We feel disgusted and disenfranchised by Australia's cruel and senseless refugee and asylum seeker policies.

Byron News [29/11/14]:

Children detained on Nauru island after fleeing their homeland, seeking asylum in Australia, will have their desperate living conditions brightened by the goodwill of the Mullumbimby community this Christmas.

The Mullumbimby Loves Refugees group has gathered nearly four cubic metres of toys, games and art materials to be distributed to the estimated 193 children held in detention on the South Pacific island.

The goods were donated by local families, individuals, schools and businesses and dropped off at various collection points across the shire during November and this week were being boxed up to be sent to Melbourne-based Save the Children Australia who will distribute the toys in Nauru.

"Mullumbimby Loves Refugees was launched in early October when over 200 people attended a film screening and talk," Bobbi Allan from Mullumbimby Loves Refugees said.

"We feel disgusted and disenfranchised by Australia's cruel and senseless refugee and asylum seeker policies.

"Rather than feel powerlessness, we have started this local grass roots movement. We hope it will spread to other suburbs and regions around Australia.

"We set the toy appeal at this time because Christmas is the season for giving.

"These children are living in army tents with very few facilities. They are being treated with unnecessary harshness.

"We hope the gifts show there is kindness from the Australian people and that we are thinking of them."

Mullumbimby Loves Refugees' next project will be to raise funds for Communify, a Brisbane-based support group for refugee claimants and asylum seekers.

"These are people who apply for asylum once they arrive in Australia. A bridging visa allows them to remain in Australia legally while their application for refugee status is assessed," Mrs Allan said.

"However, if this application is not made within 45 days of arrival in Australia (even if they had a current visa), they are denied access to a work permit. This means they have no Medicare, support through Centrelink, access to language classes or resettlement assistance and no income whatsoever for an average of 18 months while they await a decision."

...

Asylum seekers 'staying indoors' after signing Federal Government's code of behaviour [ABC - 29/11/14]

Asia-Pacific ministers agree on civil registration for all by 2024

UNHCR Media Release [28/11/14]:

The UN refugee agency welcomed the adoption in Thailand today of an Asia-Pacific ministerial declaration proclaiming a shared vision of civil registration for all by 2024. This also applies to refugees, asylum-seekers and stateless people.

The adoption of the declaration came on the final day of a week-long Ministerial Conference on Civil Registration and Vital Statistics in Asia and the Pacific held in Bangkok. The conference was organized by the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), UNHCR and other development partners. Ministers and senior officials from 44 countries also endorsed a Regional Action Framework with goals and time-bound targets to improve national systems to register and document births, deaths and other vital events and to improve civil registration coverage within 10 years.

Among other things, the declaration recognizes the need to reduce barriers to civil registration faced by marginalized and hard-to-reach populations, including refugees, asylum-seekers and stateless people.

"This is the first time states in the region have reached consensus on including people of UNHCR's concern within civil registration and vital statistics systems," said James Lynch, UNHCR's regional representative. "We know that birth registration can help to prevent statelessness, and hope that civil registration and vital statistics will allow displaced and stateless people to be included in policy development and planning in the post-2015 development agenda."

An estimated 135 million children under five years old across the region have not had their births registered. Millions of other important life events are not registered.

"The birth registration of stateless and refugee children will ensure that they enjoy a legal identity, increasing their protection and facilitating future durable solutions," said Nicholas Oakeshott, UNHCR's regional protection officer.

Aside from being an important protection tool, birth registration is an element in UNHCR's Global Action Plan to End Statelessness. Civil registration and vital records generated from registration data will also allow displaced and stateless people to be included in policy development and planning in the post-2015 development agenda.

This is particularly important in a region where few states are parties to the 1951 Refugee Convention or the 1954 and 1961 statelessness conventions.

The Regional Action Framework outlines government goals, including plans to conduct baseline assessments of the current disparities in coverage as part of comprehensive assessments of their civil registration systems. UNHCR is ready to provide the necessary technical support in these assessments and in the development of these plans.

In addition to expertise working with populations living in protracted displacement, UNHCR staff have expertise in civil registration in the context of emergencies. In the Philippines, after last year's Typhoon Haiyan, UNHCR worked with the authorities and civil society on a free mobile civil registration project to reconstitute lost civil records and issue legal documentation. More than 120,000 documents were issued to the affected population, including birth, marriage and death certificates.

General Austin's Thanksgiving message

Unfortunately, parts of the world are marred by violence and turmoil, and many people living in these areas are struggling to overcome adversities and hardship.

Centcom [27/11/14]:

Teammates,

Since the early days of our Republic, Americans have set aside a day of thanksgiving. Then, families, neighbors, and friends gather together and acknowledge the many blessings bestowed upon them and upon the country over the past year. It is a wonderful tradition that has become a cornerstone of our national identity.

Here in the U.S., we have much to be thankful for, including our health, our families and teammates, and the many opportunities that have been afforded to us.

Unfortunately, parts of the world are marred by violence and turmoil, and many people living in these areas are struggling to overcome adversities and hardship. This is certainly the case right now in Iraq and in Syria. Our hope is that someday soon, the people of those countries will achieve peace and be assured liberty and justice and astable and secure homeland.

These are challenging times, and we are facing many difficult issues around the globe and specifically in the Central Command area of responsibility. However, on this day of thanksgiving, we should focus on the good things in our lives. Certainly we are grateful for the contributions and the strong support that we receive from our partners and colleagues within this command, across the Interagency, and among the broad Coalition that has formed to counter ISIL.

We are grateful for the service and sacrifices made by our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Coastguardsmen, and Civilians. We are especially grateful for those selfless men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of our Nation. Finally, we are grateful for our family members and loved ones who are the unsung heroes and provide us with unwavering support and encouragement.

I want all of you to know that it is an absolute pleasure to be able to serve with you and to have the tremendous honor and privilege of leading this world-class organization during what is proving to be an historic period. I want to thank every member of the team for your hard work and continued commitment. I hope you and your families have a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving holiday. I am proud of you!

US, allies bomb 15 targets in Iraq and Syria in 3 days [IraqiNews.com - 29/11/14]

IraqiNews.com [28/11/14]:

Nine persons were either killed or injured on Friday due to a bomb explosion in northern Baghdad.

Security official told IraqiNews.com, “A bomb emplaced near Rashidiya Shiite Mosque located in Rashidiya area of northern Baghdad on Friday, killing two persons and injuring seven others.”

“Security forces cordoned off the explosion site while the ambulances transported the dead bodies to the morgue and the injuries to the hospital for treatment,” the source added.

@IraqiSMCEn - Iraqi Spring Media Center [28/11/14]:

Anbar: No normal life in Ramadi,the streets and masjids are empty of civilians and most of them intend to leave their homes to protect their children and women........

