Good Friday Candlelight Vigil for Saeed Hassanloo:
Saeed is in Royal Perth Hospital, and has been refusing food for some weeks. As we understand it, he would rather die than live in an Australian Immigration Detention Centre.
The ABC has reported the story here ...
It appears that Saeed has been denied adequate care and support inside the detention centre. We understand that he has not had his application for protection assessed, and has not been provided with legal advice.
This is what the Immigration Detention System does to people.
This is a peaceful vigil. We will not impede access to the hospital or do anything that might affect patients' wellbeing.
We will gather at 7.00pm on Good Friday, a day on which Christians commemorate Jesus' execution by a corrupt system.
We will reflect and pray and keep vigil.
Because its all we can do.
Liar and human rights abuser "Fluffy Morrison" still protected and unaccountable ---> Social Services Minister Scott Morrison is strongly indicating he will look at scaling back access to the pension for wealthy Australians as an alternative to the Government's current plan to change the rate of indexation. ... [ABC - 2/4/15]
Australia cages children. [Canberra Times - 2/4/15]:
A school that placed a child with special needs and behavioural issues in a cage-like withdrawal space told parents it had intended it to be a "sanctuary".
ACT Education has suspended a principal and launched an investigation into how a primary school student was placed in the purpose built two-by-two-metres structure made of metal pool fencing.
It is understood the structure within the classroom was built specifically for the student, believed to be a 10-year-old boy with autism, on March 10.
It was dismantled on March 27, the day after the directorate became aware of it. ...
A Queensland woman and her son are at risk of being deported back to the Philippines because of the 10-year-old boy's autism diagnosis.
Townsville nurse Maria Sevilla and her son Tyrone, who have been in Australia for eight years, had a skilled working visa rejected by the Immigration Department because of her son's autism.
Tyrone was diagnosed in 2008.
The letter said Tyrone may be a burden on the taxpayer if he becomes a citizen later in life.
The Townsville Hospital nurse has appealed to the Migration Review Tribunal but it too has rejected the application.
Because the application was rejected they could be deported in 28 days.
"I hope I'm not considered as a burden. I'm trying my best to work for Tyrone's future," Ms Sevilla said.
Texas: Women in immigration detention begin Holy Week hunger strike [My San Antonio - 31/3/15]:
About 25 women held at the Karnes Family Detention Camp have started a Holy Week hunger strike, seeking the release of themselves and their children, according to Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, a community organization that provides free legal services to underserved immigrants and refugees.
At least 80 women began the fast yesterday, according to RAICES, but that number fell after three women were held in isolation with their children in the detention center’s clinic. Two families have since been released.
“We deserve to be treated with some dignity and that our rights, to the immigration process, are respected,” reads a letter from the women, in part, that was released at a news conference today.
The women say their children aren’t eating well in confinement and that “their health is deteriorating.” Some of the women and children have been in the camp nearly a year.
Allegations of children losing weight, in part because they’re unfamiliar with U.S. food, have plagued family detention centers in the past, and ICE has denied that those in Karnes were losing weight.
ICE said Tuesday afternoon that it’s not aware of any residents participating in the hunger strike, but said the agency is investigating whether a member of a nonprofit encouraged detainees to stop eating out of protest.
The Geo Group Inc., which operates the facility, similarly provided a statement similar to one it gave in February, when Karnes County employees were absolved of allegations of sexual misconduct with detainees by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General:
“The Karnes County Residential Center provides high quality care in a safe, clean, and family friendly environment, and onsite U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) personnel provide direct oversight to ensure compliance with ICE's Family Residential Standards. Our company has consistently, strongly denied allegations to the contrary. Earlier this year, the findings of a comprehensive investigation conducted by the Office of the Inspector General corroborated the unfounded and unsubstantiated nature of prior allegations. Since its activation, the Karnes County Residential Center has, under direction and guidance from ICE, created an open and transparent policy of allowing visits to the Center by the public, elected local and national officials, federal officials from ICE and other government agencies, as well as nongovernmental organizations.”
Immigration officials began detaining families from Central America at the Karnes County center in the summer, after tens of thousands of women and children from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras crossed the border in the Rio Grande Valley last year and claimed asylum.
A federal judge earlier this year struck down ICE’s policy of holding families without bond, but advocates said the bonds being granted, some as high as $15,000, are prohibitively high.
Syria: UN agency warns violence near refugee camp endangering thousands of Palestinians
UN Media Release [1/4/15]:
Fierce fighting has erupted between armed groups in the area of Yarmouk, a camp of Syrian and Palestinian refugees, putting thousands of people in danger, warned the spokesperson of the United Nations agency tasked with the ensuring the well-being of Palestinians across the Middle East.
“UNRWA is extremely concerned about the safety and protection of Syrian and Palestinian civilians in the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk in Damascus, where since early afternoon today, intensive armed conflict has been ongoing between armed groups present in the area,” Chris Gunness, spokesperson for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), said in a statement.
UNRWA is demanding all parties respect and comply with their obligations to ensure the protection of civilians in the camp and called for an end to the fighting and a return to conditions that will enable its staff to support and assist Yarmouk's civilians.
Some 18,000 civilians, including some 3,500 children, reside in Yarmouk and are at extreme risk of death, serious injury, trauma and displacement, said Mr. Gunness.
“The intense armed clashes put these children at risk of serious injury and death. The lives of these children must be protected,” he added, emphasizing that people have “suffered enough during Syria’s pitiless conflict.”
Earlier this week, on Tuesday at a donors’ conference in Kuwait, governments pledged a total of $3.8 dollars to help the millions of people affected by the four-year Syria war, including Palestinian refugees.
Billy Gordon 'deserves natural justice': Katter
Brisbane Times [2/4/15]:
... But Katter's Australian Party state leader Rob Katter said Mr Gordon, who has been recovering from eye surgery this week, had a right to natural justice.
"Let the judicial process take its course," he said.
"We'll be seeking to work with him on the cross benches, as long as he remains there, simply to advance the cause of rural and regional Queensland.
"That's our focus and we're not deviating from that."
... Cairns MP Rob Pyne, who has been in regular contact with Mr Gordon, said the past week had been "pretty draining" on the Cook MP, who also underwent a serious eye operation on Tuesday.
Speaking with ABC News, Mr Pyne said he backed Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk's move to oust him from the party and that he would also like to see Mr Gordon stay in on Parliament.
"I think it was fair for people to ask for Billy's resignation and he has paid a price," he said.
But, Mr Pyne said Mr Gordon has turned his life around and should be given a chance to serve the people of Cook.
"What I would like to see is Billy Gordon show the community that the man that I've come to know over the last few years, a hard-working man who wants to represent some of the most disadvantaged members of the community, is really sincere about working hard for his electorate, so I would like him to complete his term as the Member for Cook," he said.
"What message does it send if we condemn Billy Gordon? I think it sends a message that 'well, don't worry, no matter how hard you try, your past is always going to come and grab you and pull you back'.
"That's not a message I want to be sending young people."
Federal Court recognises Gangalidda, Garawa Peoples' native title
North West Star [1/4/15]:
A Federal Court decision has recognised the Gangalidda and Garawa Peoples’ native title rights and interests of about 9350 square kilometres of land and waters around Burketown in the Gulf of Carpentaria.
State Development and Natural Resources and Mines Minister Dr Anthony Lynham was in Burketown for the formal ceremony on Wednesday and said it was a huge achievement for the Gangalidda and Garawa people.
The native title decision will pave the way for indigenous people to own their own homes and boost their chances of jobs in the area.
This decision will allow the Gangalidda and Garawa people the rights of possession, occupation, use and enjoyment over about 1779 square kilometres of land.
