen people were arrested after a street brawl involving 300 people in Mount Isa in the early hours of Saturday morning.
At about 4.25am police responded to reports of around 300 people fighting and damaging property in the vicinity of Gardner and Abel Smith Parade, Mount Isa.
Police said the first response officers had to call in additional resources to help disperse the large crowd.
A police spokesperson said that amongst the large group, smaller groups were fighting amongst themselves, damaging fences and using star pickets and bottles during the melee.
A woman was charged with serious assault after allegedly being in possession of a knife and head-butting a female officer. The police officer was not injured.
There were no serious injuries reported.
Fourteen other people have been charged on numerous street offences are to appear at later dates.
Investigations are continuing and further charges are expected.
Canberra Times [28/3/15]:
Career-ending punch and serious police misconduct detailed in report Punching a drunken man in the face for no reason ended one police officer's career while two other serious breaches in the use of force left two other officers facing disciplinary action.
Heavily redacted documents obtained through a freedom-of-information request by the Sunday Canberra Times reveal some of the circumstances behind eight established use of force breaches reported in the ACT Policing 2013-14 Annual Report late last year.
Three "serious" breaches were established along with another five considered to be of a "non-serious nature".
One of the serious breaches involved an AFP officer punching a drunken man in the face before twisting his arm with force despite no resistance or provocation. ...
Murder charge laid
after toddler dies
A Queensland father has had a grievous bodily harm charge upgraded to murder after his two-year-old son died in a Brisbane hospital.
The boy was flown to Lady Cilento Children's Hospital on Wednesday following months of alleged abuse at his 33-year-old father's hands.
He died on Friday night.
Earlier that day, the father appeared in court charged with four counts of assault occasioning bodily harm and one count of grievous bodily harm.
The latter charge has now been upgraded to murder, and a torture charge also laid.
The man, from Kin Kin, near Gympie, is alleged to have assaulted the boy on a number of occasions between December and March.
He did not apply for bail and was remanded in custody.
He is due to reappear in court on March 30.
It comes after 18-month-old boy died on Thursday from injuries he suffered in a separate assault, allegedly at the hands of a 29-year-old man.
The boy died in a Townsville hospital from unspecified injuries.
Road crashes leave four dead in four hours
WA Today [28/3/15]:
A horrific morning on Perth's roads has left four people dead.
Two motorists were killed and another seriously injured when three vehicles crashed on a stretch of the Kwinana Freeway on Saturday morning and two motorcyclists died following crashes in Chidlow and Greenwood.
The first crashes happened around 5am when a Nissan truck, a Toyota Hiace van and a Holden Commodore utility collided while a thick blanket of smoke from a bushfire covered the Kwinana Freeway between Thomas and Ankatell Roads
It's understood one man died at the scene while another man died later in hospital. Police say the injured person is in a stable condition.
Seven News reporter Jordan Cutts told Fairfax Media: "I can see a truck in the middle of the road and there is also a white van and a red ute. The truck's trailer is sprawled all across the freeway southbound and the freeway is closed in both directions."
Three hours later a 23-year-old motorcyclist from Wooroloo was fatally injured when his Yamaha motorcycle collided with a Toyota Hilux near the intersection of Elliott and Mathieson Roads in Chidlow.
An hour later a 31-year-old motorcyclist from Padbury was critically injured when his Harley-Davidson collided with a Hyundai coupe at the intersection of the Mitchell Freeway and Warwick Road in Greenwood.
Both riders died of their injuries in hospital.
Police are also investigating how a car left the road and hit a house on Stokes Court in Spalding.
No-one was injured in that incident.
sues Anglo American for $1m damages
Morning Bulletin [28/3/15]:
He'd just finished working a 75-hour week at Foxleigh mine near Middlemount, and only finished his last night shift at 6.30am.
But less than four hours later Donald Welch, a former miner, said he had to leave his accommodation and drive almost 1000km home - a journey he never made, after crashing his car on the way there.
Mr Welch is now suing Anglo Coal, the owner of Foxleigh mine, and Workpac, a labour hire business that supplied staff for the mine, for $1,089,897.
The claim was filed in Rockhampton Supreme Court last week.
It alleges Mr Welch was extremely fatigued from the shift work, and the defendants were negligent by failing to provide suitable accommodation or warn about the dangers of driving after finishing a night shift.
Mr Welch, 50, lives in Wongawallan, almost 1000km south of Foxleigh mine near Middlemount.
As part of his employment terms when he first started, Mr Welch was provided with accommodation at Capcoal Village, a workers camp.
Workpac used to make a booking at the camp so Mr Welch didn't have to leave until 10am the day after his last shift.
However, Anglo American changed its policy in mid-2011 which meant employees had to vacate the accommodation at 10am on the checkout day, even if they'd just completed a seven-day rotation or night shift.
On July 10, 2013, Mr Welch finished a 12-hour night shift at 6.30am and had a few hours rest before having to get up and leave by 10am.
At 5.30pm that night he crashed his car, suffering spinal injuries.
The claim states the mine knew employees commuted between the camp and their homes due to a shortage of housing in CQ for miners.
Mr Welch is suing for negligence and for loss and other damages.
An Anglo American spokesperson said they were unable to comment at this time, as the matter was before the courts.
Henry Kissinger pocketed close to US$5 million for guiding mining giant Rio Tinto to wash its hands of its jailed China chief, Australian citizen Stern Hu, and build relations with Bejing.
Fairfax can reveal that the 92-year-old former US secretary of state made clear that he would not use his ties with Chinese leaders to "interfere" with the country's legal system or otherwise assist Hu, who was detained in sensational circumstances in July 2009. ... [Sydney Morning Herald - 29/3/15]
The Osaka High Court has upheld an acquittal of three former presidents of West Japan Railway Co (JR West) in the deaths of 106 passengers when a speeding train derailed in Amagasaki, Hyogo Prefecture, in 2005. ... [Japan Today - 28/3/15]
Sri Lanka president's brother dies in axe attack
A brother of Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has died in hospital after being attacked with an axe on Thursday, police have said.
Priyantha Sirisena suffered severe head injuries in his hometown of Polonnaruwa, north-east of the capital Colombo, AFP news agency reports.