Bus bombing claims at least 7 lives in Baghdad [Al Jazeera – 27/11/14]

Syria says US-led strikes have not weakened Islamic State [Reuters - 28/11/14]

Raqqa airstrikes 'hit more civilians than IS group positions' [France 24 - 28/11/14]

Afghanistan: Suicide attack in Helmand leaves 4 policemen dead, 5 injured

Khaama [28/11/14]:

At least four policemen were killed and five others were injured following a suicide attack in southern Helmand province on Friday.

Provincial governor spokesman Omar Zwak said the incident took place in Nawzad district after a suicide bomber detonated a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) near a police check post.

Zwak further added that the victims were all members of the Afghan National Police Public Order forces.

He said a truck packed with explosives was used to carry out the suicide attack on the check post in Anzur Shali area.

The Taliban militants group claimed responsibility behind the attack.

Helmand is among the volatile provinces in southern Afghanistan where anti-government armed militants are actively operating in its various districts and frequently carry out insurgency activities.

At least 20 Taliban fighters die in raid on former Camp Bastion in Helmand, the latest in a spate of deadly attacks. ... [Al Jazeera - 29/11/14]

Explosion inside a mosque in Nangarhar leaves dozens injured [Khaama - 28/11/14]

Suicide blast targets British embassy vehicle in Kabul [Khaama – 27/11/14]

At least three Taliban insurgents were killed following a drone strike by NATO-led coalition forces in eastern Laghman province. ... [Khaama - 26/11/14]

Robbery, Cannonvale

QPS Media [29/11/14]:

A woman wearing a grey t-shirt and fluro pink bikini bottom robbed a Cannonvale video store this evening.

Just after 7pm the woman walked into the Paluma Road business and demanded cash from a female employee, whilst intimating that she was armed with a firearm.

The woman fled on foot with a sum of cash and was last seen walking in the direction of Shute Harbour Drive.

She is described as aged between 25 to 40, approximately 178cms tall with a proportionate build, fair complexion and short blonde hair, and was not wearing shoes.

No one was physically harmed during the robbery and police investigations are continuing.

Anyone with information which could assist with this matter should contact Crime Stoppers anonymously via 1800 333 000 or crimestoppers.com.au 24hrs a day.

10 police vehicles descend on Surfers Paradise, arrest people for taking photos

10.45 PM [29/11/14]

Bombs, gunfire kill 81 at crowded mosque in Nigeria's Kano

Reuters [28/11/14]:

Gunmen set off three bombs and opened fire on worshippers at the main mosque in north Nigeria's biggest city Kano on Friday, killing at least 81 people, witnesses and officials said, in an attack that bore the hallmarks of Islamist Boko Haram militants.

Blasts from the coordinated assault rang out as scores of people packed into the ancient building's courtyard for afternoon prayers. "These people have bombed the mosque. I am face to face with people screaming," said local reporter Chijjani Usman.

The mosque is next to the palace of the emir of Kano, the second highest Islamic authority in Africa's most populous country and a vocal critic of Boko Haram. The emir, former central bank governor Lamido Sanusi, was not present.

Boko Haram, a Sunni jihadist movement which is fighting to revive a medieval Islamic caliphate in northern Nigeria, regards the traditional Islamic religious authorities in Nigeria with disdain.

It has attacked mosques that do not follow its radical ideology in a bloody near six-year campaign that has also targeted churches, schools, police stations, military bases and government buildings.

"After multiple explosions, they also opened fire. I cannot tell you the casualties because we all ran away," a member of staff at the palace told Reuters on Friday.

After the attacks, angry youths blocked the mosque's gates to police, who had to force their way in with tear gas.

Reuters visited two mortuaries, one with 20 bodies from the attack, the other with 61, according to medical officer Muhammad Ali. The victims had blast and gunshot wounds, he said.

President Goodluck Jonathan said in statement that he would "not to leave any stone unturned until all agents of terror undermining the right of every citizen to life and dignity are tracked down and brought to justice."

The old mosque and palace date back centuries to when Kano was one of several Islamic empires thriving off trade in gold, ivory and spices from caravan routes connecting Africa's interior with its Mediterranean coast -- glory days of Saharan Islam that Boko Haram says it wants to recreate.

Islamic leaders sometimes shy away from direct criticism of Boko Haram for fear of reprisals, but Kano's emir Sanusi, angered by atrocities such as the kidnapping of 200 schoolgirls from the village of Chibok in April, has become an increasingly vocal Boko Haram critic.

He was quoted in the local press as calling on Nigerians this month to defend themselves against Boko Haram. During a broadcast recitation of the Koran he was reported to have said:

"These people, when they attack towns, they kill boys and enslave girls. People must stand resolute. They should acquire what they can to defend themselves. People must not wait for soldiers to protect them."

The insurgency has forced more than one million people to flee during its campaign focused on Nigeria's northeast, the Red Cross told reporters on Friday, an increase on a September U.N. refugee agency estimate of 700,000.

Persistent insecurity is dogging President Jonathan's campaign for re-election to a second term in February 2015. He has asked parliament for approval to extend an 18-month-old state of emergency in the northeast.

Court in Egypt clears Hosni Mubarak over 2011 killings

Image: @3afreat [29/11/14]

BBC [29/11/14]:

A court in Cairo has cleared former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak of conspiring to kill protesters during the 2011 uprising against his rule.

The courtroom erupted in cheers when the judge concluded Mubarak's retrial by dismissing the charges which relate to the deaths of hundreds of people.

He was also cleared of a corruption charge involving gas exports to Israel.

Mubarak, 86, is serving a separate three-year sentence for embezzlement of public funds.

Al Jazeera [29/11/14]:

At least four protesters have been killed and scores of others injured in Cairo after thousands took to the streets of the Egyptian capital against the government of President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi, heeding to a call by the opposition Salafi Front.

The protesters were killed on Friday after security forces opened fire in the district of Matrya in eastern Cairo, witnesses told Al Jazeera.

The protests by the Salafi Front, a faction concentrated in parts of the Nile Delta, are being held at the same time as regular Friday demonstrations that have been held by supporters of the now banned Muslim Brotherhood since the toppling of President Mohamed Morsi.

On its Facebook page, the Salafi Front has called for a "Muslim Youth Uprising" to "topple military rule in Egypt," urging followers to "raise your Quran".

The protests are the first attempt in months to hold large demonstrations in the country. More than a 100 people were arrested in advance of the Salafist demonstrations.

Meanwhile, three senior army officers were killed in separate shooting incidents by unidentified assailants. Two were shot in Cairo while a navy officer was killed in Alexandria. Two army conscripts were also injured.

The attacks occurred despite heightened military and police presence in the capital in view of the latest demonstrations.

Security forces deployed in Cairo's central Tahrir Square and in other strategic spots around the country from Thursday evening, the Associated Press news agency said.

Many Egyptians say they are cancelling social gatherings, avoiding public transportation and remaining home on Friday.

Churches in southern provinces, where both Christians and Muslims have large concentrations, cancelled Friday services and Sunday religious classes.

The fears have been further stoked by a campaign on pro-government media, playing patriotic songs and showing army special forces deploying.

