Manus reprisal raids continue, concerns grow for the disappeared
Refugee Action Coalition, Sydney [30/1/15]:
Wilson security guards have again carried out reprisal raids on asylum seekers in Mike and Oscar compounds this morning.
Increasingly Manus resembles a prison camp with arbitrary raids, threats against individuals remaining on hunger strike, and the arbitrary kidnapping of anyone thought to be ‘of interest’.
“It is obvious that the Immigration department is desperate to silence the voices of the asylum seekers and stop the truth getting out of Manus.
The photos and testimonies have exposed the brutality of Manus Island to the Australian public and to the world,” said Ian Rintoul.
“The tactic of silencing the critics is typical of the dictatorships from which the asylum seekers are fleeing. Freedom of speech is reserved for the Minister of Immigration.”
Mike compound was also raided yesterday morning. “Aussie” guards with a handful of PNG police in support occupied the compound for five hours, systematically going from room to room, while the asylum seekers were corralled in the mess area.
More than 20 mobile phones were confiscated during the raid on Mike compound. One asylum seeker was “taken away”, presumably to Chauka or Charlie compounds where up to 35 people are being held in isolation.
The immigration minister, Peter Dutton, says that Wilson’s are confiscating “contraband”. It begs the question of why mobile phones are “contraband”.
But in Mike compound on Thursday, the raid also removed large amounts of personal items – clothes, mp3 players, nail clippers, washing powder, sheets, blankets.
Political banners were confiscated and asylum seekers warned not to make more banners and to keep away from the perimeter fences, on pain of arrest.
Meanwhile, in the aftermath of the ending of the mass hunger strike, a “message to the Australian people” has been released from the Manus Island detainees.
In part it reads, “More than 900 people, 900 heroes, carried out the biggest hunger strike in history to deliver their oppressed voices to the ears of the whole world.
“Fourteen days of struggle between the tyrant and the oppressed, between right and wrong, between the rich and the poor, ended today on 27th January. More than anything it showed the will power and determination of an oppressed collection of people, every single one of whom has fled from the tyrannies of their own countries and sought refuge in the free country of Australia.”
Concern is also growing for the welfare of the 60 people in Lorengau jail.
The sixty are being held in the one crowded area.
Two asylum seekers who have swallowed razor blades in prison have not received medical attention. Lorengau hospital has refused treatment saying that the asylum seekers are not their responsibility.
On Thursday, January 29, CODEPINK protesters spoke out during Senate Armed Services Committee hearing attempting to perform a citizens’ arrest on Henry Kissinger.
Holding handcuffs and large signs that read: KISSINGER: WAR CRIMINAL and ARREST KISSINGER FOR WAR CRIMES, activists read aloud a citizens’ arrest [pasted below].
In response, Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Chairman of the Committee, called the human rights activists “lowlife scum” and said it was “the most disgraceful and despicable demonstration he had ever seen.”
“CODEPINK is really proud of our action in the Senate today, speaking out on behalf of the people of Indochina, China, East Timor and peace-loving people everywhere,” said CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin.
“Henry Kissinger is responsible for the deaths of millions. He’s a murderer, a liar, a crook, and a thug, and should be tried at the Hague.”
... [Media Release - 29/1/15]
US Justice Department Confirms WikiLeaks Investigation Continues as Google Claims It Fought Gag Orders [Fire Dog Lake - 29/1/15]
Afghanistan government oppose deportation of asylum seekers from Norway
The government of Afghanistan has opposed to plans by the Norwegian government to expel the Afghan asylum seekers including women and children.
According to a report by The Norwegian newspaper – The Nordic Page, Afghanistan has warned Norway that the expulsion of the Afghan refugees will have serious consequences on bilateral relations and cooperation between the two nations.
The decision was reportedly taken by Norway’s Justice Minister Anders Anundsen who had announced ahead of the Christmas to forcibly return the long remaining asylum seeking families including children.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan issued a statement following the announcement by Anundsen stating that Afghanistan would not be prepared to accept the expelled asylum seekers, according to Norway’s Bergens Tidende newspaper.
The statement further added Afghanistan is a dangerous place to be, the country has huge economic problems, and there is a lack of shelter, jobs and education.
Afghan authorities also insisted that the return of the Afghan refugees must be voluntary while referring to an agreement between the two nations on repatriation of refugees.
The Afghan authorities have also warned to reject the refugees from entering Afghanistan if they were expelled by the Norwegian authorities.
US military to keep secret the details of aid to Afghan forces [Khaama - 30/1/15]
United States, “allies” continue bombing Syria and Iraq
On Jan. 28, U.S. and Coalition military forces continued to attack ISIL terrorists in Syria, using bomber and fighter aircraft to conduct six airstrikes.
Separately, U.S. and Coalition military forces conducted 12 airstrikes in Iraq, using attack, fighter, and remotely piloted aircraft against ISIL terrorists. All strikes took place between 8 a.m., Jan. 28, and 8 a.m., Jan. 29, local time.
The following is a summary of the strikes conducted since the last press release:
* Near Kobani, five airstrikes struck an ISIL fighting position, three ISIL tactical units, and a large ISIL unit.
* Near Dayr az Zawr, an airstrike destroyed an ISIL crude oil collection point.
* Near Al Asad, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit.
* Near Ar Rutbah, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit.
* Near Mosul, an airstrike destroyed an ISIL weapons storage facility.
* Near Sinjar, five airstrikes struck a large ISIL unit and destroyed 21 ISIL vehicles, four ISIL buildings, an ISIL shipping container, an ISIL modular structure, and an ISIL armored vehicle.
* Near Tal Afar, four airstrikes struck two large ISIL units and an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL bunker, an ISIL armored vehicle, an ISIL bulldozer, three ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL building, and an ISIL VBIED.
Airstrike assessments are based on initial reports. All aircraft returned to base safely.