However, they have non-exclusive rights to another 7479 square kilometres that will allow them to access the land in accordance with their traditional law.
Queensland's Health Minister announces business as usual as dismantling of the public health system continues
Minister for Health and Minister for Ambulance Services Media Release
Minister for Health Cameron Dick has welcomed the appointment of Rachel Hunter to complete the future state realignment process commenced under the LNP.
This work will result in advice on the governance, organisational structure and capability gaps within the Department of Health.
The Future State Alignment Review project began under the former government and was designed to examine the Department of Health’s efficiency and effectiveness under the operational environment set out in the Health and Hospital Boards Act (Qld) 2011.
“Queensland needs a Department of Health that is structured for the next generation of health reform so it can function effectively to maintain front line services, deliver on patient safety and support innovation,” Mr Dick said.
“I have asked the acting Director-General Dr Michael Cleary to ensure staff remain fully informed and have appropriate avenues to express their ideas and opinions.
“Staff will have opportunities to participate in the review to shape the future of the department.”
A final report will completed by June 2015.
Ms Hunter retired from her position as Director-General of the Department of Justice and Attorney-General in 2010.
She has been the Director-General of the Department of Education, Training and the Arts, and Queensland's Public Service Commissioner.
She has also served as Chair of TAFE Queensland.
Since her retirement Ms Hunter has conducted a number of capability reviews for the Australian Government, including a review of the Commonwealth Department of Health.
Gas bottle explodes in Bunnings carpark
Gladstone Observer [2/4/15]:
QFES said a gas bottle was on fire when they arrived, while two others had been removed from the area.
The gas bottles were on the family's trailer, as they were packing to go on holidays.
2.34PM: QAS were called to the scene at 2pm after reports surfaced a gas cylinder had exploded.
The owner of the vehicle's son, a 25-year-old male, was transported to hospital in a stable condition, suffering from symptoms of shock.
POLICE are stopping traffic into the Bunnings Gladstone carpark after a gas bottle explosion.
The area, on the corner of Dawson Hwy and Harvey Rd, was being evacuated and the entrances closed off.
Gunman 'had obsession with weapons'
Chilling details have emerged about a Queensland man who police believe shot and killed his father and wounded a family friend, before turning the gun on himself.
The bodies of Tim McNaughton and his 53-year-old father Greg McNaughton were found at The Caves, north of Rockhampton on Tuesday evening.
A third man, Lindsay Hart, was also shot but managed to escape the apparent murder-suicide.
Police say the trio had been on a recreational target shooting trip when it turned to tragedy.
Photos uncovered on Tim's Facebook page appear to reveal his obsession with guns.
The 24-year-old obtained his firearm licence in the Northern Terrirtory in 2012.
He uploaded a photo of it on social media with the caption: ‘Mwahahaha do the(y) *sic realise what they have just done.'
Australia kills everything: Two people have been charged as investigations deepen into the discovery of a mass dog grave in Queensland containing the carcasses of more than 50 greyhounds. … [SBS – 2/4/15]
Racist train rant teenager bailed after 69 days served for skate park brawl
"Pull your head in" - that's the advice a Brisbane magistrate has given a teenager unable to stay out of trouble since allegedly racially abusing a security guard.
Abdel-Kader Russell-Boumzar shot to notoriety last October when footage of him spread across the internet apparently spitting on Josphat Mkhwananzi while racially abusing him on a Brisbane train.
The 17-year-old was charged with a string of offences, including serious assault, creating a disturbance and racial vilification.
Since then he's been accused of repeatedly breaching his bail by flashing his backside at a young boy, being drunk in public during Schoolies' week, being a public nuisance and becoming involved in a brawl at a skate park.
Russell-Boumzar was denied bail in January after the skate park incident but will now walk free after 69 days behind bars with Magistrate Deborah Vasta deciding on Thursday he had learned his lesson.
"You need to pull your head in," she told the teenager, who has been a target in prison.
"Running around being a big man in town does not cut it when you're in a detention centre."
Russell-Boumzar replied: "I really understand".
Magistrate Vasta said it seemed he'd "gone off the rails" with a "stupid meltdown" on the train.
She said Russell-Boumzar was currently "public enemy number one" and warned him he would be targeted once released on bail.
"The ball's in your court," she told him.
The teen must abide by strict conditions, including a curfew, a ban on entering train stations, and no contact with certain associates including the friend who filmed the racist rant.
The decision to release Russell-Boumzar came despite a warning by crown prosecutor Megan Fowke.
"He is a risk, not only to himself but to the community he has shown disdain for not only his bail conditions but also this court and its orders," she argued.
Russell-Boumzar is back in Brisbane Magistrates Court on May 4 for charges relating to the train incident.
Teenage hacker raided by AFP, ordered to surrender passwords
The home of an infamous teenage computer hacker, known online as Abdilo, has been searched by Australian law enforcement authorities in a pre-dawn raid.
As reported in January by the ABC, Abdilo regularly boasted of his hacking exploits online — claiming responsibility for breaching the systems of Australian travel insurance company Aussie Travel Cover.
Technology security experts described the hack as one of the largest privacy breaches in Australian history.
He also claimed he was responsible for hacking into a website run by the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), local government websites and Australian universities.
In February thousands of students from the University of Sydney received an email from the dean of the arts and social science faculty to notify them that, due to a security breach, their personal information may have been compromised.
An AFP spokesperson confirmed to the ABC search warrants were recently executed in Queensland as part of an "ongoing investigation" into the hacking incidents.
The police would not comment further, saying the investigation is still ongoing.
The ABC learnt of the raids via Abdilo, who is known online under other pseudonyms such as Notavirus, Surivaton and Grey Hat Mafia's Bitch.
It was his Grey Hat Mafia's Bitch account that he used to post a message to a public online discussion board known as Hack Forums that he had been served the warrant.
"When I got raided I was served a 3LA order to hand over my passwords," he wrote.
Under the Crimes Act, Section 3LA gives police the ability to get an order from a magistrate that compels a suspect to give police their passwords and decryption keys.
If the person served the order refuses, the maximum penalty is up to two years jail.
Workforce slashed as mining downturn hits hard
A Toowoomba construction firm is moving fast to broaden its main client-base in an attempt to ride out a downturn in the mining and coal seam gas sectors.
Pritab, which was started by Darren Cardiff in 2011, initially turned heads in the resource sector with its trailer-mounted mobile camps.
At its peak, the company employed more than 120 people.
However, a slowdown in mining and coal seam gas projects in the Surat Basin and across Queensland has forced the company to reduce its workforce to between 12-15 staff.
But Mr Cardiff said Pritab was far from a spent force.
He said a core group of skilled workers had been retained so that the company could continue to operate and immediately respond when the resource sector recovered.
"We want to be ready when it comes time to ramp up again," he said.
Mr Cardiff said the company was currently exploring industry sectors other than mining.
"We've kept that core group of skilled workers so we can maintain our capabilities and we're looking around at the moment to see where those capabilities can be best used," he said.
Business as usual as Queensland government turns it on for gas industry in the Surat [Media Release – 1/4/15]
Work death accused to fight charge
A Toowoomba man charged in relation to a workplace death in the city is to fight a charge of failing to comply with a health and safety duty.
A representative of Workplace Health and Safety told Toowoomba Magistrates Court that it was his understanding Jameson Nathan Boon, 22, intended pleading not guilty to the charge.
He therefore asked for an adjournment of the case to prepare for a future hearing.
Boon has not been required to enter any plea to the charge and was not in court for the brief mention of the matter but had legal representation.
The charge arises from the death of Sherrin Rentals employee Simon Poxon who died from injuries sustained in an industrial accident at the company's Hillman St, Torrington, work site on February 26, 2013.