Security officials have voiced concerns over possible attacks, especially after Egypt's main armed groups recently pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Many of the attacks have taken place in the north of the Sinai Peninsula.

Marwan Bishara, Al Jazeera's senior political analyst, said that with the absence of a "true political solution, violence will continue to escalate".

"More people will probably go underground and there will be more violence," he said.

"There's an atmosphere of fear in the country".

Palestinian injured by Israeli fire in northern Gaza Strip

Maan [29/11/14]:

A Palestinian was injured late Friday after Israeli forces opened fire near the border with the Gaza Strip east of Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip, medical sources told Ma'an.

Spokesman for the Gaza Ministry of Health Asraf al-Qidra told Ma'an that a Palestinian youth in his twenties was hit in his right foot with live fire after Israeli soldiers shot at Palestinians east of Jabaliya.

Al-Qidra added that the youth was subsequently brought to the Kamal Adwan Hospital in the northern Gaza Strip, where his injuries were reported as moderate.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said she was not familiar with the incident.

The shooting near Jabaliya was the second such attack by Israeli soldiers on Friday, a day after Israeli forces fired a tank shell into the Gaza Strip after claiming that shots had been fired toward an Israeli military vehicle near the border.

Although the shell caused no reported injuries, it marked the most serious escalation on the Gaza border since the end of a massive Israeli assault over summer that left nearly 2,200 Palestinians dead and over 11,000 injured, the vast majority of them civilians.

While Hamas has largely adhered to the terms of the ceasefire and prevented any rocket fire into Israel, Israeli authorities have been slow to carry out their responsibilities according to the ceasefire, particularly in easing the eight-year old siege on the Gaza Strip.

Additionally, Israeli forces have repeatedly violated the ceasefire by firing at Palestinians inside Gaza near the border fence as well as at sea, killing one on land and damaging numerous fishing boats.

Fadil Muhammad Halawah, 32, was shot dead on Sunday while hunting birds east of Jabaliya. He was the first Palestinian to be killed by Israeli forces in the Gaza Strip since the signing of a ceasefire agreement in late August.

Naharnet [29/11/14]:

A pro-Palestinian Italian activist was shot and seriously wounded by Israeli gunfire during a Friday clash in the northern West Bank, medics and his movement said.

Palestinian security sources said Patrick Corsi, a 30-year-old member of the International Solidarity Movement, was shot during the weekly demonstration at Kafr Qaddum, west of Nablus.

Eyewitnesses said Corsi, who had participated in last week's protest as well, had been documenting the event with a camera.

Palestinian medics said he was taken to a hospital in Ramallah.

An ISM statement said an Italian activist was "shot in the chest with .22 live ammunition" at the protest, and that his condition was serious but stable.

A Palestinian protester was shot in the hand and chest during the demonstration and was also in stable condition, ISM said.

An army spokesman described the event as a riot during which 100 Palestinians hurled rocks at troops and also burnt tires.

After failing to disperse people with crowd-control means and "due to increased violence," soldiers "fired small caliber rounds toward main masked instigators," the spokesman said.

Palestinians demonstrate weekly in Kafr Qaddum against the expropriation of land by Israel.

In the West Bank at the Qalandiya crossing between Jerusalem and Ramallah, Israeli border policemen "fired small caliber rounds toward two main instigators' lower extremities" during a violent clash with some 150 Palestinians, the spokesman said.

There was no immediate report on their condition.

Israel to get 3,000 smart bombs, part of US military aid – reports [RT - 29/11/14]

Emergency declared in Gaza following severe flooding – UN agency [Media Release - 28/11/14]

Israeli driver hits, kills Palestinian as "price tag" attacks intensify [Al Akhbar - 26/11/14]

Poinciana and art

Southport [28/11/14]

Snowdome on steroids, Ciel Bleu Australia Fair [28/11/14]

Coalition narrowly wins unpopularity contest in Victorian election.

Greens fail to be unpopular by winning 2 seats!

ABC [29/11/14]:

Labor, led by Daniel Andrews, will take back power from the Coalition in Victoria, the ABC's election analyst Antony Green says.

The winning party needs at least 45 seats to form government.

"We are giving the Coalition 36 seats, Labor 45 and we are giving the Greens two," Green said.

"When we add a few more seats which are likely 36 to 46, with two Greens and we have that other seat. Our current prediction takes this on to get to 38, 48 and two.

"At this stage Labor has 48 seats and that would be a majority overall in the chamber."

...

Yahoo [29/11/14]:

... Ms Sandell was loudly cheered as she thanked the party faithful for their support in winning the Greens' first ever lower house Victorian seat at underground inner city laneway bar.

"This victory doesn't belong to me at all, it belongs to all that knocked on doors, made calls and spent your evenings, your nights working for the Greens," Ms Sandell, 29, told those gathered at a bar in the Melbourne CBD on Saturday night.

"I'll work every day starting tomorrow for a fairer society and a cleaner economy."

...

Police make second largest drug bust in Australian history

WA Today [29/11/14]:

Australian police have seized about 2.8 tonnes of illicit drugs worth an estimated $1.5 billion in the second-biggest bust in the country's history.

Six men aged between 23 and 34 were arrested and charged with serious drug importation offences following the major police operation.

The seized drugs included 1917 kilograms of MDMA (ecstasy) and 849 kilograms of methamphetamine (speed and ice). It was the single largest seizure of ice in the nation's history and the second-largest of MDMA.

"By any measure, this is an enormous seizure of illicit narcotics," Australian Federal Police Commissioner Andrew Colvin said.

"It's also a bold attempt by organised crime to target this country with large illicit narcotic importations."

NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said the bust revealed "organised crime at its worst" and "law enforcement at its best".

The narcotics were shipped to Australia from Hamburg, Germany, in a single consignment and arrived on November 19, police alleged. Delivery of the container was tracked, first to Blacktown and then to Smithfield, both in western Sydney.

The six men were arrested early Saturday morning when they were found accessing boxes from the consignment in Smithfield, police said.

An international investigation had been underway for several months leading to the detection of the consignment at the NSW Container Examination Facility at Port Botany. The Joint Organised Crime Group – involving the AFP, NSW Police, Customs and the Crime Commission – had worked with the German federal police, the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) and its partners in the investigation.

The six men charged were Australian residents aged but Mr Colvin would not comment on whether they were known to police or affiliated with motorcycle gangs and other crime syndicates.

The investigation was only in its early stages and police were confident of making more arrests following the execution of search warrants this weekend.

...

Man refused bail on charges of choking his partner

Canberra Times [29/11/14]:

A 49-year-old man has been denied bail after he allegedly choked his partner in a drunken display of violence at her Kaleen home on Friday.

Aaron Biagioni was charged with three assault offences involving his partner of two years, with a further charge of assault for spitting on a policeman at the premises.

A statement of facts tendered in the ACT Magistrates Court on Saturday said a verbal argument escalated about 10.30am on Friday after Biagioni's partner threatened to call the police.