At least 12 civilians were killed on Friday morning when two bombs exploded in central Baghdad, security sources said.
An initial blast in the Bab al-Sharqi district was followed by a car bomb, the sources said. At least 30 people were also wounded in the attack.
The area is home to a large market and lies across the Tigris river from the Green Zone, which houses most government buildings. ... [Al Akhbar - 30/1/15]
US armed drone program in Yemen facing intelligence gaps [Reuters - 29/1/15]
Pakistan Shia mosque blast in Shikarpur kills 31
At least 20 people have been killed in a powerful bomb blast at a Shia mosque in southern Pakistan, officials say.
Police said that at least 50 people were wounded in the attack after Friday prayers in the Shikarpur district of Sindh province.
The death toll is expected to rise as many of the wounded are in a critical condition.
Local media reports suggest that the blast could have been a suicide attack, but police are investigating.
It is not yet clear who carried out the attack but Sunni militant groups have targeted the Shia minority in the past.
A number of people were trapped after the roof of the mosque collapsed due to the force of the explosion, local media said.
Senior police official Abdul Qudoos Kalwar told the Associated Press news agency that four children were among the dead.
Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has condemned the incident and ordered an immediate inquiry.
The attack came as Mr Sharif visited the city of Karachi, the capital of Sindh province.
The BBC's M Ilyas Khan in Islamabad says that attacks on Shia targets have been fairly common in Karachi, on the coast, but are relatively new in the interior of Sindh province, where the influence of a more tolerant Sufi Islamic tradition is more widespread.
Our reporter says that Friday's incident is reportedly the fifth attack of a sectarian nature in the province's interior since 2010.
New Sinai Clashes Kill Two Children
Egypt's army clashed with jihadists in Sinai Friday, leaving two children dead as President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi flew home to deal with a wave of militant attacks that killed at least 30 people.
Health officials said a six-month-old baby was hit in the head by a bullet during the clashes and a six-year-old was killed in a rocket blast in the peninsula.
Two more people including a 12-year-old were badly wounded by gunfire.
Friday's violence came a day after jihadists targeted security forces with rockets and a car bomb in North Sinai province in simultaneous attacks claimed by an affiliate of the Islamic State group.
Most of those killed were soldiers.
Sisi pulled out of a gathering of African leaders in Ethiopia and flew home to oversee the response to the attacks.
"After the terrorist operations in the North Sinai last night, the president decided to cut short his participation in the African Union summit after attending the opening session, and returned to Cairo to monitor the situation," a statement from Sisi's office said.
Security officials said the bodies of the 30 victims had been flown to Cairo.
It was the deadliest wave of attacks since October when 30 soldiers were killed and scores wounded in simultaneous assaults on security forces.
The fresh bloodshed came despite new security measures implemented in North Sinai since then.
South Africa apartheid assassin de Kock given parole
South African apartheid-era death squad commander Eugene de Kock has been granted parole after 20 years in jail.
He was nicknamed "Prime Evil" for his role in the killing and maiming of activists fighting white minority rule in the 1980s and early 1990s.
Justice Minister Michael Masutha said De Kock would be released "in the interests of nation-building".
De Kock, 66, was sentenced in 1996 to two life terms in prison and a further 212 years for the crimes he committed.
Mr Masutha said the time and place of De Kock's release would not be made public.
The justice minister stressed that his decision was guided by South Africa's constitution.
Sandra Mama, widow of Glenack Mama who was killed by De Kock in 1992, said she thought the minister was right in granting parole.
"I think it will actually close a chapter in our history because we've come a long way and I think his release will just once again help with the reconciliation process because there's still a lot of things that we need to do as a country," she told the BBC.
Ms Mama said that in her opinion, De Kock had been held responsible for the orders of others.
"He got the instructions from the top and they got away with it. They're living, you know... they're amongst us today and one man is taking the fall," she said.
Whilst in prison he did a radio interview in 2007, accusing South Africa's last white ruler FW de Klerk of having hands "soaked in blood" for ordering specific killings.
The former president denied the allegations, saying his conscience was clear.
De Kock also made contact with some of his victims' families while in jail, asking for forgiveness.
UN Court Upholds Life for Two Convicted in Srebrenica Massacre
The U.N.'s Yugoslav war crimes court on Friday upheld life convictions of two Bosnian Serbs for their role in the Srebrenica massacre of almost 8,000 Muslim men and boys in 1995.
The Appeal Chamber "affirms the life sentence" against former Bosnian Serb Vujadin Popovic, 57, and Ljubisa Beara, 75, Judge Patrick Robinson said at a hearing at the Hague-based tribunal.
Uganda Charges 18 for Murder of Muslim Clerics
A Ugandan Muslim sheikh and 17 others have been charged with killing two fellow clerics, a case police said Friday is linked to Islamist rebels in Democratic Republic of Congo.
"There's a link definitely to the Allied Democratic Forces," police spokesman Fred Enanga told Agence France Presse, referring to the small group of Ugandan-led ADF rebels, who have terrorized pockets of eastern DR Congo for the last two decades.
He claimed those charged in court in the capital Kampala on Thursday had wanted "to eliminate their colleagues" because they had tried to discourage people from "joining rebel ranks."
Sheikh Muhammad Yunus Kamoga, the leader of Uganda's Muslim Tabliq group, and 17 others were charged Thursday for the murders of two clerics, and the attempted murder of a third earlier this month, according to the government-run New Vision newspaper.
All deny the charges.
Israel To Build 430 Homes in West Bank as Army Resumes Arrest of Minors
Al Akhbar [30/1/15]:
The Israeli authorities on Friday published tenders to build 430 new illegal settler homes in the occupied West Bank, the head of an NGO that monitors settlement activity said, as Zionist settlers attempted to kidnap an 18-month-old Palestinian toddler in occupied East Jerusalem.