Colombo Gazette reports there was a "private dispute" and a man has been arrested.
The president is out of the country on a state visit to China.
His youngest brother, a businessman and father of three, was attacked on Thursday evening "during an altercation with a friend" said a government statement.
He was flown to Colombo to be treated for head injuries but despite surgery he died on Saturday, said doctors.
Official sources have said Priyantha Sirisena, 42, was the youngest in a family of 12 children.
President Sirisena came to power following bitterly fought January presidential elections.
Unlike most former Sri Lankan leaders, he has not extended personal security for his siblings and is known to have drastically scaled down his own protection unit.
PNG: Experts to investigate claims of fish poisoning by oil spill
PNG Loop [28/3/15]:
A medical team is expected to arrive on Tingwon Island, New Ireland Province this weekend to gather blood samples and talk to people who claim an oil spill may be causing fish to become poisonous and unsafe to eat.
Disaster Coordinator Michael Lamusang says the team was supposed to have been dispatched a month ago but bad weather did not allow.
Lamusang has confirmed that diesel had spilled from a sunken ship.
He says it is yet to be established if the diesel spill has affected the fish population.
Late last year villagers complained skin irritation after eating fish caught from the sea near their villages.
Consumption of fish is still being restricted and last week the disaster office supplied the island with tinned meat and fish.
The disappearance of native food is becoming a concern to people on Derimbat villager in the Manus Province.
Latin Drihin, a climate change advocate has been carrying out awareness about the impacts of climate change in the village.
He says people have begun to notice that sago trees, banana and even cassava are dying out. ... [PNG Loop - 28/3/15]
Republican lawmaker says Clinton wiped clean email server
The Republican chairman of a House of Representatives committee investigating the 2012 Benghazi attacks said on Friday that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had failed to respond to the panel's subpoena for documents in the case.
Representative Trey Gowdy said Clinton had not provided a single new document and her lawyer told the committee a server she used for emails while she was the top U.S. diplomat had been wiped clean.
"We learned today, from her attorney, Secretary Clinton unilaterally decided to wipe her server clean and permanently delete all emails from her personal server," Gowdy, chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, said in a statement.
He said the committee will seek to speak to Clinton, the presumed front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, about the emails and the server.
Clinton, who was sharply criticized after it was revealed she used a private email address while secretary of state, has said she has already given copies of all her work-related emails to the State Department.
Clinton has told the committee and the State Department that she would like all her emails made public as soon as possible and welcomes the opportunity to appear before the House panel, Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill said in a statement.
The State Department has said it has already given Gowdy's committee all the relevant emails from that cache, some 300 in all, about the attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya.
Members of Gowdy's committee say they need to see all of Clinton's emails, including those she did not give to the State Department, to be sure of this.
But the top Democrat on the committee, Representative Elijah Cummings, said the letter the panel received from Clinton's lawyer confirmed that Clinton had turned over all relevant emails.
"It is time for the Committee to stop this political charade and instead make these documents public and schedule Secretary Clinton’s public testimony now,” Cummings said in a statement.
Canberra Times [29/3/15]:
2500 metadata 'cops' to search phone and internet records About 2500 officials across the country will be able to sign off on access to Australians' phone and internet records under the Abbott government's new "metadata" laws passed last week. A detailed analysis by Fairfax Media has found the great majority of people empowered to approve requests for so-called communications metadata are police officers.
George Williams, a law professor at the University of NSW, described the 2500 officials as "a remarkably high figure".
"This affirms the need for more than a self-serve model of access to metadata," he said. "The absence of external checks is very concerning. Limiting metadata approval to more senior people within these organisations would be a start, but I do not think that would be sufficient. It is well accepted in other comparable areas that external checks and oversight is required in regard to the decision to access sensitive, private material."
Greece talks move to Brussels
The Brussels Group, technical teams from Greece and its lenders, is on Saturday due to begin discussing the details of Athens reform proposals, which were completed Friday and will determine to a large extent whether creditors decide to release further bailout funding.
The government is hoping that the technical teams will wrap up their negotiations by Monday and that a Eurogroup meeting will be called at some point next week to approve the disbursal of at least some of the remaining 7.2 billion euros in bailout funding to Greece.
A high-ranking Finance Ministry official insisted that none of the measures proposed by the Greek side would be “recessionary.” Instead, the government is looking to raise some 3 billion euros without having to cut pensions or wages.
Among the measures being proposed are an increase in luxury tax, special consumption tax on alcohol and a series of measures aimed at improving tax collection and targeting tax evaders, sources said. Other revenue-raising measures include the issuing of broadcasting licenses and a scheme to electronically connect the cash tills of retail stores, restaurants and bars with the Finance Ministry.
The government is forecasting that growth will reach 1.4 percent of gross domestic product this year and that the primary surplus will hit 1.5 percent of GDP, according to sources.
However, a number of issues seem to be open ahead of the Brussels Group discussion. These include whether the coalition will make any changes to value-added tax, if it will keep the ENFIA property tax and whether there will be any further pension reform.
Expectations on the lenders’ side for a swift conclusion are low. A person with knowledge of the process said that progress has been slow over the past few days and that there appears to be a difference of opinion over how much of the previous program should be retained.
Athens, meanwhile, denied it has plans to stop repaying its debt after a non-paper issued by the government suggested it would keep paying wages and pensions even if that leaves it with no money to pay creditors.
The government said that the non-paper simply highlighted the points made by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to European leaders over the last few days.
Radio France, the country’s main public radio broadcaster, has been paralysed by a strike since March 19 in what is now the longest such action to affect the company in a decade. ... [France 24 - 27/3/15]
More than 1,000 people marched through downtown Montreal on Friday night in the latest demonstration against the Quebec government's cutbacks.
Protesters also chanted slogans denouncing oil companies. ... [CBC - 27/3/15]
Queensland has spoken and the Coalition and the media need to listen and be respectful.
Senator Glenn Lazarus [28/3/15]:
The Senate Inquiry into the Queensland Government has concluded and the 'Final Report' inclusive of recommendations is now available online.
The report was lodged with the Senate yesterday.