The woman told police she walked towards her home's front door to leave, but about a metre from the door was grabbed by the defendant and pushed onto a couch, where he then lifted her up by her blouse, leaving her with scratches to her chest.

The woman kicked and punched the defendant in an attempt to escape and ran away but was then grabbed again, the statement said.

"He put both his hands around her neck and applied pressure, causing her to feel nausea and to start experiencing tunnel vision," it read.

Biagioni, who rents a property at Ainslie Village, allegedly later pushed the woman face first into a wall.

Police arrived about 11.45am after being called by the woman, and observed the defendant heavily slurring his speech and appearing unsteady on his feet.

He allegedly spat on a police officer while being searched.

Duty defence lawyer Hugh Jorgensen said Biagioni denied the woman's allegations, although acknowledged there had been an "altercation", and denied being intoxicated. No formal pleas were entered.

A police constable told the court the defendant returned a blood alcohol content reading of 0.101 after being tested at the ACT Watch House.

The court heard the defendant had an extensive criminal history dating largely to the 1970s and early 1980s, but had no recent convictions of violence except for a damage of property offence from earlier this year.

Chief Magistrate Lorraine Walker rejected the defendant's bail application, noting photograph evidence of the woman's injuries.

"Those photographs clearly evidence significant physical violence between the defendant and the complainant," Ms Walker said.

"I consider there is a considerable risk to [the complainant]."

The matter was adjourned to Tuesday, December 2.

Firefighters contain major Sydney factory blaze

Nine MSN [29/11/14]:

Fire crews have contained a massive factory fire in Sydney’s north-west this morning.

Ten fire crews were called to a scrap metal yard on Tattersall Road in Kings Park about 4.15am, where they found a three-storey metal building alight.

Forty firefighters took two hours to bring the blaze under control.

It is believed the Sell and Parker building contained tools and hydraulics and fire crews have been praised for preventing the flames from reaching three large tanks loaded with diesel.

“The fire crews did an excellent job containing the fire to the building of origin…and not allowing it to spread to the scrap metal yard,” NSW Fire and Rescue Inspector Peter Jacobs said.

Firefighters suspect the fire may have started underneath a hydraulics machine.

Two workers onsite at the time of the blaze self-evacuated with no reports of injuries.

Italy Suspends Batches of Novartis Flu Vaccine After 3 Deaths

Bloomberg [28/11/14]:

Italy’s drug regulator suspended two batches of Novartis AG (NOVN)’s Fluad influenza vaccine after three people died within 48 hours of receiving the shot.

A fourth person had a “serious adverse event” after getting the Basel, Switzerland-based company’s vaccine, the Italian Pharmaceutical Agency said in a statement today. The suspension of the two batches is a precaution, the Italian agency, known as AIFA, also said. It’s unclear whether the deaths were a coincidence or were linked to the vaccine, it said.

“A review of the two batches has confirmed that they are in conformity with all production and quality standards,” Novartis said in an e-mailed statement. “No causal relationship to the vaccine has been established.”

Flu vaccines are a “precious and irreplaceable resource” and a complete analysis is needed of the age and health status of the people affected, AIFA said. Fluad, approved in 1997, has a “robust” safety history, Novartis said.

The two batches suspended are numbered 142701 and 143301. The agency said people with home packs of the vaccine should check the lot numbers and contact their doctors for alternative vaccination options if the numbers match.

All four cases were in the southern regions of Sicily and Molise, the daily Corriere della Sera reported.

Corriere reported that one victim was a 68-year-old who died ten minutes after vaccination, citing the man’s nephew. He was from Syracuse in Sicily.

Convulsions in children immunized with a flu shot from Melbourne-based CSL Ltd. in 2010 were caused by an excessive immune response to viral components in the vaccine, a study found.

GlaxoSmithKline Plc’s Pandemrix swine-flu vaccine has been linked with an increased risk of of narcolepsy in the U.K., Finland and Sweden.

What do people expect when a health system is corporatised, and profit - not patient care and ethics - is the priority? [ABC -Background Briefing - 29/11/14]:

If you go to have your hearing tested at an audiology clinic, there’s a good chance the clinician will receive a bonus from a manufacturer if they sell you a hearing aid. Despite the existence of an audiologists’ code of conduct, such links are so common they’re considered industry standard.

...

Trekkers Backpackers, Southport

They even smashed up the trees [28/11/14]

November 2013

Queensland police go looking for trouble in Inala again

Yahoo [29/11/14]:

Police are negotiating with an armed man who has locked himself in a home in Brisbane's south.

A police media spokesman told AAP that special emergency response team officers had been called to Lorikeet Street in Inala at 12.40pm following a disturbance.

The man is believed to be armed with a machete.

An emergency situation has not yet been declared, with the man yet to threaten to do harm to anyone but himself.

Emergent declaration, Inala [QPS Media - 29/11/14]

Victorian police officer facing domestic violence assault charge arrested [The Age – 29/11/14]

More anti rights arrests, Alexandra Hills [QPS Media - 28/11/14]

Drug charges: “Schoolies Hub” Surfers Paradise [QPS Media – 29/11/14]

Drug arrest: "Schoolies Hub" Surfers Paradise [QPS Media - 27/11/14]

Bundaberg police assist in NT murder investigation [QPS Media – 28/11/14]

Armed robbery, Springwood [QPS Media – 28/11/14]

Appeal for public assistance: Burglary with violence, Ipswich [QPS Media – 28/11/14]

Fatal traffic crash, Turkey Beach [QPS Media – 28/11/14]

Serious traffic crash, Doonan [QPS Media – 28/11/14]

Christian fundamentalist proselytisers and bigoted media whip up lynch mob

Sunshine Coast Daily [29/11/14]:

A Gympie mother at the centre of an explosive online debate concerning the delivery of religious instruction in state schools has welcomed the discussion.

But the mother, wishing to remain anonymous in the face of growing vitriol, believes a lot of the backlash comes down to misunderstanding.

The Gympie Times ran a story yesterday on the State Government's decision to ban state primary school attendance at a Victory College Christmas concert scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday this week.

The mother said she first contacted Education Queensland to query the opt-out approach her school took with students' attending a separate Christmas service.

"I did not ring to complain," the mother said.

"I phoned for clarification about how students had to opt-out of the trip instead of opt-in.

"It should not just be assumed every student wants to go."

It then appears, on the mother's account, this query prompted Education Queensland to review its own legislation, leading to the cancellation of the Victory College Christmas concert and two other concerts also planned.

The Gympie Times contacted the Queensland Education Department for clarification on Thursday and was told the Victory College concert was banned due to "not satisfying the definition of Religious Instruction as per the Queensland education legislation or the Department of Education Training and Employment's Religious Instruction policy statement".

Gympie Ministers' Network chairman Dave Thomas said the legal technicality that denied Gympie state primary schools the opportunity to attend the Victory College Christmas concert, also impacted similar concerts planned for two other venues over two days.