"It's the opening of the settlement floodgates," said Daniel Seidemann, head of the Terrestrial Jerusalem group, adding that the announcements were the first since October 2014 and unlikely to be the last before the March 17 general election.
He said that the new homes were to be built in four existing settlements across the occupied West Bank — 112 in Adam, 156 in Elkana, 78 in Alfei Menashe and 84 in Kiryat Arba.
Seidemann, whose group particularly monitors settlement in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, predicted that building plans there were likely to be announced soon.
"I don't think it's over," he said. "I would be very concerned."
He linked the new tenders to the election in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud is competing with other rightwing parties for the settler vote.
Meanwhile, Israeli authorities on Thursday destroyed the home of a Palestinian family as well as a barn in the town of Idhna in the southern West Bank.
Locals told Ma'an news agency that Israeli bulldozers escorted by several military jeeps demolished a house as well as a mobile home belonging to Ahmed Jamal al-Jiyawi in the area of Khirbet al-Ras west of Idhna.
Israeli forces also raided the area of Wadi Risha, also west of Idhna, and demolished a large steel barn using for raising cows by a local farmer.
Locals said that the structure belonged to Mahmoud Musallam Abu IJeheisha, and that the man supports a family of 10, mostly children.
Feel safe Queensland?: Disturbed child charged after manhunt, Gold Coast
QPS Media [30/1/15]:
A 13-year-old boy has been charged following an incident in Miami this afternoon, where it is alleged threats were made to an educational facility.
Police will allege that threatening text messages were sent to the phones of several students at the school on Oceanic Drive.
As a result, the school implemented its standard internal security procedures and notified police.
A 13-year-old boy was located in Surfers Paradise by police just after 1.30pm.
He was later charged with one count each of using a carriage service to make a threat to cause serious harm, unlawful possession of a weapon category A, B or M, possession of a knife in a public place or school and receiving tainted property.
The boy will be will 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.
Queensland police help lady and don't shoot man who was trying to murder her
... Scott Francis Stephens, 43, faced Beenleigh Magistrates Court this morning on charges including attempted murder, assault occasioning bodily harm and serious assault of police.
Security footage from the Canungra Hotel allegedly showed the moment when a man believed to Stephens confronted the woman, believed to be his ex-partner.
The footage allegedly showed the man grab the woman and fling her to the ground before pulling out a knife.
Before the man went any further, he was confronted by a detective with a drawn gun, who had been alerted to the drama by hotel manager Simon Walsh.
The officer and another detective were already at the hotel investigating an unrelated matter, and Mr Walsh said it was a stroke of good fortune the police had been on the scene when the alleged assault occurred.
"I told the officer, 'he's got a knife' and he whipped into action and did what he's trained to do," Mr Walsh told the Nine Network.
Stephens did not apply for bail and has been remanded in custody.
The matter has been adjourned until February 27.
Pedestrian killed after being hit by road train, Barkly Highway
North West Star [30/1/15]:
Mount Isa police identified the 23 year old woman who was killed at the scene when struck by a road train on the Barkly Highway on Friday, 9.45am.
Mount Isa superintendent Russell Miller said police were still investigating what might have caused the collision - which was about five km east of Mount Isa.
"We're not too sure what the lady was doing out there," Superintendent Miller said.
It was unclear if the woman was local, although "she has been here [in Mount Isa] a little while".
He urged witnesses with any information to speak to police.
"Someone might have seen her there before," he said.
Superintendent Miller said the investigators did not believe the woman was exercising.
The area was near Telstra Hill, a popular place for joggers.
He confirmed the driver of the road train was not injured, but was "well shaken up".
The Forensic Crash Unit is investigating and a report will be sent to the coroner.
The Barkly Highway was reopened at about 1.30pm, Friday.
It was closed for about four hours as police investigated the tragic incident.
Attending Sergeant Jakki Poustie thanked the public for their patience.
Members of the community with any information can contact Mount Isa police on (07) 4744 1111.
Fire tears through Brisbane home leaving visually impaired mother and teen homeless
Nine MSN [30/1/15]:
A visually impaired mother and her teenage daughter have been left homeless after fire tore through their house in Brisbane.
The blaze took hold so quickly, they had no time to grab any possessions from their Mansfield home.
The family was today anguished by the loss of their home, destroyed by a fire which broke out at around 2.30am.
"We've lost it all, literally the only thing we've come out with is the dogs, my phone and the clothes on our back," Shelley Heaton said.
She and her daughter Shona woke to the sound of the fire alarm and rushed to see what was wrong.
"It was bright orange and getting brighter and brighter, coming towards the house," Ms Heaton said.
Ms Heaton has only 15 per cent of her vision and relies on her guide dog, Velvet to get around.
But the flames were so ferocious, she did not even have time to grab her dog's harness.
"First thing we did, was just grab the dogs and get out.
"I don't even have a cane to get around independently at the moment"
Teenager Shona had just bought her new uniform and books, ready for school.
"I kind of thought it would be one of the best years, 'cause I'm finally in Year 10 and now this happens," she said.
There is little left of the Heaton's house and authorities are now busy sealing it off. It is likely to be demolished in the coming days.
Forensic investigators aren't sure yet what caused the fire, but police aren't treating it as suspicious.
Neighbour Hans De Visser said, "It seemed to have spread from underneath, the whole house was engulfed."
If readers wish to make a donation to help the Heatons, contact Blimdas.email@example.com or Blind.firstname.lastname@example.org.
A $25,000 reward has been offered in the search for the person who tried to set Toowoomba's mosque alight. ... [Chronicle - 30/1/15]
Arrow Energy's LNG plant "off the table"
Royal Dutch Shell global chief executive Ben van Beurden says the company will be slowing down on new developments.
This means the development of Arrow's greenfield liquefied natural gas project at Curtis Island in Queensland is "off the table".