Initial investigations at the time suggested Mr Poxon, 47, had been caught between a truck and a cherry picker about 12.45pm that day.
He sustained significant injuries to his head, legs and groin and was rushed to Toowoomba Hospital but unfortunately died a short time later.
Mr Boon is believed to have been the driver of one of the vehicles involved that day.
Magistrate Bruce Schemioneck adjourned the case for hearing mention back in the same court on April 17.
Truck and bobcat crash into Wandal home
Morning Bulletin [2/4/15]:
At 7.50am this morning emergency service crews were called to a residence on the corner of Meade and Charlotte St in Wandal where a large truck carrying a bobcat on its trailer had crashed into the front yard of the property.
Nicole, a resident in Charlotte St said she heard a loud cracking sound when she was getting her son ready for school.
"I was inside getting ready for the morning and I heard this big crack, it sounded like a tree falling or a fence breaking," she said.
"I opened the window and saw a bobcat smashed into the fence of the house opposite me and then I saw a truck on its side and with a trailer pushed into the front fence. It's really lucky the home owners weren't out in the front yard or on the front deck because the truck only just missed the deck.
"The truck was in park up on the hill in Meade St and apparently the breaks were on but the slant of the street is quiet deceiving so the trucks just slid straight down the road but luckily no one was hurt."
Update: Abduction, Kallangur
QPS Media [2/4/15]:
Police investigating the abduction of an 18-year-old woman in Caboolture on Tuesday March 31 have located a vehicle they had been searching for.
The vehicle, a silver 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander was located by police on Kift Street in Kallangar shortly after 11.15am this morning.
Since her disappearance, police have received information that Billy-Anne Huxham has made contact with a family member.
Police are continuing to make follow-up inquiries regarding her whereabouts and are still appealing for anyone with information which could assist with the matter to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
Investigations are continuing.
Officer suspended, South Eastern Region
QPS Media [2/4/15]:
On Wednesday 1 April 2015, a Constable of South Eastern Region was suspended from the Queensland Police Service.
The suspension action relates to allegations that whilst off duty the officer has driven her private vehicle in a dangerous manner.
This matter is consequently subject of criminal proceedings before the courts of Queensland.
In keeping with our commitment to high standards of behaviour, transparency and accountability, we undertake to inform the public when an officer faces disciplinary processes involving stand down or suspension.
This does not mean that any allegation against the officer has been substantiated
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.
Alice Springs pedestrian killed after being struck by car near site of dismantled crossing
A female pedestrian has died in Alice Springs after being struck by a car near the site of a road crossing that had been dismantled last year after operating for one year.
The woman died at about 8:00pm after she was hit first by one car and then struck again by a second as she lay in the road.
The accident happened on a stretch of highway south of The Gap near Commonage Road that has seen a number of near misses in recent years.
In 2013, a pedestrian crossing costing almost $400,000 was installed with Federal and Northern Territory Government money, only to be removed a year later after residents complained it was making the area more dangerous.
"Unfortunately, when the first vehicle has struck her he has pulled over and done a U-turn to go back," Duty Superintendent Helen Braam said.
"But by the time he's come back another vehicle has travelled behind and also struck the victim."
Police said the woman was wearing a dark t-shirt and dark tracksuit pants and they believe she came from the neighbouring Little Sisters Town Camp.
The drivers of the two cars stayed at the scene to help after the accident.
"She may have been walking through The Gap as well," Superintendent Travis Wurst said.
"We don't entirely know. Any information that people have to assist in directing our investigation would be appreciated."
Gunmen attack Garissa university in north-east Kenya
Al Jazeera [2/4/15]:
Masked gunmen have attacked a university in the town of Garissa in northern Kenya, police said, as ongoing gunfire could be heard from the university premises.
Witnesses said explosion and heavy gunfire rocked Garissa University College early on Thursday, and ambulances were already at the scene.
Local media reported that the gunmen have taken hostages inside the complex after raiding the university.
The attack on the university facility began at dawn, Alinoor Moulid, a freelance journalist based in Garissa, told Al Jazeera.
"According to some of the students who escaped, there are around five gunmen and they entered the university dormitory while students were sleeping," Moulid told Al Jazeera.
"It is hard to tell [about casualties] because the area is now cordoned off, and it is heavily guarded," he added.
"At the moment, I can hear sirens, and at some point I could hear an exchange of gunfire."
Garissa University College (GUC), the only public institution of higher learning in the region, opened its doors in 2011 for about 450 students, according to the institution's website.
The university is situated in Garissa County in
the northeastern region of Kenya, about 380km from Nairobi, the capital.
Dozens dead after Russian trawler sinks
Al Jazeera [2/4/15]:
At least 54 people have died after a Russian freezer trawler sank off the Kamchatka peninsula at Russia's eastern edge, an officer at a maritime rescue coordination centre in the area said.
Viktor Klepikov, coordinating captain of the Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky maritime rescue coordination centre, said that there were 132 people on board the Dalniy Vostok freezer trawler. He said 63 people had been rescued.
"All in all 106 people have been taken aboard the ships participating in the rescue operation," an officer on duty at the local maritime rescue coordination centre, Russian state news agency TASS reported earlier on Thursday.
"Twenty-six fishing vessels are already involved in the operation".
Drifting ice may have torn a hole in the vessel, the BBC reported, citing Russian emergency services.
Water flooded the engine compartment and the trawler sank within 15 minutes.
The home port of the trawler, which was owned by Magellan LLC, was Nevelsk in Russia's Sakhalin region.
TASS reported earlier that there were 78 Russian nationals on board, as well as 54 foreign nationals from Myanmar, Ukraine, Lithuania and Vanuatu.
Micronesians Appeal for Help after Devastating Typhoon
Residents in storm wrecked areas of Micronesia appealed for help Thursday as a clean up began on the worst affected islands after Super Typhoon Maysak swept through the region on its way towards the Philippines.
"We can do with all the help we can get," Courtney Stinnett at the Truk Stop Hotel dive shop on the main island of Weno in Chuuk state told Agence France Presse.
A state of emergency has been declared in Chuuk, the largest region in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) where five people were killed and houses and crops destroyed by Maysak.
The super typhoon took three days to cross the central Pacific archipelago before heading out to sea and towards the Philippines, but relief workers said it could be a year before some land was restored enough to plant crops again.
"The storm ripped the iron roofs off houses. About 95 percent of the homes were damaged," Stinnett said, adding that residents were
gathering scattered sheets of iron to hastily make their wrecked homes rainproof.
"There are fallen trees and you can't get through many back roads," she said.
"There are two live aboards (vessels) which have significant damage after being swept on to the reef. The crew had to jump off and swim to land. Quite a few were injured but all survived."
The Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) sent an aircraft to survey the damage on Ulithi atoll which was hit hard when the eye of the storm passed over on Tuesday night with sustained winds of 260 kilometres per hour (160 mph).
Most concrete structures withstood the fury but everything else was damaged, PMA Pacific administrator Melinda Espinosa said in an email.
"Because Ulithi is just a little above sea level, in some areas the sea rose, destroying crops and the soil. It will take time to desalinate the soil -- approximately a year until the crops can be re-planted," she said.
In Chuuk, Stinnett said they were reliant on ships to bring in relief supplies but they may first be diverted to the many small islands where residents lost their boats and had no way of going for help.
On neighboring Guam, the Bank of Guam and the Ayuda Foundation have teamed up to prepare medical packages which will either be air dropped or delivered by boat to the worst hit islands.
"We are saddened to learn of the deaths and devastation to our neighboring islands and send our support for a speedy recovery," Bank of Guam President Lou Leon Guerrero said.