I would like to thank the people of Queensland for your involvement in this inquiry and for your courage in coming forward and participating in public hearings. The inquiry received an unprecedented number of submissions.
I personally would like to apologise for the way in which the people of Queensland were treated by Coalition Senators during the inquiry.
I will be meeting with the President of the Senate to discuss these issues and seek an apology on behalf of the Parliament of Australia.
Politicians are representatives of the people. We are elected to serve the people - not give people a serve.
The inquiry was established by the Australian Senate in response to community concerns across Queensland regarding the actions and behaviour of the Newman Government.
The inquiry heard a large number of issues - extremely concerning issues alleging corruption, conflicts of interest, flawed decision making and abuse of human rights.
While the Coalition and sectors of the media will criticise and condemn the results of the inquiry - the inquiry was set up to give the people of Queensland a voice.
Democracy, transparency and accountability are key elements of good government. Queensland has spoken and the Coalition and the media need to listen and be respectful.
The recommendations contained within the report identify, based on information presented to the inquiry, actions needed to address issues raised and to restore community confidence in government.
As the only independent Senator for the people of Queensland, I answer to the people of Queensland. The results of the inquiry reflect the views, concerns and needs of the people of Queensland.
While the people of Queensland voted the Newman Government out, there are many issues which still need to be fixed as a result of the Newman Government's actions - and they must be fixed.
Santos CSG wastewater to top 1 million litres a day – with nowhere to go [Sydney Morning Herald – 28/3/15]
Weed sprays may cause antibiotic resistance
A Canterbury University scientist says his research suggesting common weed sprays decrease the effectiveness of antibiotics could have major implications for agriculture and people living in towns and cities.
The study, published this week in mBio, the journal of the American Society for Microbiology, shows that bacteria exposed to common herbicides, including Roundup, sometimes become antibiotic resistant.
It follows the announcement last week by the World Health Organisation that the active ingredient in Roundup, glyphosate, was a "probable carcinogen".
The lead author Jack Heinemann, professor of genetics and molecular biology at Canterbury, said farmers wore protective gear when handling herbicides, but bees and cows could be exposed to risk.
"Whereas in urban environments, we think probably the most important exposures are going to be our pets - because they're going to be walking through recently treated gardens or lawns - or children."
Professor Heinemann said researchers will now focus on what compounds could be responsible, and whether bacteria will stay resistant to antibiotics after the herbicide is gone.
However Federated Farmers said the research was not cause for "panic".
The federation's president William Rolleston said the findings were "interesting".
"But they're only preliminary what happens in the lab is not always what happens on the farm."
He said the findings only showed decreased effectiveness of antibiotics in some cases, not resistance, which would require genetic changes and be able to be passed on.
He said more work was needed to find the exact mechanism responsible and the study should not be "sensationalised" to support a political agenda.
Monsanto, which makes Roundup, declined to comment but referred questions to the Association for Animal Health and Crop Protection.
Its chief executive Mark Ross said people should not be worried.
He said other bodies, including the United Nations, had found no evidence of cancerous effects on people from glyphosate.
A spokesperson for the Ministry for Primary Industries said it was aware of the new analysis published by the International Agency for Research on Cancer regarding the classification of glyphosate.
He said the Environmental Protection Authority was reviewing the report and the Ministry would then consider if any changes were required.
More monitors installed on River Derwent as fish kills continue
Extra sensor equipment has been placed in Hobart's River Derwent to try to find out why schools of dead fish have been washing up on shore.
There have been at least five fish kills this month, the most recent on Wednesday.
The Derwent Estuary Program believes saltwater barracouta are chasing bait fish upstream, and getting stranded in freshwater.
Director Christine Coughanowr said pathology samples had proven the fish are not diseased.
"The main thing we're looking at is low oxygen and low salinity," she said.
"We'd like to consult with some fish biologists, particularly marine fish biologists, just about whether there's reasons why there might be more couta up there than usual."
The latest fish kills were reported near New Norfolk.
"We have installed a backup sensor in the upper part of the river, that was actually in when the last fish kill happened," she said.
"So we'll hopefully have more information on what the salinity and oxygen levels were doing at the time of this last kill.
"We'll probably leave it in for a couple of weeks."
Livingstone council axes iconic pines at Yeppoon [Morning Bulletin – 27/3/15]
PNG police await final report on village shooting
The National [27/3/15]:
Police are waiting for a final report from investigators into the Hanuabada shooting, a senior police officer said.
Acting Deputy Police Commissioner operations Jim Andrews told The National yesterday that the report of the shooting in February that resulted in the deaths of two villagers and injuries to others was yet to be given to him by investigators.
He said investigations proceeded well in the Tatana village shooting with the assistance of family and community of the deceased.
Andrews said the investigation into the Tatana shooting on Feb 17, when police went into the village to apprehend suspects and resulted in the shooting of a suspect, saw an officer being implicated.
He had appeared in
court and is out on bail.
Amanda Knox and her family make a public statement
King 5 [27/3/15]:
Amanda Knox was in Seattle while her case was in the hand of Italy's highest court. On Friday after her conviction was overturned, Knox and her family made a brief public appearance outside of their home.
"I just wanted to say that I'm incredibly grateful for what has happened, for the justice that I've receive, for the support that I've had from everyone -- from my family, from my friends to strangers, people like you," she said. "You saved my life and I'm so grateful. I'm so grateful to have my life back."
Edda Mellas, Knox's mother also spoke briefly, saying, "We're so grateful. I know you're all here but we really need time as a family to digest. And again (we're) so thankful that everything is finally right."
Before going back into the house, Knox responded to a question about Meredith Kercher, who was stabbed to death in 2007.
"Meredith was my friend and it's .. she deserved so much in this life. I'm the lucky one," said Knox.
On Friday, Italy's highest court overturned the murder conviction of Seattle resident Amanda Knox and her Italian ex-boyfriend in Kercher's death. Amanda Knox and her family released the following statement's after the court's ruling.
Indiana Declares Health Emergency After H.I.V. Outbreak
New York Times [27/315]:
An outbreak of H.I.V. in southeastern Indiana prompted the governor on Thursday to declare a public health emergency as officials worked to stop the spread of the virus that causes AIDS.