The decision has been blamed on falling oil prices, with Shell cutting spending by $15 billion over three years.
While this has implications for the Curtis Island Development, Shell spokesman in Australia Paul Zennaro said this would not affect the upstream development of wells in the Surat and Bowen Basin.
"Work continues on development of Arrow's substantial gas resources in the Bowen and Surat Basins," he said.
"Shell continues to be driven by value and finding the best development option for Arrow gas. Discussions are ongoing on collaboration opportunities."
The announcement came as QCLNG exported its first shipment of liquefied natural gas earlier this month. The Santos GLNG and the Origin APLNG projects are expected to come online this year.
The CFMEU claims hundreds of central Queensland miners would be locked out of work at the soon-to-be reopened Norwich Park site.
The union yesterday said BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) was looking to source 340 cheaper workers from interstate for the mine; a move which would also drive wages down at other operations. ... [Morning Bulletin - 30/1/15]
BHP Billiton has revealed it is planning to cut jobs at its South Australian operations in order to build a "viable business". ... [ABC - 30/1/15]
Minor parties present their number one agriculture policy [ABC - 30/1/15]
Candidates in the seat of Gladstone give their opinions on the Royalties for Regions program, in the next of our 'big question' election features. ... [Gladstone Observer - 30/1/15]
Food processing factory a must for the Lockyer [Chronicle - 30/1/15]:
... Mr Neuendorf, the Katter's Australian Party candidate for Lockyer, said the region was crying out for such a facility and had been since the Golden Circle cannery closure that hit beetroot growers hard.
"They said they did not have $2.5 million for a food processing factory but they will give (Indian mining giant) Adani $1 billion to build a railway line," he said.
Poll indicates asset privatisation biggest issue for Rockhampton voters [Morning Bulletin – 30/1/15]
The Independent Member for Gaven Dr Alex Douglas MP has appealed to the LNP candidate Sid Cramp to confirm if he is a paramedic, as the LNP is claiming.
“If indeed he is a paramedic, he has nothing to hide, but my information is that he has never been a paramedic and works as a radio communications officer at Southport,” Dr Douglas said. ... [Media Release - 27/1/15]
Texas executes 'intellectually disabled' inmate
Al Jazeera [29/1/15]:
The state of Texas executed convicted murderer Robert Ladd Thursday, despite a last-minute appeal from defense attorneys who argued Ladd was severely mentally disabled.
He was killed by lethal injection at the state’s facilities in Huntsville and pronounced dead at 7:02 p.m., according to a prison official.
Ladd, who in 1996 was convicted of beating a Texas woman to death, had an "intellectual disability" that should preclude him from receiving the death penalty, according a statement issued Tuesday by his defense attorneys at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
After the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals rejected the ACLU's request for a stay of execution, Ladd's defense attorneys made a last-minute appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, which declined to get involved. The court also rejected an appeal in which Ladd's attorney challenged whether the pentobarbital Texas uses in executions is potent enough to not cause unconstitutional pain and suffering.
Ladd was executed for the 1996 slaying of 38-year-old Vicki Ann Garner, who was strangled and beaten with a hammer. Her arms and legs were bound, bedding was placed between her legs, and she was set on fire in her apartment.
In his final statement, Ladd addressed the sister of his victim by name, telling her he was "really, really sorry."
As the drug took effect, Ladd said: "Stings my arm, man!" He began taking deep breaths, then started snoring. His snores became breaths, each one becoming less pronounced, before he stopped all movement.
Prison officials pronounced Ladd dead 27 minutes after the drug was administered.
Teresa Wooten, Garner's sister, said afterward that she accepted Ladd's apology and held no anger toward him.
"We hate the sin he committed. We hate the deed he committed," Wooten said. "But at the end of his life we no longer hated the man and have sympathy for his family."
The evidence submitted by the ACLU included a 1970 psychiatric evaluation in which the examiner concluded that Ladd, then 13, was “obviously retarded.” The psychiatrist also noted that Ladd had received a scored of 67 on an IQ test — a score so low that it is widely thought to indicate mental impairment.
In the 2004 case Atkins v. Virginia, the Supreme Court ruled that executing mentally disabled inmates violates the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. However, the Atkins ruling left it up to the states to determine who qualifies as mentally disabled.
The battle over whether Ladd was fit to be executed revolved around the Texas criminal justice system's unusually narrow definition of who qualifies as exempt from the death penalty.
In the 2004 case ex parte Briseno, the Texas Criminal Court of Appeals determined that inmates who are able to “lie effectively,” “show leadership,” or display other such traits may not be exempt even if medical professionals consider them to be mentally disabled.
The ex parte Briseno ruling also famously referenced a character in John Steinbeck’s 1937 novel “Of Mice and Men” while making its argument.
“Texas citizens might agree that Steinbeck’s Lennie should, by virtue of his lack of reasoning ability and adaptive skills, be exempt,” according to the ex parte Briseno opinion, referring to a character in the book who kills animals and a woman before finally being killed himself.
“But, does a consensus of Texas citizens agree that all persons who might legitimately qualify for assistance under the social services definition of mental retardation be exempt from an otherwise constitutional penalty?”
The ruling was subsequently denounced by the author’s son, Thomas Steinbeck, who said he was “deeply troubled” at the book being used “as a benchmark to identify whether defendants with intellectual disabilities should live or die.”
Imaginary journalist to PNG Prime Minister Peter O'Neill: Why not just execute the Manus refugees? You have the death penalty now, your police seem to like killing, it would save the IOM and Australian taxpayer the deportation expense. Human Rights organisations don't seem alarmed that Australia's Immigration Minister has had hunger striking refugees beaten, "arrested", thrown into solitary confinement and disappeared, so why not finish the job?
Or are you already doing this?
Police shoot escapee’s brother [The National - 30/1/15]:
A 28-year-old man from Yangoru in East Sepik was shot dead by a police mobile squad at his Sima village on Wednesday, police say.