The Guam weather office said the maximum sustained winds of Maysak had decreased to 140 miles per hour by Thursday and it would continue to weaken before hitting the Philippines at the weekend.
The typhoon is expected to hit the northern Philippines late Saturday or early Sunday as millions of Filipinos enjoy the Easter weekend holiday.
Last month, Cyclone Pam slammed into the Pacific nation of Vanuatu, leaving 11 dead.
The Age [2/4/15]:
Human rights lawyer George Newhouse has won his defamation case against controversial News Corp blogger Andrew Bolt.
In the NSW Supreme Court on Thursday, Justice Lucy McCallum ordered a verdict for Mr Newhouse and said News Corp was to pay his legal costs.
The terms of the order - agreed to by both parties - requires the article to be taken down from News Corp's various online sites. Other terms of the settlement are confidential.
Mr Newhouse sued over an opinion piece written by Bolt on July 10, 2014, which carried the headline "Fearmongers' hateful fraud" in The Herald Sun.
It was also published in The Daily Telegraph, The Courier Mail and The Advertiser.
In it, Bolt claimed Mr Newhouse was part of the "refugee lobby", which, he said, had fraudulently asserted that certain Sri Lankan people who had arrived by boat in Australia were genuine asylum seekers.
Call for genuine good order in immigration detention [Refugee Council of Australia - 2/4/15]:
... While the aim of this Bill is to maintain the “good” order of Australia’s immigration detention facilities, it fails to address the real problems with our detention system. It does nothing to prevent prolonged indefinite detention or the cruel and unnecessary detention of children. ...
Proposed legislation formalises guidelines for violence against refugees in Australian concentration camps. [New Matilda - 15/3/15]
Migration Amendment (Maintaining the Good Order of Immigration Detention Facilities) Bill 2015:
On 3 March 2015, the Senate referred the Migration Amendment (Maintaining the Good Order of Immigration Detention Facilities) Bill 2015 to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee for inquiry and report.
The closing date for submissions is 7 April 2015. The reporting date is 12 May 2015.
"We are 58 people, they beat the shit out of all of us" #Manus [January 2015]
Easter week in Malaga
One of the most moving moments occurs on Good Friday in the Plaza de Arriola square, when the nuns of the convent of La Cruz sing to the Brotherhood of Los Dolores de San Juan.
Among the most famous features of the Easter week celebrations in Malaga are the great processional thrones. This event is also famous for the freeing of a prisoner, a tradition dating from the reign of Charles III, when prisoners in Malaga, as a protest against the suspension of the Easter week processions due to an epidemic, mutinied and broke open the prison doors in order to carry the statue of Jesús Nazareno out onto the streets on their shoulders. Once the image had been restored to the church, all the prisoners returned to their cells. This event reached the ears of the monarch who conferred on the image, since then known as 'Jesús el Rico' (Christ the rich man), the privilege of releasing a prisoner every year.
This procession takes place on Easter Wednesday, and the traditional act of amnesty is one of the fiesta's most unusual moments. It takes place at 8.30pm, close to Plaza de la Aduana square: the edict of liberation is read to the prisoner in a solemn ceremony. Kneeling before the statue, he/she receives the blessing from 'Jesús el Rico' – the statue has an articulated arm. Later, the prisoner accompanies the procession on its way through the city.
Easter Week is one of the most spectacular and emotional festivities in these parts. Religious devotion, art, colour and music combine in the commemorative acts of the death of Jesus Christ: the processions. Members of the different religious brotherhoods, dressed in their typical robes, parade through the streets carrying the floats bearing religious statues (known as pasos), accompanied by the beat of drums and music, to produce scenes of sober beauty.
The North West Point immigration detention centre on Christmas Island is on heightened alert following a spike in the number of asylum seekers deemed to be “high risk”.
Guardian Australia understands the private contractor Serco has raised the overall risk assessment of the centre to medium.
There have been a number of self-harm incidents – mostly relating to threats of harm – that led to the change, after a sudden influx of new arrivals from other detention centres.
Almost half of the asylum seekers at North West Point are now considered “high risk”, while a third are considered “medium risk”.
Up to eight people have self harmed in the past week at Darwin’s Wickham Point immigration detention centre, at least four of whom had to be taken to hospital.
One man was “close to death” before he was found, said Ben Pynt, a spokesman for the Darwin Asylum Seeker Support and Advocacy Network (DASSAN).
Pynt told Guardian Australia the details of several incidents, including one in front of a member of staff at the centre. Pynt said he had spoken to a number of the detainees and had been told of other incidents by fellow detainees.
At least one woman who self-harmed had learned of a scheduled transfer of detainees last Thursday “and decided she’d rather die than go to Nauru”, said Pynt. He said most had come to Darwin from Nauru and were fearful of returning.
A group of immigration detainees involved in recent protests or deemed "high risk" have been moved to Perth's maximum security Casuarina prison.
Six men were transferred from the Yongah Hill centre, 96 kilometres north-east of Perth, to the jail after rooftop protests last month.
They are understood to comprise five asylum seekers and an Egyptian man, with children living in Perth, facing possible deportation after serving prison time for fraud offences.
Three of the asylum seekers are from Iran. The men are believed to have been assessed as high risk and no longer suitable to be kept at Yongah Hill, which was set up to house low-risk detainees.
Although the men have not been charged, they are being held at Casuarina because the Migration Act allows immigration detention at a state or Commonwealth prison or remand centre.
Refugee Rights Action Network WA [2/4/15]:
A RRANer has been into Casuarina Prison on Monday to see some of these men.
They are being held without charge or trial in solitary confinement in 23 hour / day lockdown.
They have been held in that condition since march 20th and are now psychologically broken.
They are distressed, cannot comprehend how they can be treated this way EVEN THOUGH CHARGED WITH NO CRIME and have begged for legal assistance.
A lawyer was finally found yesterday.
Their treatment and the harm done to them is a disgrace.
Australia's protected and unaccountable Minister for Immigration Peter Dutton free to maintain his silence re travel restrictions placed on exiled Manus refugee Reza Mollagholipour
If Dutton does not release Saeed Hassanloo he will be responsible for yet another refugee death [ABC - 1/4/15]:
The fate of an 25-year-old asylum seeker Saeed Hassanloo is unclear as he remains near death in a Perth hospital.
Mr Hassanloo has been on a hunger strike for 38 days, and was transferred from Yongah Hill Immigration Detention Centre to Royal Perth Hospital on March 10.
The Iranian asylum seeker has been held in detention centres in Melbourne, Darwin, Perth, and Northam over the past four-and-a-half years.
Victoria Martin spoke to ABC 720's Geoff Hutchison on behalf of the Refugee Rights Action Network.
Ms Martin visits Yongah Hill detention centre on a weekly basis, and spoke to some of Mr Hassanloo's friends in the facility yesterday.
"They are very concerned for him, and of course they are also very concerned at what it says about the Department of Immigration, that they would let a man die rather than reconsider his options for staying in Australia," she said.
Mr Hassanloo's condition worsened over the weekend when he stopped drinking water.
On Saturday morning, his brother – who came to Australia with Mr Hassanloo and had not been separated from him at any point – was removed from Yongah Hill and sent to the Christmas Island Immigration Detention Centre.
Mr Hassanloo's friends told Ms Martin that after his brother was removed, "he got so upset that he stopped drinking water".
During their time in detention, the brothers had their claims for asylum rejected and were told to return to Iran.
"The problem that the Iranians have is that if they fail their asylum claim, the Australian government is unable to forcibly remove them because Iran will not accept forced removal," Ms Martin said.
Mr Hassanloo is refusing to return to Iran, and Ms Martin says that he believes he will be tortured and possibly killed.