"There were two sticking points, including (the fact that) the concerts would go for more than an hour taking into account travel time and that the religious instruction was taking place outside the school environment," Mr Thomas said.

He said it was "unfortunate" the concerts would not go ahead as planned but stressed the events were planned as part of the existing religious instruction in primary school and were the program's final instalment for the year.

"This has become about the letter of the law but I would hope some logic would prevail," he said.

The spirit of the law also needed to be taken into account, Mr Thomas said, hoping a solution could be reached next year that would satisfy all parties.

Workers stood down as gas industry slows

Chronicle [29/11/14]:

Staff at Saxon Energy Services in Charlton have been offered redundancy packages due to a slowdown in the gas industry.

International oilfield services company Saxon Energy Services opened its base in the growing Charlton Wellcamp industrial area in June last year.

Luke Fleming from Saxon said the slowdown was due to the industry waiting for the construction of LNG plants on Curtis Island off Gladstone to be completed.

"We are going through changes in our company and we've had a few rigs stood down," he said.

"That's one of the issues in the oil and gas industry; you get ebbs and flows."

Mr Fleming said other gas companies like Weatherford and Savanna Energy Services were going through the same issues.

"Currently the company is going through a situation like others, we're waiting for the gas to go online."

He said that meant drilling would slow down over the next 12 months.

"At the moment it's just Queensland that's slowing down," he said.

"The big four companies, Origin, Santos, Queensland Gas Corporation and Arrow have mostly got the wells that they require for now."

He said the Charlton workers were being offered other jobs within the company, if they were available and had the skills.

Saxon's $2 million office and workshop in Charlton is the management base for all its operations in Queensland.

The company employs about 600 workers in Australia, with 490 in Queensland.

Worker injured in gas bottle explosion, Dalby [Chronicle - 29/11/14]

Occupy Tingalpa

To: Smiths Chips Queensland (a subsidiary of PepsiCo)

Pay casual and permanent workers equally!

Why is this important?

We’re fighting for a fair deal for all Smiths Chips workers in Tingalpa, Queensland, especially the casual workers who get paid less than me and other permanent workers.

We think all workers should be treated equally and paid equally for the work that they do.

That's why we are all sitting-in the lunchroom until we get equality and respect. #OccupyTingalpa

...

Smokin' us out of the lunch room #OccupyTingalpa [28/11/14]

Australian authorities undertake "enhanced screening", turn back 37 Sri Lankan refugees

#UltimOra Dal natante il pattugliatore Sirio #MarinaMilitare ha recuperato tutti i 174 #migranti (22 donne 21 minori)

Image: @ItalianNavy [28/11/14]

ABC [29/11/14]:

Australian authorities have turned back a boat of Sri Lankan asylum seekers after intercepting them near the Indonesian coast, Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said.

Mr Morrison said the asylum seekers, who were first spotted two weeks ago, were handed over to Sri Lanka's navy and arrested on Thursday.

He confirmed that while 37 of the asylum seekers were transferred, one remains in the care of Australian authorities and will go through the process of being considered a refugee.

Sri Lanka's superintendent Ajith Rohana said investigations were ongoing.

"The boat left Sri Lanka on November 1," Mr Rohana said, adding that six children were among the passengers.

"Investigations are being conducted by the anti-people smuggling unit of the CID (Criminal Investigation Department).

"They are being held in custody but will be taken before a magistrate shortly."

Palaniappan Kumarasamy from the Australian Tamil Congress said there were fears the returning asylum seekers would be persecuted if they were linked to the separatist Tamil Tigers.

"If the Sri Lankan Government think that these people are involved in the past with the LTTE then of course their life will be in danger," Mr Kumarasamy said.

"They may be imprisoned and tortured.

...

The Sri Lankan asylum seekers turned back were the first since July, when a boat loaded with 41 nationals was intercepted by Australia.

Sri Lanka charged them with illegally leaving the country, and their cases are due to be taken up by a court next May.

Australia has gifted two vessels to Sri Lanka's navy to patrol its shores and stop boats leaving the island, as part of Canberra's border protection policy.

Australia faces international censure over its treatment of asylum seekers who are denied resettlement in Australia and sent to camps in Papua New Guinea and Nauru.

Meanwhile, Mr Morrison announced Australia would help review Myanmar's border management plans under a new deal.

The Immigration Minister said the review was part of a five-year Memorandum of Understanding that has been agreed to by the two nations.

The plan would be developed with the assistance of Australia's Immigration Department.

Mr Morrison said that when the region has stronger borders, then Australia has stronger borders.

Sri Lanka "opposition" candidate resists foreign war investigation [Arab News - 28/11/14]

Bangladesh proposes interning, repatriating up to 270K Rohingya to Myanmar [Al Jazeera - 26/11/14]:

Bangladesh has outlined proposals to intern thousands of undocumented Rohingya before repatriation to Myanmar, which they fled because of targeted violence and systematic discrimination, an official Foreign Ministry document obtained by Al Jazeera America reveals.

An estimated 270,000 stateless Rohingya live in overcrowded camps, on the outskirts of already impoverished townships, finding shelter in locals’ homes or using plastic sheeting and bamboo to construct huts in forests. An additional 30,000 have official status as refugees, living in U.N.-run camps but lack freedom of movement and the right to employment.

Dhaka announced a new national strategy for the undocumented Rohingya in February but has refused to make the details public. An International Organization for Migration (IOM) official provided the Foreign Ministry’s summary of key proposals to Al Jazeera America.

The document, dated March 31, 2014, reads, “It has been suggested that a survey/listing of undocumented Myanmar nationals in Bangladesh would be carried out in order to identify them and determine their actual number and location. The listed individuals would be housed in temporary shelters in different suitable locations pending their repatriation to Myanmar through regular diplomatic/consular channels.”

It says the IOM would provide basic humanitarian needs, with the International Committee of the Red Cross assuming coordination of the delivery of humanitarian services.

An official at Myanmar's foreign ministry who spoke on condition of anonymity said the country would only accept Rohingya from U.N.-run refugee camps. Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia division, said it is was also very unlikely that any significant number of Rohingya would voluntarily repatriate.

...

ABC, AM [16/9/14]:

... CHRIS UHLMANN: Now some of the same people in the left are concerned about your border protection policies. Is there any likelihood you'll abandon your commitment to offshore processing?

BILL SHORTEN: No.

CHRIS UHLMANN: That's a firm rolled gold commitment; you're not going to abandon it?

BILL SHORTEN: No.

CHRIS UHLMANN: Will it be changed in any way?

BILL SHORTEN: No, we support regional resettlement. And we support the offshore processing.

...

Australia is an abusive, violent and discriminatory country which flouts international law and has concentration camps

UN Committee against Torture: Concluding observations on the fourth and fifth periodic reports of Australia [28/11/14]

AUSTRALIA: Violence against women; trafficking in persons; indigenous people in the criminal justice system; compliance with non-refoulement obligations under the Convention; mandatory immigration detention for unauthorised arrivals, including children; offshore processing of asylum seekers claims; work of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse; anti terror legislation.