East Sepik provincial police commander Chief Supt Joe Poma said the policemen were pursuing a prison escapee when they shot dead his younger brother.
Sima village councillor Lesley Uragune said a truckload of policemen arrived at their village at about 9am but the escapee was not there.
“They met his father and younger brother, Jonah Lus, at their house. Some policemen took the father away towards the police vehicle and some police shot the son in the arm,” Uragune said.
“He (Lus) ran down the mountain with an injured arm shouting back and identifying himself as Jonah and that he was not Jim.
“His older brother was the one wanted by police. But they fired about three shots killing him instantly.
“The whole village was shaken by the gunshots. They ran out to see what was happening but were stopped by police from getting closer.
“We watched helplessly as the policemen carried his body into the waiting vehicle and drove out of the village to Wewak.
“His body is now at the Wewak General Hospital awaiting police investigations to start.”
Uragune said Sima villagers and surrounding communities met yesterday and resolved to stage a peaceful demonstration at the Yangoru police station to show their disapproval of the police action, including two other deaths they caused in the district.
They were working on a separate petition late yesterday which they would present to their MP Richard Maru and the police hierarchy.
Poma expressed appealed to the relatives of the deceased to remain calm and allow CID officers from Wewak to carry out their investigations.
He said he may get investigators from outside of the province or forward the matter to the coroner to ensure that justice was achieved.
Enforcing the Death Penalty in PNG [EMTV – 23/1/15]
Death laws passed in PNG [Islands Business – 29/5/13]:
... Prime minister negotiating a hands-on policing assistance programme with the Queensland Government in Australia for up to 150 police personnel, with experience in fighting crime to work side by side with Papua New Guinea police men and women in police stations across the country.
A similar number of our police personnel will gain experience working in police stations in Queensland.
The law making abortion illegal in Papua New Guinea is outdated.
Maternal health expert, Dr Lahui Geita, told EMTV that a lot of women, especially young women, are dying from abortion related causes because they are not able to access medical help.
Doctors specialising in caring for pregnant women and women’s
sexual reproductive health, have been proposing to the government to have this
law reviewed. ... [EMTV
Australia's Minister for Immigration remains unaccountable for having hunger striking refugees beaten, "arrested" and thrown in solitary confinement.
Source says sick asylum seekers at Lorengau jail are not receiving medical care ...
A source has told me that PNG police beat a handcuffed asylum seeker in Lorengau jail with a piece of wood. ...
"tweeted" by @shanebazzi [29/1/15]
Manus refugees facing forced return to danger [Greens Media Release - 30/1/15]:
The PNG Prime Minister's claims that the majority of the asylum seekers currently locked in the Manus Island detention camp will be sent home are extremely concerning, the Australian Greens have said.
"The PNG government is pre-empting the outcome of a floored and highly politicised refugee determination process," Senator Hanson-Young said.
"The asylum claims haven't even been processed yet, but the PNG government has already decided to deport these vulnerable people to danger in coming weeks. That would be a clear breach of our humanitarian obligations, according to the UN, and it's time the Abbott government sat up and listened to the international condemnation.
"Prime Minister O'Neill's comments are extremely concerning and just go to show that these refugees should never have been sent to PNG in the first place.
"Forcefully returning refugees to danger is a potential death sentence and, if it is allowed to go ahead, many lives will be lost.
"The Abbott government must bring these asylum seekers back to Australia, so their claims can be assessed properly."
UN refugee chief: The world doesn’t understand the extent of the refugee crisis [Asharq Al-Awsat – 29/1/15]:
... Q: Is the problem a lack of the political will needed to meet these appeals? Is it a failure of the international community to support one another?
I think that the international community has not yet understood how dramatic the growth of humanitarian needs is. It is not only that, you get the impact of climate change, population growth in the world, and natural disasters that are becoming more and more dramatic and more frequent everywhere. The truth is that, first, if you look at development cooperation money, [you will find] it is about eight times [the size of] humanitarian aid, and if you look at what is today spent on humanitarian aid around the world—at least through known, multilateral channels or known international organizations—it is about 20 billion dollars. I don’t know of any medium-sized bank that has been bailed out that has not cost more than that, so I think that the world needs to change the way priorities are set, because we are seeing an enormous amount of suffering first of all, and, second, because humanitarian crises are just a symptom of something that is going dramatically wrong in today’s world.
Q: I wanted to ask you about the resettlement program for Syrians, and other refugees in the Middle East
We have estimated in our analysis of the Syrian refugee community that there are now 3.8 million Syrians registered in neighboring countries. There are many more Syrians [around the world], individually registered, asking for assistance. And we estimate in a survey we have done about vulnerability, vulnerabilities in the community, that one-tenth of these Syrians should have resettlement as the ideal solution. Of course, the [real] ideal solution is the possibility that they can go back home in safety and dignity when the problems are solved. But you have always had people that have suffered so much, members of the family killed, or victims of torture, that had such a traumatic impact of the conflict, that it would be difficult for them to go back home. And it is also obvious that if they have medical cases that are very complex that it will be difficult for the neighboring countries to address their needs. And so we estimated that around one-tenth of the Syrian population should have the opportunity to resettle.
Q: For many refugees from all over the world—Syrians, Iraqis, and of course others—the only way they feel they can get asylum is to risk everything and try to enter a country illegally. This is a fundamental flaw in our international system, that this is the way you get asylum. How can we deal with that? How can we cut out the traffickers and the smugglers, who are the only ones benefiting from the system?