"I think the very fact that he is prepared to put his life and health at risk essentially proves his refugee claim," Ms Martin said.
Dr Peter Young spent three years as the Mental Health Services Director for IHMS, the service provider for immigration detention centres.
He told the ABC that hunger strikes are common in detention, but it is rare for them to progress to this stage.
"People undertake this kind of protest when they feel so desperate because there is no other way out of their situation," he said.
"It is the most desperate act you can take, when you take action against your own body, to be heard."
Dr Young says that it is important for Mr Hassanloo to be treated in hospital rather than in detention, where he can be looked after by "people who are independent of the Department of Immigration".
Mr Hassanloo has been deemed to be sound of mind, meaning that legally he has a right to accept or refuse treatment.
The Guardian Australia reported today that he has signed an advanced care directive stating that he does not want to be resuscitated in the event of his condition worsening.
"To impose upon somebody a treatment which they in sound mind refuse is considered to be a type of assault," Dr Young said.
Ms Martin says there is nobody looking after Mr Hassanloo's interests.
"There is no-one that is really able to offer any solution to this cohort of asylum seekers – people who have failed their refugee claims through a process that is not fair, not transparent, and as we have seen in this case – clearly not accurate," she said.
"If somebody could go home, they would go home rather than starve themselves to death."
ABC 720 requested an update on Mr Hassaloo's condition and received a statement from the Department of Immigration stating that he is "receiving the most appropriate care possible".
Nearly 200 organisations outline concern for UN over Australia’s declining human rights performance
Human Rights Law Centre Media Release [1/4/15]:
Australia’s steadily deteriorating human rights performance has been highlighted in a major report compiled by nearly 200 organisations around Australia.
It will be presented to the United Nation’s peak human rights body in the lead up to a major review of Australia that takes place every four years.
Emma Golledge, Acting Director at Kingsford Legal Centre, which is part of a NGO Coalition that has prepared the joint NGO report for the process known as the “Universal Periodic Review”, said it was an important opportunity for Australia to engage with the international community to improve issues of concern.
“Increasingly punitive asylum seeker policies, the over-imprisonment of Aboriginal people and the erosion of basic democratic freedoms at both the state and federal level will all come under the spotlight for the international community’s scrutiny, and our hope is that Australia will see the benefit of constructively responding to criticism and addressing these important issues,” said Ms Golledge.
Australia was last reviewed by the Human Rights Council in 2011, and NGOs welcomed the Government’s acceptance of a large number of recommendations and its commitment to translate them into practical action. However, four years on, NGOs are concerned that progress has stalled and key recommendations have fallen by the wayside.
“While we have seen some positive developments in response to recommendations made as part of the last review, including for example the appointment of a federal Children’s Commissioner and the adoption of a second action plan under the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children, the facts speak for themselves—only 11% of the recommendations have been fully implemented,” said Amanda Alford, Deputy Director Policy & Advocacy, National Association of Community Legal Centres, who also coordinated the report.
Legal and institutional protection of human rights is a large focus of the report as are the new counter-terror, metadata, whistleblower and anti-protest laws, said the Human Rights Law Centre’s Director of Advocacy, Anna Brown, another coordinator of the report.
“Australia remains the only liberal democracy without a bill or charter of rights and we are witnessing a slow but steady erosion of our basic democratic freedoms. In this context, restrictions on the ability of independent organisations to speak out about human rights violations is cause for growing concern,” said Ms Brown.
The report deals with a number of key population groups and human rights issues, including the following areas.
This violent racism has been greenlighted by Australia's political and media establishment
West Australian [2/4/15]:
A 51-year-old Cloverdale woman will face court next week charged over a heated and allegedly racial argument over noisy children.
The woman was charged by police prior to the video being uploaded by the woman’s neighbours on Facebook on Tuesday afternoon.
It was about 1pm on Saturday when a verbal argument broke out between the neighbours over the level of noise created by children playing in a driveway.
The first video shows the woman allegedly using several derogatory terms including monkey and jungle bunny towards the group.
The young children are then heard to be confused and upset and ask the adults what they’ve been called.
The second video features the Cloverdale woman allegedly threatening the group with an iron bar when they attempt to disarm her.
“Touch me, you’re gutted, you yellow eyed motherf***er!,
“Now go back to where you come from you black f***ers. Get out of this place, nobody wants you and that f***ing monkey,” she is alleged to have said.
The incident continues to escalate and the woman is injured, bleeding from a cut above her right eye.
Police allege she assaulted a 31-year-old man and a 29-year-old woman in the fracas.
The woman was charged with assault, going armed in public as to cause fear, disorderly conduct and conduct likely to racially harass.
“I’m not a racist, I believe in living and let live but these days you are a nothing if you’re an Aussie,” she said.
“The climate in society today is dictating that I am a minority in my own country and if that makes me a racist well then I must be but I don’t believe myself to be a racist, I have many friends from many different countries,” she said.
The woman is scheduled to appear in Perth Magistrate’s Court on April 8.
How the Murdoch press keeps Australia's dirty secret, John Pilger [12/5/11]:
The illegal eavesdropping on famous people by the News of the World is said to be Rupert Murdoch’s Watergate. But is it the crime by which Murdoch ought to be known? In his native land, Australia, Murdoch controls 70 per cent of the capital city press. Australia is the world’s first murdochracy, in which smear by media is power.
The most enduring and insidious Murdoch campaign has been against the Aboriginal people, who were dispossessed by the arrival of the British in the late 18th century and have never been allowed to recover. “Nigger hunts” continued into the 1960s and beyond. The officially-inspired theft of children from Aboriginal families, justified by the racist theories of the eugenics movement, produced those known as the Stolen Generation and in 1997 was identified as genocide. Today, the first Australians have the shortest life expectancy of any of the world’s 90 indigenous peoples. Australia imprisons Aborigines at five times the rate South Africa during the apartheid years. In the state of Western Australia, the figure is eight times the apartheid rate.
Political power in Australia often rests in the control of resource-rich land. Most of the uranium, iron ore, gold, oil and natural gas is in Western Australia and Northern Territory – on Aboriginal land. Indeed, Aboriginal “progress” is all but defined by the mining industry and its political guardians in both Labor and coalition (conservative) governments. Their faithful, strident voice is the Murdoch press. The exceptional, reformist Labor government of Gough Whitlam in the 1970s set up a royal commission that made clear that social justice for Australia’s first people would only be achieved with universal land rights and a share the national wealth with dignity. In 1975, Whitlam was sacked by the governor-general in a “constitutional coup”. The Murdoch press had turned on Whitlam with such venom that rebellious journalists on The Australian burned their newspaper in the street.
In 1984, the Labor Party “solemnly pledged” to finish what Whitlam had begun and legislate Aboriginal land rights. This was opposed by the then Labor prime minister, Bob Hawke, a “mate” of Rupert Murdoch. Hawke blamed the public for being “less compassionate”; but a secret 64-page report to the party revealed that most Australians supported land rights. This was leaked to The Australian, whose front page declared, “Few support Aboriginal land rights”, the opposite of the truth, thus feeding an atmosphere of self-fulfilling distrust, “backlash” and rejection of rights that would distinguish Australia from South Africa. In 1988, an editorial in Murdoch’s London tabloid, the Sun, described “the Abos” as “treacherous and brutal”. This was condemned by the UK Press Council as “unacceptably racist”.
The Australian publishes long articles that present Aboriginal people not unsympathetically but as perennial victims of each other, “an entire culture committing suicide”, or as noble primitives requiring firm direction: the eugenicist’s view. It promotes Aboriginal “leaders” who, by blaming their own people for their poverty, tell the white elite what it wants to hear. The writer Michael Brull parodied this: “Oh White man, please save us. Take away our rights because we are so backward.”