UNHCR urges Australia and other countries to stop detaining children [ABC - 28/11/14]

Manus Island asylum seeker had to rip out infected tooth, says case worker [Guardian - 28/11/14]:

... “Men literally had to walk through open sewerage to get into the tent to eat, and the smell is consuming, constantly,” she said. Every transferee was instructed to write a request if they needed to see a doctor or a nurse, she said, but many did not know how to do so. “As a caseworker, we are very, very clearly instructed that we are not allowed to assist them in writing, even if it is our client,” she said. ...

Concentration camps draw sadists, abusers like flies. [Radiologist Max Mehta, on US sex child charge, worked on Christmas Island [Guardian - 27/11/14]

Morrison does a deal with the ALP on 31,000 asylum seekers [Guardian - 27/11/14]

Geronimo Was a Prisoner in a Detention Centre Too [Manusleaks - 14/11/14]

... George and Amy Sheppard, key members of best-selling band Shepaprd and writers of the hit single ‘Geronimo’ must have a keen sense of irony. The pair, whose manager and financial backer is a director of the company that runs the Manus Island Detention Center, named their number one single after one of history’s most prominent detainees, a man who was a refugee in his own land and locked away for 27 years in a detention center.

We’re talking Geronimo here, the last leader of the Apache nation. Are Sheppard taking the piss, or are they simply ignorant of history?

...

Australia for UNHCR [29/11/14]:

The Italian Mare Nostrum rescue operation has saved over 150,000 lives in the Mediterranean this year. Congratulations on a heroic effort in protecting refugees!

Indigenous leaders to meet at First Nations Summit for Freedom [Guardian - 27/11/14]:

... “The heritage act is having a big impact on Western Australia,” Sansbury, who is a long time Aboriginal advocate and was heavily involved in the royal commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody, told Guardian Australia. “The closures of the communities over there. Aboriginal people are going to be removed off their land and there are suggestions that the SA government is thinking along the same lines.” Federal government cuts to Aboriginal legal services and frontline organisations and attempts by state and territory governments to water down land rights and other Indigenous legislation are also on the agenda.

Increasingly high rates of Indigenous incarceration, suicide, protective orders on children, and recent deaths in custody are also not being addressed, organisers have said.

...

George Brandis hides his own metadata [The Age - 27/11/14]

Stepfather filmed 12-year-old girl showering [News Mail - 27/11/14]

UN torture prevention body announces country visits for 2015 – agenda includes Nauru

OHCHR Media Release [26/11/14]:

Guatemala, Italy, Nauru and the Philippines are among the countries the United Nations Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) plans to visit in 2015.

In addition, after receiving assurances from the Azerbaijani authorities, the SPT is to return to Azerbaijan. Its September 2014 mission there was suspended after the Subcommittee encountered obstructions in carrying out its mandate.

The SPT’s role is to prevent and eliminate torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and punishment of detainees. It works with national governments that have ratified the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture (OPCAT).

The SPT will also conduct advisory visits to the Netherlands and Turkey regarding their national preventive mechanisms (NPMs), which are independent, national bodies that monitor places of detention.

The SPT also plans two follow-up visits to previously visited countries.

“This will be the most far-reaching programme of work which the SPT has so far undertaken,” said Chairperson Malcolm Evans. “The process agreed by the UN General Assembly this year to strengthen the work of all 10 human rights treaty bodies concluded that there should be a renewed emphasis on providing states with technical advice and assistance on how to comply with their treaty obligations – and this is exactly what the mandate of the SPT under the OPCAT provides for. We are looking forward to the challenge of fulfilling that task.”

With 76 states having ratified the Optional Protocol, it was essential that the SPT continued to work ever more closely with national, regional and other international mechanisms involved in the prevention of torture,. Mr. Evans explained.

“We look forward to deepening our contacts with National Mechanisms and will continue to explore new ways of making their and our work as effective as possible, so that we can better protect the rights of those deprived of their liberty to be free torture or ill-treatment,” the SPT Chair said.

“The SPT is at the centre of this international framework of independent torture prevention mechanisms and we need to become ever more closely involved in encouraging and supporting all those involved in this work, at whatever level,” said Mr. Evans.

UN Review Cites Torture & “Ill Treatment” in US Army Field Manual’s Appendix M [Fire Dog Lake – 28/11/14]

Rev. Sharpton: Legacy of Civil Rights Movement Shows Need for Feds to Bring Justice if State Fails [Democracy Now – 26/11/14]:

AMY GOODMAN: "Strange Fruit," Sung by Nina Simone. "Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees," about lynching. She said, Billie Holiday, the original singer of the song, said every time she sang the song, she had to throw up afterwards.

...

Defense lawyer abused, sent hate mail.

Gee, why are Queenslanders so ignorant about the justice system?

ABC [27/11/14]:

A lawyer has told the media outside the appeal court in Brisbane he has been subjected to abuse for acting for the killer of Queensland schoolboy Daniel Morcombe.

Brett Peter Cowan, 45, is serving a life sentence in jail for abducting and murdering the 13-year-old teenager on the Sunshine Coast in 2003.

Lawyers are continuing to argue in Queensland's Court of Appeal today that Cowan should be set free or granted a retrial.

Cowan wants an acquittal or a retrial and he is appealing on the grounds his confessions to undercover police should not have been allowed in the trial.

Cowan's lawyers also said the trial judge made an error in directing the jury on evidence by paedophile witness Douglas Jackway.

Lawyer Tim Meehan said outside court this morning he understood how upsetting it would be for the Morcombes to be in court again.

Bruce and Denise Morcombe were attending the hearing again today.

Mr Meehan said he had been abused since he first started representing Cowan.

"People seem to have a particular view about criminal defence lawyers, and that's borne out by the fan mail that I've been receiving particularly yesterday and today," Mr Meehan said.

"People seem to be really concerned about how I sleep at night.

"I'm a parent - I can't begin to imagine how terrible it must be for [the Morcombes].

"I can't dwell on that - I have a job to do, and that's what I'm doing - and that is to ensure again that justice is done according to law."

...

Hacking Inquiry [26/11/14]:

The Sun has a 7ft-high safe stuffed full of unpublished photographs, stories and videos of people in public life, one of its former executives told the paper’s corruption trial.

Ben O’Driscoll, who denies three counts of conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office, described the safe as he began his defence.

...

Sun journalist not guilty over civil servant payments [Hacking Inquiry - 26/11/14]

Too little too late: Wine dick MP slams Queensland's phone hacking scum media jackals [Yahoo - 27/11/14]

Mark Scott: The man who delivered the final blow to your ABC

News Corp’s $882m blew the budget [Australian Financal Review - 17/2/14]

Australian taxpayers pay Rupert Murdoch to watch the ABC, SBS. [ABC and SBS could save $6m a year by refusing to pay a fee to Foxtel - Guardian - 28/11/14]:

The ABC and SBS could save $6m a year by refusing to pay Foxtel for retransmitting their services and another $5.9m a year from abandoning digital radio, according to a leaked version of the still-secret efficiency review commissioned by communications minister Malcolm Turnbull.