This is a general problem, not only for Syrians, and what is clear is that there is no way to fight trafficking and smuggling, to fight irregular movements of people—I don’t like to use the word “illegal” movements of people, because the people are victims—there is no way to fight it effectively if you don’t provide opportunities for regular, legal movement of people, and that is why we are insisting for more borders to be opened to Syrians. Not just the borders of neighboring countries, but everywhere, from Europe to further afield, and also for countries to enhance their programs of resettlement, humanitarian missions, to have more flexible visa policies which allow people to travel legally to the countries where they seek safety, and to enhance family reunification programs that are very meaningful because you have a large Syrian community in the diaspora. So through family reunification you can have a very important tool, a very important instrument to provide protection to people.
So it is absolutely essential, both in relation to refugees but also in relation to the management of migration, to understand that the only way to fight illegal organizations is to provide legal opportunities for people. And this is not [something] new—if you remember when in the US alcohol was prohibited, the smugglers prospered. If there is free trade, smuggling disappears. So the only way to fight illegal activities is to allow normal, legal activities to take place.
... Mr Newman says he would like to see some truth return to election campaigns, after Ms Palaszczuk is asked about the dirty tricks which have been played this campaign.
And then he talks more about bikies and Labor and says "it was on the front page of the paper".
And the crowd guffaws.
Brisbane Times [30/1/15]
Feel safe Queensland?
Police chopper deployed to search for 13-year-old delinquent around the same time a Gold Coast convenience store was being robbed.
Boy arrested after Gold Coast school threatened [Yahoo - 30/1/15]:
... It's believed they included a threat to shoot some students. ... <---- We are sick and tired of media exaggerations, and find them more and more difficult to believe.
QPS Media [30/1/15]:
... Preliminary investigations suggest threatening text messages were sent to the phones of several students at the school on Oceanic Drive.
As a result, the school implemented its standard internal security procedures and notified police.
A 13-year-old boy was located in Surfers Paradise just after 1.30pm and is now speaking with police about the incident.
Man on the run after Gold Coast store allegedly robbed at knife point [MYGC - 30/1/15]
Armed robbery, Chermside [QPS Media - 30/1/15]
Children among 14 people charged with drug and property charges, Cairns [QPS Media – 30/1/15]
Anti rights arrest, Reedy Creek [QPS Media - 30/1/15]
Police have charged a 38-year-old woman with drink driving after a two-vehicle traffic crash at Labrador last night. ... [QPS Media - 30/1/15]
Cairns mother charged with murdering eight children could have case heard by Mental Health Court
Brisbane Times [30/1/15]:
A Cairns mother accused of murdering eight children could have her case heard by Queensland's Mental Health Court.
Raina Mersane Ina Thaiday, 37, the mother of seven of the children and aunt to the eighth, was charged with eight counts of murder after the children were found dead at a Manoora home last month.
Her case was briefly mentioned in the Cairns Magistrates Court on Friday, but she wasn't present.
Magistrate Suzette Coates adjourned the case for three months to allow a number of reports to be finalised.
"Why not transfer it to the Mental Health Court?" she said.
"I think that is the most appropriate way for it to be dealt with."
The Mental Health Court decides the state of mind of people charged with criminal offences.
The magistrate also heard an involuntary treatment order was still in place.
Ms Thaiday was initially treated at the Cairns Base Hospital before being transferred to Brisbane on Christmas Eve.
Her case has been adjourned until June 24.
Queensland has Optional Preferential Voting.
VOTERS decide who
wish to preference, IF AT ALL.
Commission of inquiry into Queensland doctors contracts debacle needed [PUP Media Release - 30/1/15]:
Palmer United Party candidate for Townsville, Alan Birrell, says if elected the party would push for a commission of inquiry into the effects of the Newman Government’s new individual doctors contracts.
Premier Campbell Newman and Health Minister Lawrence Springborg accused doctors of rorting and defrauding the system as a justification for their one sided doctors contracts.
However, Mr Birrell said to date no doctors have been charged to support their claims.
“Instead, what has happened as a result of these disastrous negotiations is many exceptional doctors have left the public system and those that remain have been muzzled,” Mr Birrell said.
“They can’t speak out about how bad things are and as a result, Queenslanders continue to be kept in the dark about what appears to be a deteriorating health care system.
“For example, when doctors in Cairns spoke out about their concerns about Ebola, they were suspended.
“The public has a right to know if doctors have public health concerns that aren’t being addressed and we need to know what else is being hidden from us.
“During the doctors contract debacle a number of doctors contacted our local MPs – Sam Cox, David Chrisafulli and John Hathaway – but their concerns fell upon deaf ears and they received no meaningful reply.
“The only response any doctor got was it would be taken up with the relevant minister. Voters need to know this so that they aren’t taken in by the current claims the LNP are making about how good things are,” Mr Birrell said.
Mr Birrell said such inquiry would include the effects of the reduction of nursing staff, working conditions, patient welfare and general morale.
“I have the highest regard for our doctors and nurses who work under very stressful circumstances at times. We need to take care of them so they can focus on taking care of Queenslanders,” he said.
Defiant editor Alan Morison to return to face Thai navy defamation case [Guardian - 30/1/15]
... In 2009, Phuketwan broke the story of the Thai government’s policy of “push-backs”, where asylum boats were forced back to sea, a story that ultimately led to a change in government policy.
But in 2013 a single, 41-word paragraph in a story alleging the violent persecution of Burma’s Rohingya Muslim minority aroused the opprobrium of the Royal Thai Navy.
The paragraph was not written by Morison or his staff member, Chutima Sidasathian, who has also been charged with defamation.
Instead, it was reproduced from – and credited to – a Pulitzer-prize winning investigation conducted by the Reuters news agency.
The Thai navy has not pursued Reuters legally, but ruled that Phuketwan’s reproduction of the paragraph was “false and wrong” and that “the reputation of the Royal Thai Navy was damaged and made people look down on the navy”.