This is also the government’s view. In railing against what it called the “black armband view” of Australia’s past, the conservative government of John Howard encouraged and absorbed the views of white supremacists -- that there was no genocide, no Stolen Generation, no racism; indeed, whites are the victims of “liberal racism”. A collection of far-right journalists, minor academics and hangers-on became the antipodean equivalent of David Irving Holocaust deniers. Their platform has been the Murdoch press.
Andrew Bolt, columnist on Murdoch’s Melbourne Herald-Sun tabloid, is currently the defendant in a racial vilification case brought by nine prominent Aborigines, including Larissa Behrendt, a professor of law and indigenous studies in Sydney. Behrendt has been an authoritative and outspoken opponent of Howard’s 2007 “emergency intervention” in the Northern Territory, which the Labor government of Julia Gillard has reinforced. The rationale to “intervene” was that child abuse among Aborigines was in “unthinkable numbers”. This was a fraud. Out of 7,433 Aboriginal children examined by doctors, four possible cases were identified – about the rate of child abuse in white Australia. What this covered was an old-fashioned colonial grab of mineral-rich land in the Northern Territory where Aboriginal land rights were granted in 1976.
The Murdoch press has been the most lurid and vociferous in its promotion of the “intervention”, which a United Nations special rapporteur has condemned for its racial discrimination. Once again, Australian politicians are dispossessing the first inhabitants, demanding leasehold of land in return for health and education rights that whites take for granted and driving them into “economically viable hubs” where they will be effectively detained -- a form of apartheid.
The outrage and despair of most Aboriginal people is not heard. For using her institutional voice and exposing the government’s black supporters, Larissa Behrendt has been subjected to a vicious campaign of innuendo in the Murdoch press, including the implication that she is not a “real” Aborigine. Using the language of its soulmate the London Sun, the Australian derides the “abstract debate” of “land rights, apologies, treaties” as a “moralizing mumbo-jumbo spreading like a virus”. The aim is to silence those who dare tell Australia’s dirty secret.
Man dies in three-car crash, Jimboomba
A 73-year-old man has been killed in a three-car crash in southeast Queensland.
Police say the Logan Village man died after the crash at the intersection of Camp Cable Road and the Mount Lindesay Highway at Jimboomba early on Wednesday evening.
No one else involved in the crash was seriously injured.
The intersection was closed for over three hours while vehicles were removed from the scene.
Man stabbed to death in Carole Park industrial park
A 23-year-old man has died from multiple stab wounds at a busy industrial park in Brisbane's south-west.
Police were tipped off by a member of the public and found the man still alive in Cobalt Street at Carole Park just before 3:00am this morning.
Officers administered CPR but the man died at the scene.
Detective Inspector Lew Strohfeldt said the man suffered a number of stab wounds to his torso.
"It's believed the incident in which he was involved occurred here at the scene at Cobalt Street, but we have no persons of interest or suspects at this point in time," he said.
Inspector Strohfeldt said detectives did not believe the people who alerted police were involved in the stabbing.
"But it's only early days in the investigation at this point in time," he said.
"This area here is a very large industrial area and as such there's people coming and going to and from work at all times of the day and night."
A crime scene has been established and sniffer dogs have been brought in to assist with the investigation.
Police have blocked off several streets as forensic officers investigate.
"We're really asking the public if anybody who may have been in the area of Cobalt Street at Carole Park in the early hours of this morning if they saw anything or have any information that may be able to assist us if they could please contact Crime Stoppers," Inspector Strohfeldt said.
Man stabbed in Gnangara
Police are investigating a stabbing in Perth's northern suburbs.
A 39-year-old Ballajura man was found with multiple stab wounds on Ocean Reef Road in Gnangara.
A call for help was reportedly made from a public phone.
The victim was taken to Joondalup Health Campus but has since been transferred to Royal Perth Hospital with what are believed to be non-life threatening injuries.
Ocean Reef Road is closed from Motivation Drive
to Badgerup Road.
QPS Media [1/4/15]:
Police are investigating following the assault of a parking officer around 3pm this afternoon in Southport.
Initial investigations suggest the 59-year-old parking officer was dealing with a car parking issue in Nerang Street when an altercation has occurred between the officer and the driver of the vehicle concerned.
The offender has then punched the officer a number of times and then fled the scene in his vehicle.
The 59-year-old man was transported to Gold Coast University Hospital for treatment to facial injuries.
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.
Woman hit by car, Southport
QPS Media [1/4/15]:
A 26-year-old Surfers Paradise woman has been taken to hospital following a serious traffic crash on Queen Street at Southport early this evening.
Police were called to the crash just after 6:00pm following reports of a collision between a car and a pedestrian.
Initial investigations suggest the woman was struck by a vehicle travelling east on Queen Street.
The woman was conveyed to Gold Coast University with serious head injuries where she remains in a serious but stable condition.
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.
Imaginary Australian journalist to Kevin Bracken: Nevermind 9/11 and Martin Ferguson, why do you - and other so called ALP dissenters - continue to support a party that stands for war, neoliberalism, draconian legislation and refugee concentration camps?
Newcastle's seafaring community lent its support to an Australian crew – whose jobs they say will be replaced by cheap foreign labour – at a rally outside BP’s Carrington depot on Tuesday.
The 20-member crew of tanker British Loyalty, which has delivered BP fuel to Newcastle and Sydney for seven years, have been given two months’ notice they will be out of work when the ship is taken out of Australian service.
It’s the third Australian-crewed ship to be decommissioned in the past 12 months and the Maritime Union of Australia said the work was going to international boats that did not pass Australian safety standards and were crewed by foreign sailors paid as little as $2 an hour.
The union’s cargo mapping showed product that was previously transported by decommissioned Shell tankers Hugli Spirit and Tandara Spirit was now being moved by foreign ships.
‘‘There’s nothing else to gain but more money for BP,’’ Newcastle Maritime Union of Australia spokesperson Glen Williams said.
The International Transport Workers’ Federation had seen frequent evidence of the exploitation of foreign sailors in Australian waters, Mr Williams said.
‘‘Not a week goes by when we are not contacted by a seafarer who has been exploited and found they are being paid $400 per month, denied water, denied food or bullied,’’ Mr Williams said.
‘‘We [Australian seafarers] have to go through Customs checks, ASIO checks and Federal police and if you have any criminal history, you are denied the right to work in the industry,’’ he said.
‘‘Yet we have foreign seafarers coming into our country on a daily basis and they not exposed to any of this.’’
One of the reported explanations for the development of eating disorders is the social pressure resulting from the standards of female beauty imposed by modern industrial society or Western culture.
Prevalence of Eating Disorders: A Comparison of Western and Non-Western Countries:
Mariko Makino, MD, PhD, Koji Tsuboi, MD, PhD, Lorraine Dennerstein, AO MBBS, PhD, DPM, FRANZCP
Medscape General Medicine. 2004;6(3):49
Objective: To compare the prevalence of eating disorders between Western and non-Western countries.
Method: Potential references were identified
through an English-language literature search using Medline and Medscape
Results: Prevalence rates in Western countries for anorexia nervosa ranged from 0.1% to 5.7% in female subjects. Prevalence rates for bulimia nervosa ranged from 0% to 2.1% in males and from 0.3% to 7.3% in female subjects in Western countries.
Prevalence rates in non-Western countries for bulimia nervosa ranged from 0.46% to 3.2% in female subjects.
Studies of eating attitudes indicate abnormal
eating attitudes in non-Western countries have been gradually increasing.
Conclusion: The prevalence of eating disorders in non-Western countries is lower than that of the Western countries but appears to be increasing.