Officials said that 71 cases of H.I.V. identified since mid-December have been traced to intravenous use of a prescription painkiller in Scott County north of Louisville, Ky. Nine more cases are still under investigation, and state health officials predicted that more would appear in coming weeks. The governor authorized a short-term exchange program that would provide drug users with access to sterile needles so that contaminated needles were less likely to be shared.
Gov. Mike Pence, a Republican, has long opposed such programs. But he said that the outbreak, which was first identified in late January, had reached epidemic proportions, justifying the action. “This is all hands on deck,” Mr. Pence said. “This is a very serious situation.”
Mr. Pence’s order, which is in effect for 30 days, would allow for a needle-exchange program within Scott County if one is requested by local officials.
Scott County has about 24,000 residents, 19 percent of whom live below the poverty line, a rate higher than the state average. Mr. Pence said that Scott County typically sees about five new cases of H.I.V. a year.
The governor said the cluster of cases diagnosed so far had been traced to intravenous drug use, with the virus most likely spreading as people shared infected needles. He said those infected had illegally used Opana, a powerful prescription pain medication prescribed only in pill form. Opana is marketed by Endo Pharmaceuticals as a long-acting formulation of oxymorphone. It is prescribed less frequently than oxycodone and hydrocodone because of its strength. When used illicitly, it can provide a potent high.
“Once you alter it and inject it, it’s no longer extended-release,” said Dr. Melinda Campopiano, a medical officer at the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. “It is much quicker.”
Allowing clinics and other entities to dispense sterile syringes in exchange for used ones has long been debated. Proponents, including the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, say such programs can impede the spread of infectious diseases like H.I.V. and hepatitis C. Opponents say they may encourage illegal drug use.
United States law prohibits federal funding of needle-exchange programs. About half of states, generally those that are politically conservative, have banned the practice, according to the North American Syringe Exchange Network, which tracks state policies.
Mr. Pence has supported Indiana’s ban, but after meeting with federal advisers he said he decided to “make an exception” and allow a temporary program in Scott County.
“I’m going to put the lives of the people of Indiana first,” Mr. Pence said. He later added: “It’s a commitment to law and order, but it’s a commitment to compassion.”
The state will establish a command center in Scott County, with a task force of state agencies and a mobile enrollment facility for Indiana’s Medicaid program, which covers H.I.V. testing and treatment.
“The sooner we get people who may have been exposed, by whatever means, in this region, in for testing, in for treatment, the sooner that we will also suppress the spread of this virus,” Mr. Pence said.
Dr. Jerome M. Adams, the state health commissioner, said his department had been working in Scott County after H.I.V. diagnoses began to surge in January. He said public health workers have had limited success locating and testing those at risk of infection.
“Scott County is a rural area,” Dr. Adams said. “It’s also a very close-knit area. When you’re identified, the whole town knows. There’s a feeling of hopelessness within this community. They’re addicted, and they’re getting H.I.V. because they’re addicted.
Misuse of prescription opioids has become a national concern, with more than 16,000 deaths attributed to it in 2013, according to the C.D.C. The Scott County coroner, Jerry Buchanan, said in a telephone interview on Thursday that his office had handled 11 fatal drug overdoses since 2013, one caused by Opana.
Mr. Pence said: “I have deep compassion for people who have been trapped by this addiction, and we want to make sure people know they’re not alone. There is help, there is treatment and we’re surging into the county now to make that available.”
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence's decision to sign into law a measure that could allow businesses to turn away gay and lesbian customers in the name of "religious freedom" has left the NCAA fretting ahead of next week's men's basketball Final Four in Indianapolis. ... [CNN - 26/3/15]
The Arkansas Senate overwhelmingly approved on Friday a Republican-backed bill whose authors say is intended to protect religious freedoms but critics contend could allow businesses to refuse service to gay people. ... [Reuters - 28/3/15]
Ohio State Rep. Teresa Fedor Opens Up About Her Rape And Abortion During Debate Over 'Heartbeat Bill' [Huffington Post - 26/3/15]
New York buildings collapse after explosion in Manhattan [BBC – 27/3/15]
CELAC Unanimously Passes Resolution in Support of Venezuela
The 33 member countries of CELAC have approved a statement in support of Venezuela in light of sanctions imposed by the United States.
The Community of Latin American States (CELAC) reiterated its support of Venezuela after U.S. President Barack Obama issued a decree declaring the country a “threat” to national security.
The new declaration from the regional body was ready Thursday by Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño.
In the decree, the 33 member countries expressed their rejection of the application of measures that “go against international law.”
CELAC expressed its rejection of the U.S. decree and said it should be reversed. Further, it called on the U.S. to instead participate in dialogue with Venezuela, guided by “principles of respect.”
CELAC is made up of all of the countries of the Americas except the U.S. and Canada; all of its member countries voted for the resolution.
The National Securities Commission (CNV) financial watchdog has suspended Citibank Argentina from the buying and selling of local long-term debt and equity-backed securities. ... [Buenos Aires Herald - 27/3/15]
Argentine appeals court dismisses Iran-case accusation against Cristina Fernandez [Merco Press - 27/3/15]
Seven die in Chile floods, military rescues stranded residents [Reuters – 26/3/15]
Why aren't more of Australia's leaders and human rights groups calling for this?
#CloseNauru Aus #refugee policy is morally bankrupt, corrupt and will haunt us ...
"tweeted" by @DeanPeterCatt - Chair, Aust Churches Refugees Taskforce; Pres, A Progressive Christian Voice; Dean, St John's Cathedral, Brisbane; Chair, Social Responsibilities Committee [28/3/15]
UN-backed court charges former Khmer Rouge leader with crimes against humanity [UN Media Release – 27/3/15]
70 refugees rescued on Greek-Turkish border
Greek Reporter [27/3/15]:
Greek authorities rescued 70 migrants trapped on a berm at the Greek-Turkish border.
According to the authorities, after the migrants crossed the rivers that divide the two countries, they were trapped in the Greek fields that had been flooded due to the heavy rainfall.
The migrants were found early on Friday morning, March 27, however the nationalities still remain unknown. The group included several women and children.