Spell me freedom
Spell me freedom
And make it simple
So when I eat
It shall not make me sick
Spell me freedom
And make the ingredients carefully
So when I drink
It does not make me choke
Spell me freedom
And whisper it quietly
So when we speak
It does not give me a headache
Spell me freedom
And bake it fresh
So when I'm thirsty
It shall not make me dry
Spell me freedom
And stir it quickly
So when I taste
It shall not burn my tongue
Spell me freedom
And tell the joke well
So that when I laugh
It shall not unveil into hopeless tears
Spell me freedom
and cradle each word
That when I use them
They shall not crack like spines
... The decision has no bearing on the lawfulness or otherwise under international law of Australia's interception, detention and removal of asylum seekers.
Australia's international law obligations have not disappeared, but current policy leaves us wide open to breaches. ... Professor Jane McAdam [Our obligations still apply despite High Court win - Sydney Morning Herald - 30/1/15]
Canberra Times [29/1/15]:
Dumped defence contractor Serco will have to pay hundreds of thousands in redundancies to up to 200 Canberra workers sacked after the Britain-based multinational lost the facilities contract for defence sites around the capital.
The Fair Work Commission has Serco, and its joint venture partner Sodexo, pay the cleaners, cooks and security guards, many of whom worked at the Royal Military College Duntroon, after a dispute over which workers were owed severance pay-outs.
The services union United Voice said the FWC decision had exposed the behaviour of the joint venture partners towards its former workers as "ugly and mean".
And behaviour toward refugees?
At Work Inside Our Detention Centres: A Guard's Story [Global Mail - 7/2/14]
Shipment of 'Freedom' brand muesli bars worth $30,000 rejected by Manus Island refugee death camp operators, Transfield Services [ABC – 30/1/15]:
... Freedom Foods marketing manager Rebecca Carson said she was surprised by the events.
"Certainly we are disappointed that people there don't get to enjoy our product," Ms Carson said.
"I understand the bars will be distributed elsewhere, so they won't go to waste."
Torture of refugees "disappointing" too? ---> "We are 58 people, they beat the shit out of all of us"
And does the UNHCR think hunger striking refugees should be beaten, "arrested" and thrown into solitary confinement on orders from the Minister for Immigration, or did the ABC edit out what the UNHCR said about that? [ABC - 30/1/15]:
The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has questioned Papua New Guinea's plans to send back asylum seekers currently detained on Manus Island.
This week PNG's prime minister Peter O'Neill told the ABC he believed most of the 1,035 asylum seekers at the Manus Regional Processing Centre were not genuine refugees and would be sent home "within weeks".
Mr O'Neill said talks were underway with Iran and Iraq to return the men home.
"I'm hoping ... [Iran] will care about the people who are in this predicament and we will all try and do the best for these people," he said.
More than 100 men have received answers to their asylum applications, but it was not clear how many asylum seekers had completed the refugee status determination process.
"Asylum seekers and refugees should not be forcibly sent back to a place where their lives are at risk," said Babar Baloch, a spokesman for the UNHCR based in Geneva.
"This act would be against the principle of non-refoulment [no forced return] under the customary international law," he said.
"UNHCR advocates that asylum seekers should be given access to a full and efficient refugee status determination process."
About 40 migrants missing off Bangladesh after their boats sinks [Reuters - 29/1/15]:
About 40 illegal migrants heading from Bangladesh to Malaysia to look for work were missing on Thursday after their boat sank, police said.
A steady stream of people including job hunters and asylum seekers leaves Bangladesh and neighbouring Myanmar for Southeast Asia, often with the help of people-smuggling gangs. Accidents are common.
More than 70 people were heading out to sea near Kutubdia island, 415 km (260 miles) southeast of Dhaka, when their wooden boat sank, police said.
The coastguard rescued 33 of them and six of them were taken to hospital, police said.
Police officer Aung So Pry Murma told Reuters a vessel he described as a pirate ship was waiting offshore to take them to Malaysia to look for work.
The Bangladesh government failed to take steps to ensure accountability for any election-related violence or for other violations by its security forces in spite of well-documented evidence, Human Rights Watch said in its World Report 2015.
“Government forces committed serious abuses both leading up to and after the January 2014 general election, while members of opposition parties engaged in violent and indiscriminate attacks to impose economic blockades and to enforce a boycott of the January polls,” it said. ... [The Daily Star - 30/1/15]
Deported children face deadly new dangers on return to Honduras [UNHCR - 29/1/15]:
The gunman was waiting as Marco Antonio Cortés boarded a bus in the north-west Honduran city of San Pedro Sula. One pull of the trigger and the 18-year-old was dead, adding to the alarming toll of young Honduran males who are attacked, killed or simply disappear after being deported from the United States or Mexico.
"It's not just one, two or three that are killed after their deportation," says Sister Valdete Wilemann, who runs a state-owned centre that puts up some of the deportees who return to Honduras. Many, like Cortés, made their way by irregular routes to the US and Mexico to escape the mounting insecurity back home for the young, including threats, extortion, gang violence and executions. Others head north in search of a better life.
The victims are typically aged between 13 and 17, sent back home after being detained by immigration authorities for entering the country without authorization. But a report released last year by UNHCR, entitled "Children on the Run," found that a significant number of minors from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras entering the US irregularly might be in need of international protection.
"We believe that if their cases were further analyzed many would be recognized as refugees with a well-founded fear of persecution and lack of protection in their countries," said Marta Juarez, director of UNHCR's Americas Bureau, who also cited the findings of a fact-finding mission last year to Honduras as further evidence.
UNHCR advises the authorities on the protection of displaced people and their families.
3 explosions kill, wound 27 volunteer soldiers northern Baghdad
On Thursday, a source within the police force said, that 19 elements of the Iraqi Volunteer Forces have been either killed or wounded in three explosions in northern Baghdad.
The source stated to IraqiNews in an interview, “This afternoon, three suicide bombings have taken place in the area of al-Moshahda, targeting a gathering point for the Iraqi Volunteer Forces, also known as al-Hashed al-Sha’bi.,” noting that, “The three explosions resulted in killing 8 fighters and injuring 19 others among the volunteer forces.”