Eating disorders, namely anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, are characterized by clinical disturbances in body image and eating behaviors. For example, anorexia nervosa sufferers have the feeling of being fat even when emaciated. They deny the seriousness of low body weight and have a morbid fear of weight gain with the relentless pursuit of thinness. Bulimia nervosa is defined by an overvaluation of weight shape and the behavioral symptoms of recurrent binge eating accompanied by purging and fasting. The Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS) category reflects the many cases of eating disorder that can be quite severe but do not meet the diagnostic criteria for anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.
There have been many reports about eating disorders in Western countries in the late 20th century.[3-5] It has been claimed that those with eating disorders have mostly been white women and that few cases have been seen in non-Western countries other than Japan. Recently, eating disorders have been reported in non-Western countries, such as the Middle East and the People's Republic of China.[7-9] These recent studies suggest that the prevalence of eating disorders has been rising among non-Western countries as well. However, eating disorders may present differently in different cultures, and diagnostic criteria based on Western norms may not always be appropriate.
One of the reported explanations for the development of eating disorders is the social pressure resulting from the standards of female beauty imposed by modern industrial society or Western culture. The increasing globalization and exposure to Western media have been suggested to increase the rate of eating disorders in non-Western countries.
This article summarizes our review of the literature to determine the prevalence of eating disorders in non-Western countries and to compare the prevalence of eating disorders between Western and non-Western countries. We also examined differences in attitudes toward eating between Western and non-Western countries.
Vaccines, and why this conversation should not be so polarised
Nancy Tanner [4/2/15]:
... All of the screaming going on right now is just a DISTRACTION. It isn’t what is really going on. Anytime the media gets everyone riled up, and spreads fear, you need to STOP, and look past the hysteria, and you will find the cause. And it’s usually one corporation becoming bed partners with a politician, another corporation, or one of our government agencies.
Always look past the distractions. Dig a bit deeper and read more.
In the animal world for example. The pharmaceutical companies came out with a ‘suggested vaccine schedule’, it was untested, not proven, just a suggestion. The AVMA said, “fabulous, lets go with it”. Dr. Ronald Schultz, Pathobiologist, University of Wisconsin Madison, is THE, not the, but THE leading expert on immunology and vaccines for our domestic animals. His articles, videos, and position statements should be mandatory for all pet owners to read. Period.
We have his links on our RESOURCES PAGE.
He is not anti vaccine, but he has been calling for a safer vaccine schedule for years and years. Please keep in mind he is THE leading expert, and has no financial gain whether people listen or not. He is speaking his scientific research truth without big money backing him. And therein lies the problem. Big money has a big voice. Fact. ...
Thousands on strike in Vietnam over insurance law
Thousands of workers at a shoe factory in Vietnam's largest city, Ho Chi Minh City, are on strike for the sixth day, in a rare anti-government protest.
The workers are protesting at a social insurance law that kicks in next year.
They have occupied the factory compound of Taiwanese-owned Pou Yuen, which makes footwear for major brands such as Nike and Adidas.
Vietnam sometimes sees worker disputes but large-scale protests against the government are rare.
City and government officials have been trying to negotiate, as streets surrounding the factory remain blocked by protesters, who have been conducting peaceful sit-ins.
"The company has given them a day off today and we are holding dialogue with workers," Nguyen Tran Phuong Tran, deputy chairwoman of the city's labour union, told Reuters.
The dispute is over the government's move to effectively convert an unemployment welfare scheme into a retirement savings scheme.
Currently, workers pay a monthly premium into a central fund, and when they become unemployed they receive a lump sum payout equivalent to premiums paid.
Under the new law, workers will only receive payouts when they retire, and the amount will be given on a monthly basis rather than as a lump sum. Only a small minority will be eligible for unemployment payouts.
The retirement age in Vietnam is 60 for men and 55 for women.
The government has argued that the rule is aimed at meeting "long-run social security objectives for the sake of labourers", said news portal Tuoi Tre.
But the workers on strike say that they prefer getting payouts when they are unemployed, to cover daily needs while seeking new jobs.
With its low wages and young workforce, Vietnam has become a manufacturing hub in the region, producing consumer goods and electronics for multinationals.
The majority of Vietnam's population of 90 million are aged below 40 years old, according to the CIA Factbook.
Malaysia's Anwar disqualified as Member of Parliament
Channel News Asia [1/4/15]:
Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has been disqualified as a Member of Parliament on Wednesday (Apr 1), with the Speaker of the Malaysian Parliament sending a notice of vacancy to the Elections Commission.
This took place after a petition seeking a royal pardon for Anwar was rejected by the Pardons Board.
This leaves his parliamentary seat in Permatang Pauh vacant, paving the way for a by-election.
Anwar's wife, Dr Wan Azizah, had petitioned the palace on Feb 24 for a royal pardon to free her husband. However in a letter dated Mar 26, the secretariat of the Pardons Board said the board, which is under the purview of the Prime Minister's Department, met on Mar 16 and rejected the petition.
Anwar was sentenced to five years in prison after the federal court upheld a Feb 10 sodomy conviction.
Ms Latheefa Koya, Anwar's lawyer, said: "As far as he is concerned, because he has not received any such decision from the Yang diPertuan Agong, we are not accepting any claim by the AG chambers that a decision has been made by the secretariat of the Pardons Board and the pardon has been disposed of."
The ruling government MPs have urged all sides to accept the Pardons Board decision that will see Anwar being disqualified as a Member of Parliament.
Under the Constitution, MPs automatically lose their seats if they are jailed more than one year or fined over RM2,000.
The Speaker of Parliament Pandikar Amin has declared Anwar's seat as vacant as of Mar 16, following the Pardons Board’s decision to uphold the jail sentence.
The Election Commission has been notified and will meet on Apr 8 to decide on nomination and polling dates for the Permatang Pauh by-election.
Canadian diplomat's son killed in Miami: report
A Canadian diplomat's teenaged son has been shot dead and her younger son has been arrested on murder charges after an incident in Miami, Fla., according to a report.
The son of Canada's consul general in Miami, was one of two victims killed in a shooting in the city on Monday, according to a report from NBC 6 South Florida.
The report says the diplomat’s 17-year-old son was shot and her 15-year-old son was arrested on a charge of felony murder after an incident outside an apartment complex. One other teen was killed and at least one other individual was injured in the incident.
The Department of Foreign Affairs tells CTV News it is aware of a "serious incident" in Miami involving a Canadian family.
"Canadian officials are providing assistance to the family," spokesperson John Babcock said in a statement. "A full investigation is underway and we will continue assisting local authorities."
Babcock said further details "cannot be released" to protect the "private and personal information of the individuals concerned."
At the time of the shooting, the younger teen was reportedly waiting outside the apartment complex in a vehicle with diplomatic license plates.
President Barack Obama launched a sanctions program on Wednesday to target individuals and groups outside the United States that use cyber attacks to threaten U.S. foreign policy, national security or economic stability.
In an executive order, Obama declared such activities a "national emergency" and allowed the U.S. Treasury Department to freeze assets and bar other financial transactions of entities engaged in destructive cyber attacks.
The executive order gave the administration the same sanctions
tools it deploys to address other threats, including crises in the Middle East
and Russia's aggression in Ukraine. Those tools are now available for a growing
epidemic of cyber threats aimed at U.S. computer networks. ... [Reuters
United States, “allies” continue bombing Iraq and Syria
On March 31, Coalition military forces continued to attack ISIL terrorists in Syria, using fighter, attack and bomber aircraft to conduct seven airstrikes.
Separately in Iraq, Coalition military forces conducted seven airstrikes approved by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, using attack, fighter and remotely piloted aircraft against ISIL terrorists.