...

ABC, PM [24/11/14]:

... MARK COLVIN: You talk about localism. The people out in the bush are probably the most likely to have bad or almost non-existent internet, so they're the ones that are going to suffer most when you cut a program like RN Bush Telegraph, aren't they?

MARK SCOTT: No I don't necessarily follow that. I think our commitment to regional and rural Australia remains very strong, we are working very hard to protect our investment for that overall. I'd say you know one of the most frequent requests I get is for people who want local radio from regional Australia to be streamed, we currently don't stream that, one of our priorities is to provide streaming of those broadcasts, the same way that this program is available for streaming...

MARK COLVIN: Most of the people I know on the land listen to the ABC while driving the tractor or in the pickup truck on the radio.

MARK SCOTT: Well many do Mark, of course they do. But increasingly they want to be able to experience it streaming the way that we can and regularly do - you think of the content that you stream, they want to be able to take advantage of that opportunity, they need two things for that, they need fast broadband, which is coming, and they need the services streamed, which we're looking to deliver.

...

ABC staff will be axed because they do quality journalism - right-wing, partisan personalities on $190,000+ PA are sitting pretty. [ABC sacks Quentin Dempster - Sydney Morning Herald - 29/11/14]:

... Within two hours of ABC managing director Mark Scott's announcement to staff on Monday that 400 jobs would be lost around the country, director of news, Kate Torney, called Dempster into her office to tell him he had no future role at the ABC.

"I will be among 300 staff retrenched in the first round of the ABC's cuts," he said.

"This is a very emotional time for me.

"I have worked extremely hard for the ABC to faithfully use the opportunity it has given me."

On why he was being "sacked", Dempster says he "only ever sought to uphold the integrity of Her Majesty's institutions, the Parliament and the police, in Queensland and NSW."

"That's not left-wing," he said. "There could be nothing more conservative.

"Why isn't Rupert Murdoch being sacked for phone hacking, invasion of privacy, intimidating the politicians, his tax havens and all those tits on page three? Just asking."

...

What Mark Scott is really doing with the ABC cuts [The Saturday Paper - 29/11/14]

ABCs Mark Scott talks media to Christian business people [VIDEO - 2009]

Greek journalists on strike

Ahram [27/11/14]:

Greek journalists are on a 24-hour strike, pulling all newscasts off the air a day before a nationwide general strike against austerity measures.

Radio and television stations were not broadcasting any news bulletins Wednesday, and current affairs websites were not being updated from 6 a.m. No Thursday newspapers will be published.

Thursday's general strike is expected to disrupt services across the country. Schools will remain shut, state hospitals will only handle emergencies, and ferries and flights will not operate. Journalists' unions usually hold work stoppages a day early so reporters can cover the general strike.

Greece has been dependent on billions of euros in international bailouts since 2010. In return, successive governments have had to impose deep spending cuts and tax hikes in an effort to reform the economy.

Hong Kong policemen arrested for allegedly assaulting protester [Channel News Asia - 27/11/14]

Hong Kong student leaders banned from Mong Kok protest site [Reuters - 27/11/14]

LAPD begins arrests in downtown L.A. during demonstrations over Ferguson decision [LA Times – 27/11/14]

Protesters fuming over the presumed slaughter of 43 students blocked the highway linking Mexico City and Acapulco on Wednesday to mark two months since the disappearance rocking the government. ... [France 24 - 27/11/14]

Victoria election 2014: Catholic Education Office tells parents not to vote Greens

ABC [28/11/14]:

The Victorian Catholic Education Office has sent letters to parents at Catholic schools in Melbourne's inner city, advising they should not vote for the Greens in Saturday's election.

The letters were circulated in seats where the Greens are expected to poll well - Melbourne, Brunswick, Richmond and Prahran - and questioned the Greens' commitment to funding Catholic schools if the party held the balance of power.

In the letter, executive director Stephen Elder said while both the Labor and Liberal parties would legislate on funding arrangements for the first time, the Greens wanted to create a body to determine whether the schools deserved any money.

"We are most concerned that the need of a school community could be measured through the value of its land and not the needs of its students," Mr Elder wrote.

"The Greens do not distinguish between Catholic schools and other non-government schools.

"This approach is likely to adversely affect many Catholic schools."

Victorian Greens leader Greg Barber said the party had always stood for increased education funding based on equity and the needs of students.

"It's a last-minute scare campaign, there'll be a few more of those, they're not based on fact," Mr Barber said.

"But if you look at education, everybody from community-based childcare to the tertiary education union has given the Greens top marks for our education policies."

The Catholic Education Office told the ABC the letter was sent to principals on Wednesday and most likely distributed to about 5,000 families on Thursday.

The two major parties have said funding for Catholic schools would be linked to the cost of educating a student at a government school, which Mr Elder said would alleviate the need to increase fees.

The parties have also dedicated $120 million for facility and building upgrades at Catholic schools.

Mr Elder said he wrote to the Greens earlier this year about the issue and said the party was "non-committal".

"With such little detail, I am very concerned about the threat of fee increases for parents like yourself and whether Catholic schools would struggle to welcome disadvantaged students and their families," the letter said.

"There is a chance the Greens could hold the balance of power in the Victorian Parliament, which could put the commitments from the major parties at risk.

"When you go to the ballot box this Saturday, and you balance what's really important to you, please remember that both Labor and the Liberals are committed to secure, ongoing and community-building funding for local Catholic schools like yours."

The Labor MP for Melbourne, Jennifer Kanis, said she did not know if it would affect voting.

"I don't know whether it will hurt or harm me," she said.

"What I'm looking at is delivering for families in Melbourne and this is one of the many pressing issues the Greens have failed to address in their campaign."

Evangelicals also in Bali preying on schoolies [Australian teen cleared of methanol poisoning - Sydney Morning Herald - 27/11/14]

Senate to NSW Govt: reverse decision to truncate Newcastle rail line [Greens Media Release - 27/11/14]

Icelandic hacker says guilty of stealing money from Wikileaks

Yahoo [27/11/14]:

An Icelandic computer hacker and former associate of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange unexpectedly pleaded guilty on Wednesday to embezzling 30 million Icelandic crowns ($240,000) from the organization.

Sigurdur Thordarsson's courtroom plea is the latest twist in the saga of Wikileaks, which released thousands of secret U.S. embassy cables in 2010 and 2011, deeply embarrassing Washington.

Known as 'Siggi the Hacker', Thordar­s­son has previously said that he turned an informant for the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in 2011, a year before Assange fled to the Ecuadorian embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden over sexual assault accusations that he has denied.

In the run up to his Iceland trial, Thordar­s­son rejected charges that he stole the proceeds of the sales of Wikileaks-branded items, and his U-turn on Wednesday was a surprise.