When a member of the group called Greek emergency services, border police rushed to the spot and used inflatable dinghies to reach the berm and rescue them. Greek authorities believe they had been abandoned by the smuggler who helped them cross the border.
After the successful rescue mission, the 70 illegal migrants were transferred to a nearby Greek village.
Every year, tens of thousands of refugees, including many from war-torn Syria and Libya, enter Europe illegally, after paying high prices to organized smuggling gangs to ferry them across the Mediterranean from northern Africa or Turkey to Italy and Greece.
Ships to evacuate thousands of Indians from Yemen [Ahram - 27/3/15]:
India is to send ships to Yemen to evacuate thousands of workers stranded there as the fighting intensifies, authorities said.
Around 3,500 Indians are currently working in Yemen, which has been plunged into chaos by a Huthi Shiite rebellion that has triggered Saudi-backed airstrikes on the capital Sanaa.
Many are nurses from the southern state of Kerala, whose Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said New Delhi planned to send two ships to evacuate them.
"(Foreign) minister Sushma Swaraj has said that India will send two ships to evacuate Indians who are trapped there," Chandy said in an announcement posted on his official Facebook page on Thursday.
"As the airports are closed, the plan is to bring these people in ships to the neighbouring country of Djibouti and from there they will be brought to India by air.
"Those who can't take ships, would be taken to Saudi Arabia by road."
Chandy said workers had complained of having their passports and other documents seized by hospital authorities, preventing them from leaving.
India's government this week asked all its nationals to leave Yemen as a Saudi-backed coalition launched airstrikes.
Around 2,500 are in Sanaa, with the rest spread out around the country.
Saudi-led air strikes hit Yemen for third night [Al
Jazeera - 28/3/15]:
Saudi-led coalition troops have bombed Houthi targets in Yemen for a third consecutive night, and claim to be in complete control of Yemen's airspace.
The air strikes early on Saturday hit targets in the city of Hudaydah on the Red Sea Coast, the Houthi stronghold of Saada in the north, and military installations in and around the capital Sanaa.
The air strikes also struck the base of Yemen's former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who ruled the country for more than 30 years. Saleh is believed to have fled to Sanhan, near the capital.
The air strikes come amid reports of ground fighting between forces loyal to President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and the Houthi rebels in the southern port of Aden.
The spokesman for the Arab coalition bombing Houthi targets in Yemen, Brigadier General Ahmed Asiri, said that Saudi Arabia and its allies will do whatever it takes to stop Yemen's second largest city from falling to the Shia rebels.
Asiri said in Riyadh on Friday that the coalition's "main objective [is] to protect the government in Aden".
Asiri's comments came as a US defence official told Al Jazeera that US forces had rescued two Saudi airmen on Thursday who had ejected from their F-15 fighter jets over the Gulf of Aden. The official said a HH-60 helicopter from Djibouti recovered the Saudi airmen in international waters.
The defence official said the rescue took place at Saudi Arabia's request and a statement issued by the White House said that Saudi's King Salman had thanked US President Barack Obama in a phone call.
Saudi Arabia's state news agency reported that the fighter plane had been "stricken by a technical fault".
Asiri's remarks came as warnings were raised that a humanitarian disaster could unfold should the conflict escalate.
Bashrahil Hesham Bashrahil, a journalist based in Aden, said civilians were scared and leaving the city with the once busy streets now eerily quiet.
"The markets are closed, businesses are closed and there is a real shortage of food," Bashrahil told Al Jazeera.
"Banks have been shut since Thursday and will not reopen until the security situation has been addressed.
"While power supplies have not yet been effected there is a real sense of fear should the fighting worsen," he said. "Hospitals are struggling to cope with the number of injured and are appealing for blood donations."
Houthis and Hadi loyalists have been clashing on the outskirts of the city in the last few days, leaving many casualties.
Aden is believed to harbour dozens of army defectors and Houthi fighters.
Hadi left Aden on Thursday under Saudi protection. After a stop in Riyadh, he arrived on Friday in the Egyptian city of Sharm el-Sheikh where he is to attend an Arab Summit focusing on the military intervention in Yemen.
Saudi Arabia has been bombing Houthi targets since Thursday in what they call Operation Decisive Storm, after assembling a coalition of more than 10 countries, five of them members of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council.
The Houthi-run health ministry said on Friday that 39 civilians had been killed. Amnesty International said six children were among those killed in Sanaa on Thursday.
Egyptian and Saudi warships have been deployed to the strategic Bab al-Mandab strait, a key trade and oil route separating the Arabian Peninsula from east Africa.
An Egyptian military official told the AP news agency that two destroyers and two other vessels were at the strait.
US special forces operating recon drones in Lebanon [Daily Star – 28/3/15]
Leader of Lebanon's Shiite group Hezbollah described the Saudi-led airstrikes against the Iranian-backed Houthi militias in Yemen as an "aggression."
In a televised speech, Hassan Nasrallah called for "rational dialogue", as well as the "immediate cessation" of the military operation that started after Houthi fighters stormed the southern coastal city of Aden.
"There is no proof that the situation in Yemen is threatening the security of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region," Al-Mayadeen TV quoted Nasrallah as saying.
"If the operation was launched against Israel, we would have taken part in it."
Nasrallah's statements come just one day ahead of a two-day Arab League summit that will be held in Egypt's Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh.
Tribes kill 21 Shiite rebels in south Yemen: Local official [Ahram – 27/3/15]
At least ten people have been killed in an attack on a hotel popular with government officials in the Somali capital, Mogadishu.
The African Union mission to Somalia, AMISOM, confirmed to Al Jazeera that there had been an explosion followed by gunfire at the Makka al-Mukarama hotel on Friday. ...
Somalia's ambassador to Switzerland, Yusuf Mohamed Baribari, was also killed in the attack, medical sources told Al Jazeera. [Al Jazeera - 27/3/15]
UN Orders Investigation into Libya Rights Abuses
The U.N. Human Rights Council decided Friday to send a mission to war-torn Libya to investigate a range of abuses by different sides and help bring perpetrators to justice.
The 47-member rights body adopted by consensus a resolution asking the U.N. rights chief to "urgently" dispatch a team of investigators to Libya.