All strikes took place between 8 a.m., March 31, and 8 a.m., April 1, local time.
The following is a summary of the strikes conducted since the last press release:
Near Al Hasakah, four airstrikes struck four ISIL tactical units and destroyed four ISIL fighting positions.
Near Kobani, three airstrikes struck three ISIL tactical units, three ISIL vehicles and destroyed three ISIL fighting positions.
Near Hit in Al Anbar Province, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle.
Near Kirkuk, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL buildings and two ISIL heavy machine guns
Near Mosul, an airstrike destroyed an ISIL artillery piece.
Near Ramadi, two airstrikes struck an ISIL large tactical unit and an ISIL tactical unit.
Near Tal Afar, two airstrikes struck an ISIL fighting position and an ISIL tent shelter.
Airstrike assessments are based on initial reports. All aircraft returned to base safely.
Obama ends freeze on US military aid to Egypt
The United States announced on Tuesday it was lifting its hold on the supply of military equipment to Egypt, which was frozen when the military took power in Cairo nearly two years ago.
The White House said President Barack Obama was freeing up the equipment and making other changes to military ties with Washington's long-time ally to support U.S. interests while encouraging Egypt's political reforms.
Obama directed the release of 12 Lockheed Martin F-16 aircraft, 20 Boeing Harpoon missiles, and up to 125 M1A1 Abrams tank kits made by General Dynamics, National Security Council spokesperson Bernadette Meehan said.
This was "in the interest of U.S. national security," she said.
The decision was announced after a telephone call between Obama and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in which they also discussed the turmoil that is gripping the region.
Egypt, which has worked with the United States on Middle East peace moves, is emerging from a period of domestic upheaval and is engaged in several regional conflicts, including in neighboring Libya, and fighting Islamic State militants at home.
Sisi is leading an initiative to form a unified Arab military force in the region to confront Iranian-allied rebels in Yemen, and other threats.
The White House said Washington would "modernize" the way it provided military aid to Cairo to focus on counter terrorism, border security, maritime security and Sinai security, where Islamic State militants have been active.
"In this way, we will ensure that U.S. funding is being used to promote shared objectives in the region, including a secure and stable Egypt and the defeat of terrorist organizations," Meehan said in a statement.
Obama told Sisi he would continue to ask the U.S. Congress for $1.3 billion in military aid for Egypt per year, but said the United States would stop allowing Egypt to buy equipment on credit starting in fiscal year 2018, the White House said.
The deals for the released equipment were paid for long ago, so were not expected to have much impact on the companies.
Aboriginal heritage test case overturns decision to deregister Port Hedland site
The Supreme Court has quashed a decision by a West Australian Government committee to deregister a Port Hedland Aboriginal sacred site, in a test case that opens the door to a class action by traditional owners.
In his judgement, Justice John Chaney referred the case back to the Aboriginal Cultural Materials Committee (ACMC).
The committee had recommended to State Indigenous Affairs Minister Peter Collier that land and waters around parts of Port Hedland port should no longer be considered an Aboriginal sacred site because it had not been used for religious purposes.
"I conclude that the committee did not give consideration to the question of whether or not the Marapikurrinya Yintha was a place of importance or special significance because the question did not arise for consideration in light of the conclusion that it was not a sacred site," Justice Chaney said in his judgement.
"The ACMC asked itself the wrong questions and identified the wrong issues, thereby falling into jurisdictional error."
Marapikurrinya brother and sister Kerry and Diana Robinson had challenged the validity of the ACMC's finding in December 2013.
Guidelines issued by the Department of Aboriginal Affairs stated that to be a recognised as sacred site, a place needs to have been devoted to religious use rather than simply mythological stories, songs or beliefs.
Several culturally significant sites around WA have had their protection withdrawn in the past year on the basis they no longer fit the definition of a sacred site.
The Robinsons rejected that definition, arguing it was irrelevant whether the area had been used for religious purposes.
Their lawyer Greg McIntyre, who represented Eddie Mabo in the historic 1992 native title case, told the court in November the Aboriginal Heritage Act made no requirement for religious use.
He contended it was enough for it to be of special importance or significance to people of Aboriginal descent.
Lawyer for the committee George Tannin has said the clearly accepted definition of a sacred site was one "devoted to a religious purpose" rather than merely a place of veneration or religious respect.
Israel: Asylum seekers face exile to other countries or indefinite detention [Times of Israel – 31/3/15]:
The Interior Ministry is expected to enforce a measure that would see asylum seekers evicted to third-party countries in Africa, or, if they refuse, imprisoned indefinitely.
Until now, Israeli authorities have pressured asylum seekers — or “illegal infiltrators,” as the government terms them — most of whom are Eritrean or Sudanese nationals, to leave the Jewish state via a slew of measures, including incarceration in minimum-security facilities and incentives such as cash grants and free tickets back to their home countries.
No asylum seekers have been deported without signing a declaration that they were leaving Israel of their own free will.
The new bill, however, seeks expel asylum seekers detained in the Holot detention center, with or without their consent, to uninvolved third countries in Africa, the names of which have yet to be formally announced. One unnamed source told Haaretz Tuesday that the destinations would most likely be Rwanda and Uganda.
Holot is an “open” facility in southern Israel that is currently home to some 2,500 African asylum seekers. Inmates are required to check in during morning and evening hours but are free to leave during the day. The maximum detention term in the facility is mandated by law as 20 months.
Initially, migrants whose application for refugee status has yet to be processed will not be slated for eviction until a court can mull over their appeal.
Refusal to leave would lay the grounds for indefinite incarceration in the Saharonim prison, near Israel’s border with Egypt.
Interior Minister Gilad Erdan said that deported refugees will be secure in a third country, where they will not face reprisals for desertion or for traveling to Israel, which is considered an enemy state in Sudan, and which has no relations with Eritrea.
“The move will encourage infiltrators to leave the State of Israel in a safe and dignified manner and will effectively fulfill our duty toward the citizens of Israel and south Tel Aviv, who will be able to return the fabric of life they were used to,” Erdan told Channel 2 news Tuesday.
“They will receive fair treatment in [the designated] countries set to absorb them,” he said.
The bill received backing from the Justice Ministry and Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein, although sources indicated that it was likely no action would be finalized until the appointment of a new interior minister in the wake of this month’s election.
Authorities indicated that Israel would fund plane tickets, temporary accommodation and allowances to all prospective deportees.
Those who agree to leave will be given 30 days to pack and organize their affairs. Those who refuse will face a hearing that could result in further incarceration, a statement released by the Interior Ministry read.
Expulsion to a third country is largely unprecedented in the Western world. Italy and Australia signed similar agreements with third-party countries — Italy with Libya and Australia with Malaysia — but both proposals were shot down by local courts. In both cases, courts ruled the bills inconsistent with international law and the 1951 UN convention on refugees — to which Israel is also a party.
Thus far, Israel has recognized only four Eritreans and Sudanese nationals as official asylum seekers, out of a total of 5,573 who applied for that status.
A Supreme Court injunction in September 2014 declared the detention of asylum seekers for an unspecified amount of time as unconstitutional and ordered the Holot facility closed by December 22. The court granted the government three months to find an alternative policy before it repealed the law completely.
In light of that ruling, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, together with the Interior Ministry, made new amendments to the law in November that allowed for illegal immigrants to be detained for up to 20 months without trial — a change that, in effect, allowed Holot to remain open.
Over the course of 2014, 8,500 migrants residing in Israel left the state of their own volition, 7,000 of them back to their home countries, and 1,500 to other countries that granted them asylum status. Some have complained that after they returned to their home countries they were harshly abused.
2 April 2015