"After going over the charges thoroughly and speaking with my client, he has de­cided to plead guilty to all charges," Thordarsson's lawyer, Vilhjalmur Vilhjalmsson, told the court.

The lawyer would not make any comment after the court session, including why Thordarsson had changed his mind.

No date was set for sentencing in the case.

Thordarsson posted a long description of his ties to Wikileaks including photos of him with Assange, his dialogue with the FBI and his defense against the fraud charges, on an Icelandic news website in June 2013.

He originally said his own bank account had to be used to take in money for Wikileaks merchandise because a block had been imposed on company credit cards after the release of the cables.

Wikileaks said it believed Thordarsson had talked to the FBI in Denmark.

"He was a volunteer who abused his position through fraud to obtain money from T-shirts and coffee mugs just after we were imposed with the banking blockade," Wikileaks representative Kristinn Hrafnsson, himself Icelandic, said by telephone.

"We lodged a complaint in Denmark pertaining to a meeting that took place between him and FBI agents in 2011. We want that to be probed on the basis that it was an illegal operation according to Danish law," he said.

There has been no immediate word from the Danish authorities about the complaint.

Assange targeted by FBI investigation, US court documents reveal [Sydney Morning Herald – 20/5/14]

PNG: 79 arrested, detained for "being in possession of weapons"

The National [27/11/14]:

Security forces in Hela have arrested 79 people from two tribes involved in fights in recent months – and police are now worried about where to safely detain them while awaiting their court cases.

Hela provincial police commander Superintendent Mark Yangen confirmed yesterday that the 79 were from the tribes of Lineapini and Papiali in the Tari-Pori electorate. He said police officers and soldiers on Monday went to Lineapini and Angore villages and arrested 22 for “being in possession of weapons”.

The areas had recently been declared a fighting zone, meaning anyone in possession of weapons can be arrested. Yesterday, the security forces conducted a dawn raid at Papiali and arrested 57 for being in possession of weapons. A public servant was among them.

Yangen told The National that the biggest problem now was finding a magistrate to hear their cases in court because it would be difficult to keep the 79 detainees at the police station for a long time.

He said provincial chief magistrate Vincent Linge was out of the province.

“The Hawa correction service (in Hela) is rundown and the police station is too small to accommodate everyone,” he said.

“I have squeezed everyone in but it is risky.

“On numerous occasions, people on remand have escaped.”

He said the 300 police officers and soldiers deployed to the area two weeks ago, following a K2 million funding by the provincial government, had managed to stop the three tribal fights raging in Tari-Pori and Komo-Margarima.

“There is no more fighting in Hela,” he said.

Yangen said most of the people involved in the tribal fight had fled from the area and the security forces were trying to track them down.

He said the most urgent need now was finding a magistrate to hear the cases and get the process rolling.

“When there is no magistrate, the whole operation becomes useless,” he said.

“I am confused what to do next.

“Our job is to arrest and prosecute and the court deals with it and the job is completed.”

He said the province was beginning to see peace and normality restored.

But the security forces would continue to conduct raids in certain villages in the fighting zone areas.

“Fights have stopped but the guns are still in the hands of villagers.

“We want people in possession of illegal guns, those who kill other people, rape mothers and young girls to come out and surrender,” he said.

Yangen said some tribesmen were now wanting to negotiate peace.

“But the time for negotiating peace is over.”

Earlier this month, Hela Governor Anderson Agiru had convened a provincial executive council meeting to declare a fighting zone in Tari.

Independent MP calls for Heiner "cover-up" inquiry

Brisbane Times [27/11/14]:

Queensland Independent MP Liz Cunningham has asked in State Parliament on Thursday that a special Commission of Inquiry be called to investigate the "cover-up" of the 1990 decision by the Queensland cabinet to shred documents required by a court.

"It calls for an investigation into the full scope of what became known as the Heiner Affair," Ms Cunningham told the house.

The Parliamentary (Heiner Afffair and Related Matters) Commission of Inquiry Bill 2014 was referred to the Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee, which is chaired by Ipswich MP Ian Berry.

At the time of the shredding of the documents in 1990 Mr Berry was the solicitor seeking the documents on behalf of his client.

Whistleblower Kevin Lindeberg said he expected Mr Berry to stand aside from any investigation.

Ms Cunningham said supporting documentation lodged with the bill raised serious questions about some members of the judiciary.

Those concerns were raised with the Crime and Misconduct Commission in January 2014, she said.

"Given the seriousness of the allegations and the alleged involvement of the judiciary, the then CMC referred it back to the Attorney General."

Ms Cunningham said those concerns should not stop there.

"The legal concerns involved in this bill and supporting documentation are critical."

Ms Cunningham referred to the central rape allegation of a then 14-year old girl at the John Oxley Youth Detention Centre as the "foundation" of the inquiry.

"She, along with others at this place deserves justice and sympathy.

"A full, unfettered and open Commission of Inquiry is the one avenue remaining to give her and others directly involved justice and peace."

Ms Cunningham does not want another investigation into the shredding of the documents.

She instead wants an investigation into why it took from 1990 until July 2013 – 23 years – for a properly-constituted inquiry to find that there was a prima-facie case against the 1990 Queensland Cabinet members for shredding the documents.

It would be similar to the 1989 Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry that saw Judge Angelo Vasta removed from office.

It is the "Why did it take so long to investigate?" Liz Cunningham wants answered, not the "What happened originally?".

The Carmody Inquiry

On July 1, 2013 Commissioner Tim Carmody found a case existed against Goss government cabinet ministers.

He reached the conclusion after spending months on the Child Protection Inquiry, which included investigating the shredding of Magistrate Noel Heiner's inquiry document in 1990.

"The available evidence is legally sufficient, as it stands, for a jury to find that in resolving to hand the Heiner documents over to the state archivist for destruction, the premier and each participating cabinet minister meant to ensure that they could not be used in evidence if required in an anticipated judicial proceeding," Mr Carmody wrote on July 1, 2013.

However the Office of Public Prosecutions found there was "no reasonable prospects of a conviction".

...

Spain Health Minister Ana Mato resigns amid Gurtel scandal

BBC [26/11/14]:

Spain's Health Minister Ana Mato has resigned after a judge accused her of benefitting from illegal payments.

Her ex-husband, Jesus Sepulveda, was found to be linked to a huge corruption case involving the ruling People's Party.

A court issued a formal ruling which signalled that Ms Mato had no knowledge of any possible crime.

The scheme caused a scandal for PM Mariano Rajoy, who apologised after party members were arrested by police.

Ms Mato has not been named as an official suspect in the case, but will have to sit in during court hearings, judicial sources have told Spanish press.

In a statement, Ms Mato said she had not herself been linked with any crime but that she was standing down for the good of the government.

Judges have been investigating the so-called Gurtel network, a huge scheme involving illegal party donations or kickbacks from businesses seeking contracts.

It is the largest pre-trial investigation in the history of Spain's criminal court, and involves many Popular Party officials and public figures.

29 November 2014

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