The one-year mission would be aimed at investigating violations and abuses committed since the beginning of 2014, and to "establish the facts and circumstances... with a view to... ensuring full accountability," the text said.
Libya hailed the decision.
"There needs to be investigation of violations of human rights to ensure there is no impunity in this case," Libyan representative Salwa El-Deghili told the council.
Libya has been in turmoil since the 2011 overthrow of longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi in a NATO-backed uprising.
It has had two parliaments and governments since Tripoli was seized in August 2014 by the Fajr Libya militia coalition and the internationally recognized government fled to the country's far east.
Adding to the chaos, the Islamic State, which already controls large swathes of Iraq and Syria, has also been receiving pledges of allegiance from jihadist groups in Africa and have seized control of Sirte, slain dictator Gadhafi's home town.
Friday's resolution, tabled by the groups of African and Arab states, along with a number of European countries, including France and Britain, condemned "in the strongest terms terrorist acts."
It decried the "hostage-taking and violence committed against civilians by the so-called Islamic State... and other terrorist organizations," and harshly criticized their "violence extremist ideology and their continued gross, systematic and widespread abuse of human rights."
It urged all parties in the conflict to immediately halt all violations and to engage fully commit to U.N.-led peace talks.
The resolution also called on the Libyan government to investigate all abuses and bring those responsible to justice.
The council said U.N. human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein to provide an oral update of the mission's progress at its September session and for the new team of investigators to present a full report at the main annual session next March.
UNHCR condemns kidnapping of Congolese refugees by LRA rebels
Media Release [27/3/15]:
The UN refugee agency on Friday called for the immediate release of Congolese refugees kidnapped by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), which has intensified attacks in the area bordering the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo this year.
A spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said 15 Congolese refugees from a refugee camp in Central African Republic (CAR) and one Congolese national were kidnapped by the LRA on 21 March from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) side of the border, where they had been tending their fields.
Thirteen – two women and 11 men -- were released two days later and trekked back to the refugee camp near Zemio in the southeast of the Central African Republic. Some arrived with open wounds and a 16-year-old girl had been raped. Three refugee boys are still missing.
"Since the arrest in the Central African Republic of Dominic Ongwen, an LRA top commander accused of crimes against humanity, in the beginning of this year, LRA rebels have intensified their attacks on villages at the CAR/DRC border," UNHCR spokesperson Karin de Gruijl told a news briefing.
"According to Catholic Relief Services, the LRA has committed over 25 abductions in the month of February in several villages in northeastern DRC, close to Zemio and the border," she said.
Zemio refugee camp hosts some 3,400 Congolese refugees from the Ango Territory (Bas-Uele District), in Province Orientale in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In 2009, they had fled LRA atrocities in the Province Orientale and found refuge in the Central African Republic.
"This week, however, they were once again victims of violence and torture," de Gruijl said. "Upon their arrival, the released refugees were immediately transferred to the health centre in Zemio where they are receiving the necessary medical care. They are still in shock and anxious to learn about the missing refugees."
Ahead of next week’s third International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria, the United Nations health agency’s top official in the country said today that more than 16 million Syrians and Syrian refugees are in need of health support, but that she had so far received no new funding to meet the $124 million needed to finance humanitarian operations in the country this year. ... [UN Media Release - 27/3/15]
Lebanon: 8 Children Hurt in Explosion of Cluster Bomb in Zebqin
Eight children were wounded on Friday, one severely, when a cluster bomb from the 2006 war between Israel and Hizbullah exploded in south Lebanon, security and medical officials told Agence France-Presse.
During the war, Israel dropped more than four million cluster bombs on south Lebanon in violation of international humanitarian law.
Since 2006, hundreds of civilians have been killed by the delayed detonation of these weapons.
"Eight children, aged between six and eight years old, were wounded when a cluster bomb left over from the 2006 war exploded in the town of Zebqin, in the region of Tyre," the security official said.
"One child was wounded in the head and is in critical condition in the operating theater," said an employee at the Lebanese-Italian hospital in Tyre, where the children were taken.
"We were having a picnic next to a river in Zebqin and on the way back, my friend stepped on a device that exploded, and we were all hit," six-year-old Hussein Bazzi told AFP.
Since 2006, more than 400 people, 90 per cent of them civilians and a third under the age of 18, have been killed by cluster bombs. Dozens more have been handicapped.
Nearly 70 per cent of bomb-infested land has been cleared, but a lack of funding has prevented the dismantling of other bombs scattered throughout villages in the south.
The munitions contained in cluster bombs, if they do not explode immediately, are still able to kill and mutilate long after they have been dropped.
Israel is not a signatory to the 2010 Convention on Cluster Munitions, which bans the development and use of these bombs.
At the first-ever United Nations Chiefs of Defence Conference today, the Secretary-General appealed to senior military officials for more troop contributions from States around the world and for political will and purpose. ... [UN Media Release - 27/3/15]
Defence Force Service Chief Appointments [Australian Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Media Release [26/3/15]:
The Governor-General has approved the appointments of the next Chief of the Army and Chief of the Air Force.
Lieutenant General Angus Campbell DSC, AM will be appointed Chief of the Army on 16 May 2015 and Air Vice-Marshal Gavin Davies AO, CSC – on promotion to Air Marshal – will be appointed Chief of the Air Force on 4 July 2015.
US Embassy denies reports over bombarding ISF near Tikrit University
The US Embassy in Baghdad denied reports over “bombarding the Iraqi Security Forces near Tikrit University by the airplanes of the International Coalition within the military operation launched to liberate Salah-il-Din province from the terrorist ISIL.”
Statement by the US Embassy in Baghdad received by IraqiNews.com cited “We have heard about the Iraqi media reports over the casualties among the ISF near Tikrit University on Friday morning due to airstrikes by the International Coalition,” stressing “The International Coalition did not conduct any airstrikes during the time or place of the alleged casualties.”
The US Embassy urged to contact the Iraqi Defense Ministry to have more information over these reports, noting that “All airstrikes conducted by the International Coalition are done according to request of the Iraqi Government and with full coordination with the Iraqi Defense Ministry.”