“The security forces blockaded the area of the explosions, while ambulances transferred the dead bodies to the Forensic Medicine Authority and the injured ones to a near hospital to receive medical treatment,” the source added.
@IraqiSMCEn - Iraqi Spring Media Center [29/1/15]:
Anbar: 7 displaced children died and 35 have sever diseases in Bayyar in Amiriyat Al-Fallujah due to the shortage of water and medical care......
Nineveh: A family - including women and children- has been killed in shelling of international coalition aircrafts on Talla'afar district......
Baghdad: Agencies:6 persons have been killed and wounded in a roadside bomb explosion in Yusfiya nahiya south of Baghdad.......
Chief of Defence Staff Tom Lawson says Canada's special forces aren't put into places where they expect to come under fire.
Speaking to MPs at the House foreign affairs committee, Lawson said despite spending 20 per cent of their time near the front lines, the special forces have had to return fire only three times. ...
Death toll in Egypt Sinai attacks rises to 25, over 100 injured
At least 25 people were killed, most of them Egyptian soldiers, when militants fired rockets and set off a car bomb Thursday in the Sinai Peninsula, officials said.
The assault targeted a military base, a nearby
police headquarters and a residential complex for army and police officers in
El-Arish, the provincial capital, as well as a checkpoint in Rafah, on the
border with Gaza, the security and health officials said.
... The office of flagship newspaper Ahram in Al-Arish, located near the targeted police building, was slightly damaged in the attack, office head Ahmed Selim said. ... [Ahram - 30/1/15]
Three American contractors were killed in an apparent "insider attack" at Kabul airport on Thursday, a U.S. defense official told AFP. ... [Naharnet - 29/1/15]
Two former Chilean intelligence officials have been sentenced in the murders of two American citizens shortly after the 1973 coup led by Gen. Augusto Pinochet.
Pedro Espinoza, a retired army intelligence officer, was sentenced to seven years in the killings of the Americans, Frank Teruggi and Charles Horman, while Rafael González, who worked for Chilean Air Force intelligence, was sentenced to two years of police supervision as an accomplice in the Horman murder. ... [New York Times - 29/1/15]
Lawyers called Thursday for a review of the International Criminal Court prosecutor's decision not to investigate the storming by Israel of an aid flotilla that was heading to Gaza.
A team of lawyers representing the government of Comoros filed a request for the court to order Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to reconsider her refusal to launch a probe into the May 31, 2010, storming of one of the vessels in the flotilla, which was sailing under a Comoros flag. ... [ABC News - 29/1/15]
A long-running battle over a Turkish man's denial of the Armenian genocide returned to the European Court of Human Rights on Wednesday. ... [Al Akhbar - 29/1/15]
UN: Over 38,000 Somali Children Facing Starvation [Naharnet – 29/1/15]
A young Dutch-speaking man wielding a pistol forced his way into the studios of the national broadcaster NOS on Thursday demanding to be allowed to go on air, but was quickly arrested, television footage showed. ... [Reuters - 29/1/15]
French police question eight-year-old over terrorism comments
[Guardian – 29/1/15]
At Least 2 Dead, Dozens Injured In Explosion At Mexico City Maternity Hospital [NPR – 29/1/15]
Food supplies low in American Samoa due to US strike [RNZI – 30/1/15]
... Minister Michael Malabag after chairing the second Ministerial TB Taskforce meeting in Parliament House on Tuesday said the increasing infection of drug resistant TB in Daru with a total of 234 including nine health workers warranted an emergency response from the Government. ... [PNG Loop - 29/1/15]
The U.S. Senate passed a bill on Thursday to approve the long-pending Keystone XL oil pipeline, despite the White House saying earlier in the day that President Barack Obama would veto the measure. ... [Reuters - 29/1/15]
ConocoPhillips cuts oil drilling budget again [France 24 – 29/1/15]
“More to life than PCC code’s version of the public interest” Sun editor told police
Hacking Inquiry [29/1/15]:
The executive editor of The Sun told police that there was “more to life” than the “public interest” as defined by Press Complaints Commission code of practice and “If newspapers just dealt with matters of public interest as defined by the PCC code none would be sold, a court heard today.
Fergus Shanahan, 60, made the remarks during recorded police interviews after he was charged in connection over allegations of corrupt payments to public officials. He also told the interviewing officers “since the Leveson inquiry people had been frightened off from ringing in with stories”.
The 2012 interviews were read to a jury trying four Sun journalists, an army officer and his wife at London’s Old Bailey. Asked about his attitude to paying police officers the Shanahan stated “It may be appropriate to pay a public official if it rights a great injustice or puts right a great wrong”.
He also said that while he was always aware it was illegal to pay a police officer with other public officials it was “less clear”.
The court was also read a 1998 staff appraisal of the executive editor which praised his “thrusting” style but added “His arrogance and single-mindedness are a necessary part of the job. However he must be less abrasive”.
Shanahan’s defence barrister later gave the jury a folder of internal News International emails including one from his client to then editor Rebekah Brooks about a conversation he had with Rupert Murdoch.
In the email the executive editor tells Brooks “KRM [Keith Rupert Murdoch] is on a mission again for substance, thinks we are too light”. Brooks replied “No probs”.
In another email to Brooks, Shanahan complains about the Scottish version of The Sun saying “The Record regularly getting the better of us in Scotland, full of verve and energy, Scottish Sun is just English edition with a few court stories, it’s went off the boil”.
In the dock at the trial, which is in its fourth week, are Sun reporters John Kay, Duncan Larcombe, Fergus Shanahan and Geoffrey Webster as well as army officer John Hardy and his wife Claire.
All of the defendants deny all of the charges.
30 January 2015