Earlier, the Spokesperson of the Iraqi Interior Ministry denied reports over bombarding the ISF by the airplanes of the international coalition near Tikrit University, describing such reports as “Groundless.”
video shows former US base captured in Farah province
The Taliban militants group in Afghanistan has released a video which purportedly shows the group’s militants have captured a military base in western Farah province.
The military base was reportedly captured in Bakwa district and was previously in control of the NATO-led coalition security forces.
The 16-minute video was recently released by the group’s media wing – Al-Emara Jihadi studio which also shows one of the group’s leaders making a lengthy speech in Pashto and the white Taliban flag hoisted inside the base.
According to reports the base was previously operated by the US forces to tackle the local trade in heroin in Farah province.
The group also released a statement along with the video, stating that the base was captured by the Taliban after a prolonged siege.
The statement further added “It is hoped that this release brings joy of our viewers”, with overexcited Taliban supporters on social media insisting that the radical group of jihadis will retake Kabul soon.”
The local government officials have not commented regarding the propaganda video so far. However, the provincial council chief Farid Bakhtawar had earlier said that the Taliban group was posing threat to the stability of Farah province.
Police officer among two killed in bomb explosion in Paktika [Khaama – 27/3/15]
At least 54 Colombian girls sexually abused by US military: Report
Colombia Reports [23/3/15]:
US soldiers and military contractors sexually abused at least 54 children in Colombia between 2003 and 2007, according to a recently released historic document on the country’s conflict.
The suspects have allegedly not been prosecuted due to immunity clauses in bilateral agreements.
The 800-page independent historic report was commissioned by the Colombian government and rebel group FARC to establish the causes and violence aggravators of the 50-year-long conflict they are negotiating to end.
The document is to help negotiators determine who is responsible for the more than 7 million victims of the armed conflict between leftist rebels and the state while they are negotiating peace.
One of the scholars that helped redact the historians’ report, Renan Vega of the Pedagogic University in Bogota, focused part of this historic document on the American military that has actively supported the Colombian state in its fight against drug trafficking and leftist rebel groups like the FARC and ELN.
According to Vega, “there exists abundant information about the sexual violence, in absolute impunity thanks to the bilateral agreements and the diplomatic immunity of United States officials.”
In his report, the historian cited one 2004 case in the central Colombian town of Melgar where 53 underage girls were sexually abused by nearby stationed military contractors “who moreover filmed [the abuse] and sold the films as pornographic material.”
According to Colombia’s leading newspaper, El Tiempo, the victims of the sexual abuse practices were forced to flee the region after their families received death threats.
Other Americans stationed at the Tolemaida Air Base allegedly committed similar crimes, but possibly also never saw a day in court due to an immunity arrangement for American soldiers and military contractors agreed by Washington and Bogota.
One case that has called most attention in Colombian media was that of a 12-year-old who in 2007 was raped by a US Army sergeant and a former US military officer who was working in Melgar as a military contractor.
Colombian prosecutors established that the girl had been drugged and subsequently raped inside the military base by US sergeant Michael J. Coen and defense contractor Cesar Ruiz.
However, prosecution officials were not allowed to arrest the suspected child rapists who were subsequently flown out of the country.
The case has caused major indignation among Colombians for years.
Nevertheless, the rape victim, her little sister and mother were forced to flee Melgar and eventually moved to the city of Medellin as forces loyal to the suspects were threatening the family, the mother told Colombian television.
In 2009, the US embassy in Bogota told Miami newspaper El Nuevo Herald that the US government did not rule out the possibility to reopen the apparently closed case against Coen and Ruiz.
However, according to El Tiempo, no US court has since indicted both suspects for their alleged crime in the six years since.
According to left-leaning news website El Turbion, the case of the 12-year-old girl is not the only one.
“In 2006 there were 23 reported cases of sexual abuse committed by active American soldiers and another 14 in 2007,” the website said. Colombia Reports was unable to confirm this claim with other online sources.
However, if this claim is confirmed, there would be more than 90 cases of sexual violence against women and children committed by American soldiers between 2004 and 2007 alone.
According to the governmental National Victims Unit, 7,234 Colombian women have been registered as victims of sex crimes within the context of the conflict in the decades that it has lasted.
While the FARC and the administration of President Juan Manuel Santos are negotiating who is responsible for the 7.2 million registered victims of the country’s half-a-century armed conflict, US President Barack Obama sent Special Envoy Bernie Aronson to Colombia to assist in the process.
Aronson has so far met with Santos and, reportedly, with negotiation team members of the FARC and the government, and will be the intermediary between Bogota and Washington.
The special envoy will possibly have to deal with the role of the US military and its members in the alleged victimization of Colombians.
His most difficult task will be balancing the US government’s duty of “protecting American interests” — as he was reminded by Tea Party Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) — and trying to “stand by Colombians’ side in this journey,” as Aronson said himself.
Detroit Police Officers Beat Black Man After He Ran A Traffic Sign [Pittsburgh Courier – 26/3/15]
#March29: Global Call to End Mandatory Detention
Paula in Ko Jum, Thailand. 2
days left until #March29 Global Call. #Justice4Refugees ...
Each year thousands of people march in Australia on Palm Sunday calling for a more humane refugee policy.
This year, let’s make these protests international.
This is a call for Australian and allies around the world to organise vigils, protests or events globally, where ever you are in the world, calling for an end to mandatory detention of asylum seekers.
Even if it’s only you right now, make a Facebook event page for a date near the 29 March 2015 and plan to hold a vigil, a film night, a march, an art exhibition or some other event.
To take part in the call to action, find an event on the map below or join here.
Email julia.s.dehm(at)gmail(dot)com to add your local action to the virtual world map - let’s unite to give strength and courage to those in detention, and turn the heads of our politicians.
Morrison, Dutton remain unaccountable, protected as sadism, torture of refugees, pedophilia continues. Nauru abuse goes further than the Moss Review [The Saturday Paper – 28/3/15]:
... “Nauruan police treat camps essentially as Australian land,” the Save the Children officer said. “They don’t want to get involved. They don’t want to get their hands dirty. I also have sources high in the Nauruan government, and I’m told that the head of police loathes refugees. That’s the state of policing there. So you have the absurdity of Wilson policing themselves. Not wanting to upset the Nauruan government, and not really having much involvement or oversight from police.”
The allegations were appalling, and Morrison said as much, but in the same breath he questioned the validity of them. Among the stench of systemic violence, Morrison raised a counterclaim: that Save the Children staff, on Nauru to provide welfare and teaching services, may have been coaching refugees to invent grievances and encouraging them to harm themselves. “If people want to be political activists, that’s their choice,” Morrison said, “but they don’t get to do it on the taxpayer’s dollar and working in a sensitive place like Nauru … The public don’t want to be played for mugs.”
It was a bait and switch, and it worked. Suddenly the reporting of mistreatment disappeared, replaced by criticism of an apparent conspiracy between aid workers and the leftist media. On the same day as Morrison’s statement, The Daily Telegraph ran a front-page story on the crooked behaviour of aid workers under the banner headline “Truth overboard”. The subhead read, “Exclusive: Nauru child abuse claim ‘fabricated’.” ...
Bigwigs won't be held to account in tax avoidance inquiry [Sydney Morning Herald - 28/3/15]:
... It is not all about kowtowing to party donors; it is just as much about the incessant migration between the political classes and big corporations; politicians, their staffers and bureaucrats heading off for consultancies, lobby groups and corporations themselves. In journalism we call it "going into PR".
In June 2010, Simone Marsh walked out of her job as an analyst with the Queensland Co-ordinator General. She had been asked that same day to write a report on the environmental effects of the proposed LNG industry. Her boss looked over her as she typed and signed off on it that day.
Later, after the Labor government lost office, there was an exodus of politicians and bureaucrats to the LNG industry. ....
Revolving Doors Queensland – compiled by Simone Marsh [27/3/15]
Queensland Police Union deflects criticism from Murdoch Press over man's suicide
Brisbane Times [27/3/15]:
The Queensland Police Union has stopped short of condemning media coverage of the hit-run death of Ashleigh Humphrys in the wake of the driver taking his life on Thursday.
QPU president Ian Leavers said the incident was a salient lesson for police, media and members of the public not to pre-judge the circumstances of any crash, after what was initially widely assumed to be a criminal act apparently turned out to be a tragic accident.
Police believe a drunk Ms Humphrys, 20, was lying or crawling on the Western Freeway on-ramp in Toowong about 4am Sunday when she was fatally struck by a dark-coloured sedan.
Tragically, the owner of the sedan apparently did not realise he hit her.
Police seized his car on Monday and interviewed and released him without charge.
On Thursday, the 57-year-old father took his own life.
Prior to the arrest, investigating police indicated they were looking for a driver who deliberately fled the scene, describing it as a "disgraceful act".
Some media outlets took the attribution of blame a step further, branding the driver a coward.
The fact the evidence later pointed to it being an accident provided a salutary lesson for all involved, Mr Leavers said.
He described the two deaths as "an absolute tragedy".
"Whenever you go to these incidents, you must go with an open mind and not go with a pre-determined idea and cast blame," he said.
"The duty is to investigate and get to the truth and I say that with the reporting of it.
"The duty is to report the facts and not sensationalise things and pre-determine what you think may or may not have occurred.
"There are two families that will now never be the same as a result of this."
Asked if early media coverage of Ms Humphrys death and the hunt for the driver of the dark-coloured sedan was irresponsible, Mr Leavers declined to attribute any blame, saying there was nothing to be gained from doing so.
"I don't see there is anything to be gained at this point in time by playing a blame game out there publicly," he said.
"We should respect there are two families who will never be the same.
"I just don't see there is anything to be gained and whether it be a journalist or police officer, they are ordinary normal people and we just need to be very careful about pre-judging and that goes for whether you are a journo, a police officer or a member of the community because I have no doubt, there are some people, this will live with them for the rest of their lives as well."
Both deaths will be investigated by the Queensland coroner.
He said he had "every confidence" the police officers who conducted the interview with the driver acted appropriately and said that process too would be thoroughly examined in the coronial investigation.
He said everyone could learn something from the tragic accident.
"We can have a look at the wrongs of any person involved in this but its important we must look forward and look how we can be positive and (see) we should never pre-judge anyone at any point in time," he said.
"It goes for not only police and the media (but) the entire public.
"What is foremost on my mind is there are two families now who will never be the same."
Call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or BeyondBlue on 1300 224 636 if you or someone you know needs help.
Fatal traffic crash, Kilcoy
QPS Media [28/3/15]:
A 68-year-old Bardon man has died following a two vehicle traffic crash on the D’Aguilar Highway yesterday.
Police were called to the scene at around 10.30am after a fuel tanker being driven by a 39-year-old man and a van collided.
Emergency services attended the scene but the man was unable to be revived and was pronounced deceased at the scene.
An exclusion zone of 500 metres was declared around the crash site due to a fuel spill which was later revoked at 10.30pm yesterday.
The highway is open however, traffic continues to move slowly as road damage at the location is assessed for repair.
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.
Suspicious fire, Dalby
QPS Media [28/3/15]:
Police are investigating a fire in Dalby at around 2am today.
Initial information indicates emergency crews attended the Bunya Street address, finding the residence well alight.
The address was unoccupied but severely damaged during the incident.
The fire is being treated as suspicious as officers investigate the cause of the fire.
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.
Port Lincoln man dies
after falling overboard
Port Lincoln Times [27/3/15]:
The death of a Port Lincoln prawn fisherman after he fell from a trawler in Spencer Gulf on Thursday night is being investigated by SafeWork SA.
Police and emergency services were alerted just after 11pm, after the man fell overboard directly out from Corny Point on Yorke Peninsula.
His body was found in the water shortly after midnight by the fishing boat.
West Coast Prawn Fishermen's Association executive officer Simon Clark said the community's thoughts were with the man's family.
"This was a tragic accident that no-one wants to experience, family or fishermen," Mr Clark said.
"There will be many sad fishermen and Port Lincoln community members today, who will be thinking about the family."
SafeWork SA acting executive director Marie Boland confirmed the work health and safety regulator had begun an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident and offered her condolences to the man's family, friends and co-workers on behalf of the agency.
Kadina police are also investigating the accident and a report is being prepared for the coroner.
The death brings this year's work-related death toll to three.
28 March 2015